Selecting and Buying Chain Saw – A Comprehensive Guide


Determining the type of cutting that you will be doing

Before purchasing a new chainsaw, you need to first determine the type of cutting that you will be doing.

  • Will you be cutting, hardwoods like oak, softwoods such as pine and what tasks will you be doing most.
  • Will you be felling, bucking and limbing or thinning, and controlling brush?

Next, you have to consider what size of wood you will be cutting. A good rule of thumb is the larger the tree, the larger the chainsaw you will require.

Another issue you will have to consider is how long your chainsaw will be in use. If you are a tree farmer, logger, or arborists, and will be running your chainsaw for several hours everyday of the week then it would be beneficial for you to invest in a chainsaw built for professional use. Though it will cost more initially, Pro saws will pay for themselves as far as having fewer repairs and less down time. Homeowners who only use their chainsaws on occasion should consider consumer models.

Pro vs. Consumer Chainsaws:

Many people are under the misguided information that the difference between a pro chainsaw and one for casual use is the size of the length of the bar. Though it is true that consumer chainsaws generally only have bars lengths of 20 inches or shorter, however countless pro chainsaws also only have bar lengths of this size, too.

Another widely accepted differentiation is engine displacement, is the total volume of air/fuel mixture an engine can draw in during one complete engine cycle. This is usually stated in cubic centimeters. Chainsaws that have less than 62 cc (or 3.8 cubic inches) are considered for consumer use. One reason for this is because the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) requires such chainsaws to have anti-kickback features, which are designed to protect the user. However, this do not assume that every chainsaw of this size will automatically have an anti-kickback features. There are a few companies who sell private-label pro chainsaws without this feature.

When buying a chainsaw, always make sure that the one you purchase has an anti-kickback feature. When buying a chain saw everyone should be familiar with ANSI B175.1-2000 safety standard for chain saws. This requires chain saws up to 3.8 cubic inch to pass a test limiting the kickback of a saw and making at least two separate anti-kickback devices a part of each saw. The standard is aimed at reducing the potential harm to the operator. Many manufacturers are meeting this standard by employing a low-kickback chain and one other device such as a tip guard, chain brake, or low-kickback bar. Saw chains, which comply with ANSI B175.1-2000 are identified as low-kickback saw chain and carry the UL Classification marking.

chain saw brands

Which Chainsaw Brand Is The Professionals Choice?

When you purchase a chainsaw, you want to buy it from someone who can also service it, as well as show you how to sharpen the saw chain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t purchase your chainsaw through the Internet, just make sure wherever you purchase your chainsaw that they can and will do the service it. So once, you have found a reputable dealer who not only services your chainsaw, but also holds annual safety classes, this leaves you with only one thing to do and that is, deciding which chainsaw is the best one for you.

According to several online reviews, as well as Consumer’s Guide, Husqvarna and Stihl chainsaws are the more preferred by professional chainsaw operators in America, however, there are quite a few more quality chainsaws on the market, each offering superb power and safety.

Husqvarna chainsaws are Swiss built for both the professional user as well as for use around the home. These chainsaws have LowVib, Air Injection, and a Smart Start, which makes them quick and simple start. In addition, all Husqvarna are fully equipped with safety features.

German built Stihl has been around for more than 70 years and have been vital in the continuous improvement of safety features, slim form, as well as advanced technology. Stihl produces lightweight compact saws for the occasional users to heavy-duty powerful saws for the professional chainsaw operators.

Since the 1880’s, Jonsered has been manufacturing wood processing equipment. Then in 1954, Jonsered produced the prototype for the modern one-man saw. The brush cutter arrived in 1955 and Jonsered’s innovative ideas have kept coming. Today, Jonsered is now a wholly owned subsidiary company of Electrolux.

Echo is Japan’s leading manufacturer of chainsaws and for 30 years, has development and manufacture professional-grade hand-held outdoor power equipment for both the commercial and residential markets. Echo has managed to compete well with both German and Scandinavian companies and has earned a following among chainsaw users for providing them with outstanding performance as well as dependability.

Making sure chainsaw has these key safety features

Next, you want to buy safe. This means making sure that the chainsaw has these key safety features.

