We have tested the best chainsaws available and after hours of sawing, cutting and detailed discussions, we consider the Stihl MSA 120 C-BQ as the best all around chainsaw of 2020. It is a relatively compact chainsaw, which at the same time has a lot of power and top build quality. If you're after a petrol-powered chainsaw, Stihl MS 211 C-BE is the best premium choice. It is a practical chainsaw, easy to use and suitable for various needs.
We carry out all of our tests ourselves and test professional products as they are intended to be used as stated by the manufacturers. We tested the chainsaws by sawing, cutting and limbing a large number of trees of different sizes and types. We also challenged the chainsaws with tougher tasks, such as sawing through brushwood, which is hard work for both the bar and chain because it involves a lot of jerking.
Within our review process, we focused primarily on the following characteristics:
We have taken into account all of these factors together with things like the range of functions, accessories, guarantees and other important points. Then we’ve looked at the price of the product and decided a final score on the basis of its value for money.
Powerful workhorse for homeowners with smaller amounts of woodland
Power source: Petrol Cylinder volume: 40.9 cm³ Power: 2.01 hp Tank volume: 0.25 l Noise level: 89.7 dB (measured) Weight: 4.4 kg (excluding cutting equipment) Bar length: 31.5 cm Accessories included: Scabbard
The Husqvarna 135 is our best all around chainsaw of 2020 because it’s a well-balanced chainsaw with few vibrations and a lot of power. It’s best suited to homeowners with both small and large trees to maintain. The bar is quite long, but despite this, the chainsaw can chew through most things without struggling. The chainsaw is sharp, and the machine is well built.
The disadvantage of the Husqvarna 135 is that it’s really reluctant to start. Many competitors include nice innovations to reduce the resistance, which means that despite being powerful machines they’re easy to start. This chainsaw requires a lot of force from your arms to get it going. At the same time, there’s no good way of positioning your body while you start it. For example, you want to put a knee against the housing to provide resistance, but there’s a bump from the spark plug in the way. What does work is putting one foot in the grip and pulling. But we think the entire starting procedure is a bit old-fashioned and fiddly.
But from another viewpoint, it’s easy to get going; it only needs 1-3 pulls before it starts up from cold. So, if you can find a good technique and you’re strong enough, this isn’t a problem.
Once you've got the Husqvarna 135 going it's user-friendly. For such a workhorse you’re never negatively affected by vibrations while you use it. The saw is also well-balanced. So despite having a heavy machine weight, it’s not too taxing when in use.
The chainsaw’s grips aren’t rubberised, but that isn’t a problem because it sits very well in your hands.
The chain catcher has clear positions and reacts well. The chainsaw is also easy to maintain. The included tool makes it simple to open and access the petrol cap, oil, housing and chain tensioner. We aren’t convinced by the hard plastic snap fasteners on the housing and would have preferred to see a more substantial solution, as these reduce the build quality a little. But in general, the chainsaw feels like a well-built power tool.
All of the markings and sightlines are clearly indicated. Overall, this is a fast and quite easy to use chainsaw, with a bar length and performance that makes it ideal for homeowners with moderate amounts of woodland. Whether you need it for cutting trees or smaller maintenance jobs, this is one of the better choices among the lighter petrol chainsaws.
Handy smaller chainsaw that has a lot of power
Power source: Battery Battery: Type: Lithium ion | Voltage: 36 V | Capacity: 3.2 Ah Motor type: Brushless Bar length: 30 cm Maximum chain speed: 15 m/s Chain pitch: 1/4"P Chain thickness: 1 mm Number of chain links: 45 Noise level:91.4 db Weight: 0.8 kg Accessories included: Scabbard
We name the cordless Stihl MSA 120 C-BQ as our best choice for battery-powered chainsaw as it's both neat and convenient yet powerful. It's perfect for simpler tasks such for cutting trees or debranching them. It has a relatively short bar and a chain that's thinner than what we're used to on this type of chainsaw. This makes it easy and convenient to use. What's lacking is more advanced safety functions. Essentially, all you do is disengage the chain brake and you're ready to go. Lots of people probably appreciate this, but from a safety viewpoint it's not entirely a positive thing. On the other hand, it's very useful for anyone who is climbing up a tree to cut off branches, or for anyone climbing up a ladder. In these cases, it can be helpful not to have to use a start button. It also has a transport mode where the battery is in place but the saw and battery contacts aren't touching each other.
The Stihl MSA 120 C-BQ may be small, but it's definitely no wimp. It has zero problems cutting through quite thick branches of harder woods such as oak. It also copes with quite a lot of cutting and wear before the chain jumps or gets loose. This is fortunate, because the chain is very tough to tension, with the knob providing hard resistance. Another disadvantage of the MSA 120 C-BQ is that it has to be cleaned often. If you cut brushwood or wood that produces a lot of splinters, the chain housing can get clogged quite quickly. On the other hand, it's easy to clean. The battery life is OK. If you're pruning trees it will last half a day, because you cut the odd branch and do lots of other things in between. Stihl states the battery life is around half an hour. Of course, you can buy an extra battery with higher capability. One advantage with this chainsaw is that it comes with battery status readers, so you know how much battery is left. Overall, this is a light and small battery chainsaw with more power than you'd expect.
