Last Updated: March 2019
Best Chainsaw: Our 2019 Consumer Guide
Let’s take a look at how you go about choosing the best chainsaw for you and what you need to keep in mind when you do!
Unless you’re a professional tree surgeon by trade, there’s a good chance you’re not going to need to use a chainsaw often. However, when you do need one no other tool will cut it… literally!
There are some jobs such as chopping down large trees that only a chainsaw will work for. So if you have a big tree in your garden that’s gradually knocking down your fence or threatening to fall through your orangery, you may find yourself needing to pick one up. Likewise, they can be useful for pruning bushes and seeing as they aren’t too expensive, they’re definitely worth keeping around.
The only question though, is how you go about finding the right chainsaw for you. These are scary tools no doubt with particularly violent destructive capability. That means you want to be certain that you’re getting something that will be safe and reliable. At the same time being sure to get enough power that your device will definitely be able to handle the jobs you’re planning on throwing at it.
Anatomy of a Chainsaw
When picking your chainsaw, it can help a fair deal to have a good idea of where everything is located and what you’ll need to grab hold of. There will be a front handle for example and a back handle. On the back handle will be a safety throttle and throttle. The throttle is what you push to operate your chainsaw, while the safety throttle or throttle lock is what will provide an extra layer of safety. This button needs to be operated before you can use the throttle, so you won’t accidentally turn it on when you don’t intend to. There will be a hand guard to help keep your hands safe when cutting too, a choke and starter cord for starting the engine (if petrol) and fuel reservoir caps.
The main bulk of the chainsaw is the guide bar. This is the metal ‘blade’ that protrudes from the front. The teeth are attached to what is known as the cutting chain, which moves around the guide bar at high speeds in order to cut through trees etc. One of the biggest risks with a chainsaw is that the cutting chain can become derailed from the guide bar, in which case you need to use the chain break to stop it from causing damage immediately.
When looking at the size of your chainsaw, the guide bar is one of the most important elements. A guide bar of 12″-18’’ is more than enough for a beginner. Only those who have a lot of physical strength and lots of experience should consider going up to 20’’ and above. Think about the size and hardness of the wood you’ll be cutting and what kind of size and power you’re realistically going to need for that!
For felling a small tree, 12″-14’’ will normally be enough. If it’s for medium firewood you’re looking for 16″-18’’ and for bucking you’ll need 18’’ and above. For trimming, 16’’ is more than sufficient and for pruning 12’’ is fine.
So with all that said, let’s take a look at the table below to see how the chainsaws cut it…
In this section we are going to go over the very basics of buying your chainsaw. That is to say that we’ll look at the options you will be considering on a surface level, so that you can follow our top choices below.
If you’re looking for more in-depth information though and you want to know what all the numbers and specs mean, skip to the bottom or use the table of contents just below where you’ll find our in-depth explanation of all those finer details.
On the front of it then, buying a chainsaw means knowing whether you want power or convenience and honestly appraising your own experience and safety. A battery powered chainsaw that runs on a battery will be light, small and safe to use for the most part and it will be more affordable and portable too. However, this won’t likely be enough to cut down trees and will only be suited to pruning and trimming.
If you want to fell a small tree, you’ll be looking at something with a guide bar of around 13″-18’’ and you’ll probably want mains power. But if you are a professional and you do this for a living, you’ll need a petrol solution for the maximum power and so that you can move away from the mains supply. In this case though, the device will definitely be unsafe for complete beginners!
Table of contents
Our Best Chainsaw in 2019
Worx WG303.1 is a good homeowner chainsaw at 14.5amps and with 3.5hp it’s no slouch. The chain mechanism is designed to prevent over tightening and you can easily install a replacement chain without the need for any tools. Kickback is minimized with smart design and the chain is auto lubricated.
The price is surprisingly low here too, which makes this a fantastic all-rounder that most people can afford! The weight is 11 pounds so it’s fine for most people to use but you’ll need some basic fitness and strength to be safe. The bar is 16’’ which is enough for taking on a small tree…
This is a battery powered electric chainsaw. That immediately means a big step down in power but added lightness and convenience. It should be able to offer up to 100 cuts on a single charge of its 4Ah battery and it also comes with a battery charger. At 6.9lbs it’s light enough for anyone to use and the 16’’ bar length means it should be suitable for most jobs in the garden. The only downside of course is that battery power is never going to be quite as effective at cutting through thicker or tougher wood. This is okay for those who aren’t really looking to take on trees, in which case you’re getting great value in a portable and well-made design.
Now comes our first gas powered chainsaw with 3.2HP and a powerful 18 inch guide rail. This is the kind of thing you can use to take down trees and a sturdy and well-considered design means you should be as safe as possible while doing so. It has a centrifugal air cleaning system, inertia activated chain break to keep you safer and a snap-lock cylinder cover for easy transportation.
What’s a pleasant surprise here though is that it’s actually not that heavy – being around 10.8lbs.
3.2HP is not a huge number for cutting trees but it should be okay for the smaller and thinner types. Largely, this is intended for pruning and cutting still but it should make mincemeat of that kind of work!
An electric start is a nice alternative to a start cord too and should mean a lot less work to get things up and running!
Black and Decker is another company that creates a lot of high quality tools and this cordless chainsaw is no different as a convenient, safe and short battery powered chainsaw. This is definitely aimed at the homeowner market and not professionals, as evidenced by the cordless 40V battery power, the small guide rail (12’’) and the emphasis on low kickback. It has tool-free chain tensioning for easy adjustment and for it’s size and nature, it’s actually quite capable.
