It doesn’t matter if you have smaller shrubs and hedges in your garden or large trees – a chainsaw is going to allow you to trim and prune hedges and branches, or even completely cut down trees should you need to!
There are MANY different types of chainsaws out there to choose from! Smaller, electric models are perfect for if you have less trees or hedges that just need tidying up, whereas larger, petrol chainsaws can be used to do pretty much anything! We created this Ultimate Buyers Guide to give you all the information that you are going to need to make the right decision.
What is a chainsaw and how does it work?
A chainsaw is a power tool used to effectively cut down branches and trees. It is powered by a ‘power head’, which is the engine, which activates a metal chain driven by a clutch. The chain moves around a guide bar at high speeds and when the teeth make contact with the wood they drag across the wood, cutting at it.
Chainsaws are used in a number of professions such as landscapers, gardeners, carpenters and even firefighters. Essentially anyone with the need to cut trees, which includes homeowners.
In A Hurry?
Before you look any further into purchasing a chainsaw, you need to ask yourself three questions. What will your chainsaw be used for? How far away is the power source? And how much experience do you have?
Your answers to these questions will determine what type of chainsaw suits your needs.
Our Best Pick Chainsaw – Bosch UniversalChain 18 Cordless Chainsaw
- Exceptionally light weight at only 3 kg including battery
- Streamlined Bosch SDS-system enables tool-free tensioning and chain replacement
- Tip Protector with grip-teeth for clean undercuts with minimal branch damage
- Switch between delicate pruning, waste management, and cutting firewood easily
- Exceptionally light weight at only 3 kg including battery|Streamlined Bosch SDS-system enables tool-free tensioning and chain replacement|Tip Protector with grip-teeth for clean undercuts with minimal branch damage|Switch between delicate pruning, waste management, and cutting firewood easily|
Types of Chainsaw
There are three main types of chainsaw for you to choose from.
- Petrol chainsaws offer the most power out of the three types
- They are better suited to the more difficult cutting jobs and the more experienced user due to the fact that they have a two-stroke engine.
- They are portable and so are good for use on larger gardens.
- The petrol chainsaw is heavy and noisy and requires regular maintenance.
- Has additional costs of buying petrol.
If you decide to look for a petrol chainsaw then make sure to look at the power and size of the engine – measured in cubic centimeters/cubic capacity (CC). You also want to look at the size of the fuel tank so you can see how much it will hold.
- There is no cord to limit your movements making it an ideal choice for a larger garden.
- Is lighter, quieter and requires less maintenance than the petrol.
- Reasonably priced.
- Safer as you don’t have to worry about cutting through the wire.
- They are less powerful than the petrol and therefore, most suited to smaller gardens and smaller tasks.
- Potentially having to pause during jobs to recharge the battery.
The power of a cordless chainsaw model is determined by the power delivered by the battery. The power is measured in volts (v). The battery most commonly found in these models is a 36V lithium-ion battery. It is recommended that you also look at the amp rating/ ampere-hour (Ah) as this is the measure of electric charge, which determines the battery capacity. The higher the capacity, the longer the battery will last.
- It is lightweight, quiet and does not require much maintenance.
- Can be more powerful than those operated by a battery but still cannot match the power of the petrol chainsaw.
- Generally cheaper than cordless or petrol models.
- Can be used continuously as you don’t have to worry about a battery/fuel running out.
- Can only offer limited movement as it must be plugged into a mains socket – this also leaves you with the potential of cutting through the wire by mistake.
- The corded chainsaw’s power is measure in watts (W).
Best Budget Chainsaw – BLACK+DECKER CS2040-GB Chainsaw
- Powerful motor - high performance, quiet and easy to maintain
- Low-kickback chain for smooth and fast cuts through dry wood and live logs
- Patented SDS tool - free blade tension makes it easy to adjust chain for improved cutting performance
- Chain break for maximum safety of operation
- Window to gauge oil level
Key Chainsaw Features
The size of the bar length determines the size of the log that can be cut in just one pass. You are still able to cut larger pieces of wood with a smaller bar length but it will just take more passes. For the safest cutting you should purchase a bar length that is 2” longer than what you want to cut.
Bar length is measure in centimetres (cm) and refers to the length of the cutting bar on the chainsaw. The size of the bar length determines the size of the log that can be cut in just one pass. You are still able to cut larger pieces of wood with a smaller bar length but it will just take more passes. For the safest cutting you should purchase a bar length that is 2” longer than what you want to cut.
If you are looking to purchase a chainsaw simply for light cutting around the home, a 14” bar should suffice. Medium cuts will require around 18” and heavy duty cutting or those beginning a profession should look to purchase a bar around 30”.