Powerful and versatile with good build quality
Power source: Battery Battery: Type: Lithium ion | Voltage: 36 V | Capacity: 6 Ah Battery life: 33 min (unloaded), 19 min (loaded) Noise level: 75.1 dB Weight: 5.1 kg (of which 1.7 kg battery) Bar length: 25.5 cm Chain pitch: 1/4"P Accessories included: Scabbard
The Stihl MSA200C is one of the market’s best battery chainsaws, thanks to a combination of neat cuts, power, ease of use and a solid battery life. It has a clear battery indicator, rubberised grip, is clearly well built and produces few vibrations to enhance user comfort. The chain is thin and really flexible. It produces very good cuts, which means that this chainsaw is ideal for finer work. At the same time, the thin chain means that you need a special file to sharpen it.
Despite the fact that the chain is so thin, the chainsaw can cope with both felling and cutting up a medium sized birch tree without protesting.
Maintaining the MSA200C is simple. You top up the oil through a cap that you fold out of the way. The battery is spring loaded so it's easy to remove and replace. Cleaning is easy because there’s a little handle type device that you turn to undo it.
The only disadvantage is the chain tensioner. There’s nothing actually wrong with the construction – a wheel that you tighten – because it works well. The problem is that the wheel is extremely sluggish. And if it happens to be splashed with oil that’s had time to harden, the problem only gets worse.
The MSA200C uses a lot of oil. The advantage is of course that it's constantly well lubricated. The disadvantage is that it becomes a bit more expensive to operate. It takes almost an entire tank of oil each time if you run it from a full fuel tank to empty. But the oil tank isn’t very big, and as we mentioned earlier it’s easy to top up.
The included battery has a high capacity and the battery life under load is good. There are competitors that perform to a similar level without a load, but with a load their working time is drastically reduced. Meanwhile, the MSA200C's battery can cope with a lot of heavier work, and we measured a battery life of 3.2 minutes per Ah during our test.
The downside of the high battery capacity is that the battery is very heavy and significantly increases the machine weight. Simultaneously, the advantages of having a battery chainsaw that can cope with felling and cutting up a smaller tree, cut timber and prune trees become clear after a couple of months’ use.
The Stihl MSA200C is therefore most suitable for arborists and people owning larger areas of woodland looking for a versatile chainsaw that can cope with both finer and heavier tasks, such as for cutting trees.
Powerhouse suited to bigger trees
Power source: Petrol Cylinder volume: 42.4 cm³ Power: 1900 W Tank volume: 0.51 l Noise level: 99.5 dB (measured) Weight: 4.3 kg Bar length: 38 cm Accessories included: Scabbard
The Stiga SP 426 is amongst the best chainsaws we’ve tested, partly because of its power and partly because of its vibration control system. The motor has really good torque and a fast response. You can cut down thicker trees and chop up coarser wood with ease.
The saw is heavy, but this doesn’t affect performance very much. It also has a fuel indicator, though it’s difficult to see the petrol level through the small window, so that doesn’t help very much in practice.
The build quality is high. There are no strange noises and the saw is robustly made. After a couple of months we had a problem with the engine shutting down as soon as it got hot. On a normal chainsaw, you have two setting screws, one low and one high. You use these to regulate idling and speed. The SP426 has only one of these screws and the ignition coil is electronic. After tightening the screw and undoing it again, the saw worked normally.
The SP426 also has a choke that you turn up when you start the saw, and a pump. You start the saw, give it a little power and then the choke releases automatically. This is a very useful feature.
The SP 426 comes with a traditional chain tensioner that works well but does require a tool. The tool is included, but we tend to prefer toolless tensioners of the type that are becoming increasingly common.
The air filter, on the other hand, requires no tools and is easily detached via its snap filter. The tank and oil caps aren’t actually meant to require tools, but in practice the grip on these is poor, so if you’ve tightened them too much you may need to use a tool to free them up again.
The Stiga SP 426 is a really powerful, modern chainsaw for anyone who wants to be able to cut down big trees or efficiently chop up coarse timber. It’s ideal for anyone with a lot of trees on their land, or a patch of woodland.
Convenient and reliable battery chainsaw
Battery: Type: Lithium ion | Voltage: 36 V | Capacity: 4,2 Ah Motor type: Brushless Bar length: 25-35 cm Chain speed: 15 m/s Chain pitch: 3/8 inch Chain thickness: 1.1 mm Number of chain links: 45 Noise level: 106 dB Dimensions (LxWxH): 430x255x230 mm Weight (inc. bar, battery and chain): 4.8 kg (measured) Guarantee: 1 year Accessories included: Scabbard User manual: PDF
The Husqvarna 436 Li battery-powered chainsaw is as convenient as it is reliable. Husqvarna's reputation within the chainsaw market is world-class, and the 436 Li demonstrates that they can even produce top quality battery-powered chainsaws. The chainsaw is well balanced and easy to control while simultaneously being powerful for a battery chainsaw, particularly in relation to its size. The chain doesn't jump off at the first chance, not even when working freely in a large, messy heap of brushwood. The design is extremely well thought out. Both the throttle control and safety throttle are sufficiently large. The kickback protection is well positioned and easy to handle. However, the start/stop button can be perceived as too small if you have large hands and are wearing thick working gloves.
