Almost everyone who owns a yard with trees will at some point have to deal with the task of cutting up wood, whether it involves pruning small branches, felling larger trees – or anything in between.
Chainsaws are highly versatile tools that can make short work of any wood-cutting that needs to be done – but with such a range of different types and sizes, choosing the right one can be a daunting task.
If you are on the lookout for a new chainsaw but you are unsure of how to proceed, here, we give you our top picks for best chainsaw to help you choose the right one for your needs.
The Best Chainsaw Comparison Chart 2019
Greenworks 12-Inch Cordless Chainsaw
DEWALT DCCS620B Compact Chainsaw
BLACK+DECKER LCS1240 Chainsaw
Husqvarna 455 2-Cycle Chainsaw
Earthwise CS33016 Chain Saw
Remington RM1425 Lightweight Chainsaw
WORX WG303.1 Powered Chain Saw
If you have decided you need to buy a new chainsaw, you are probably wondering which features you should be looking at to help you choose. Let’s have a look at the most important factors that will help you select the best chainsaw for you.
Which power source is right for you?
Probably the single most important consideration to take into account when deciding which chainsaw is best suited to your needs is the power source, and there are three possibilities: gas, corded electric or battery-powered machines. Let’s talk about the advantages and disadvantages of each in detail.
Traditionally, chainsaws have been powered by gas, and this is because gas-powered machines have several distinct advantages over other types.
Generally speaking, gas-powered chainsaws are the most powerful, offering far greater cutting capability than other types of saw.
In some ways, they are also the most convenient. You can use them wherever you want, from your yard at home to the deep forest. As long as you take enough gas with you, you can also use them for as long as you need to get the job done.
However, they have a couple of disadvantages too. They are usually much noisier than electric or battery-powered chainsaws, and since they run on gasoline, are more polluting. Due to the larger engine, they also tend to be bulkier and harder to manage.
Finally, as with any tools that are powered by a gas engine, they require far more maintenance than comparable electric or battery versions.
Due to their advantages, gas-powered chainsaws have been the go-to tool for professional lumberjacks and are also suitable for home users who need the most heavy-duty tools possible.
However, if you don’t need such high levels of raw power, an electric or battery-powered alternative might be a better solution.
2. Electric corded chainsaws
Electric chainsaws have a different set of advantages and disadvantages to gas-powered models.
They are quieter, which will be appreciated by your neighbors, and they don’t give off any harmful emissions either. They are lighter and easier for casual home users to handle, and don’t require nearly as much maintenance as gas-powered chainsaws.
The big disadvantage of choosing a corded chainsaw is the cord itself. With a cord, you are limited to only working within range of a power outlet. You can extend this by using an extension, but there is still a limit to where you can work.
Working with a cord can be awkward, too, and you have to be careful that it doesn’t get in your way while you work. The cord can always be an annoyance – but if it gets in the way while you are working, cutting through the cord with your chainsaw can be disastrous.
Another point to remember is that electric chainsaws can’t usually match gas chainsaws in terms of raw power – although some of the top units are now coming close.
They are best for home users who will always be working within range of a power source and who don’t require the raw power offered by a gas version.
3. Battery-powered chainsaws
Battery-powered chainsaws also have their associated advantages and disadvantages, and in many ways, they are quite similar to electric chainsaws.
They run quietly and don’t give off emissions, making them more convenient for home users. They also don’t require much maintenance, making them more suitable for people who don’t know their way around a gas engine.
They also solve the problem of the cord by carrying their own power source with them, giving you the same unlimited range as with a gas-powered version.
However, the biggest problem with battery-powered machines is that batteries run out of power and need to be recharged before you can use them again. This problem can be mitigated by owning a spare battery, but the working time is still limited.
Another more minor issue is that battery-powered chainsaws tend to be the least powerful of the three types – although some now exist that can still deliver an impressive amount of power for shorter periods.
These are ideal for smaller home jobs and for casual home users who don’t need to work for extended periods. If you need something for more heavy-duty tasks or for working for longer periods, you might be better off looking elsewhere.
Other factors to consider
Other than the power source, here are some of the other points you should consider when buying a chainsaw.
Of course, you want a chainsaw that is powerful enough for the work you need to do – but don’t fall into the trap of simply buying the most powerful one you can find.
More powerful machines are more expensive, so buying one that is more powerful than you require will be a waste of money.
