A good chainsaw is considered to be one of the most valuable and important tools that a handyman or homeowner can have. Chainsaws reduce the time, money, and energy spent on many home and outdoor projects. Whether it is clearing fallen trees after a storm, stocking up on firewood for the Winter, safely removing dead tree branches at risk of falling, or pruning hedges and small trees, having a dependable chainsaw around will make these jobs much easier.
Chainsaws vary greatly in size, shape, power, type, features, pricing and models. So, it is extremely important that you invest your money in the right chainsaw that will best fit your needs.
Chainsaws range from small electric models to large gas powered models and all have a vast array of features to offer, making the purchasing decision even more difficult.
Years ago, larger gas-powered chainsaws were the most popular chainsaws on the market, but that is not necessarily true anymore. Now a days, powerful electric models have emerged and have found their way into many homes, replacing the traditional, heavier and bulkier gas models of the past. However, not all jobs can be handled with an electric chainsaw, as gas-powered chainsaws are still the best choice for heavy-duty jobs.
So, before you go chainsaw shopping, be sure to carefully consider your cutting needs and the features you would like in a chainsaw. Take a look at some of the most highest rated chainsaw models below for our buying recommendations, utilize the information in our chainsaw buyer’s guide, read our detailed chainsaw reviews to help find the saw the best chainsaw for your needs.
Top Rated Chainsaw
* Gas Chain Saw
* 14-inch Bar Length
* Lightweight design
* Automatic Oil System
* Gas Chain Saw
* 18-inch Bar Length
* Fuel-Friendly Engine
* Ergonomic, Safety, Adaptability
Types of Chainsaws
The two main types of chainsaws that you have to choose from are gas-powered or electric saws. There are pros and cons for each type and each type comes with its own features and issues to consider. Price is certainly a factor in any purchasing decision and that holds true to chainsaw shopping as well but your choice between gas or electric most likely will come down to your intended use. Depending on the type of work you plan to do as well as your location and access to a power source will be the determining factor in whether you go with an electric or gas-powered chainsaw.
Consider where and what you will be using your saw for and take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of each type below:
Gas-powered chainsaws tend to be the most popular choice between the two types.
- Gas saws will offer a smoother, faster cut than electric models.
- Gas-powered saws offer more torque, added power, and faster chain speeds than their electric counterparts.
- Reliability, dependability, power, and mobility are key advantages to gas-powered chainsaws.
The disadvantages of gas-powered chainsaws are few but definitely worth considering when making your purchase.
- Gas saws are heavier, bulkier, and harder to handle than the smaller electric models.
- They tend to run noisier than electric saws and usually require more maintenance and upkeep as well.
- Although many models now include emission lowering features, gas-powered saws still emit some exhaust fumes and are therefore less environmentally friendly than an electric saw.
Gas powered chainsaw engines may require more work to get started, but many models are now coming equipped with improved starting features that help minimize that issue. Typical chain bar lengths for gas-powered chainsaws are 16”-18” for personal use and longer for professional use.
- Electric Chainsaws are ideal for smaller, light-duty jobs around the home such as pruning, trimming, and small cutting jobs.
- They are typically quieter than the gas-powered saws and tend to run smaller and lighter.
- Electric models are easier to handle, easy to start, and require less upkeep and maintenance than gas-powered models.
- Electric models are also less expensive than gas chainsaws.
- Something else to consider when purchasing an electric powered chainsaw is the different types of electric models. Electric saws come in either corded or cordless varieties and depending on the work you are doing and where the nearest power source is, one may be a better choice than the other. The corded models do require a specific type of extension cord to ensure proper use and performance; usually a 12 to 14 gauge cord will do the trick. Cordless models run off a battery allowing for greater mobility but the cordless models can sometimes be pricier than gas-powered models.
- Obvious disadvantages to electric chainsaws would be limited mobility as the corded models would need to remain close to a power source and the cordless saws usually have a shorter run time per charge than a tank of gas would get you on a gas powered model.
- Electric models have slower blade speeds and cannot be used for heavy duty jobs.
- Typical chain bar lengths for electric chainsaws are 14”-16” for corded models and 12” for cordless battery powered saws.
The decision between gas and electric usually comes down to the exact type of work you will be doing and your location in reference to a power source. If you are planning a long day in the woods cutting down some large trees, you’re going to want to invest in a gas-powered model. However, if you just need to have a dependable, easy to use saw for small jobs around the home then an electric saw may be the perfect choice for you.
9 Important Factors to Look at When Buy a Chainsaw
1. Type of Use
The first question you need to ask is “What will I be using this chainsaw for?” The reason this question is important is that it makes choosing your saw much easier.
Here are some basic uses for chainsaws. See if any fit what you’d be doing with yours:
- Clearing light brush
- Trimming shrubs
- Cutting down medium-sized trees
- Cutting large trees and branches
- Clearing land and cutting down multiple trees
If you’re only going to be doing items 1 through 3, you’ll only need a light chainsaw with moderate cutting power. If you’re going to be doing mostly 3 through 5, you’ll need something with a lot more power behind it.
2. Size of Cutting Bar
In addition to choosing the appropriate type of chainsaw you will also need to consider the size of the cutting bar that you will need. Different sized bars are used for different types of jobs so you may need more than one size depending on the kind of work you intend to do with your saw.
- Most cutting bars range from as small as 8” to as large as 42”.