For some reason, the scabbard is longer than the bar so it falls off readily. It's easy to remove the battery for charging. The battery is a reasonable size and lasts for a long time. The charger is fast, which means it has a relatively powerful and noisy built-in fan to counteract overheating during charging. Oddly, the charger refused to charge at temperatures below zero. The 436 Li is an excellent choice for arborists or private individuals looking for a chainsaw for simpler tasks such as felling, limbing and cross-cutting smaller trees.
Easy-to-start model and convenient chainsaw for all-round use
Power source: Petrol Bar length: 35 cm Cylinder volume: 35.2 cm³ Power: 1.7 kW Tank volume: 0.27 l Chain pitch: 3/8"P (low profile chain) Chain thickness: 1.3 mm Number of chain links: 50 Chain type: PD3 Noise level: 106.8db Weight: 4.6 kg Guarantee: 2 years Accessories included: Scabbard
The Stihl MS 211 C-BE is a chainsaw that can cope with a wide range of tasks while simultaneously being easy to start and maintain. Stihl boast a function called Easy2Start, which consists of a spiral spring that stores energy. In practice, this means you don't have to pull too hard or fast for it to get going. A simple tug gets you underway. The function works well and is one of the biggest advantages with this chainsaw. Another advantage is how easy it is to clean it. You simply pull out a button and rotate it. Nor does the chainsaw have any problems continuing to chew through trees and branches even if it's got a bit dirty.
The MS 211 C-BE is ideal as an all-round saw. It can fell smaller to medium-sized trees. It's fairly average in terms of fuel consumption, performing in roughly the same class as its competitors, which in practice means that you can fell a couple of trees and debranch them on one tank of fuel. It's also suitable for cross-cutting or limbing trees, even if a light battery chainsaw is really the best tool for limbing. We found a few negative points. The chain is sluggish to tension and the knob could have been softer. And the “On” button is small and well-integrated into the machine. We do feel however that this could have been made more visible. On the whole, the MS 211 C-BE is a good all-round chainsaw for the average user who wants to fell, debranch and cut smaller to medium-sized trees. The chain is also of a durable hard metal variety.
Cheap but heavy chainsaw, with limited performance
Power source: Petrol Cylinder volume: 46 cm³ Power: 1600 W Tank volume: 0.55 l Noise level: 100.1 dB (measured) Weight: 5.5 kg Bar length: 45 cm Accessories included: Scabbard
The MTD GCS 4600/45 is a chunky looking budget chainsaw. At first, the build quality feels OK. Apart from the fact that the chain rattles, everything seems to be in good order, and there are no strange noises.
And when you fire the saw up, it sounds like a real beast. But once you start using it, things take a turn for the worse.
It takes a long time to cut through thick trunks, and even on thinner trees it’s definitely inefficient compared to competitors' models in the same price range. For example, it struggles to cut through wood with a thickness of 20 cm.
We sharpened the chain to try to help things along. But even after we’d done that, the saw felt as if it was struggling when it bit into the log.
On the plus side, the chainsaw starts very easily. We didn’t have any problems getting it to fire up even after leaving it standing for a while.
The MTD GCS 4600/45 has a really large tank volume and it’s quite easy to maintain. For example, you can clean the oil filter without tools. One disadvantage is that you have to use a key to open the fuel cap, once you’ve tightened it up properly.
The saw is equipped with a traditional chain tensioner. Unfortunately, the chain feels a bit slack even if you tighten it, and it’s not really possible to get it 100% tight.
The grip on the GCS 4600 is good, but unfortunately there’s a lot of vibration in the machine, which means that the user experience still isn’t top notch when it comes to the ergonomics. In addition, the saw is very heavy.
The MTD GCS 4600/45 is undeniably cheap and if it hadn’t weighed so much, it would have been suitable for cutting logs, which is the obvious purpose. The problem with this saw is that it weighs – and vibrates – far too much for a low-performance machine, while it doesn’t perform well enough for serious tree felling and the like. So it has no real target audience.
Good for cutting timber and trimming trees
Power source: Battery Battery: Type: Lithium ion | Voltage: 36 V | Capacity: 4 Ah Battery life: 37 min (unloaded), 15 min (loaded) Noise level: 72.6 dB Weight: 4.9 kg (of which 1.2 kg battery) Bar length: 26.5 cm Chain pitch: 1/4"P Accessories included: Scabbard
The Husqvarna 120i is a long chainsaw in terms of motor and bar, particularly with the battery on, which Husqvarna have placed at the back. But it’s still well balanced, so this is only a disadvantage in terms of size. At the same time, the saw is quite heavy, which also adds to the impression that this is a large chainsaw.
Unfortunately, it isn’t impressive in terms of power. It copes with exactly what you'd expect from a chainsaw with this motor capacity, but no more. For example, when we try to cut up a smaller birch tree, it switches off and flashes red. Then we have to wait for a while before it will start again.
