I need a chainsaw.
March 26, 2013 7:50 PM   Subscribe

I am looking for advice on buying an electric chainsaw for a medium sized yard that, apparently, has a lot of rather large tree limbs fall into it. I need to know: What features to look for - Brands or models to avoid - How powerful a motor - How long a bar is needed.

- I have a bowsaw. Two bowsaws, a little one and a nice, big one. Through last spring and the summer and the autumn, right up until the first snow, I was a bow-sawing machine after the odd windstorm. This winter was nuts, completely insane - stuff came down in my yard that sneered at my poor little bow saws, and it brought all its friends.

- Last weekend, with my Dad's "junkyard find!" Craftsman electric chainsaw, we managed to feed most of it through a rented chipper. There is still one medium sized tree trunk and a few large limbs that need to be cut into firewood.

- Dad's electric chainsaw was incredibly useful. It just kept spitting off the chain, and needed a couple of crescent wrenches to adjust, and then it needed a new chain, and then the chain needed a new saw.

- I will only ever use this chainsaw after brutal Nor'easters. It may go a year or so between uses. Gas is out.
posted by Slap*Happy to Home & Garden (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Maybe some of the answers in this recent Ask MeFi might help: LINK
posted by The Architect at 8:11 PM on March 26, 2013

the only real virtue of an electric chainsaw is the light weight-so get the lightest one with the shortest bar (usually 14"). I bought the cheapest one I could find and so far it is great for trimming laurels, hazelnut trees and apple trees, and cutting up downed sweetgum and maple limbs. I wouldn't want to use it for cutting up a cord or two of firewood, but for light duty trimming or dealing with the occasional limb it is adequate.
posted by bartonlong at 10:26 PM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Another virtue of an electrical chain saw could be less noise, however. As I wrote in the other thread, I've used a Stihl (E220) for almost a decade now and had nothing to regret. That after I ran a black and decker and a small Jonsered into the ground in each one season, no matter I observed maintenance routines and stuff. Don't buy small, cheap and weak, it's not worth your money.
posted by Namlit at 1:00 AM on March 27, 2013

Don't buy small, cheap and weak, it's not worth your money.

Truth. My dad has an electric saw that the manufacturer rates at 4HP-- I can't remember the brand but it says "4 HP" on it like that's something to brag about, but it's really underpowered. It will freeze cutting through a five inch piece of birch. If you're going with an electric one, get something solid.

He ended up getting a 14" gas saw-- it started fine last spring after having sat idle for two years. It's not my place to tell you that you DO want gas, but if infrequent use is your worry it might not be as big as deal as you're imagining.
posted by Mayor Curley at 5:56 AM on March 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Whichever model you end up with, chainsaw maintenance is very important to the user feel of any saw.

Keep your chain sharp. There are sharpening kits that include a file and guide that is specific to the chain you are using. Using one of these kits, I can resharpen a chain in the field in about 10 minutes. If you are getting sawdust instead of chips, your chain is too dull. In my opinion, a sharp chain on a small saw is better than a dull chain on a big saw.
posted by Talk To Me Goose at 6:30 AM on March 27, 2013

Best answer: I'd recommend this one. People telling you to avoid electric in favor of gas are missing out on the key factor of electrics: convenience. You don't have to do any real maintenance, you don't have to worry about having gas/oil mix on hand, and you don't have to fight to get it started. Electrics are also much lighter than gas saws, so you can cut longer without your arms getting tired. I've cut multiple cords of oak logs 12"-16" in diameter with the previous version of this saw. The quick tensioner makes chain adjustments simple and tool-less. Remember to use a quality extension cord that isn't longer than it needs to be. Keep the cord from getting tangled by moving it after each cut. You're just cutting up limbs, so I don't need to caution you about felling trees, but watch out for kickback from the saw. Wear safety gear, including ear protection. Electrics are quieter, but it's still a good idea to protect your hearing. Don't forget the bar/chain oil!
posted by cosmicbandito at 7:10 AM on March 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

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