Updated: June 8, 2015

Chainsaw Reviews:

Chainsaws can come in handy when cutting down large trees or branches that would take too long with a regular saw. Whether you are a homeowner cleaning up trees in your yard or doing heavier cutting of logs in forests or on farms, a chainsaw is the type of power tool that will save you hours of hand sawing. Professional loggers know just how powerful a full size chainsaw can be and in recent years DIY homeowners have seen an increase in electric chainsaws and even pole saws that help them with yard cleanup. For the average home owner, the lightweight, easy to handle chain saws for occasional use are the best bet. Stihl, Husqvarna and Poulan are 3 recognized names in the industry and Makita, Black & Decker, and Earthwise have some of the most popular electric chain saws on the market. Not everyone needs the power of a gas chainsaw around the house and with the improved performance of electric models (and battery powered as well), homeowners have lots of options these days. Most of the electric chainsaws cost between $50 and $100 while the Makita models go beyond $200 but reviews say they are worth it. The gas powered chainsaws start at $100 and go upwards of $400 for the high end ones from Stihl.


Buying Guide - When it comes to buying a chainsaw - most experts agree that seeing them in person is a good idea. You want to be able to hold the saw and see how it feels in your hands for weight, balance, and cutting ability. Some dealers let you test them on wood logs in the back of their shops. You can also go to home improvement stores like Home Depot, Lowes or even Sears to see what they carry in terms of brands and sizes. First, you need to decide on gasoline powered versus electric chainsaws. Gas chainsaws are perfect when power and mobility are necessary. The 2 cycle engines found on gas saws will mean you have to mix up the gas and oil but that is very basic. Maintenance is a bit more on gas powered chainsaws compared to the electric models and they tend to be louder when operating as well. If you plan on doing mostly yard chores with your chainsaw, then consider the electric chainsaw as your tool of choice. Owners prefer them to gas since they tend to be easier to start, are quite lightweight, and maintenance is a breeze. The two big drawbacks to an electric saw is that it's not nearly as powerful as the gas models and you have to deal with a cord dangling behind the saw. Some of the new cordless electric chainsaws that run on battery power are gaining in popularity, but we say stick with the corded models for now. You'll often hear chainsaws referred to as 14-inch or 16-inch models. The measurement refers to the bar length (cutting tip to the housing where the chain enters) - most saws have a cutting ability that is double the bar length. You can cut through a 32" log with a 16 inch bar. Stick with bar lengths from 14 to 20 inches for home use or light wood cutting. Sometimes you will see chainsaws advertised based on engine displacement either represented as cubic inches or cubic centimeters. If you want more power, go with the higher CC number. The large saws will give you lots of power and potentially more vibration along with added weight. Other features to consider are noise, anti-vibration technologies, quick start engines, mufflers, chains that get automatically oiled, and chains that let you adjust them without a hassle. Protective clothing is a must whenever handling a chainsaw and always keep them away from children.

Chainsaw reviews - We found some excellent feedback online from expert loggers and woodcutters. Wayneofthewoods.com, About.com (Forestry section), and Insidewoodworking.com all offer up great advise on chainsaws (comparisons on features and prices). One of our trusted sources is Popular Mechanics and they recently tested 7 new chain saws in head to head cutting. They scored them on starting ease, power, vibration, cutting speed, balance, and weight. The Stihl MS 210 C-BE and the Husqvarna 240e won out as top rated, although when we went online to Amazon.com to search out what consumers thought of the 240E the findings were not the same as several people were disappointed with it. Husqvarna has one of the world's widest range of chainsaws and with easy start capabilities, innovative handle designs, and smooth shapes, the Husqvarna are our favorites. Echo chainsaws offer excellent balance, near perfect control, and vibration reduction technology to help keep muscle fatigue to a minimum. McCulloch is another superior chain saw maker and owner reviews mention their chain brakes, automatic oilers and electronic iginition as features they appreciate. You can browse the list of best-selling chain saws online here.

Best Gas Powered Chain Saw:

When we looked at reviews for the gas powered chainsaws, it seems that very few (if any) received totally positive feedback. The Stihl MS 170 has always been considered an excellent model for residential trimming and cutting. Great for small trees or taking down limbs after a storm has wreaked havoc. Guide bar lengths are recommended to be 14" on this model and at roughly 9 lbs it's lightweight enough to use for extended periods of time. The Husqvarna 450 18-Inch 50.2cc X-Torq 2-Cycle Saw has a 3.2 HP engine, the LowVib vibration dampening system, the Smart Start feature. Owners say the chain saw is easy to start, operates smoothly, and holds up well in your yard or in the field. If you want more power and cutting ability, then the Makita DCS6401-20 is certainly an owners dream. With a high power to weight ratio and low noise output, the Makita 20 inch chainsaw with 64cc will make quick work of all your tree trimming and log cutting needs. The "perfect balance of power, performance, and cutting speed" says one owner. Most experts agree that 20" chainsaws are the maximum a homeowner should consider and the DCS6401-20 is one you can rely on for years. Check out all the top selling gas powered chainsaws online here.

Electric Chainsaw

When we started the research for this article it appeared that the gas powered models would dominate the electric saws. When you consider all the non-professional needs of a chainsaw, the clear winners are the electric. Homeowner reviews for the electric chainsaws are much more positive than for any gas models on the market. The only electric powered chain saws with overwhelmingly negative feedback from consumers are the Remington models, otherwise people can't say enough about how convenient and versatile electric chainsaws are for the average guy in his yard. The Poulan Pro 400E and the Poulan ES350 are certainly the most popular and get the best overal reviews. At 18 inches and 16" respectively, they do all the day to day cutting and trimming of wood that most homeowners require. Perhaps the highest rated electric chainsaw is the Makita 5012B, but at $200 it's over double the price of every other competitor. Durability is certainly a factor when it comes to weekly use, but most DIY homeowners probably only use a chainsaw a few times year to clean up fallen branches or limbs. RECOMMENDED - With so many models to choose from we suggest browsing the most popular electric chainsaws here.


Chain Saw Parts - Repairs - Safety:

The first thing to remember when handling chain saws is that accidents happen every year with these powerful tools and most can be avoided through safety precautions. Always use protective eye wear, keep your body away from the line of cut, wear safety footwear, snug clothing, and ear plugs to protect your hearing. No child should be using a chain saw ever, even with parent supervision, they are too dangerous and heavy for kids. If your chain saw breaks, make sure it gets fixed properly before using it again. That starts with buying the best parts at your local chain saw distributor. You can also try Amazon.com for great deals on Poulan, Homesite and McCulloch models. For repairs, try your local Stihl dealership or a Home Depot or Lowes.