In terms of maintenance, this is a good chainsaw. It’s easy to tighten the chain, even if the knob could have been a bit bigger. It’s fast and straightforward to top up the oil as there’s a useful lid, and it's easy to remove the housing to clean the machine. The fact that it's so quiet is also making us nod in appreciation.
The chainsaw has a number of safety features. We like the fact that you can switch it off with a separate button, and that the chain brake has such distinct positions.
The balance in the saw is perfect despite its rather narrow design, and it does have very good vibration reduction. However, the plastic handles are lacking rubberised grips.
The battery life on the cordless Husqvarna 120i is good under load, and it also has an eco-mode that adds a few minutes. Its 3.75 min/Ah makes it the best in its class just now, but that’s assuming you don’t load it too hard.
The battery system gives us a few problems. For example, we can use the chainsaw’s battery in a Husqvarna hedge trimmer with the same voltage, but the hedge trimmer’s battery doesn’t fit the chainsaw. Hopefully, Husqvarna will refresh their range in the future so that it's always possible to share batteries between machines in the same voltage class.
The Husqvarna 120i is a good chainsaw, but primarily for simpler tasks. It’s best suited for those looking to cut up trees or timber.
If you want to do lots of small-scale sawing for a long time…
Power source: Petrol Cylinder volume: 30.1 cm³ Power: 1.2 kW Tank volume: 0.25 l Noise level: 86.5 dB (measured) Weight: 4.57 kg Bar length: 27 cm Chain pitch: 3/8"P Chain thickness: 1 mm Number of chain links: 44 Chain type: PM3 Guarantee: 2 year Accessories included: Scabbard
The Stihl MS 170 is a user-friendly and easy-to-start petrol chainsaw for light to medium sawing tasks. It’s simple to maintain and has a compact design. Access for cleaning is also straightforward. You open the motor cover by rotating one part 90 degrees with a screwdriver or similar tool.
This means it's firmly attached but there are no small parts that can break when you open it. We think other manufacturers should adopt this solution too. The spark plug, filter and so on are then easily accessible inside the cover.
We also like the distinct chain catcher and the built-in stop/start/choke that you can reach easily with your thumb. It makes the entire chainsaw effortless to use. However, the chain tensioner could have had a more modern design. It’s easy to tension but awkwardly positioned because the screws aren't next to each other. The chainsaw produces a vibration – not so much that it’s really bothersome, but given that the MS 170 isn’t hugely powerful these vibrations are still a bit excessive.
Nor is it all that fast. It takes a while for the chainsaw to get up to speed, and even when it’s running on full power, it's not enormously strong given the price tag. However, the MS 170 is a wonder at efficiently felling and cutting up small trees.
Its strength lies in the small user-friendly format and the fact that it's easy to start. You don't need to use too much force, which makes it even more user-friendly.
However, the target group for this chainsaw is hard to define. In this segment, battery chainsaws are doing pretty well these days because they're a lot more powerful and have enough battery life to cut up timber and so on without struggling. They can even cope with felling small to medium trees and cutting them up.
This means that the Stihl MS 170 is only really interesting if for some reason you're looking for a petrol chainsaw rather than a battery one for small to medium tasks. For example, if you're going to cut up lots of small trees and need to do it in one go without changing batteries.
Efficient chainsaw with high safety features
Petrol Cylinder volume: 40.9 cm³ Bar length: 33-45 cm Maximum chain speed: 17 m/s Power: 1.8 kW Tank volume: 0.37 Chain pitch: 325" Chain thickness: 13 mm Number of chain links: 56 Chain type: H30 Noise level:107.4 db Weight: 4.4 kg (excluding cutting equipment) Guarantee: 1/2 years Accessories included: Scabbard, combination socket tool
The Husqvarna 440 E-series X-Torq delivers both power and a high level of safety. It's ideal for beginners because it's well balanced and has double kickback protection. The chainsaw sits comfortably in the hand and produces very little vibration. It's easy to clean and seamless to top up with oil and petrol. However, we find the snap fasteners on the cylinder housing a little fiddly. They tend to wear and break over time. And we feel that the price of replacements is excessive. On a chainsaw in this price class, we expect top quality in all aspects. Another thing that impairs the overall impression of the 440 E-series is the cold start. It's easy to start in that you don't have to pull more than two or three times. But it's quite heavy to pull and you need a good deal of force. It can also take a while before it gets up to speed. This isn't a major problem overall, but it gives the impression that it could have been more lively.
Once going, the 440 E-series is a chainsaw with a great deal of cutting power. The chain is quite broad, and this together with the power means that you can fell both small and larger trees without any problems. However, it tends to jump quite a lot when we saw through harder woods. Otherwise it works evenly. We like the fact that you can choose a shorter bar when limbing felled trees. However, when you buy the chainsaw, it only includes one bar, so you have to pay more if you want to add others. We also like the carefully considered positioning and design of the stop button. The button is in a protected yet easily accessible place, and its red colour makes it clearly visible. This means you don't have any problems reaching it with your thumb. At the same time, you won't hit the button by mistake, for example if something falls against it. Our overall experience is that the 440 E-series is a good chainsaw for individuals who regularly saw trees of varying sizes; people looking for both high levels of safety and a user-friendly chainsaw will be happy with this machine.
