How To Buy The Best Chainsaw
If a chainsaw brings to mind only images of lumberjacks in plaid shirts or scenes from horror movies, then you might not have realized how useful a chainsaw is for pruning, cutting firewood or removing brush from your yard or larger property. For anything beyond the smallest sapling, a chainsaw is much easier than a manual saw, gets the job done quickly and provides a man-over-nature feeling that's. hard to beat.
Important Terms To Know
- Kickback: This refers to a dangerous scenario where the spinning chain hits something solid, such as a piece of metal or hard wood knot, causing the cutting bar to jump back towards the user. Most chainsaws sold to homeowners have anti-kickback chains.
- Cutting Bar: This is the spinning saw area of the tool. General guidelines for choosing a cutting bar length include 14 inches is good for light use; 16 inches is standard for general home purposes; 18 inches is ideal for large jobs; and 20 inches is for heavy-duty use, such as felling large trees.
- Automatic Oiler: Chainsaws must be oiled during use to cut down on heat and friction. Many saws have automatic oilers that keep the blade lubricated during use, freeing you from having to remember to do so.
- Anti-Vibration: Chainsaws, especially gas-powered models, vibrate heavily during use, leading to fatigue and wrist strain. Anti-vibration handles protect you from this discomfort.
- Deadman Trigger: This feature stops the blade whenever you release the saw’s trigger.
Do You Need To Trim Small To Medium Sized Branches?
Ideal for pruning small branches off trees, a pole saw is a small chainsaw with an extension pole. Keep in mind that pole saws are meant for cutting high branches; they are not the right tool for cutting your firewood. Depending on the model, the pole can be as long as 15 feet, making it easy to reach broken or low hanging branches. Pole saws are small, with a cutting bar usually between 6 and 10 inches. Their light weight and small size make them easy to handle, but also leaves them less power. Therefore, they are only suitable for trimming small to medium branches.
Pole saws are available in cordless, battery-powered models for the lightest use, electric models for easy use when cutting small to medium branches or gas-engine pole saws for medium size branches. Depending on the power source of your pole saw, prices can range from $120 to more than $500 for heavy-duty gas models.
- Buying Recommendation: The Black & Decker NPP2018 Cordless Electric Pole Chain Saw stretches up to 14 feet to reach branches easily. Lightweight at less than 8 pounds and equipped with a long battery charge, this an excellent pole saw for most homeowner’s needs.
Do You Need To Do Only Light Cutting Work?
Cordless chainsaws rely on a rechargeable battery for power, so are only useful for the lightest cutting work and quick jobs. If you are looking for a chainsaw to do light pruning, maintain a hedge or clear very light brush, a cordless chainsaw will serve your needs. A cordless chainsaw is also good for cutting fire wood if the logs are not too thick.
Cordless chainsaws are the quietest and lightest of the chainsaws, but are limited by their battery life. The cutting bar is generally 14 inches or less. A cordless chainsaw is a good choice if you are only going to use it for cutting firewood or doing light pruning once or twice a year. The typical price range for a cordless chainsaw is $70 to $130.
- Buying Recommendation: Black & Decker’s CCS818 Cordless Electric Chainsaw has an 8-inch cutting blade, weighs less than 10 pounds and holds the battery charge long enough to complete most simple cutting tasks.
Do You Want An Option With Little Maintenance?
Electric chainsaws are light weight, require little maintenance and do not involve the complicated mixing of oil and gas. However, you are limited to the length of your extension cord, and electric chainsaws are not as heavy-duty as gas-powered models.
Electric chainsaws are ideal for occasional use, making quick work of chores such as cutting firewood, clearing brush or cutting medium branches or trees. For general use, a cutting bar between 12 and 16 inches is sufficient for most homeowners. As long as your cutting needs are within 100 feet of an electrical outlet, an electric chainsaw is the choice for most homeowners. Suitable for cutting firewood, cutting medium trees or cleaning up after a storm, an electric chainsaw is easy to use and store. You can plan to spend between $50 and $275 for an electric chainsaw.
- Buying Recommendation: The Poulan PLN3516F Electric Chainsaw has plenty of power to muscle through branches, logs and small to medium trees. The 16-inch cutting bar handles just about anything the typical homeowner will need to cut.
Do You Intend To Use Your Chainsaw Frequently?
The most powerful variety of chainsaw, gas-powered chainsaws also require the most maintenance and are the heaviest and noisiest type. Gas units require a mixture of gas and oil each time you fuel up your saw. The exact ratio will be specified in the owner’s manual for your particular model. Cutting bars typically range from 14 to 20 inches, long enough to tackle good size branches, logs and trees. If you need a chainsaw on a regular basis, have large branches or trees to tackle or need to cover a large property, a gas-powered chainsaw is your choice. The price range for gas chainsaws is $130 to $450.
- Buying Recommendation: The Husqvarna 450 Gas Powered Chainsaw with Smart Start has an 18-inch cutting bar, vibration damping handle, low emissions and a powerful motor. At less than 15 pounds, it is easy to handle, even for homeowners with little chainsaw experience.
Do You Have The Right Protective Gear?
A chainsaw, even a lightweight, portable unit, is a dangerous piece of equipment when not treated with respect. Be familiar with the proper use and all the controls on your saw before powering it on. Never use a chainsaw in poor light or on unstable ground. Never touch the cutting bar if it is not completely still. And never operate your saw if you are not alert and well rested. Proper protective gear must be worn when using a chainsaw, including:
- Safety goggles
- Ear plugs or muffs
- Heavy work gloves
- Close-toed shoes
- Clothes that fit close to the body, with shirt tucked into pants
- Hard hat if you are cutting branches above your height
Firing up a chainsaw is a good way to release your inner Paul Bunyan. Even if you only need a lightweight saw to trim the hedge or prune small trees, a chainsaw will serve your purposes quickly and easily. Select a saw suitable for your needs without buying more power than you require, and your chainsaw will be a useful addition to your tool collection.