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of September 2023

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A Guide to Selecting a Good Chainsaw

Yehudah Posnick

After a hurricane or a heavy snowstorm, it’s quite common that trees will break, or even get uprooted. If these trees are near power lines, they can knock out power, or cause an interruption in power if the branches touch electric utility lines. Also, after storms or severe weather events, chainsaws are often used to clear fallen trees, branches, and debris. They can quickly remove obstructions from roads, driveways, and structures. With a chainsaw, you can trim down trees yourself.

And that’s not all. Chainsaws are commonly used for cutting down trees. They can efficiently and safely remove unwanted or hazardous trees by making strategic cuts. You can also use them for removing overhanging branches, deadwood, or obstructive foliage. Or you can use a chainsaw to prune trees to control their growth. And, if you have a fireplace, you can cut logs into firewood quickly and efficiently. Or you can use a chainsaw to trim shrubs for aesthetic purposes or to clear a walkway.

We’ll go through some of the chainsaws in the Best Reviews Guide list. Whether you choose a gas-powered or electric chainsaw, it’s no problem getting one that will provide years of dedicated service!


Should I prefer a chainsaw with a brushless motor?

A chainsaw with a brushless motor will typically be more expensive. But, there are reasons to say that it’s worth the extra money:

  • Efficiency and Power: Brushless motors are generally more efficient than brushed motors. They have improved power delivery, reduced energy loss, and higher overall performance. Brushless motors tend to provide more power, torque, and longer runtime compared to brushed motors.

  • Maintenance: Brushless motors require less maintenance since they don't have brushes that wear out over time. Brushed motors, on the other hand, have brushes that may need periodic replacement, increasing maintenance needs.

  • Durability: Brushless motors are typically more durable and have a longer lifespan. They are built with fewer moving parts, reducing the chances of mechanical failure. Brushed motors, while still reliable, may require more frequent repairs or replacements due to brush wear.

  • Weight and Size: Brushless motors are often lighter and more compact compared to brushed motors with similar power outputs. This can make the chainsaw more maneuverable and less tiring to use for extended periods.

Types of Chainsaws

There are several different types of chainsaws available, each designed for specific purposes and user preferences. Here are some common types of chainsaws:

  • Gas-Powered Chainsaws: These chainsaws are powered by a gasoline engine and are generally more powerful than electric models. They offer mobility and can handle heavy-duty tasks, making them suitable for professional use and larger cutting jobs. An example is the Husqvarna 460 Rancher Gas Chainsaw.

Husqvarna 460 Rancher Gas Chainsaw

  • Electric Chainsaws: Electric chainsaws are powered by electricity and require an electrical outlet or a rechargeable battery. They are generally lighter and quieter than gas-powered chainsaws, making them more suitable for small to medium-sized cutting tasks around the yard. They also don’t have the exhaust fumes that you’ll experience with a gas-powered chainsaw. There are corded and battery-powered models:

    • Corded Electric Chainsaws: These chainsaws need to be connected to a power outlet with a cord. They provide continuous power but are limited by the length of the cord and require proximity to a power source. An example is the Oregon Self-Sharpening Corded Electric Chainsaw (Model No. CS1500).

Oregon Self-Sharpening Corded Electric Chainsaw

Ego Power+ 16” 56 Volt Lithium Ion Cordless Chainsaw

There are also some specialized chainsaw models:

  • Pole Chainsaws: Pole chainsaws have a long extendable pole that allows you to reach high branches or limbs without using a ladder. They are typically electric or battery-powered and have a smaller cutting capacity than regular chainsaws. An example is the Worx 8-Amp 10" Electric Pole Saw. It comes with an 8-foot extension pole, to get those high branches!

Worx 8-Amp 10" Electric Pole Saw

  • Pruning Chainsaws: Pruning chainsaws are lightweight and compact, specifically designed for trimming and pruning trees and shrubs. They often have a shorter guide bar length and are available in both gas-powered and electric models. An example is the Workpro Mini Chainsaw. It weighs only 3.2 lbs, making it small enough that you can operate it with one hand! (Full-size gas-powered chainsaws will weigh around 20 pounds.)

Workpro Mini Chainsaw

What reviewers say

We went over some customers’ impressions of the chainsaw that they bought:

  • Heavy chainsaw makes it hard to cut horizontally: One customer who bought the Husqvarna 460 Rancher Gas Chainsaw said that it cuts through trees like butter! But, it weighs around 14.5 lbs. After having to cut through trees horizontally, he noticed that you tend to get tired. It is preferable to cut vertically, so as to get a gravity assist.

  • Longevity: One customer who bought the Echo chain saw said that he expects the product to serve him well for at least 10 years!

  • Two-stroke engine: If you use a gas-powered chainsaw, you’ll see that some of them have a two-stroke engine. Having a two-stroke engine on a chainsaw means that the engine operates on a two-stroke cycle, first undergoing air intake and compression, where the fuel-air mixture is drawn into the engine cylinder as the piston moves downward, uncovering the intake port. As the piston moves upward, it compresses the air-gasoline mixture. A spark plug then ignites the compressed fuel-air mixture, causing rapid combustion. The explosion drives the piston downward with force, generating power. Two-stroke engines have a simpler design compared to four-stroke engines, with fewer moving parts. This makes them lightweight, compact, and easier to maintain. They can provide more power, in a more lightweight tool.

Important Features

Here are some tips and features to help you decide on which chainsaw to buy:

  • The tension of the chainsaw chain: Maintaining the proper tension of the chainsaw chain is a critical factor for safe and effective operation:

    • Better efficiency: If the chain is too loose, it can sag and increase the risk of the chain coming off the guide bar or not cutting effectively. On the other hand, an overly tight chain can strain the engine and result in excessive wear on the chain and guide bar.

    • Safer operation: Also, correct chain tension is essential for reducing the risk of kickback, which is a sudden and potentially dangerous upward movement of the guide bar. If the chain is too loose, it can increase the likelihood of kickback.

    • Checking the tension: Use a chainsaw chain tensioning tool or a screwdriver to check the chain tension. The chain should be snug against the bottom of the guide bar, with enough room to pull it easily by hand. It should not sag or be overly tight.

    • Adjusting the tension: If the chain is too loose, use the appropriate tensioning mechanism (often a tensioning screw) to tighten it. If it's too tight, release tension by loosening the mechanism. Make adjustments incrementally, checking the tension regularly until it falls within the recommended range.

  • Oiling the chainsaw: Chainsaws have an oil reservoir that holds the chain lubricating oil. Locate the oil reservoir, which is typically near the chain bar or sprocket cover. Make sure that the oil reservoir is filled properly with the right type of oil. Also, check the oil levels regularly when using the chainsaw. Most chainsaws have an oil level indicator.

  • Safety precautions: Remember, chainsaws are powerful tools that require proper safety precautions and training to use effectively. It's important to familiarize yourself with the manufacturer's guidelines and wear appropriate safety gear, such as protective clothing, goggles, gloves, and hearing protection when operating a chainsaw. You’ll also notice that many chainsaws are equipped with a hand guard, such as the Greenworks 40V Cordless Compact Chainsaw. Some chainsaws also have an inertia-activated chain brake to reduce the risk of injury from kickback.

Greenworks 40V Cordless Compact Chainsaw

Final Verdict

We went through some characteristics of chainsaws for amateur use. Whether you want to do some landscaping, cut firewood, or remove some dead or fallen trees, a chainsaw can help you get the job done quickly, with a minimum of maintenance!

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