Chainsaws are an essential tool for most homeowners but they are also a dangerous tool that needs to be handled correctly. We know that many of you have questions about chainsaws so we wrote this comprehensive guide that covers every aspect of the chainsaw.
From the mechanics of a chainsaw to history, to safety, to chains, model reviews, brands and everything in between. If you have questions about chainsaws we have answers.
Table of Contents...
- 1 What is a Chainsaw?
- 2 Chainsaw History
- 3 The Modern Chainsaw
- 4 How Does A Chainsaw Work?
- 5 Chain Arrangements
- 6 Low Kickback Chains
- 7 Types of Chainsaws
- 8 EGO Power+ CS1401 (56V)
- 9 DEWALT DCCS670X1 FLEXVOLT
- 10 Makita UC4051A
- 11 WORX WG304.1
- 12 Oregon CS1500 (603352) | 15A / 18″
- 13 Husqvarna 455 Rancher
- 14 Poulan Pro PR5020 (967061501)
- 15 Choosing the Right Chainsaw
- 16 Electric or Gas?
- 17 Features Every Good Chainsaw Should Have:
- 18 Chainsaw Maintenance
- 19 Sharpening the chain
- 20 Electric Chainsaw Sharpeners
- 21 Manual Chainsaw Sharpeners
- 22 Chainsaw Safety Tips
- 23 Husqvarna ProForest Chainsaw Helmet System:
- 24 Youngstown Glove 05-3080-70-L
- 25 Husqvarna 531309565 | Chainsaw Chaps
- 26 Chainsaw Dos and Don’ts
- 27 WORX JawSaw WG320
- 28 Black + Decker Lopper LLP120
- 29 Black & Decker LPP120
- 30 Top Handle vs Rear Handle Chainsaw
- 31 Tanaka TCS33EDTP/14
- 32 Zombi ZCS5817 58V
- 33 Chainsaw Winches
- 34 Powerhouse XM-100
- 35 Chainsaw Mills
- 36 The Top Chainsaw Brands
- 37 Stihl
- 38 Related posts:
What is a Chainsaw?
The chainsaw is an extremely versatile power tool, primarily used to cut wood. Chainsaws are used in activities such as – felling, limbing, bucking, logging, firewood harvesting, and for cutting firebreaks in wildfire scenarios. For those of you who are not lumberjacks, felling is the task of cutting down, or “downing” an individual tree. It is the first step in the process of “logging”, and the person cutting the tree is called a feller. Limbing is the process of removing branches, and bucking is when you split the downed tree trunk into logs of wood for transportation.
Logging is the sum of all the processes that we mentioned, it involves felling of individual trees, removal of branches, formation of logs from a tree trunk, and loading of these trunks onto trucks or skeleton cars for transportation.
Knowing all of this stuff is not necessary for the average homeowner, but it does help you achieve a better understanding of why the chainsaw was invented and how it helped speed up the overall workflow for lumberjacks. Before we delve into the workings of a modern-day chainsaw, it is worth discussing how the chainsaw as we know it today came to be in the first place. Believe it or not, the whole “saw chain spinning on a frame” concept started out as a means to cut through bone and perform surgeries, all the way back in the late 18th century.
While it still not known who the first person was to come up with the idea for an “endless saw” (saw blades attached to chain links, spinning around a guiding frame), there are a few chainsaw-like tools which popped up between the late 18th century and mid-19th century. These were mostly devices used for excision of diseased bone tissue, or to perform other orthopedic operations.
One of the most prominent examples of primitive chainsaw-like devices, is the “Osteotome”, invented by a German orthopedist Bernard Heine sometime around 1830. This was a medical bone cutting tool, and was hand powered. Its design is somewhat similar to the hand-cranked drills that are still in use today. Except, the hand crank powers a saw blade instead of a drill bit.
The Osteotome consisted of a metal guiding frame, with two sprockets on either end, similar to the drive mechanism in a bicycle. A thin metal saw chain was wrapped around these sprockets, and each chain link had little angled teeth on top. When you turned the crank handle, the chain would spin around the guiding frame, and the teeth would slice through bone and soft tissue.
This wasn’t exactly a pleasant experience for the patient, but it was still miles ahead of the prevalent bone cutting tools in those days – chisels and amputation saws. Back in the early 19th century, local anesthetics were rarely employed. The patient would have to endure crushing blows from a hammer and surgical chisel upon exposed bone, or the doctors would use an amputation saw to cut off diseased tissue.
The Osteotome was a breakthrough medical invention for surgeons and orthopedics of that time, and most people consider it to be the first true “chainsaw”. Thanks to the Osteotome, surgeons could perform bone excisions, resections, and even craniotomies without damaging peripheral tissues. Leftover bone splinters, which were common with the hammer and chisel treatment were less likely to happen now, since the chain-driven saw blade could cut cleanly and efficiently without damaging surrounding tissue. It was faster than a conventional amputation saw/ hammer and chisel, and put much less strain on the patient. This design proved to be the inspiration for many others in the late 19th century, and people soon understood that the “endless saw” concept could be used to cut through larger and tougher things than human bone.
The earliest known patent for an “endless-saw” (a spinning chain of metal links carrying saw teeth around a guiding frame), was granted to Samuel J. Bens of San Francisco on January 17, 1905. This machine was nothing like the portable chainsaws of today – it was large, heavy, and required an external source of power in order to function. This saw was designed specifically for cross-cut sawing of tree logs. Cross-cut sawing means cutting perpendicular to the wood grain, unlike ripping which means cutting along the grain.
Samuel J. Bens had designed a saw to supersede the prevalent (at the time) method of hand-sawing, his goal was to reduce the amount of time and effort that was needed to create logs out of fallen tree trunks. Although this saw was pretty advanced for its time, there were quite a few shortcomings-
- You would need to mount the saw on some sort of platform in order to operate it. The machine had to be pivoted on one end, so that the other end which carried a guiding handle for an operator could be swung in an arc at the desired tree/ log.
- The saw was basically a chain on a guiding bar with two sprockets at each end. There was no internal driving mechanism or source of power, so you needed an external motor to drive the saw chain. Typically, this external motor would be a steam engine or a single-cylinder internal combustion engine.
- Normally, it required more than one operator. And it was not portable.
- It was expensive, difficult to transport, and out of reach for the average person.
- Had no use for the standard homeowner who just wants to cut firewood, prune trees in his garden, or maybe create some fences/ poles out of wood.
So, the next step in chainsaw evolution would be to design a more accessible, portable machine that is also self-powered. This makes the entire unit much more marketable, as well as accessible to the general public. A self-powered unit will also speed up the workflow for professional lumberjacks, since it means that only one person can operate the entire chainsaw, so you can cut more trees at the same time with the same amount of people. Self-powered portable units also mean that you don’t have to spend time and money on transporting the actual saw itself, nor do you have to procure engines for driving the saws that you purchased.
James Shand, a Canadian millwright, developed and patented the first portable chainsaw in 1918. This wasn’t exactly portable by modern day standards, since a single man couldn’t operate or carry it. You needed a crew of people to operate it, but at least it was self-powered. Before the development of portable chainsaws, drag saws were used by lumberjacks to cross-cut large logs of wood. These drag saws were essentially reciprocating hacksaws and were powered by steam or petroleum engines. Drag saws were often mounted on a carriage frame that was supported by two pneumatic wheels. They were considered portable by early 20th century standards, since you could tow them around with a crew of people or horses.
The incident that inspired James Shand to come up with a design for a chainsaw is rather interesting. Shand was fencing his quarter section of land (1/4th of a square mile) one day, when he discovered that some barbed wire drawn by horses had cut through a 7” oak post. He designed an early model for a chainsaw by using his son’s bicycle chains, with cutting teeth inserted in between the links. The commercial designs that he came up with, used 24” long blades (bar length), and a small gasoline motor to power the entire system. This motor was attached to the chain sprocket with a Bowden cable, resulting in the world’s first truly portable, self-powered chainsaw. It didn’t become popular in the industry despite its progressive design, and after the patent expired, Shand allowed his rights to lapse in 1930.
A German company Festo took the design and began working on advancements, until the Second World War when America stopped importing chainsaws from Germany. Chainsaw manufacturers began to emerge in the American states, and one of the most famous new power tool manufacturers of that time was industrial Engineering limited. It later evolved into Pioneer Saws, which is part of Outboard Marine Corporation, the oldest chainsaw manufacturer in all of North America. McCulloh, a North American power tools company began manufacturing chainsaws around the year 1948. Their early designs were gasoline powered two-man devices that used long guide bars and heavy chains.
It was not until after World War II, that companies began manufacturing chainsaws which were compact and light enough to be handled by a single man. This was primarily because of the advancements in aluminum processing and small engine design that were brought upon by research during the war. Today, chainsaws have almost completely replaced hand powered saws in various applications – the forestry and logging industry, wildfire containment units, firewood procurement and tree pruning for home users, military, etc.
Today, chainsaws come in all sizes – from small electric powered saws for home and garden usage, to large professional grade lumberjack saws. Several military engineer units are trained in chainsaw usage to cut a clear path through forest, and for combating wildfires. Chainsaws are also an essential tool for survivalists and people who live away from cities, in the deep woods. Frequent campers and outdoor adventure enthusiasts use chainsaws to setup temporary shelters in the middle of a forest, or to procure firewood. Firefighters use chainsaws for cutting down trees and poles adjacent to buildings and populated areas in order to prevent the fire from spreading.
The Modern Chainsaw
What started out as a hand-cranked bone saw, has now turned into an extremely versatile power tool used all over the world by homeowners, lumberjacks, construction crews, and firefighters. The modern chainsaw is simplistic in design, yet packs the most power-per-inch of any tool that you will find. It is incredibly powerful, yet dangerous at the same time. Handled properly, a chainsaw will allow you to fell a tree in minutes as opposed to hand saws which often take hours of work.
There are even variations of chainsaws which are capable of cutting through extremely hard materials such as concrete, stone, brick, etc. These specialized chainsaws are very similar to standard ones, but with a few key differences in design that allow them to perform cuts on extremely hard material. For example, concrete cutting chainsaws use saw chains embedded with diamond grit. They feature more powerful engines, and are equipped with pipes that constantly spray water at the chain to keep it lubricated and prevent overheating while it is cutting through stone/concrete.
40V Battery Chainsaw | Poulan Pro PPB4014 : 967044101
For gardeners, pole chainsaws are available – these are pole-mounted systems with tiny bars and chains, specialized for pruning small branches and twigs. The pole extends your reach, so you can cut branches at heights of 10-12 feet without having to support yourself on a ladder or some other form of height raising support. Most of them are powered by electric motors, although a few gasoline-powered pole chainsaws are also available for purchase.
There are several types of chainsaws, based on power sources as well as handle position and overall design. We shall discuss how a chainsaw works, the major parts of a chainsaw, the distinct types of chainsaws, and much more in this article. If you are someone with little to no knowledge of chainsaws, then this is the perfect place to start. You will gain a solid foundation on chainsaw design, functionality, and will be able to decide which features and specifications you need in a personal chainsaw by the time you finish the article.
Our goal is to inform you on how a chainsaw works, what it can do for you, the factors that you need to consider before purchasing a chainsaw, and there is even an entire section of the article dedicated to saw chain types so that you always select the proper chain for the type of work that you need to do.
We will tell you how to operate and maintain your gas or electric chainsaw, as well as the safety procedures which need to be obeyed while using a chainsaw. Remember – the chainsaw is an extremely useful tool for cutting logs and gathering firewood, but the moment you lose concentration and make a slight mistake, you could lose a part of your body before you even realize it. These things are not toys, they are cutting machines equipped with metal teeth that travel at speeds upward of 50 miles per hour. So, it is very important that you operate a chainsaw only after going through all the safety instructions that are presented in this article, as well as the user manual of your brand-new chainsaw.
How Does A Chainsaw Work?
The principle behind a chainsaw is very simple – it is kind of like the chain drive on your bicycle, but with really sharp teeth embedded into the chain links. Try to imagine the engine + drive system on a mini motorbike – they have a single cylinder 2-stroke 50-75cc engine that runs on gasoline, and this engine drives a crank which is connected to a gear and sprocket assembly that drives the chain. One end of this chain is connected to the sprocket that drives the rear while and moves the bike forward. Well, in a chainsaw you have a similar kind of setup, except there is no wheel to drive, just the chain, and two sprockets, one on each end of a guide bar. Guide bar length determines the diameter of logs that you can cut with your chainsaw, more powerful engines mean greater chain speeds and more torque to slice through harder woods.
There are several small components in a chainsaw, and these combined together with the chain, guide rod, and engine make a complete chainsaw – an unstoppable tree murdering machine that you can carry around on your back. Electric chainsaws are driven by electric motors, and gas chainsaws are driven by gasoline engines. Here is a list of all the main components inside a gasoline powered chainsaw-
This is where the fuel-oil mixture is stored. It is not just gasoline, since chainsaw engines are 2-stroke and need to be fed with an oil + gasoline mix, typically in the ratio of 50:1 (1-part oil per 50 parts of gasoline). Most chainsaw fuel tanks have a capacity of 0.5L, or 0.132 US gallons (33.8 Fluid ounces). The fuel tank is located to the rear of the chainsaw, and is usually made from plastic.
This is one of the most important parts in the entire chainsaw. Its job is to suck air from the atmosphere, and mix it with fuel drawn in from the fuel tank. But you can’t just mix fuel with air and shove it into the cylinder, expecting the mixture to combust. No, the ratio in which fuel and air are mixed is extremely important if you want the combustion to generate power efficiently with minimal release of waste materials.
Too little air in the mixture, and you will end with an engine that runs “lean”, meaning that the engine will either stall or damage itself since there is not enough fuel in the intake and a 2-stroke engine relies on the fuel vapors in order to keep itself lubricated. On the other side of things, if you put too much fuel into the mix, the engine will run “rich”. This could cause the engine to flood, emit a lot of smoke, stall, or at the very least waste a lot of fuel.
Carburetors tend to vary in terms of design and complexity, but the ones used in chainsaws are actually pretty simplistic. They typically consist of a vertical pipe mounted above the engine cylinder, with a disc-shaped air intake on the top that has air filters inside to prevent dust and other foreign particles from getting into the air – fuel mixture. Inside this pipe, there is a narrow section in the middle called a “venturi”. As the air passes down the wide entrance of the pipe and through the narrow section, its speed increases suddenly while pressure on the other side drops as the air comes out of the tiny passage with high speed.
This sudden drop in pressure, creates a partial vacuum and sucks in fuel from a tiny pipe that is attached perpendicular to the air intake, right beneath the venturi. This fuel pipe is connected to a miniature fuel tank which is equipped with a “float – feed” chamber. The chamber is connected to the main fuel tank through a valve that is controlled by the position of a float.
The float drops down as the fuel level decreases inside this miniature fuel chamber, and when the fuel drops beneath a certain level, the float will open a valve allowing more fuel into the chamber from the main tank. This mechanism helps ensure that the flow of fuel is more controllable and precise, since only a few droplets of fuel are needed per engine cycle. Connecting the carburetor directly to the main fuel tank could flood the engine and even cause fuel leaks.
There are two valves on either side of the venturi – the one above is called the “choke”, and the one below is called the “throttle”. The choke is operated through an external lever that should be located on the rear of most chainsaws, while the throttle is controlled by pressing down on the trigger attached to your chainsaw handle. Depending on engine design, the choke can either be triggered manually by the operator as the engine starts, or automatically through the help of a temperature – sensing system located (auto choke).
So why is the choke needed? Well, fuel needs to be fed to the engine in vapor form for efficient combustion. During cold starts, small droplets of gasoline do not evaporate well enough for the engine to start on a normal fuel – air mix. That is why, the choke is used to restrict the flow of air through the carburetor in order to create a low-pressure region right below the venturi that results in more fuel being drawn. So, by “choking” the carburetor, you are forcing it to release a more fuel rich mixture of vapor into the engine, this helps the engine with a cold start. Once the piston has cycled for a few times and the carburetor is heated up, the choke doesn’t need to be applied anymore (rather, it shouldn’t be applied anymore).
The other valve is located beneath the venturi section, and is called the throttle. When this valve is opened, it increases the volume of air that passes through the carburetor, and simultaneously increases the amount of fuel drawn. The throttle valve helps speeds up the engine by allowing more fuel and air inside to result in higher power output. In the most simplistic of chainsaw carburetors, both the throttle and choke are based on butterfly valves. In modern chainsaws, the chain will stop spinning as soon as you release pressure on the throttle. Most chainsaws also come with a throttle interlock mechanism which means that the throttle will not engage even if you press down on the trigger, as long as the interlock isn’t depressed. This is installed to prevent accidental startups of the chainsaw engine
Chainsaws use 2-stroke engines because of their high torque output and amazing cost efficiency. Two-stroke engines are cheap, lightweight, and easier to maintain. The main downsides are – they aren’t very fuel efficient, don’t last as long as 4-stroke engines, and generate more noise while operating. So exactly how does a 2-stroke engine work? Well, it is an internal combustion engine just like the engines found in most cars and bikes. The major difference is that the 2-stroke engine has one power stroke per revolution of the crankshaft, while the 4-stroke needs 2 revolutions of the crankshaft per power stroke. Or, it can also be said that the 2-stroke engine has only 2 stages of operation – intake stroke and exhaust stroke, while the 4-stroke engines have the following four stages of operation – suck, squeeze, bang, and blow.
