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Experts’ Tips: Chainsaws

January 11, 2021 -  By
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Chainsaw (Photo: Stihl)

Must haves Personal protective equipment is a must when using chainsaws. (Photo: Stihl)

Buying a new chainsaw requires users to first consider how they’ll use it, says Dylan Stephenson, owner of So-Low Cuts Landscaping, in Springfield, Ohio. So-Low Cuts provides property maintenance, lawn care and landscape design and installation for a mix of 75 percent residential, 25 commercial clients.

Stephenson and Mark Chisholm, Stihl spokesperson and director of operations at Aspen Tree Expert Co., a commercial and residential tree removal, pest control and plant health care company in Jackson, N.J., share chainsaw purchasing tips.

In addition to how you’ll use a chainsaw, you should also consider how often you plan on using it. If you don’t plan to run a chainsaw every day, Stephenson says a battery-powered option may be a good fit because the carburetor in a gas-powered chainsaw can experience buildup if it’s idle for too long.

Consider the power-to-weight ratio, as well. The longer you use the chainsaw, the more fatigued you’ll get. Chisholm suggests thinking about features such as a light bar to help lighten the weight.

Stephenson says a good friend of his offered this piece of advice: Buy the best equipment you can afford at the time.

“If it’s a chainsaw, if you’re getting started, there’s no need to spend $2,000 unless you’re in a place where it is all massive trees,” he says.

Don’t neglect the owner’s manual, Chisholm advises. If this isn’t your first chainsaw purchase, it’s easy to dismiss the owner’s manual, but chainsaw technology has come a long way, and it’s important to understand how to care for and use your new purchase.

“In the manual, it will tell you how to maintain it properly,” he says. “It’s also going to tell you what you need to do to stay safe.”

Speaking of safety, Stephenson says other “musts” are insurance and personal protective equipment.

“They make that stuff (PPE) for a reason,” he says. “If you’re doing this for a living, accidents can happen. Make sure you stay safe.”

Ben McDermott

Ben McDermott

Husqvarna

Ben McDermott
Global product and sourcing manager

Make sure to find the right chainsaw for the job. Will the chainsaw be in use full or part time? What size trees are you cutting? How will the chainsaw be used? These are all extremely important factors for the end user to consider when narrowing down chainsaw models to purchase. Other important considerations are productivity and cutting capacity, power-to-weight ratio, along with ergonomics and comfort. Each of these factors becomes more or less important based on the personalized job at hand. Once there’s an understanding of how the saw will be used, select a chainsaw that best aligns with your needs and preferred feature set, then demo the chainsaw before making your final purchase to ensure it gets the job done, you’re comfortable while using the saw and that you get all the power and performance you need. It’s also extremely important to purchase and use the right personal protective gear when your chainsaw is in use.

John Allen

John Allen

Stihl

John Allen
Product manager

While many factors drive purchasing decisions, overall power, durability, performance and dependability ultimately remain at the top of the list. Other factors users should consider are the planned use for the saw, ease of use, power source, mobility and weight. Contractors should also think about the total cost of ownership, which includes initial and ongoing costs, such as maintenance and fuel. Optimal power-to-weight ratios are essential for professional users. Reduced vibration, comfort and safety features are important factors in choosing products as well. Gas versus battery power should also be considered as an option, depending on the application and usage. While there is a lot of focus on the powerhead, a chainsaw should be looked at as a complete system that includes the powerhead, guide bar and chain. A saw with great power and a poor-quality bar or chain will underperform and impact profitability.

Brad Mace, Echo

Brad Mace

Echo

Brad Mace
Product manager

The most important thing to do is make sure you fit the saw to your application. You don’t want to get something that’s too big for your job, or you are going to end up carrying around a lot of extra weight, which contributes to fatigue. Another thing to think about is how many hours a year you will use this saw. Is this something you are going to be using every day or just once a month? That will determine what quality level of saw you want. Think about the saw’s weight and how the chainsaw is balanced in your hands. You want something easy to start. Look at the horsepower of the saw. Power might also affect fatigue.

Gerry Barnaby

Gerry Barnaby

Ego Power Plus

Gerry Barnaby
Director of excitement

What you’re likely to use the saw for is key, as it will dictate how long of a bar you’ll need and also what size engine. You should think about the saw’s weight, especially if you will be doing more overhead work. The gas chainsaw is going to require that you stabilize the fuel, drain the carburetor after each use and keep up with prescribed maintenance. But, it will give you endless run time as long as you have a can of gas. A battery-powered chainsaw, on the other hand, has almost no maintenance and can be as powerful as a gas chainsaw but can only run as long as you have the batteries charged. Some important features to consider when buying a chainsaw would be an antikickback brake, a simple chain tensioning system and auto oiling.

Christina Herrick

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