Can Chainsaw Cut Bamboo?

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When we think of chainsaws, we associate them with large, thick wood like oak and timber. But is it possible to cut bamboo with a chainsaw? You may have done some research and got confused with the conflicting answers: some say yes you can, and others say no you must not.

Well that is what this article is for. By reading this guide you will know if using a chainsaw on bamboo is a good idea or not. There seems to be a lot of misconception about this so we are going to clear things up here.

Chainsaws can cut large bamboo culms, but you have to be careful because it splinters off. If it is a large bamboo culm, tape the base section you want to cut through. This will prevent the bamboo from splintering.

Is Bamboo Hard on Chainsaws?

Bamboo is not hard on chainsaws. In fact, bamboo is probably too light because it is mostly hollow. Bamboo is usually cut close to the base, which is not hard on the chainsaw, but it can be uncomfortable to the person using it.

Bamboo can grow up to 100 feet tall and 36 inches thick. Bamboo is grass not a tree, but it is as durable as oak. Since chainsaws can cut oak, it has no problem cutting bamboo. But while chainsaws work, most prefer a handsaw, ax or lopper. Why?

Bamboo is fibrous and splinters easily. If you use a chainsaw the whole thing can fall apart and be potentially dangerous. When you cut wood it is relatively straightforward. With bamboo you have to take a more careful and technical approach to cutting.

Bottom line: can you use a chainsaw on bamboo? Yes, but in many cases an ax, handsaw or loppers will work. If you have these tools at your disposal then you should use them. They require less effort to use and can be just as effective.

But if you already have a chainsaw then you can use that as well. If that is the case, follow the simple tips below to make the most of your powerful cutting tool.

How to Cut Bamboo with a Chainsaw

There are many ways to do this but we will focus on three: felling, bucking and limbing.

Make sure the chainsaw is in good condition before you try to cut bamboo. Cleaning your chainsaw can make a huge difference in terms of performance.

The type of chainsaw you should use depends on the task. For felling bamboo or any large tree, a gas powered model is necessary. Electric and battery powered chainsaws do not have the power required for these jobs. Our choice is the Bilt Hard 60cc Gas Chainsaw because it supplies a lot of powe without compromising reliability.

You can use electric or cordless chainsaws for bucking or limbing depending on how large the cut pieces have to be.

If you are cutting small bamboos even a sharp knife will do. If it is several feet tall and inches thick, a chainsaw will be the better option. The one thing you have to make sure of is that the tool has sufficient power. An underpowered chainsaw could get stuck or suddenly halt in the middle of your operation.

How to Fell Bamboo with a Chainsaw

Felling a tree or in this case a bamboo means cutting it down from the base. An entire free falling down carries risks, and with bamboo that is increased because it can splinter into several pieces.

Important reminders:

  • Wear safety gear
  • Plan where the bamboo will fall
  • Inspect the area and make sure there are no people or animals within the vicinity where the bamboo will fall down.
  • Do not attempt to fell bamboo when it is raining or there are strong winds.
  • You have to create a backup safety path in case the bamboo does not fall in the direction you intended.

The next step is to put masking tape on the base where you will make the cut. That should hold the bamboo in place while you cut.

You can start the cutting process now as you would with a tree. A powerful chainsaw can cut through a 12 inch thick bamboo. Cut at a 45 degree angle right where you applied the masking tape.

Chainsaws can also fell small and medium sized culms, but loppers or an ax can do the job as well. You can use an anvil lopper to rip through the center, or use a bypass lopper to slice the base.

You can also use a chainsaw and lopper together if you are felling bamboo of various sizes. If you are only using loppers, secure the base with masking tape similar to what you would do with a chainsaw. The Black and Decker Lopper Chainsaw can do the job nicely.

How to Buck Bamboo with a Chainsaw

Bucking means cutting a fallen tree into pieces. After a tree is felled and its limbs removed, it is cut into logs. This process is called buck. You can do the same thing with bamboo and a chainsaw will work here too.

Since the bamboo is already felled the risk of injury is much less. The cutting process is straightforward and you can do it with any saw. But chainsaws are handy here because they are fast and can make precise cuts.

The only thing you have to watch out for is if the bamboo pieces roll off, but a clamp should keep it in place.

Another thing you have to keep an eye on is the blade. If the bamboo is 5 inches or thicker, it could pinch the blade. Watch how the blade is leaning when you cut.

Bamboos are not trees and your chainsaw will react differently to it. The chains on an underpowered chainsaw can break or worse fly off.

To be safe you can make a cut just deep enough to reach the hollow point. Then you make another, deeper cut above this one and let the bamboo fall.

How to Limb Bamboo with a Chainsaw

To limb or limbing means cutting branches or limbs. The term applies whether the tree is upright or has fallen.

To limb a bamboo, start from the ground and work your way up. Cut horizontally and from the opposite side of where you are.

A cordless chainsaw will be more than enough to get this done. In truth you can use an axe and it will do the job too.

When limbing or bucking, it is a good idea to put the bamboo on a flat surface. This makes it easier to cut the material. You should never extend yourself when trying to cut a limb as this could result in an injury.

Tips for Cutting Bamboo

If the bamboo is only an inch thick, pruners will work. Thicker bamboos will require heavy duty loppers, while those 12 inches and up need a handsaw or chainsaw.

Do not forget to put tape where you will cut. Without it the bamboo will splinter. If you are cutting a large one the splinters can be a potential hazard.

You can use mineral oil or other products to lubricate bamboo. This makes cutting easier and smoother. This is practical for bucking and limbing or anytime you are cutting down smaller pieces.

You should always cut bamboo at room temperature. It is the ideal temperature to reduce splintering.

Never try to fell bamboo in the rain. You can use a chainsaw in wet conditions except for certain situations, but cutting bamboo in the rain is a no-no. The chainsaw won’t be damaged but it is risky especially if the bamboo is large.

Do not underestimate how hard bamboo is. It can wear out a chainsaw chain particularly if it is thick. The thicker the bamboo, the more powerful the blade, engine and chain have to be.

Always wear safety goggles when cutting. The fibers could splinter all over. Thick and thin bamboos are equally fibrous so you have to be careful.