In the first stage or stroke, the chainsaw engine draws in fuel – air mixture from the inlet port. It then proceeds to compress that mixture while moving up, and simultaneously seals the inlet port. When the piston reaches a certain point in its upward motion, the spark plug fires and ignites the fuel + air vapors, causing an explosive reaction that rapidly expands the gases between the piston head and cylinder walls. This forces the piston to come down with tremendous force, and the inlet port is opened along with the exhaust port. As fresh fuel and air come in, the burnt-up gases are pushed out through the exhaust port. Then the piston moves up, and the cycle keeps repeating.
With a 4-stroke engine, things are a little more complicated. It doesn’t have ports on the sides of the cylinders, instead there are spring-loaded valves on the top of the cylinder head that are attached to rocker arms. The valves are opened and closed in sync with the motion of the piston inside the cylinder. The first cycle is called the “intake” cycle. As the piston moves down, an intake valve opens on the top of the cylinder due to the vacuum generated. Fresh fuel and air are pumped into the cylinder. Then just as the piston begins to move up once again, the intake valve closes, and the seconds cycle, aka the compression cycle starts.
In this cycle, the piston moves upwards and compresses the fuel + air mixture into a really tight space. The third cycle is called “combustion”, a spark plug located on top of the cylinder ignites the mixture and causes it to expand with explosive force, driving the piston downwards. This is the “power” stroke, or the stroke that generates motion. After the piston is pushed down by the explosion, it begins to rise back up once again and the exhaust valve opens.
The final stroke is called the “exhaust” stroke, all the burnt residue and gases are let out through the exhaust valve. Then the piston moves down, closing the exhaust valve and opening the intake valve to begin the first stroke all over again, continuing this cycle of events. Clearly, the 4-stroke engine is more complicated and costlier to manufacture than a 2-stroke engine. It is also heavier and bigger.
But the advantages outweigh the cons if you have a large enough budget – a four stroke engine burns fuel much more cleanly, increasing overall efficiency and decreasing emissions. It also generates less noise and functions more smoothly. Four stroke engines have a more advanced lubrication system, with a dedicated oil pump that transfers oil from the oil tank to the crankcase through separate oil lines. This makes the engine last longer, and eliminates the need for you to mix oil with the fuel.
But we can’t use 4-stroke engines in chainsaws because :
- We want chainsaws to be compact and lightweight
- We want chainsaws to be cheap
- We want chainsaws to have more torque
Despite being louder and less efficient, 2-stroke motors generate more torque (than a 4-stroke with similar cylinder displacement size) at mid – high rpm ranges, and are also much cheaper to manufacture, not to mention the fact that they are smaller and lighter. Here are the main components of a 2-stroke chainsaw engine:
Cylinder and Spark Plug:
The cylinder serves as a housing for the piston and connecting rod assembly. Pressure is generated when the piston compresses fuel + air mixture within the cylinder, and this compressed mixture is ignited by a sparkplug that is positioned above the cylinder head. There are both inlet and outlet valves on the sides of the cylinder, and some 2 – stroke engines have what we call a “transfer valve”. These valves serve as pathways for fresh fuel and air mixture to enter the cylinder, and for exhaust gases to exit the engine.
The piston moves up and down inside the cylinder to generate compression/ vacuum. Some pistons have shaped heads to allow for better flow of gases in through the transfer port. Most pistons on 2-stroke engines have cutouts on the sides to facilitate the entry of the inlet charge. There is a rod on the underside of the piston, which serves as a pivot point for the connecting rod.
This is the rod that connects the piston to the crankshaft. The top end is attached to the underside of the piston with the help of a ball bearing system, and the bottom end is attached to the crankshaft with a similar ball/ needle bearing. The reason ball/ needle type bearings are used, is because they can stay lubricated in an oil mist.
This is the shaft that is connected to the flywheel. When you pull the starter cord, it spins the flywheel, and the crankshaft spins along with it. This causes the piston to cycle, and the fresh fuel + air mixture is fed in through the intake port. The outline of the flywheel has permanent magnetic layers built onto it, so that it induces an electric current in a little inductor coil that is positioned right above the flywheel. When you move a magnetic object nearby a conductor, an electric current is induced in the conductor. The induced current then flows to the spark plug and causes ignition within the cylinder, thus starting the chainsaw engine. The flywheel also has fins built onto it, these propel air towards the engine when the chainsaw is running. The engine is air cooled, there is no room for water cooling in a chainsaw because that would significantly increase the size and weight of the engine, and you would need a radiator, which would make the whole one-man operation concept unviable. So, the flywheel also doubles up as a cooling fan, and it sweeps air upwards, at the fin stack surrounding the cylinder. If you have seen the engines on motorcycles (especially single or double cylinder bike engines), they often have aluminum fins stacked around the cylinder. This is to increase overall contact area with atmospheric air, thus increasing the rate at which heat is transferred from the engine block to surrounding air.
This is a shaft that connects the engine with the centrifugal clutch.
Ever wondered what would happen if you directly connected the chainsaw engine with the sprockets that drive the chain? Any time you put your finger on the trigger, the chain will begin to spin. And you clearly don’t want that – it increases the risk of accidents and makes it almost impossible for you to position the chainsaw before making a cut. Just like the clutch in a car prevents you from driving into the nearest house as soon as you turn on the engine, the clutch in a chainsaw makes sure that the chain spins only when the engine speed passes a certain threshold, i.e. the chain spins only when you want to go for a cut.
But the clutch in your car is much more complicated than a chainsaw clutch. And it should be – after all, your car is a much larger and more complicated machine than a chainsaw. But nevertheless, it is important to understand how the chainsaw clutch works. The type of clutch that is found in most chainsaws is known as a “centrifugal clutch”. It relies on two principles of physics in order to function – centrifugal force, and friction. Centrifugal force is the force that arises from a body’s inertia as it is spun around in a circular path. The centrifugal force is directed away from the center, and is basically trying to pull the body away in a straight line from the center of the circle in which it is spinning.
Here is a simple example – take a rock, tie it to a string. Now stand still, with your arm stretched out halfway, holding the string in your hand. At this point, the rock should be stationary and the string should be perpendicular to the ground. Now, begin turning on your feet and spin the rock around you. It will slowly begin rising up as you spin faster and faster, until a point where the string is completely parallel to the ground beneath you. You can feel the rock tugging against your fingers, trying to escape from your grip as you spin around at high speeds. This is because of centrifugal force. Now replace yourself with the drive shaft, the string with a spring, and the rock with a brake shoe. There you go – you have one half of a centrifugal clutch.
The other half consists of a container drum and sprocket. The sprocket is attached to the chain, as well as the drum. So, when the drum spins, the sprocket spins, and that spins the saw chain. Inside the clutch drum, there are two or more shoes attached to the driveshaft with springs. They will not touch the drums in idle state, since the length of the spring is shorter than the radius of the drum. But once the driveshaft begins to spin, centrifugal force begins to act on the brake shoes.
They try to wiggle away from the center of the drum, towards its inner surface. At low rpms, the centrifugal force is not nearly enough to make the drum and shoes touch each other. But as you rev up the throttle, the springs begin to extend outwards, and the shoes begin to press harder and harder against the drum. At one point, the centrifugal force is high enough for the shoes to press against the drum really hard, and this friction between the shoes and drum is enough make the drum spin along with the shoes. When the drum spins, so does the sprocket, and this drives the chain around the guide bar. But the sprocket isn’t connected directly to the chain, rather it is attached through a series of gears that modify rate at which the chain turns respective to the drive sprocket.
This is the final piece of the puzzle – a series of intermeshed gears and sprockets that are connected to the business end of the saw chain. You can tighten or loosen the chain by adjusting them, and the connect the clutch with the chain.
Guide bars need to be tough enough to hold the chain in place as it spins at over 60 mph through hardwood, but they also need to be light enough for an operator to hold the chainsaw and work for hours. Guide bars are hollow, and contain rails to guide the chain. These rails are lubricated by special “chain oil”. When the drive gears spin the chain, they also operate a tiny pump located behind the guide bar that pumps chain oil through the chain rail. This oil is thicker than engine oil, so you should not try to refill the chain oil compartment with engine oil.
Chain oil keeps things nice and smooth at high speeds, and prevents the chains from getting damaged as you slice through wood. It also ensures that the chain slides smoothly over the bar. Some chainsaws also come with a tip guard attached to the nose of the guide bar. This is basically a small metal cowl screwed onto the side of the guide bar nose. It prevents the tip of the chainsaw from coming into contact with any object or person. The tip of the chainsaw is the part most vulnerable to kickback, and even though a chain guard might limit mobility, it is an essential safety attachment for people who are not familiar with using chainsaws.
A chainsaw without a chain, is like a car without wheels. This is the part of the chainsaw that does all the cutting. It superficially resembles a bicycle chain, despite being structurally different in many ways. Just like the bicycle chain, a chainsaw chain is comprised of several metal links that are held together by rivets. There are cutting teeth on the outside of the chain loop, while the inside of the loop carries drive links which slide through the track on the guide bar. These drive links fit into the sprocket attached to the clutch system, as well as the sprocket mounted on the nose of the guide bar. When the clutch drum spins, it also spins the driving sprocket – this sprocket is connected to the drive links on the inner loop of the saw chain, and causes the chain to smoothly slide through the rails built into the guide bar.
Each chainsaw chain consists of 4 layers or rows – the two outermost layers are always the tie straps, the middle layer consists of the drive link, while the cutting tooth alternates between left and right positions with each section. Tie straps are attached to the other layers through rivets, and their job is to hold the entire section together, as well as connect one section to another. The cutter or cutting tooth normally alternates between left and right alignment from section to section, and it consists of two parts – a sharp cutting edge, along with a “raker” (aka depth gauge). The raker acts as a limiter for cutting depth – it prevents the tooth from cutting too deep and getting stuck in the wood.
Here are some of the most common terms that you’ll encounter while trying to purchase a chain for your chainsaw-
- Pitch – The average distance between two rivets on the chain. It is measured by taking the distance between three consecutive rivets, and dividing that by two. Here are the 3 standard pitch lengths – 0.325″, 3/8″ (0.375) and 0.404″. The pitch of a chain must always match that of the drive sprocket, and nose sprocket (sprocket on the nose of the guide bar).
- Gauge – This is the thickness of the drive links, and should match with the inside diameter of rails on the guide bar. Usual gauges for chainsaw chains are – 0.050″ (1.3 mm), 0.058″ (1.5 mm), and 0.063″ (1.6 mm). A chain that is too thick on the drive links will not fit, and a chain with lower gauge than that of the guide bar rails will slip.
- Length (Number of links) – The length of a saw chain depends on the length of the guide bar, the diameter of the sprocket, and overall configuration of the saw. However, if you are trying to find a replacement for an old chain – just count the number of links on that old chain. Every two consecutive rivets are counted as one link.
The information on chain length, gauge, and pitch is usually punched onto the side of the guide bar. When you remove the side cover for maintenance and/ or chain replacement, you will find the numbers near the saw head. Usually after each maintenance session, the saw bar is flipped over 180° (laterally, so chain specifications can be on either side) before reattaching it. This is to ensure equal wear on both sides.
Early Chainsaw Chain (Cutter) Designs
Early saw chains used a cutter tooth design that was very similar to conventional hand saws. They had straight saw teeth mounted in an alternating wave pattern – left, center, right, center. This design meant that every saw chain would have a vast number of teeth, and each individual tooth would dull down very quickly compared to the cutters used in today’s chains. There was also very little room for debris to exit from the kerf as you were making a cut, meaning that the chainsaw would have to be operated very skillfully while cutting certain types of wood or large trees.
The scratcher design was known to be slow, inefficient, and hard to maintain. Teeth would dull quickly, and field sharpening would take forever because of the number of teeth. There was no depth gauge, so teeth would often overcut and get stuck in the wood. You had to rely purely on bar pressure if you wanted to limit the cutting speed.
Joseph Bufford Cox, a logger/ inventor from Portland, Oregon is credited with the invention of the “chipper tooth” for chainsaw chains. Joseph got the idea for the chipper tooth, by watching a timber-beetle larva eat its way through an oak tree. He was impressed at how the finger-sized larva was able to effortlessly weave its way through one of the hardest woods, both along and across the wood grain. Joseph carried a few of the larva with him to his home, and studied them as they ate through logs of wood.
He examined the sawdust they generated under a microscope, and after months of work, came up with a revolutionary cutter tooth design which remains in use to this day. He copied the beetle larva’s C-shaped jaw by making a curved tooth, and tried to emulate their movement by arranging teeth in an alternating left – right cutting alignment on the chain.
Joseph’s cutter design had two huge advantages over the scratcher tooth:
- Fewer cutting teeth were required, so less time was needed for sharpening and maintenance.
- There was a depth gauge or “raker”, which prevented the cutting edge from digging too deep into the wood and getting stuck.
Apart from these two major differences, the chipper tooth cuts more efficiently since it “chips” at the wood instead of slicing through it. This removes more wood with each strike of the tooth, and there is a gullet between the tooth and depth gauge. This gullet allows for effective removal of debris from the kerf. Unlike the flat saw teeth used in the scratcher style cutters, Joseph’s design used C-shaped cutting teeth which were curved from the top to bottom like a question mark.
Modern Chainsaw Chain (Cutter) Designs
This is based on the old chipper style cutter design, with a few slight modifications. If you take the cross section of a chipper, it will look like a question mark. But if you take the cross section of a modern-day cutter tooth, it will look like the number seven. Basically, the top plate of the tooth is completely flat and angled more aggressively for faster cutting. The side plate is at right angles to the top plate, resulting in a tooth that is completely flat on the sides. This type of tooth is going to cut slightly faster than semi-chisel, but will also dull faster meaning that you shouldn’t use it in dirty conditions.
Semi chisel cutters are slightly more rounded towards the top, with a smooth curve between the top and side plate. The cutting angle is slightly less aggressive, but the tooth will not wear out as fast as full-chisel so you don’t need to sharpen it as frequently. Another advantage is that you can use these cutters on dirty wood, frozen wood, etc.
Grind simply refers to how a cutter is sharpened. Both types of grind can be applied to the two cutter designs that we discussed above, and the most aggressive combination that you can have is a full-chisel + square grind. Round grind is what most of you will be using, and that is the factory default for most consumer grade chainsaws. On a round-ground chain, you will notice that the gullet appears smooth and curved. This type of grind is done with a round file. Cutting speed is slightly less, by around 10 – 15%.
More than 90% of people reading this article need not concern themselves with square grind, since only professional lumberjacks sharpen their chainsaw chain teeth using this method. You need a beveled file for this, and it takes more time to sharpen the teeth. The gullet will appear flat towards the tooth, and cutting speed increases by about 10 to 15% over round ground teeth. But, the drawback is that the teeth will also dull faster.
Saw Chain Profile
Chain profile refers to the height of the chain, two chains with the exact same pitch and gauge can have different profiles because of differences in the height of the cutters. Low profile chains typically have a pitch value of either 0.25” or 0.375”. They were introduced around the early 1970s, for usage in smaller consumer grade gasoline and electric chainsaws. Low profile chains are lighter, and require less powerful engines. They are normally found in chainsaws with engine capacity under 42cc, while standard profile chains are used in chainsaws with engine capacity 50cc and up.
- Full Complement:
In a full complement saw chain, there is a single tie strap between each cutter head. Here is how the chain is going to look like – Right cutter head, tie strap, Left cutter head, tie strap, and repeat.
- Full Skip:
In this type of chain alignment, there are two tie straps between each cutter head. So – Left cutter head, tie strap, tie strap, Right cutter head, tie strap, tie strap, Left cutter head, and so on.
Kind of a combination between the first two. The first two cutter heads will have 2 tie straps between them, just like full skip. But the second and third cutter head will have only one tie strap in between, exactly like full complement. This is how it goes – left cutter head, tie strap, tie strap, right cutter head, tie strap, Left cutter head, tie strap, tie strap, Right cutter head, tie strap, left cutter head, such that every third cutter head is connected to the previous one with one tie strap.
Full complement chains carry the most cutter heads, full skip chains carry the least cutter heads, and semi skip chains are in between the two in terms of cutter head density. Chains with less cutter heads are used in more powerful saws that cut large pieces of log or wider tree trunks. Chains with the most cutter heads are more suitable for pruning because they deliver a finer cut. More cutter heads increase friction, and will cause the chain to struggle while sawing through thick logs or trees. There will also be less space for debris to be pulled out from the kerf. More debris is generated while cutting through larger cross sections of wood, and full skip saw chains are the best for that task since the cutter heads are much more spaced out, leaving lots of room for the wood chippings to freely exit the kerf. Semi-skip arrangement offers the best of both worlds.
Low Kickback Chains
Low kickback chains have modified drive links. These drive links have a curved hump on the top that align with the depth gauge when the link is moving straight, but as soon as the chain link begins to drop down towards the nose of the bar, the hump will separate from the depth gauge and increase overall chain profile for a brief moment so that the cutter head doesn’t abruptly bump into something like a barbed wire or nail that can cause the saw to kickback. Low kickback chains don’t impact cutting speed, and are recommended for people who are not experienced with chainsaws. Even if you are a person who has been using chainsaws for a while, this can be a really good feature to have.
