What Does a Saw Operator Do?

Dan Cavallari

A saw operator's duties can vary according to the specific industry in which he or she works. In the forestry industry, a saw operator may be responsible for cutting down trees in a forest, or operating large saws in a mill to cut the raw logs into boards. In a quarry, the operator may be responsible for cutting pieces of rocks into specific shapes or sizes. Various types of saws exist across a wide variety of industries, so the responsibilities of the operator will change accordingly.

Saw operators often work for logging companies.
Saw operators often work for logging companies.

Safety is, of course, the primary concern of any saw operator, regardless of the materials being cut or the machine being operated. Every saw operator must be trained in how to properly use each machine, and all safety procedures must be adhered to at all times to ensure the safety of the operator as well as any bystanders. Some companies will require the operator to undergo a certain amount of on the job training, and in other industries, it may be necessary to become certified or licensed to work as a saw operator. This training will cover safety techniques as well as general maintenance of cutting tools, methods for making accurate cuts, and in some cases, methods for felling trees.

A man using a chainsaw.
A man using a chainsaw.

Part of the saw operator's job is assessing which materials are good for cutting and which ones are best left uncut. In the case of wood saw operators, he or she must be able to recognize imperfections that can lead to bad cuts or damage to the saw blade, signs of rot, or other signs that the wood may not be right for its intended purpose. Operators of rock saws must be able to recognize where to cut rocks properly and how to secure those rocks for cutting in the first place.

Sometimes the saw operator will be trained to operate one particular type of saw. A band saw, for example, is a specific type of cutting tool that requires an operator who knows how to manipulate the materials and the saw itself to ensure the most accurate cuts. A chainsaw operator will be trained to cut logs, usually in an outdoor setting, which means he or she will need to be able to figure out ways to cut trees safely in addition to cutting quickly and accurately. Scroll saws are used for detail work and require an operator with a steady hand and an ability to move the materials nimbly.

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