Inertia Chain Brake

Inertia Chain Brake

Avoid the worst. Put safety first.

The inertia chain brake is a very important safety feature of the modern chain saw. It improves the safe use of the chainsaw in 3 separate ways:

  1. It acts as a hand guard protecting your left hand from being slapped and stabbed by tree branches while limbing, bucking, and clearing.
  2. When activated between cuts it can prevent you from getting accidentally cut while walking. If you were to slip or trip while traveling between cuts, natural reaction could cause you to squeeze the trigger, potentially cutting yourself in a variety of gruesome ways. ANSI and OSHA standards recommend taking no more than 3 steps without engaging the chain brake. Glen Peroni of North American Training Solutions suggests activating the brake when you take even one step.
  3. In the event of sudden or rapid movement of the chainsaw, such as when kickback occurs, the brake is designed to engage automatically through the force of inertia. Since kickback occurs suddenly and with great force most people cannot react fast enough to activate the chain brake manually. Chainsaw manufacturers spent a lot of time and money researching a way to help us. The chainsaw brake handle, brake spring, and band are designed to be of the perfect weight and tension to activate at kickback by the rapid movement of the saw. It is similar to a seat belt in a car; it works when you need it.

Test this safety feature on your saw.

Set a piece of wood or log on the ground. Hold the saw in front, at approximately shoulder level, with the brake disengaged. Then simply let the saw fall onto the piece of wood. The chain brake should activate. If after 3 tries it does not activate the chainsaw should be taken out of service until the brake can be fixed. Normally this means it needs a good cleaning.

What is the best way to lockout-tagout a saw?

Take the bar off. That way nobody is likely to put it on a truck and take it out.

Kickback Demonstration by Chainsaw Instructor Joe Glenn

Joe demonstrates kickback here and you can see the chain brake activates on the third demo.

Always Remember to Use Your Chain Brake

This is one of Peroni’s incredible saw sound imitations. You can hear the clicking on and off of the chain brake. How many steps does he take while limbing this tree?

Mechanical Advantage with Ropes and Knots

Mechanical Advantage with Ropes and Knots

Carefulness costs you nothing. Carelessness may cost you your life.

When applying mechanical advantage (MA), the rope and knots are as important as the pulleys.

You will need more rope to make more force. For example, a 5:1 mechanical advantage will need five feet of line for every one foot gained.

Anytime a knot is tied in a rope, the rope is weakened. In drop tests and pull tests, a rope typically breaks at the knot. Attaching the pulleys to the pull line with midline knots reduces strength. A better option is to use a separate Prusik cord or a hitch such as the Valdotain Tresse Knot (VT). This retains rope strength while allowing adjustment. Phillip Kelley will show you how to do a modified VT in the video below.

In MA systems, there should be some form of control in case the pulleys meet and become two-blocked. The load must to be held in place until a new pull can be made. Attaching the pulleys with a Prusik cord will hold the load while attaching the other end of the MA system using a separate rope and tying a VT allows for one pulley to be slid away from the other. The video below demonstrates this.

Valdotain Tresse Knot for Climbing and Rigging

Phillip Kelley of North American Training Solutions demonstrate a fast, easy VT that you can use to tie on to the pull line.

This great little video demonstrates how the VT and Prusik knots can be used to correct two-block.

Mechanical Advantage

Mechanical Advantage

Carefulness costs you nothing. Carelessness may cost you your life.

Mechanical advantage (MA) can turn a strong man into a superman. Better yet, you can control the force, getting just as much as you need. This is not the case when pulling with a skid steer or truck. Skids and trucks can quickly generate forces that break trees and gear. Human power, amplified by MA can provide the control needed to do your job safely.

Pulleys with multiple sheaves (wheels) will allow the production of more force. The bell-shaped Prusik minding pulley is the workhorse for lifting, hauling, and tensioning heavy loads. When combined with a Prusik knot they allow the rope to pass when it is pulled and to grab when it is released.

Most people can pull their own body weight. A 200 pound worker named Joe can pull 200 pounds. With pulleys, he can increase that.

To determine the amount of force applied in a simple system, count the ropes at the moving pulley.

In this figure, the worker has a 3:1 MA. There are 3 ropes pulling at the moving pulley. The fourth rope (in the hand) is a redirect because it is not attached to the moving pulley. This system would allow Joe to pull about 600 pounds.

Add one pulley and create 5:1 MA. There are 5 ropes on the moving pulley. Now Joe is pulling roughly 1000 pounds.

What would Joe be pulling with this rigging?

You got it! 800 pounds.

This is a short and very helpful video from ISA about MA.

Turn Your Saw Upside Down to Get the Chain Tight

Turn Your Saw Upside Down to Get the Chain Tight

Carefulness costs you nothing. Carelessness may cost you your life.

This technique will work every time and it is easy to explain to new workers. It uses gravity to position the bar.

Turn the chainsaw upside down. Loosen the side cover nuts. Turn the chain tensioner screw clockwise to tighten the chain.

Tighten the chain until the bottom edge of the drive link touches the edge of the bar rail and then turn 1/4 turn beyond that. Retighten the side cover nuts and flip the saw back over.

Tightening Your Chainsaw

Phillip Kelley, lead instructor and operations manager of North American Training Solutions demonstrates this chain tightening technique.