So, you’re looking to add the best chainsaw to the inventory of your garden shed. This is a worthy purchase for anybody that lives with an outdoor space, as these tools have a number of uses that will make you wonder how you lived without one for so long. Whether used for felling or trimming trees in woodland areas that surround your property, reducing loose wooden pallets to size for burning within a stove or fireplace or even cutting holes in the home during renovations, an electric or gas-powered chainsaw can save you a lot of backbreaking labor.
Of course, as with most things in life, it’s not quite as simple as driving to the closest hardware store and picking out the cheapest model. There are a great many variables involved in the purchase of such a potent power tool, not least weight, fuel, the ferocity of vibrations, shape and emissions.
Thankfully, this Buyers Guide to Chainsaws will talk you through some of the key factors that will come into play before you hand over your hard-earned pay for such an item – whether you are looking to make a purchase for commercial reasons, or simply to keep the hedgerows in your yard trim. Read on to learn everything you need to know about how to pick up the best chainsaw for your money.
Best Chainsaws for 2017
|Chainsaw||Type||Weight||Blade (Inches)||Check Price|
|Husqvarna 240 2 HP||Gas / 38cc||13lbs||16"|
|Husqvarna 450||Gas / 50cc||13lbs||18"|
|Tanaka TCS40EA18||Gas / 40cc||12lbs||16", 18" and 20"|
|Echo CS-400||Gas / 40cc||12lbs||16"|
|Oregon Cordless CS250-S6||Electric / Cordless||12lbs||12"|
|Black and Decker LCS1020||Electric / Cordless||7lbs||10"|
|Black and Decker LP1000||Electric / Alligator||6.5lbs||6"|
Best Gas Chainsaws
Husqvarna 240 2 HP
Affectionately referred to as ‘Husky’ by aficionados, Husqvarna is a leading light in the construction of chainsaws, and this starter chainsaw is one of the smallest tools in their arsenal. Ideal for smaller jobs around the back yard such as trimming and strimming, the Husqvarna 240 2 HP will not win any industry awards for long term tackling of troublesome woodland (it begins to struggle with anything over 10″ in diameter), but you’ll get plenty of use out of this model around the home. This chainsaw gives off a very low amount of emissions which is a welcome feature on any gas-powered model, it’s light to hold, on the quieter end of the gas saw range (though the use of earplugs remains recommended for your own safety) and has impressive cutting velocity for a model of such small stature at around 16 meters per second – although it should be noted that this model is prone to comparatively substantial kickback, despite being equipped with a low-vibration safety feature. Another negative is that many users have experienced some difficulty in switching the tool on at the touch of a button, with many claiming that it can take up to four attempts to get the chainsaw’s motor running. If you can look beyond these concerns, however, and are looking for a budget-friendly and small introduction to the world of gas-powered chainsaws for light and casual use, the Husqvarna 240 2 HP is an adequate starting point.
Another model from Husqvarna, this chainsaw is considered to be a substantial step up from the 240 – and not just because of the increased power of a 50cc engine, which ensures that the Husqvarna 450 can be used for substantially more complex cutting tasks around the home and surrounding areas. Although this device is still plagued by the same starting issues as the 240, meaning that impatient users may quickly grow frustrated by the power tool, this chainsaw also remains just as light as it’s little brother at 13lbs despite the longer blade, while also giving off just as few emissions; welcome factors in such a powerful machine. Versatile enough to accommodate shorter or longer blades (maxing out at around 20″), there is a lot to love about the Husqvarna 450. The anti-vibration features work well here, which ensure that you will experience little juddering and kickback while cutting through substantial wood sources, and features such as a fuel window will help you keep an eye on how much gas remains in the tank and minimize the need to run back and forth to refill the chainsaw during work. Sturdy and long-lasting, with a strong engine and plenty of cutting time, the Husqvarna 450 makes for a fine upgrade on a smaller electric or gas model, or a great starter point for confident users that have requirements of a potent power tool for use around their home.
Tanaka are comparatively new kids on the chainsaw chopping block, with a reputation more celebrated in their construction of lawn care garden tools. Happily this saw, available with blades of 16″, 18″ and 20″ (as you’ll see, we landed in the middle for the statistics above – the 20″ model comes with a 50cc engine) is a very solid all-rounder, great for both hobbyists and those looking for something a little more substantial for their woodcutting needs. Unlike the previously profiled Husqvarna models, the Tanaka TCS40EA18 is extremely simple to start, with the manufacturers claiming that the chainsaw requires up to 50% less effort to launch, making it ideal for those concerned about using up recesses of energy and developing fatigue before they even begin cutting. It’s also very lightweight for such a powerful tool, weighing in at just 12lbs, and a five-part anti-vibration system ensures that kickback is kept to a bare minimum – although in the interests of balanced reporting, it should be noted that this engine tends to run a little hot, albeit thankfully away from touching distance of the user. Another impressive feature of the Tanaka TCS40EA18 is the seven-year manufacturer’s guarantee, which ensures that this is an investment any homeowner can make with genuine confidence. While perhaps not ideal for anything too heavy-duty, this is a fantastic acquisition for anybody looking to bring a gas-powered chainsaw into their life for light to moderate use around the home and garden.
