Can You Dig a Trench With Chainsaw? The IFs and HOWs

digging trench with a chainsaw in 5 simple stepsIf you want to dig a trench with a chainsaw then you must be a strong-hearted person.

Digging a trench by using a chainsaw is not an easy task. It requires a fully attentive mind that is always ready to deal with any sort of inconvenience efficiently.

Now the question arises whether or not you can dig a trench with a chainsaw. So the answer is yes, but with a chainsaw, you can only dig a small trench. Also, your saw should be powerful enough to bear the wear and tear of trenching.

In this article, I will be telling you about how can you dig a trench with a chainsaw. Also, you will get to know what sort of misconduct may happen during chainsaw trenching. You must read it till the end to perform your task well.

Can You Use a Chainsaw to Dig a Trench? The IFs and HOWs

Yes, you can replace the excavator with a chainsaw for digging a trench. But wait! It does not end here as trenching with a chainsaw is not as easy as you might think. There is a great probability of severe misconduct during the operation.

Therefore, I am here to guide you properly. Though there are harms associated with using a chainsaw for trenching yet there are some good points as well. It includes the easy-to-handle operation with a gas chainsaw and many others. So let us explore it in detail about it.

How to Use Chainsaw for Trenching in 5 Simple Steps?

Now that you know that it is possible to trench using a chainsaw so the question is how you can do that? No worries, I will tell you about that too. So let’s get started.

Safety Measures Required for Trenching With a Chainsaw

As I told you earlier that it can be very dangerous to trench using a chainsaw. Thus, before starting the main work, make sure you are done with all the safety measures. Here are some precautions for you.

  1. Wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from dirt and sparks.
  2. Wear a safety helmet to keep your head protected all the times.
  3. Wear hand gloves to get a good grip on the saw and to protect your hands.
  4. Try to avoid using a chainsaw on a wet surface.
  5. Before you start working, check the chain brake.
  6. Check if your chainsaw chain is properly tensioned.
  7. Do not stand before the machine.

Done with all the precautionary measures? It is now time to move further. I will be telling you in 5 easy steps how you can dig a trench with a chainsaw.

Learn More: Why Were Chainsaws Actually Invented?

Step 1

The first step is measurements. Know how much you need to dig in depth, width, and length. It is necessary because a chainsaw cannot dig more than 30 inches in depth. Your measurements also depend upon the purpose for which you are digging.

If you are trenching for electrical cords then you can go with a chainsaw. Trenching for electric cords requires 20 to 25 inches of depth. This much deep could be dug by using a chainsaw. However, for gas pipelines, almost 2.5 feet of depth is required. You cannot dig such depth with a chainsaw.

Step 2

Then, mark the measurement spots. You must be careful about the surface. Make sure that the surface does not have stones in it. Although chainsaws can cut through stones they will damage the machine. Also, for hard surfaces and metals, use attachments.

Step 3

The third step is to prepare the surface for digging. It means that dry out the place and clean and remove the larger stones to facilitate the saw. If the area is having grass, cut it first and clean the area. It will help you to identify the target.

Step 4

The next step is changing the chainsaw chain. If you are planning to use your ordinary chainsaw for digging then you should use a trenching chain. Replace the chain on your chainsaw. I am sure you know how to change it or else you can search for it.

Step 5

Here you are ready to go. Start digging keep the chainsaw in a still position for 10 to 15 seconds so that it can jeer the ground. After short intervals, give rest to the chainsaw. Also, do not insert extra pressure for deeper digging, let the saw do it.

Disadvantages of Digging a Trench with a Chainsaw

Here are some of the disadvantages that need to be considered when digging a trench with a chainsaw. Let me elaborate on those downsides to you so that you can make your decisions accordingly.

Risks Associated with Trenching Using a Chainsaw:

The first and foremost downside is the dangers that might be caused while using a chainsaw for digging. It is the most concerning aspect because health and safety are the priorities. Rest can be compromised.

The high risk of chainsaw kickback is there. No matter how efficient the chainsaw you have been using but never forget that it can cause kickback when it comes in contact with a hard object. As a result, you can fall on the ground and in the worse scenario, a running chainsaw can fell over you.

The situation is before you and now you can imagine what it can do. Similarly, it can cause a fire if there is a gas pipeline nearby. The friction caused by chainsaws due to contact with a hard surface can cause ignition. So, this is also a dangerous thing.

Read More: Fixing a Stretched Chainsaw Chain

Need for a Powerful Chainsaw:

For digging purposes, you need a very powerful chainsaw. In case you do not have a professional chainsaw, then using your ordinary chainsaw for such heavy-duty tasks is not recommended. Thus, this limitation is also one of the drawbacks of trenching with a chainsaw.

Flying Debris:

While operating a chainsaw in the dirt, can cause flying debris which can be very dangerous. The ground being dug must have some small stones or even if they are not still it can cause. The reason is that the dirt flies at a great speed.

This high-speed propelling may cause the dirt to hit your eyes and damage them. So, it is necessary to keep wearing safety goggles. Not only should the person operating the saw wear goggles but the people around also need to wear them.

The Cost And Harm That Trenching Causes to The Chainsaw:

Firstly, a professional chainsaw is way too expensive, and buying one just because you have to dig a bit is not a good idea at all. Secondly, Trenching causes a lot of damage to the engine and the chainsaw chain. Therefore, it is a big disadvantage to using a chainsaw for digging purposes.

What is the Best Equipment for Trenching?

The best equipment for trenching is either the traditional tools such as a rake, shovel, drain spade, and others or an excavator is a perfect machine. But you cannot bring an excavator for trenching in your backyard.

If you cannot work with a hand as it requires great physical strength, then a chainsaw can be used as an alternative. However, do not forget about the harm a chainsaw may cause while trenching.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use a chainsaw for trenching?

Yes, you can use a chainsaw for trenching but keep in mind that a chainsaw is not suitable for deeper digging. A chainsaw can dig a depth of up to 30 inches which is mostly needed for electrical cords. Thus, a chainsaw can be used to dig in your backyard for household purposes.

What is the best tool to dig a trench?

The best tool for trenching is the traditional trenching kit that contains a trench shovel, drain spade, rake, and pick mattock. However, if the surface is too hard and rocky, you may also need a walk-behind trencher. A chainsaw is also a good option for making smaller trenches because of its easy-to-use and handling aspect.

What can chainsaws not cut through?

A chainsaw can almost cut through everything except metal. A powerful chainsaw can cut through small metal objects such as nails but you cannot cut through a large metal piece with a chainsaw. Similar is the case with other hard objects. Even if a chainsaw can cut through them, it will cause great damage to the engine and the chain.

Is there a tool to dig trenches?

To dig large trenches, yes there is a proper machine called an excavator. It is used for professional purposes and can dig very deep. However, trenching shovels of different types, grub hoes, drainage spades, and other tools are available for such purposes.

The Final Word

This was all about whether can you dig a trench with a chainsaw and how you can do that. I have told you about all the aspects of the topic. Now you can dig smaller trenches with your chainsaw but be aware of the precautions and safety measures that I have told you.

Also, keep in mind that your chainsaw can face damage while operating on hard and rocky surfaces. So make your decision of trenching with a chainsaw accordingly. I hope this article is helpful for you and you will follow the steps above for digging a trench.


Richard McMann

Richard lives out in the wild with his other half, Diana Richard. He tests chainsaws based on his personal experience and loves to share their nitty gritty details with his audience. Although Richard does focus on other home improvement tools, his focus remains on cutting fallen trees or maintaining his backyard via chainsaw tools. He pledges to come up with new knowledge about chainsaws every once in a while. Explore Details About Richard