How to Cut Wood Slices with a Chainsaw: 3 Methods

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Using a chainsaw may seem intimidating, but they make quick work of cutting thin pieces of wood that you can use to create rustic decor. If it’s your first time, you need to be mindful of the important safety tips and cutting techniques. 

Here, I’ll show you how to cut wood slices with a chainsaw and share some of my favorite ways to use these wood slices in projects.

What is the Best Chainsaw Size for Chopping Wood Slices?

Chainsaws ranging in size of 16 to 18 inches are the most practical options for cutting wood into discs.

It takes a longer blade of up to 24 inches to cut wood slices through logs much larger than 18 inches. But standard chainsaw lengths for slicing through tree logs are 16 and 18 inches. 

person operating Kobalt 80v Chainsaw

You can also use chainsaws of various lengths to do the task. If you want things to run more smoothly, it’s best to have everything you’ll need for this project on hand before you start. Check out the best 16-inch chainsaws here!

3 Ways to Chop Wood Slices Using a Chainsaw

Tools and Materials

Safety Gear and Equipment

Safety Reminders on Handling a Chainsaw

If handled properly, chainsaws are one of the most effective and adaptable woodworking equipment.

To avoid injury while cutting wood slices with chainsaw, remember these important guidelines:

Also, before you start cutting, make practice cuts on scrap wood. It gives you a real sense of how the machine operates and responds.

cutting a large tree with Kobalt 80v Chainsaw

When using a chainsaw, it is just as crucial to wear the appropriate protective gear as it is to use the tool properly.

Method #1: Freehand

Step #1: Elevate the Log

You cannot safely cut wood slices using the freehand and fast method if the log is lying on the ground. You risk kickback or quickly dulling the chainsaw blade if you drop them. Therefore, you should first put the tree log just above knee level.

Keeping it at a height of at least 15 cm or 6 in. above the ground will allow you to cut without fear of backlash and keep your blades from becoming dull. You can prop up the wood on a sawbuck, chainsaw horse, or some other suitable piece of wood.

Step #2: Find the Knots

Tree knots form when new wood grows near a dead branch. When you’re sawing through a tree, always make it a priority to look for these knots. Not only are they tougher than the rest of the wood, but they also increase the risk of kickback, which can be dangerous. 

Knowing where the tree knots or the circle shapes are, you may devise a strategy to prevent accidentally sawing through them. 

Greenworks Pro 80V Cordless Chainsaw

Some of these might be amenable to being lopped off with a chainsaw so you can get back to work without having to stop and check for them every few minutes.

Step #3: Measure Then Mark the Cutting Line

At this stage, label the log with the thickness you prefer. Most large wood slices come in 1- to 5-inch slices. You will need a tape measure to get an accurate thickness reading. 

If the wood I’m working with is too dark, I often use masking tape to mark it. For lighter barks, a permanent marker usually does the trick. To ensure a precise cut, I always measure and mark the entire circumference of the tree.

Also Read: How to Use a Tape Measure for Accurate Readings

Step #4: Cut Away

Securely hold the chainsaw and activate it. Keep it approximately 4 to 5 inches (10 to 13 centimeters) above where you intend to cut wood slices, then work carefully. Only apply light pressure while slicing wood.

It is best to surround the front handle with your left thumb for a firm grip. Slowly lower it, and most of the cutting job can be left to the chainsaw.

Shindaiwa chainsaw

You might also want to resharpen the chainsaw chain or blade if your chainsaw isn’t making clean and precise cuts.

Also Check: Top Chainsaw Sharpeners

Step #5: Complete the Cut and Repeat

Mark the next section of its trunk and cut it out once you finish the first. Alternatively, allow the initial slice to fall to the ground or shut the chainsaw off, then leave the first slice aside before continuing.

Method #2: With a Chainsaw Jig

Step #1: Prepare the Jig

Measure the diameter of the tree trunk by using a tape measure. Once you have a tree log in hand, divide a 24 in half, so each piece is the same length as the log’s diameter. Let’s name those two parts A.

