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Is there anyone out there who DOESN’T want a chainsaw? Who WOULDN’T want to hold in their hands the ability to take down entire forests? A chainsaw can transform any pencil-wielding, carpool-driving man or woman into a weekend lumberjack.
But unless you’re quitting your day job to become a logger, you probably don’t need a top-of-the-line chainsaw or a top-of-the-line price.
That still leaves you with hundreds of chainsaws to choose from. Looking for a reasonable, lightweight chainsaw could take up time better spent out back reinventing yourself as that lumberjack, even if only for a few hours. We’ve done the hard work and heavy-duty research, so you don’t have to. So, here they are: our top 5 picks out of the hundreds of options on the market.
(Best for the Money)
|Oregon 570995 CS1500||3 Years||4.3/5|
|Poulan Pro 967084601||2 Years||4.0/5|
This is a terrific backyard chainsaw. Its battery lasts for hours, and its 10” bar can handle any small or medium-sized cutting job, plus it’s quiet enough that you won’t drive the neighbors crazy. At only 7.2 pounds, it’s lightweight enough that you can use it for hours without fatigue. The Black & Decker battery used on this chainsaw is also interchangeable with many of the brand’s other power tools, so if you really want to extend your cutting time, you could switch out the second battery. Black & Decker is a leader in the consumer tool market, and this saw is no exception.
The expression “cuts like a hot knife through butter” is a spot-on description for this chainsaw. It delivers all the power you need from a gas chainsaw (with 2.4 hp) but weighs in at only 9.7 pounds. Husqvarna has tackled one of the perennial issues of gas chainsaws – they can be tough to get started – with a patented new easy start system. Top it off with a tool-less chain tensioner and an anti-vibration feature, and you have the perfect companion for Saturday afternoon firewood cutting. Husqvarna has been making chainsaws since 1959, and its experience and consumer responsiveness is on display here. This saw would’ve been a #1 choice if it had been less expensive.
Many chainsaw shoppers wind up buying more saw than they need. For backyard upkeep on a budget, this is the saw for you. With a 14” blade and weighing in at 6.6 pounds, it’s both big enough to tackle good-sized branches, and light and small enough to use all day without rendering you or your arm utterly exhausted. Its 8-amp engine runs quietly, so you won’t annoy your neighbors (or your spouse) with the noise. Yes, it needs a cord, but that’s a fair trade-off at this price point, and one that becomes a non-issue after only a little bit of use.
With an 18” blade and 15-amp engine, this corded saw can certainly get almost any job done. Oregon has also equipped it with tool-less chain tensioning and a patented self-sharpening system. But it also weighs in at a hefty 12.6 pounds, and is occasionally described as awkward to handle. If you want the power of a gas engine chainsaw but are leery of the gas engine, or are on a budget, this could be the saw for you. If you really want or need this kind of power, you might be better off with the Husqvarna 440E mentioned earlier.
Although it’s owned by an industry leader, Husqvarna, Poulan can’t compete with its parent company on much more than price. This 40cc gas-powered chainsaw comes with a 16” blade, as well as an automatic oiling mechanism and an anti-vibration system, two features welcome in any chainsaw. It will make quick work of big branches and small trees, and it comes in at a terrific price point for anyone shopping on a budget. But at 13 pounds, it’s heavy for a gas saw of this horsepower. In addition, reviewers consistently describe frustration not only with starting it, including cord breakage issues, but also in keeping it running.
With any tool purchase, the first question you should ask yourself is: what am I going to use it for? This is particularly important when buying a chainsaw. It can be hard not to get caught up in the image of yourself as a hardy lumberjack, flannel shirt glinting in the sun as you fell trees in the Canadian tundra, when in fact most of us are a lot closer to just pruning saplings in the backyard.
If you do have some wooded acres and you need to stockpile firewood to heat your home all winter, you’re going to want to invest in a bigger, heavier, more powerful machine, one that will actually take down trees and slice through logs. A more professional-quality saw will save you hours of cutting time, and add an element of safety. The right tool, for the right job, operated correctly, is always the safest choice.
