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An Afternoon with My Chainsaw

by Leslie Struthers
Carnegie, PA

Logs - Check

Saw Horse - Check

Oil and Gas - Check

Chainsaw - Check

Manual - Check

Insecure feeling something is missing - Check

Where's my dang hard hat - of course - covered in spiderwebs! Clean it off.

Hard hat - Check

Ok - it's Sunday afternoon - my chores are done, time to tackle sawing logs for natural edge bowl blanks.

Add gas. Add bar oil. Set the choke to full. Pull...! Pull...! Pull...! Pull...! Pull...! Set choke to half. Pull! Nothing. OK, that is to be expected. Readjust choke to full. Pull...! Pull...! Pull...! Pull...! Pull...! Set choke to half. Pull! Nothing! Again! I've started to sweat. Suck in a deep breath. Pull! Still not even a tiny rumble. Sweating harder - thinking of swearing. Stand up, stretch my back, wipe sweat out of my eyes. Readjust choke to full. Pull...! Pull...! Pull...! Pull...! Pull...! Adjust choke to half and pull! Absolutely nothing. No hint that this thing will start ever again.

Grab manual read trouble shooting section. I look around first to make sure no one sees me checking the manual. I have dignity!

Decide to replace the spark plug. Trek to the basement to get the spark plug wrench. Stomp unnecessarily hard on the steps in annoyance. Take the cover off the chainsaw, struggle with the spark plug. It's not moving. I mean it's really not budging an inch. I'm starting to sweat again. Who sweats while changing a spark plug? Decide swearing is in order. Decide to clean the airfilter since the spark plug won't come out. Lightly sand the end of the spark plug for good measure. Reassemble the saw. It's going to work this time, I'm sure of it.

Take a deep breath - wipe sweat from my eyes - cuss a little for luck and adjust the choke to full. Pull...! Pull...! Pull...! Pull...! Pull...! Adjust choke to half. Take another deep breath. Figure out you can't cross your fingers and pull the cord at the same time. One final pull! NOTHING! Decide swearing is better than sweating but stomping around grumpily does relieve some frustration. So does growling about tossing this piece of crap over the neighbor's fence and buying a decent saw that actually starts upon command. (Conveniently forgetting the total lack of use or maintenance for the last 12 months or so.)

OK! One last try. Adjust choke to full. Pull...! Pull...! Pull...! Pull...! Pull...! Adjust choke to half. PULL! Oh MY! I heard a sputter. A definite sputter. PULL! FINALLY! Success! Hope is renewed, sweat doesn't matter, feel like the chain saw gods love me! I snatched this saw from certain replacement. (The hot sun may have affected my thinking here.) Let the saw idle. Rev a few times. Calm myself down, I don't want to lose an appendage celebrating the basics here. Shut the saw off (secretly fearing it will not restart).

Set up the saw horses - put a log up. Restart the saw - yep! Purring like a kitten now. Begin cutting the log, a very nice line right down the pith. Smoke? Why is there smoke? There isn't supposed to be smoke! Where'd it come from? Stop the saw. Look at the cut. Well, look where the cut is supposed to be. I see a blackened channel in the wood. Hmm, I vaguely remember hitting a hunk of barbed wire in the last log I cut. I clearly remember swearing. CRAP! Jump in the Jeep head off to the Big Blue Box store. Oh man! I realize half way across the parking lot I'm still wearing my hard hat. Remember the dignity thing? Find the chain, buy it, and head back to the parking lot as I battle a sinking feeling the chain won't fit.

It fits - I'm still in favor with the chainsaw gods. Restart the saw (YES!) and begin cutting. All is well and several logs yielded many very nice blanks for natural edge bowls. Shut the saw off, wipe it down, clean it up and give it a pat as I leave the garage. I head for a shower and a cold beer. I leave a small neat pile of chips in a corner along with a promise to the cooling saw to provide much better maintenance going forward.

Over my beer I reflect on what I had to learn. Again.

  1. Tool maintenance is a must. Sounds simple but it really is a basic. Remember the tool you got mad at because it wouldn't do a job it wasn't designed to do? Go clean it up, you may need it one day.
  2. Swearing helps. I got that from my Dad. He didn't swear much so when he did you knew, you just knew.
  3. Perseverence helps. I get that from my Mom, she was right, she is always right!

Next to tackle? The bandsaw. I think I will go get a couple of extra blades, and maybe some replacement guides. Just in case...

You can email Leslie at .

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