Weathering the storm: 9 Necessary Tips for Using a Chainsaw to Clear Debris

Weathering the storm: 9 Necessary Tips for Using a Chainsaw to Clear Debris

chainsaw to clear debris
Fallen trees can cause thousands of dollars in damage during natural disasters.

It’s storm season, and as soon as a tornado or hurricane strikes, clean-up begins.

Often, storm clean-up requires participation from volunteers who supplement the work of experts in removing miles of debris. Many are weekend warriors who have never tackled such an immense task – and may never have used a chainsaw in such rigorous circumstances.

Those brave volunteers need some guidance on how to prepare for, use and maintain a chainsaw during intense storm clean-up efforts.

A good chainsaw is the best tool to clean big debris such as limbs and fallen trees.

Jared Abrojena, an Antioch, California-based certified treeworker and certified arborist, addresses the topic in layman’s terms. The 2015 ISA Tree Climbing World Champion, Abrojena is an expert on how to trim and fell trees. He often shares insights from his own experience working with a team of arborists to clean hundreds of fallen trees on the grounds of the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia, just weeks before the 2013 Masters.

Abrojena’s nine necessary tips – if followed – ensures that the work of brave storm clean-up volunteers is safe and effective. They are:

Sawing wood outside with a chainsaw
A worker demonstrates proper safety when using a chainsaw. (DepositPhotos)
  1. Safety first. Take some time to train before getting started. Be sure to read through the owner’s manual for the chainsaw you’ll be using.
  2. Be prepared. This is a catch-all of tips regarding regular chainsaw maintenance and the possession of personal protective equipment (PPE).
  3. Map it out. Assess the full scope of damage, and creating a plan for how to tackle it. The plan should include coordinating with other volunteers, divvying up the work and prioritizing
  4. Know your limitations. Don’t volunteer for a job you’re unprepared for. There will be plenty of work to go around, so only tackle tasks that you are comfortable handling.
  5. Buddy up. No one should trim trees by themselves, given the risk of error or injury. Pair up with another volunteer, but stay a safe distance apart when operating saws.
  6. A good start. A chainsaw is best started on the ground, with the chain brake engaged. Don’t “cut” corners during intense, fast-paced clean-up efforts.
  7. The right cut. To achieve the right cut, use careful pruning practices to relieve tension from a branch or tree limb.
  8. Take it easy. You aren’t Superman, and most mistakes occur when you’re tired. Take frequent rests and stay hydrated.
  9. Pamper your equipment. Ongoing maintenance during storm clean-up is critical, since you’ll be pushing your chainsaw hard. Pause often to clean filters and tighten chains.

Further Reading

This Stylish Space-Saving Dish Rack Is Perfect for Small Kitchens and Will Keep Your Sink Clutter-Free

This Stylish Space-Saving Dish Rack Is Perfect for Small Kitchens and Will Keep Your Sink Clutter-Free

We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.

No matter how beautiful your kitchen may be, a cumbersome dish rack sitting atop the counter can be a bit of an eyesore. Not only is this one super functional (more to come on that), but it looks beautiful to boot. It has a smooth, modern finish and is available in two subtle shades, airy white or sleek black. We also appreciate the box-like shape, with high walls that hide your drying dishes and minimize visual clutter.

We love that this dish rack is versatile and can conform to a number of kitchen spaces. You can use it as an over-the-sink drying rack, nestle it behind the faucet, or keep it on the counter beside the sink. Wherever it’s stored, its slim design won’t take up too much precious space and the draining faucet rotates a full 360-degrees to accommodate your placement of choice. It also features a sloped design towards the drain to avoid dish water pooling and getting trapped in the bed of the rack. The utensil holder is even removable and adjustable, so it can be stored inside of the rack or hung along any of the outside edges to make more room for dishes.

Whether you’re looking for an instant upgrade or have just been putting off buying a dish rack for far too long, look no further than Yamakzi Home for the sleek and stylish solution. Who knows — dish duty just might become your new favorite chore!

10 Tools for Painting a Room That’ll Have You Ready to Tackle Your Next Makeover

10 Tools for Painting a Room That’ll Have You Ready to Tackle Your Next Makeover

We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission.

