How to Cut Wood Slices with a Chainsaw

Right now, one of the trendiest home DIY projects is to use flat-cut logs and other wood slices for coasters, tabletops, supports, decorations, and so much more.

When it comes to actually cutting these wooden discs, your mind probably doesn’t immediately jump to a chainsaw as your tool of choice.

But a chainsaw actually makes it easy to cut wood slices, especially if the raw material is a log, stump, or other large chunk of wood. The trick part is making even, level cuts.

Luckily, with a few tips and tricks it’s easy to learn how to cut wood slices with a chainsaw – and stay safe in the process.

At the end of this guide, I’m confident that you’ll feel more than comfortable using your chainsaw to cut perfectly proportioned wood slices.

What You’ll Need

You only really need one single tool for this project:

However, some additional tools are helpful:

Remember that whether you use an electric chainsaw or a gas chainsaw, it’s always important to ensure that the chainsaw blade is sharp.

Chainsaw Safety

A chainsaw is one of the most powerful and versatile woodworking tools – but it’s also very dangerous if used incorrectly.

Here are the top chainsaw safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Cutting with the top of the bar is most natural
  • You can also cut with the bottom of the bar
  • Avoid the “kickback zone
  • Hold the saw with an encircling grip
  • Never carry with a hand on the back handle

According to The Family Handyman, it’s also very important to get a feel for the machine by practicing a few simple cuts on a small piece of wood.

Wearing the proper safety equipment is equally important as correctly using your chainsaw.

Here is the safety gear you’ll need:

Depending upon the scope of your project, it can also be smart to wear additional safety gear, including:

Method I: Just Cut!

By far the simplest way how to cut wood slices with a chainsaw is to just cut the log.

When the cut doesn’t have to be perfect, and the ends don’t have to be completely level, you can simply use a chainsaw like normal to make your cuts.

These rough-hewn wood slices are perfect for a wide variety of home DIY projects.

Method II: Make a Chainsaw Jig

Sometimes a rough cut just isn’t what you’re looking for – instead, you need a wood slice with smooth edges.

The easiest way to achieve these smooth, level cuts with a chainsaw is to create a chainsaw jig.

Step I: Build a Basic Square Jig

Construct a basic square jig out of 2x4s and a level, using a tape measure to make sure the measurements are accurate, to slip over the top of your log.

Step II: Prepare Log and Chainsaw

Cut the log to a few inches longer than you need it with your chainsaw.

Next, position the log inside of the square jig. The easiest way to do this is typically to place the log upfront and slide the square jig over top of it.

If you were to attempt to make your cuts now, the chainsaw would slide directly across the square jig, cutting into the wood. You need to first attach two thin strips of wood to the sides of the chainsaw blade to prevent the chainsaw from digging into the jig.

The strips enable the chainsaw to slide along the jig, while staying level, without actually cutting into the jig itself.

Step III: Make the Cut

Run the chainsaw sideways along the jig. Make sure that the two wood pieces on the chainsaw blade stay level with the rest of the square jig for the entirety of the cut.

Method III: Cut First, Level Later

Another way how to cut wood slices with a chainsaw is to cut the slices first and then level them out later.

Cut the slices by eyeballing the log or stump with the chainsaw. You should cut them as closely to your preferred dimensions as possible. You should also try to make the cuts as level as possible.

The next step is to use a power sander, such as an orbital sander, to even out and level the cut area of the wood slice.

Final Thoughts

There’s really nothing all that difficult about cutting wood slices with a chainsaw.

Depending upon the needs of your project, all that it takes is simply cutting the slices with the chainsaw and them sanding them down to your desired smoothness.

If it’s important for the cut edges to be as flat and smooth as possible, an alternative is to build a square jig to run your chainsaw across.

Whatever method you end up using, you’re sure to find that your fears about using a chainsaw to cut wood slices were misplaced.

When you’re done with your wood slices project, here are some other DIY woodworking projects to try!

About Gus Donaldson

I built houses for over 30 years and recently retired. I've made lots of mistakes and hopefully teach you not to make the same ones. I still love to build and have a garage workshop that I use for hobby projects like the walnut bookshelf I made for my wife. I like to write and let people know that working with your hands and tools does not need to be intimidating.

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