A chainsaw is one of those invaluable power tools that you find yourself using more often than maybe you would have expected. Sure it will cut down a tree, but it can do even more to make your life easier. Trimming overgrown hedges, wayward tree branches, or landscape timbers; cleaning up storm damage; and doing demolition before a remodeling project are just a few of the times when a chainsaw could be the best tool for the job.
The best chainsaws are not always heavy, loud, or gas-powered. Big, powerful gas saws have their place to be sure, particularly for long days cutting up big logs out in the woods. But there are many times when a clean, quiet electric saw would be a better choice, like when you only want to trim a few branches around the yard. If you’re thinking about purchasing a new chainsaw, read on as we consider the qualities that go into a quality chainsaw. Later on, we will review some of the best picks for a variety of uses.
Things to consider when choosing the best chainsaws for yard maintenance or home improvement
If you’ve already stopped in your local hardware store to check availability, you may have noticed a somewhat limited range of options. Often these places carry only one or two brands, with a heavy focus on gas chainsaws. Buying a chainsaw online is a great way to see the full range of options. Whether you need a gas, corded electric, or battery powered chainsaw you’ll find an excellent range of options to choose from.
Are you looking for professional quality and power for long days in the woods?
Gas chainsaws are the tool of choice for those who regularly spend long days cutting up big logs away from the house or shop. They offer lots of power to cut through the thickest tree trunks, and are limited only by the size of the fuel tank. Often the user needs a break before the saw runs out of gas. Engine size is expressed in cubic centimeters of displacement (CC), ranging from about 24 to 60 CC in residential models. The larger the engine, the longer the bar and chain it can power, with sizes of 14, 16, 18, and 20 inches commonly available.
Best gas: ECHO CS-590-20 Timber Wolf
This saw is loaded with premium features including a dual post chain brake to keep you safer, a clutch driven oiler to reduce bar oil consumption, an engine air precleaner to help the engine last longer, heavy duty toolless air filter, and removable bumper spikes for better control. Built with a premium vibration dampening system to reduce user fatigue. Includes a ⅜ inch pitch, .050 gauge chain and 20 inch bar.
Is clean and quiet operation something you value?
Corded electric chainsaws offer unlimited clean, quiet power anywhere within the length of an extension cord. Electric is also an excellent choice for indoor home improvement and DIY projects. Significantly quieter and lighter weight than gas saws, electric saws also offer impressive power. Plus, they require almost no maintenance, other than topping off the bar oil and sharpening the chain. Most utilize either a 12 or 15 amp electric motor. Guide bars on these saws come in 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, and 20 inch lengths. The shorter bars are convenient for detailed work in and around shrubbery or landscape trees that could be subject to accidental cuts, scuffs, and scrapes from longer bars.
Best electric: Oregon CS1500
Electric chainsaws are not known for feature upgrades, but this Oregon chainsaw includes three significant improvements, including a chain brake for safety and an upgraded oiling system for smoother operation. The other feature of note is the PowerSharp chain that lets you sharpen the blade in only 3 seconds without removing it. This electric chainsaw comes pre-assembled and ready to start cutting, right out of the box.
Battery power offers total mobility with zero emissions.
If weight is not much of an issue, a cordless saw could be a great choice. The battery pack makes the saw heavier, but mobility improves. In enclosed spaces where an extension cord would cause a trip hazard, cordless would be the safer choice. Cordless chainsaws offer the benefits of clean, quiet electric saw performance without being attached to the outlet.
Guide bar sizes include 4 and 6-inch mini saws, as well as more conventional 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, and 20-inch lengths. Battery power is expressed in a combination of voltage (V) and amp hours (Ah) ratings. Voltage represents the total available power, while amp hours indicate the runtime. Often these saws are part of larger tool lineups from the same brand that use the same batteries, so it’s pretty easy to have an extra power pack available for extended work time.
Best cordless: Greenworks G-MAX 40V 16-Inch Cordless Chainsaw
With a 90 minute runtime per charge, this cordless chainsaw will make up to 100 cuts between charges. Features of this Greenworks chainsaw include tool-less chain tensioning, automatic oiler, push button start, and an efficient brushless motor. The battery works with more than 50 tools in the Greenworks outdoor power equipment line.
Smaller is better for detailed work in thick vegetation.
Yard maintenance and home improvement can become a lot easier with the right tools. For many users, the handiest cutter to use around home is a small chainsaw—often a lightweight corded electric model. A short to mid-size bar in the 12 to 16 inch range is often adequate, and in many cases most convenient while working around hazards like fences, house siding, landscape lighting, and plants that you wish to protect from scars.
Best small: Worx WG322
This cordless 20V small chainsaw includes convenient innovations such as automatic chain tensioning, automatic chain lubrication, and a battery that is compatible with dozens of WORX power tools. Features a 12.5 feet per second chain speed that cuts through branches quickly and smoothly. Weighing in at only 6.2 pounds, this WORX chainsaw works hard but won’t tire you out.
Q: Which brand of chainsaw is the best?
There are lots of great chainsaw brands with long histories of excellent quality. Which brand of chainsaw is the best is a subjective question that would eliminate many best-in-class brands. Some of the brands known for outstanding products for home users include Echo, Stihl, Oregon, Poulan Pro, Husqvarna, Remington, Greenworks, WORX, and more.
Q: What chainsaws do professionals use?
Professional loggers and others who cut wood all day, every day go for more power, less weight, and premium parts with tougher alloys. Many of the brands offer separate lines for residential/farm work and for professional work.
Q: Is Echo better than Stihl?
Those who prefer Echo chainsaws will say Echo. Those who prefer Stihl chainsaws say Stihl. Both brands make some of the best chainsaws out there, along with the rest of their extensive lines of outdoor power equipment. Really, you would not go wrong with either brand. Both enjoy extensive use and consumer loyalty by pros and homeowners alike. Echo won our top pick.
Buy the best chainsaws for years of dependable service
Whether you are pruning a hedge, cleaning up fallen limbs, or stocking up a woodshed, a good chainsaw is an essential tool. The best chainsaw may not be the biggest, fastest, strongest one you can find. It could be the quiet one, or the lightweight one, or the one with the lowest maintenance requirements. If you know you’ll only use it once each year to trim the bottom of the Christmas tree, an electric saw would be perfect. But if you need to thin your ten acre woodlot, a powerful gas saw is probably the best choice. If you enjoy working with quality power tools, and you take care of them as they require, the best chainsaw will provide many years of satisfaction.