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Best Chainsaw Picks: Powerful, Labor-Saving Tools

If you are your own landscape maintenance crew and enjoy keeping your property cleaned up and looking presentable, then chances are you are already aware of what sort of power a chainsaw would lend to this process. Although this is a tool often avoided due to the safety concerns that surrounding the use of a powerful, spinning sharp chain- with proper safety know how you can put a chainsaw to indisposable use.

Like most tools that may cause some concerns, learning how they work, and getting exposure to their use is the best way to become familiar with them. My experiences with chainsaws started years ago, and when I first started using them I was pleasantly surprised at how easy they are to care for, and how efficiently they work. Although there are many different chainsaws available for various types of jobs, some of my top picks can be found below for general property maintenance.

5 Best Chainsaw Comparisons Chart

IMAGE MODEL FEATURES
byb2-table__imageHusqvarna 435E
  • Weight: 9 lbs
  • Power Source: gas, 40.9cc
  • Warranty: up to 4 years
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byb2-table__imageDEWALT 20V
  • Weight: 8.8 lbs
  • Power Source: cordless electric, 20 volt
  • Warranty: 3 year
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byb2-table__imagePoulan Pro 50cc
  • Weight: 17.8 lbs
  • Power Source: gas, 50cc
  • Warranty: 2 years
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byb2-table__imageCraftsman 18"
  • Weight: 13.2 lbs
  • Power Source: gas, 42cc
  • Warranty: 2 year
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byb2-table__imageEarthwise 16 inch
  • Weight: 9.9 lbs
  • Power Source: corded electric, 12 amp
  • Warranty: 2 year
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Why Would I Want a Chainsaw?

Chainsaws can pretty much make short work of any sort of woody, an organic material you need to cut, trim, or remove from your property. The wide variety of styles and sizes available make it easy to choose one that fits both in your budget and allows you to effectively complete the jobs you need it for. Personally, I keep a few different kinds available for various sized jobs and find them to be an invaluable tool.

They save a ton of time, and in the long run, will also save you money as you can complete jobs that you may have otherwise had to hire out for in the past. If you have concerns about safety, rest assured that when used properly, and with awareness, you should never have any problems or safety issues arise. Most chainsaws are equipped with safety features, and it is estimated over 95% of injuries recorded are due to improper usage and/or lack of safety precautions and poor judgment.

How Does a Chainsaw Work?

No matter whether you have a gas powered or electric chainsaw (described in more detail below), the premise behind the machine is the power provided to the gears to turn the sprocket that holds the chain. The chain spins along the edge of the guide bar which provides you the tensile strength needed to cut through the wood (or other materials) you are working on.

The size of your bar and the strength of the motor behind your saw will be details you will need to consider as well. The effectiveness of the saw is only as good as the power behind it, so consideration of your job size is important for both efficiency, as well as safety.

Care and cleanliness of your saw is an important factor in how efficient a job it does, as well as how sharp your chain is. Since the design of a chainsaw, if fairly simple and straightforward, these are simple maintenance details no matter which style you choose.

Types of Chainsaws

There are 4 different types of chainsaws, and many, many sizes to choose from concerning your workload. In order to better understand what you may need for the job you have in mind, you should first understand some basics about the choices you have.

Gas Powered

Gas-powered saws are faster and more powerful than their electric counterparts. They also come in a wider variety of sizes and are excellent choices for larger cutting jobs. They run off a 2 cycle engine, and require the basic maintenance this type of engine requires: gas and oil mixtures, spark plug, and filter attention should be part of your regular care. These are louder, heavier, and also emit exhaust- but are available in everything from light to heavy-duty models.

Electric Powered

Electric powered saws are either corded, using a 110-volt plug, or battery powered. These are smaller and less powerful than their gas counterparts, but don’t underestimate the overall strength they can lend to your job.They have very little maintenance outside of cleaning and proper chain care and run much more quietly with no fume output. Corded saws are typically a bit stronger than a lithium battery powered choice, but with the new, innovative technologies within the industry don’t rule out battery sources either.