A powerhouse without finesse
Power source: Petrol Cylinder volume: 51.8 cm³ Power: 2.4 kW Noise level: 90.6 dB (measured) Weight: 4.7 kg (excluding cutting equipment) Bar length: 37 cm Accessories included: Scabbard
The AL-KO Solo 652 is a real powerhouse and would probably work well in a sawmill, although we haven’t tried it out in that environment. Instead, we've tested it as a chainsaw intended for private individuals with a lot of woodland and chunky trees.
It copes with everything we ask it to. The long bar means it's suitable for larger trees. We didn’t hear any complaints from the motor when we used it in tough environments. The chunky chain whirs away and quickly chews through trees.
The AL-KO Solo 652 is quite slow to start in standard mode. You have to overcome a lot of resistance. Fortunately, there's a button you can press to reduce this. This makes the starting experience much more pleasant. After this, the button pops out again and the motor runs at full power.
Unfortunately, the chainsaw also produces quite a lot of vibration. It isn’t sufficiently well balanced for a machine in this strength class. In addition, it’s very heavy and noisy. Over time it becomes rather tiresome to operate. On the other hand, this isn’t a chainsaw you'd choose to cut wood, but is instead intended to be used during shorter sessions where you're felling and cutting up larger trees.
The choke is easily accessible. You pull out a button and push it in again once the chainsaw is running. The primer bulb is also well positioned. The on/off button is hidden under the primer bulb and is the same colour as the chainsaw itself. We think this could have been clearer.
The oil and petrol caps are easiest to open with the included tool. These have relatively small ridges, which means otherwise they would quite easily lock up. But they're well positioned for topping up. The housing has a quick lock. You can open it with your fingers but it's quite stiff and we tended to use a screwdriver instead. The snap fasteners are made of hard plastic. Overall, it feels like the build quality and material choices could have been better and the design could have been improved given the price.
The major disadvantage of this chainsaw is the price. Given how high this is, we’d have expected to see the chainsaw being made with better balance and more intelligent innovations to make it stand out from the crowd.
As it stands, you're paying for power alone, and you can find cheaper chainsaws that perform sufficiently well for homeowners with wooded plots. There quite simply aren’t enough unique features to separate this chainsaw from its competitors in the mid-class bracket. But if you're looking for a workhorse that’s powerful without any particular finesse, it's a reasonably buy for home use.
Too heavy to be useful
Power source: Battery Battery: Type: Lithium ion | Voltage: 36 V | Capacity: 10 Ah Battery life: 23 min (under load) Noise level: 96.5 dB (max mode), 95 dB (eco mode) Weight: 4.2 kg chainsaw, 2.3 kg battery (10 Ah) Accessories included: Scabbard
The Solo by AL-KO CS 4235 is a bit of an odd bird in the chainsaw market. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing, we’ll come to in a minute, but to start off we’ll give it a plus for the extraordinary chain tensioner. You don’t need tools; instead the tensioner is just a big wheel. First you loosen the outer knob, then you turn the wheel, and then you tighten the knob again.
The CS 4235 is a bit sluggish to start. But it does eventually fire up after a bit of a delay and, in practice, that’s not really much of a problem.
On the other hand, its performance definitely is a problem. The chain rotates quite slowly, which means it takes a fair time to cut through thicker trunks and branches. The chainsaw actually comes with two modes – but it is sluggish in both. If you set it to low mode to save the battery, it takes an extremely long time to cut anything. And it’s really only suitable for cutting thinner branches or felling small trees.
The plastic grip is reasonable and the machine generates little vibration.
The CS 4235 is a slightly odd chainsaw in that it comes with a cable. The idea is to hang the battery on a belt that you wear around your waist, and then connect this to the chainsaw via a 1.6 metre long cable. The cable doesn’t roll in automatically, or anything like that, so it just hangs loose by your side all the time.
For a battery chainsaw, the CS 4235 is extremely heavy. The saw alone, excluding battery, weighs almost as much as the competitors' models do with battery included. The belt also weighs one kilo. Add to all that the fact that the battery weighs just over two kilos and you’ll soon be carrying around 7.5 kilos. The idea is even that you carry up to two more batteries on the belt – in addition to the one in use.
The chainsaw does come with a harness you can attach to the belt to take some of the weight. We understand the idea, which is to carry more batteries and get a longer working time. But the combination of that loose cable, a weight of over seven kilos and the movements you perform when using a chainsaw constitute an excessive physical load.
In addition, the chainsaw is quite wide, with a wide handle. The CS 4235 looks and weighs like a real performance monster, but it actually performs like a much more basic machine. In other words it's not really suitable for either target group.
However, the chainsaw does get a plus for the placement of the oil cap, which makes it easy to refill. And it also has a clear indicator for the oil level.
The battery lights up and shows the battery level as soon as you touch it, so there’s no specific button to activate this function. Which means it’s lit all the time you’re using the saw.
The Solo by AL-KO CS 4235 works OK if you’re likely to be chopping up small branches, but even then there are more efficient and lighter models on the market.
