If you want to maintain your yard yourself and save some money, it’s worthwhile investing in a high-quality chainsaw. The best chainsaws aren’t just effective at cutting timber; they are lightweight, easy to work with, and come with some great safety features.
Here’s our guide to the best chainsaws of 2021 for home and landscaping use.
What Can Chainsaws be Used For?
Different Types of Chainsaw
Like most gardening equipment, chainsaws differ mainly by fuel type. Here are the different types, along with some of the pros and cons of each:
Gas chainsaws are the most powerful and are used commercially, for hardwoods and dense growth, or where electricity isn’t easily available.
They are easy to transport and suited for work in remote areas. However, they are very noisy while running, require you to mix fuel, and need regular maintenance.
While good brands do filter the air and have low emissions, they are still not particularly eco-friendly.
These chainsaws utilize electrical outlets and outdoor-rated extension cords, so you can run the motor continuously but you’re limited in range.
While they are less powerful than gas models, their modern tech offers plenty of power for home use. They emit no fumes, are fairly quiet to operate and are almost maintenance-free.
Powered by rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, cordless chainsaws combine the benefits of mobility and power with the quiet, emission-free operation of a corded model.
Keep in mind that you will have to swap out or recharge your battery and that the weight of the battery will increase the overall weight of the saw.
Gas vs. Electric Chainsaws – What’s Better?
When talking about electric vs gas chainsaws, It comes down to what you’re going to use the chainsaw for. If you are working in remote locations with dense hardwoods or using a chainsaw commercially as an arborist or landscaper, a petrol chainsaw is a great choice.
If you need a chainsaw for your garden, cutting firewood, removing trees, and cutting timber, then an electric model will deliver all the power you need with the advantages of quieter operation, zero fumes, and minimal maintenance.
Chainsaw vs. Pole Saw – What’s Better?
A pole saw is a lightweight, mini chainsaw on an extendable arm that allows you to reach about. A pole saw is a small, powerful but lightweight chainsaw with an extendable arm that allows you to reach about 10-15 feet above your head to cut smaller branches.
If you’re simply looking to prune small to medium-sized trees and remove small-diameter branches, they’re a great option. If you want to cut firewood and thicker branches or hardwoods, or heavy-duty work and branches more than 5 inches in diameter, a chainsaw is the right choice.
What is the Best Home Chainsaw?
Electric chainsaws have come so far that we’d recommend them for home use. They offer plenty of power with the least amount of noise, maintenance or fumes, and have some great safety features.
They’re much more lightweight and compact too, which makes them more agile and easy to work with. For larger yards, a battery chainsaw will give you the best range, while a corded chainsaw will give you the longest run-time for lengthy jobs.
What is the Best Cheap Chainsaw?
We don’t recommend that you buy anything too cheap, as the build quality can be a safety issue and the tool is much more likely to break down in just a couple of seasons. However, we have reviewed some of the best value-for-money and affordable chainsaws below.
What Size Chainsaw Do I Need?
To decide what size cutting blade you need on your chainsaw, you need to consider what you are planning to cut with it. Your chainsaw cutting blade must be at least 2 inches longer than the width of the wood you are cutting.
What to Consider When Buying a Chainsaw
Before you buy a chainsaw, consider these features to make sure you get the best chainsaw for the job.
- Cutting blade size – The chainsaw blade must be at least 2 inches longer than what you’re planning to cut. If you are working in tighter spaces (for example, pruning inside a tree canopy), a smaller blade will be more lightweight and easier to angle correctly.
- Weight - The chainsaw must be light enough for you to handle comfortably without getting tired or slipping, as this can be very dangerous even with automatic chain brakes and other safety features.
- Chain type – The different teeth profiles and spacing on chains makes them suited to different tasks. A full chisel chain is best for hardwoods, while a semi-chisel chain is used on green wood, moist woods, and softwood, and low profile chains are good for all uses
We made a review on the best chainsaw chains today.
- Safety features – There’s no getting away from the fact that chainsaws are dangerous and need to be used with the utmost care.
Modern chainsaws do have some great safety features that are important for all homeowners, especially if you have limited experience using a chainsaw.
Look for safety features like automatic chain breaks, low kickback chains, wide handles and guards for hand protection, throttle locks, chain catchers, and safety switches.