Manual

Manual, or pocket, chainsaws are a handy tool to have. These are a double-sided chain attached to handles that allow you to move it back and forth like an old-fashioned handsaw. These are actually very efficient and are excellent choices when portability is a concern. Although they work best on lighter materials, such as small trees or limbs, they are as powerful as the manual labor you provide.

Chainsaw Size Differences

Chainsaw engines and chains come in various sizes. Obviously the larger the engine, the faster the chain moves and the more powerfully it can cut through your job. Most electric versions have a bar and chain length of 12 to 14 inches and run from a 7 to 15 amp engine size. Gas-powered chainsaws, have a 10 to a 20-inch bar (although much larger sizes are available) and have a 30 to 55 cc engine power displacement.

Chainsaw Attachments

There are multiple types of attachments you can use with your chainsaw for various reasons. Many of these deal with woodworking purposes, and can be very helpful. Beam machines help cut structural boards, debarkers clean off your logs for cutting, measuring rods allow for quick cutting to specific lengths, and mills let you cut accurate planks and beams.

Pole chainsaws are also available for long reach. Although technically not an attachment, these are used to safely cut and trim branches and trees that are well above your head. These sit on extended necks and are strong, durable choices for specific job completion.

Chainsaw Safety Tips and Guide

  1. Wear the correct safety gear. This includes eye and ear protection, gloves, boots, and kevlar chaps that are cut resistant and will jam a blade that it comes in contact with.
  2. Stand in a boxing stance with your dominant foot forward, to the side of the cut, and be sure you are well balanced.
  3. Keep both hands on the saw, and never take your eyes off the blade while you cut.
  4. Plan your cut and know where the bar will exit the cut. It isn’t where you start, it is where you finish that is important.
  5. The top of your chainsaw bar at the tip is called the chainsaw kickback zone. Because of the rotation of the chain, if you suddenly come in contact with a hard object you risk allowing the bar to kick back towards you. Always be mindful of this zone as you cut, even if you have special chains and features to help keep this from happening, and do not stand directly behind the blade.
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You might also like: Simple Steps: Your Guide to Beginning Chainsaw Safety

Basic Chainsaw Care

Part of the responsibility and safety of using a chainsaw is proper maintenance. This includes the use of bar and chain oil, proper oil and gas mixtures within 2 cycle gas engines, proper cleaning of the bar, filters, and spark plugs, and proper storage techniques storage. Your chain should be regularly sharpened as well. Screws, bolts, and nuts should be regularly checked for tightness, as should your chain tension to ensure it does not slip.

Chainsaws are easily taken apart and put back together, and many tutorials exist to help you with the above-mentioned care. There are not a lot of parts in either electric or gas versions, and most are easily cleaned or replaced when needed.

Factors to Consider When Buying a Chainsaw

Obviously, you want the best product for the job (or jobs) you have in mind. And to do so, even if you are the most experienced chainsaw handler, is to look a tall your options and consider a few facts prior to making a purchase commitment.
What do you plan to use the chainsaw for?
As described above, various strengths of chainsaws make and models are available to choose from in relation to the jobs you need them for. Smaller, random, seasonal jobs can be easily handled by electric versions, but regular cutting or heavy jobs may require a gas version.
How much experience do you have with a chainsaw?
Light work chainsaws are fairly easy to use and won’t surprise you too much with their strength. But larger, powerful models may if you have very little, or no, experience with them. If you have never handled a power saw, or want to become more comfortable with one, try to find somebody who has experience or looks to local extension offices to see if they offer chainsaw handling classes.
Are you aware of the safety features of your saw?
Most new saws have safety features such as low kick back, kill switches, handguards, throttle locks, chain brakes, and chain catchers. Know where these are located and how they are used for effectiveness. Also, look for brands that highlight these features.

