With appropriate tools and equipment, and the knowledge to use them, working in horticulture, agriculture or property management can be far more productive, and a lot less hard work.
This course provides a foundation for doing just that. It will broaden your perspective of what is possible, and help you to make work decisions that are far more realistic.
If you work in the horticulture industry and need to expand your
knowledge into the selection, safe use and care of the equipment that is
part of everyday horticultural operations then this course is for you.
Using Chain Saws
For some garden jobs, you can’t go past a chain saw for making light work of an otherwise monstrous task. Chain saws are also dangerous, needing proper handling and regular maintenance.
Buy or Hire?
If you have a large property it might be worth buying a chain saw. These are tools that need constant maintenance though, and for the occasional user, it is cheaper to hire one from a reputable hire company.
When you hire a chain saw, you are guaranteed a machine that is in good working order (which is essential for safety), a model that is reliable, and chains that are sharp. You don’t need to worry about resharpening chains or maintenance after use.
Ever wanted to prune a limb off a tree, but your secateurs or shears were too small for the job? Ever wanted to cut your fire wood up with less effort? Why not make life easier by using a chainsaw.
For small pruning jobs around the garden a chainsaw can be helpful to:
- remove low or obscuring branches
- lower the height of large shrubs
- creatively change a boring small tree into a topiary
For large trees that need pruning it is best to leave the job for qualified arborists. If a non-insured tree pruner, or yourself, causes damage to your house, you may not be covered by insurance.
A chainsaw is a great way to cut larger pieces of timber into suitable fire sized portions.
Use of timber is common in landscaping. A chainsaw can be very helpful for making rough cuts through sleepers or log sections. If you are planing to cut second-hand timbers and sleepers it is essential to remove all old nails, metal attachments, and any bits of debris, soil, and gravel..
Petrol or Electric
Petrol powered chainsaws are more common and tend to be sturdier and stronger, and offer greater portability than electric models. They are however, heavier to use, require frequent refueling, and require a fair amount of maintenance.
Electric chainsaws are significantly quieter, with no fumes, no difficulty with starting and no need for regular topping up of fuel. There are smaller in size, weight and strength, and their power cords can be a real hazard, in particular for tripping over, getting tangled with objects, and their potential for being cut as you use the saw. They require a power source (power point) nearby.
Larger engines have the power to operate bigger chains. The longer the bar a machine has, the thicker the pieces of timber you can readily cut. For domestic use a 14 or 16 inch bar (400 – 450mm) is usually sufficient. For heavier use, such as tree lopping, or regular firewood harvesting a larger engine, with a blade of 18inches (500mm) or more is more efficient.
Using A Chainsaw Safely
Chain saws need to be routinely serviced and maintained if they are to be safe. Safety is crucial. A chainsaw can be a very dangerous tool. All chainsaws should come with a cut-off guard close to the upper handle - this mechanism prevents the chainsaw jumping up towards the user’s face while the blade is running, and can trigger a chain break that stops the chain from running.
- Always wear protective glasses or a visor, earmuffs, safety gloves, snag proof clothing, steel capped boots, long sleeves and long trousers, and ideally kevlar chainsaw trousers or chaffs.
- Always hold the chainsaw firmly with both hands. Thumbs and fingers should encircle the handles. For a right handed person the left hand should be on the front handle, and the right hand on the rear handle. The left arm should be held rigid, and the chainsaw should be held close to body, but to the right of your body in case of kickback.
- Make sure you have a clear working area. Remove any stones, or cut bits of wood, or other objects that might cause unstable footing. Maintain a safe distance from other people, animals and power equipment.
- Stand in a well balanced position with your feet about shoulder width apart and firmly secure on the ground.
- Always turn off the chainsaw and put it down while you are not actually cutting wood.
- Never operate the chainsaw under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Only ever cut wood. Never allow the chain to touch soil or other foreign matter.
- Don’t cut above shoulder height.
- Avoid using the upper parts of the bar for cutting, only use the straight sections of the bar for cutting to avoid kickback.
- Don't force the tool when cutting –let the chainsaw do the work.
- Check the chain break is operating properly before starting, and periodically during operation
- Ensure the cutting teeth are kept sharp and in good condition, and that the chain is regularly checked for tightness.
A hired chainsaw will be regularly sharpened and maintained to ensure optimum performance. Hence the popularity of hiring as opposed to purchasing.
The secret to low maintenance is to ensure you use your chainsaw properly. This includes the use of correct fuel, general cleaning and chain care.
Extending Chain Life
- Chainsaw chains can wear out very easily if misused, and they're not cheap to replace. To get the most out of your saw, do the following:
- Don't use the saw in dirty or gritty situations.
- Don't cut timbers which might have nails or other foreign matter embedded in it (eg: railway sleepers or used building materials).
- Don't use a chain when it starts to become blunt. Depending on the conditions , and the type of wood you are cutting, you might need to sharpen the chain after as little as only a dozen or so cuts.
- Keep the chain properly tensioned (don't use it when it becomes loose).
- Don't use an over worn sprocket. A worn out sprocket can destroy a new chain in a very short time.
- Always use plenty of oil (never allow the oil to run dry).
- Stop cutting immediately if the cut becomes crooked and restart afresh.
If you want to maintain your own chainsaw, then make sure you thoroughly read any maintenance manuals provided with your chainsaw, and carry out recommended maintenance procedures. In general:
- Regularly remove and clean air filters, particularly when operating in dusty conditions.
- Regularly wipe clean your chainsaw to remove debris such as sawdust.
- Every time you fill up with fuel, and before you first start cutting check your oil levels.
- Regularly remove the chain bar, wipe it clean with an oiled rag, and remove any debris from around the drive sprocket.
WHO WILL BENEFIT FROM THIS COURSE?
If you work in the horticulture industry and need to expand your knowledge into the selection, safe use and care of the equipment that is part of everyday horticultural operations then this course is for you.
This applies to anyone looking to work or working in a variety of horticultural sectors:
- Crop farming
- Flower farming
- Turf management
- Horticultural construction
- Parks and gardens maintenance
- Roadside management
- Professional gardeing and grounds management
All these sectors use machinery - large and small - everyday. To get ahead in your field you need to understand the basic operations of the machinery used in your working life. You could also save thousands of dollars by indentifying problems as soon as they arise. Someone with basic engineering knowledge is an asset in this industry.