That said, this definitely isn’t something for battling huge oaks with and won’t be suitable for professionals. Consider this if you want something light (10.4lbs) and easy to use, or if you’re looking for something cheap just for odd jobs in the garden.
Husqvarna 460 Rancher chainsaw is side mounted meaning that the handle isn’t located at the top/rear as normal. It gives easy access to the chain for tensioning and replacing and that’s helped by a quick release aid filter.
What will stand out first though is the 20’’ bar. As a gas powered option with such a large guide bar, you know it’s going to be a serious performer. At 12.79lbs it’s also quite heavy so probably not ideal for those who don’t have much strength. At 60.3cc, this has all the power you’d expect and you can rip through even slightly larger trees if you know what you’re doing. The price reflects that though and this is the most expensive option on our list so far.
Here we have a small, affordable and cheerful chainsaw that is at the other end of the spectrum. With a 20V battery, it’s the lower performing on our list yet but with such a short guide bar it should be easy to handle even for smaller folk, especially at 7.2lbs!
If it’s a cheap option you’re looking for, you can do a lot worse than this Remington model. This is half the price of the next lowest item on this list but is also small and low powered as you’d expect at 8amps and 14inch. It has low kickback and weighs a miniscule 6.25lbs. Another one for small jobs then and for those who don’t like the idea of wielding a longer and heavier saw!
Finishing on something of a higher-range chainsaw, this is another gas powered model coming at 50cc and with a 20’’ guide bar. That’s another super long one then, with just a little less power than the Husqvarna at the same length. It’s still powerful though for chopping through trees and pretty heavy too at 23.3lbs – so it’s one for the more experienced individual with a bit of upper body strength!
Think you’ve found the right chainsaw for you, or you at least know the rough kind of route you want to go down?
In that case, you’ll probably be wondering what all the numbers mean and precisely what you’ll be getting. For those who like to research a bit more heavily into their purchases, here are some more precise details that you might look into when buying your tool…
The most obvious thing to consider when buying any power tool is just how powerful it’s really going to be. Of course you’ll want something that will offer at least enough power to handle the initial job you have planned for it. From there though, you may find that you want to attempt some other tasks and having a bit of power held back in reserve can be very useful in that respect.
But then again, if you have no experience with chainsaws, then too much power can end up being a bad thing. If this is your first time owning and using a chainsaw, then you may want to go for something a little gentler to stay safer.
The power will be denoted in either cc or Amps depending on whether you chose electric or gas. Battery powered chainsaws meanwhile are the weakest (but most portable of course) and come in volts. A homeowner chainsaw that’s gas will be somewhere around 24cc to 46cc, while electric battery chainsaws will usually only really be suited to pruning and trimming.
Sometimes the power of your chainsaw will be denoted in HP (as this can fluctuate even when cc and guide bar size are the same). HP can go anywhere from 1 to 300 (though this is very rare). Something with 8+ will be more than enough for most people. (The world’s most powerful chain saw is 508lbs and offers that 300 HP!)
Weight and Size
Also important for the inexperienced is to choose something a little lighter. This is going to immediately mean that you’re getting something slightly less powerful but if it means you have more control, then that’s an important trade-off. 12lbs is a surprisingly heavy device when you’re holding it up a tree and it’s vibrating forcefully in your hand!
When looking at reviews and product descriptions, you should be able to find out about the vibrations of the device. You need something with lower vibrations where possible as you will find this a lot more comfortable to use. What’s more, is that very high vibrations can damage your hands and even lead to you being more likely to drop the chainsaw or just not cut as accurately with it.
Petrol vs Battery
You also need to decide whether you’re going to use a petrol or battery chainsaw and this is something that will depend again on your intended use. A petrol chainsaw will work a lot longer and this is the best choice if you’re a professional and you’re going to be working long hours with the tool. On the other hand though, it is also less convenient because you can’t just plug it in or charge it up. What’s more, is that petrol chainsaws are a little more dangerous as they introduce new risks such as fumes or combustion.
Moreover, electric chainsaws will tend to be less powerful but also smaller and lighter. All this means that electric chainsaws make better ‘beginner’ chainsaws, whereas petrol is better for people who have a bit more experience.
There are all sorts of extras you can come across with your chainsaws, just as with any tool. Something handy to look for, for example is the ability to switch out the chain with ease and without having to use tools. This can speed up your workflow significantly! And of course extras can also include things like carry cases or extra batteries for your battery powered units.
While every power tool should be used with the utmost caution, chainsaws are particularly dangerous and thus need to be given even more consideration in this regard. This is also why a lot chainsaws will come with a large number of safety features when compared with other types of tools.
We’ve already seen the throttle lock/safety throttle which is very useful for preventing you from accidentally triggering your chainsaw and causing an accident that way. A similar safety feature to look out for though is a stop control. This is a button that allows for you to immediately stop the chainsaw in an emergency.
A circuit breaker can also be useful for preventing you from burning out your motor if it goes too far and you should also look for something with a good guard in place. Some chainsaws will even have drop detection!
One of the biggest safety concerns with any chainsaw is the ‘kickback zone’. This is found at the tip of your guide bar and it’s the point that can become dangerous if your chainsaw should hit another hard object and bounce towards you.