- Handle grip – Chainsaws with the handles on the top of the saw are usually lighter and easier to use at a height, giving you good control over angled cuts.
For working on the ground, a rear-handle chainsaw will offer better stability and kickback protection.
- Anti-vibration systems – When they’re running and cutting, chainsaws vibrate, causing your arm muscles and hands to become tired and numb.
Anti-vibration systems help to prevent this from happening, helping you to work for longer with less safety risk.
The Best Chainsaw Reviews for 2021 – Buyers Guide and Reviews
Our Top Pick – The Best Chainsaw for 2021!
As much as we love electric chainsaws, few can beat the power and performance of the Craftsman 42cc-16 (2020 Model).
Despite the mid-range price, it has all the features most homeowners would want in a chainsaw, from the easy start technology and adjustable auto chain oiler to the ergonomic design with anti-vibration technology.
It has a high-quality engine and cutting chain, and at 16 inches, it’s long enough to take on the vast majority of trees and tree branches.
It’s lightweight for a petrol model too at 21lbs, which means you can work as long as you need to with the least amount of fatigue.
How to Maintain and Repair Your Chainsaw
When you want to buy the best chainsaw, it’s important to consider the costs of maintaining, repairing, and servicing your chainsaw.
Gas chainsaws require the most maintenance, needing annual services to ensure they’re in safe working order, while electric chainsaws are maintenance-free.
One good maintenance tip for all chainsaw types is to always clean your equipment after you’ve used it, ensure the oil level is correct, the chain is tensioned properly, and to store it safely out of the reach of children in a dry shed or garage.
For battery chainsaws, it’s important to factor in the battery costs, as these will need to be replaced according to the manufacturer’s recommendations – usually every 5 years or so.
The cutting chain should be replaced or sharpened as soon as it becomes worn, as this is a serious safety hazard. Blunt chains are more likely to break and kickback and can cause serious harm.
How Can I Sharpen My Chainsaw?
All high-quality cutting chains can be sharpened several times during their lifespan, and only need to be replaced when they are very worn down or become damaged.
They can be sharpened by a professional or you can do it yourself with a chainsaw sharpener.
Safety Tips for Using a Chainsaw
Here are some important safety rules to follow when you’re using a gas or electric chainsaw.
- Use protective gear – Always wear fitted, heavy-duty clothing. Use ear protection, safety goggles, heavy-duty closed boots, a hard hat, chaps, and thick, fitted gloves.
- Practice cutting – Take some time to read your manual, watch tutorials and learn about your chainsaw. Start with small jobs to practice your technique. Work slowly and calmly.
- Don’t cut alone – Accidents happen and chainsaws are incredibly powerful. For this reason, it’s important to have someone within hearing range with a well-equipped First Aid Kit.
- Clear the area – Make sure pets, children, furniture, and other people well out of your work area. Anticipate where branches will fall and work so that you do not damage property.
- Tension the chain correctly – Read your manual to tension the chain correctly. If it’s too tight, the chain can stick, and if it is too loose then debris can get stuck or the chain may come off completely.
- Know its capabilities – Do not use your chainsaw for jobs it is not suited for. Do not try to cut a branch that is too thick for your saw, and do not use it on materials other than timber.
- Ground yourself – Always keep both of your feet on the ground in a boxer’s stance (squared off) for maximum stability as you work. Don’t use a chainsaw on a ladder, sitting in a tree, or standing on an unstable surface.
This video has some useful additional chainsaw safety tips.
Cut Firewood, Prune Trees, and Maintain Your Yard Affordably with the Best Chainsaw for 2021
The best chainsaw is one that’s safe, well-built, and offers great performance for felling trees, cutting firewood, clearing brush, and pruning branches.
Gas chainsaws are still the most powerful option and are a good choice for working where there’s no easy access to electricity, cutting thick hardwood, or using your chainsaw professionally.
For smaller tasks around the yard, an electric corded or battery-powered chainsaw offers plenty of power along with the quieter, fume-free operation, and no maintenance.
Check out our Best Professional Chainsaw Reviews for more options.
With the best chainsaw for 2021, you get the best of both worlds, with plenty of power to get the job done safely and quickly every time.