How to Select the Best Chainsaw?


Whether you’re a gardener, a homeowner, a logger, carpenter or an arborist, you are no doubt going to need a chainsaw for the job. But it can be hard to know which chainsaw is going to suit your specific requirements.

There are so many chainsaw brands and varieties on the market, each with their own set of special features to get the job done right.

From cordless and battery powered through to electric, gas and pole, it can all seem overwhelming. Below you will find an easy guide to ensure you get the best chainsaw for your money.

 

Work Type

First you need to establish the work you will be carrying out. Are you using it commercially, industrially or just at home? Do you have one tree to chop or an entire forest block?

Once you establish the level of tree trimming and lopping you will be doing, you can then go ahead and start shopping for an affordable chainsaw!

 

Safety

Safety is important – regardless of whether you’re in the workplace or at home. A second consideration when you’re ready to purchase a new chainsaw is to consider its safety level.

Is it offering commercial grade safety features or just standard for around the home? You also need to consider what is the best deal comparable to the level of safety on offer.

New chainsaws come equipped with:

  • Protective scabbard over the bar and chain
  • Front handguard
  • Combined chain brake lever
  • Safety throttle
  • On/off switch
  • Chain catcher
  • Centrifugal switch and clutch
  • Rubber bush
If your chainsaw of choice does not come with all of these as standard, do not proceed with the purchase.

 

Efficiency

When choosing a new chainsaw, some thought should be put into how efficient your chosen brand will be. Manufacturers will generally include this information with the product such as its:

  • Chain oil capacity
  • Engine power
  • Fuel capacity
  • Powerhead weight

Because there are so many options such as cordless, battery powered, electric, gas and petrol, the options are endless for how efficient you would like your chainsaw to be.

It should, however, be comparable for the task you’re undertaking. An electric chainsaw would not be a great choice for the efficiency of lopping an entire forest block. Nor would you see the benefits of using a commercial saw for trimming buxus hedging.

 

Features

Aside from the standard chainsaw safety features mentioned in the safety section above, consumers should also recognise the many other top rated features chainsaws offer – depending on the manufacturer, model and brand.

You should take into consideration:

  • Engine size
  • Bar and chain length
  • Handle configuration - top or rear handle - or both for balance
  • Air filters and intake area
  • Restart coil - is it easy to operate?
  • Chain tensioning system
  • Anti-vibration system for easier handling

Think about the job your new chainsaw is going to be doing. Will it need a large engine size? Will it need a large bar and chain? Will the anti-vibration system be beneficial for those large jobs?

 

Maintenance

Just like a lawn mower, a bit of time needs to be spent maintaining your chainsaw. Each chainsaw model will come with a manual on how best to maintain it, but there are three basic items which should be general for the majority of saws.

#1 Fluid levels:

you should always keep fluid levels such as fuel, oil and lubricant topped up. Gas chainsaws will require you to fill with fuel, but will normally require a minimum octane level in that gas.

You will then need oil for both the bar and chain, and the engine. Two stroke engines will require you to mix the oil in with the fuel. Your manual will specify how this should be done in relation to the particular model you purchase.

Any oil you purchase should be labelled with its use – e.g. ‘two stroke mix’ or ‘premix oil’. You should ideally check the bar and chain oil level before each use.

#2 Sharpening the blade:

The chainsaw blade must also be kept sharp for safety reasons. This will make cutting more efficient and reduces kickback. While you do this, you must clean debris after each use and file the depth gauges to the level required for the type of wood being cut (hard or soft). When the chain is below 4mm, this will also need replaced.

#3 Giving it a deep clean:

Chainsaws can get dirty and clogged relatively quickly. Because of this, you should pay careful attention to the inner workings of the machine.

This includes removing the clutch cover to clean the chain brake band, cleaning the bar and scraping out debris, washing the air filter, cleaning the cooling fins and air intake, and checking the flywheels for blockages.

If you would prefer a professional take care of your chainsaw’s maintenance, talk to your local chainsaw dealer about how best to to undertake manufacturer preferred servicing.

 

Budget

It’s all well and good to have your eye set on a particular model, but not only does it have to meet your needs, it needs to meet your budget.

It can be a balancing act between making sure your chainsaw has all the right features, and seeing that it’s on the market at the right price as well.

Get the best chainsaw for your money by shopping around online, doing cost comparisons, and seeing what’s for sale locally as well. In this buying guide there are several different pros and cons that will help you make an informed decision on what will be the best option within your budget.

 

Available Chainsaw Types on the Market

Electric Powered Chainsaws

 

The electric chainsaw is a preferred chainsaw for many users. There are so many reasons why people opt for electric powered top handle chainsaws over their fuel powered counterparts.