Painting a room is a surefire way to transform a space, but it’s not always the easiest task to take on. From tight corners to small spaces, giving a room a fresh coat can be a challenge — but now’s the best time to get started. It’s spring cleaning season, and since the warmer weather makes it easy to air out a room post-paint with a couple of open windows, you’re not alone if you’re considering taking on a painting project. And if so, you’re likely also on the hunt for perfect painting tools, since having the right supplies is the secret to success. To help you get started, we’ve created a shopping guide with all the essentials you need to make even the trickiest paint jobs a breeze. Here are 10 of the top essential tools for painting a room — choosing the paint color is up to you.

Sarah M. Vazquez also contributed to reporting. 

I Read a 97-Year-Old Home Repair Manual and Got 4 Great Tips & 4 Horrifying Ones

I Read a 97-Year-Old Home Repair Manual and Got 4 Great Tips & 4 Horrifying Ones

When it comes to home repairs, there’s a lot that’s the same today as it was 100 (or more) years ago. Hammers still look — and work — basically as they did when they were first invented. Handheld saws might be more comfortable and more efficient these days, but their mechanics are unchanged. And paintbrushes? Well, they might be made with different materials now, but the vintage ones are just as recognizable as their modern-day counterparts.

The same can be said of home repair advice. While there might be a few big changes — ahem, electricity and modern plumbing — there are also plenty of instances in which the old instructions hold up to present-day scrutiny. That’s why when I found a 97-year-old home repair manual (“The Practical Book of Home Repairs,” by Chelsea Fraser) available for free online, I knew I had to check it out. Inside, there are plenty of explainers, tutorials, and illustrations by the author that remain equally useful today as they were when this handbook was published in 1925.

Of course, among all the gems there were a few grimace-worthy pieces of advice, too. Here, read some of my favorite takeaways — and some tips that didn’t stand the test of time.

Helpful: A Graphic Explaining Quarter-Sawn Wood

If you’ve bought wood furniture recently, especially in antique shops or other vintage stores, you might have noticed the phrase “quarter-sawn wood.” I will admit here that while I knew that meant the piece was prettier, I didn’t actually know what quarter-sawn meant. Behold: a super handy graphic that shows how logs are cut for standard wood boards versus quarter-sawn wood. Essentially, it’s all in the name. While regular boards are cut straight through the whole of the log, quarter-sawn boards are cut by first sawing the log into, well, quarters. From there, pieces are cut that show off the natural grain of the wood.

Horrifying: The Instructions for Cleaning Paint Brushes

Fraser’s advice for cleaning up old paint brushes: To clean a paint brush, place it on an old newspaper or in a shallow dish. Pour on turpentine or kerosene and then gently pummel the bristles up and down or squeeze them with a blunt stick. Wipe off the brush with waste or a rag, then give it another soaking in the cleaning liquid, repeating the wiping and drying.

Listen, kerosene is a solvent that is technically useful for cleaning up oil paints (as were used back then) — but the idea of just throwing around a flammable fuel willy nilly is a little terrifying. Thankfully, paints today are most commonly water-based and can be cleaned up with soap and water.

Helpful: Guidance on How to Use a Hammer

Using a hammer is relatively straightforward, but this is a great illustration for anyone who hasn’t picked one up before. Rather than holding it closer to the head — as Fraser says beginners tend to do — you should grip the end of the handle. Striking straight on will put all of the force into the nail, making the job quicker and easier, and will also prevent marks on your wood or wall from the hammer.

Horrifying: Advice on Gas Leaks

Oh, how times have changed. Fraser advises his readers that if they smell gas, they should open windows and extinguish any flames. Smart! But then he goes on to tell them to look for leaks themselves after dark using an electric lamp. Not so smart!

Today, if you smell a gas leak, the best thing to do is evacuate immediately and call your gas provider’s emergency line. In other words: Let the pros handle it.

Helpful: A Tip for Screws

Fraser notes that a too-small or too-big screwdriver won’t do the job right, since both will slip out of the screw while you’re trying to drive it in. That goes for both flat-head screwdrivers and Philips head screwdrivers, which were actually invented after this book was published.

