A chainsaw winch is a device used to haul or lift heavy items using a chainsaw body and a specially designed winch attachment. A winch is a device that features a long cable wrapped several times around a drum; this drum rotates in either direction, and the cable is either fed out or retracted according to which direction the barrel is turning. A chainsaw winch is one that is powered by a chainsaw body with the bar and chain removed. It is useful for hauling or pulling significant amounts of weight, but it is usually not heavy-duty enough for jobs that are completed with other, fixed winch designs.
Fixed winches are secured to solid objects. Some winches, for example, are fixed to the frame or specially designed front bumper of a vehicle so the winch is held in place. A chainsaw winch is usually used in a handheld fashion, which means the unit is only as useful as the person holding the saw body. In some cases, the chainsaw winch can be fixed or secured temporarily to a fixed object, but this is not always a safe practice and can lead to damage to the chainsaw unit as well as the winch unit. It can also lead to injuries to the user or bystanders.
To increase the safety of the unit, special adapters are available to allow the user to secure the chainsaw winch to the bed of a truck or the frame of a vehicle. Some adapters are also designed for use with a trailer hitch, while others are used to secure the unit to the ground or to a rock. This prevents the chainsaw winch from moving during use, which can compromise the safety of the user as well as the preservation of the saw and anything it might be hauling. Using an adapter also increases the amount of weight the winch can haul securely.
Winches designed for use with a chainsaw will require special adapters made for the specific brand and model of chainsaw. When purchasing such a unit, the buyer will need to take note of which make and model of chainsaw the unit is designed to work with. Buying the correct unit ensures the chainsaw will not be damaged during use. The portability of the chainsaw winch is its main appeal, but it will be of no use if the chainsaw breaks down because of improper installation or improper adapters being used.