Low Vibration: Chainsaw chains spin at extremely high speeds (50+ mph) while cutting through trees, and cutters strike the wood about 500 times every second. This causes the chainsaw to vibrate, and these vibrations are transferred into your hand. Long terms exposure to vibrations can cause numbness, pain, burning sensation, etc.
If you use the saw occasionally then a low-vibration chain isn’t all that important. However, if you use the saw for multiple hours on a daily basis, then it is extremely important that you invest in a low vibration chain. Some chainsaws feature built-in vibration dampening systems. Low vibration chains use modified clearance angles on the top face of the cutter, as well as specially designed tangs on the drive links.
Ripping Chains: Ripping chains are commonly used in chainsaw mills, and feature unique cutter tooth geometry that facilitates cutting along the wood grain. Normal chainsaw cutter tooth designs are optimized for cross cutting, i.e. cutting across the grain. Ripping chains also have extra space between cutters, similar to full-skip chains. Sharpening angles for ripping chains are different, and the tooth angles are flatter. The cutters are also skinnier on a ripping chain, so the kerf width will be less and the cut is executed more cleanly.
Carbide Chains: These use carbide-tipped cutters which are about 4 times harder than standard steel alloy cutters, so they last much longer and are better for cutting through dirty wood (filled with sand/ frozen, or has nails/ wire on the inside). Carbide tipped saw chains are equipped on the chainsaws that firefighters use, so that they can cut through frozen wood, poles, doors, thin metal, or whatever it is that they need to cut through. Carbide tipped chains are best used in situations where a normal chain would wear out very easily, such as – sand, cold, dirt, etc. You will not need to sharpen them as often, but when you do sharpen a carbide saw chain, make sure you have a diamond impregnated sharpener at hand.
Types of Chainsaws
Electric chainsaws are powered by electric motors, or to be more specific – 3 phase AC induction motors. The obvious differences between an electric motor and gasoline engine are-
Electric motors don’t need time to rev up to maximum speed, they always achieve maximum torque within milliseconds of starting up.
Electric motors release zero emissions since the rotary motion is generated through changing magnetic fields within the motor, not combustion of fuels like in a gasoline engine.
Electric motors are much quieter in operation, the only noise that you will hear is the sound of the bearings and drive shaft spinning. Two stroke engines on the other hand, are notorious for being extremely loud.
Electric motors require no maintenance, since there is no actual physical force being exerted within the motor. It is just an electric coil spinning within a magnetic field.
From the above points, you must have gained some knowledge on how an electric chainsaw compares to a gasoline chainsaw. The electric models have some very clear advantages – they are silent, achieve maximum torque instantly, have zero emissions, and require no maintenance. Also, let’s not forget how convenient it is to start up an electric chainsaw – all you have to do is push a button. No need to tug on a starting cord, and there is no choke/ primer system.
However, electric chainsaws still need a power source to run their motors. Based on how this power is delivered, we can divide all electric chainsaws into two categories-
Corded models need to be supplied power from the wall in order to function, which is why they come with a plug-in cord attached to the back of the power head. These chainsaws are what most of you reading this article will end up buying, since they are perfect for DIY projects, garden maintenance, and home improvement work. You can purchase a good corded electric chainsaw for under 200 dollars, some of the cheaper models are available for less than 100 dollars.
So, what is it that makes these corded models so good for the average homeowner? Well, to begin with – they are extremely easy to operate. Just plug it into an extension cord that is connected to the nearest outlet, and you are good to go. No need to maintain the saw either, since it is electric. Modern electric chainsaws come with all the safety features found on gas models, such as inertial chain brakes, throttle interlock, STOP switch, etc.
Electric motors cost less than gasoline engines, and also weigh less. That is why these saws are so light and cheap. You can find all the convenience features that you need in a good corded chainsaw – Anti Vibration system, toolless chain adjustment, self-lubricating chains, etc.
So, what’s the catch? Why doesn’t everyone use these corded chainsaws if they are so good? The answer is simple – they don’t perform as well as a gasoline chainsaw when it comes to serious cutting tasks. Sure, you can prune a clump of cherry trees in your garden with one of these, or cut through a few 2 by 4’s for some DIY project that you are working on. But if you are homesteader, or own a ranch, then there is no way you can get your work done with a corded chainsaw.
The first problem that you will run into is when you decide to venture more than 20 to 30 feet away from the nearest power outlet. Guess what – you are limited by a giant power cord that prevents you from using the chainsaw outside a certain radius. This cord can also get entangled in your legs if you are moving around from one spot to another, and poses a hazard to little kids or pet animals nearby. And you can’t just use any power cord, it has to be a 14-gauge, or in some cases, even a 12-gauge cord to supply the amperage needed for optimal performance.
An electric chainsaw also lacks power compared to gas chainsaws. Ask anyone who collects firewood on a daily basis such as a ranch owner, homesteader, or adventurist – all of them will tell you that gasoline powered chainsaws are unrivalled in terms of performance. Try cutting a log more than 9-12” in diameter with an electric chainsaw, and you will immediately regret your decision. It will cut through the log eventually, but you will have to constantly reposition the saw and will end up spending more time than you should. For professionals, it is all about getting the work done as efficiently and quickly as possible, even if that comes at the expense of noise and fumes.
Cordless chainsaws have their own electricity supply onboard, in the form of a battery. You are not limited by a power cord anymore, but by time. Every cordless chainsaw can run for a certain number of minutes before the battery depletes and you have to recharge it – just like your phone. It is good for folks who don’t plan on using the chainsaw for multiple hours on a daily basis, and if you are one of those people then a cordless chainsaw will be a fine addition to your arsenal of power tools.
Cordless chainsaws are just as powerful as corded ones, but tend to weight slightly more because of the battery. They also cost more, because of the difference in motor optimization, as well as the cost of the battery itself. Some of the expensive cordless models can cost more than a cheap gasoline chainsaw, and that is where you need to draw a line – do you prefer the silent performance, minimal maintenance, and ease of use, or would you rather have a loud, smelly, more powerful chainsaw that is slightly cheaper? The choice is yours to make, but worry not – we will make the process easier for you by providing a detailed comparison between a few of the most popular electric and gas chainsaws on the market.
Gasoline powered chainsaws have already been discussed extensively in previous sections of this article, so we shall not delve into specifics right now. All you need to know is that gas chainsaws can be extremely loud, emit fumes, need regular maintenance, and cost more than standard electric models. The power output of a gasoline two stroke engine is much superior to any AC induction motor of comparable size or weight, even a 40cc gasoline chainsaw beats the most powerful electric chainsaws in terms of cutting performance.
Unlike electric motors, gasoline engines need a few seconds to rev up before they achieve maximum torque, which is why you need a bit more skill to operate gas chainsaws. The starting process is also more complicated, since you have to tug on the starter cord 2-3 times before the engine starts. During a cold start, you will also need to pull the choke lever and use the primer bulb.
Now, let compare a few popular chainsaws from both sides – gas and electric. The goal of this comparison will be to highlight strengths and weakness of each chainsaw respective to the others, in the following categories – Noise, Ease of use, Maintenance, Mobility, and Cutting Power.
Cordless : Battery-Powered
- 2.0Ah and 2.5Ah 56-Volt Lithium-Ion Battery Kits Available
- Standard Charger Included in Kits
- Water Resistant Construction
- Low Kickback Chain Design (complies with ANSIB175.1)
- .043 in. Gauge Chain with 3/8 in. Low Pro Pitch
- Reversible Bar
- Chain Kickback Brake
- Chain Tension Adjustment
- 5 Year Tool Warranty
- 3 Year Battery Warranty (Kits Only)
- Ego Power+ Chainsaw CS1400 Only (No batteries or charger)
- Ego Power+ Chainsaw CS1401 with 2.0Ah battery and rapid charger
- Ego Power+ Chainsaw CS1403 with 2.5Ah battery and rapid charger
This is a nice little cordless chainsaw for clearing falling trees around your home, garden maintenance, or DIY projects. If you are a ranch owner or collect firewood on a daily basis, then you must probably own a larger gas chainsaw with an 18 – 24” blade. Buying one of these smaller electric models will greatly improve the process of limbing fallen trees, since you can’t exactly move a big 24” chainsaw comfortably while cutting off the branches from a downed tree. With the EGO Power+ CS1401, you can comfortably slice away stray branches and make small cuts with greater accuracy. It is fitted with a 14” bar and chain, so you should have no problem cutting down small trees with trunks that are 9 to 12 inches in diameter.
EGO Power+ CS1403 — 14″ 56V : with Battery & Rapid Charger
If you are someone who prefers mobility and silence over raw power, then this cordless chainsaw will make a fine purchase for you. It is loaded with many of the safety features that you will find in larger, more expensive gas models – chain kickback brake, a double guard bar, low kickback chain (complies with ANSIB175.1), and is built to be water resistant (ipx4).
Noise – The EGO Power+ CS1401 is one of the most powerful cordless models, thanks to a 56V battery. However, it is not any louder than a standard electric chainsaw. Part of this is because of how electric motors work – upping the voltage from 40V (standard) to 56V doesn’t increase noise emission, since noise in an electric motor comes from the bearings and shaft. This chainsaw is about 10 to 15 decibels quieter than most gas chainsaws, and that means it makes 100-150% less noise.
EGO Power+ 56-Volt Lithium-ion Rapid Charger
Ease of Use – Because of its electric motor and 11.4-pound body (battery weight included), this chainsaw is a pleasure to handle. The 14” long bar is perfect for people who are new to chainsaws, since it is neither too short nor too long. The chain is self-lubricated, and there is a transparent oil cover which lets you keep a tab on chain oil levels while operating the saw. What we like the most about this saw is its toolless chain tensioning system. You don’t need a screwdriver or wrench to adjust chain tension, no bolts to turn either. Just spin a handle on the side cover, and the chain will be tensioned in seconds.
Maintenance – It is an electric chainsaw, so maintenance requirements are pretty much non-existent. All you have to do is remove the large green cap on the front and refill new chain oil. Recharging the included battery should be very easy, just wait for 40 minutes and the 56V, 2.0 Ah Li-Ion battery will go from zero to full. If you purchase the rapid charger (sold separately), recharging time goes down even further, to just 30 minutes.
VIDEO | See it in Action
Mobility – At just 11.4 pounds, this chainsaw is extremely light compared to some of the larger gas chainsaws. It is still not as light as a corded model, but at least you are not restrained by wires. The bar length is 14”, perfect for home usage and light cutting tasks (limbing, pruning, etc.).
Cutting Power – The EGO Power+ CS1401 is fully capable of sawing through tree stumps and logs as thick as 12-14”. It will slow down while cutting through a 12 or 14” log, and the battery will run out within half an hour. Cutting performance is comparable to some smaller gas chainsaws, although the biggest limiting factor is the battery life (up to 100 cuts on 4 x 4 timber). This saw is best used for limbing and pruning, or DIY projects.
DEWALT DCCS670X1 FLEXVOLT
- Tool-Free chain tensioning and bar tightening knob for proper bar clamping force
- Auto-Oiling for continuous lubrication. Quarter-turn oil cap for quick oil re-fills
- Chain brake for kick back protection
- Up to 70 cuts per charge* *on a 6 in. x 6 in. pressure treated pine wood
The DEWALT DCCS670X1 is equipped with a 16” Oregon bar and chain assembly, and is rated for up to 70 cuts per charge on 6 “x 6” pressure treated pine wood. It is not the kind of saw that you would want to use as your primary if you are a seasoned lumberjack or daily firewood collector, but this is a great saw for construction work or limbing trees after you have taken them down with a large gas saw. Auto oiling and tool free tensioning improves the user experience for both novices, as well as seasoned chainsaw owners. Its brushless motor is fed by a 60V, 3.0 Ah battery.
Noise – Much quieter than any gas-powered chainsaw available. The 16” bar and chain assembly makes it slightly louder than the 14” EGO Power+ CS1401, but it still quite enough to be used near schools, churches, suburbs, etc.
Ease of Use – At 12.2 pounds it is marginally heavier than the EGO Power+ CS1401. But that is not a whole lot of weight difference for a 2” increase in bar length, and you should also remember that this chainsaw is more powerful than the EGO Power+ model that we discussed above. It uses a low-kickback chain, and the overall shape is very ergonomic. The handle is comfortable padded, and is connected to the main body through a very effective anti-vibration system. Extremely easy to operate, and the controls are easy to access.
Maintenance – The chain can be tensioned by rotating a tensioning handle which folds into the side cover, and the bar is adjustable by turning a simple knob. Completely tool-free adjustments make this chainsaw an absolute pleasure to use, and its brushless electric motor is guaranteed to last longer than standard motors due to reduced heat and vibration. Auto oiling ensures continuous lubrication for the chain, and a quarter-turn oil cap speeds up the oil-refill process.
Mobility – Slightly longer than the EGO Power+ CS1401, as well as slightly heavier.
Cutting Power – It is capable of cutting through hardwoods like oak and pine, and you can use it to trim down branches or 4 x 4/ 6 x 6 timber. The 16” bar length allows you to cut through tree trunks as thick as 14” in diameter, but this is still an electric saw. Powerful as it may be by electric standards, you don’t want to use it as your primary tree felling saw if you are a professional. If you are an average homeowner, this saw is all you need.
GreenWorks Pro GCS80420 (80V)
- Up to 150 cuts with fully charged 2Ah battery*
- Equivalent to 45cc gas engine
- Digital controlled brushless motor for more torque, longer run-time, quiet operation, and longer life
- Steel bucking spikes and durable metal wrap around handle
- Electronic chain brake for safe operation
- Automatic oiler applies oil to the bar and chain to ensure durability and extended life.
- Comes with translucent oil tank for clear view of oil level
- On-board chain tensioning tool
This is the big daddy of electric chainsaws – with a 80V battery and 18” bar, GreenWorks is not kidding when they say it is meant for serious wood cutting. The DigiPro brushless electric motor within this chainsaw is fed by a 2.0 Ah, 80V Lithium Ion battery and generates almost as much power as a 45cc two-stroke gasoline engine, the type of engine that is found on most small to mid-sized gasoline chainsaws.
Noise – This is the noisiest electric chainsaw on the list, but that is only because of its 18” bar and chain. When you run it dry without the blade touching anything, the noise output is nonexistent. Electric chainsaws aren’t noisy, it is the sound of the chain grinding against the wood that causes noise. Gasoline chainsaws however, make noise even when they are not cutting anything, because of the engine.
Ease of Use – Metal handles, solid overall construction, and metal bucking spikes on the front make this feel like a truly premium chainsaw. The electronic chain brake and safety lock make this as safe as any other premium chainsaw on the market, while the small radius nose and Oregon Low Profile Chamfer Chisel 91PX chain help reduce kickback. Front and rear hands guards protect your hands from flying debris, although you should always wear a glove while operating any chainsaw. There is an overload protection system which stops the motor if too much stress is placed on the saw.
Maintenance – Despite being the costliest cordless saw on our list, it doesn’t feature tool-free chain tensioning or bar adjustment. You will need a wrench and screwdriver to tension the chain. The oil cap is placed conveniently and is large in size, while the massive 80V, 2.0 Ah battery charges up from zero to 100% in just 30 minutes.
VIDEO | See the Greenworks 80V Chainsaw in action
Mobility – It weighs 14.8 pounds, as much as a 40-45 cc gas chainsaw. The 18” bar means that newer users will need some time before they can move it around comfortable.
Cutting Power – Is phenomenal for an electric chainsaw, almost on par with a small to mid-sized gas chainsaw. It will cut tree trunks ranging from 6 to 16” in size, and can cut through pine, oak, walnut, etc. Push it too hard though, and it will stall. Expect to get 30-40 minutes out of the battery while pruning and trimming branches, and about 20 minutes while cutting firewood or larger logs.
- “Tool-less” blade and chain adjustments for convenient operation and easy maintenance
- Rubberized grip handles are ergonomically designed for comfort
- Large trigger switch with soft start for smooth start-ups
- Built-in current limiter helps protect motor from burnout by reducing power to motor when saw is overloaded
- Large oil reservoir with view window allows operator to check bar oil level
- Automatic chain oiler for heavy continuous cutting
- Electric chain brake for maximum productivity
- Zero emissions and reduced maintenance
- Soft start for smooth start-ups
- Current limiter helps protect motor from damage caused by heat
The Makita UC4051A is an ergonomic, well-rounded 16” electric chainsaw for home use. It can be used to cut firewood, small trees, and home improvement projects. There is a current overload protection system that protects the motor when the saw is under too much pressure. Tool-less bar adjustment and chain tensioning, along with rubberized handles make this chainsaw very convenient to use. It is reasonably priced, and well-built. Make sure that you use a 12-gauge wire if the length of the extension cord is 100 feet, if under 50 feet you can use 14 or 12-gauge wire.
Noise – Just like all electric chainsaws, this one too runs much quieter than gas models. Average noise produced is also lowered since the electric motor automatically turns off when you lay the saw down. Picking it up and depressing the throttle interlock will allow you to instantly turn on the motor once again, so there is no downtime between cuts.
Ease of Use – Extremely easy to access controls, no choke or primer bulb to bother with since this is an electric saw. The giant power cord can be annoying if it ever gets entangled in something, but that’s about all the trouble you will ever face. The soft start feature smoothens motor startup and reduces vibrations, while the anti-vibration system does an excellent job of suppressing motor vibration from passing into the handle. There is an electric chain brake for efficient operation, and a built-in current limiter will automatically reduce current delivery to the motor in the event of an overload.
