5 Must-Know Tips When Looking At Buying Your First Chainsaw

Stihl chainsaw

If you are looking for tips when you’re contemplating purchasing your first chainsaw, you’ve come to the right place. Our guide will show you everything you need to know about what to look for when you head off to the hardware store. A chainsaw is a vital part of any toolkit, so don’t let the multitude of available options confuse you. Check out our five tips for buying your first chainsaw.

1. Know your chainsaw options

The worst thing you can be is uninformed when walking into a hardware store. This leaves you open to being scammed by the salespeople or even going home with a saw which won’t meet your needs. After all, how can you pick out the perfect saw if you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for?

You have three main options:

  • Standard chainsaw – this is the typical design for a handheld saw that lets you cut small to medium trees and maintain your yard
  • Pole saw – attached to a long stick, the pole saw lets you cut out-of-reach branches
  • Enclosed saw – small, lightweight saws generally used for trimming

In most cases, when looking at buying your first chainsaw, you’ll want a standard multi-purpose chainsaw. However, if your shears are enough to trim the trees in your yard and you need something for those higher branches, a pole saw may be more appropriate.

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2. Choose your power option wisely

The main decision you will need to make when buying a chainsaw is the power option you want. There are numerous options on the market, each with its own pros and cons. And while salespeople and other experts will be able to help you choose a specific model once you list down your requirements, you will have to narrow the range yourself.

So, you can choose between:

  • Gas-powered saws
  • Corded electric saws
  • Battery-powered saws
Buying Your First Chainsaw

Gas-powered saws

These old-school heavy-duty saws are high-power tools that can cut through anything. However, they’re hard to work with, especially for beginners. Gas-powered saws are generally bulky, heavy, and difficult to handle, and additionally, they’re terrible for the environment. They emit exhaust fumes and make a lot of noise.

Keep in mind that if you purchase a gas-powered saw, you’ll need to invest in noise-canceling headphones, goggles, and perhaps even a mask. There’s also the recurring cost of fuel. Most saws work on a mix of gasoline and two-cycle oil.

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Corded electric saws

A corded saw is the first type of electric tool you can get in this range. While they aren’t as powerful as gas saws, corded electric saws are more than capable of fulfilling any homeowner’s general needs.

The most significant limitation with this saw is the length of the cord. Since you have to plug it into an electrical outlet, you’ll need to pay close attention to cables and extension devices. On the plus side, it can work for hours on end, and you won’t have to worry about fuel costs, fumes, or the battery running out. Corded electric saws are also lightweight and easy to handle.

While the prices vary depending on the brand and model, as a general rule, these saws are also cheaper than their gas-powered siblings.

Oregon Self-Sharpening Corded Electric Chainsaw
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Oregon Self-Sharpening Corded Electric Chainsaw
Includes 18” guide bar and PowerSharp chain with instant start capability. No assembly required. Low noise machine with chain brake for added safety

Battery-powered electric saws

Finally, you have the battery-powered saw, which works in the same manner as a corded saw, except you won’t have to worry about wires or cords. Simply charge it overnight, and it will be good to go in the morning. If you need to travel with your saw, battery-powered equipment is a good option. Its portability makes it a favorite among smaller landscapers and professionals.

You won’t have to worry about noise or exhaust fumes, and maintenance costs are low. All you need to do is change out the cells, and your saw will be good as new. Plus, if you already own battery-powered gear, sticking to the same company means you can use your batteries interchangeably.

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BLACK+DECKER Cordless Chainsaw
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BLACK+DECKER Cordless Chainsaw
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The biggest mistake people make when they buy their first saw is not accounting for all their costs. You aren’t just paying for the chainsaw. Depending on the type you chose, you will also need to invest in fuel or batteries. Additionally, safety equipment is an absolute must and needs to be purchased simultaneously as the saw itself.

Make sure you account for all your costs when you’re deciding whether a saw fits within your budget. You may also need to replace parts in the future. Figure out how much repair and maintenance will cost. Add all this to your spreadsheet, so you aren’t caught unaware.

4. Buy safety equipment with your saw

Safety helmet, ear protectors, goggles, and gloves

You can’t use your chainsaw if you don’t have the proper safety gear. Some of the items you will need to purchase when you buy your first chainsaw include:

  • Safety helmet: to protect your face, ears, and eyes from flying pieces of wood that could cause serious injury.
  • Ear defenders: these are often built into a safety helmet, but not always. In the latter case, you may have to purchase them separately.
  • Trousers: as a beginner, it will take you some time to learn how to handle your saw. It is easy for a saw to slip and cut the handler on their upper leg. Chainsaw trousers will protect you from serious injury but making sure the chain doesn’t cut through your flesh.
  • Gloves: you cannot handle a saw without chainsaw gloves. These come in sturdy material, which is the same as the trousers and can stop the blade from cutting through to your flesh. Regular gloves will not do.
  • Boots: safety boots are steel capped and prevent serious foot injury in case the saw slips or falls

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5. Cost does not equal quality

The final and most important tip is to make sure your chainsaw suits your needs and is within your budget. Spending more money won’t guarantee better quality cuts. And buying a saw with a higher power rating, long-chain, and blade is a pointless expense if you don’t need those features.

Overkill is not the way to go with your first chainsaw. Simply get a sturdy device that fits the bill and does what you need it to.

Chainsaw FAQs

When should I replace my chainsaw chain?

There are multiple signs that your chainsaw chain needs replacing:
* Your chainsaw smokes even with sufficient lubrication
* Positioning the chainsaw is difficult
* The chainsaw doesn’t ‘pull’ itself into the wood
* You’re getting crooked cuts
* There are damaged or missing teeth on the chain

Should the brake be on or off when starting my chainsaw?

It is highly recommended and standard practice that the brake is on or activated when starting up your chainsaw.

My chainsaw chain dulls quickly. Why?

It could be a multitude of reasons, but most commonly it’s due to your chainsaw cutting into dirt in the log, your saw is hitting the ground, or the bar is bent. Cutting through dirty wood will dull your chain much quicker than cutting through clean wood.

What is the general lifespan of a chain?

In theory, a chainsaw chain should last for at least 5-6 years if it’s well taken care of and maintained.