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An arborist using a chainsaw to fell a eucalyptus tree

A chainsaw (or chain saw) is a portable mechanical saw, powered by electricity, compressed air, hydraulic power, or most commonly gasoline (petrol).[1] It is used in activities such as tree felling, limbing, and bucking, by tree surgeons to fell trees and remove branches and foliage, to fell snags and aids in cutting firebreaks in wildland fire suppression, and to harvest firewood. Chainsaws with specially designed bar and chain combinations have been developed as tools for use in chainsaw art. Specialist chainsaws are used for cutting concrete.

Contents

Construction

Chainsaw chain
A chainsaw clutch
A saw chain in its channel.

A chainsaw consists of a several parts.

  • Engine – almost always a two-stroke gasoline (petrol) internal combustion engine or electric motor.
  • Drive mechanism – typically a clutch and sprocket.
  • Guide bar – an elongated bar with a round end of wear-resistant alloy steel usually 16 to 36 inches in length. An edge slot guides the cutting chain.
  • Cutting chain. Usually each segment in this chain (which is constructed from riveted metal sections similar to a bicycle chain, but without rollers) features small sharp blades called teeth. Each tooth takes the form of a folded tab of chromium plate steel with a sharp corner and two cutting edges on the top plate and side plate. Left-handed and right-handed teeth are alternated in the chain. Chains come in varying pitch and gauge; the pitch of a chain is defined as half of the length spanned by any three consecutive rivets (e.g., 0.325 inch), while the gauge is the thickness of drive link where it fits into the guide bar (e.g., 0.05 inch). Conventional "full complement" chain has one tooth per drive link. Built into each tooth is a depth gauge or "raker" which rides ahead of the tooth and limits the depth of cut, typically to around 0.025". Depth gauges are critical to safe chain operation. If left too high they will cause very slow cutting, if filed too low they will make the saw dangerous and hard to control.

The underside of each link features a small metal finger called a "drive link" which locates the chain on the bar, helps to carry lubricating oil around the bar, and engages with the engine's drive sprocket inside the body of the saw. The engine drives the chain around the track by a centrifugal clutch, engaging the chain under power but allowing it to stop as the engine idles.

Dramatic improvements, chainsaw safety devices and overall design have taken place since the chainsaw's invention, saving many lives and preventing countless serious injuries. These include chainbrake systems, better chain design and anti-vibration systems.

As chainsaw carving has become more popular, chainsaw manufacturers are making special short, narrow-tipped bars for carving. These are called "quarter tipped," "nickel tipped" or "dime tipped" bars, based on the size of the round tip. Echo sponsors a carving series,[2] as well as carvers such as former Runaways singer Cherie Currie.[3] RedMax specifically built the G3200 CV chainsaw for carving applications.[4]

Maintenance

Most chainsaws require two sources of lubrication. Like most two-stroke engines, the engine is lubricated by its fuel, which contains about 2–5% oil (depending on the oil used) dissolved in the fuel. Separate chain oil or bar oil is used for the external lubrication of the bar and chain. The chain oil is depleted quickly because it tends to be thrown off the chain by centrifugal force, and it is soaked up by sawdust. The chain oil reservoir is usually topped up at the same time as refuelling, and the reservoir is large enough so that the saw runs out of fuel and stops before the chain oil runs dry. Failing to keep the chain oil topped up, or using an oil of incorrect viscosity, is a common source of damage to saws, and tends to lead to rapid wear of the bar, or the chain jamming or coming off the bar.

In addition to being quite thick, chain oil is particularly sticky (due to "tackifier" additives) to reduce the amount thrown off the chain. Although motor oil is a common emergency substitute, it is lost even faster and so leaves the chain underlubricated.

Chains must be kept sharp to perform well. They become blunt rapidly if they touch soil, metal or stones. When blunt, they tend to produce powdery sawdust, rather than the longer, clean shavings characteristic of a sharp chain; a sharp saw also needs very little force from the operator to push it into the cut. Special hardened chains (made with tungsten carbide) are used for applications where soil is likely to contaminate the cut, such as for cutting through roots.

The air intake filter tends to clog up with sawdust. This must be cleaned from time to time, but is not a problem during normal operation.

Safety

A chainsaw operator wearing full safety gear using a gasoline-driven chain saw

Despite safety features and protective clothing, injuries can still arise from chainsaw use, from the large forces involved in the work, from the fast-moving, sharp chain, or from the vibration and noise of the machinery.

A common accident arises from kickback, when a chain tooth at the tip of the guide bar catches on wood without cutting through it. This throws the bar (with its moving chain) in an upward arc toward the operator, often causing serious injury or even death.