Maintenance – Tool-less chain tensioning and bar adjustment is a really cool feature, and we are pleased to find it on this Makita electric chainsaw. The large oil reservoir (6.8 Fl Oz.) means that you have change chain oil less often, while the transparent view window lets you keep tabs on chain oil levels at all times.
Mobility – The Makita UC4051A weighs 12.3 pounds, and uses a 16” bar length. We would classify this chainsaw as moderately mobile by electric chainsaw standards, but the biggest limitation to mobility is the power cord.
Cutting Power – Better than most electric chainsaws, and it will cut through logs as thick as 8 to 10” in diameter. This saw doesn’t run out of juice since it powered by an electrical outlet, which is a huge advantage over cordless models and even gas chainsaws (they need to be refueled). Most homeowners, carpenters, DIY enthusiasts, and woodturners will have absolutely no issues with this saw.
15 Amp Electric 18″ Chainsaw
- Powerful 15 Amp motor offers consistent performance and durability
- Patented auto-tension chain system prevents over-tightening for extended bar & chain life
- Built-in chain brake for added safety
- Automatic oil lubrication and built-in oil reservoir with level indicator
This is an 18” chainsaw that is extremely popular among homeowners and woodturners. Even people who live on a ranch and are used to cutting with large gas chainsaws, appreciate the power of this electric model. It is limited by the length of the cord, but that’s about all the negatives we could find. There is a powerful 15A brushless electric motor inside the plastic housing of this saw, and this motor is fed by a 120V, 60 Hz AC supply. Make sure you have a 12-gauge extension cord at hand before you buy one of these electric saws.
Noise – Minimal noise output
Ease of Use – Extremely easy to use, but lacks anti-vibration mechanisms. That doesn’t really affect most people, unless you plan on cutting through hardwood or do lots of firewood cutting on a daily basis. There is a low kickback bar and chain assembly, along with an electric chain stop for extra safety. All metal dogs at the bottom ensure stability while cutting large logs.
Maintenance – Tool-less chain tensioning and bar adjustment, transparent view window for chain oil compartment.
VIDEO Overview | WORX WG303.1
Mobility – Less mobile than most electric chainsaws, mainly because of the 18” bar length and corded design. It is surprisingly light for an 18” chainsaw however, at just 11.2 pounds. So, if you are going to be cutting lots of wood in one place, you will not tire out quickly.
Cutting Power – Matches a small gas chainsaw (42-45cc) in terms of raw muscle, easily slices through 16” thick tree trunks and logs. Hardwoods such as maple, oak, walnut, etc. pose no problems.
Oregon CS1500 (603352) | 15A / 18″
Self-Sharpening Electric Chainsaw. Yes, the only chainsaw with a built-in sharpener. Absolutely worth every penny, and for most homeowners who don’t know how to sharpen a chain, this is probably the chainsaw for you — as long as you’re only doing light-duty cutting.
- 18″ (45cm) bar length
- PowerSharp chain, 3/8″ Low Profile with .050″ gauge
- Automatic oiler with view-through window
- 15 amp rating
- 120 Volt ~ 60 Hz
- No load chain speed 2888 FPM
- Weighs 12.9 lbs (5.85kg)Instant start: No pull cords, no warm-up, no gas-oil mixing, no emissions.
- Low noise: Much quieter than a gas saw. Silent between cuts.
- Ergonomic design: Light-weight and balanced. Low vibration. Over-mold comfort handle.
The Oregon CS1500 provides the most value for money out of any electric chainsaw on this list – it is an 18” corded chainsaw that costs less than 150 dollars. There is a powerful 15A brushless electric motor inside this one, similar to the WORX WG304.1 chainsaw. But the WORX model costs about 33% more, despite providing similar cutting performance. The Oregon CS1500 is slightly heavier than the WORX WG304.1, at about 13.2 pounds.
Noise – Extremely quiet, until you begin cutting wood. It produces about 100% less noise than a comparable 18” gas chainsaw, but you will still need hearing protection.
Sharpen the chain in seconds. Never cut with a dull chain again.
Ease of Use – There is a built-in chain sharpening device which grinds the cutters on the chain when you pull down on a little red lever attached to the side cover. This sharpening system is exactly like the aftermarket chain sharpening devices that have a horseshoe-shaped grinding stone inside a box that you can snap onto the tip of your chainsaw bar. You power on the saw and spin the chain with the sharpening lever pulled down, and the chain should be sharpened within 3 seconds. It is an extremely useful feature to have, and couple with the tool-free chain tensioning and bar adjustment, makes this one of the most consumer-friendly chainsaws on the market.
Maintenance – Maintenance is greatly simplified by the fact that this is an electric chainsaw, so all that you ever have to worry about is refilling chain oil. There is a transparent oil level window, and a built-in chain sharpening system.
VIDEO | See it in Action
Mobility – It is slightly heavier than most other electric saws, but we will blame that on the 18” bar. However, this is not just any bar – it is an Oregon bar and chain assembly, and the chain is a low-kickback type.
Cutting Power – Comparable to gas chainsaws such as the Husqvarna 240 or Stihl MS 211. The major limiting factor, just like with any other corded electric chainsaw, is the extension cord.
- 20-inch. 55.5cc engine. 3.5 hp.
- 12.8 lbs (excluding bar and chain).
- X-Torq Engine: Designed to reduce emissions while providing lower fuel consumption. .
- Quick-release air filter: Easy to clean and replace, when needed.
- Convenient combination of choke/stop system, allowing easy starting while reducing the chance of flooding the engine.
- Air Injected Centrifugal air cleaning system keeps large dust particles and debris out while improving engine life.
- Side-mounted chain tensioning system for easy access.
- Durable 3 piece crankshaft.
- Ergonomic front handle provides a comfortable grip while reducing fatigue.
- LowVib System greatly reduces vibration and minimizes fatigue.
- Adjustable oil pump enables you to control the amount of lubrication depending on your needs.
- Felling marks help you fell trees with precision.
- Smart Start: The Husqvarna 455 Rancher is engineered to be easy to start with minimal effort.
- Air Purge: Makes starting easier by clearing air from the carburetor and fuel system.
- Inertia activated chain brake for increased safety and reducing the chance of kickback.
- CARB compliant.
This is the perfect meld of both casual and professional features in one package. It is powered by a 55.5cc two-stroke gasoline engine that generates 3.49 hp (2.6 Kw) of power, at its maximum speed of 9000 rpm. The maximum torque output of this motor is 3.2 Nm, and its fuel consumption rate is 450g / kWh, or 1.2 kg per hour. The bar length is 18”, and weight (excluding cutting equipment) is 12.7 pounds when dry (no fuel or oil).
Noise – This is a gas chainsaw, so obviously it is going to be very loud. One of the things that people often overlook when comparing noise outputs of gas and electric saws is the fact that gas chainsaws will generate noise even when they are not cutting if the engine is on idle, unlike electric chainsaws which automatically shut down the motor when you remove the finger off the throttle. This chainsaw generates 104 dB(A) of sound, measured at operating distance.
Ease of Use – A combined choke/ stop control makes startup and shutdown extremely easy, and this control is located very close to the trigger handle. The handle is connected to the rest of the chassis with a LowVib anti-vibration system. Husqvarna’s Smart Start feature reduces resistance in the pull cord by up to 40%, so you can start the engine effortlessly and with minimal force.
Maintenance – Like all gas chainsaws, this one will need proper maintenance in order to keep running at optimal performance. But a well-maintained gas chainsaw will always outlive an electric saw. You will find a quick release air filter on the 455 Rancher that allows you to inspect and replace the air filter very easily. A centrifugal air injection system attached to the flywheel ensures optimal cooling for the engine and guarantees longer operating intervals between each air filter cleaning session. A side mounted chain tensioner means that you can access it conveniently whenever you have to tighten or loosen the chain. The oil pump is adjustable so you can control how much oil it pumps through the bar based on the type of chain that you are using, or based on the environment you are working in.
Husqvarna 455 Chainsaw | Designed to tackle heavy-duty cutting
Mobility – This is one of the lighter gas chainsaws, thanks to its plastic construction which is very durable yet lightweight. It weighs 12.7 pounds dry.
Cutting Power – In between a casual gas chainsaw and a professional grade chainsaw. Great for cutting firewood, bucking tree trunks as thick as 16”, or woodturning.
Read our full review of the Husqvarna 455 Rancher or visit Husqvarna to see their wide-range of power equipment.
Poulan Pro PR5020 (967061501)
- With the OxyPower engine technology, you can get that extra power for virtually any task. This technology offers a more powerful engine, but also 70% less emissions and 20% lower fuel consumption
- Effortless pull starting system reduces pull force 30% for easier starting and reduced wear on the starter mechanism
- The combi tool is integrated into the rear handle, it’s always there when you need it for maintenance
- The purge bulb, which provides the carburetor with fuel and makes the product easier to start with fewer pulls, is protected, reducing the risk of damage
User friendly combined choke/stop control allows faster starting and greater reliability by reducing the risk of engine flooding
Featuring a spring-assisted starter system for easy cord pulls, and a superior air filter system that increases filter lifetime, the Poulan Pro PR5020 18” chainsaw is loaded with some really unique features. It is best used for cutting firewood and property management. If you want a gas chainsaw with a 51cc engine and 20” bar, but don’t have a whole lot of money to spend on a premium Husqvarna or Stihl model, then Poulan Pro is your best alternative. They offer some really good chainsaws at very attractive prices.
Noise – The OxyPower 2-stroke engine that Poulan Pro uses in this chainsaw is designed for up to 70% less emissions than a standard 2-stroke engine, and also produces less noise because of the decreased exhaust volume. It is still rated at over 100 decibels, but is slightly quieter than most gas chainsaws.
Ease of Use – There is a spring assisted pull start which reduces pull force by 30%. Choke and stop are integrated into one master switch, while the primer bulb is located in a convenient position. The bar and chain are optimized for low kickback, and a double post chain brake increases safety. An anti-vibration system in the rear handle keeps your trigger hand steady and comfortable. We still prefer the double-point anti vibration system on the Remington RM5118R Rodeo, because it is present in both the front as well as rear handles for maximum comfort.
Maintenance – Maintenance is fairly easy on this Poulan Pro chainsaw – the air filter and spark plug can be accessed without using any tools. All you have to do is pull out a couple of tabs that hold the top cover in place. Side mounted chain tensioning is always good to have, Poulan Pro have also thrown in an onboard locking wrench holder.
Mobility – It weighs 17 pounds, bar and chain included. The design is ergonomic, and the handles have sufficient padding on them to keep your hands comfortable during long cutting sessions.
Cutting Power – More than enough for post-storm debris clearing, firewood processing, felling of hardwood trees, bucking 18” thick logs, etc. Maximum possible cut diameter is 40” (this value is obtained through multiplying the bar length by 2).
Remington RM5118R Rodeo
**Sadly, this chainsaw has been discontinued but Remington has added a nice range of new chainsaws for consumers :
- Remington Outlaw 46cc : 20-inch (RM4620) / 18-inch (RM4618)
- Remington Rebel 42cc : 18-inch (RM4214) / 16-inch (RM4216) / 14-inch (RM4214)
- Remington RM4040 40V 12-Inch Cordless Battery Chainsaw
This is an affordable, medium-sized gas chainsaw. It sports an 18” bar and is powered by a 51cc engine. Both the bar as well as chain are designed for low-kickback, and there is anti-vibration built into both the front as well as rear handles for maximum comfort while operating. A durable die-cast chassis and professional grade crankcase make this chainsaw feel more than just an ordinary home usage model. It is designed to be used in rough conditions, and can definitely take a beating. There is no wood it can’t cut through, and the engine is guaranteed to last for more than a decade with proper maintenance.
Noise – This chainsaw is as loud as any other mid-sized gas chainsaw on the market, and that’s why we all wear hearing protection while using them. Under full load, it generates about 100-100 dB(A) of noise pressure.
Ease of Use – One of the really cool things about this chainsaw is the double point anti-vibration system – there are shock absorbing units installed on both the front as well as the rear handle – this provides an extremely smooth user experience even when you are cutting through 16” thick logs of oak or pine at full power. The 2-step auto choke system automatically sets choke position and adjust throttle levels to compensate for warm-up when you pull the starter cord. The start-up is made easier with Quick-Start, which greatly reduces the amount of cord tension required to start the engine. The kickback protection on this saw is really good, its chain brake can be triggered both manually, as well as by inertia.
Maintenance – The oil pump is automatic, so it will keep lubricating the chain as long as the engine is running. Unlike most chainsaws which use a 50:1 fuel/ oil mix, this chainsaw needs a 40:1 mix of fuel and oil. Its heavy-duty crankcase and sprocket are designed to last longer, and the frame is made from metal. Chain tensioning is side-mounted, and the oil filler cap is located in a convenient position for quick chain oil refill.
Mobility – This saw is actually very heavy, at almost 20 pounds. The reason for this is the metal body, and heavy-duty crankcase.
Cutting Power – Great for felling medium sized trees (30-50 feet tall), firewood processing, or bucking. You can use it to chop up fallen tree branches or debris after storms.
Choosing the Right Chainsaw
There are many factors that need to be considered before purchasing a chainsaw, and some of these things are very hard to understand by yourself if you haven’t operated a chainsaw before. For new chainsaw owners, it is very important that you purchase the smallest machine which can fulfil your needs. This doesn’t mean that you should skimp out on safety features, all we are suggesting is that you stick with a very manageable bar length and engine size.
There are also many of you who have operated chainsaws before, be it occasionally or on a daily basis. In case your experience with chainsaws is at an intermediate level, we suggest that you purchase a chainsaw which complements and makes up for the shortcomings of your existing chainsaw. For example, let’s say you own an 18 or 20-inch gas chainsaw which is powered by a 50-cc engine. You don’t want to use that chainsaw for pruning or trimming, since it would be inefficient, and a waste of energy.
What you could do instead, is purchase an electric chainsaw with a 14” bar for the little tasks that require less time and more precision. You can use the smaller, lighter, more efficient saw for tasks such as pruning, trimming, limbing, or for DIY projects/ home improvement. Buying a chainsaw really comes down to two major factors – How experienced you are, and what you plan on cutting. Once you have taken a mental note of these two points, you can then begin to consider other stuff such as-
Do I want a quieter model, or can I get away with a gas chainsaw (Are you living on a ranch, or in the suburbs)?
How large is the area in which I shall be cutting, or how much area do I want to cover with my chainsaw while working? (helps you decide if you want to buy a corded chainsaw or a cordless model)
What will be the maintenance costs of my chainsaw over a period of 3-5 years?
How quickly do I want to cut the wood? (depends on whether you are cutting wood in your backyard, or deep in the forest), etc.
Size and Power:
The size of a chainsaw affects its mobility, and newer users tend to struggle with chainsaws that are too long or heavy. A gas chainsaw with a 34cc engine will have less space between the front and rear grips, whereas a gas chainsaw with a 65cc engine will have quite a bit of length between the front and rear grip. A large chainsaw will also weigh more, so you will struggle with balancing the chainsaw while cutting wood. If the bar is too long, the weight of the chainsaw will be biased towards the front end, and this can be detrimental while you are cutting branches and limbs, since the tip of the chainsaw will overcut and go into the ground if you are bending forward while cutting.
Choosing the right chainsaw size based on what you plan to cut is very important. A heavier chainsaw might be slightly more difficult to hold, but we know that it is also more powerful. Say for example, you have a 34cc gas chainsaw with a 16” bar, it weighs 11 pounds. Then, you have a 50cc chainsaw with an 18” bar that weighs 14 pounds. The larger chainsaw cuts 25% faster than the smaller, lighter chainsaw.
So, while it is heavier, it also cuts faster, which means you hold it for less time. If the small chainsaw takes 4 minutes to slice up a log of firewood into stove-sized chunks, then the larger chainsaw will take 3 minutes. Would you rather hold 11 pounds of weight for 4 minutes, or 14 pounds of weight for 3 minutes? That is something which is difficult to decide on paper, you would have to actually experience it in order to form a solid opinion. But this stuff can matter a lot based on where you live.
If you live in a city, you probably rely on central heating systems powered by electricity during the winter, or you have space heaters installed in the house. You don’t need to go foraging for firewood, and you might not even have a furnace in the house. The only thing that you will be doing with your chainsaw is cutting pieces of wood for DIY projects or home improvement stuff. You may also use the chainsaw to trim or prune trees in your garden, or occasionally cut the branches of a tree that is growing dangerously close to your home.
Some people also buy chainsaws to cut up fallen trees and debris after a storm. The point is – you probably aren’t going to use the chainsaw very often, and even when you do, it will be for light or casual tasks. Do yourself a favor and buy a 14” or 16” electric chainsaw. It is quiet, won’t disturb your neighbors, won’t wake up the family if you decide to work at night in the garage, and is going to be extremely lightweight. Your back and hands are going to thank you for using an electric chainsaw.
