This page is brought you in part by the Virginia Loggers Association.
A chainsaw is a tool that can be used in a host of different situations and one that really is a great investment for the home. But choosing the best chainsaw can be difficult. There are so many models out there that it can be a tough job to pick the one that is best for you. So how do you pick the right tool for the job?
In addition to the logging industry, chainsaws can be used by folks that chop wood to market as firewood. In the event of any forest fires, chainsaws are invaluable, as they assist in clearing away the branches that have ignited, or for isolating the fire for suppressing such wildfires.
Different types of chainsaws can be used for different functions. Generally, the chainsaw equipped with smaller engine capacity is not going to be powerful enough for felling a tree, and it will be challenging to use a chainsaw used for downing timber to clear away smaller branches. So, the best chainsaws are generally the ones that serve the purpose for which they specified for.
The most crucial component of any chainsaw is definitely the chain. It has a serrated edge or the teeth. Chainsaws function exactly like the chains of bikes. Therefore, it is recommended that you double check the quality of the steel that is used to manufacture these teeth and whether or not they are sharp enough. The driving mechanism is the other feature of any chainsaw that must be inspected before selecting one. If you experience a breakdown, the device adds no value!
The best chainsaws, like Husqvarna or Stihl chainsaws, normally employ a two-stroke engine that runs on either gasoline, or petrol. However you can get equally great varieties of Husqvarna chainsaws that are designed with electric motors as well. Last but not necessarily the least critical element of every chainsaw is the guide bar. As the name implies, this piece helps to orient the cutting chain. The best chainsaws employ a guide bar that is created from a unique alloy of steel that does not wear easily. The size of these bars could be anywhere from 16 to 36 inches long. It is the purchaser who selects the length according to their demands.
The best chainsaw is therefore the machine that best satisfies the requirements of the user, has an efficient engine, incorporates a wear resistant guiding bar, and a simple to operate drive mechanism, including a chain full of small sharp blades made from the very best non-wearing material.
What Will You Be Using the Chainsaw For?
Perhaps the first question that you should be asking is what you will be using the chainsaw for. There are many common uses, but the job you are doing is going to affect your pick. Perhaps you are just looking for something to cut off a branch or two every now and again, or do some light pruning. Maybe you need to chop up firewood regularly and quickly. Or you might even be interested in working on other materials like brick or concrete. The right chainsaw will do all this. There are also the more original ways to use it. It is great for making furniture, for example, and for some artists, the chainsaw is actually their primary tool!
Electric vs Gas Powered?
Different models are going to have different features then depending on this use. You can basically divide chainsaws into two groups: electric and gas powered. There are others that use everything from compressed air to hydraulic power, but 99% of the machines available fall into the first two categories. The gas versions typically have a two stroke engine somewhere up to 120cc for larger versions. The motor is there to drive the chain composed of riveted teeth which are doing the cutting. The top brands out there, such as Stihl and Husqvarna, have a big range in both electric and gas models.
A big difference between versions is the noise they make when in use. A gas saw is going to make a lot more noise and is probably the better choice for heavy duty work in open spaces. If you are going to be working in an enclosed area or risk upsetting the neighbors, you might want to think electric! Modern electric chainsaws are also going to provide enough power for all non-industrial use.
There are other things that are not quite so obvious that can make one machine or another a better buy. Sometimes things look great when holding them in your bare hands, but suddenly they are impossible to use properly with gloves. Is the starter switch large enough and easily accessible? Does the motor cut out regularly when idling? Or what about those times when you need to make a small adjustment and find that you have to remove a few screws before you can do anything?
And if you are a bit inexperienced, a chainsaw with a larger guard is going to prevent you from suffering the effects of dangerous kickback. All these things can make an otherwise good saw into a pain to use and should be weighed carefully before making the decision to buy. Fortunately, user reviews are easy enough to find today on the net, and the major manufacturers really do make top products nowadays.
