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Chainsaw Shopping Guide
As a homeowner, downed branches can be your arch nemesis. Tree-trimming can prevent property damage and tangling in electrical wires, as well as large clean-up after a windstorm. Not only does tree trimming have these practical benefits, but you’ll also feel strong and mighty every time you properly, and safely, wield a chainsaw.
When purchasing a new chainsaw, there are plenty of factors that can make or break your experience. If you get a tool that’s too small for the trees you need to cut, then you can easily burn out your motor or overwork yourself because of inefficient cutting capabilities. On the other hand, if you find yourself with a tool that is too heavy and too big for the pruning job you have in mind, that same chainsaw will find itself collecting dust in the shed for years to come.
What to Look For in a Chainsaw
Entering the world of chainsaws is pretty exciting — you have loads of options to choose from, and they are all designed to tackle specific projects. This may seem overwhelming if this is your first experience scouting out a new chainsaw, but fear not, the right chainsaw is out there for you, and we’re going to help you find it.
To start, you’ll see 16”, 14”, 12”, etc. in the chainsaw product names. This refers to the “bar size,” which is the length of the big, flat, long sheet of steel that is wrapped in the chain.
In this photo, the bar is the piece that has “Oregon” written on it.
The bigger the bar is, the larger the diameter of materials it can handle. Most household chainsaws range from 12”-20” in bar size, while logging and commercial chainsaws have bars that extend well past 20”.
With 12” chainsaws, you’ll find that these machines can easily take on small yard tasks like pruning, cutting through skinnier branches, and hedge work. At 20”, you can take on logs and cords of wood with ease.
So, consider the longer bars for jobs where you’ll need to cut firewood throughout the winter or you need to move a large downed tree. It isn’t a coincidence that the Husqvarna 460 Rancher 20-Inch, the chainsaw with the longest bar of our top 10 picks, is a great pick for ranchers who need heavy-duty chainsaws.
In the middle of the spectrum falls the 16” chainsaws, which combine low weight with high performance. These chainsaws will cover the most common tasks needed by homeowners.
Electric vs. Gas-Powered Chainsaws
Chainsaws need the power to help them cut through the tough stuff. They can either get that power through fuel or by electricity.
Simply put, gas-powered chainsaws tend to last longer and can handle more robust jobs. Electric chainsaws can be more user-friendly and quieter, meaning they’re great for small tasks.
For electric chainsaws, you’ll find both corded and cordless options. Corded options will be lighter weight since they don’t need to hold a battery. However, you’ll need to make sure that your project site is equipped with a power outlet or long enough extension cord.
With a cordless option, you’ll find that the tool is a bit heavier as it carries its own battery. These give you the mobility you may want if you can’t access a power outlet, but you may also need to recharge or switch out your battery if your project extends past the chainsaw’s battery life.
Why is Chainsaw Tension Important?
Another feature you’ll see on our top 10 picks is easy chain tension adjustment. If your chain is sagging or lose, it runs the risk of jumping off the bar and could result in injury. A chain that is too tight on the bar can cause the motor to overwork while compromising the performance and lifespan of the chain itself.
As soon as you notice that the tension is off, you’ll want to adjust it. This is where toolless adjustment comes in handy.
When you’re out in the field, you don’t want to have to stop your project because you have to find the right tool to adjust your chainsaw’s chain. Chainsaw manufacturers have accounted for this need with toolless adjustments, which is huge for both beginners and experts alike.
Get Started on Your Project
From arboriculture to simple yard work, chainsaws quickly remove the branches you need to be gone. Your project could range from cosmetic branch removal to the more practical damage prevention, but you still need the job to get done. Envision the project that you want to knock out, and then start shopping for your next chainsaw. Compare our top 10 chainsaws and find the tool that will bring out your inner lumberjack.
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