Another great tip? Tap your screw before you start to drive it, so it can stay in the right spot while you screw.

Horrifying: Fraser’s Ladder Advice

Fraser suggests that if you can’t reach high spots on your home’s siding, you might have luck placing the ladder on the roof of your home’s porch or a nearby shed. Modern safety experts would definitely disagree. As the American Ladder Institute notes, a ladder’s feet should always be on firm, level ground.

Helpful: Instructions for Fixing Dented Wood

For shallow dents in furniture, Fraser says to use an iron and a damp rag, which will help the indented wood rise back to the surface. This is great advice that still holds true today — and can even be used for wood floor dents, too.

Horrifying: Past Ingredients for Paint

The ideal paint, according to Fraser, should contain pure white lead or red lead. Eek! Lead from paint, we now know, can damage the brain and nervous system if ingested (especially by children). Today, paint is manufactured without lead; if you have a vintage home, you can buy lead-testing kits to determine if your existing paint job needs to be covered.

Hilarious: The Name for Plungers

Fraser calls this tool a “plumber’s friend” with nary a mention of the word “plunger” in sight. This is one thing from the 1920s I say we bring back!

Megan Baker

Home Projects Editor

Megan is a writer and editor who specializes in home upgrades, DIY projects, hacks, and design. Before Apartment Therapy, she was an editor at HGTV Magazine and This Old House Magazine. Megan has a degree in Magazine Journalism from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. She is a self-taught weighted blanket connoisseur.

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10 Gardening Tools You’ll Need for Professional Results

10 Gardening Tools You’ll Need for Professional Results

Gardening tools are essential not only for your safety and comfort but also for productivity. With the right tools in hand, you’ll be able to work more efficiently and effectively, yielding bigger and healthier harvests.

What’s more, the ease and peace of mind they provide will allow you to reap all of gardening’s physical and psychological health benefits.

Designer gardening tools with turquoise blades
Sharp garden tools work more efficiently, effectively, and save you energy. (DepositPhotos)

As you move through this checklist of essential gardening tools, keep in mind that different products offer a wide selection of features, as well as varying degrees of quality.

How tall are you? Can you kneel to work? How large is your garden?

These are just a few questions to ask yourself as you move through all your options.

Gloved hands planting spring plants in the garden
Pay close attention to air and soil when gardening. (©maryviolet, Adobe Stock Photos)

1. Gardening Gloves

A good pair of gardening gloves will protect your hands from a number of hazards, including thorns, chemicals, and adverse weather conditions. They’ll also keep your hands and nails clean.

Choose gloves based on the task you’ll be performing — for instance, pruning roses and planting seeds make for two very different gardening experiences.

So, if you’re an avid gardener, you’ll want to have different pairs of gloves to tackle various jobs.

Gloved hands pruning a rosebush.
Pruning your roses? Grab a pair of pruning shears with ergonomic handles to make the job easy. (©New Africa, Adobe Stock Photos)

2. Pruning Shears

This handy gardening tool will prove invaluable for cutting smaller vines and branches. Even vegetable gardeners like to use pruning shears to harvest tomatoes, peppers, melons and other yields that don’t easily pop off the vine.

When choosing your pruning shears, make sure the grips are comfortable and the blades are sharp.

It takes just a few minutes to sharpen shears with grinders, files or sharpening stones. You just need to disassemble the tool, clean it, sharpen it, reassemble it, and clean the assembled tool for optimal performance.

And once you start using pruning shears, you might be surprised at how many miles you put on these handy little devices!

Garden hose, seen rolled up and stored on the side of a brick home
Everyone knows you need a garden hose, but did you also know some plants require a soaker hose?

3. Garden Hose

Your plants will need water — and unless you plan on hauling it in buckets, you’ll need a hose that reaches the farthest end of your garden.

Some plants, particularly perennials, don’t thrive with wet foliage, so you’ll also want a soaker hose, which slowly releases water so it soaks deeply into the soil.

Best of all? You can hide a soaker hose beneath your mulch and set it with a timer to turn on and off as needed.