On the other hand, if you live on a ranch or far away from a city suburb, you probably depend on firewood for heating. Electricity costs can vary from place to place, and when there is plenty of firewood available naturally around you, why pay for heating? To collect firewood efficiently, you need to do the most possible work in the least possible time. And that often means, putting up with the shenanigans of a gas-powered chainsaw. It is heavier, it is loud, and it stinks. But it does the job fast, and doesn’t jam on you when you are cutting through a 16” thick log of oak or pine. When you go deep into the forest to cut some firewood, you need a powerful chainsaw. Serious business demands serious power – and nothing beats the power of a large gas chainsaw.
Electric chainsaws can vary in terms of power output, but you can roughly calculate the amount of power that they generate by multiplying the amperage with voltage. For example, let’s assume you own a corded chainsaw that has an amperage of 15. That means, this chainsaws motor can draw up to 15 amperes of current under load. It is powered by a 110V AC power outlet, so the totally power that this chainsaws motor can generate is 110 x 15 = 1650 Watts, or 1.65 Kw.
You can convert kilowatts into horsepower by multiplying the Kw value with 1.34. Meaning that 1.65 kilowatts roughly equates to 2.2hp. Which isn’t true in real life, since there are plenty of 1.5hp gas chainsaws which match or even beat electric chainsaws powered by 15 Amp motors. This is because, you can always squeeze more power out of a gas chainsaw with some clever manipulation of the throttle.
Manufacturers of gas chainsaws even include 130% power values, because gas chainsaws have a higher maximum power ceiling than is indicated by the numbers on the specs sheet. Electric chainsaws cannot do that, what you see on the spec sheet is what the chainsaw will output. However, they are more responsive to the throttle, and feature a much smoother power curve so anybody can operate them irrespective of past experience with chainsaws.
Here are some recommendations for gas chainsaw engine sizes :
- Trimming and Pruning/ General garden maintenance: 30 to 34cc gas chainsaw, small to medium sized electric
- DIY projects, felling small trees: 34 to 40 cc gas chainsaw, medium to large electric
- Felling medium trees: 40 to 45cc gas chainsaw, large electric chainsaw (18” to 20” bar)
- Limbing and small sized firewood: 40 to 45cc gas chainsaw, medium to large electric
- Medium sized firewood: 45cc to 50cc gas chainsaw, or large electric
- Bucking small logs of wood: 35 to 40cc gas chainsaw, medium to large electric
- Bucking medium sized logs: 45 to 50cc gas chainsaw, large electric
- Bucking large logs: 50cc and above for gas chainsaws, electric chainsaws not recommended
A chainsaw with a longer bar can be used to cut through thicker logs and tree trunks. But driving a longer bar and chain requires more power, so it also results in a heavier chainsaw. You need to decide what bar length is best for you, since too much length can result in potential accidents or exhaustion, while too little length will impede your ability to work properly. One of the things that you might not know, is that chainsaw guide bars are measured from the tip of the bar nose to the point where the bar meets with the chainsaw power head. We don’t calculate the entire length of the bar, rather we calculate its effective length, meaning the length that is exposed for cutting. The part of the bar that is hidden underneath the side cover doesn’t count, and you only see it when you take the bar out for servicing.
You can cut logs or tree trunks that are thicker than the length of the bar, it will just need more passes to cut the. For example, the maximum cutting range of a chainsaw is calculated by multiplying the bar length with 2. For example – if the bar length is 16”, you can cut through a cylindrical section of wood that is 32” in diameter. But just because you have bar that is 16” long, you can’t assume that you will be able to cut through a 32” log.
The engine needs to be powerful enough for that task, especially if you are cutting hardwoods or wood that is frozen/ dirty. To be safe, always purchase a chainsaw that is equipped with a bar 2” longer than the maximum log diameter that you plan on cutting. You can swap out the bars on a chainsaw, and attach a smaller or larger bar in order to adapt the chainsaw for several types of tasks. But, always stick within the range recommended by the chainsaws manufacturer, unless you are an experienced user who has done this before. For example, if the manufacturer says that a chainsaw supports bars between 14” and 16” in length, don’t snap an 18” bar on that saw unless you want to overload the motor/ flood the engine.
One of the things that we want to emphasize, is how bar length affects kickback. A smaller chainsaw usually has a shorter bar, and is also lighter. Larger chainsaws have longer bars, and are heavier. What you might not know, is that shorter and lighter chainsaws tend to kickback faster and give you less time to react. This is because they are so light, and the bar travels in a smaller arc towards you. You have more time to react with a larger chainsaw, since the saw is heavier and the bar travels through a much larger arc while coming at you.
This rule isn’t always true, because extremely small chainsaws (8” bars for example) will not kickback that hard, and they will never reach your face because of the weak motor and short bars. However, a mid-sized bar and powerful motor make for a deadly combination – more power means the kickback will be harder, and a 14”-16” bar is long enough to reach your face if you don’t react in time. Make sure that the chainsaw you buy, irrespective of bar length, has all the essential safety features – an inertial chain brake, low kickback chains and bar if you are a new user, and a stop switch.
Remember – the longer saw is more likely to kickback, but also easier to control during kickback. A smaller, lighter saw is less likely to kickback, but when it does you will have less time to react. We shall discuss more on what kickback is, and how to avoid it in the safety section of this article.
Here are a few bar length recommendations, based on application:
- Trimming and Pruning/ General garden maintenance: 10” to 14”
- Pruning and Limbing: 12” to 14”
- Felling small trees (8 to 12-inch trunks): 14” to 16”
- Felling midsized trees, soft to medium hardness: 14” to 16”
- Felling midsized trees, hardwood: 16” to 18”
- Occasional firewood cutting: 14” to 16”
- Cutting firewood daily: 16” to 18”
- Bucking: 18” minimum
Electric or Gas?
Now that you have acquired an idea of how much power your chainsaw need, and the appropriate bar length for different tasks, we shall take a look at Gas vs Electric chainsaws. This debate has been raging on for decades, since electric chainsaws have been around for longer than you think. Stihl, which is one of the most renowned chainsaw brands in the world today, started in 1926 with an electric chainsaw.
It was the first commercially produced electric chainsaw, and was designed by Andreas Stihl – a German engineer/ innovator. The chainsaw that Stihl manufactured in 1926, was equipped with a 2.2 kw motor and weighed 37 kilograms (81 pounds). Designed for bucking sites, this chainsaw needed a crew of 2 men. Chainsaws have come a long way since then, modern units are extremely easy to operate and offer a lot of power in compact form factors.
Electric chainsaws are widely regarded to be the best option for casual use, while gas chainsaws are meant for serious cutting. But the difference in power between gas and electric isn’t as drastic as it used to be, at least in the small to mid-sized segment (10” to 16” bar length). Modern electric chainsaws are equipped with highly advanced and extremely efficient brushless AC induction motors that generate less heat and waste less energy than their older counterparts.
A corded 15-amp chainsaw can keep up with a 34 to 40cc chainsaw in terms of power, and both can cut through 16” thick logs of wood. The real power difference between gas and electric begins to surface when you go beyond the 40cc engine size – there are very few electric chainsaw motors that can match a 42 or 45cc gas engine, and that is where you need to draw a line.
Do you plan on cutting medium to large-sized logs of firewood? Then you have two options – get the most powerful electric chainsaw that you can, or buy a 45 to 50cc gas chainsaw. The WORX WG304.1 is a good example of an electric chainsaw that can keep up with small to medium gas chainsaws. It features an 18” bar and chain assembly, and is powered by a 15-amp brushless motor. It generates 1650 watts of power, or 2.2hp at maximum speed.
This puts it on par with most 40-45cc gas chainsaws in terms of power, which is pretty astounding for an electric model. It also costs half as much as a decent 45-50 cc chainsaw, and we recon you won’t really notice the 10-15% decrease in cutting speed between a top of the line 45cc gas chainsaw and this WORX electric saw, especially if you cut wood occasionally.
Making buying decisions based on factors such as cutting power can be tricky when you are deciding between gas and electric. You always have to look at things relatively, for example – a 13-amp electric chainsaw is probably going to be 25% slower than a 38 or 40cc gas chainsaw (approximate value, you can always look up online comparisons or ask people who have used both models).
Now, let’s assume the electric chainsaw is corded, in which case it might cost between 100 to 150 dollars. The gas chainsaw will probably cost around 200 dollars, since that is what most small – medium sized gas chainsaws cost. We are assuming this is a well-built model, since you can find cheap gas chainsaws below 150. We don’t recommend that you purchase a cheap gas chainsaw, even though a cheap electric chainsaw won’t exactly hurt you if you are a casual user. The reason is – gas chainsaws are inherently more complex than electric models, that is just how the design works.
A gas chainsaw has extra parts such as the carburetor, filter, spark plug, fuel tank, etc. There are more things that can go wrong with a gas chainsaw, and it requires more maintenance. So, if you cheap out on your gas saw purchase, you will probably run into trouble within a year or two. It might not start, the air filter may need to be replaced way too frequently, the pull cord might feel heavier after 6 or 7 months, the choke might break down, etc. Which is why, we are assuming a price of around 200 for the 40cc gas chainsaw.
So, is a price increase of 33% worth a performance increase of around 25%? You need to make that decision based on how frequently you cut, and what you cut. If you are a person who cuts firewood daily or collects timber on a regular basis, then the extra money that you spent on a gas chainsaw is well worth it. If you are cutting large volumes of wood daily, then a 25% decrease in cutting time can mean an extra 1 or 2 hours for you to spend on other things. But if you are a casual user, then you are probably happy with spending less money for slightly less performance.
Pros and cons of all three chainsaw types :
Pros – Powerful enough for light firewood cutting, garden maintenance, DIY projects, etc. Require no maintenance, and are the lightest. Produce very little noise, and can keep running for as long as they are plugged in – no refueling or recharging needed.
Cons – You will be moving around with a 12 or 14-gauge cord attached to the back, and if you are planning on maintaining a large estate or cutting wood more than 100 feet away from your house, then we don’t suggest a corded chainsaw.
Pros – Cutting power is comparable to small gas chainsaws, mobility is not inhibited by a power cord. Zero maintenance needed, apart from an occasional chain oil refill. Extremely quiet, allows you to work in areas surrounding schools, churches, playing fields, etc.
Cons – These are heavier than corded models, and their runtime is limited by the battery. If you plan on cutting for more than 40 minutes to an hour, we suggest buying an extra battery so you can work while the other one is recharging. Some cordless models are as expensive as medium sized gas chainsaws.
Pros – Offer best power-to-weight ratio, and can be used for heavy duty cutting. A well-engineered gas chainsaw will last longer than any electric chainsaw, provided you maintain it properly. Saves you time if you cut lots of wood on a daily basis, and the only type of chainsaw suitable for professionals.
Cons – Heavier than cordless electric models, require daily inspection and maintenance if you are a frequent user. Need a mix of gasoline and oil to operate, and are extremely noisy. Emit fumes, and are harder to start.
Features Every Good Chainsaw Should Have:
- Anti-Vibration System – Chainsaw handle vibration can cause your hands to become numb, and with continued exposure it could result in Hand-Arm vibration syndrome. Anti-vibration systems connect the operating handle to the rest of the chainsaw through a specially designed suspension system that dampens vibrations as they pass from the engine/ motor to the handle.
- Inertial Chain Brake – Every chainsaw is required by law to have an anti-kickback chain brake. This is the large lever that you see towards the front of the chainsaw, right next to the foregrip. It can be activated manually, by pushing the lever forward, which will instantly stop the chain. Or, it can activate automatically through its own inertial force in the event of a kickback.
- Throttle Interlock – This is usually located right next to the throttle, or above the operating handle. Kind of like the safety on a firearm, except you have to keep it pressed if you wish to use the throttle. If the throttle interlock is not activated, then the throttle will not do anything. This prevents unintentional accidents.
- Stop Control – A large red switch that is located nearby the throttle, pressing it will stop the saw and turn off the engine.
- Low Kickback Chain and Bar – Recommended for inexperienced users, a low kickback chain uses special drive links that are designed to keep the cutting teeth away from the wood around the nose of the chainsaw.
- Automatic Chain Lubrication – Found on every chainsaw nowadays, this is basically an oil pump which lubricates the chain and bar, and is driven by the motor/ engine of the chainsaw. Ensures that the chain lasts longer and cuts efficiently.
- Tool-free Chain Tensioning – Mostly found on electric chainsaws or smaller gas chainsaws, it allows you to adjust chain tension without a wrench or combination tool.
- Metal Bumper Spikes – Found towards the front, right next to the bar. These teeth dig into the wood and help stabilize the chainsaw while you are cutting large diameter logs (especially useful for bucking).
- Tool-Free Access to Air Filter and Spark Plug – Lets you access the air filter and spark plug without a wrench/ screwdriver.
- Auto Choke – Automatically adjusts choke position based on the temperature of the engine/ carburetor. It enables the choke whenever you pull the starter cord, so the starting process becomes a little easier.
- Adjustable Chain Oil Pump – Lets you regulate the amount of chain oil that is released into the bar.
- Quarter-turn Gas/ Oil caps – Enables fast and easy oil/ gas refills.
- Soft-Start/ Easy Start – Reduces the tension on the starter cord by 30-40%, makes startup much easier on gas chainsaws.
- Heated Carburetor and Handles (professional models only) – Allows you to start the chainsaw more easily in freezing temperatures, a temperature sensor located within the carburetor automatically activates a heating coil whenever the temperature drops below a certain point. A heated handle allows you to work more comfortably in the winter season, found only on professional models.
Maintaining your chainsaw will ensure that it performs optimally at all times, doesn’t break down in the middle of a job, and most importantly – a well maintained chainsaw is guaranteed to last longer. Since electric chainsaws are maintenance free by nature, we shall discuss how you should maintain your gasoline chainsaw. But before we begin, it is important that you know the difference between chain/ bar oil, and 2-stroke engine oil. The two are not similar, and definitely not interchangeable.
Bar oil is thicker (because of a special “high-tack” additive) and designed to stick to the drive links on your chainsaw chain, so that it doesn’t fly off the nose of the chainsaw as it travels around the tip. Engine oil is thinner, and doesn’t stick. It will simply fly off the top of the chain and spill all over the place when you run the chainsaw.
Bar oil is also supplemented with additives that prevent dust and sand particles from adhering to the oil and jamming the chain. Engine oil doesn’t have these special additives, so the chain won’t run as smoothly if you use standard oil instead of bar oil.
Now that we have made it clear why you shouldn’t use motor oil to lubricate the chainsaw bar, let’s move on to maintenance tips-
Fueling your chainsaw: Chainsaws use 2-stroke engines, and these engines are fueled by a gasoline + oil mix. The ratio in which the two must be mixed can vary based on the engine design, but it is normally between 40:1 and 50:1. Before you purchase engine oil for your chainsaw, make sure it is labeled “two-cycle”, or “mix-approved”.
Ask the retailer if the oil that you plan to buy is approved for usage in chainsaws. Most chainsaw manufacturers recommend on using gasoline that has no more than 10% ethanol content, any higher than that and you risk corroding the engine. Here is how you mix the engine oil with the gasoline – take a container that has been approved for fuel storage, and fill up half of it with gas. Then, add the two-stroke engine oil on top. Now add the remainder of the gas to the container, close the cap, and shake. Make sure that you have taken measurements beforehand, so that you mix the oil and gas in a proper ratio. Refer to your chainsaw manual for mix ratios.
Storing the Fuel: If you don’t plan on using the gas for more than 3 months, make sure that you add a fuel stabilizer to it. This will lengthen the shelf life of your gas, also make sure to store it in a cool and dark place. Some two stroke engine oils come with stabilizer preadded, so make sure to check on that. If you don’t want to go through the hassle of mixing oil and gas, adding stabilizers, etc., then you can save time by buying premixed chainsaw fuel right off the shelf.
Cleaning the air filter: Remove the top cover, which should expose the cylinder head, spark plug, carburetor, and air filter. If the exterior of the filter looks dirty, then the first thing you need to do before removing the filter is set the choke so that the throttle plate is closed. This will prevent any debris from falling out of the filter and into the carburetor. Next, point the filter at a light source and see if light is passing through to the inside. This tells you how dirty the filter is. In order to clean the filter, you might have to use different techniques based on the filter design. Refer to your owner’s manual for specific instructions.
One of the most common filter types found in chainsaws is the “flocked filter”. This is a type of paper filter with tiny pores that prevent microscopic foreign particles/ larger dust and sand particles from entering into the carburetor and engine. There is also a layer of flocking material on top of the filter, so make sure that you brush it very lightly otherwise you strip away remove the layer.
You could also try using an air blower to blow the dirt away from the inside out, but the high airflow rate could potentially spoil the filter by enlarging the filter holes. One of the best ways to clean your chainsaws air filter is by using a soap solution. Take a coffee can and fill it up with some warm water. Add 7-9 drops of dish soap, drop in the filter and soak it for about half an hour. Take out the filter, rinse it, and let it dry on a shelf for about 24 hours. There you go – now your filter is clean and ready to be inserted back into the chainsaw. Keep a replacement air filter at hand in case you don’t want to wait 24 hours for the previous filter to dry. Don’t worry – you probably have to clean the filter once every few weeks.
Checking the spark arrestor and spark plug: The spark arrestor is a device that filters tiny pieces of burning exhaust before they exit from the muffler. You want to make sure that the spark arrestor screen isn’t completely clogged, or else it will prevent exhaust gases from exiting, and the chainsaw will come to a halt right after starting. Remove the spark arrestor screen which should be located near the top cover, above the muffler.