Repeat with multiple slices, but this time increase your log’s measurements by four inches. B refers to the following two parts.

The next step is to create a u-shaped piece out of four 2x4s. Assemble the A and B pieces beginning with their ends. Join them, have the angle nailed and move them along the wooden log to determine the location of the second A.

preparing jig and chainsaw

Nail the second A section to the first B once you’ve determined where to place it. Finish the 2×4 u-shaped box by nailing the remaining B piece.

Building and using a wood-slicing jig is the most accurate method for cutting wood slices with a consistent thickness throughout.

Step #2: Test the Chainsaw Blade

Step one requires tracking down a couple of thin wood fragments of identical dimensions and thickness (approximately an inch). Glue both on the same side; one near the snout, the other at the right edge of the blade.

Use the strips to move the chainsaw without damaging the jig.

Step #3: Attach the Jig on the Log

First, place the jig over the log and adjust it until the finished product is the desired thickness. Then, add an inch to accommodate the glued-on wood extensions to your chainsaw.

cutting lumber with jig

Secure the jig to the tree log by inserting screws through its two opposite sides. This will ensure that the jig remains stable while you make your cuts.

Step #4: Cut Away

Start the chainsaw while holding it firmly between your feet.

Press the gas pedal and cautiously move the blade to the right across the jig. Those wooden strips will ensure a straight cut.

Gently push through the opening. Don’t do too much yourself; the chainsaw can do most of the cutting. If the chain cannot cut wood properly through the cutting process, you have to get it sharpened.

Step #5: Complete the Cut and Repeat

Reduce the height of the jig as you cut more wood into slices. The key is to keep going through this process until you reach your objective. 

cutting wood slices

Method #3: Cut Then Level

The next chainsaw method is to just cut the log to size without marking it first. It may not cut the wood cleanly, but you can remedy it with a sander.

When you’re done chopping wood slices with a chainsaw, you’ll need to use an orbital sander to smooth off the rough edges of the wood pieces.

However, I strongly recommend sticking to the first two methods mentioned above. It’s crucial to prioritize safety at all times.

Hold the chainsaw firmly before switching it on, bring it down a few inches, then cut the wood slowly, and remember that you shouldn’t put too much force into the cuts themselves.

orbital sander

It’s essential to keep chainsaw blades in good condition; it ensures smooth operation. If the blades become dull, sharpening them will help you work more efficiently and produce wood slices with ease.

Additional Tips When Cutting Wood Slices

First, never take your hands off the saw. Amateur woodworkers frequently use their off-hand to steady the object they are cutting wood discs.

Ensure the tree log is properly positioned and secured before you start cutting wood slices with a chainsaw. Hold your cutter with both hands and keep both feet planted on the ground.

In addition, it’s important to use the appropriate instrument. A chainsaw just a bit bigger than the thickness of the wood is ideal for cutting through thick logs.

wood disc slices

However, you don’t want to use a clumsy implement to remove coaster-sized wood chunks from a downed tree.

Creative Ways to Use Wood Slices

Wooden slices can be turned into table tops, chopping boards, and coasters. Using a chainsaw to clear a yard offers an added advantage: the fallen tree branches, trunks, or loose bark can be repurposed into practical household items.

After slicing the wood, dry it. A strong brush and sandpaper remove broken bark and wood chips. Put the wooden discs in a low-temperature kiln or oven [1]. Wood dries and cures below 250 degrees.

Be careful—too much heat can ignite the wood. Cure huge wooden discs outside.


With the right power tools and materials, mastering the art of cutting wood slices with a chainsaw will become easier and smoother. Soon, you’ll have wood slices cut to perfection, ready for various uses and DIY projects.

From my experience, a chainsaw with a 16- or 18-inch bar will be ideal for handling larger tree trunks.

robert headshot

Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You’ve probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.

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