Picking the right chainsaw
The chainsaw – one of the most iconic power tools by any outdoorsman’s standards. Cutting down low hanging branches, preparing firewood, removing trees – all tasks that could be done with an axe, a chainsaw does quickly and efficiently.
But which chainsaw is best for you? With multiple brands, different types of engines and a vast array of sizes, choosing a chainsaw can feel like taking a shot in the dark. To help you find your perfect power tool we’ve developed a short list of what you need to consider when looking for a chainsaw. The first concern should be safety.
Operating a chainsaw is by default a dangerous activity; if not properly used it can cause serious injury. Thankfully modern improvements like anti-vibration handles and chain brakes have made them much safer and user-friendly. These are modern features that you should ensure your prospective purchase has before investing.
Rubber insulators and springs are used in anti-vibration handles to lessen the reverberation of the motor on the hands. This significantly reduces hand fatigue and can prevent long-term hand conditions such as hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS).
A chain brake is a feature designed to immediately stop the chain from moving – this is incredibly important in the event of a kickback. Kickback typically occurs when the tip of the bar is forcefully pushed into an object it can’t cut through, which can result in the bar being thrust back at the user. Chain brakes are designed to register when a kick-back has happened and immediately stop the movement of the chain which dramatically lessens the damage done by the bar hitting the handler. They can be the difference between a minor injury and a fatal one.
Gas-powered or electric?
If you plan on removing multiple trees, cutting through hardwood like Oak and Birch, or need a chainsaw for commercial use, a gas chainsaw is the way to go. Gas chainsaws are much more powerful and mobile than their electric counterparts and always favored by farm owners and arborists.
There are also smaller gas chainsaw options like the Stihl MS 170 that are designed with the average homeowner in mind. If you plan on occasional trimming and firewood chopping, it’s 31 cc engine will certainly be up to the task. The main gripe with gas chainsaws is the amount of upkeep required and the fact they need gas and oil to function.
Electric chainsaws are a good choice if you only need to use your chainsaw once in a blue moon and don’t want to worry about maintenance. Unlike gas chainsaws, you can turn on an electric with virtually no preparation and begin sawing. If you own a large property however, dragging a cord around can quickly become a problem and an electric will not be as versatile as a gas chainsaw.
Much like a fine chef’s knife, one’s ability to perform well with a chainsaw has a lot to do with how it feels in your hands. All the bells and whistles in the world can’t outperform that authentic weight and balance that every gardener searches for. Our advice is to put on some gloves, and do a little experimenting. Getting to know a potential purchase is the best idea when it comes to a tool that you’ll use for the next decade or more.
So you’ve made your purchase and want to see what your new chainsaw can do. That’s great – just remember to always wear the proper safety equipment and to employ safe sawing techniques. Even when you’re briefly demoing your new purchase, safety equipment makes all the difference. Reading the manual is also highly recommended and can help with healthy maintenance.
Be safe, stay aware, and you’ll find yourself with an incredibly useful utility that’s just the right answer for hurricane season, which is looming right around the corner. Happy sawing, and happier gardening!
(Power equipment and chainsaws only available at our Saint John location)