Echo is another reputable name in the realm of chainsaw retail, and the CS-400 is something of a jewel in the crown of their line of power tools. Boasting an extremely efficient design, aesthetically this chainsaw will appeal to both home and garden consumers and professional woodcutters, and despite the light weight of the item the cutting power packs a very solid punch when used on light to moderate woods – be warned that, like any chainsaw of this size, you may find the CS-400 getting stuck in particularly stubborn tree diameters. One of the biggest selling points of this model, however, is the durability that it offers. Many gas chainsaws require more maintenance than the CS-400, which should work as reliably after a great deal of use as it does straight form the box provided you do not allow the saw’s blades to grow too blunt – and speaking of straight from the box, this is an extremely simple model to start. It’s not quite as gentle as the Tanaka TCS40EA18, but you certainly shouldn’t struggle, which is a theme that follows through while the tool is in use, with very little kickback from this particular model. Packed with a five-year manufacturer’s warranty, there is little reason to tread carefully around the Echo CS-400; very few products manage to tow the line between appealing to professionals and amateurs in such a satisfactory manner.
Best Electric Chainsaw
Oregon Cordless CS250-S6
We outlined some key differences between gas-powered and electric chainsaws earlier in this guide, but you may have noticed that some of the gas models that we profiled featured as many perks as their electrical equivalents. Happily, this exchange cuts both ways, as the Oregon Cordless CS250-S6 offers all of the flexibility expected of a battery-powered mobile saw, without sacrificing the sheer, brawny cutting potency of some of the gas models. Quiet and clean to operate (you’ll hear the birds singing in the sky the moment you switch off the tool), this chainsaw can lop through logs of some 12″ in diameter, with a minimum of fuss in getting started. Rather than pulling on cords, the CS250-S6 kicks into life at the touch of a button – and as a key safety feature, the blades will start to rotate slowly before steadily building to full capacity. With a blade of around 12″ this chainsaw is a fine size for an electrical model, and comes with two battery options; standard, which will run for around sixty minutes and charge within the same period, or endurance (sold separately), which takes twice as long to charge but works for around two hours – or, of course, you can trail an extension cable and plug directly into a power source to avoid any need to stop. Easy to hold with little kickback, deceptively powerful when in use and requiring very little maintenance, the Oregon CS250-S6 is the closest you will come to experiencing the full benefits and uses of a gas-powered chainsaw while using an electric model, as well as offering a handful of extra perks at the same time.
The Worx WG303.1 is certainly one of the more budget-friendly chainsaws on the market, thanks in part to the manufacturers being an offshoot of Chinese mass-producers Prositec. Thankfully, these savings that are passed onto consumers with a handy, quality power tool that many homeowners looking for a product to use on light tasks around the home and garden will find hugely useful – safety and quality have not been sacrificed in this model, which comes with all the features that you would expect from a more prominent chainsaw, including minimal kickback. Perfect for trimming limbs from trees (though also able to feel trunks of up to 12″), this model comes with a 16″ blade – much longer than most electronic models. Don’t be fooled into thinking that means you can head into the woods and start dropping trees with glee though, as the potency of the WG303.1 is certainly more in line with that you would expect from an electronic chainsaw and the blades will wear themselves out an accelerated pace if you push them too hard. For mild use, however, you can’t go far wrong; weighing just 11lbs and running directly from a power source, this is the perfect selection for a beginner looking for a small and lightweight chainsaw for minor tidying jobs around the home.
Black and Decker LCS1020
Longevity is the name of the game with the Black and Decker LCS1020, which marries impressive cutting performance with a lithium battery that can run for up to five times as long as competing electrical chainsaws. The 10″ auto-adjustable blade will slice through most household objects like a hot knife through butter, and the long battery will come in handy seeing as the chainsaw weighs just 7lbs – coupled with very minor kickback that incorporates technology found in the Oregon Cordless CS250-S6, you will find yourself able to operate the LCS1020 for prolonged periods without growing uncomfortable. This model also requires very little maintenance (it’s even self-oiling) and will give off very little noise, but don’t expect to performing anything more elaborate than trims, nips and tucks with the LCS1020 – attempting to cut through a branch thicker than around 6″ could place undue pressure on the blade and lead to a drastically shortened lifespan. However, the strong design and light weight means that the saw is easy to hold, and even easier to manoeuver and manipulate; if you need to rotate your chainsaw whilst cutting, you will find it considerably easier using this model than you may with a competitor. Like many electric-powered chainsaws, the Black and Decker LCS1020 may not prove particular helpful to a professional out in the wild woodland, but you will be hard pushed to find a more flexible and reliable all-rounder for use on small jobs within the home.