Top 5 Best Chainsaw Reviews

With all the many different options available, there are a few best chainsaws on the market that I would recommend, especially for consumer use. This doesn’t mean there aren’t any other quality chainsaw brands or models available, but the following chainsaw reviews are from some top ratings and can provide you with a good overview of what is available. This allows you a decent comparison between a few top rated brands and styles.

Husqvarna 435E 16″ 40.9cc Gas-Powered Chain Saw

Quick Info

  • Weight: 9 lbs
  • Power Source: gas, 40.9cc
  • Bar Length: 16”
  • Safety Features: yes
  • Warranty: up to 4 years
Husqvarna is considered a manufacturer of some of the best chainsaws on the market. Their brand name has been around for centuries, with residential products available for over 100 years. The name is synonymous with durability, and this powerful 40.9cc gas engine is no exception. The shorter 16” chain is perfect for light to average size maintenance residentially, although the bar can be changed out to accommodate a 13 to 18 “ chain if needed.

An X-Torq system allows for lower fuel consumption and emissions, and the machine is equipped with an easy smart start system that requires very little pulling effort. LowVib and inertia activated chain brake features keep you working efficiently and safely. A wraparound bar and slim design let you access the areas you need to get at as well.

Pros

  • Starts easy
  • Cuts smoothly and quickly
  • Lightweight and easy to maneuver

Cons

  • No tool-less chain tensioning
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Pro tip

If you need a powerful cutting tool that is both versatile and easy to use, this is a great choice. The ability to trade out guide bar and chain lengths makes it even more useful for property clean up of everything from trimming woody bushes, to cutting down large trees.

DEWALT 20V Max Compact Cordless Chainsaw

Quick Info

  • Weight: 8.8 lbs
  • Power Source: cordless electric, 20 volt
  • Bar Length: 12”
  • Safety Features: yes
  • Warranty: 3 year
DEWALT is another name that has a solid, dependable reputation- especially pertaining to the tools they offer to make homeowner maintenance and repairs more easily completed. This cordless chainsaw is a perfect solution for a light to moderate cutting jobs in and around your property. The 12-inch bar is plenty long for construction and other outdoor applications, and with a 25.2 feet per second chain speed, you can get your job done in no time.

With low kick back and chain stopping capabilities, you can work safely. And the compact design allows for easy maneuverability- especially with a wrap around the handle. The tool-free chain tensioning is an excellent perk, and also comes with a bar tightening knob. This helps ensure you get a proper bar clamping force each time for further safety reasoning.

Pros

  • Battery and charger included
  • Works on both hard, and fibrous materials
  • Powerful for such a small saw

Cons

  • Bar and chain oil cap hard to open
  • Large, longer work burns out battery faster, a second battery is suggested to trade out with
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Pro tip

This is the perfect, low maintenance chainsaw for projects around and in your home. Lightweight and cordless to avoid tangles, it is a powerful tool for a great company.

Poulan Pro 50cc Gas Powered Chain Saw

Quick Info

  • Weight: 17.8 lbs
  • Power Source: gas, 50cc
  • Bar Length: 20 inch
  • Safety Features: yes
  • Warranty: 2 years
Poulan Pro is known for their yard maintenance products, and with a heavy duty chainsaw such as this, they further illustrate their knowledge of property owners needs. This gas powered, 50cc engine has a 20-inch bar to provide serious reach for any large cutting projects you may have. With chain brakes and a wrap around handle, you can secure your saw easily when working at any angle, and the additional OxyPower engine technology ensures you have a cleaner running, more powerful engine with fewer emissions.

Easy maintenance includes quick clips for fast access to filters, an easy start system, and combi tool storage in the handle. This allows you to clean up and maintain your saw even when you are away from a workbench. It also has a combined choke/stop control for faster starting and reliability, which is always helpful to avoid flooding the engine and slowing down your work time.