There are some big names in power tools and all of them include chainsaws in their ranges. These are some of the ones that you should be looking at regardless of the type of chainsaw you’re interested in:
- Poulan Pro
- Black & Decker
- John Deere
These seven all have a reputation for building quality products that will take on any task.
Husqvarna, for instance, has introduced a few great ideas for gasoline models. Their most recent models include anti-vibration technology which makes for a lot more comfort when working. They have also made great strides forward in making the engine on their chainsaws more environmentally friendly.
Husqvarna chainsaws like the new 450 range are all CARB-compliant, meaning that they adhere to the strict standards imposed by the California Air Resource Board. These measures of how green a motor is are becoming more and more widespread and it looks like this is going to be a minimum standard in the next few years. So it is quite worthwhile getting a compliant chainsaw now. This technology also makes for a more fuel efficient motor, making Husqvarna an excellent brand for the budget conscious home owner.
Poulan Pro Chainsaws
Poulan Pro is another option that offers a value product for home use. They are generally cheaper than some other brands, but you definitely shouldn’t confuse cheap with low-quality here. In fact, Poulan make some very-fast cutting chainsaws that can keep up with some fairly heavy use as well. They tend to be user-friendly which is great for the less-experienced. Things like tool-free chain tightening just make things easy in day-to-day use.
Makita manufactures a line of chainsaws, as well, including both gas and electric models. Their electric saws are among the highest rated by online consumers. Perfect for home use. The Makita company stands for innovation, durability and quality control.
John Deere Chainsaws
John Deere clearly has a solid reputation for making machines that do the job, and their chainsaws are no exception. Looking at a John Deere saw, you see a product that is no-frills and built to both work hard and last for years to come. You aren’t going to find the out and out performance of something like a Solo cutter, but this is a solid choice for anything from light occasional use to spending a few hours chopping up logs or tree branches.
Black & Decker Chainsaws
Black & Decker is another fine choice if you are looking for good, honest equipment. Now Black & Decker might not seem like the most obvious choice when you’re looking for the best chainsaw that you can find. However, there is a reason that most toolboxes have some sort of Black & Decker gear in them, they work! It might not be a glamorous choice, but you are getting the benefits of a big company’s research and development team who have been making tools for the average Joe for years. Those little details are going to be properly thought out, for a start.
For those who are looking for something a bit more heavy-duty, the Stihl line contains some of the best chainsaws available today. If you are going to be spending more time cutting, speed becomes a priority when you are trying to find the best chainsaw. Stihl has been making power tools for more than 80 years and they know a thing or two about building robust engines that keep on running, but also cut fast enough to get through a lot of work in a short time.
In fact, you will struggle to find negative feedback on Stihl chainsaws from serious users. A lot of thought has gone into their product line too. Their easy-to-start technology is a great idea, for example. It makes pulling with all your force a thing of the past. A leisurely pull is all it takes to get the motor turning over. They also offer a range of battery-powered tools that has had the professional reviewers purring in pleasure.
If you are looking for a top-end product, then Solo is an obvious choice. These are considered by many to be the Ferrari of the chainsaw world and regularly win comparative reviews looking for the best chainsaw. If you need fast cutting, these are generally about as quick as it gets.
A Solo machine has plenty of power but it doesn’t feel like a heavy lump of metal, being both light and well-balanced. The power also comes in through a broad torque curve when you need it for getting through a tough branch, for example. The details are usually spot-on, from handle shape to being able to use one tool to open different parts of the saw. All this comes at a higher price and you are really only looking at this type of power tool if you are a fairly heavy user.
Details and Personal Choice
Of course, these aren’t your only choices. There are many other manufacturers who make good products, especially for the home. Echo, for instance, has a fine reputation for no frills stuff that does a great job. Choosing the right tool for you is the key. If you know where you are going to be working and how often you are likely to be starting up your saw, the first decisions are easy. After that, it is all about details and personal choice. What safety features are there? How complicated is it to repair? Are you really going to be able to push all the switches in gloves.