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Compare the best chainsaws
Slice through your DIY list with the right saw.
A chainsaw can be handy to have around, whether you have trees to fell, limbs to trim or other odd jobs that require serious cutting power. Choose the type and size of your new saw based on what you’ll be using it for and your experience level.
Compare some of the best chainsaws
|Name||Average price||Type||Bar length (inches)||Weight (pounds)||Engine/motor||Purchase|
|Husqvarna 460 Rancher||$520||Gas||24||16.25||60.3 cubic centimeters||Buy now|
|Echo CS-400-18||$299||Gas||18||12.1||40.2 cubic centimeters||Buy now|
|Jonsered-CS2255||$429||Gas||20||15.5||55.5 cubic centimeters||Buy now|
|Husqvarna 120i||$299||Battery||14||6.5||40 volts||Buy now|
|Makita UC4051A||$240||Corded||14||14||110 volts||Buy now|
|Black + Decker LCS1020||$112||Battery||10||8.4||20 volts||Buy now|
|Stihl MS 250||$360||Gas||18||10.1||45.4 cubic centimeters|
Types of chainsaws
You’ll find chainsaws with three main power sources: gas, electric and lithium batteries. There are benefits and drawbacks to each type, as outlined in this table:
|Gas||Big jobs, such as cutting down large trees|
|Corded||Repetitive tasks in a small area, such as pruning trees or cutting firewood|
|Battery||Small jobs around the yard|
How to compare chainsaws
When buying a new chainsaw, compare these features to find the best fit for you:
- Price. New chainsaws can range from $50 to $500 or more, depending on the size, brand and model. Some larger commercial-grade chainsaws can push $1,000 or more.
- Engine size. Engine size is measured in cubic centimeters. The larger the engine, the more power the saw will have. Most chainsaws for home use have engines ranging in size from 30 to 60 cubic centimeters.
- Bar length. The bar is the part of the saw where the chain sits, and rotates when turned on in order to cut through various materials. Most chainsaws for home use have anywhere from 6- to 24-inch bars. Bigger isn’t always better in this instance. Longer bars can be harder to control, posing added safety risks. They can also get in the way when working on smaller jobs. The average homeowner should be fine with a 16-inch bar or smaller.
- Chain. Different saws may come with different chains, depending on their size and what material they’re best for. Carbide-toothed chains will cost a bit more but can help keep your chain from becoming dull or damaged if cutting through dirty wood and nails, or stump cutting.
- Weight. Choose a chainsaw that you’ll be comfortable working with for long periods of time. Small battery-powered models can be as light as six pounds, while larger gas saws can exceed 20 pounds.
- Body width. A narrower saw can be easier to handle than a wider saw.
- Material specialty. Some chainsaws are specifically designed to tackle certain materials, such as wood or rocks and concrete. Other saws are designed for all-purpose use.
- Safety features. The latest chainsaws come with a variety of important safety features to look for, such as chain brakes, chain catchers, low-kickback bars and trigger lockouts.
- Extra features. Other features that can be nice but aren’t necessary for everyone include anti vibration, tool-free chain tensioning, air precleaner systems, a fuel gauge and an automatic chain oiler. In general, the more extra features a saw has, the pricier it’ll be.
How to measure a chainsaw bar and chain
To figure out what size chain to use with your saw, you’ll need to measure the bar. To do this, simply measure from the tip of the bar to the point where it first emerges from the saw itself. Round up to the nearest whole number if you measure a fraction. This will be your bar length.
To determine the length of chain you need, you’ll need to find two measurements: the number of drive links and pitch.
To find the number of drive links:
- Lay out the chain on a flat surface.
- Count the number of drive links, or lugs, on the chain.
To find the chain’s pitch:
- Measure the distance between any three consecutive rivets on the chain, starting at the center of the first rivet and going to the center of the third.
- Divide that measurement by 2.
How to sharpen a chainsaw
If your chain has become dull and ineffective, you have three main options:
- Take your chain to a professional to have it sharpened.
- Sharpen the chain yourself.
- Replace the entire chain with a new one.
To sharpen a chain yourself, follow these steps:
- Make sure your saw is not running or plugged in.
- Mark the tooth you’re starting with so you don’t sharpen some more than others.
- You can use a special chainsaw sharpening tool to make sure you are filing at the correct angle, or use the angle guide that should be marked on each individual tooth.
- Align your file with the first tooth and make straight, even strokes following this angle, only filing in one direction.
- Be sure to file the same number of strokes on each tooth as you go around the chain.
Safety tips when using a chainsaw
Chainsaws can be dangerous tools if not used properly. Always read the entire user’s manual that came with your saw before operating.
In addition, follow good chainsaw safety practices, such as:
- Always wear proper eye protection, shoes and clothing when operating a chainsaw.
- Inspect your saw before each use, ensuring that all safety features are working properly.
- Be aware of your saw’s kickback zone.
- Always hold a running chainsaw with two hands. Turn it off if you need to use one hand for something else.
- Don’t rush. The majority of accidents happen when people rush.
- Plan your cut so you know exactly where the bar will exit the material.
- Unless you’re a professional, don’t climb trees or ladders with a chainsaw.
Chainsaws can make short work of a big project around the house, but the right one for you will depend on your experience, what type of jobs you’ll be doing and how much you want to spend.
Consider comparing the best pole saws if you’ll be tackling a job high above your head.
How did we choose these products?
We combined our own personal experiences and online research to create our list of the best chainsaws, comparing the type, size and overall features. We also factored in unbiased third-party product reviews.
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