Mulching the backyard with a wheelbarrow filled with gardening tools including a mulch and a shovel
A wheelbarrow is essential for moving around soil, plants and tools while gardening.

4. Wheelbarrow

Chances are you’ll need to move dirt, clippings, compost, rocks — and the tools listed in this article. A wheelbarrow (or a garden cart or sled) will come in handy. Choose one that feels sturdy and balanced.

Pro Tips:

• Replace the wheelbarrow’s tire with a solid, universal tire that’s not inflated with air and can never go flat.

• Before you load up a wheelbarrow, point it toward the direction of travel. This will prevent you from pivoting with a heavy load

Gardening shears being used to trim a branch on a tree during a hot summer day
If you’re removing vines and branches, you’ll need garden shears.

5. Garden Shears

Lawn/shrub/garden shears, which are larger than pruning shears, are designed to trim shrubs and cut larger vines and branches. Choose a model that’s sturdy, yet light enough to be ergonomic.

“Today’s Homeowner” host Danny Lipford shovels dirt in New Jersey
Whether you’re digging trenches or transplanting seedlings, one thing is certain: You’re going to need a shovel.

6. Shovel

Whether you’re digging out old shrubs, root balls or rocks, transplanting seedlings or filling a bed with soil or mulch, you’ll need a shovel or spade.

Choose one with a sharp edge, comfortable handle and a shaft that’s the right height for you.

Gloved hands place new plants in a raised garden bed
Carving out holes for plants in a raised garden bed? You don’t need a big tool — do it with a hand trowel!

7. Hand Trowel

This is much like a shovel, but it’s small enough to fit in one hand. Select a hand trowel that feels good in your grip, with a steady blade that won’t bend. Then use it to carve out holes for small plants, dig up weeds and extract plants for overwintering.

Woman uses thatch rake on her lawn during the winter
You’ll need different rakes to tackle different lawn and gardening jobs. (©Ingo Bartussek, Adobe Stock Photos)

8. Garden Rake

Whether you need to smooth out soil after it’s been tilled, comb rocks from the dirt or level out mulch, a garden rake with metal tines is a necessity.

You may need multiple rakes, depending on your lawn and garden’s needs. The three most common options are bow, leaf and shrub rakes.

Bow rakes help with smoothing out soil in a garden; leaf rakes are perfect for gathering leaves or pine straw; and small shrub rakes come in handy for placing mulch in tight spaces.

Pro Tip: Rake leaves fast with a tarp and two wooden dowels that make it easy to transport piles of leaves to a garbage can.

Woman tends to her garden with a hoe
Planting seeds or digging out weeds in your garden? Reach for a hoe. (©visivasnc,

9. Garden Hoe

When it’s time to create furrows, plant seeds, mound up soil and dig weeds or root vegetables, a garden hoe is the tool you’ll need.

Choosing the right garden hoe will require a bit of research. If eliminating weeds is at the top of your list, a scuffle hoe, swoe or serpentine hoe might be the best choice.

For planting seeds, go with a warren hoe; and for tougher jobs that require more earth-moving, the draw hoe will be your multi-purpose friend.

Woman with rubber boots pressing down on garden fork to aerate lawn
Need to aerate your lawn? If you don’t have a machine to do it, a simple garden fork works, too! (DepositPhotos)

10. Garden Fork

This tool is great for breaking up compacted soil. Choose a garden fork with sturdy tines that won’t bend if you hit a rock. If you plan to move mulch or compost, pick one with curved tines so you can use it as a shovel.

A pristine backyard with bright green grass and trimmed bushes.
Having the right gardening tools helps you to take better care of your lawn and garden.

When you have just the right gardening tool for every job, you will move quickly through tasks, your garden will look beautiful, and you’ll be better equipped to care for plants.

Choose tools that will work best for you and your garden, but also those you can expect to last for years to come.

And remember: Inexpensive tools might seem attractive at first, but nothing beats reliability and longevity.

Barb Abrahms is the CEO and co-founder of PalmFlex. Abrahms has over 20 years of experience consulting her team and customers on their ideal personal protective equipment needs for a variety of industries and applications.