Petrol & Electric Chainsaws
For the home user, the need for a chainsaw is predominantly for felling small trees, removing hedges and cutting firewood. If you're wondering what species of wood are suitable for burning on your fire or woodstove, have a look at our firewood guide.
Remember, never use a chainsaw whilst up a ladder, instead consider a telescopic chainsaw pole pruner.
Picking the right chainsaw - petrol or electric?
Most electric chainsaws are really for very occasional use on branches no more than a few inches in diameter. Although there are more powerful electric models available, capable of cutting firewood and felling, your money would be better spent on a petrol powered model. Electric models do have the advantage of being quieter, lighter and more environmentally friendly than their petrol counterparts, but there is a big trade-off in terms of power, freedom of movement and durability.
Most importantly, ask yourself how often will you be needing to use a chainsaw. If it's only for occasional use, for example felling a couple of trees or ridding your garden of that dreaded conifer hedge, then either one of the better electric or basic petrol powered models will be ideal.
If you're decided on an electric chainsaw, take a serious look at the two big names Husqvarna and Stihl. Also worthy of consideration are the Bosch range.
For a selection of budget electric chainsaws, try this selection from Mower Warehouse.
When choosing a basic petrol chainsaw, look for an engine size of between 30-40 cc. Whichever chainsaw you decide upon, try and get the shortest guide bar length for your needs. In most cases a guide bar length of 12 inches will be sufficient.
Husqvarna also produce some excellent chainsaws for the occasional user.
Although not as well known as Stihl and Husqvarna, the Victus brand is worth consideration, as are Japanese manufacturer Tanaka.
Regular chainsaw use
If you plan on carrying out more than just occasional chainsaw use, for example several firewood cutting sessions each year plus some clearance work, it’s worth looking at some of the lower end semi-professional chainsaws. You will pay a little more, but the difference in performance is huge. These chainsaws are built to higher specifications, have more efficient anti vibration systems, better power to weight ratios and tougher engines. These chainsaws will make the larger jobs a pleasure rather than a chore, not only that, the engines will last significantly longer.
For superb all round performance, have a look at the Stihl MS 270 and MS 280.
If you plan on using a chainsaw on a regular basis, the best chainsaws for frequent use are manufactured by Stihl and Husqvarna. Stihl produced the first mass market chainsaws and make the most widely used saws in the UK.
Serious chainsaw use
For heavy, demanding every day use, you'll need something like this Stihl MS 650.
Chainsaws are fantastically useful tools, capable of saving you hours of hard work. They also deserve the up most respect as they can be particularly unforgiving in the wrong hands so put some time into learning about safe operation. This Health and Safety Guide may help you.
Whatever chainsaw you decide to purchase, invest a little bit more in some protective clothing. Read our guide to chainsaw protective equipment to help to choose the right gear. When using a chainsaw to cut firewood, consider a saw horse.