Smaller battery-powered chainsaw for lighter tasks
Battery: Type: Lithium ion | Voltage: 36 V | Capacity: 2.6 Ah Motor type: Brushless Bar length: 30 cm Chain speed: 8 m/s Chain pitch: 3/8 inch Noise level: 96 dB Dimensions (LxWxH): 423x268x228 mm Weight: 7.4 kg (inc. bar, battery and chain) Guarantee: 1 year (2 years if registered on Bosch's website) Accessories included: 80 ml chain oil User manual: PDF
The Bosch AKE 30 Li is a battery-powered chainsaw suitable for smaller tasks, such as clearing small trees and cross-cutting smaller trunks. The chainsaw can be purchased with or without a battery. If you purchase a package with a battery included, this does last for quite a long time, but there are more economical batteries on the market. The chainsaw makes a helpful beeping noise when the power is switched on, which means that you don't have to check whether or not the “On” button is illuminated. However, the start button is very small and impractically positioned. It's easy to remove and replace the battery. Unfortunately, the build quality leaves a good deal to be desired and the AKE 30 Li has to be fixed quite often. This means that potential repair costs could be quite high in the long run. The chain pops off quite easily when it's exposed to tougher tasks. And when it's faced with a large heap of brushwood - which means a lot of jerking in the chain - it throws the chain pretty much straight away. The AKE 30 Li is most suited to larger hands. This is partly because the throttle control and the safety throttle are rather far apart, and partly because the kickback protection is narrow and the distance to the front handle is relatively large. The work of sawing would have been made easier if the chainsaw was better balanced. If you hold it in the centre of the front handle, the saw feels unbalanced and hard to control. The AKE 30 Li does have some strengths, but given the price we'd have expected stellar quality.
Powerful battery chainsaw with patchy design choices
Motor type: Brushless Bar length: 35 cm Maximum chain speed: 11.8 m/s Chain pitch: 3/8 inch Chain thickness: 1.3 cm Number of chain links: 52 Noise level: 103? dB Weight (inc. bar, battery and chain): 3.6? kg (measured) Battery type: Lithium ion Battery voltage: 48 V Battery capacity: 5.0 Ah Accessories included: Scabbard?
The Stiga SC 48 AE is a battery chainsaw with a good bar length in relation to the size of the machine. This makes it effective for felling and cross-cutting smaller trees. Above all, it's most suitable for limbing. The chain has an unfortunate tendency to jump when cutting things like brushwood. The chainsaw is easy to clean, and you can quickly remove the drive sprocket cover. The battery is a bit stiff to remove, but the charger is very straightforward. The battery charger is a little more powerful than the average industry standard, and Stiga's batteries are relatively cheap. Stiga doesn't yet sell a package with a chainsaw, charger and battery all together, which is a bit odd as their selection of compatible batteries is so small. A handy suspension hole makes it easy to store the chainsaw.
Intelligent design in the start/stop button makes access easier if you're wearing protective gloves. Unfortunately, the kickback protection is placed so close to the front handle that a large gloved hand can't really fit. The safety throttle is also rather small. The SC 48 feels quite heavy. This isn't due to a heavier machine weight, but instead the effect of the chainsaw being poorly balanced with a lot of the weight at the back. This makes it more of an effort to use for longer sessions. The Stiga 48 AE is poorly designed in parts, but at the same time it gives a lot of power for your money.
Simple chainsaw for easy tasks
Power source: Battery Battery: Type: Lithium ion | Voltage: 18 V | Capacity: 5 Ah Battery life: 25 min (unloaded), 5.3 min (loaded) Noise level: 73.9 dB Weight: 4.2 kg (of which 742 g battery) Bar length: 26.5 cm Accessories included: Scabbard
The Ryobi OCS1830 is a user-friendly chainsaw that's neat in terms of its size. It has a light and relatively narrow in design. The safety button for starting it is on top so you can reach it regardless of whether you're right or left-handed. The rubberised grip gives you good control of the chainsaw despite a lot of vibrations generated.
The chainsaw has reasonable build quality for the price tag – even if it can feel a little plasticky. There’s a bit of a gap in the attachment between the bar and the machine.
The chain tensioning on the OCS1830 is really good. The chainsaw has a knob on the outside and a cover with two pegs on, one to tighten the chain with and the other to release it. This is easy, either with or without gloves. It’s also easy to undo the housing for cleaning.
The chain catcher has distinct positions and the oil cap is quite high up, which makes it easy to fill up.
The battery is well positioned and easy to insert or remove. However, the battery indicator is underneath so you can’t see it while you’re using the chainsaw.
One major advantage of the OCS1830 is that it’s a member of the One+ family, which means you can share batteries with other 18-volt tools from Ryobi. The disadvantage with this is how it performs under load.
Unloaded it lasts for quite a long time. But as soon as we face the OCS1830 with even simple tasks, the operating time drops to just less than a minute per ampere hour. This means you can run it for about five minutes with a 5Ah battery. If you're only going to chop up a very small tree or a little heap of wood, this is perhaps enough. But given the price, this seems really stingy.
It also got stuck a lot when we were cutting up trees. But the motor is quite strong so you’re quickly up and running again.
Overall, the OCS1830 is best suited to individuals who want a chainsaw for very simple tasks. For example, it's neat and sufficiently powerful to demolish a wall indoors, or for lighter tree lopping. But this isn’t a chainsaw you’d take with you out into the forest, either for felling or limbing.
