Last Updated on June 13, 2021 by Chris Ross
You may be afraid of giving your kids because you probably watched movies where chainsaws are used for killing people and other dirty deeds….
But in real life, a chainsaw is used to cut wood, trees, and logs.
For me, when it comes to kids, the only concern that makes me afraid,
…a chainsaw does not know the difference between your hand or that chunk of wood.
No matter how many times you tell or try to explain them,
…If they are too young, they might not grasp the danger and extent of injury.
Maturity matters more than age when it comes to let your kids operate a chainsaw.
Today, I’m going to talk about how you know when it is the best time your kids can learn or operate a chainsaw safely.
Plus, how to safely teach them operating chainsaw at home with zero risk of injury.
How dangerous is chainsaw for juvenile?
Most parents have a misconception about chainsaw when it comes to letting their kids run it.
Yes, it is dangerous.
But not so dangerous that kids must need a professional degree just to operate it.
You have to understand that a chainsaw is a power tool….NOT weapons. It is not designed to kill people.
There is no much difference between buying and using a hammer, screwdriver, and chainsaw if the operator knows what he is operating.
Anybody can buy a chainsaw like a kitchen knife. On the other hand, an ax is a more dangerous tool that can be used as a weapon. With proper supervision and safety equipment, even girls can cut wood like pros. If you know the basic chainsaw FAQs, operating a chainsaw is as safe as any other power tools.
Tips: Without proper knowledge and maturity, a small harmless tool can cause huge harm. I know a guy who lost his thumb when he was a kid. The accident happened when started cutting wood with a hand saw.
The minimum age for operating chainsaw
The right answer is “No”. There is no age limit or minimum age to handle a chainsaw by-laws or store’s discretion. I have not found any reference in chainsaw literature too. But the minimum required age is 16 to take any chainsaw courses at any institutes.
In the UK, the age limit 16-18, but in USA, there is no legislation to set the minimum age. However, there are rules that dictate the below things.
Age 16 – can move out and buy some particular kitchen knives
Age 17 – Can use an air rifle
So, you can let them run a saw at the age of 16-17.
However, I strongly recommend to check and ensure a few things before allowing your kids to run a chainsaw.
All kids are different
Every kid has own personality. That’s why one kid is different from the other. Their psychology is more complex than adults’.
Some kids love adventures. Some are careless. They drive their cars at too much speed. They love to push things to the limit.
This makes me worry. Just imagine what those adventure-loving kids can do if they get chainsaws(and other power tools).
If I am not wrong they might start finding the largest tree they could cut down……(and of course without knowing the risks and safety equipment)
Tip: some kids have good gifted skills. I know a 5-year-old kid who can ride a 90cc quads pretty good.
kid’s upbringing and exposure
Upbringing and exposure to surroundings play an important role in a kid’s maturity.
Kids born in a farmer or logger family will learn faster chainsaw and other power tools than a doctor’s kid if everything else is equal.
I have seen age does not affect a lot for kids(Both boys and girls) of a logging family. They are familiar with saws and axes just like normal kids are with their toys.
Tip: I know a 15-year-old teen who asked(and got) for Husky 455 as a birthday gift. Needless to say, he knows what he asks and what it can do. He also owns a deer rifle, pump shotgun, and .22 semi-auto.
kid’s interest in chainsaw
Since every kid is different, you may find some kids extremely interested in running a chainsaw while some others have no interest in it. The choice and interest differ from person to person.
If your kids are not interested in a chainsaw or any other power tool, there is no point to teach him the safety manners and cutting methods.
Some kids find it interested at a certain age. I know a guy who is interested in learning chainsaw when he has to use one in a college forestry course. He got a Poulan 2150 from his parents later as a gift.
On the other hand, some kids are interested in a very early age. Some kids are quick learners too.
Tip: I got a 12-year kid who was very interested in cutting with a chainsaw. I gave him half-hour safety lecture and seminar. He paid proper attention and caught everything pretty fast. Then with Full PPE, I let him run Echo 315. After 4 hours of his running, anybody could say “chainsaw is his thing”.
