How to choose a chainsaw

Action Equipment offers a wide range of chainsaws, suitable for everything from light firewood to commercial forestry. We’ll guide you to the right one for your needs.

There are a few things to think about before you visit one of our showrooms:

Firewood, pruning or felling?

Before looking at engine power, consider the bar length you’ll need. That has a major influence on how powerful an engine you’ll need. As a rule, bar length should be at least 50mm (two inches) longer than the width of wood you’re trying to cut through.

If you’re cutting firewood or doing some light pruning, a 14inch bar is ample. Felling small trees will require a slightly longer bar, perhaps up to 18inch. Larger trees will require longer bars – some models we sell come standard with as long as 28inch bars and can be fitted with up to 42inch bars.

If you’re likely to need a chainsaw to fill roles at both ends of the spectrum, one with a bar around 18inches long will probably be most suitable. Although considerable care must be taken, larger trees can be felled with two cuts, i.e. a chainsaw with an 18inch bar can be used to fell a tree with up to a 36inch girth.

Rear handle, top handle or pole saw?

For most purposes, a rear handle chainsaw is the most appropriate configuration. Working at ground level or with a solid platform on which you can get good footing, the throttle being mounted on a handle at the back will give you best control.

When working up in trees, a chainsaw with the throttle control incorporated into a handle above the engine gives better balance. Top handle saws tend to have shorter bars and be less powerful to keep them lightweight and easier to handle amongst branches.

To prune smaller branches, a pole saw allows you to remain on the ground but reach up to 5m into the canopy. Pole saws generally have 10inch bars and can either be dedicated tools with extendable shafts, or may be an attachment to fit a combi unit versatile tool.

Engine power

Now that you’ve decided what style of saw and how long a bar you’ll need, you can consider the engine size.

Smaller engines are lighter, and larger engines are heavier. It’s also true that smaller engines are suitable for shorter bar lengths, and lack the power needed to cut through branches or trunks that need longer bars. Lighter jobs such as cutting firewood or pruning small branches can be done with engines up to 40cc in chainsaws that weigh under 5kg. Engines 50-70cc are suitable for harder work around a lifestyle block like fencing or clearing most trees. Saws beyond 80cc are in the realm of the professional farmer or forestry worker, and weigh up to 10kg.

Action Equipment also offers battery-powered saws in all styles with up to 14inch bars. Because of the increased demands of sawing wood (over other uses of battery-powered equipment such as trimming hedges or grass), these require the more powerful batteries available – a minimum of 4Ah, or up to 26Ah in a backpack battery.

Don’t overlook your safety!

Chainsaws are potentially very dangerous. Besides making sure the saw you’re using is appropriate for the job and has built-in safety features like a chain brake and inertia brake, you need to wear suitable safety apparel.

All new chainsaws are equipped with a chain brake. If the chainsaw kicks back, your left wrist will contact and engage the chain brake. An inertia brake senses the sudden movement that kickback causes, and instantly stops the chain.

Wearing chainsaw trousers or chaps are a must. These protect your legs with a fibrous padding that quickly binds and stops the chain if it touches them. Steel-capped shoes or boots are also a requirement.

Eye, hand, hearing and head protection also need to be taken seriously. Helmets are available that include earmuffs and either a perspex or mesh visor, or all three are available separately. If using a mesh visor, we recommend also wearing safety glasses. Gloves can’t protect your hands from a moving chain, but will protect them when making adjustments to your bar or chain.

Never operate a chainsaw alone, and always carry a first aid kit and some means of communication in case you need to call for help.

You can’t beat experience!

Action Equipment has been selling and servicing chainsaws for more years than we care to count. Chances are, we’ve sold chainsaws to your neighbours and previous owners of your own property.

Call or visit your nearest Action Equipment store today for friendly advice. We pride ourselves on ensuring every customer gets the chainsaw best-suited to their needs.