Another dangerous situation occurs when heavy timber begins to fall or shift before a cut is complete – the chainsaw operator may be trapped or crushed. Similarly, timber falling in an unplanned direction may harm the operator or other workers, or an operator working at a height may fall or be injured by falling timber.

Like other hand-held machinery, the operation of chainsaws can cause vibration white finger[5], tinnitus or industrial deafness.

The risks associated with chainsaw use mean that protective clothing and hearing protectors are normally worn while operating them, and many jurisdictions require that operators be certified or licensed to work with chainsaws. Injury can also result if the chain breaks during operation due to poor maintenance or attempting to cut inappropriate materials.

Gasoline-powered chainsaws expose operators to harmful carbon monoxide (CO) gas, especially indoors or in partially enclosed outdoor areas.[6]

History

Electric chainsaw

The origin is debated, but the first chainsaw-like tool was probably made around 1830 by the German orthopaedist Bernard Heine. This instrument, the osteotome, had links of a chain carrying small cutting teeth with the edges set at an angle; the chain was moved around a guiding blade by turning the handle of a sprocket wheel. As the name implies, this was used to cut bone.

Two important contributors to the modern chainsaw are Joseph Buford Cox and Andreas Stihl; the latter patented and developed a chainsaw in 1926 and a gasoline-powered chainsaw in 1929, and founded a company to mass-produce them. In 1927, Emil Lerp, the founder of Dolmar, developed the world's first gasoline-powered chainsaw and mass-produced them. McCulloch and Industrial Equipment Corp in North America started to produce chainsaws. The early models were heavy, two-person devices with long bars. Often chainsaws were so heavy that they had wheels like dragsaws. Other outfits used driven lines from a wheeled power unit to drive the cutting bar.

After World War II, improvements in aluminum and engine design lightened chainsaws to the point where one person could carry them. In some areas the skidder (chainsaw) crews have been replaced by the feller buncher and harvester.

Chainsaws have almost entirely replaced simple man-powered saws in forestry. They come in many sizes, from small electric saws intended for home and garden use, to large "lumberjack" saws. Members of military engineer units are trained to use chainsaws.

Chainsaws for stone, concrete and brick

A chainsaw cutting concrete

Special chainsaws are used to cut concrete, brick and natural stone. These use similar chains to ordinary chainsaws, but with cutting edges embedded with diamond grit. They may be gasoline or hydraulically driven, and the chain is lubricated with water, because of high friction and to remove stone-dust. The machine is used in construction, for example in cutting deep square holes in walls or floors, in stone sculpture for removing large chunks of stone during pre-carving, by fire-departments for gaining access to buildings and in restoration of buildings and monuments, for removing parts with minimal damage to the surrounding structure.

Because the material to be cut is non-fibrous, there is much less chance of kickback. Therefore the most-used method of cutting is plunge-cutting, by pushing the tip of the blade into the material. With this method square cuts as small as the blade width can be achieved. Pushback can occur if a block shifts when nearly cut through, and pinches the blade, but overall the machine is less dangerous than a wood-cutting chainsaw.

See also

References

  1. ^ Electric saw
  2. ^ ECHO Carving Series
  3. ^ Chainsaw carving page.
  4. ^ Masters of the Chainsaw - Chainsaw Competitions
  5. ^ Vibration Syndrome. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Current Intelligence Bulletin 38: March 29, 2983. Retrieved December 22, 2008.
  6. ^ Carbon Monoxide Hazards from Small Gasoline Powered Engines. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Retrieved December 22, 2008.

Simple English

A chainsaw (or chain saw) is a portable mechanical saw, powered by electricity, compression air, hydraulics power, or most commonly a two-stroke engine. It is used for many things related to cutting trees. It can also be used to fell snags and assist in cutting firebreaks in wildland fire suppression, and to harvest firewood. Special chainsaws are used for cutting concrete.

Construction

A chainsaw has several parts, including:

  • Engine — usually a two-stroke gasoline (petrol) internal combustion engine, usually with a cylinder volume of 30-120 cm3 or electric motor.
  • Drive mechanism — typically a clutch and sprocket.
  • Guide bar — a long bar with a round end of wear-resistant alloy steel usually 16 to 36 inches in length. An edge slot guides the cutting chain.
  • Cutting chain — Usually each segment in this chain (which is constructed from riveted metal sections similar to a bicycle chain, but without rollers) features small sharp blades called teeth. The bottom of each link features a small metal finger called a "drive link" which locates the chain on the bar, helps to carry lubrication oil around the bar, and engages with the engine's drive sprocket inside the body of the saw.

As chainsaw carving has become more popular, the makers of chansaws are making special short, narrow-tipped bars for carving. These are called "quarter tipped," "nickel tipped" or "dime tipped" bars, based on the size of the round tip.








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