Pros

  • Very powerful and durable
  • Starts easily
  • Idles nicely

Cons

  • The bar is a bit flexible but can be changed
  • Ignition modules may have issues (covered under warranty)
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Pro tip

This is a durable beast of a machine that can handle larger materials with ease. If you are a property owner with regular timber maintenance or firewood cutting needs, this is a good choice to consider.

Craftsman 18″ 42cc Gas Chainsaw

Quick Info

  • Weight: 13.2 lbs
  • Power Source: gas, 42cc
  • Bar Length: 18 inch
  • Safety Features: yes
  • Warranty: 2 year
Craftsman has been a standard in home maintenance for close to a century and specializes in useful tools you can count on. This powerful 42cc engine powers an 18-inch chain and is the perfect size for heavy work around your property. Made specifically for homeowner use, this saw has easy Incredi-Pull easy start, anti-vibration handle, easy wrap around handle grips for hours of comfortable use. At only 13 pounds, it is light enough to keep you from getting fatigued.

This saw also comes with a few other perks. Most saws come with at least a chain bar cover, but this also comes with a carrying case. Plus, it can be adjusted with the easy screw tensioning system and will stay oiled while you work due to the automatic oiler. The translucent oil tank allows you to keep a proper level without taking the top off as well.

Pros

  • Lightweight and easy to handle
  • Powerful, compact design
  • Long lasting

Cons

  • Can get oily
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Pro tip

This is a saw built for regular use upon a heavier timer, firewood, or construction needs. Strong and durable, it is created specifically for homeowners.

Earthwise 16 inch Corded Electric Chain Saw

Quick Info

  • Weight: 9.9 lbs
  • Power Source: corded electric, 12 amp
  • Bar Length:16 inch
  • Safety Features: yes
  • Warranty: 2 year
Earthwise has been building a strong name for the last few years with their innovative, durable approach to electrically powered home maintenance tools. The corded electric chainsaw they offer has a 16-inch blade and is powered by a durable 12 amp motor, and is made for convenience and ease of work. Weighing in at only 9.9 lbs, the easy grip, and wrap around handle allows you to work comfortably in any situation.

The tool-less chainsaw tensioner ensures the chain is properly set to avoid it catching or falling off, and an automatic oiling system keeps you working for long periods of time without worry of binding. Plus, the oil level window allows you to glance quickly at it to avoid overheating. The cord retention hook and hand guard helps you avoid accidents to keep you working more safety.

Pros

  • Powerful and cuts well
  • Perfect for homeowner use
  • Lightweight and durable

Cons

  • May not have enough oil output and require manual addition
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Pro tip

Perfect for light to moderate duty work around the house and property, electric corded chainsaws are great additions to your tool collection, plus they are very affordable.

Conclusion

Although each of these chainsaws has their own uses and may be better suited for specific jobs, they are a great selection of some of the best on the market for homeowner use – whether for light, moderate work, or heavy duty cutting. Although they are my personal picks for my own reasons for use at home, and to choose just one overall is touch, I’m going to recommend the Husqvarna 435E 16″ 40.9cc Gas-Powered Chain Saw due to how lightweight is, the powerful engine, compact design, and ability to change out the size of the bar and chain to better meet your needs.

If you have any questions or comments about any of these chainsaws or have a favorite brand, make, or model you would like to share with us, we would love to hear about it below. And as always, please share!

About The Author

Danielle McLeod

Danielle McLeod cuts a tragic figure in the High School English classroom teaching literature by day, and moonlighting as a writer and graphic artist by night. Published in a variety of travel magazines, and now a blog, Danielle enjoys coming up with home and garden projects to complete with her two young boys. A native of Michigan, she resides in Southeastern New Mexico with her variety of horses, poultry, and variable mix of rescue dogs (there’s a cat or two in there as well). In her free time she enjoys travel, art, photography, and a good book!

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