More powerful chainsaws are also more difficult to handle, and if you are not experienced, can even be dangerous too.
For these reasons, you should consider the jobs you want it for and the type of wood you need to cut and then buy accordingly. Try to resist the temptation to buy a chainsaw that is far more powerful than you need.
b). Length of bar
What size chainsaw do you need? Take notice of the length of the bar, too. Just like power, resist the temptation to buy the biggest one you can find.
While bigger chainsaws can deal with bigger trees, they are more difficult to wield and are less practical for smaller jobs.
If you need a chainsaw for pruning small branches or taking care of saplings, a 12” or 14” bar will be sufficient. If you need to fell larger trees, go for something a bit bigger.
c). Safety features
Chainsaws can be among the most dangerous power tools you can own, and many that are designed for home users come with a number of safety features to reduce this danger.
Look for a chainsaw with a low-kickback bar that prevents it from jumping up in your face if you hit a snag in the wood.
Many feature chain brakes that stop the chain when this happens, too.
Also, look for screens that prevent debris from flying up into your hands or face.
d). Battery life
If you are buying a battery-powered model, check how much use you can expect from a single charge.
An hour of work would be considered reasonable.
Also, take note of how long it takes to charge the battery once empty.
A useful feature is an auto-lubrication system that oils the chain without you having to remember to do it.
Check that the chainsaw has this and also how effective it is.
The Best Chainsaw Reviews 2019
Here are our top picks for best chainsaw.
1. Greenworks 12-Inch 40V Cordless Chainsaw (Our Top Recommended)
If you are looking for the lightest and most manageable battery-powered chainsaw available, this unit should be high on your list of possibilities. At only 6lbs, you are unlikely to find anything much lighter – and even at this size and weight, it still packs a decent punch.
It is powered by a 40V G-Max battery that is cross-compatible with the other tools in the same Greenworks range. This means you might already have a spare battery at home, allowing you to use the saw for longer.
Even without a spare, it can give you a respectable amount of use on each charge – it will run for about an hour or give you about 75 cuts before you need to change the battery. It also boasts fade-free power, meaning it keeps running strong right up until the power dies.
Like many other comparable models, it features an auto-oiling function to keep the blade lubricated – what we especially like here is the translucent tank that allows you to see easily when you need to top it up.
It is designed to give you minimal kickback, keeping the operator as safe as possible, and it also includes toolless chain tensioning and automatic chain tensioning to ensure it keeps running as smoothly and efficiently as possible.
One slight gripe we have with this tool is that the oil cap is not located in the most convenient place, making it a little awkward to top up the oil when necessary.
Also, if you are expecting something that can be used for tougher jobs, you are likely to be disappointed. This is a chainsaw that is aimed squarely at the casual home user who only needs to take care of smaller cutting jobs about their yard.
As far as lightweight chainsaws go, this one performs well and is very reasonably priced – It is an obvious choice for our top pick. Anyone who needs something small and convenient for infrequent jobs at home could do a lot worse than giving this chainsaw a try.
What I Like
What I Don't Like
2. Husqvarna 455 2-Cycle Gas Chainsaw
This is a two-cycle gas-powered chainsaw from well-known brand Husqvarna. Its powerful 55cc engine delivers 3.5Hp, plenty for most home use or even semi-professional cutting tasks. It is fitted with a 20” bar and weighs in at 12.8lbs.
It features Husqvarna’s X-Torq engine that is designed to give improved fuel efficiency at the same time as reducing harmful emissions – it conforms to some of the toughest environmental regulations in the world.
We like the way that this chainsaw has been designed with safety as a primary concern. For example, if the saw hits a snag and kicks back, the blade stops automatically, reducing the risk of injury to the user.
Another welcome feature is the SmartStart technology that is designed to make it as quick and easy to start as possible. Most of the time it will start with only one or two pulls, leaving you to get on with the work that needs to be done.
It is also a tool that is built to last. It incorporates a centrifugal air cleaning system that removes larger particles before they reach the air filter. This reduces the need to clean the air filter and prolongs the life of the engine.
It is comfortable to use, too. It is fitted with anti-vibration dampeners to reduce fatigue, even when used for longer periods.
It must be said that this chainsaw is not a light tool – although, for something in its class, it isn’t overly heavy.