If it is too old, you can choose to replace it with a new one. Or, you can use a wire brush to scrape away the burnt residue accumulated on top of it. The spark plug doesn’t need to be replaced very often, it will usually last for at least year or two even with heavy usage. How do you know the spark plug needs replacement? If the engine doesn’t start after several pulls of the starter cord, and you know that both the air filter and spark arrestor are clean, then the spark plug might be the culprit.
Cleaning the carburetor: This task should be carried out by a professional, so if you notice that the choke or primer isn’t functioning properly – give your saw to a repair shop since it might be a carburetor issue.
Adjusting chain tension: Before using the chainsaw, visually inspect the chain. If it is hanging off the bottom side of the bar, you need to tighten it back. A slack chain will always slip, and running a saw with a loose chain could potentially damage the guide bar. To tighten the chain, you first need to loosen the two bar nuts on the side cover.
Once the bar is loosened up, grip the nose of the bar and pull it up. Make sure you are wearing gloves while doing all this. Then, take your combination tool or a simple screwdriver, and tighten the chain tension screw which should be right next to the bar nuts. Once you have tensioned the chain, tighten the bar nuts, starting with the rear nut. You will know if a chain is properly tightened by pulling at it with your fingers. If it snaps right back, then the tension is right. A chain that is too tight will not slide smoothly over the bar when you move it, and a chain that is loose will hang off the bottom side of the bar.
Before you learn how to sharpen your chainsaw chain, you need to understand the dangers of working with a dull chain. First of all, a dull chain doesn’t cut as efficiently since the cutter teeth are blunt around the edge instead of sharp. This means that less wood will be removed with each strike of the wood, and the teeth will hammer at the wood fibers instead of chipping them away. The easiest way to detect if a chainsaw is running a dull chain, is to inspect the sawdust that it generates. A dull chain will produce fine sawdust, while a sharp chain will produce coarse, thick chips. You will also notice that the chain is smoking and sparks are flying out, even though it is properly lubricated and tensioned.
The operator will struggle while cutting with a dull chain, since the saw doesn’t want to pull itself inwards, you will have to apply extra pressure on the saw to push it into the cut. In some cases, only the cutters on one side may be dull. The chain begins to wander away in one direction instead of cutting straight, since the cutters on that side are removing wood faster. This is a sign of improper chain sharpening, or irregular cutter lengths. If the chain “chatters” and bounces during cuts, it means the depth gauge settings are off point.
Before you sharpen the chain, you need to prepare it for the process. Remove the chain, clean it with some resin solvent. If you cut a lot of softwood trees, then the chain will probably be dressed in sap and wood chips. Leave it overnight in a bucket of gas or diesel, and wipe it off in the morning. After cleaning the chain, check it for signs of wear or damage such as broken teeth, cracked links, etc. Every chain has a master link or master tie strap which should be marked in color.
This is where you start sharpening. If there is no master link, then take a marker pen and markup the most damaged chain link for reference. The next thing you want to do is mount the chain on the saw, and tension it to be slightly tighter than normal. After sharpening, you can loosen the chain. After tensioning the chain, make sure that the chainsaw is resting on a stable surface, try to clamp the bar in a vice if you have one in the garage or workshop.
Next, you need to have the right tools. This includes a round file, a filing gauge, and a flat file. There are some other tools that you can purchase, but these are the basic necessities for manual sharpening. You can either sharpen the chain manually, or you can purchase a specialized saw chain sharpener which will greatly reduce the amount of time that you need to sharpen your chainsaw chains.
We have reviewed a few of the most popular sharpeners below. In order to manually sharpen your saw chain, make sure that the round file which you buy is the correct size for your particular saw chain. You can look up the owner’s manual or the markings on the chain/ bar to note the gauge and pitch of your chain. If it is a chain that your purchased, read the table on the back of the box. Here are the usual chain sizes, and their corresponding file sizes-
Pitch x Gauge / File Size
- 3/8” x 0.050” – 5/32” (4mm)
- ¼” x 0.050” – 5/32” (4mm file)
- 3/8” x 0.043” – 11/64” (4.5mm)
- All 0.325” chains – 3/16” (4.8mm)
- 3/8” x 0.058” – 7/32” (5.5mm)
- 3/8” x 0.063” – 7/32” (5.5mm)
- 404” x 0.063” – 7/32” (5.5mm)
Once you have the correct file size, note the cutter angle at the top plate. You will need to hold the file parallel to this angle, which is 30° on more than 90% of chains. You have to fit the round file in the space between the cutter and depth gauge, make sure that it is completely parallel to the ground plane. You don’t want to move the file up or down, only forwards and backwards. Always move along the grain of the file, i.e. forward.
Never start with a backward stroke, push the file forward, lift it back, set it into the gap, and push forward again. Count the number of strokes that you applied, it should be between 2 to 4. Use the exact same number of strokes on every cutter tooth. Always start from the cutter that you marked with a pen, and sharpen every second cutter until you come back to your reference point. Use the filing gauge to see if the depth gauge is too high, and file it down with the flat file. You can set the depth gauge lower for softwoods, and higher for hardwoods.
To reduce sharpening times, buy a combined file + gauge tool, it has a round file in the center of a file gauge, and a handle on the back. There are scribed angle lines on the gauge, so all you have to do is set the gauge down on the teeth, align the scribed lines with the line on the top plate of the cutter, then stroke back and forth with the file. The gauge also prevents you from filing too deep. You can also purchase a 2-in-1 file/ gauge combo. It combines a round file, filing gauge, and flat file, all into one handheld tool. Every time you file the cutter, you also lower the depth gauge. This device reduces sharpening time considerably, and we highly recommend it if you own a lot of chains or multiple saws.
Electric Chainsaw Sharpeners
Electric saw chain sharpeners get the job done quickly and efficiently, and deliver a much cleaner cut than most manual sharpeners. With a handheld tool, there is always the chance that you will sharpen one cutter more than the other, and this could result in a chainsaw that tends to cut towards one side. Manual sharpeners in the hands of unskilled users could do more harm than good, so spending a few extra bucks on an electric sharpener is going to save both your chain and your time.
Images coming soon…
This is an electric chainsaw chain sharpener for casual users, and can be mounted on a bench or wall. It can sharpen 0.25”, 0.325”, 0.375”, and 0.404” pitch chains. The unit ships with three grinding wheels, a quick check grinding template, and a dressing brick. There is a built-in light for operating indoors, and the controls are very intuitive. It needs to be assembled before you can begin using it, which shouldn’t take long if you read the manual.
The three fixed grinder settings that you need to operate this sharpener are – the grinder head angle, top plate cutting angle, and the down angle tilt. These settings can vary based on the type of chain you are cutting. The grinder head is powered by a 2.1 ampere electric motor, and has a handle on the top so you can lift and lower the grinding wheel while working on a cutter. This sharpener is powered by a 120V AC supply, so you probably won’t be using it on the field.
Timber Tuff CS-12V:
Images coming soon…
At just 2.2 pounds, this is one of the lightest electric sharpeners in the market. It is powered by a 12V supply, and comes with crocodile clips on the power cables. All you have to do is hook up the clips to your car battery, and run a few passes around your saw chain. Within 5-7 minutes, your chainsaw chain should go from completely dull to extremely sharp. The Timber Tuff CS-12V looks like an electric beard trimmer without the cutting blades, there is a switch on the side that you press to turn on the motor and spin the round file.
You can swap out the file bit depending on the pitch and gauge of your chainsaw chain, they provide three different carbide bits – 3/16”, 5/32”, and 7/32”. There is an angle guide mounted on the top, and this is kind of like a protractor which lets you know the angle that you are filing. There are three markings on the polypropylene angle guide – 20°, 25°, and 30°.
Most saw chains have a cutter face plate angle of 30°, so you shouldn’t run into any trouble. To sharpen your saw chain, just hold the angle guide such that the markings are parallel to the witness point on top of the cutter, and press the button to spin the file bit at over 20000 rpm. It shouldn’t take more than a second or two to sharpen each cutter if the chain isn’t too dull. The only drawback of this sharpener is that it doesn’t file the depth gauge. So, you will have to do that part manually with a flat file.
Manual Chainsaw Sharpeners
Manual sharpeners are preferred by many people because they are extremely cheap and reliable. Their biggest strength is that you can take them onto the field, unlike some electric sharpeners which require a 120V AC supply to run. Using a manual sharpener requires slightly more skill than using an electric model, you will also need more time to sharpen the chain by hand.
Timberline Chainsaw Sharpener:
Images coming soon…
One of the biggest issues while using a manual sharpener is chain stability. Unless you have a vice to hold the bar, or some form of platform on which you can place the chainsaw, it is very hard to keep the file parallel to the ground. Timberline came up with a solution – their sharpener is a tool that clamps onto the guide bar, and the hand-cranked carbide file fits inside a tube which is already at a 30° angle, placed right next to the chain links.
The device can be balanced around the file bit, so you just have to make sure that the sharpener is sitting parallel to the chain. Then you tighten the knobs on each end of the device, and it won’t budge at all while you sharpen the chain. There is a pawl that prevents the chain from moving backwards as you are sharpening, and you can adjust a rear thumbscrew to align the cutter face plate with the carbide bit.
Husqvarna 531300081 3/8-inch:
Images coming soon…
This little manual filing kit is compatible with any of the following Husqvarna models – 55 Rancher, 257, 261, 362XP, 357XP, 359, 365, 372XP, 385XP, 395XP, 3120XP, 455 Rancher, 570 and 575XP. The kit includes two round files, one flat file, file handle, and a combination filing gauge. Both the included round files are 7/32”, so as long as your saw chain has a 3/8” pitch, you can use this kit to sharpen it. To use this kit, attach the handles to the round file.
One really smart thing that Husqvarna have done with this file kit, is they have built the angles right into the file handle. One side of the top of the handle is angled at 30°, while the other side is angled at 25°. Always remember to hold the file on both ends, and push it forward, then lift and reposition it as you come backwards. The forward stroke is the sharpening stroke, it removes materials.
The backward stroke is what removes all the file shavings generated during the forward stroke. Snap the combination gauge onto the bar before you begin filing – it has rollers on the top for your file to move on, and ensures that you aren’t filing too deep into the cutter. This combination gauge also has depth settings for the depth gauge built right into the file guide – there are both hard and soft settings for hardwood and softwood respectively. For hardwood, the depth gauge should be set 0.020” below the tip of the cutter. For softwood, it should be set 0.030” below the cutter tip. Use the flat file provided in the kit to set the depth gauges on your saw chain.
Chainsaw Safety Tips
Power tools are dangerous if not handled properly, and the chainsaw is the most dangerous power tool of them all. When those razor-sharp steel cutters spin around the bar over 500 times a second, they pack enough cutting power to rip through the hardest woods known to mankind. There is no telling what is going to happen if the saw chain comes in contact with the operator’s body, but we do know that chainsaws have absolutely no trouble ripping through flesh and bone.
More than 30,000 chainsaw related injuries are reported every year in the US alone. Almost a quarter of these cases are related to chainsaw kickback, a phenomenon that occurs when the tip of a running chainsaw comes in contact with a log or branch. The wood pinches the rapidly spinning chain, and causes it to stop for a fraction of a second.
The recoil force travels to the bar, and it comes swinging towards you. A chainsaw spinning at full throttle will kickback in about 0.1 seconds – faster than most human beings can react. Even if your eyes can see the saw approaching, your hands will not be able to stop it fast enough unless you are paying attention. About 30-35% of chainsaw injuries occur on the legs, particularly the knee area. That is why it is so important to wear protective leg chaps.
Things that you need to do before you turn on your chainsaw:
1.Make sure you are wearing the appropriate Personal Protective Gear (PPE).
Head, Face, Eyes, and Ears
Cover your head with a hard hat or chainsaw helmet if you are working underneath a tree. This is less important if you are doing home improvement work in your backyard or trimming small garden trees, but never venture into the woods without a helmet. It will protect your head from falling branches, or flying debris. Face protection is essential, because it will protect your eyes, nose, and mouth from all the wooden chips and sawdust that is flying out the backside of the chainsaw.
Make sure to wear protective goggles that have foam outlines which seal the gap between your skin and the goggle frame. You only have one pair of eyes to see the world, don’t fill them up with sawdust. Ear protection is compulsory too, since most chainsaws are as loud as a rock concert at over 100 decibels. If you expose your naked ear to that kind of noise for hours on a daily basis, you will slowly begin to lose your hearing power and eventually go deaf. You can use foam earbuds, sound dampening headsets, etc.
Husqvarna ProForest Chainsaw Helmet System:
- ProForest Woodsman hi-viz helmet, orange
- ProForest wrap chap
- Blue clip Suspenders
- Chain saw protective gloves (Large)
- Lexa clear protective glasses with lanyard
This is a complete protection system that covers your head, face, and ears. Designed to be used in the forest by professionals, it contains all the essential protective elements of a hard hat, and some extra features that save time and space. Every time you go out to cut some wood, you won’t have to bring a whole bag of protective gear for each part of your head and face – just bring the Husqvarna ProForest Chainsaw Helmet, and you’re good to go.
It combines a UV protected orange hard hat with 25 dB(A) NRR hearing protectors and a metal mesh visor. Some all-in-one chainsaw helmets use plastic visors instead of metal mesh, but we found out that the holes in the mesh were small enough to prevent all but the tiniest of particles from passing through. There is enough space underneath the visor for glasses, so you can choose to wear a pair of foam outlined protective glasses under the mesh visor for absolute protection.
One of the major downsides of plastic visors is that they tend to get foggy and obstruct vision after you’ve been working for a while. Also, good luck seeing anything with a plastic screen in front of your face when it is raining. The helmet is built around an orange hard hat that has reflective coating on the sides and top so that you are visible from really far away. UV protection prevents your head from getting toasted by the sun, and there is mesh ventilation built into the hat for extra comfort. There is a rain neck protector which can be attached to the back of the hat. The ear protectors on either side can be snapped back and out of the way whenever you are not cutting wood.
While operating a chainsaw, it is absolutely essential that you wear a pair of cut resistant working gloves. You are going to be holding the chain, touching sharp wooden splinters around the work area, and pieces of wood are going to fly at your hand and body as you cut through a tree trunk or buck a log. You probably don’t want to get your hands covered in gasoline, bar oil, and saw dust. There are no specific rules on what material the chainsaw glove should be made from, but apply some common sense. Don’t go woodcutting with a pair of gym gloves. A good chainsaw glove must be resistant to cuts, protect your hand from vibration, and it must cover the full hand.
Youngstown Glove 05-3080-70-L
- Entirely lined with Kevlar fiber by DuPont
- ANSI/ISEA Cut Level A4 (out of A9)
- ANSI/ISEA Puncture Level 4 (out of 5)
- 3D ergonomic design for superior comfort and dexterity
- Extensive non-slip reinforcement for durability and grip
- Non-slip saddle reinforcement protects critical wear area
- Double-stitched for extended life
- Supportive, breathable Neoprene cuff with adjustable Velcro closure
- Terry cloth brow wipe positioned on thumbs
- Machine Washable / Dry Flat or Air Dry Recommended
This is one of the most durable and well-built pair of chainsaw gloves on the market. It is light, yet extremely tough. The glove is constructed from different synthetic fibers, it is 30% nylon, 25% polyester, 15% PVC, 10% Polyurethane, 9% Kevlar, 8% cotton, 2% rubber, and 1% Velcro. Every inch of the glove is lined with DuPont Kevlar for superior cut and puncture resistance (ANSI Cut Level 3, ANSI Puncture Level 4). The sides of the fingers and palm area is composed of double stitched nylon and polyester layers that provide durability and comfort while also keeping the weight low. Soft Terry cloth is sewn on top of the thumb so that you can comfortably wipe away sweat and debris from your face or eyes. The palm, fingers, and thumb are coated with anti-slip material for solid grip. It also features padded knuckles and a supportive cuff.
Out of the 36000 chainsaw related injuries reported each year in the US, over 12000 are to the leg. If you don’t want to be a part of that statistic, then we recommend that you buy a nice pair of chainsaw chaps before you turn on your shiny new purchase. It will protect the knees, femoral artery, quadriceps, and other important parts of your leg. If the chainsaw hits any of these aforementioned leg parts, you will be left disabled for months on minimum. This piece of protective equipment is especially important if you go out to cut firewood alone, since there will be nobody nearby to call an ambulance or drive the car for you.
Most chainsaw chaps are constructed from a mix of polyester, nylon, Kevlar, and PVC. The exterior is made from PVC and polyester, so it is water and oil-proof. The interior has several layers of tightly packed synthetic fibers called “aramids”. Aramids are a class of heat-resistant and extremely strong synthetic fibers, and their tensile strength can be over 8 times that of steel wire.
Kevlar is a type of para-aramid fiber, and was introduced by the company DuPont in 1973. Para-aramids are used in several aerospace and military applications because of how strong they are relative to their weight. Chainsaw chaps are filled with multiple high-density layers of aramid fiber, and when the saw chain strikes the exterior layer of the chaps, it cuts through the PVC coating and comes in contact with the underlying fibers. These get pulled in by the chain, and jam up the clutch assembly.
On gas chainsaws, the 2-stroke engine has a very tight power curve in which it produces the most torque. This curve is present towards the higher end of the rpm spectrum, since internal combustion engines tend to produce more power as they spin faster. When the clutch assembly gets jammed by fibers from the chap, the clutch shoes slip from the clutch drum and the chain stops spinning. The engine suddenly drops its speed, and the torque output is reduced greatly at low rpms. In some cases, the engine might stall as soon as the clutch assembly gets jammed.