The chainsaw has long been an essential tool for agricultural and forestry workers, but it is becoming increasingly popular for home use too. This is probably partly because there are now a wide range of easy-to-use and affordable chainsaws for simpler tasks, such as pruning or for carving. Traditionally, chainsaws have been petrol-operated, but today chainsaws with electric start, both mains and battery-powered, are popular. In recent years, battery-powered chainsaws have increased in popularity as their batteries have become both more powerful and cheaper. Petrol-operated chainsaws are still superior in terms of power, but electric chainsaws have other advantages which outweigh this benefit in the eyes of many consumers. Above all, they are quieter and produce no unpleasant exhaust gases. The type of chainsaw you should choose depends on what you intend to use it for. If you need a power tool for large trees, a petrol-operated chainsaw is best. However, if you're mainly going to be cutting down smaller trees or limbing, an electric or battery-powered chainsaw is probably sufficient. Interestingly, some people need a chainsaw for concrete and to cut through much harder materials.
Chainsaws are powerful tools and incorrectly handled they can be extremely dangerous. Every year there are hundreds of accidents with both injuries and death resulting from working with chainsaws incorrectly. Together with agriculture, forestry is one of the most dangerous professions today. As an individual, you have the right to fell trees on your own property without documented training. However, it can be a good idea to go on a chainsaw course to improve your knowledge and reduce the risk of accidents. Even if you think you already know how to use a chainsaw you can always learn more. And a certificate will allow you to work professionally with a chainsaw. Remember that you should always erect warning signs before felling a tree, and that you should contact road and utility owners if roads or cables/pipelines are within the area where the tree may fall.
In addition to close contact with the chainsaw, many accidents are related to flying wood chips, branches or even tree trunks. it's important not only to handle the chainsaw correctly but also to wear suitable protective clothing. There are no legal requirements for protective equipment, but it can be sensible to comply with the same rules applying to professional tree-surgeons. They've been drawn up for a reason. The rules for professionals say that you should wear the following:
For your chainsaw to keep running a long time, it's important to maintain it after every use by checking that it has a) the right amount of chain oil, b) that the chain is correctly tensioned and c) that it's kept sharp. When you have finished sawing, you should also check the air filter and if necessary - clean it. You should also make sure you have the right filing equipment to save time and achieve the best results.
The bar is of course also a consumable, but lasts for much longer than the chain and is therefore not included in the list above. If you want to be extra well prepared for awkward situations such as sick or leaning trees, there are also aids such as felling wedges, winches, tree pushers and breaking bars.
Low prices.* More and more people are buying chainsaws on the internet. The primary reason for this is probably that it's easier to compare prices and find a model with a cheaper price. Online shop prices are often the lowest on the market. This is partly because they can keep their costs down as they don't have to pay for physical shops, with staff costs, maintenance, heating, rent etc. There's often very tough price competition between online shops.
Cost-free home delivery.* If you buy a chainsaw in an online shop, home delivery is usually included. This means you don't have to waste time getting to and from a physical shop yourself. In other words, you can often save both time and money by buying your chainsaw online.
Even though chainsaws on the market may be very similar at first glance, many aspects can distinguish them from one another. For example, good balance is important for working ergonomics, and there are a number of functions that the chainsaw should include in order to be safe. Here we go through the points you should take into account when choosing a chainsaw.
We also go discuss the concept of pitch and explain how to measure the pitch on your chain...
One of the first questions you're faced with when buying a chainsaw is whether it should be powered by a battery, mains electric or petrol.
The battery-powered version has the advantage that you don't have to struggle with extension cables when you want to use it. The disadvantage is, of course, that you have to recharge it between uses. If you choose a battery-powered chainsaw, it's important that it can cope with the entire task you intend to use it for; both felling the tree and any subsequent cross-cutting. Alternatively, you can have a number of batteries. A battery-powered chainsaw is rarely suitable for large trees or trees with harder woods such as oak.
If you choose a battery-powered chainsaw, make it one with a brushless motor, as this gives a longer lifetime.
Mains powered chainsaws with electric start functioning have the advantage of often being slightly lighter and neater than petrol-operated ones. For small trees, or for home use with a smaller garden and fewer substantial trees, these are often sufficient.
Electric and battery-powered chainsaws also have the advantage that they don't release exhaust gases and that they are quieter, so they can be used indoors and in urban areas without causing too much disruption.
But for anyone with woodland, or a garden with big trees, a petrol-driven chainsaw is the best choice. They are often heavier, but at the same time have a higher capacity and don't require a cable.
Petrol-operated chainsaws for the average homeowner are normally equipped with a two-stroke motor, which is usually sufficient. But you can also get chainsaws with four-stroke motors. These are significantly more powerful.
As with all machines, vibrations are caused when you use a chainsaw. If you're using it often, it's important that you aren't exposed to unnecessarily powerful vibrations, because over the long term this can lead to injuries, also known as HAVS.
Cheap machines often have worse vibration absorption, which means that you can't use them for as long as others.
