It doesn’t matter where you live, chances are there have been times when you’ve needed a chainsaw. Whether you’re looking to remove small branches or trees from your compact urban lot, or looking to fell some trees and convert them into fuel for a fire, it’s important to know what kind of saw will work best for the job at hand. With the multitude of models on the market, choosing the right one can be a daunting task.
Let’s Talk Pricing
When you’re standing in the tool section of your local home improvement store, looking over the selection of chainsaws, you may be tempted to immediately set your eyes on the most expensive models. You’re probably thinking that because they’re more expensive, they’ll last longer. While it is true that the more expensive chainsaws have better components, thus giving them a longer lifespan, as a homeowner you will most likely never wear out the components even on the less expensive chainsaw. So do your wallet a favor and steer clear of the more expensive models.
The Main Event
There are four main components that make up a chainsaw: the engine, the body, the bar, and the chain. Each component is equally important and each one has different options based on what function you need it to perform. The first thing that should be considered when looking at the various chainsaws is its power.
The size of the engine determines how much power the chainsaw can deliver. The size is delivered in cubic centimeters (cc’s), and the larger the number, the more powerful the engine. You may be thinking that you want a more powerful engine, because it will do a better job. However, for most of the jobs that need to be done around the home, a chainsaw with an engine range between 32cc and 45cc is more than adequate to get the job done.
The width of the chainsaw’s body is something that may not have entered your mind as being an important factor when making a decision on which chainsaw to buy. However, if you purchase a chainsaw with a wide body, you’ll have a more difficult time maneuvering it into tight spaces. With a narrower body, the saw is more compact, making it easier to carry and allowing you to get into spaces that would otherwise be off limits. This is important especially for those that live in an urban setting.
The bar on the chainsaw comes in lengths from 8” to 20” and higher, and is measured from the tip of the chainsaw, to where the bar meets the housing. When deciding on the length of the bar you need, you want to ensure the length of the blade is an appropriate size for the work it will be performing. It’s important to remember that the length of the bar is able to safely cut wood that is twice the length of the bar. For most homeowners, the ideal bar length is 16”, allowing enough length to tackle even the largest of jobs, without the risk of kickback.
The chain on the saw is something that you’ll want to pay close attention too, as this is the workhorse of the tool. When the chain becomes dull, it looses its ability to quickly cut through wood, potentially damaging the chain and the bar, as well as putting extra strain on the saw. With the standard steel tooth chains, the blade can become dull in a fraction of a second if it hits a nail, touches the ground, or if you are using the saw to cut dirty wood. For a little extra money, you may want to consider investing in a carbide-toothed chain. These chains can withstand more abuse, giving them the capability to last longer between sharpening. The extra cash spent in the beginning will be well worth it.
After you’ve chosen the best chainsaw for your job, you’ll want to pick up the appropriate safety gear. This part of the job is not an option. When handling a powerful tool meant to cut through thick pieces of wood, you want to make sure you take every precaution and put your safety first. Here is a list of the minimal safety gear you should have:
- Leg protection
- Hard hat, if you are cutting material overhead
- Gloves with an enhanced gripping surface
- Eye protection
- Hearing protection
- Boots or shoes with steel toes
While you’re picking up your chainsaw, make sure to pick up any of the safety gear listed that you don’t already have on hand. As with any home improvement project, you want to keep it safe.
The Final Decision
In order to make an informed decision, you need to know what kind of job you need the chainsaw to perform. Once you have a clear picture in mind, you can weigh your options and hopefully pick the right chainsaw for the job. If you still aren’t sure, you can always ask one of the friendly customer service reps at the local home improvement stores for their opinion. They are always more than happy to assist in answering any questions you may have.
Jay Preston is Brand Manager at Tool HQ, Australia’s leading supplier of Milwaukee Tools.