On electric chainsaws however, the torque output doesn’t decrease when the clutch gets jammed. Some electric chainsaws don’t even have a clutch assembly, and rely on direct drive to spin the chain. Electric motors have a very linear power curve, i.e. they achieve maximum torque as soon as the motor is turned on, the only that increases gradually is the motor rpm. Even when the fibers jam the drive assembly of an electric chainsaw, its motor is trying to spin the sprocket at maximum torque. In fact, the torque output of an electric motor increases when it stalls or slows down under load.
If you own an electric chainsaw, make sure that you check the owner’s manual for recommended types of chaps. Some cheap chaps will not stop electric chainsaws, so only buy high quality chaps that use 5 or more protective layers of fiber. Read the packaging, it might mention that the chaps are suitable for electric chainsaws. There are plenty of good chaps out there which will stop both gas and electric chainsaws, such as the one that we have reviewed below-
Husqvarna 531309565 | Chainsaw Chaps
- Meets ASTM F1897, ANSI Z133.1 and is UL Certified
- Meets OSHA Regulation 1910-266
- Hand Wash and Hang to Dry
- Available in Blue, Black and Grey colors
This is a great pair of apron-style (doesn’t cover your calf) chainsaw chaps for homeowners and casual users – people who use 10 to 16-inch chainsaws for light cutting and DIY projects. It is designed to greatly reduce the risk of injury when the chainsaw contacts your legs, and will give you additional time to react and shut down the saw.
The buckles are made from Acetal Delrin (really stiff thermoplastic), and there is a tool/ gear pocket on the side. It is 38” long (from the waist to ankle), and the belt buckle can be adjusted for waist sizes between 24 to 40”. These chaps are made from PVC coated 600 Denier Polyester, and feature Husqvarna’s special Tek-warp protective layers on the inside. These chaps meet the following safety standards – ASTM F1897, ANSI Z133.1, and OSHA Regulation 1910-266. You can hand wash them in cold water and mild detergent, but never use chlorine bleach.
2. Test the chain brake
Before starting the saw, make sure to manually activate the chain brake and test if the chain moves. It doesn’t matter if you find out that the brakes aren’t working when the saw is kicking towards your face.
3. The chain catcher pin
This is a metal pin placed beneath the chain, towards the rear of the bar. In case one of the chain links break, the chain will try to swing at you. This catcher pin will cause the chain to loop around, so it will cover a much shorter distance. Before you start the saw, always visually inspect the chain for damaged or cracked links.
4. Examine the surroundings
Check for logs, tree limbs, branches, etc. around the bar of the saw before you pull the starter cord or press the start switch. Don’t place the saw down on an elevated surface while starting it. If it is a gas saw, place it down on a clean, flat surface and hold the front handle with one hand. Put one foot on the rear handle, and pull the starter cord with your other hand.
Chainsaw Dos and Don’ts
- Ensure that there are no people or pets around the cutting area
- Stay extra cautious while working alone, put safety above everything else
- Examine your surroundings to stay safe from dead branches, loose limbs, overhead power lines, etc.
- Ensure that the chain oil tank is full before you start the saw
- Watch out for inclines and uneven ground
- Maintain a firm footing at all times, wear heavy duty steel tipped boots
- Always keep both hands on the saw handles
- Don’t stick the saw on wood before starting it, and always bring the saw up to full throttle before you begin cutting
- Use the appropriate cord while operating a corded electric saw (usually it is a 14 or 12-gauge cord)
- Always wait for the saw to stop completely before you try to touch the chain or bar.
- As soon as you are done with a cut and are readjusting your position for the next cut, hit the chain brake
- Always carry the saw with the bar pointing behind you
- Wear the full set of Personal Protective Equipment – Helmet, ear protection, safety goggles, chainsaw gloves, chaps, and steel-tipped boots
- Do not wear loose clothing
- Do not use an electric chainsaw when it is raining, and don’t use a corded chainsaw on a wet floor, ever
- Do not cut with the tip of the chainsaw
- Do not raise the chainsaw above shoulder height while cutting
- Do not try to refuel a hot chainsaw
Safe Chainsaw Alternatives-
For those among you who will only use their chainsaws to trim bushes and cut off branches from small trees in the backyard, there is no point in buying a 14” or even 12” model. You certainly don’t want to buy a gas chainsaw, since it is too much maintenance and hassle to go through for a few minutes of daily cutting, 2-3 days of usage per week. We have the perfect solution for you – lopper chainsaws. There are several of these available in the market, the basic idea is to design a small electric chainsaw that has a bar enclosed within two lopper jaws. The bar may or may not be able to pivot around inside the enclosure, and the whole system is powered by a 120V AC supply. There are several variations of this design, and we have reviewed the two most popular ones below, one of which is touted to be the “World’s safest chainsaw”.
- Cut branches up to 4 in. in diameter
- 20-Volt MAX lithium battery powered
- Auto-tension feature guarantees optimum tension
- Automatic chain oiler with oil level indicator
- Blade housing allow for safe cuts on the ground
- Scissor cut action limits dangerous kickback
- Perfect for quick cleanup after a storm or for pruning
At first glance, this may seem like one of those weapons from a 1980s sci-fi movie. However, this is no toy. It is a cordless electric chainsaw enclosed inside a specially built housing which prevents the user from coming in contact with the bar or chain (unless you knowingly stick your finger into the cutting space for whatever stupid reason). The WORX JawSaw gets its name from the two jaw-shaped bar housings on either side of the pole.
VIDEO | See the Worx WG320 JawSaw in action
This is kind of a mix between a standard chainsaw and a pole saw – you can use it to cut overhead branches and twigs, but you can also use it to safely cut tree limbs which are extremely close to the ground. On a conventional chainsaw, you don’t want to cut above shoulder height, and you are also not suggested to cut very close to the ground. But you don’t have to worry about any of those restrictions with the JawSaw – it has protective metal housings (or jaws) around the bar which prevent it from accidentally coming in contact with the ground.
You can use this chainsaw as a lopper, pruner, and trimmer. When you pull back on the yellow handle, the bar swings down. When you push the handle forward, you make the bar swing back up. The coolest part is that you can cut without having to worry about kickback. The saw chain will never come in contact with your body, and the light weight of this machine makes it extremely controllable.
Anyone can use it – men, women, kids, and even elderly people. There is an automatic chain oiler built into this saw, and an oil level indicator tells you when a refill is due. The 20V battery is extremely small, and attaches to the bottom of the handle, right below your hand. This balances the weight of the chainsaw and makes it very comfortable to operate. There is a tool-free tensioning system that lets you adjust chain tension within seconds, and the 6” bar is enough for cutting materials up to 4” in diameter. This cordless chainsaw weighs 7.9 pounds, uses a 0.25” x 0.05” chain, and comes with a 3-year warranty. You can buy extra batteries if multiple family members use it, since each battery needs about 3 hours to fully recharge from zero.
Battery-powered cutting tool. Safer than a chainsaw.
- Patented clamping jaws grab and cut limbs and brush in one easy motion
- 20-volt MAX lithium-ion battery provides longer battery, life year after year
- Cuts branches and logs up to 4 inches thick
- Dual-hand switches must be actuated for cutting to prevent accidental starting
- Scissor-action makes cutting branches effortless
- Weighs 6.8 pounds
- Energy Star rated
- Backed by a 2-year limited warranty
The LLP120B “Alligator” lopper chainsaw gets its name from the uniquely designed lopper jaws. The chainsaw is designed to work like a lopper, except there is a spinning saw chain instead of a flat cutting blade. The top jaw carries the bar and chain assembly, while the lower jaw is used for gripping onto branches. It is excellent for cutting overhead tree limbs that you can’t cut with a normal chainsaw. The teeth on a standard chainsaw are too large, and the saw has no way of locking on to thin twigs or branches under an inch in thickness.
With a standard chainsaw, you will just push the super thin branches around instead of cutting them. The LLP120B however, has a lower jaw that grabs onto the branch and feeds it into the spinning saw chain. This saw chain is small and is equipped with appropriately sized cutters for slicing through wood up to 4” in thickness.
Also available as an Electric | Black & Decker Alligator Lopper LP1000
The coolest thing about this saw is that you can cut through a whole bunch of twigs at the same time – just clamp all of them together in the scissor shaped jaws, and spin the chain right through them. There is an automatic oiler system, and a self-tensioning chain. In order to tension the chain, just loosen the bar nuts slightly using the wrench that is provided within the package. As soon as you loosen the bar nuts, the chain will get tightened automatically, and you can retighten the bar nuts once again.
With a normal chainsaw, you have to be very careful about cutting fallen logs and branches on the ground. The saw cannot cut through a log or branch lying on the ground without contacting the soil underneath. This will dull the saw chain and could potentially jam the saw. But with the LLP120B Alligator, you can slice up a fallen tree limb into several pieces with ease. The jaw-like enclosures around that bar and chain keep you safe from coming in contact with them, and the dual activation point trigger design ensures that you never accidentally turn on the saw.
You will have to press the triggers on both handles simultaneously in order to activate the motor. Charger and battery are sold separately, and the unit is covered by a 2-year warranty. It weighs just 6.8 pounds, 20V Lithium-Ion battery weight included.
If you want to learn more read our full review about the varioius Black and Decker Lopper’s.
Pole chainsaws are specially designed for overhead cutting. They allow you to stand on the ground and cut branches as high as 12 feet up in the air, thanks to a pole extension which carries the bar and chain assembly. The chainsaw powerhead is located at the base of the pole, and can be corded or cordless. Most pole chainsaws are electric, but there are gas powered models available for cutting thicker branches. Below, we have briefly discussed two extremely popular and well-rated pole chainsaws. Both of these are excellent for pruning or trimming.
- Extension allows for a useable length of 6-1/2 or 10 feet; overhead reach of up to 14 feet
- Powered by 20-volt MAX lithium-ion battery, with longer lifespan and charge retention than NiCad batteries
- Up to 100 cuts of 1-1/2-inch pine branches per charge
- 8-inch cutting bar and chain allows for a MAXimum cutting diameter of 6 inches
- 2-year limited warranty; includes battery and Energy Star-qualified charger
This is a cordless pole chainsaw which is designed to cut branches at heights of 10-14 feet. The 8” cutting bar allows for a maximum cutting diameter of 6”, although we don’t think you will ever use this chainsaw to cut 6” thick branches. It doesn’t have the power for that, since the motor is powered by a 20V lithium ion battery and spins at 3750 rpm. It is composed of three sections-
The base: This is comprised of the handle and 20V lithium ion battery.
The extension: You can choose to attach this between the base and cutting head to increase the reach of this saw from 6.5’ to 10’.
The cutting head: This is the part which contains the motor, along with the 8” bar and chain assembly.
With a fully charged battery, you will be able to make 100 cuts in 1.5” thick pine. The entire system is very light at just 6.3 pounds, and can be disassembled for transportation or storage.
Remington RM2599 Maverick:
Images coming soon…
This is a pole chainsaw with a reach of up to 12 feet, and features an 8” bar. The power head at the base of the pole consists of a 25cc 2-stroke engine, and a 10 Fl oz. fuel tank. The entire unit weighs about 17.3 pounds, so it is a bit on the heavier side. Depending on the user’s height, this chainsaw will be able to cut through branches at a height of 12 to 15 feet. You can choose to remove the 26” extension, and operate with the base pole length of 7 feet. The engine starts pretty easily, thanks to the spring assist.
You can remove the saw head from the pole and convert this nifty little tool into a blower, hedge trimmer, garden cultivator, and more with the appropriate attachments. Needless to say, the Remington RM2599 Maverick is an extremely versatile garden maintenance tool, and it allows you to comfortably prune or trim branches while standing on the ground. The bar and chain are designed for low kickback, so it should be pretty easy to control this pole chainsaw even while sawing through thicker branches (up to 6” thick). Tool-free chain tensioning and automatic chain oiling make this one of the easiest chainsaws to maintain.
Concrete cutting chainsaws are a niche product, and are used primarily in the construction industry. Despite being referred to as “concrete chainsaws”, they are used for cutting through several hard materials such as stone, brick, marble, etc. You won’t be using a concrete chainsaw to cut trees in your backyard, they are too overkill for that. Instead, these saws are used to cut several inches deep into concrete slabs, they can even cut through reinforced concrete that has steel rebars running through it. Concrete chainsaws are also used for rescue purposes, such as after an earthquake or tsunami.
They can effortlessly cut through the walls of a house or even through the asphalt on a road. So why can’t a normal chainsaw do all of this? First of all, concrete chainsaws use extremely tough chains. Just the chain on a concrete chainsaw can cost more than a regular saw, since it is embedded with diamond grit. The cutters and chain links are made from carbide for additional strength, and the bar as well as drive system as redesigned to sustain much higher loads. Concrete chainsaws are also equipped with water spraying pipes that help keep the chain cool and lubricated as it slices through stone and metal. The engines are 70cc or larger, in order to provide the necessary torque.
Some of these concrete cutting saws don’t even use a chain, instead they are equipped with a cutting disk. An example of such as saw is the Husqvarna K970. It costs nearly 1500 dollars, and consists of a circular saw blade attached to a chainsaw powerhead. The K970 is powered by a massive 93.6cc 2-stroke engine, and uses a belt drive to spin the saw blade. Since this is a professional grade saw, it is equipped with an engine decompression system which makes starting up the saw much easier by reducing cylinder pressure. The engine itself is pretty heavy duty, and uses a professional grade crankcase for extra durability. The saw blade is covered with a magnesium blade guard, and comes in 2 sizes – 14” or 16”.
Top Handle vs Rear Handle Chainsaw
For most of you reading this article, a top handled chainsaw doesn’t even exist. Stop thinking about buying one of these unless you are a trained arborist or professional tree feller. You MUST provide a certificate of competence before purchasing or using a top-handled chainsaw. Now you might be thinking something along the lines of “what makes these top-handled chainsaws so exclusive?”. Well, the answer to that question is simple – they are simply too dangerous for untrained users.
With a rear-handled chainsaw, you have to use both arms in order to operate the saw. The handle at the rear is the operating handle, and it contains the trigger as well as throttle lock. If you try to operate a 20-pound rear handled chainsaw by holding it with just one hand, then you are asking for trouble. The average person cannot hold up a 20” or larger rear-handled chainsaw by holding it from the rear with one hand. However, if you move the handle from the rear of the chainsaw to the top, there are two major benefits-
- The chainsaws weight is now distributed much more evenly across the operating handle.
- It is also much more compact than before, since the total length has decreased by about 7 to 10 inches.
You can clearly see the benefits of moving the handle from the rear to the top – the chainsaw is now suitable for single-handed operation, and it should also be much shorter while retaining the same bar length. So why aren’t people like you and me allowed to use one of these? Well, the shorter form factor and potential for single-handed operation make these chainsaws very dangerous. If you don’t hold them properly or aren’t trained in one-handed chainsaw operation, you will hurt yourself very badly.
Arborists and professionals who climb trees are allowed to use these chainsaws, since the decreased weight and increased maneuverability are huge bonuses for people cutting branches while strapped to the tree trunk with a harness. They can swing the chainsaw with one hand to cut branches while using the other hand to stabilize themselves on the tree. But if an inexperienced user such as yourself tries to swing a chainsaw with one hand, it will result in a trip to the emergency room. Just for informational purposes, we have compared a regular rear-handled chainsaw with a top-handled chainsaw so that you can understand the differences in design between the two of them.
Top handle Chainsaw
- 32.2 cc 1.6 hp PureFire two-stroke engine meets emissions levels without sacrificing power, adding weight, or creating maintenance headaches
- Commercial grade engine provides excellent cutting performance and reliability
- 14″ Oregon sprocket nose bar and chain reduces kickback and provides excellent cutting performance
- Outstanding power-to-weight reduces fatigue resulting in higher productivity
- Side access chain tensioner provides for quick and easy chain adjustment
- Half throttle choke and purge primer bulb for easy starting
- Built-in lanyard ring for easy climbing
- Advanced anti-vibration system provides maximum comfort to get more done with less operator fatigue
- Covered by Tanaka’s two-year commercial use warranty, seven-year consumer use warranty and one-year rental use warranty
One of the immediate differences that you’ll notice between this and a standard chainsaw is the absence of a top cover. Instead, there is a handle on the top that is located right behind the chain brake. This handle is equipped with a throttle trigger on the bottom, and a throttle interlock on the top. There is a secondary handle attached to the front of this one, and it runs all the way across to the side of the chainsaw. This is the side grip, and the way you hold a top-handled chainsaw is fundamentally different from the way you hold a rear-handle chainsaw.
With a standard chainsaw, you have one hand on the rear handle, while your other hand is extended forward and holding the foregrip on top of the chainsaw. The only time you have to adjust your grip to the side is when you are cutting sideways. But on a top-handled chainsaw, you have one hand on the top and another on the side of the chainsaw. Both arms are pretty close to each other, since the distance between the handles is much shorter. This allows you to have lot more control while cutting branches or small logs, but when you try to buck larger logs, the closely placed handles prove to be counterproductive.