- For most small to medium duty jobs, general carpentry work, and simple pruning or trimming a 14” or shorter bar should work fine.
- If you do more heavy duty work, a lot of tree cutting, or are working with larger diameter wood, you will want to invest in a 16”-18” or larger bar.
Larger bars tend to be heavier, harder to handle and maneuver, less predictable, and potentially more dangerous. If you aren’t sure exactly what size to use or have very little experience with handling chainsaws, you may want to start with a smaller bar and perform only the work you can do safely until you get more comfortable with handling a larger bar.
3. Gas or Electric
The next question to ask yourself when buying a chainsaw is whether to go electric or gas. this is often as simple as figuring out how much power you need in your chainsaw. If you don’t need a lot of power, you’ll probably be good with an electric saw. If you’re going to be cutting larger logs, branches or trees, you’ll want to go with gas because it’s got more punch behind its cuts.
Of course, there are upsides and downsides to both gas and electric.
- Electric chainsaws don’t need as much maintenance and are much lighter and easier to handle, but they are also much less powerful and require a power cord to be used.
- Gas chainsaws are more mobile and powerful, but require a lot more maintenance. They are also usually heavier and more difficult to handle. Take these into consideration when you are choosing between electric and gas.
4. Engine Size
If you’re choosing a gasoline engine, you’ll want to take care to pick the right engine size. For consumer-grade chainsaws, you can expect an engine size between 35cc and 50cc. (You may be able to find a smaller engine sometimes.) The bigger the engine, the more powerful the saw will be. This will be very useful if you are cutting a lot of wood or chopping up big trees.
Along with engine size, you’ll also want to make sure your engine has enough horsepower. If you can handle the machine, bigger will usually mean better.
Of course, if you are only using your chainsaw for light applications, you may want to choose an electric chainsaw with a decent sized engine for your cutting needs.
You’ll want to consider chainsaw length when making your purchase. Chainsaw blades usually come in 14” to 20” in length. While many chainsaw blades can be changed for longer or shorter versions, you’ll want to go with a blade at first that will be of most use to you. The blade size depends on what you’ll be using it for. Again, use the list of potential chainsaw uses to determine which chainsaw you need. In general, bigger jobs need bigger blades (and bigger engines).
6. Chainsaw Features
When it comes to chainsaw shopping, there are many different features to be considered. Safety features are generally the most important to look for when purchasing a new chainsaw. However, many saws now include added features to help with convenience, added comfort, durability, ease of use, and even the reduction of environmentally harmful emissions.
Below is a list of the most common features included in many chainsaws on the market now and is what you will want to look for when making your next chainsaw purchase.
7. Kickback Reduction Features
Safety should be a main concern when using a chainsaw and most models include various features to help reduce the risk of saw kickbacks.
- Kickback Reduction Chain – This is a chain that contains extra guard links as well as a less-aggressive cutting profile that helps prevent the chain from taking large bites.
- Kickback Reduction Bar – This is a bar with a narrow tip or nose that limits the cutting area, therefore preventing most kickback.
- Bar-tip Guard – The bar-tip guard is a steel attachment covering the tip (or nose) of the bar.
- Chain Brake – The chain break feature is designed to stop the chain almost instantly when encountering an abrupt movement and/or impact as well as whenever the front hand guard is pushed forward or if the saw kicks back.
8. Other Safety Features
Aside from kickback risk reduction, there are other features that further assist with keeping you safe while using your saw.
- Chain Catcher – A chain catcher consists of a metal extension underneath the guide bar that prevents a thrown chain from flying back and hitting the user.
- Muffler – Mufflers mainly serve to reduce noise. Additionally, many mufflers on gas-powered saws have a shield installed that helps protect fingers and hands from the heat, reducing the risk of burns.
- Case, Sheath, Cover – Purchasing a case, sheath, or cover for the bar and chain helps prevent against potential injury when carrying the saw and could also help contain oil leaks from the chain. A carrying case for the entire saw also provides protection for both the user and the saw as well as added convenience in transporting.
9. Comfort and Convenience Features
Once your safety is ensured, it is time to consider your comfort when using the saw and various other convenience related features.
- Wraparound Handle – A wraparound front handle provides a more comfortable grip and helps ease the horizontal cutting required for some jobs.
- Anti-Vibration – Anti-vibration features include metal springs or rubber bushings between the handle and the bar, chain, and engine. These features minimize vibrations and reduce the risk of fatigue on longer jobs.
- Spring Assist Start – A spring assist starting feature reduces the pull force required for starting the saw.
- Automatic Chain Oiler – Even low-priced saws now include this must-have device, which lets you keep cutting without having to stop and pump a plunger to oil the cutting bar–and keep both hands firmly on the saw. A well-oiled bar and chain keep both from wearing prematurely and overheating, which can lead to a broken or thrown chain. An automatic chain oiler helps make cutting both safe and efficient.
- Tool-less Chain Adjuster – A hand-operated mechanism so you can change the tension of the chain without using a screwdriver or wrench. It also can improve overall safety by facilitating proper adjustment quickly and easily. Quick-adjust chains and tool-less chain adjustment allow you to change the cutting chain tension easily.
- Visible Bar-Oil Gauge – This feature consists of a clear tank or viewing strip that creates the ability to check bar and chain oil levels at any time.
With the right information and knowledge of your intended use, finding the best chainsaw for you can actually be fun and easy. Determine your needs, pick your style, chose your features and then saw away!