How to choose the best chainsaw for your cutting needs

Sunday, June 16, 2019

You need a fallen tree cut & cleared.

You need it cut down today because it has fallen over your driveway and you need to get the car out.

So what do you do?

Grab that chainsaw and cut it up for firewood?

Ideally, you would but seeing as you are here looking for the best chainsaw to help you out with that situation, let's help you choose the best chainsaw for your needs.

In this case, we presume you are a homeowner, renter, back yard enthusiast, weekend warrior kind of user. You want a chainsaw to cut down the odd tree on your section, and chop out branches that are poking out awkwardly across the driveway or hindering your view.

We'll focus on the best range of chainsaws that can you might want to have tucked away in your shed for such occasions and safety industrial chainsaws for cutting down forest pine for another day.

Here are some questions that you may want to think about when trying to decide what is the right kind of chainsaw to buy:

  1. Am I experienced enough for this particular chainsaw? Basically the bigger the chainsaw, the more experience you need. 
  2. How often will I be using the chainsaw? Maintenance is a bitch. Sharpening. Chain stretching and maintenance. If you're doing very simple yard work, a smaller saw is for you, perhaps a battery powered saw?
  3. What type of wood will I be sawing most often – hard or soft? If you're cutting down apple trees, you don't need a beast of machine. Chopping out redwoods, well...
  4. Does the size of the trees I want to cut matter? Understand this: a 30cm guide bar can cut almost twice its length – that's about half metre diameter log. If you wanting are cutting big trees that have aged many years and you're reading this page, you're an amateur so you might want to get a pro to fell your trees...

Only ever buy a chainsaw with a chain break


The first choice you are going to make is one of safety. A chainsaw is not a toy. It is a killing machine if you screw up and cur your femoral artery in your thigh and you bleed out in the middle of a forest

You must only ever buy a chainsaw that features a chain break.

This is a safety feature that will prevent the chainsaw from cutting your arm or eyeball out if you get what's called a kick back, which is when the chain catches and the force causes the bar to raise up towards you at a speed your brain cannot comprehend.

If you are buying a second-hand chainsaw then you need to really check that it has a chain break.

Most new saws on the market will feature the safety measure as it's the law in several countries, however, older units which have been sitting gathering dust in a shed for a 10 - 15 years will not necessarily have a chain break.

If you think we are being pedantic and overzealous with this safety caution this simply Google something like "chainsaw kickback accident face" and check out the horrific images of facial injuries.

Will you use petrol or an electric chainsaw?


The second choice you might want to actually consider is whether you buy a gas or petrol powered electric (battery powered or corded)

Each has its merits and drawbacks.

Petrol chainsaws will need more maintenance and fuel and oil but can go all day and are a bit more portable in a sense.

Electric battery powered chainsaws need less maintenance but their batteries will wear down meaning you'll need spares if you have a big cutting job to do. You do still need to use bar oil with an electric chainsaw.

If you think a battery powered chainsaw doesn't have the balls to cut wood, they do. Check out how well the DeWalt 60V FlexVolt chainsaw performs on the length of a fallen tree:



Which means it will do the job if a tree indeed falls over your driveway and you want to clear it after the storm...

Corded chainsaws will never tire but you're stuck with operating them only when they can be connected to mains power and, like with an electric lawn mower, you need to be careful of the cord when using the machine.

We flesh out the discussion on gas or electric chainsaws here.

If you've decided you want the good old two-stroke gas engine (so you'll need to mix gas with oil), them read on for what are some ideal choices for the beginner or semi-confident user.

Despite what you may have heard:

Size matters when it comes to bar length and engine power


The 'power' or length of the chain bar is often used as a means to 'value' a chainsaw in terms of its performance. In a sense this is true but the reality is you do not need a 20-inch bar if you are not going to be cutting down 20 inch trees and are probably an actual arborist.

Makes sense right?

If you are just going to be doing home handyman type tasks, a  12-inch bar is an ideal starter length for you. This is because they are fairly easy to maneuver into place and they can get in to tricky, small spots more easily and safely. If you want to meet midway, you can always have a crack with a 16 inch bar.

The weight of the chainsaw is a real factor too. Unless you have arms of steel like Superman, you will suffer arm fatigue and you will probably find a few muscles in your back that you didn't know existed as well. Standards to reason, a lighter chainsaw is suited to the learner so you can focus on cutting efficiently rather than worrying about holding it up!

The same can be said for engine size. You probably don't need a 70cc engine (which can in effect be stronger than a moped motorcycle!).