Not every kid is a quick learner. There were some 13-14-year-old kids who fed rounds to him on a sawbuck.
when you should allow your kids
If your kid is mature enough to handle a tool with care and proper respect it deserves, it is the right time to let him run a chainsaw on his own. Just check the below two things:-
- Do they start slow?
- Do they force it down the throat?
If the answer is “NO”, it is a positive sign that your kids may be matured. You know your kids more than any other person on the earth.
Since you live with them, you know the basic things that they can do safely. You can start from there to let them learn to saw.
If you are not convinced yet, keep your kid as an observer. This helps to get maturity faster and easier.
Does Age matter?
Being matured enough to run a chainsaw needs to have a few traits and qualities. My personal opinion is that age is the “LEAST” factor among them. The traits are:-
- Strong (Physical strength)
- Common sense
So, if your kids have the above traits, age would not be a problem for him. Needless to say, they need proper training and PPE before they start cutting. Make sure they are under close supervision.
I know kids of 10-year-old who have the above traits more than some grown-up men(35+ years). I would be scared to death if they tell me they would run chainsaw without any supervision.
If you want to know a certain age on average kids, I would say 14-15 to start operating under supervision and 16-17 to operate without any supervision or help.
Kids under 14 can help you in your projects such as building a firewood shed. Thus, they will learn a thing or two about chainsaw.
Tip: There is no strict rule that kids cannot operate chainsaw before 14. I have seen a 13-year old boy owns a 42cc Poulan pro and a 15-year old boy owns stihl 044.These are exceptions.
At what age did earlier people start using chainsaw?
40-50 years ago, everybody started field word at 8-10. They operated power tools and other equipment before they reached 10. At those times, chainsaw was very heavy. The weight of the smallest one was 37 lbs.
Tip: I found an old Craftsman 36″ bar chainsaw in the garage which is 90lbs. My uncle operated it at the age of 17.
training and safety equipment
There were no so many formal chainsaw training as there are today. In most cases, parents would just tell the kids to be “CAREFUL” and that’s it.
They used to work under the supervision of an adult(mostly dad). They used to learn by trial and error. In most cases, those kids did not face any big injury due to their maturity. They used to experience stuck bars, hung trees, pinched chains at early age.
Those chainsaws also did not have many safety mechanisms. The old Craftsman that I mentioned earlier, has no sprocket cover,chain catcher,chain brake.
The same goes for personal protection equipment(PPE). Most kids had no safety gear other than earmuffs. Those who tried to wear proper PPE would end up wearing an oversized Stihl helmet and leather steel-toed boots double the size/weight the kids needed.
They started using a chainsaw like a pro at 16-17.
Earlier, only logging or chainsaw business can own a chainsaw. No normal person can buy it from a store like today. Kids started using chainsaw at 10-12 years.
Some used chainsaws to bucking on sawbuck for firewood and became a pro at 14-15. They used to become good with cross-cut and bow saws faster.
Chainsaw They Used
- Stihl 021
- Electric McCulloch
- Homelite Super XL
- Stihl 027
Kids With Casual Family Background: Learn From School
If you are not a professional logger, tree surgeon or use chainsaw to make money, your kids will need a bit more time to learn to use chainsaw.
In most cases, high-school offers a forestry and construction program. Your kid needs to be 16 to attend those programs at high school. These programs are good at teaching safety, operation power tools, and heavy machinery.
Jim Buis, an Wood Shop Teacher at Middle and High School from Alton, IL, tells us how he teaches his student’s power tools and chainsaw.
I teach 6th-grade students to use power tools. I teach each of them one by one about corded and cordless tools.
I teach them the below tools in 6th grade:-
- Scroll saw(bench mounted reciprocating saw)
- Cordless drill
- Belt sander/disk sander
- Band saw and
- Miter saw
- Chop saw
- Radial arm saw.
- Table saw
At any point, if any student becomes hesitant toward cutting with one of the big saws, I do the cut for them.
