5 Different Types of Chain Saws

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Get to know the different types of chain saws and all the important information you need to learn about and keep in mind when using this powerful cutting tool.


Chain saw cutting through a wood log.

A chain saw is a portable, mechanical tool that has the ability to cut through tree trunks, branches, and other woods with its rotating sharp-edged metal teeth. It is typically used for limbing, pruning, cutting firebreaks in wildland fire suppression, harvesting firewood, bucking, and felling. This powerful tool consists of two main parts. One of the parts is the saw blade that is built in the chain and has a long metal guide bar wrapped around it. The other part is the small cylinder for gasoline or petroleum, but sometimes it has a battery pack or cord, depending on what kind of chain saw it is.


The difference between a chain saw and a hand saw is that a hand saw functions when it is being pulled back and forth manually to cut the wood, whereas a chain saw is powered by a metal chain that keeps rotating to cut through the wood. A chainsaw is portable and –most of the times- it can be used anywhere.

Although the first chain saw was created during the 1920s, a lot has changed since there. Purchasing the right kind of chain saw can be a difficult task for individuals, especially those who lack the experience. This is why it is important to be aware of the different types of chain saws before spending on one.

Types of Chain Saws

Even though they all have the same purpose, a lot of thinking goes into making the decision of choosing the right chain saw. Questions like “how often will I use it?” “What is my budget?” “Do I want one where I have to refill the tank or one where I can just plug it into the wall?” begin to linger in mind.

To take away these queries, below are the different types of chain saws mentioned that can aid you in getting your hands on the right one.

Gas Powered
Chainsaw

Gas-powered chain saws are the most popular option amongst occasional and professional users. As the name suggests, a gas powered chain saw is powered by gas. This type of chain saw has a 2 cycles or a two-stroke engine that mixes oil and gas together so it can be used. The oil is used as lubrication for the internal part of the engine while preventing wear and damage, and the gas is used for combustion. These chain saws require regular maintenance so they can work properly.

  • Power: The engine provides the chain saw with a higher power-to-weight ratio, making gas-powered chain saws effective and powerful. This chain saw cuts wood faster than any other chain saw. In addition, gas-powered chain saws are considered to be a heavy duty which causes them to produce vibration and make noise. They also need regular servicing and fueling as compared to the other models.
  • Cost: These chain saws are expensive and they can cost up to twice as much as other chain saw options.

Corded ElectricElectric chainsaw used to cut a fallen tree.

Corded electric chain saws run on electricity and have a plug-in power cord. Since they are not running on fuel, they do not have engines. Corded electric chain saws are considered to be immobile because they need to be plugged in when they are being used. Luckily, with the help of a portable generator, you can make the most of this chain saw. With a long extension cord, you can plug the chain saw in and use it. Keep in mind, though, a corded electric chainsaw cannot be used for certain tasks including felling in tree woods.

  • Power: Corded electric chain saws have less power and can be limited tasks (the ones that do not require much more) as compared to gas-powered chain saws. But, compared to battery-powered chain saws, these ones are more powerful and they can do tasks like cutting and sawing small trees, limbs, and thick branches.

Corded electric chain saws do not produce fumes or noise compared to gas-powered chain saws. Additionally, since they are lightweight, they can be used by new, inexperienced users as they are great to perform basic tasks around the house. What you do need to keep in mind is that they require special extension cords so they can perform to their fullest potential.

The disadvantage of this chain saw is that they cannot be used when they are plugged in. Even if you are using a portable generator as the power source, you need to be careful because there is a chance for the extension cord to get tangled in the woods. This is why; a corded electric chain saw is not the ideal choice to use in the woods.

  • Cost: Corded electric chain saws are cheaper than gasoline-powered chainsaws but more expensive than pole saws or manual chain saws.

Battery PoweredBattery-powered chainsaw

Also known as a cordless chain saw, a battery-powered chain saw works on batteries instead of fuel or electricity. The batteries have to be charged in advance. Although, this means that you do not need to get regular fueling or servicing like you would with a gas powered chain saw, or face plugin limitations like you would with a corded electric chain saw, you will need to charge the batteries (so make sure you have a rechargeable battery) often so the chain saw keeps working.