For the homeowners who have the odd tree to lop, or the energy-conscious, an electric powered chainsaw is a great option. Here are the most common electric chainsaw types:

 

1

Cordless Electric Chainsaws

Cordless electric chainsaws are becoming a convenient item for household owners to enjoy. Not only do they not have a cord to contend with, but the battery should ensure at least two hours of cutting time – normally ample for around the home. The batteries charge quickly, and very little maintenance is required for its upkeep.

If you are interested in this type of a chainsaw, you would love to read this full buying guide on how to select the best cordless electric chainsaw for the money including reviews & comparison.

Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • Cordless electric chainsaws with an 18 inch chain bar will suit a majority of household owners for property maintenance.
  • Safety chains help reduce kickbacks.
  • They make less noise than fuel chainsaws.
  • They don’t need any fuel to operate - just a power source for the battery.

Cons:

  • They don’t have the same cutting power that gas saws have.
  • Cutting large trees can put stress on the machine.
  • You have a short cutting time before the battery needs charged.
  • The batteries are expensive to replace once they stop holding a charge.

Applications

A battery powered top handle chainsaw is largely used for home maintenance. Because of its rather short battery life, you will need to be near a power source to fully take advantage of all it has to offer.

It is not suitable for commercial or industrial use on a large scale, and is more in its prime when up against small trees and small lots of firewood.

Maintenance

Maintenance for battery powered chainsaws is minimal. There is no need for oil changes, spark plugs, air filters or fuel draining for storage.

The extent of maintenance includes the correct charging of the battery as per the manual’s instructions, the correct sharpening techniques of the blade and chain tensioning.

 

2

Corded Electric Chainsaws

A corded electric chainsaw is often found in the garages of those looking to do a bit of home maintenance. It’s perfect for jobs around the home, and in places with small cutting requirements and a power source.

It has also been in production since the 1960s, although a variation was used prior to this time period in the medical industry for cutting through bone.

If you are interested in this type of a chainsaw, you would love to read this full buying guide on how to select the best electric chainsaw for the money including reviews & comparison.

Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • Very little noise.
  • Very little maintenance.
  • Starts at the push of a button.
  • Easily stored.
  • Cost-effective.

Cons:

  • Not as powerful compared to its gasoline-fueled counterpart.
  • Generally runs on a 30m power cable, and may require extension cords.
  • Generally has a smaller blade.
  • 9 to 12 amp power range.

Applications

Because of its limited reach and the need to be connected to power, the corded electric chainsaw is best suited to a backyard environment rather than out in a commercial or industrial setting.

Maintenance

Maintenance is limited to general wear and tear, and chain sharpening. There is no worrying about filters, spark plugs or fuel. There’s also no need to drain fuel for storage as it doesn’t require it for use.

 

3

Electric Chainsaw on Pole

For those hard-to-reach branches, an electric pole chainsaw is an ideal addition to your toolshed. Although quite different from a standard chainsaw, they are used by many people looking to undertake pruning jobs.

If you are interested in this type of a chainsaw, you would love to read this full buying guide on how to select the best electric pole chainsaw for the money including reviews & comparison.

Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • The price is right - they are a cost-effective option when compared with other chainsaws.
  • They can reach places which may be difficult for handheld, heavier chainsaws.
  • They are lightweight.
  • They run on power, therefore do not need fuel.
  • They can be purchased at almost any hardware store and online

Cons:

  • Cord length - the cord length can sometimes not be long enough, and using extension cords can drop the power.
  • They are not as powerful as gas chainsaws.
  • Many people prefer the poles to be made out of aluminium which is often not standard.
  • They have short bars.

Applications

The electric pole chainsaw is best suited in a home environment for trimming trees, hedges and small suburban shelter belts.

Maintenance

Maintenance is limited to general wear and tear, and chain sharpening. There is no worrying about filters, spark plugs or fuel. There’s also no need to drain fuel for storage as it doesn’t require it for use.

With age, it will pay to have the power supply checked by an electrician, and the pole will need strength tested.

 

Gas/Petrol Powered Chainsaws

 

The chainsaw is one of the most dangerous tools owned by general homeowners, but it’s one that does an effective job and does no harm if used correctly. Gas/petrol powered chainsaws are more versatile than electric chainsaws, and can be used in a variety of settings.

 

1

Gas Powered Chainsaws

A gas/petrol powered chainsaw has a petrol engine and a large cutter bar powered by gasoline. These features alone separate them from their battery and electric powered counterparts.