Regarding chainsaw, I supervise them closely. I would not let them run the saw without my supervision right beside them.
As they start learning a few things I begin to loosen the supervision.
No matter how much they learn, I would not let them fell tree or do a big project without my close supervision.
Doing such tasks needs physical strength, so before 16, I don’t think they are ready for these.
I let a student run a chainsaw if he/she can meet the below requirements.
- Pay close attention to learning
- Practice and respect what they learn
- Try To prove themselves to be skillful
Kids of Saw professionals: How to teach them at home
If you are in woodworking, sawmill activity or use chainsaw daily for any reason, there is high possibility that your kids will learn running chainsaw easily.
It depends on the kid’s level of interest. Even growing up in a woodworking family, some kids may have slightest interest in chainsaw.
Teaching chainsaw to kids at home is not unsafe. The main problem is to convince the mother about safety. There is an easy and quick solution available. Let the kids run a small chainsaw under very TIGHT controlled conditions.
Method – 1
- Weld up a bench (for cutting up firewood)
- Add a pivoting frame
- Bolt the chainsaw into the frame
For added safety, you can use restraint cord and wrist strap. With these, the kid cannot put his left hand into the blade.
Kids can go 1/2″ up or down(into a recess) with the bar. There is no possibility of kickback or moving sideways.
Tips For Teaching Kids
- For gas saw, there is a rule – Do not let anyone the saw until he can start it by himself.
- If your kids are desperate more on cutting than learning, consider this a bad sign.
- Some kids don’t want to learn until they get the saw in their hands. If your kids behave like this, re-evaluate the decision of teaching him (and NEVER hand over the saw to him at that moment)
- For 9-10 old year kids, You can hold the handlebar and let your kid run the throttle and cut. This way, he may get a bit used to cutting.
- PPE such as helmet, gloves, boots, chaps are mandatory for kids.
- Make sure your kid has eye/ear protection. Sometimes, it becomes hard to get a properly sized toe.Secondly, even if you get one, the problem will not be fixed forever. Kids grow like weeks, very soon, those toed steel boots will not fit.
Tip: You can use a scrap of 1/4″ plywood or use some chaps cut down to fit him/her.
- Try to know kid’s maturity along with age. The first part may be hard to know, but it is important to make a decision. Until then, let them help you with splitting and stacking (splitter no ax!)
Tip: some kids start with a hand saw at 7.
- Let your kids buck a log into firewood length at the age of 11-12. Make sure you are standing beside them. Most parents do not feel comfortable to let them cut alone until they are 16-17
- Even though some kids are matured, focused and smart, they are very much the greenhorn with a saw
- You can give a small engine saw with SHORT bar to your kids.The short bar will keep them away from cutting the ground.It also makes it easy to learn good cutting technique. It also reduces the need for steel toe boots.
Tip: Saw with small bar is easy to control, but the chance of kickback is higher.
- Don’t forget to teach them chain sharpening techniques. They will need them for sure.
- If your kids have a tab or smartphone(which today all have), show them chainsaw learning videos on Youtube. Husqvarna has a lot of videos on chainsaw maintenance, felling, bucking, limbing.
- Make your kids feel comfortable when you correct their technique and safety issues
- Before your kids become matured for a chainsaw, do other tasks as a helper such as toting, loading or hauling wood, etc..
- Never contradict your safety policy no matter how hasty your kids become to do something “BIGGER”
Which Chainsaw is good for learning
I suggest the rear-handle Echo 3000 series to teach your kids using chainsaw.It is slower-revving reed valve saw. For learning, slow saws work great.The benefits include:-
- Learn new cutting techniques
- Learn how wood hinges and binds
- How chips discharge (or don’t) from the cut
- Low chance of kickback
- Less risk of harm to the operator
Tip: For their first live cutting, I recommend a 7″ log on a sawbuck or at arm’s length.
A chainsaw is similar to a gun. In both tools, you can never take the action back once you pull the trigger. So, once you make a decision to cut a thing, you start your saw and keep the bar on it, you cannot go back.