The key to buying the best chain saw, as with most power equipment, is to take a bit of time to think carefully about what you need the chain saw to do and how you are likely to use it.
You need to focus on what you need the chainsaw for, not the fact that the guy down the road has just bought a beautiful XYZ123 model and you’d like one the same.
Maybe he got that model because he has a property out of town where he needs to fell a lot of mature hardwood trees and cut up firewood.
And maybe you just need to keep a few fruit trees and garden ornamentals in check.
As you can see, those are very different requirements, so very different chainsaws are going to suit each of you.
So, how should you go about working out what your chainsaw requirements are likely to be?
Well, first, for a bit of entertainment you can watch this video I produced on the subject. But the detailed information is below.
The essential chainsaw buyers’ questions (the EBQs)
There are essential questions that you need to ask yourself when you’re buying any kind of power equipment. I call them the essential buyers’ questions (or EBQs).
Here are the chainsaw buyer’s EBQs.
Work your way through the questions because they will help you get clear in your mind what your are going to need from your chainsaw.
- What type of cutting work are you going to do? Do you just need a chainsaw to trim or cut down shrubs or small trees or are you going to be looking to fell bigger trees and/or cut logs or good sized pieces of firewood?
- If you are dealing with larger trees, will they be hardwoods like maple, oak, ash or gum or softwoods like fir or pine. Obviously, the hardwoods are harder :), so you’ll need more power if those are going to be your chainsaw’s staple diet.
- If you are likely to be working on small trees or shrubs, will you be near a power outlet, so that a corded electric chain saw might be an option or do you expect to be working outside the range of a power source?
- Will you need to undertake a lot of cutting in one go, so that you’ll need a saw that can keep going for hours, or are you more likely to do one-off jobs of short duration?
- Are you only going to need to use your chainsaw from time to time or is it likely to get used regularly (even if only during certain times of the year)?
- How physically strong are you? Again think about the stretches of time that you might be using your saw for and consider whether you have any physical limitations that might mean you should be leaning towards buying a lighter weight model. Bear in mind that the more powerful models are potentially the more dangerous ones if not handled properly.
- Are there any noise limitations in the area where you are most likely to use your saw which mean you should be looking at quieter models?
- Are you willing to carry out some maintenance on your chain saw (or have that maintenance done) or do you want a machine that is maintenance free?
- What is your budget? Chainsaws can range in price from under a $100 to more than $1,000 for a professional grade machine, so it’s a good idea to be clear about where your spending limits are.
Types of chain saw
Leaving aside polesaws, which are dealt with separately on this site, chain saws can be divided into two basic types – gas powered chainsaws and electric chainsaws.
The price of chainsaws generally increases with the power of the engine or electric motor and, to some extent, the length of the cutting bar, which is the part that the chain revolves around.
On the pages listed below, I’ll look at each of the different types of chainsaw. In each case I’ll refer back to the questions above that are relevant for that particular type.
So, if you’ve asked yourself the essential buyers questions, you’ll begin to start getting a feel for the kind of model that will suit you as you make your way through each page.
Believe me, if I’m looking at purchasing something I’m not too familiar with I can be a sucker for the latest, the shiniest, the brightest and the biggest.
I can also sometimes be a sucker for the cheapest and the easiest.
But in almost every case when I give in to those temptations, without properly thinking through what I need the thing for, it ends in frustration, disappointment and wasted money.
And usually an “I told you so” from my wife.
Of course, I’m not so much talking about garden tools and power equipment here, because I do just about manage to take my own advice as far as they’re concerned. But put me among the computers and the TVs and I’m dangerous.
So, remember, buying the best chain saw is all about:
- weighing up your own needs,
- working out which kind of machine will best suit both those needs and your budget,
- then looking for the best models to fit those parameters.
The best models are likely to be those that carry the best range of features for the price you can afford, from a manufacturer with a reputation for quality and reliability.
At OutdoorPowerBuddy I don’t try to feature every model available. I pick the best in class based upon clear evidence of quality.
Gas powered chainsaws
Also, read our selection of the ‘Best of the rest’ – ten other great gas powered chainsaws, here.
Looking for the best electric chainsaw on the market today? Read our very detailed review of the UC35350A Makita chainsaw here. The Makita UC3530A is Outdoorpowerbuddy.com’s top rated electric chainsaw.
Don’t overlook cordless chainsaws. The best, such as our recommended cordless saw, the Oregon PowerNow CS250E cordless chainsaw, will surprise you with their capabilities. This Oregon chainsaw is Outdoorpowerbuddy.com’s top rated cordless electric chainsaw. Read the full Oregon CS250E review here.
More chainsaw buyers guidance
Read on for:
- How to buy the best gas chainsaw
- How to buy the best corded electric chainsaw
- How to buy the best cordless electric chainsaw
- The UC35350A Makita chainsaw – our top rated electric chainsaw
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