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Buying a Chainsaw Guide
Buying a chainsaw is a complex process. People typically don’t realize how much there is to think about until well after they’ve started shopping for chainsaws. At first, they browse the web or local hardware store, looking for one, and eventually realize, in a moment of shocked epiphany, that they know nothing about what they’re shopping for. That’s when everyone realizes, “wow, this is harder than I thought”. And it is hard, if you don’t know what to look for. We’d like to make buying a chainsaw a little bit easier. Here’s a buying guide that should help you make the big choices.
Kinds of Chainsaws
The first consideration is what kind of chainsaw you need. By “kind”, we mean, gas versus electric. Both have advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to think this through. Gas chainsaws are typically a lot heavier, bulkier, more powerful, more difficult to maneuver, and harder to take care of than electric ones. The advantages, however, are the extra power and torque from the motor; the reliability that comes from gas equipment; and the familiarity many old-timers of lumber and construction have with gas technology.
Electric chainsaws are different beasts entirely. They’re either corded or cordless (choose wisely), run off of either direct electrical feed or a battery, are typically a little less powerful, and are very quiet, at least compared to gas saws. These are all advantages to some people, and disadvantages to others. The choice of electric versus gas often boils down to one of the kind of work you’ll be doing. Most people who plan to do work with heavy lumber and such might want to work with a gas saw: Cutting down trees doesn’t happen with electric saws. On the other hand, if you just plan to cut firewood and fallen trees in the yard, an electric saw is probably sufficient.
Size of Cutting Bar
The next big decision has to do with the size of the saw’s cutting bar. Most range from 8″ to as long as 42″. The choice depends largely on application. If you plan on doing primarily carpentry-style work, a shorter bar of around 14″ might be sufficient. If you’re planning on cutting large-diameter woods, the 16″ – 18″ bars are probably more your style. Remember, longer bars are frequently more dangerous, as they are harder to maneuver predictably; this is something to consider if you think someone with little experience or attention to detail is going to be using the saw.
The final considerations to be made are those of safety. You’ll need to buy chainsaw safety apparel, such as a mask, eye protection, ear protection (required for all gas saws, not a bad idea if you have an electric one), heavy-duty gloves, steel-toed boots, and a chain-proof body-suit, if you plan on doing work with big projects. Also try to find blades that are low-kickback; this means they’ll bounce less if they encounter something solid in what you’re cutting, making for greater safety.