If you’re more of a weekend yard warrior, and you only need enough firewood for ambiance on major winter holidays, you’ll be more comfortable with a mid-sized saw. You can still cut through reasonably sized pieces of wood or branches, or help your neighbors out when a tree falls on their driveway.
At the other end of the spectrum, you recognize that all your yard really needs is pruning. Maybe on your heaviest use days, you want to clear out a few saplings. Your hedge trimmers are not quite cutting it, though, so you need something more.
Once you have honestly assessed what you’re going to do with your chainsaw, it’s time to start narrowing the field. As with any major purchase, you can get bogged down in the rabbit hole of online reviews and professional jargon. Here’s a quick primer to get you up to speed.
This is measured in inches and will tell you the length of the blade. The smallest chainsaws start at a mere six inches, while professional saws top out around 36 inches. This number tells you the maximum distance your saw can get through on one pass. If you want to saw logs with a diameter of 20 inches, you’ll struggle to cut them with anything less than a 20-inch blade. Backyard cutters probably don’t need any more than 14 inches, and only true lumberjacks are going for saws over 20, since a longer saw is going to be heavier and more difficult to manage. If this is your first chainsaw, start with something on the smaller end.
Chainsaws can be gasoline-powered, battery-powered, or corded.
Gasoline-powered saws will be more powerful, and will more likely be the larger saws. If you’re headed out to the back 40 to chop down trees all day, you’ll want a gas-powered saw. You’ll see gas power measured in cc (cubic centimeters) or cu (cubic inches), with a higher number indicating more power.
Battery-powered saws have come a long way in recent years and can last a respectable amount of time, although what they give you in lightweight portability, they can lack in power. Battery power is measured in V (for volts, or voltage), with lithium-ion batteries most common nowadays.
Cords are only seen on smaller chainsaw models. Obviously, even with an extension cord, your range will be limited. Corded saw power is measured in A (amps or amperage).
Through normal use, the chain will start to dull and loosen. Not only will this cause your saw to be less effective, but it also becomes a safety hazard. A particularly loose chain can fall off the bar while you’re using it, and a dull chain loses effectiveness. Chains also need to be oiled regularly. Some saws come with an auto-oiling feature, and some have a tool-less chain tensioner. Both features will make it easier for you to take care of your chainsaw.
You probably already know chainsaws are loud. Gas-powered saws are going to be louder than electric ones, and of course, the bigger saws will be the loudest. This may not be a factor if you live in the middle of nowhere, but if you have neighbors and you want to remain friendly with them, you might want to steer away from the gas engine.
There are tens of thousands of chainsaw injuries every year in the US, and the chainsaw is on pretty much every list of the most dangerous power tools. There are a variety of measures you can take to make your chainsaw experience as safe as possible. Read and follow the instructions in the owner’s manual so that you understand how to operate yours properly. Wear the recommended safety gear: eye, ear, and leg protection, as well as a helmet, good gloves, and sturdy boots. Many municipalities and businesses offer basic, introductory safety classes as well.
Sorry, you’re out of luck! There are scissors for lefties, but all chainsaws are made to be operated by righties. Although all you southpaws are likely used to navigating a world designed for right-handed people, it does raise additional safety concerns when a chainsaw is involved.
There are countless chainsaws to choose from, with a vast array of abilities and price tags. If you’re a professional lumberjack, you undoubtedly have your favorite brands and features, but assuming you’re only taking down a few trees on the weekend, you’ll want some help narrowing the field. These reviews of lightweight chainsaws give you the best options.
Our Top Pick of the light chainsaws this year is the Black & Decker LCS1020. It’s lightweight, has a long-lasting battery, and all the power you need in your backyard, all at a reasonable price.
If you’ve got bigger fish to fry than just a few overgrown shrubs, and you’re set on a gas chainsaw, your best bet is the Husqvarna 440E. You won’t struggle to start it, and it’ll cut through all but the biggest logs.
If you don’t want to shell out big money, you’ll be in good shape with the WORX WG305. It’s more than enough chainsaw for any yard and it won’t break the bank.
Grab your safety gear and a flannel shirt and get started!