The chain break is to prevent or reduce the risk of injury when kickback occurs. This is when the upper portion or tip of the chainsaw strikes an object, or is used for cutting. When kickback occurs, the tip of the chainsaw cutter bar is jerked violently up and back toward the operator, making the chainsaw very difficult to control. When this happens, the chain break is engaged, stopping the saw chain, so that if the saw chain hits the user’s arm, head, shoulder, or other body part, the cutting chain should be stopped, and the minor.

The safety throttle is designed to prevent the saw chain from being driven if the trigger has accidentally been pushed by an obstruction, such as a branch or undergrowth. The throttle is locked in the idling position when the proper handgrip is not engaged on the handle

The chain catcher is located on the bottom most forward position of the engine and is designed to prevent the chain from being thrown back towards the user, if the chain breaks or becomes derailed.

The majority of the top brand chainsaws sold today for consumer usage have these features and many of them also have added safety features such as anti-kickback devices, front and rear hand guards, vibration-damping devices, and spark arresters, which are required by several states.

In addition to these features, several newer chainsaws also have emission-control devices to comply with certain state environmental regulations. Many states have written their own emissions rules for chainsaws, while others have simple adopted standards developed by the California Air Resources Board (CARB). The CARB regulations went into effect in 1995. In 1998, the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its own standards. When buying a chainsaw it is up to you to make sure that it meets the air-quality standards for your area. This is especially true if you purchase your chainsaw over the Internet.

Remember, when you purchase you chainsaw, don’t forget to purchase your personal protective equipment, including a hard hat, safety glasses or goggles, ear plugs or muffs, leather or Kevlar gloves, Kevlar chaps, sturdy steel toed boots, and proper clothing as well.

Chainsaw Power and RPM

The next feature you want to look at when buying a chainsaw is power and RPM. The engine power of the chainsaw may be expressed as brake horsepower, or in kilowatts, with 1bhp (break horsepower) equaling 0.75 kW (kilowatts). Whether the manufacturer uses bhp or kW, the more power the chainsaw has, the larger its number. RPMs are important because the faster the RPM, the faster cutting time you will have, providing you have the power.

The next items I like to group together are fuel and oil capacity and weight. I do this because the weights are given are the “dry” weight. What this means is that the quoted weight of the chainsaw is only the power head–no fuel, no oil, no bar, no saw chain, just the power head. Generally, the average homeowner will only need a small chainsaw, weighing approximately 8-to 16-pounds. Having a larger fuel tank sounds great, because you can use your chainsaw longer without having to stop and refill, however, remember you will also be holding this extra weight. The heavier the saw, the quicker you’ll tire. On the other hand, having a lightweight, chainsaw with less power translates into more work. Often chainsaws are referred to as either lightweight, midweight, or heavyweight. Just as prizefighters, only with chainsaws their opponents happen to be trees.

The mini or lightweight chainsaws usually have guide bar length of 8 to 14 inches and are perfect for light occasional use. Mini or lightweight chainsaws can be used for limbing, cutting small logs, and felling small trees. Whereas the midweight chainsaws generally have guide bar length of 14 to 20 inches and are geared for more frequent log cutting and felling of small to medium diameter trees. This is the size most homeowners require. The heavyweight chainsaws have guide bar lengths longer than 20-inches, and are for professional use only. These chainsaws are not recommended for consumers.

So, what do you look for when purchasing a new chainsaw—-simple. You want a chainsaw that meets the ANSI’s safety requirements for gasoline-powered chainsaws and that has been certified by Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. Chainsaws that meet these requirements will have both the ANSI and UL labels.

How to Buy the Right Chainsaw for You

You can purchase a small lightweight electric chainsaw, perfect for trimming a pruning small trees, or you can purchase one that has the capability to fall a massive hardwood.

When you are purchasing a new chainsaw for either you or your workers, you’ll need to consider several factors. Professionals such as arborists, loggers, tree farmers, urban foresters, each have different job requirements. Whether you’re a professional chainsaw operator or a homeowner who has a frequent need of a chainsaw, cost probably you’re your list. However, you also have to consider the chainsaw’s safety, size, power-to-weight ration, reliability of the brand, and depending on where you live the emission-control systems.