Another minor negative is that unlike some of Husqvarna’s smaller chainsaws, this one doesn’t feature toolless chain tensioning – instead, it incorporates side-mounted chain tensioning.
This machine is part of Husqvarna’s “professional” range, and while it might be slightly below what can truly be called a professional-grade chainsaw, it isn’t far off and will prove more than a match for even the heaviest-duty home sawing tasks.
What I Like
What I Don't Like
3. DEWALT DCCS620B 20V MAX XR Compact Cordless Chainsaw
If you are in the market for a high-quality battery-powered chainsaw that gives you excellent levels of performance at a relatively low price point, this 12” unit from DeWalt could be well worth checking out.
It is powered by a 20V battery that gives a very respectable amount of use before needing to be recharged. Furthermore, since this tool belongs to DeWalt’s 20V range, you may already have other spare batteries at home, meaning you can use it for even longer.
It features high-quality components, such as the brushless motor that is designed for high efficiency while also prolonging the chainsaw’s life.
It is very compact and easy to handle. With a 12” blade and weighing only 8.8lbs, it is lightweight and well balanced – this chainsaw can be used with only one hand, giving you more flexibility when clearing tricky branches.
While this chainsaw is not designed to be used for any heavy-duty cutting tasks, for the small-scale jobs it is intended for, it performs admirably. This is among the best options in terms of cutting ability relative to price, meaning it’s hard to beat for value.
It is designed to be as ergonomic and comfortable to use as possible, and for those used to working with large, powerful gas-powered chainsaws, it will also be surprisingly quiet.
On the downside, there is a slight design flaw as far as left-handed operators go. The safety switch is located in a bit of an awkward position, making it more difficult to use – although by no means impossible.
Another small issue is that this saw seems to work its way through the lubricating oil faster than you might expect, meaning you have to keep an eye on it to make sure you keep it topped up.
All in all, there is a lot to like about this saw. If you need something for more intense cutting work you might prefer to look elsewhere, but for small-scale home use, this is an excellent pick.
What I Like
What I Don't Like
4. BLACK+DECKER LCS1240 40-Volt Cordless Chainsaw
If you like the idea of a small and manageable battery-powered saw but a 20V model doesn’t quite pack enough power, this 40V unit from Black+Decker could be the answer you are looking for.
It features a high-quality battery system that gives you up to an hour of use per charge. It also holds its charge well when not in use and is designed to have a longer working life than many similar batteries.
Useful features include the auto-oiling function that keeps the chain lubricated as long as you remember to keep the oil topped up. It also includes toolless chain tensioning, allowing you to control the chain without needing any special equipment.
At 10.4lbs, it is lightweight and manageable for almost anybody, making it ideal for home use for those who might be concerned that a larger chainsaw would be too big to handle.
This is not a chainsaw that is designed for heavy-duty tree felling – it is intended for cutting through anything of up to around 8” in diameter. When used for this kind of regular yard maintenance work, it will be more than up to the task.
Similar to the DeWalt chainsaw above, this unit also works through quite a bit of chain lubrication oil – although it is better that it uses too much than too little. Just make sure you take some spare oil with you if you are working away from home.
Also, this chainsaw features a kickback guard – but it doesn’t have a chain brake system. This means that if you have a kickback, you will be protected, but the chain itself won’t stop spinning.
We recommend this to anyone looking for a tool for home use who feels they need something a bit more powerful than a 20V model. However, if you are looking for something more along the lines of a commercial-grade tool, this is probably not your best option.
What I Like
What I Don't Like
5. Earthwise CS33016 Electric Corded Chain Saw
This 16” electric corded saw is right at the bottom of the price range, making it a very handy option if you are looking for a chainsaw that won’t cost a fortune. It is powered by a 12-amp motor and is ideal for small-scale trimming and cutting jobs for the casual home user.
It is practically ready to go right from the box – it comes fully assembled, and you only need to add lubricating oil. We like the way there is a see-through window to the oil tank so you can see when you need to top it up.
It features toolless chain tension adjustment, making it simple to keep it in good working order. It is also designed to minimize kickback during use to keep the operator as safe as possible.
One big plus is its low weight – at just under 10lbs, it is one of the lighter units in this review. It is also very quiet – far quieter than any gas-powered chainsaws you might be used to working with.
