How to Cut Wood Slices with Chainsaw (Two Fast and Easy Methods)

How to Cut Wood Slices with Chainsaw (Two Fast and Easy Methods)

Are you looking to do more with your chainsaw?

Would you like to use your chainsaw for creative projects like cutting wood slices?

If so, this guide is for you.

Below, I’ll teach you how to cut wood slices with chainsaw using two fast and easy methods.

By the time you’re done reading, you’ll know to cut wood slices for centerpieces, coasters, decorative designs, chair bottoms, and more.

So, let’s get started!

Best Size Chainsaw for Cutting Wood Slices

Before we jump into methods on how to cut wood slices, I wanted to point out that there are two particular size chainsaws that are best for this project: 16 inch and 18 inch chainsaws.

Those two sizes are generally long enough to cut tree logs into wood slices.

If you already own a chainsaw of those lengths, great!

If not, you can check out buying guides and reviews of the best 16 inch chainsaws and reviews of the best 18 inch chainsaws.

If you’re trying to cutting a log that’s much bigger than 18 inches, then you’ll need an even longer blade for this job. If that’s the case, then check out my reviews of the top 10 chainsaws that include lengths up to 24 inches.

How to Cut Wood Slices with a Chainsaw

Method 1: Freehand and Fast

With this method, you’ll cut wood slices without any extra equipment besides the chainsaw, a tree log, and support.

It’s the fastest way to cut wood slices but not the most accurate.

Safety First

Operating a chainsaw can be dangerous no matter how careful you may be. So, it’s important to always take the necessary precautions to protect yourself from injury.

Before slicing wood with a chainsaw, ensure that you’re wearing these protective items:

  • Cut-resistant gloves
  • Cut-resistant boots
  • Long-sleeved shirt
  • Jeans and chainsaw chaps
  • Hearing protection
  • Safety goggles and helmet or a safety helmet with attached visor

Once you’re geared up properly, move onto the following steps.

Video of the Process

Step 1: Prop Up the Tree Log

You never want to cut wood slices with the tree log on the ground.

That position makes it harder to control the cuts and if your chainsaw chain hits the dirt it can instantly be dulled.

The best position for cutting wood slices with a chainsaw is to have the tree log at a height just above your knees.

If you’re serious about getting the most even and flat cuts for wood slices, you’ll want to prop your tree log up on a chainsaw horse (or sawbuck).

You can buy a chainsaw horse or make your own out of 2 x 4 lumber.

Step 2: Locate the Tree Knots

Not only can cutting through tree knots hurt your chainsaw chain but it can also be dangerous.

Tree knots are harder wood and can make the chainsaw act in unpredictable ways when sawing through them.

So, to protect your tool and reduce chances of a kickback injury, take note of where the tree knots are and avoid them when cutting your wood slices.

Tree knots are circular spots where the wood is very condensed. Look for both circle shapes that don’t run along with the bark and those that protrude from the trunk.

Step 3: Measure and Mark the Tree Log

When you cut wood slices with a chainsaw, the thickness of those slices are up to you.

You can choose 1″ inch slices, 2″ slices, 5″ slices, more.

No matter what thickness you choose for each slice, the same step applies: measure the thickness with a tape measure and put a marking all around the tree log.

Measuring and marking the wood will give you the most precise cuts, and with the line around the whole log, you can keep the cut level and steady.

Step 4: Start Sawing

Turn on the chainsaw and hold it firmly in both hands at a height of a few inches above your marking.

Squeeze the throttle and slowly lower the blade down onto the tree trunk to cut through it.

Use light pressure as you push through the cut. Let the chainsaw do most of the work. If you find that you’re having to push hard on the blade to get through the cut, then the chain is probably dull. Stop and sharpen your chainsaw chain before proceeding.

As you slice through the wood, keep an eye on the marking you made on the trunk and ensure that you’re blade is following it as close as possible.

Step 5: Finish the Cut and Repeat

Finish the cut and let the slice drop onto the ground.

Then, use your tape measure to measure out another slice, mark the trunk, and repeat the cutting process.

Method 2: With a Jig

If you want the most precise way for how to cut wood slices with chainsaw without any variation in thickness, then you’ll want to build and use a jig.

This wood slicing jig is nothing more than a few pieces of 2 x 4 nailed together that act as a guide for you chainsaw blade as you cut through the tree.

Before you go through the steps below, follow steps 1 through 2 in the Freehand and Fast method above to set up the tree log in a chainsaw horse and to locate the knots.

Video of the Process

Step 1: Build the Jig

Measure the diameter of the tree log you’re going to slice.

Transfer that measurement to a 2 x 4 and cut it two pieces that equal that length.

Cut two more pieces of 2 x 4 that are least 4 inches longer than the initial measurement. This will give you some extra space to accommodate the formation of a box.

At this point, you’re basically going to nail these 2 x 4 pieces together to form a box. This box will then slide over the tree trunk.

Nail the end of one of the first pieces of 2 x 4 you cut to the side of one of the second pieces of 2 x 4 you cut. It’s best to start at the end of the longer board.

After you have this right angle nailed together, slide it along the tree trunk to find out where you need to nail the second shorter piece of 2 x 4. Nail that end into the longer 2 x 4 piece. You should now have a U shaped piece of the box.

Finally, place the last piece of 2 x 4 lumber on the tips of the U shaped box and nail it into place.

You now have a 2 x 4 box formed.

Step 2: Prepare the Chainsaw Blade

Find two thin pieces of scrap wood that are at least 1-inch thick and equal size to each other.

Glue one of the pieces of wood to the base of the right side of the chainsaw blade. Glue the other near the tip on the same side of the blade.

This setup will raise the chainsaw chain above the jig and allow you to slide the blade across the 2 x 4s without touching the jig for a perfectly level cut.

Step 3: Set the Jig on the Tree Log

Slip the jig over the tree log and slide it down until the top of the jig gives you enough clearance for your desired thickness of the cut.

Then, slide the jig down one more inch to accommodate the raised level of the chainsaw blade.

Attach the jig to the tree log by fastening it with screws through two opposite sides of the jig. That way, it won’t move when you’re cutting.

Step 4: Start Sawing

Turn on the chainsaw and hold it firmly in both hands.

Squeeze the throttle and slowly slide the right side of the blade across the jig. The attached wood strips will keep the cut level.

Use light pressure as you push through the cut. Let the chainsaw do most of the work. If you find that you’re having to push hard on the blade to get through the cut, then the chain is probably dull. Stop and sharpen your chainsaw chain before proceeding.

Step 5: Finish the Cut and Repeat

Finish the cut and let the wood slice drop to the ground.

To cut more wood slices, repeat the cutting process.

Keep Slicing!

By following the steps outlined on this page, you can have beautifully sliced wood for all sorts of uses and creative projects.

As a reminder, if you’re cutting thicker tree logs, then a 16 inch or 18 inch chainsaw is going to be the best size for this job.

If you already have that size of a machine, great. If not, take a look at my other free guides that show you how to choose the right chainsaw model for your needs.

Here are links to my buying guides and reviews of the best 16 inch chainsaws and reviews of the best 18 inch chainsaws.

And, if you’re cutting tree logs that are much wider than 18 inches, then take a look at my reviews of the top 10 chainsaws that include blade lengths up to 24 inches.

I hope you enjoy this post on how to cut wood slices with chainsaw!

Happy sawing!

Your pal,
Chainsaw Larry