Can You Cut Sleepers With A Chainsaw: A Comprehensive Guide

In the world of DIY projects and home improvement, having the right tools can make all the difference. Chainsaws are versatile tools that can handle a variety of tasks, from cutting down trees to trimming branches. But can you cut sleepers with a chainsaw?

Yes, you can use chainsaw for cutting sleepers. But, the most common tool used for cutting railway sleepers is a chainsaw or a circular saw.

In this guide, we’ll explore the use of chainsaws for cutting sleepers and provide you with essential information to ensure safety and success in your woodworking projects.

Understanding Chainsaws

Before we delve into the topic of cutting sleepers with a chainsaw, it’s crucial to understand the basics of chainsaws. Chainsaws are power tools designed to cut through wood quickly and efficiently. They consist of several key components:

  1. Engine: The engine is the heart of the chainsaw, providing the power needed to rotate the chain.
  2. Chain: The chain is made up of sharp teeth that rotate around a guide bar. It’s responsible for cutting through the wood.
  3. Guide Bar: The guide bar is a long, flat piece of metal or plastic that the chain wraps around. It provides stability and support for the chain.
  4. Safety Features: Chainsaws are equipped with safety features such as chain brakes and throttle triggers to prevent accidents.

Tools Needed for Cutting Sleepers

To successfully cut sleepers with a chainsaw, you’ll require specific tools in addition to the chainsaw itself. Here’s a list of the essential items you’ll need:

  1. Chainsaw
  2. Safety Glasses
  3. Gloves
  4. Ear Protection
  5. Safety Boots
  6. Workbench or Sawhorse
  7. Measuring Tape
  8. Marking Tool
  9. Chalk Line

Can You Cut Sleepers With A Chainsaw? Possible Measures

Sleepers, also known as railroad ties, are thick wooden beams typically used for landscaping and outdoor projects. Cutting sleepers with a chainsaw is possible, but it requires careful consideration and the right techniques.

Safety Precautions for Chainsaw

  1. Safety Gear: Before you start, make sure to wear the appropriate safety gear, including eye protection, ear protection, gloves, and a helmet.
  2. Stability: Ensure that the sleeper is stable and secure before making any cuts. Use clamps or supports to hold it in place.

Chainsaw Selection for Cutting Sleepers

Not all chainsaws are created equal, and some are better suited for cutting sleepers than others. Here’s what to look for in a chainsaw:

  1. Bar Length: Choose a chainsaw with a bar length that matches the thickness of the sleeper you intend to cut. Typically, a bar length of 14 to 18 inches should suffice for most sleepers.
  2. Chain Type: Opt for a chain designed for cutting through hardwoods and tough materials. A skip-tooth chain is often a good choice.

How to Cut Sleepers with a Chainsaw: Cutting Techniques

After selecting the appropriate chainsaw, it’s time to get down to business. Here are some techniques to effectively cut sleepers with a chainsaw:

Mark Your Cut:

Measure and mark the sleeper where you want to make the cut. Ensure your markings are straight and even.

Start the Chainsaw:

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for starting your chainsaw. Ensure it’s in good working condition before beginning.

Make the Cut:

Slowly guide the chainsaw into the marked area, keeping a steady hand. Apply even pressure and let the chainsaw’s teeth do the work.

Be Mindful of Sparks:

Chainsaws can produce sparks when cutting through metal fasteners or nails embedded in the sleeper. Exercise caution when encountering such obstacles.

Can Cut Sleepers With A Chainsaw? Advantages and Disadvantages

Chainsaws are powerful tools that offer several advantages and some disadvantages when cutting sleepers.

Advantages of Cutting Sleepers

Here are some of the benefits to consider:

  1. Speed and Efficiency: Chainsaws are designed to cut through wood quickly and efficiently, making them ideal for fast-paced projects.
  2. Versatility: With the right chain type, you can effectively cut any type of wood, including hardwoods.

Disadvantages of Cutting Sleepers

Despite its many advantages, using a chainsaw to cut sleepers can also present certain challenges and drawbacks. Here are some disadvantages to be aware of:

  1. Need for Maintenance: Chainsaws require regular maintenance and upkeep. The chain needs to be sharpened, and the engine must be serviced regularly to ensure optimal performance.
  2. Noise Pollution: Chainsaws are noisy tools, which can cause a nuisance in residential areas and may require the use of ear protection.

Cutting Sleepers with a Chainsaw: Professional Tips

When cutting sleepers with a chainsaw, there are several tips to keep in mind. Here are some essential pointers:

Keep Your Hands Away from the Blades:

Be sure to keep your hands away from the blades at all times, as they can be extremely sharp and hazardous.

Get a Good Grip on the Chainsaw:

Always maintain a firm grip on the chainsaw with both hands when cutting sleepers. This will help you remain in control throughout the cutting process.

Clean the Blades Regularly:

The chain of a chainsaw can become clogged with sawdust, so be sure to inspect and clean it regularly.

Use a File to Sharpen the Chain:

A dull chainsaw is less efficient and could result in an uneven cut. To remedy this, use a file to sharpen the chain periodically.


Cutting sleepers with a chainsaw can be a straightforward task if executed with the right knowledge and equipment.

Always prioritize safety and maintenance for the best results. With the appropriate chainsaw, safety gear, and cutting techniques, you can effectively use your chainsaw for a myriad of projects, including cutting sleepers.


Here are some frequently asked questions about cutting sleepers with a chainsaw:

1. Can I use any chainsaw to cut sleepers?

While it’s possible to use various chainsaws, it’s recommended to use one with an appropriate bar length and a chain designed for hardwoods to ensure a clean and efficient cut.

2. What is the quickest way to cut sleepers?

There are multiple techniques for cutting sleepers, but we highly recommend utilizing a circular saw for its exceptional accuracy, precision, and efficiency.

3. How can I prevent the chainsaw from getting stuck in the sleeper?

Ensuring the sleeper is well-supported and using the correct chainsaw for the job can help prevent the chainsaw from getting stuck.

4. Can I cut sleepers with nails in them?

Cutting sleepers with nails or metal fasteners can damage your chainsaw blade. It’s best to avoid them, but if you must, proceed with caution and be prepared for potential blade damage.

5. Are there any alternatives to cutting sleepers with a chainsaw?

Yes, you can use alternative tools such as a circular saw or reciprocating saw with a metal-cutting blade to cut sleepers if you don’t have access to a chainsaw.

Similar Posts