Sometimes chainsaws get stuck and can be thrown back towards you. This can also happen when the tip touches something before the rest of the bar. Chainsaws are therefore equipped with a chain brake or kickback protection. Exactly how this works varies from one chainsaw to another. For example, it can stop the chain when it detects the chainsaw making a sharp movement, or your hand may hit a control that stops the chain when the chainsaw flies up. It may also have an inertial chain brake.
Two other safety functions are the chain catcher, which catches the chain if it breaks or is derailed, and the right-hand protection that means the chain can't reach your fingers.
It's also a legal requirement for chainsaws to have a stop button and a safety throttle to prevent accidental acceleration.
Many chainsaws require you to depress two buttons or controls to enable them to start, which is another key safety function.
Cutting down trees is generally pretty tough on the body. The working position for cross-cutting isn't exactly ideal, so ergonomics are very important when it comes to choosing a chainsaw.
This is partly about the weight of the machine and partly about how it's designed. If the grip is good and the weight right, you can saw for longer periods and it doesn't make you as tired or sore. A chainsaw should also be well-balanced.
In addition to the important safety functions, there are also various other functions that are more related to the user experience. Functions for simple start and stop commands are common and have an array of names depending on the manufacturer.
The opportunity of varying the bar length for different tasks is also a useful function that can be found on some models. A short bar length is better for limbing, while a longer bar is necessary for cutting down bigger trees.
Professional quality chainsaws have a premium function in that they're equipped with heated handles. This means that you can work for longer even in cold winter conditions.
When you choose a chainsaw, make sure it's easy to tension the chain as this is something you'll be doing a lot. Some chainsaws have tool-free chain tensioners which are preferable - if they function well.
You should also make sure that it's easy to access and clean air filters and any spark plug. And that it's easy to check and top-up the oil, as that's what lubricates the chain.
Finally, you should consider chain maintenance. Some people prefer to sharpen the chain manually with a round file, where you file each cutting link separately. But if you use a chainsaw often and want the sharpening process to be as quick as possible, a chain grinder is a worthwhile investment.
This is an important point when you're choosing a chainsaw. A chainsaw takes a lot of punishment, and even if you maintain it carefully, damage can occur. It's essential that spares are available. Well-known brands often have these, either in the shop or via a mail-order service.
The guarantee is also important. If the chainsaw breaks down soon after you buy it, you don't want to have to pay for a new one.
There are lots of accessories that make sawing simpler and contribute to a safer sawing environment. Here are just a few.
Chains: You can buy a new chain for your chainsaw if the old one has worn out and needs replacing.
Bar: Just like the chain, you can buy a new bar for the chainsaw when the old one wears out.
Oil: You should always have oil in stock so that you can keep the chainsaw correctly lubricated.
Winch: Helps to encourage awkward trees to fall where you want them.
Tree pusher: Helps to get the tree to fall in the right direction, but they can also be used as a lifting aid.
Felling wedge: A wedge that you insert so that the tree can't pinch onto the saw. Normally these are made of plastic.
Pry bar: Using the lever principle, you can encourage the tree to fall in the right direction.
Chain grinder: Keeps the chain's cutting links in trim so that the chainsaw doesn't have to struggle to cut.
Saw-horse: Lift logs onto a sawhorse so that you can stand up straighter when you cut them up.
Timber jig: Produce your own planks by attaching the jig to the chainsaw and then sawing through the logs lengthways.
You should always wear protective clothing while using a chainsaw. This consists of chainsaw boots or shoes, gloves, a chainsaw jacket, chainsaw trousers and a helmet with a visor and hearing protection.
It's a good idea to take first aid supplies to the place where you'll be working.
Make sure you're clearly visible while you're felling trees, so that any passers-by can hear you and see what's going on.
A chainsaw essentially consists of a body, a bar and a chain. For these to work together, they all have to have the same chain pitch. In other words, if you have a chainsaw without a bar or chain, you can't just buy any bar or chain.
How the chainsaw is constructed determines which type of bar and chain you need to use. The bar is normally equipped with a nose wheel; this and the chain must have the same chain pitch as the chainsaw's drive sprocket for them to work together.
However, when we talk about the chain pitch, we often mean the distance between the drive links, because it's normally the chain or bar that you'll be replacing. There are different types of chain pitch. The most common on chainsaws is currently 0.325". But there are quite a lot of chainsaws with 3/8" chain pitch.
The easiest is to check the model and manufacturer of your chainsaw and find the chain pitch in the manual for your machine. You can often find manuals on the manufacturer's website if you have lost the paper version.
Take the chainsaw to a reseller. An expert can usually see which model it is and knows which chain and bar will fit.
Measure the chain pitch yourself.
If we have reviewed the chainsaw, the chain pitch value will be stated in the product specification above the review.
Option three is simple in theory, but you have to be accurate in your measurements. For example, there's only 1.3 mm difference between 0.325" and 3/8". The right way to determine the pitch is to measure the distance between three rivets. If you measure the distance between three of them, divide the figure by 2 and convert it into inches, this gives you the chain pitch.
Example: If you measure the distance between three rivets on a 0.325" chain, you get a distance of 16.5 mm. Then you calculate 16.5/2 = 8.25 mm. And finally, you convert this into inches, which is 0.325.
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