For the home user, the need for a chainsaw is predominantly for felling small trees, removing hedges and cutting firewood.
Remember, never use a chainsaw whilst up a ladder, instead consider a telescopic chainsaw pole pruner.
This chainsaw reviews guide was created to provide a large pool of resources of reviews, videos and tutorials to help you made an education decision of what is the best chainsaw for you. You’ll find there are a lot of brands, each brand features multiple sizes (both bar length and engine/motor size), types such as gas or electric and other features that can make the job easier and safer.
Most chainsaws are available through Amazon with the acceptation of Stihl. Remember that the warranty is covered by the product manufacturer, so if you have any trouble any authorized dealer can assist. The first chainsaw I ever purchased the local dealer went out of business one month later (this after being in business for 14 years) so I thought I was stuck however when I found out any authorized dealer can service the saw I breathed some relief.
A chainsaw, when maintained properly, can last years and years and makes a great investment. I don’t use my chainsaw for my job, however when a job arises that I need it, it helps that’s it’s ready to go. We’ll offer you several tips along the way so that once you’ve selected your new chainsaw you’ll know the best way to make use of it.
Picking the right chainsaw – Gas or Electric?
There are three main power sources for chainsaws, gas, electric corded and battery chainsaws. If your considering any time of medium to high duty projects then we’d recommend investing in a gas chainsaw. You will typically get longer use besides more power and you can usually find finding parts and fixing them easier. However, electric chainsaws have come a long way in recent years. If your considering light duty work, then electric chainsaws can be a good fit. With the choice of corded or cordless we prefer corded because it’s ready to go when you are and you won’t be in the middle of a cut before you need to swap out batteries and do a recharge. You do need to drag a cord around however once I start a project I like to finish it without interruption. If you are set on battery operated then there are some great choices we review on this site, just keep in mind that batteries don’t last forever so you’ll want to consider investing in a spare or two when you make your purchase, especially since parts can be hard to come buy in the future if the model is discontinued.
Most electric chainsaws are really for very occasional use on branches no more than a few inches in diameter. Although there are more powerful electric models available, capable of cutting firewood and felling, your money would be better spent on a petrol powered model. Electric models do have the advantage of being quieter, lighter and more environmentally friendly than their petrol counterparts, but there is a big trade-off in terms of power, freedom of movement and durability.
Most importantly, ask yourself how often will you be needing to use a chainsaw. If it’s only for occasional use, for example felling a couple of trees or ridding your garden of that dreaded conifer hedge, then either one of the better electric or basic petrol powered models will be ideal. If you’re decided on an electric chainsaw, take a serious look at the two big names Husqvarna and Stihl. Also worthy of consideration are the Bosch range.
The benefits are they cost less, start effortlessly, weight less and most just plug into a standard extension cord, a 12-gauge is recommended. They are best for smaller, lighter duty projects such as trimming small tree limbs or shrubs. Since they are reliant on power it does limit how far your work area can be. There are options for battery powered chain saws that will provide more freedom of where it’s used. For chainsaws requiring a cord the bar length is typically 12-14 inches and cordless battery models are 12 inches.
When choosing a basic petrol chainsaw, look for an engine size of between 30-40 cc. Whichever chainsaw you decide upon, try and get the shortest guide bar length for your needs. In most cases a guide bar length of 12 inches will be sufficient. They typically have more power and have faster chain speeds than their electric counterpart. As a result cuts will be quicker, smoother and with less effort. However, they are heavier, noisier and do require refueling. They can also require several pulls to start however higher-end gas powered chainsaws usually require less pulls. Gas powered chainsaws usually work best for those that use one more frequently, on harder jobs or in remote areas.
Regular chainsaw use
If you plan on carrying out more than just occasional chainsaw use, for example several firewood cutting sessions each year plus some clearance work, it’s worth looking at some of the lower end semi-professional chainsaws. You will pay a little more, but the difference in performance is huge. These chainsaws are built to higher specifications, have more efficient anti vibration systems, better power to weight ratios and tougher engines. These chainsaws will make the larger jobs a pleasure rather than a chore, not only that, the engines will last significantly longer.
Additional Chainsaw Features To Consider:
- Chain Brake: Provides a quick stop to the chain if the saw kicks back or if the front hand guard is pushed forward.
- Chain Catcher: Under the bar this is a metal extension that helps keep the chain flying back towards the operator. This can occur when a chain has become loose from improper tensioning.
- Shielded Muffler: Prevents hands and fingers from getting burned while operating.
- Trigger Lockout: A separate switch located near where the palm rests that must be pressed before the saw will run.
- Chain Oiler: Automatic feature that keeps the chain lubricated while cutting that prevents the chain from wearing out as quickly and overheating.
- Anti-Vibration: Found mostly in gas models, it minimizes vibration so that the operator doesn’t get fatigued as easily.
- Bar-tip Guard: Covers the nose of the bar that helps prevent kickbacks.
- Case: Most saws include a case however if it doesn’t there are many available form third parties.
- Wraparound handle: Additional handle for gripping the chainsaw when making horizontal cuts needed when cutting trees.
Several safeguards have been added to chainsaws that are even now found in inexpensive models. Even so, there are thousands of chainsaw related injuries each year. Here are recommendations when using a chainsaw:
- Wear tight, snug fitting cloths
- Wear heavy, durable work boots
- Shield legs with chaps
- Wear protective gloves
- Use ear plugs
- Wear a helmet with a face shield
- Apply regular maintenance including keeping the blade sharp, property tensioned and chain oil filled
Check out this link from OSHA on Chainsaw Safety.