Best Chainsaw Buying Guide (You Must Read This Before Buying)

Let’s face it…. Size Matters! But then again, it's also the performance. Speaking of chainsaws, my friend. You got the wrong size that performs like a real junk, and to be worse, you’ll never get to work with it comfortably. And that’s how the cookie crumbles.

I bet even Leatherface from Texas Chainsaw had gone through a chainsaw buying guide and all the necessary dos and don’ts before he started killing everyone in the movie.

Now, as long as you don't go psycho, put on a mask and start killing whoever the heck you want, we want you to have the perfect chainsaw, especially if you deal with tree felling or carpentry.

However, purchasing a wrong-sized chainsaw could lead to lower productivity and even injury. You also got to pay attention to the safety features of your chainsaw and see if it’s equipped well-enough to save you from kickbacks.

And that’s what I’m going to unfold in this guide. Walk with me.

Chainsaw Buying Guide

A chainsaw is a mechanical machine with teeth revolving around a chain, with the chain being held by a guide bar. This fantabulous machine has the power to cut through extremely tough surfaces but is mainly used for cutting through wood.

Chainsaws are the number one tool used for tree felling, pruning, and bucking. They are also used in the suburbs and villages by the locals to collect firewood, and for wildfire suppression in cases of fire outbreaks.

In the health industry, certain chainsaws called “osteotome” are used for slicing through bones. Chainsaws have also made it to construction works and for making ice-sculptures.

Whatever the reason is, before you purchase a chainsaw for personal or factory use, you would need to keep certain factors in your mind. Let’s first take a look at this best chainsaw buying guide to understand how the mechanism works.

The Engine

The engines of traditional chainsaws are two-stroke gasoline ones, while the engines in modern electrical chainsaws run using electrical motors.

The two-stroke gasoline engines are also known as internal combustion engines, and they run using 30 to 120cm3 of cylinders. Traditional or electronically adjustable carburetors are utilized for chainsaws that run on combustion engines in modern times.

The electrical corded chainsaws, on the other hand, run on batteries or direct power supply. Battery-powered cordless chainsaws are rarely used because batteries limit the duration of the time you can use the chainsaw, and the mechanical power of the machine is also questionable.

Electrical chainsaws also have self-lubricating features. Because of their easy-to-use nature, they are handy tools for home and even for gardening—they could be used to trim small tree branches from time to time.

Fuel oil-gasoline ratio in traditional carburetors needs adjustment in different climatic conditions, say in higher or lower altitudes. On the other hand, electronically adjustable carburetors make adjustments automatically. 

While the traditional gasoline-run engine doesn’t cost you a fortune, the electric one may be a bit heavy on your pocket. So, if your budget is flexible, you can go for the electric one.

Filters

Certain chainsaws have winter and summer mechanisms—these chainsaws have holes in their covers that let warm air pass to the filters so that the insides do not freeze in sub-zero temperatures.

These filters are available in finer or thicker mesh, whichever is applicable—finer mesh can filter out dust quite efficiently; therefore, they can be used in dusty environments to prevent engines from clogging up.

So, make sure you are getting the finest filter out there. Otherwise, the saw will be nothing but a frozen trash in the cold season.

Drive

Two components control the driving mechanism of a chainsaw—a centrifugal clutch and a sprocket. The clutch keeps expanding at accelerating speeds with the assistance of a drum. On this drum, there is a sprocket which could be either fixed or interchangeable.

The centrifugal clutch has three functions mainly:

  • Stopping the engine
  • Protecting the engine from damage
  • Keeping the operator safe from kickbacks

When the chainsaw is idle, the clutch makes the chain stops moving. If the chain ever gets stuck into wood or any other dense and hard material, the clutch stops the chain and protects the engine from getting defected. During a possible kickback, the clutch releases instantaneously, and the drum stops.

The modern-day chainsaws can be operated while being held in different positions—upside-down, slanted, or held at 90 degrees, without causing any harm to the interior mechanisms.

So, before you make up your mind on a certain model, do make sure that the centrifugal clutch functions optimally. Otherwise, it’s a big ‘NO’!

Are you aware of the importance of lubrication in chainsaws? Keep reading through this chainsaw buyers guide to know more!

Guide Bars

Guide bars are elongated bars of 40-90 cm in length with round edges that keep the cutting chain in check. They have certain components working in harmony.

  • The first component would be the gauge through which the lower part of the chain passes, and oil or lubrication gets transferred to the chain’s nose.
  • At the end of the powerhead, there are two oil holes that let the oil get pumped to the lower part of the gauge.
  • There are grease holes at the nose of the guide bar through which grease is pumped to keep the sprockets lubricated.