You probably actually might want to consider the Husqvarna 14 inch 120 Mark II:

best husqvarna chainsaw under $200
Husqvarna is a tied and true brand of chainsaw, known for quality.

Husqvarna knows their target market and this machine is just perfect for beginners and homeowners who aren't professional lumberjacks. They have also given it a nice price at under $200 bucks.

  • It's designed to start up easily, just learn to use the choke properly.
  • Has the chain break feature we mentioned above.
  • It's quite ideal for everyday backyard tasks such as tree pruning, hobby work or firewood cutting
  • The chain tension system allows for quick adjustments on the fly
  • Ideal for light duty, light-duty, occasional trimming and pruning tasks
  • Husqvarna offers a three-year warranty!

Best battery powered chainsaw under $200 bucks



If you want the same kind equivalent tool as above but battery powered, Dewalt has you covered with their 20 volt Max XR 12 inch. It's a deal at under $200 bucks.

dewalt best electric chainsaw under 200

This yellow and black beauty is a smaller and easy-to-use saw which is designed for home use by weekend warriors and odd job specialists who will use the saw a couple of times a month or season. 

If this sounds like you, we suggest you check out the delivery options on Amazon:



DEWALT DCCS620B 20V MAX XR Compact 12 in. Cordless Chainsaw (Tool Only)
By DEWALT
$169.00
Rated 4.5 out of 5 by 586 reviewers on Amazon.com

Using medium size chainsaws for serious wood cutting


If you're a seasoned 'around the home user' and you want to sneak out to the back blocks and log some felled timber, then it might be time to consider moving up into what we could call a 'medium range' chainsaw. 

We're thinking you've probably used your original saw many times and have a good knack for using it. 

You're experienced enough using it that you can make good clean cuts but now you really want to be able to literally able to sink some metal teeth into some big trees - winter's coming and you want that woodshed full!

We're talking about chainsaws that have blade sizes between 14 to 18 inches, with engine displacements of 40 to 50 cubic centimeters (CC). These kinds of engines are a serious step from lighter use electric saws that's for sure!

And given that, the risks and dangers of using these cutting machines increase and we strongly recommend you start to think seriously about safety wear such as trouser chaps, gloves and full face helmet and visors. The truth is, you won't likely get a kickback to the face with a one-inch sapling branch but if you catch a snag on the middle of a thick trunk, the engine will kick back harder and faster than a stone flicked up by a car into your windscreen.

So, y'all ready for this?

First, to embrace your inner lumberjack, get out your best flannel shirt, put it on and then check out this beauty:

Husqvarna 18-Inch 50.2cc Gas Powered Chain Saw

best 55cc chainsaw


This monster will do some serious cutting so give it some serious respect as part of your decision making process. Even if you're just a tyre kicker, check out what it offers:

  • The 450 delivers 3.2 horsepower, making it well-suited for medium-duty jobs, such as pruning and domestic cutting
  • 3.2 HP X-Torq engine reduces harmful exhaust emissions and increase fuel efficiency
  • LowVib vibration dampening; minimal effort via Smart Start feature and combined choke/stop control
  • Centrifugal air cleaning system; inertia activated chain brake; snap-lock cylinder cover
  • Purchase this Husqvarna handheld item along with 3-32 ounce cans of Husqvarna pre-mix fuel, register your product online, and your consumer warranty will be extended from 2 years to 4 years
  • The 450 has a lightweight frame that minimizes strain on your body, even after extended use
  • Auto return stop switch and visible fuel level makes the saw easier to handle. Equipped with Smart Start and fuel pump to every time ensure easy starts.
Here's some reviews from users who have brought the unit via Amazon:

"This beauty (back to the chainsaw) has fired up first time, every time for a year. I just follow the cold start instructions that are clearly marked on the saw. I do live in FL but have used it in OR when the temp was around 38. I do not know about sub freezing start ups. Husqvarna is a Swedish company, so I think it will do well in the very cold"

"I truly love this chainsaw. Oh yeah, I used it to take down a deck. It was just 2x12 and 4x4 PT wood, but it made the job quick and easy. I did NOT cut through any nails or screws. Just wood. I would recommend this product to everyone."

" I wasn't disappointed. No problem with start-up. The first job I had was to clean up some storm damage. Had a large red oak uproot. At the stump it was about 29" diameter. This saw cut through that like a knife through butter. I cut up that tree in no time. "

"It's a hell of a saw and definitely glad I made this buy. It's been put to work and has yet to leave me down."

If those reviews are enough for you, check out the pricing on Amazon:


And there you have it, three great options for buying a chainsaw for the home owner.

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