Our Weekend Warrior reminisces about the chainsaw.

Words by Don McVie

I was only 13 the summer Dad brought home our first chainsaw. Pioneers of a sort, our family was toiling away trying to clear the steep and heavily treed lot for our future family cottage using only axes, a bucksaw and the old two- man saw Dad found at the general store. It was futile.

Our world changed when Oscar Labrosse arrived in his old Vercherres boat to help us out. A grizzled old French Canadian already nearly 80, Oscar spoke barely a word of English and smoked cigarettes he rolled by hand. His big old yellow chainsaw was loud, large and extremely heavy, but Oscar was unstoppable. His every non-cutting moment was spent working on that saw: oiling, adjusting and relentlessly sharpening the chain. I was inspired.

Over the years, I have inherited and/or bought a variety of gas and electric saws. This past summer my chainsaw saved the day when a microburst of howling wind took down five trees around us in less than five minutes. My sharp saw was ready to go and together we carved an exit path along the road that let us out and the folks from Hydro and Bell in to restore services.

I’ve learned a few important lessons over the years that I’m happy to share with other aspiring lumberjacks:

1. Buy a saw big enough for the work, but comfortable to lift and handle. It’s hot work.

2. Buy extra chains and carry them with you. I still bear a scar where I sliced my thumb at age 17 trying to sharpen a chain, so today I let the dealer do it.

3. Work smart. Keep the chain tight. Make sure you use the right oil/fuel mix and add chain lube every time you fill the gas.

4. Use safety gear. Wielding a chainsaw in flip flops and without a helmet, gloves and eye, leg and foot protection is just plain stupid… it’s very easy to slip and the woodchips are always flying!

Best advice? Go to a dealer you can trust and who will be there for you later, and then buy something that has the quality and reliability to serve you for years to come. A chainsaw is a masterful tool and you won’t regret choosing right!