Now, there are different types of guide bars—laminated, solid, and safe. Laminated bars have several layers to adjust the weight of the bar.

Solid steel bars are reserved for professional use only, whereas the safety bars are small laminated bars with sprockets that protect operators from kickbacks and are used for daily consumer purposes.

So, in case you are a professional, solid guide bars are what you should be looking for. Otherwise, either a laminated or safe bar should suffice for you.

Chain

Chains of saws resemble bicycle chains with riveted sections made of metal, and each segment features small, cutting teeth. Each tooth contains a folded flap of chromium-plated steel with one curved corner and two beveled cutting edges. A series of teeth sit on either side of the chain, left and right, alternately.

These have variable pitches and gauges. Pitch-length is half of the length covered by any three consecutive rivets on the chain, whereas gauge is equivalent to the drive link’s thickness that fits exactly into the guide bar.

Chains are of two different types depending on the frequency of the teeth’ positioning —conventional full complement chain and full skip chain. While the conventional chains have one tooth for every 2 drive links, full skip ones have one tooth for every 3 drive links.

So, if you need maximum chain movement while chopping down those timbers, the full skip chain should be a great option for you.

Raker

Depth of the gauge or “raker” is another important factor. A raker rides ahead of a tooth and constricts the depth of a cut—a component that is critical when it comes to safety. If the rakers are left too high, then cutting would be too slow, and if set too low, then there would be a lot of vibration and higher possibilities of kickbacks.

Thus, make sure the raker is placed just at the right position to eliminate risks of slow cutting and high kickback.

Tension

A component called tensioner, which is controlled by spinning a screw or a wheel, makes sure that the chain does not bind around or fall off the guide bar. The tensioner is located underneath the clutch cover or the exhaust.

Tensioners that are fitted underneath the clutch cover are easier to operate, but then it becomes difficult to put on the clutch covers. There is usually a screw or a wheel, which, when turned, moves the bar in or out, making the chains tight or loose.

While tensioning is being done, I would suggest that you hold the chainsaw in such a way so that the bar nose is facing upwards, and then screw the nuts tighter. Holding the chainsaw in this position is important, or else the chains might get derailed.

Though chainsaws are efficient machines equipped with an array of protective features, accidents may still occur. This chainsaw guide to buying will tell you more about it.

Safety Features

Kickbacks are commonly occurring phenomena during cutting, and they happen when the teeth of the chain get stuck into the wood or any other hard or dense material, instead of cutting through it.

As a result of such kickbacks, the bar and the moving chain arc back toward the operator, which could lead to severe injury or even fatality.

The noise and the vibration emitting from the chainsaws could cause problems as well, like tinnitus, industrial deafness, or “vibration white finger.” To lower these risks, nowadays, manufacturers use damping or suppressing elements like rubber or steel springs.

If you are looking for less noise, cordless electric chainsaws would be good because they use brushless motors that work great at reducing noise and vibration when compared to traditional gasoline or petroleum-powered versions.

Gasoline-powered models are also known to emit carbon monoxide, which could be harmful, especially in enclosed areas.

Size and Weight

Corded or cordless electric chainsaws are much lighter when compared to their heavy-duty gas-powered counterparts. How heavy or how large a chainsaw you should head for depends on the nature of usage.

The size of a chainsaw mainly lies in the length of the guide bar, and different models have variable motors.

Nevertheless, broadly speaking, there are 3 sizes of chainsaws—mini, mid-size, and heavy-duty.

  • Mini Chainsaws

These have a guide bar length ranging from 12 to 14 inches, with a motor power between 30 and 40 CC. They are best for residential uses and for trimming trees.

  • Mid-Size Chainsaws

Here, the guide bars are as long as 16 to 24 inches with a motor power of 40 to 60 CC. It can be easily maneuvered, so inexperienced users may also use it for medium to big cutting projects.

  • Heavy-Duty Chainsaws

Now comes the heavy-duty chainsaws. They are the biggest in comparison, with guide bars as long as 24 inches and a motor power of 60 to 120 CC. These gigantic machines should be handled with caution and are meant for use by professionals only.

So, depending on your user-experience, choose among these sizes to get the best one for you.

Conclusion

This chainsaw buying guide is the ultimate walk-through around the world of chainsaws to facilitate your purchase decision. If you are looking for a chainsaw for smaller carpentry projects or for residential use, purchasing a cordless battery-powered or a corded electric chainsaw would prove to be sufficient.

Also, for smaller projects, mini or average-sized, lower motor power, chainsaws work wonders. Needless to say, for larger timer felling projects, heavy-duty gas-powered chainsaws are the best. Don’t make haste; take your time to purchase your very own power-packed chainsaw.


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