Choosing a Chainsaw For Your Needs

Gas-powered chainsaw. (Courtesy: Steve Perry at

Gas-powered chainsaw.
(Courtesy: Steve Perry at

You are the common suburban homeowner, who has a garage full of the tools, machinery, and materials you need to care for a garden and lawn. There’s the lawnmower, hoses and sprinkler, shovels and spades, wheelbarrow, fertilizer and fertilizer dispenser, pruning shears, a bag of peat moss and potting soil, and pots.

Is that everything you need to maintain your garden and property? Well, you may be forgetting about a chainsaw.

Not all households need to include a chainsaw in the tool section of their garage. Of course, you have trees growing on your property, but, if you have the money, you can pay a tree trimming service to provide the maintenance needed. However, if you wish to perform the maintenance of all aspects of your garden and property, then perhaps you shouldn’t forget about that chainsaw.

One Size Does Not Fit All

Of course, as is the case with many tools, one size does not fit all. You need to consider how you will be using the saw during your routine garden and property maintenance program. If you intend to spend a lot of time on the trees on your property and intend to cut large, thick branches as well as the little stick like ones, and you will be cutting wood for burning in the fireplace, then you may need a more powerful saw. However, if you intend to

Electric chainsaw with cord. (Courtesy: Mike Pepler at

Electric chainsaw with cord.
(Courtesy: Mike Pepler at

just periodically prune off small branches from your trees, then you can rely on a less powerful model.

There are also several different types of chainsaws including gas-powered, electric, and pole saws from which you will choose. What type would be best for your needs?

Gas-Powered Chainsaws

Perhaps the most popular type is the gasoline-powered saw. If you are interested in this type of saw, there are some things you need to consider when selecting one.

First, two-cycle engines, also known as 2-stroke engines supply the power for a gas-powered chainsaw. A 2-stroke engine works on a mixture of gasoline and oil to supply it with fuel and lubrication. So you have to keep the proper ratio of gas to oil. Check with the chainsaw’s owner’s manual for the exact balance.

Due to its design and manufacturing a chainsaw constantly vibrates as it is operated. Most saws include vibration dampening. Still, you need to be aware that the vibration could take its toll after a long time of continuous use.

As a result of use there is constant metal-on-metal friction between the bar and the chain of a chainsaw. So the bar needs to be continuously lubricated with oil. This ensures that the chain runs smoothly otherwise a chain could break. Select a chainsaw that features an automatic bar oiler.

Safety of use should be the number one priority when selecting any type of chainsaw. As far as a gas-powered model is concerned, it is important to consider a chainsaw that includes inertia-activated chain brake. This ensures against blade kick back injuries. Blade kick back occurs when the nose of the bar contacts an obstruction and kicks back. The inertia-activated brake senses the obstruction and stops the chain.

Gas-powered chainsaws are recommended when you expect to saw a lot or cut large trees. They range in size from 12-inches to 24-inches and are heavier and require the user to have some strength to operate them. So when checking out a gas-powered saw, make certain that you can manage it.

Also keep in mind that if a gas-powered chainsaw is not used often, the gas and oil mixture can gum up the carburetor. As a result it becomes very difficult to start.

Electric Chainsaws

There are two types of electric chainsaws –- corded and cordless. Both types start by simply pressing a button. However, a corded electric chainsaw includes an extension cord that needs to be plugged into an electrical outlet. Therefore, you will need to have a cord that is long enough to extend to the electric socket. The longest cord for a corded electric chainsaw is about 100 feet. There are no longer cords because the power-supply would suffer due to the distance the current has to travel.

The corded electric chainsaw should include an automatic bar oiler as well as tool-less tensioning. As the chainsaw is being used, friction will cause the chain to loosen from the bar. The tool-less tensioning feature includes a knob on the saw that you can turn to tighten the chain.

Cordless electric chainsaw. (Courtesy: Canopygroup at

Cordless electric chainsaw.
(Courtesy: Canopygroup at

Lithium-ion batteries power cordless electric chainsaws. This style of battery performs better than the nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cad) batteries because they don’t lose power as they lose the charge. Ni-Cad batteries also take up to 12 hours to charge while lithium-ion batteries recharge in about an hour. Another advantage to the lithium-ion batteries is that they are light in weight. However, some lightweight saws may have batteries with shorter life. Always check the weight of the chainsaw and try it out to ensure that you are comfortable with it. The weight of the machine can be found on the specs tab on the product page of the owner’s manual.

The cordless electric chainsaw should include such features as automatic bar oiler and tool-less chain tensioning.

You want to be sure that the batteries will provide enough power. With a gas-powered chainsaw, you can refer to horsepower. However, with a cordless electric chainsaw you need to refer to the voltage and the number of amp hours.

One-way to describe a pole saw is a mini chainsaw on a stick. These machines are quite good for handling lighter maintenance like pruning small branches off trees. There are two styles — gas powered

Pole saw. (Courtesy: Charles & Hudson at

Pole saw.
(Courtesy: Charles & Hudson at

and electric. There are two styles of electric pole saws — corded and cordless.

Finally, consider how you will use any chainsaw and select one with the appropriate length-cutting bar.

· 14-inch cutting bars are ideal for occasional and light duty work.
· 16-inch cutting bars are ideal for general-purpose home use.
· 18-inch cutting bars are ideal for larger jobs and farm or rural applications.
· 20-inch cutting bars can be used frequently on heavy-duty applications including the cutting of large-diameter wood.

About Robert Janis

Written by Robert Janis for LawnEq - Your specialists for Lawn Mower Parts and Small Engine Parts. We offer genuine premium OEM parts for Land Pride, Toro and many more dependable manufacturers.