Black and Decker LP1000 Alligator Lopper
And now for something completely different. The Black and Decker LP1000 Alligator Lopper may only cut woods up to 5″ in diameter, but this unique tool is heaven-sent for anybody looking to make quick and light work of halving and quartering smaller logs for burning, or in particular lopping overhanging branches from garden trees and trimming bushes that are growing unruly. This is the perfect starter point for anybody nervous about operating a chainsaw, as it’s certainly safer than pointing a sharp blade at the object of your slicing. Instead, the Black and Decker LP1000 Alligator Lopper wraps a pair of ‘jaws’ around a branch or log and leaves you to simply clamp them closed, which will allow the quiet and emission-free blades contained within do the work for you. The tool has to run from mains power so there is no battery included, but as you are unlikely to need to travel far with this chainsaw that should not be a concern for a user; the only downside to the LP1000 is that it will require fairly regular oil top-ups (typically after every ten uses). This is very much a home-use power tool however, and one that will be of huge benefit to anybody looking for a small and efficient way of keeping their outside area neat – and best of all, it is so light and user-friendly and anybody, regardless of age, physical condition or skill level, will be able to make use of it.
What Should I Look for in a Chainsaw?
The first thing that you’d need to establish is whether you will be best served by picking up an electric chainsaw or a gas-powered equivalent. This depends entirely on what you will be using the tool to cut, and how frequently. A model powered by electricity, perhaps just for an occasional aesthetic trim to their bushes, will adequately serve a homeowner that only anticipates pulling the saw out a handful of times per year. This also applies to anybody new to the world of using such an item, as chainsaws are powerful pieces of equipment that should not be used lightly; if you are a novice, pick out a lighter model with a smaller blade (certainly no larger than 20″, and typically you’ll find that closer to 12-14″ will more than serve your purpose). The best gas chainsaws, meanwhile, are the domain of experienced woodsmen and professional users. These devices are designed for prolonged use in felling stubborn trees, and are thus equipped with substantially longer blades and potent engine power that is not to be trifled with.
Of course, where you plan on cutting also factors into your decision. An electric chainsaw, as the name suggests, relies upon a constant source of mains power – you’ll need to be able to run an extension cable from your property to wherever you plan on using the tool, or at best rely on the power supplied by an external battery. Gas is the way forward if you need to roam free and deeper into the wild, but there is a trade-off here; gas chainsaws require much more maintenance than their electrical counterparts, and their engines are considerably noisier. If you have neighbors that would not appreciate the roar of an engine of such a powerful tool, stick with an electric model for the sake of local relations.
When it comes to choosing the length of blade that you require, there is a golden ratio that helps; typically, a quality chainsaw will be able to slice through up to twice the diameter of its length, and you should always pick up a blade 2″ longer than you are looking to cut through. Ergo, if you are looking to trim a tree with a bark of 18″, you’ll need at least 20″ on the blade of your tool of choice – and just FYI, this is typically the very upper end of the electric chainsaw spectrum. Of course, you’ll have to bear in mind that the longer the length of the blade the heavier and more difficult to handle the tool will become, especially when fatigue starts to kick in. We can’t stress this enough; if you are an inexperienced chainsaw user, aim for a smaller blade to retain safety and minimize the risk of vibrations within your hands (sometimes referred to as kickback).
Kickback is a result of the blade of your power tool pinching the wood that you are cutting, and thus forcing itself back toward you. As you can probably imagine, the longer the blade is the faster it will reach you, which is why it is highly advisable to start small if you are an inexperienced operator. Happily, many territories will offer safety lessons on guides on how to handle your chainsaw safely and appropriately, so there is no need to be afraid of undertaking this work yourself – just take the appropriate precautions, and ensure that you are fully aware of how best to use the powerful item that you are holding. Likewise, it may pay to investigate the possibility of some kind of anti-vibration feature on any model that catches your eye.
Only you are aware of the limits of your strength and endurance, however, and as such, only you can make a judgement call based on the weight of the model that you choose. Also consider the ergonomics of any model that you choose, though. Chainsaws are almost exclusively designed for right-handed use, so if your dominant hand is to the left, you may need to spend a significant period of time practicing the logistics of using the device – with the power off, naturally!
The engine size available on a typical chainsaw can vary, and which potency you select should depend on what you intend to use it for. Pruning bushes and branches, for example, should not require anything more powerful than 30cc on a gas model, although a small electric chainsaw will fulfill these tasks. Should you be looking to cut logs for firewood or take down a small tree, however, you should be looking at a gas chainsaw with an engine size closer to 40cc, or a large electric chainsaw. For bucking large logs or felling a tree above moderate size, you will have to use a gas model with an engine size of 50cc. Remember that, due to their lack of emissions, electric chainsaws can also be used indoors if necessary.
These are the basic fundamentals of what you should be looking for, but that remains a lot of information for anybody to take in – especially if this is your first purchase of a chainsaw. With that in mind, we have taken the liberty of recommending eight particular models that we consider to be among the best on the market, profiles of which can be found below. Pick your preference as to a power source, and prepare yourself for a whole new world of motorized blade trimming.