Manufacturers should also provide you with guidelines as to what the recommended lengths are for each model they supply so ensure you check these.
It is also worth noting that the larger the bar, the heavier and more difficult it is to balance and manoeuvre, so please take this into consideration.
The chain speed ultimately determines how quickly you can cut through the wood. Measured in metres per second (m/s), the corded and cordless are usually somewhere around 9m/s and the petrol around 20m/s. Obviously, a quicker speed is going to allow you to get the job done quicker but they are going to require more power and aren’t always suitable for complete beginners.
It is worth comparing weights as this can significantly affect the movement. The weight of the chainsaw is measured in kilograms (kg). Petrol models tend to be heavier than the corded and cordless.
Kickback is the term used to describe the movement in which the chainsaw is thrust towards the user when it connect with the wood. Manufacturers have now designed a number of models that attempt to minimise the risk of this which is extremely important to keep you safe! Look out for models that come with anti-kickback designs – this safety brake is automatically stops the chainsaw if kickback takes place.
Maintaining good chain tension is important to ensure the chainsaw is safe. Chain tensioning refers to how tight the chain is on the chainsaw. Models that have a tensioning tool with which you can tighten the chain as and when required, is recommended where possible.
Many models offer various grip features such as anti-vibration, ergonomic soft grip and wrap around handles. All of which, increase the accuracy of cutting but also the comfort when you are working which is important to reduce fatigue in your hands and wrists when you are working.
Chainsaw Safety Features
One of the most important things to be aware of when purchasing a chainsaw is the dangers of use. The chain on a chainsaw cannot be guarded; therefore, the chainsaw is one of the most dangerous hand-held power tools.
Your safety is important therefore, you should also purchase safety clothing to wear when using your chainsaw. Yes, this does add to your cost but is it worth the risk of not wearing?!
We recommend buying the following protective gear.
- Safety helmet. Much like a hard hat worn in construction, it is designed to protect your head from kickback. They cost around £15.
- Ear defenders. All models of chainsaw should be used wearing ear defenders. Many helmets come with ear defenders built in but you are able to buy them separately for around £10.
- Safety trousers. These are designed with materials that snag to slow the movement made by the chain to create less injury. These cost between £50 and £200 dependent on the fabric.
- Gloves. Chainsaw gloves are padded and made from a similar material to the pants to protect your hands. They cost between £10 and £35. Here are some of our favourites.
- Boots. The safety boots have a steel toecap and a strong grip. Prices start from around £50.
It is worth noting, that some manufacturers offer a whole protection clothing kit which could save you money.
Best of the Rest
- New adjustment lever for easier tool-less chain/ tension adjustment
- Adjustable automatic chain oil pump
- Large separte type metal spike bumper. The spike grips the work piece firmly to provide more control
- Large trigger switch
- Oil fill level window to easily check oil level
- EASY TO START - Insert 40 V battery and get started: With the cordless chain saw you can immediately saw branches and tree trunks free and without cables in your garden - battery and charger are not included
- POWERFUL - The cordless chain saw has a chain speed of 11 m/s and a 3/8 Inch pitch as well as automatic chain oiling - so gardening and forestry work is no longer a problem
- FULL POWER - Greenworks chain saw convinces thanks to the brushless DigiPro motor with 30 Percent more power and longer running times - for your safety the saw is equipped with a safety switch
- COMFORT - Due to its low weight of 5.4 kg, the cordless saw is easy to handle and has an ergonomic handle and hand guard for comfortable and safe work in the garden
- ONE BATTERY FOR ALL - The Greenworks 40 V batteries from 2Ah up to powerful 4Ah are versatile and compatible with many Greenworks products in the garden and workshop
- 30cm TRI-LINK Bar and Chain covers twice it's length for fast completion on small to medium materials
- High efficiency Brushless motor, delivering up to 70 x 4x4” cuts of pressure treated spruce per charge using an 18V XR 5Ah battery
- Automatic oiling for reduced maintenance
- English (Publication Language)
Frequently Asked Questions
Are chainsaws suited to users that are left-handed?
Unfortunately, chainsaws are made for right-handed use, making it difficult for those who are left-handed. If you are left handed, you may find it difficult to find a comfortable grip, therefore, it is recommended that you practice holding and moving the chainsaw with the power off before tackling the job it is needed for.
How do I take care of my chainsaw?
Like most power tools, the better care you take of them, the longer they will last and the more efficiently they will work. To help prevent rust use chain lubrication oil, to prevent the chain from becoming blunt, use a chain sharpener and ensure you replace any worn chains.
What warranty will I get with my chainsaw?
Most chainsaws will come with a two year warranty however there are variations in this. If your chainsaw is being used for commercial use then chances are you will only get a 12 month warranty so this is worth checking for.