Top-handled chainsaws are normally equipped with 12 to 14” blades, since their purpose is to be as compact and maneuverable as possible. This particular Tanaka model uses a 32.2cc commercial grade PureFire engine, and is equipped with a 14” Oregon bar and chain assembly. The bar has a sprocket at the front to minimize kickback, and the chain is also designed for low kickback with special drive links.
Despite being so compact, the Tanaka TCS33EDTP weighs about 12 pounds which is on par with some rear-handled 14” gas chainsaws. One more difference that you will notice between this and a normal chainsaw is the engine alignment. The cylinder is mounted longitudinally, or lengthwise to make up for the reduced space on the top that is now taken up by a handle. The carburetor has been moved from the top to the side, and the air filter is located towards the side as well. Exhaust no longer comes out the front, it is passed out from the rear end. There is also a lanyard ring on the rear.
Rear handle Chainsaw
Zombi ZCS5817 58V
- 5 Year Tool Warranty, 2 Year Battery Warranty
- 58 volt 4Ah Battery (Battery and charger included)
- Powerful Brushless motor – more durable, dependable, and efficient
- Low kickback 16 inch Oregon Bar and chain – Chainsaw tool included with built in compartment
- Equipped with chain brake, hand guard, and auto oiling with a oil level indicator reservoir
This is a typical rear-handled cordless electric chainsaw. It uses a low-kickback Oregon bar and chain; the bar is 16” long and has a sprocket on the nose to improve cutting performance and reduce kickback. One of the advantages that this chainsaw possesses over the top-handled Tanaka, is its tool-free chain tensioning system. But the overall length of this chainsaw is 35” (bar included), while the Tanaka is only 29” long. Another surprising fact is that this weighs 17 pounds, while the top-handled Tanaka weighs just 12.4 pounds.
Yes, the Tanaka uses a 14” bar instead of a 16” bar like this Zombi chainsaw. But, it is also a gas chainsaw, and gas chainsaws are inherently heavier than electric models. Maybe some of the extra weight in this electric chainsaw is coming from the 58V, 4 Ah lithium ion battery. It must be clear by now why top-handled chainsaws are preferred by arborists and tree climbers – they are shorter, lighter, and support single-handed operation.
Learn more by reading our indepth review of the full line of Zombi chainsaws.
All of you probably know what a winch is – a hauling or lifting tool that consists of cable, rope, or chain wrapped around a horizontal rotating drum. The winch can be hand-cranked, or it can be driven by a motor/ engine. Since it can be driven by a motor or engine, and your chainsaw already has such a nice little motor inside it, why not attach a winch to a chainsaw? That is exactly what a chainsaw winch is – a winch that is driven by a chainsaw. But wait, you don’t just take a regular winch and throw it on top of a chainsaw. Chainsaw winches are specially designed attachments that will fit on specific chainsaw models only. For example, take a look at this chainsaw winch:
- Extremely Tough Rugged cast-aluminum alloy housing Uses oil-bathed steel gears
- Extremely Strong variable line speed of 60 to 80 ft./min able to pull 4,000 lbs. in a straight line able to pull 8,000 lbs. using one winch snatch block
- Extremely Lightweight – 22 lbs./10 kg without the cable
- Extremely Versatile Includes a Universal Adaptor Kit to fit any chainsaw Can be anchored to: the ground using a ground anchor a tree stump using a cant hook a vehicle using a trailer hitch mount
The Powerhouse XM-100 is designed to be both versatile as well as durable. You can use the universal adapter kit provided with the XM-100 to attach it on any gas or electric chainsaw. The housing is made from cast aluminum alloy which provides two very distinct advantages – it is not going to rust, and the weight is reduced significantly while not compromising on durability. Oil-bathed steel gears ensure smooth and hassle-free functioning for several years, and also allow this winch to support more weight.
You can pull a load of up to 4000 pounds with it, and the line speed can vary between 60 to 80 feet per minute. It can pull 8000 pounds with one winch snatch block, and you also get a 150-foot long 3/16” galvanized cable + hook combo in the package. Setting up the XM-100 is very easy – you can anchor it to the ground, rig it up to a tree stump using a cant hook, or you can attach it to a vehicle with a trailer hitch mount. The XM-100 weighs just 22 pounds without the cable, and 39 pounds with the cable.
Chainsaw mills are type of portable saw mills designed to fit onto chainsaws. These attachments allow you to mill lumber from tree trunks and logs. You can use your chainsaw mill to create boards, planks, and poles from raw, unprocessed timber. Standalone saw mills are still your best option when it comes to productivity and cutting power, but not everybody has the money for something like a Norwood HD36 or Wood-Mizer LX 450. Besides, a chainsaw mill can be transported in the back of your truck to the cutting site.
You can fell a tree with your chainsaw, buck it down into logs, and begin to make lumber with your chainsaw mill right away. All you are going to need is the chainsaw mill itself, and some form of guide rail. You can use a ladder to make a temporary guide rail. Cut holes into the ladder steps and screw it onto the bark of the tree trunk/ log. Don’t drive the screws too deep, or else you will waste a lot of wood. You can then place the saw mill over this ladder to make the first cut, after which you can use the plain surface created from that cut as the base for guiding your sawmill.
The wood that removed with first cut mostly consists of bark and is known as the “slab”. You can use this wood as kindling for your furnace, or you can chop it up for creative projects. If you don’t want to drill holes into ladder steps and need something more efficient to use as a guide rail, we suggest that you try out the Granberg G850 slabbing brackets. A pair of these can be used to construct a guide rail on top of the log. Each slabbing bracket is made from aluminum and is 16” long. There are holes predrilled on the sides for inserting screws, and you will need 2 x 4s to put between these brackets and the tree trunk when you screw them in.
- Lightweight mill can access nearly all timber
- High-quality mill cuts beams or lumber from 1/2in. To 13in. Thick and 17in. Wide
- Attaches to saw without drilling bar
- Designed to fit chain saws with 20in or less bars
This is one of the most popular portable chainsaw mills right now. It costs less than 150 dollars, and lets you cut planks of wood up to 13” thick and 17” wide. The bar clamp on this chainsaw mill attaches to your chainsaw bar without the need for any drilling, all you have to do is pass the bar between the clamp jaws and tighten the two bolts on either side when you have aligned your bar perfectly parallel to the center line.
Make sure that you use a ripping chain instead of the standard crosscut chain, since a ripping chain is better for cutting along the wood grain. A crosscut chain is good for bucking and felling because it is designed to cut across the grain, but with a chainsaw mill you are trying to cut along the length of a tree trunk/ log. The G777 is constructed from zinc-plated steel and aluminum parts, all of which are made in the US. Zinc plated steel doesn’t corrode in outdoor weather, while the aluminum parts help in keeping total weight down to just 10 pounds.
You can cut boards of wood as thin as 0.5” with this mill, and if you lift up the guiding plane to the top of the depth pole, it will cut lumber that is 13 inches thick. The G777 must be used with a gas chainsaw that has a 60cc or larger engine. Don’t even think of inserting an electric chainsaw into the mill, you will overload and burn out the motor. The mill only accepts bar lengths between 16 and 20 inches, so keep that in mind.
Learn more by reading our full review of the Granberg Chain Saw Mill G777.
The Top Chainsaw Brands
Before we conclude this article, we felt that it would be a good idea to share some info on the top chainsaw brands in the market. As a potential buyer, this will give you a deeper insight into the companies and their origins, what they are famous for, etc. You get to know a little more about each of these big brands, and it definitely gives you a broader perspective on what you can expect from each one of them.
To thousands of loyal customers across the world, the name Husqvarna is synonymous with quality and innovation. This Swedish company started out as a musket manufacturer back in the 17th century, and has come a long way since then. If you look at the Husqvarna logo, the top resembles a gun sight. Founded as “Jönköping Rifle Factory” in 1620 under the decree of the Swedish king, it was tasked with making musket pipes for the army.
As demand for muskets grew, the company built a separate site for boring and grinding musket pipes, about 7km from the headquarters in Jönköping. This new manufacturing facility was located nearby Huskvarna waterfalls (formerly spelled as Husqvarna), and that is how the company got its name. Between 1757-1850, the Crown transferred the company over to a private owner.
When Husqvarna’s contract with the Crown came to an end in the late 19th century, they began branching out- sewing machines, typewriters, stoves, bicycles, and eventually Husqvarna motorcycles. The Husqvarna 180 chainsaw, released in 1969, was one of the first commercially produced handheld chainsaws to come with an anti-vibration system. In 1973, Husqvarna introduced the model 140 chainsaw- the first ever chainsaw with an automatic chain brake (inertia activated). Husqvarna products have always been extremely well-engineered, and their penchant for innovation is rivaled by none. This drive for constant improvement has made Husqvarna a household name, and one of the largest power tools manufacturers in North America.
VIDEO | Husqvarna History
Husqvarna makes chainsaws, hedge trimmers, lawn mowers, snow blowers, and several other power tools for forestry and lawn/ garden care. They cater to both average homeowners, and professional users. Whenever you purchase a Husqvarna product, you are getting an excellently engineered and highly reliable tool that will last you forever. Husqvarna’s latest breakthrough in outdoor power tools is their robotic lawnmower- it is solar powered, uses GPS for pathfinding, adapts to weather changes, and can automatically detect narrow pathways.
Visit Husqvarna to learn more about their lineup of tools and power equipment.
Shop Husqvarna products on Amazon.
Makita Electric Works was founded in 1915 as an electric motor and sales company in the city of Nagoya, Japan. It used to sell and repair lighting equipment, motors, transformers, etc. Gradually, Makita began exporting electric motors and generators to the Soviet Union (around 1935). The Makita 6500D electric drill, introduced in 1969, was their first ever rechargeable power tool. In 1978, Makita launched the 6010D rechargeable electric drill, this was their first tool to be powered by nickel-cadmium batteries. In the August of 1997, Makita exhibited the 6213D rechargeable driver-drill at the Chicago Hardware Show.
The 6123D was a revolutionary product, since it was powered by nickel hydride batteries- NiMH batteries (nickel hydride) outperform NiCad (nickel cadmium) batteries in high-drain applications, and can store twice the amount of energy in the same physical space. In February 2005, Makita introduced the world to their first lithium-ion battery tool- the TD130D. This is 2017, and manufacturers have begun to catch onto the cordless electric tool trend, but Makita has been in there for the better half of a century. They know their stuff when it comes to electric power tools, and nobody rivals them in terms of the value they provide in the budget segment. Makita chainsaws, table saws, and electric drills are designed to be efficient and are easy to use, perfect for homeowners as well as DIYers.
Visit Makita to learn more about their lineup of tools and power equipment.
Shop Makita products on Amazon.
Stihl is claimed to be the world’s largest manufacturer of chainsaws, and is also the only gasoline chainsaw manufacturer in the world that makes its own chains and guide bars. Most companies use bars and chains made by Oregon or Blount, but Stihl has the experience and resources to make its own. This also ensures that all the components in a Stihl chainsaw work together perfectly and reduces the chances of something breaking down. Stihl was founded in 1926 by Andreas Stihl, a German engineer/ innovator who developed and patented the world’s first electric chainsaw for usage on bucking sites. German engineered products are renowned for their quality, be it automobiles, guns, or heavy machinery.
Stihl came up with the first ever portable electric chainsaw in 1926, then 3 years later it manufactured the world’s first commercially sold petrol chainsaw. This petrol chainsaw was nicknamed “The Felling Machine” and was equipped with a 6hp motor. It weighed 101 lbs. and was designed to be operated by 2 men. Stihl also made the first ever single-operator gas chainsaw in 1950, just 1 year after they came up with a tractor. In 1988, Stihl developed a catalytic converter for 2-stroke chainsaw engines that reduced emissions by up to 80%.
Clearly, these guys know their chainsaws. You can always trust a Stihl product to deliver on the field, in the toughest of working conditions. Stihl makes durable, efficient, and powerful chainsaws for everybody. A Stihl will cost more than some tier 2 brand chainsaw, but the extra money you spend will pay itself off in the form of reduced maintenance costs and time savings.
Visit STIHL to learn more about their lineup of tools and power equipment.
STIHL does not authorize dealers to sell their products online in the USA so you need to visit a local Stihl dealer to purchase their products.
Poulan is a brand of Husqvarna (you didn’t know that, did you?), since it was purchased by Electrolux in 1984, the same parent group that owns Husqvarna. Poulan originally started out as an American chainsaw manufacturer, based out of Shreveport, Louisiana. It was founded in 1946 by veteran lumberjack Claude Poulan, and used to be called “Poulan Saw Co.” back in the day. They began by manufacturing 2-man gasoline chainsaws, and switched over to 1-man gas chainsaws in the 1950s.
Poulan chainsaws quickly became popular among American loggers, thanks to their speed and durability. Poulan began branching out over the next decade, and focused on manufacturing saws for the general public. They still made powerful saws for professional lumberjacks, but most of their popularity is because of the low-mid budget gas chainsaws. Poulan saws became very popular among the general public, and is widely accepted to be one of the first chainsaw brands to integrate specific features that appealed to casual users.
Going into the 1980s, Poulan was the company whose chainsaw you would purchase if you were on a tight budget, but still needed decent levels of performance. They also manufacture trimmer, mowers, blowers, etc. Husqvarna and Poulan share technologies on the lower spectrum, so some Poulan chainsaws use parts and designs similar to low-end Husqvarna models that are designed for casual users.
Poulan wasn’t very active in the high-end chainsaw market, because Husqvarna didn’t want to cannibalize its own sales in the professional or prosumer chainsaw market. Recently though, Poulan has changed its branding and is getting more aggressive in the prosumer scene with its “Poulan Pro” chainsaws that are loaded with high-end features and powerful engines that put them on par with more costly chainsaws from Husqvarna or Stihl in terms of performance.
Visit Poulan Pro to learn more about their lineup of tools and power equipment.
Shop Poulan Pro products on Amazon.
Echo gasoline chainsaws are famous for their unique “ProFire” 2-stroke engines which start easily and run efficiently. These engines are very powerful for how much they weigh, and that is the reason most Echo chainsaws are so light. Echo focuses heavily on making its chainsaws light, yet powerful. This company is a subsidiary of the Japanese corporation “Yamabiko”. Yamabiko is the result of a merger between Kioritz and Shindaiwa, both of these major Japanese power tool manufacturers merged into one holding company on 1 September 2008.
Previously, Echo was a brand of Kioritz. It was founded as Kioritz Corporation of America in Northbrook, IL, in 1972. Later it changed the name to ECHO in 1978, and acted as an importer of 2-cycle gasoline engines and hand-held power tools manufactured by Kioritz in Japan. In 1979, ECHO began development and manufacture operations in Wheeling, IL. Eventually, ECHO began establishing dealerships all across US and Canada. ECHO chainsaws are equipped with the most efficient 2-stroke engines in the power tools industry, and they continue to innovate in order to balance performance with environmental demands.
Visit Echo to learn more about their lineup of tools and power equipment.
Shop Echo products on Amazon.
Jonsered is a brand used by Husqvarna AB for chainsaws and other power tools. Jonsered is an old industrial community located by the Säve river, nearly 7km from the city of Gothenburg. Just like Husqvarna got its name from the town of Husqvarna (now known as Huskvarna), Jonsered was name based on its location. Seems like the Swedes don’t really put much thought into the names of their companies, right? But what they do care about is the product itself- Jonsered is renowned for making high-performance, professional grade chainsaws for lumberjacks.
Funnily enough, it started out as a textile company (Jonsered Fabrikers AB), back in 1832. A Scotsman by the name of William Gibson migrated to Sweden in the early 1800s and founded a textile mill in Jonsered in year 1832. By 1872, this came to be known as Jonsereds Fabrikers AB, and by the 1880s it was producing woodworking machines along with its standard textile business. In the 1950s, Jonsered Fabrikers AB came up with a single-operator gas chainsaw called “Raket” (Rocket). Back in those days, single-handed chainsaws were rare and whenever a manufacturer came up with one of these, it would immediately catch people’s attention.
Successors of the initial Raket model came out, and were exported to North America where they sold very well. Eventually Jonsered shut down its fabric division and focused purely on engineering and power tools. In 1978, Jonsered was purchased by Electrolux- the Swedish electronics giant who also owns Husqvarna. Husqvarna and Jonsered chainsaws are not the exact same, although they do share certain technologies.
Visit Jonsered to learn more about their lineup of tools and power equipment.
Anyone that is not familiar with power tools will immediately think of firearms when they hear the name Remington. But did you know that Remington also makes garden maintenance and forestry tools such as chainsaws, trimmers, mowers, etc.? They even made typewriters at one point, in fact they are the ones who came up with the QWERTY key layout that is found on most English keyboards across the world.
Remington also makes personal care products such as hair curling irons, shavers, and clippers. The Remington chainsaw business started back in 1954, when they launched a single-operator gas chainsaw. But the Remington Power Tools branch can be traced all the way back to 1921, and is credited to a man named Arthur Mall who owned a small tool company in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He built power drills and saws, and his customers praised the quality of his machines.
As the word spread, the appreciation for the performance and dependability of these tools grew and eventually this tiny company was bought up by the Remington corporation. Even to this day, Remington products are built to be durable, consistent, and efficient. Remington’s chainsaw division currently manufactures corded electric and gas chainsaws, as well as pole saws.
Visit Remington to learn more about their lineup of tools and power equipment.
Shop Remington products on Amazon.