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5 Different Types of Chainsaws & Their Uses (with Pictures)

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A chainsaw up close

There are so many different chainsaws on the market these days that it can be confusing. You may find yourself asking, “Why are there so many?” and “Which one do I need?”

All the chainsaws you see in the stores fall into one of five categories: manual, battery-powered, electric, gas-powered, and pole saws. Each class does something slightly different than the others. We are going to break down for you what each category is, how they work, and what they can be used for.

List of 5 Different Types of Chainsaws:

1. Manual / Pocket Chainsaws

a manual chainsaw

Manual chainsaws use your horsepower to work; they don’t require any electricity or gas. Today’s society likes to do everything as quickly and easily as possible, so you don’t see manual saws in most stores.

Actually, the people that use them usually make them themselves by attaching two heavy-duty handles to a chainsaw chain. The chain is then wrapped around the tree, and you pull the chain back and forth to do the cutting. Needless to say, this can be exhausting. You won’t need to go to the gym for a workout on that day.

Manual saws are used for cutting firewood or other small jobs by those who can’t afford to purchase a powered chainsaw. Others choose a manual saw for some personal preference reasons.

Using manual saws is labor-intensive, but they are incredibly portable and can be faster than many other handheld saws.

2. Battery-powered Chainsaws

battery chainsaw

Battery-powered chainsaws run on rechargeable batteries rather than electricity or gas. They don’t require as much maintenance as the gas-powered ones, and aren’t as restricted as corded electric ones are.

The running time of the saw is limited to the life of the battery. The only way to extend it is to have a second battery available to use while the first one recharges. The issue with this is that batteries are quite expensive. Not everyone can afford a second one.

Battery-powered chainsaws have the least amount of power of them all. They are used to cut small trees or to prune, trim, or limb them.

3. Corded-electric Chainsaws

A corded chainsaw

Corded-electric chainsaws are more powerful than their battery-run counterparts, but not as robust as the gas-powered ones are. They are used for cutting small and medium-sized trees and branches.

These saws don’t cause air or noise pollution like gas-powered ones, but they are restricted by how far the cord will reach. You either have to be near an electrical outlet or have a generator that you can take with you to your job site. You can use extension cords to extend the distance that you can travel with the saw. Make sure it’s a heavy-duty cord that can handle the amperage. It needs to be at least between 12-gauge and 14-gauge wire.

Electric chainsaws are lightweight and comfortable enough to use that even those with no experience at all can use them. They are the perfect kind of saw for beginners to start out with.

4. Gas-powered Chainsaws

A gas chainsaw

Gas-powered chainsaws are the most powerful and are used by both professionals and homeowners. They have two-stroke engines that require specific mixtures of gasoline and oil to run correctly. The gas is used for the ignition, and the oil keeps the engine lubricated adequately so that it runs efficiently. They do need to be well-maintained, though, to protect them from excessive wear or internal damage.

They are powered by fuel rather than electricity, so they aren’t limited in where they can go. Gas engines are more powerful, and these chainsaws are larger and heavier, so they are the best at cutting the most significant trees or logs. They cut faster and more efficiently than other types, but they do give off exhaust pollution and a lot more noise than their counterparts.

5. Pole Chainsaws

A pole chain saw

Pole saws are not technically considered chainsaws, but they work pretty much the same way. A pole saw is merely a chainsaw bar and chain attached to a long handle. The length of the handle allows you to reach up and trim trees and branches that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to reach.

Pole saws, like traditional chainsaws, can be gas-powered, battery-powered, or electric. Gas-powered pole saws have the most power and are used to cut back thicker branches or trees. Like traditional chainsaws, they can be very loud, and there can be a lot of vibration that flows through the handle.

Electric and battery-powered saws are not as powerful, so they are used to prune the smaller branches. The electric ones can handle slightly bigger branches than the battery-powered ones.


Chainsaws are great tools to have around for times of need. The question you need to answer before you begin shopping for one is: “What will I primarily be using this for?” If your answer is light pruning or trimming of small branches, you can use either a battery-powered or electric saw.

If you live on a large parcel of land with large trees that you will occasionally need it for, or if you use it for your profession, your best choice would be the gas-powered ones.

If you need something simple to help cut firewood or do very light trim work, but just don’t have the money to purchase a traditional chainsaw, you may choose to make your own manual saw.

They are all excellent choices for the appropriate size of work and the amperage available. One isn’t necessarily better than another. It is all up to what you need it for and what your personal preference is.