With corded tools, the cord can sometimes be a problem if it gets in the way as you work – but the cord retention hook on this chainsaw minimizes the chances of this happening.
The main issues with this tool are related to the oil and lubrication system. This chainsaw is supposed to have a self-oiling function to keep the chain lubricated. Unfortunately, it isn’t particularly effective, and some people might just find it easier to lubricate the chain manually as they work rather than relying on this feature.
Also, it has a slight tendency to leak some oil when in storage – this is even flagged up in the user manual. However, at this low price, many people will be willing to put up with these minor flaws to have a tool that will still get the job done with a minimum of effort.
Overall, a decent tool that, despite some small problems, still represents great value for money. A recommended option for anyone looking for an inexpensive tool and who is willing to put up with the small issues with the lubrication system.
What I Like
What I Don't Like
6. Remington RM1425 Lightweight Corded Electric Chainsaw (Best For The Money)
For those looking for an entry-level chainsaw that is ideal for cutting saplings and small limbs at the lowest possible price, this model from Remington is well worth a look.
This is a small 14” saw that weighs in at just a touch over 6lbs. It is not built for heavy-duty work, but if you accept it for what it is, it can be a highly useful tool to have at your disposal.
It is designed with several safety features to protect the user, including a wraparound handguard to prevent injuries from flying debris. It also incorporates a low-kickback bar to minimize the risk of serious injury if the chain hits a snag.
Since it comes fully assembled and ready to go, it is an excellent option for chainsaw novices. It is ideal for beginners or those inexperienced with larger machines since you don’t have to worry about the hassle of putting everything together first before you can use it.
One feature that may appeal to some but not others is the push-button lubrication system. While this means you are fully in control of releasing oil to lubricate the chain, some users might find it too easy to forget – which could result in the saw becoming damaged.
The main disadvantages of this machine come from its smaller size. It’s only intended for use on smaller trees and branches, and if you try to use it for anything more challenging, you will find that it struggles – it is important to understand that this is not what it’s meant for.
Similarly, since the chain speed is slower than on larger gas-powered chainsaws, it won’t cut so smoothly through harder wood and may be a little jerky to handle. Again, if you are interested in this saw, it is important to know its limits.
Having said that, it is still more than capable of handling any smaller jobs as well as some moderate tasks. If that’s what you want and you are looking for something that is as budget friendly as possible, this chainsaw should be of interest.
What I Like
What I Don't Like
7. WORX WG303.1 Powered Chain Saw
For anyone who likes the idea of a corded electric saw but who needs a little more power and cutting capacity than the smaller models we looked at above, this 16” model from Worx could be a good alternative.
Despite its very reasonable price, it comes with several welcome features for superior and safe performance.
It includes a low kickback bar with a chain brake that stops the chain quickly if the saw snags. This is an important safety feature that can help keep the operator safe.
It also incorporates an auto-tension feature that prevents over-tightening and helps prolong the tool’s working life.
It has an auto-lubrication system to take the hassle out of checking the blade and oiling manually, and the generous oil reservoir has an opaque window to allow you to see exactly how much oil is remaining and when to top it up.
At only 11lbs, it is very lightweight and easy to wield. It also boasts an ergonomic design, with a rubber rear handle that is easy to grip and a full wrap front handle for control and safety.
To throw in a couple of negatives, it seems to have a slightly strange balance, with more weight on the left.
Like many electric chainsaws, it also tends to leak a little oil from the auto-oil mechanism, and the chain tension knob can catch when you work, inadvertently loosening the chain slightly.
However, despite these minor issues, this is another excellent chainsaw with all the advantages of an electric corded model but with a bit more power than many similar chainsaws. Another highly recommended product.
What I Like
What I Don't Like
Many options, so much choice
With so many options and so much choice, the array of chainsaws on offer can be bewildering. To choose the right one for you, the most important factors to consider are how it is powered and how big it is. Once you have decided on these key factors, any of the chainsaws in our review would be a great place to start.
My name is Peter Weeks, Writer of The Daily Gardener. Gardening has always been my passion, nothing gives me quite the satisfaction that feeling the soil sift through my fingers does. Give me a spade, a shovel, and a rake, and I can happily while away the day transforming a patch of land into a beautiful oasis. To me, gardening is life. It’s not a career. It’s not a job. It’s something that I truly love doing. It’s a way of life, a passion that I’ve no intention of ever giving up.