Winter’s coming up fast! For those of you in the Northern US, that might mean it’s time to start stacking your firewood. Is this your first time chopping wood for the winter? Are you planning on using an ax or manual saw? You might want to consider buying a chainsaw. We know purchasing your first chainsaw is an intimidating task. There are different kinds and each has a variety of sizes and styles. Here’s some tips you should read if you’re considering buying a chainsaw.

The kind of chainsaw you buy will depend largely on what you’re going to use it for. If you’re going to be doing light pruning around the lawn or removing small branches from trees, you can use a pole saw which are small, mounted saws on the end of extended poles. For cutting down decently sized trees, you’re going to want a standard chainsaw. There are different grades of standard chainsaws and what you buy will depend on how often you plan to use it and the type/size of wood you will use it on.

Chainsaw Size

If you’re planning to use your chainsaw on thick trees, you will want a chainsaw with a longer bar. “Bar length judges a saw’s size and the work it can handle“. If you plan to cut trees with large diameters, you’re going to want a saw with a longer bar length. Bar lengths often range anywhere from 6″ – 20″+, depending on if it’s a homeowner, farm & ranch, or professional grade chainsaw. If you’re going to be cutting anything larger than small trees or tree limbs, you’re going to want at least a medium duty chainsaw with a 16″-18″ bar. For cutting firewood or large trees, you’ll want to start out with at least a heavy duty saw with an 18″-20” bar.

Chainsaw Power/Fuel

Whether you buy a gas-powered, corded or cordless chainsaw will also depend on the seriousness of work you’re going to do. For gas-powered chainsaws you’ll want to look at the engine displacement. For light duty work, consider a chainsaw with a 30-35 cc measurement of displacement; for heavy duty, one with 35-42 cc; for heavy duty, try to get one that measures 42-50 cc. Gas-powered saws are usually for people with more upper body strength who are going to perform more heavy-duty cutting.

Electric chainsaws (corded or cordless) are a lighter alternative. Corded saws often require an outdoor power source such as a generator, while cordless saws have the added weight of a battery. On the downside, you might not be able to work as long with a battery if you have to stop to recharge. If you plan on cutting for an extended amount of time, you’ll have to get a backup battery or two. These saws are often used for less heavy duty jobs. The higher voltage or amperage your saw has, the more it can do, but you should only use them for cutting small trees and limbs.

Homeowner Grade Chainsaw

Homeowner grade chainsaws are for novice wood cutters who plan to use it intermittently. This is perfect for the occasional removal of one or two trees or to clean up broken and fallen limbs after a storm. Depending on the size of trees around your home, you’ll either want an electric saw or a light to medium duty gas saw with 8″-18″ bar. The bigger the trees are around your home, the longer your bar should be.

Farm & Ranch Grade Chainsaw

These saws are usually medium to heavy duty gas saws with bars ranging from 16″-20″. Use these saws when you plan to regularly cut denser trees with larger diameters. Make sure the saw you get has adjustable oil flow, which controls the oiling of the bar and chain depending on the saw’s usage. Professionals who don’t want to spend the money on a professional saw will usually get these.

Professional Grade Chainsaw

Professional chainsaws are usually lightweight, high-powered, and intended for everyday use. This is the type of chainsaw you’ll want if you use it to earn your livelihood. If you buy one of these, you’ll want to try to get a commercial warranty on it. Professional chainsaws with warranties are not easy to find, but they’re worth it to protect your investment.

Safety Features and Equipment

Chainsaws come with a variety of safety features that you’ll want to ask about before you purchase.

  • Anti-vibration features make your chainsaw easier to control and use for longer periods of time.
  • Spring-assist starting makes it easier to start your saw.
  • Automatic oiler automatically libricates the bar and chain depending on the saw’s usage.
  • Chain break either automatically or manually stops the chain when it senses abrupt movement or impact.
  • Low kick-back bars/chains prevents the saw from jerking back or up.
  • Tool-less chain adjustment makes it easier to adjust chain tension.
  • Air cleaning feature keeps large pieces of debris out of the air filter.

If your chainsaw lacks any of the chain-break features, you’ll need to take more care not to lose control. If you don’t have an automatic oiling saw, you’ll need to frequently oil the chain and bar.

Using a chainsaw also requires a slew of safety equipment. The following items are beneficial if not necessary to use when operating a chainsaw:

STIHL Center

STIHL chainsaws are some of the best, but unfortunately you can’t buy them online at C-A-L Ranch. You can, however, go to our in-store STIHL centers where we have STIHL certified employees who can answer all your questions and advise you, based on their extensive experience, on which chainsaw is best for you. Just look for the giant, glowing STIHL sign next time you’re at C-A-L Ranch.