There are many brands and manufacturers offering the very best in gas and petrol powered chainsaws.

If you are interested in this type of a chainsaw, you would love to read this full buying guide on how to select the best gas powered chainsaw for the money including reviews & comparison.

Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • They are powerful compared to an electric chainsaw.
  • They can fell large trees with ease.
  • They are versatile and can complete a huge range of tasks - both around the home and out in forest blocks.
  • They don’t need to be hooked up to power, they just have to have enough fuel for the job.
  • Many are efficient on fuel.

Cons:

  • They are heavy.
  • They kick back a lot more than electric chainsaws.
  • They require a lot more maintenance.
  • When you need to refuel you have to cool it down.
  • They generally have a larger price tag than an electric chainsaw.

Applications

Gas/petrol powered chainsaws can be used in many different settings. From your own home to an industrial or commercial site; the options are almost endless.

Maintenance

Gas/petrol powered chainsaws generally require a lot of maintenance to keep them in tune and working to their full potential. This maintenance includes:

  • Sharpening the blade.
  • Checking the bar and chain oil level before and after each use.
  • Cleaning the chain brake band.
  • Cleaning the chainsaw bar.
  • Washing the air filter.
  • Clear out cooling fins.
  • Check the flywheel pins for blockages.
  • Tightening screws and bolts.
  • Changing spark plugs.
  • Draining oil and fuel.
  • Topping up oil and fuel.

 

2

Gas Powered Chainsaws on Pole

For those with low hanging branches and thick hedging, a gas/petrol powered chainsaw on a pole is the best option for you. In fact, if accessing the branches with a standard chainsaw is not an option, a pole chainsaw fills the gap.

If you are interested in this type of a chainsaw, you would love to read this full buying guide on how to select the best gas powered pole chainsaw for the money including reviews & comparison.

Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • They get into hard-to-reach places.
  • They are inexpensive.
  • They are light and agile.
  • They are safer than standard chainsaws for the same task.
  • They remove the need for ladders.

Cons:

  • Their use is limited to hard-to-reach places.
  • They have a shorter bar than standard chainsaws.
  • They are not as powerful as standard saws.

Applications

Not only are petrol/gas powered pole chainsaws great for around the home, but they are the perfect addition to the arborist or landscaper’s arsenal. This makes them the right tool for industrial or commercial use.

Maintenance

There is quite a bit of work in maintaining a pole chainsaw. You will need to take care of:

  • Wiping down the outside.
  • Checking the throttle and stop switch works.
  • Cleaning the air filter.
  • Tightening screws, bolts and nuts.
  • Checking fuel levels.
  • Cleaning and/or replacing spark plugs.
  • Checking the starter cord.
  • Cleaning around the carburetor.
  • Cleaning flywheel cooling fins.
  • Topping up fluids.

 

3

Concrete Cutting Gas Powered Chainsaws

Gas/petrol concrete cutting chainsaws are often used in the commercial concrete and asphalt industry. They are able to cut through concrete like a knife through butter, and can come with a range of chains including diamond.

They aren’t generally used for home maintenance, and are more of a commercial product.

If you are interested in this type of a chainsaw, you would love to read this full buying guide on how to select the best concrete cutting chainsaw for the money including reviews & comparison.

Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • They are safer and less expensive than a hydraulic concrete cutter.
  • They can accurately and safely cut through concrete.
  • They speed up work on job sites.

Cons:

  • When they break down, they are expensive to repair.
  • They aren’t cheap to buy.
  • The chains are expensive.
  • They don’t suit all commercial environments - especially not in enclosed spaces.

Applications

Concrete chainsaws are used in commercial environments, and on rare occasions in home environments. They are to be used by people who are experienced and have the expertise to handle them safely.

Maintenance

A lot of care should be taken to keep your concrete cutting chainsaw working at its best. This includes:

  • Keeping it clean - you can use a pressure washer to remove any build up.
  • Keep blade shaft bearings lubricated.
  • Check oil levels.
  • Maintain tension in the belts.
  • Check and clean air filters.
  • Checking the water delivery system is free of dust and debris.

 

Where to Buy a Chainsaw?

There are so many stockists of chainsaws, including the manufacturers themselves. You can purchase from your local hardware store – even Walmart – but the best places to purchase them include direct from the manufacturer, a trusted supplier, and on websites such as Amazon or Ebay.

 

Leading Chainsaw Brands and Manufacturers

 

Ranges of Chainsaw Prices

  • Electric chainsaws: $45 - $350
  • Gas chainsaws: $99 - $1,000
  • Pole chainsaws: $99 - $500
  • Concrete cutting chainsaws - $500 - $4,000

 

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