When there is no battery, it limits the amount of work that you can finish in one session. If the user wants, he or she can make each session longer by having multiple batteries on hand.

  • Power: Battery powered chain saws are created for “lighter” tasks like limbing, trimming, pruning, and cutting small trees. They do not have the same amount of power as corded electric chain saws. This chainsaw is the ideal choice for easy tasks as they do not take much time.
  • Cost: Even though they do not have the same amount of power as compared to corded electric and gas-powered chain saws, battery-powered chain saws are the most expensive type of chain saw.

ManualManual chainsaw

Manual chain saws do not require gas, electricity or batteries. They are not sold by chain saw suppliers but they are often created by a saw chain and other materials that are easily found. This means that you need to take a saw chain and use it to cut wood. Instead of being powered by gas, you need to use your own power. This chain saw is often used to trim wood or firewood, but most people do not tend to purchase this chain saw. They do not produce any noise but they consume a lot of your energy.

  • Power: Manual chain saws do not exert as much power as other chain saws, but they are extremely portable and faster than other handheld chainsaws.
  • Cost: Compared to the other chain saws, this option is cheaper.

Pole SawPole saw cutting branches

A pole saw is a saw that is attached to an extension pole. It is commonly used to easily reach and cut, eliminate, or trim tree limbs. Pole saws cannot be considered chain saws, they are similar is some aspects. These saws can be gas powered, battery powered, or corded.

  • Power: Gas powered pole saws are more powerful as compared to the electric ones. They also make more noise and vibration. The electric ones have lesser power and are used for lighter tasks.
  • Cost: Battery powered pole saws are the most expensive, and then gas powered ones, and finally the corded pole saws.

What Can A Chain Saw Be Used For?Man using a chain saw

A power tool is known to make things easier on your end, which is why having a chain saw is recommended. It has the ability to take away the time and effort you may be putting in cutting wood, chopping, or shaping. Whether you are an ordinary homeowner, outdoorsman or an artist, there is a high chance for you to benefit from this tool.

Here are the different tasks a chain saw can be used for.

Cut Down Trees and Branches

A chain saw is the ideal choice for cutting down trees and branches. Since they are portable, it is easy for you to take a chain saw on a ladder or stand so you can take away branches that may be bothering. However, it is important to use this tool with the utmost safety.

With the help of a good sized chain saw that exerts the right kind of power, you can take down trees of different sizes. Make sure you are not taking away all the trees from your environment. Only take the responsibility of cutting down trees that could be harmful to your home, family, and neighbors.

Changing Log into Lumber

After cutting down a tree, consider converting it into something useful. With a smaller chain saw, you can cut the trunk into lumber that can then be used for sculpting, building, and other tasks. Lumber can be used to make a bench, a deck, for garden boxes, or to frame a shed or home. Forget about splurging on lumber when you can easily convert it at home.

Chopping Firewood

If you have a wood fireplace at your house, you are probably purchasing pre-cut wood or cutting it up with your own hands. With a chain saw, you will not have to go through the hassle of moving a tool back and forth just to get firewood. Moreover, this power tool will allow you to get firewood in your hands in the easiest way possible.

Carving Wood

A chain saw can be used to create beautiful statement pieces for your house. For the artsy homeowners, having a chain saw at hand can help them unleash their creative side on a plain log. In addition, if you are new to the “creating world,” there are many online guides that can aid you in creating a piece that will leave everyone in awe.

What to Consider When Buying a Chain SawLabeled chainsaw

Intended Use

Chain saw manufacturers design chain saws so they can be used by different people for different uses. There are chain saw options that are ideal for professional loggers and options for occasional users. If you need a chain saw to occasionally trim trees and limbs or shred firewood, there is no need to invest in a heavy duty gas powered chain saw that is used for logging.

Experience

If you have never used a chain saw before, the smarter choice would be to opt for a chain saw that is smaller in size because they are safer to use. The ideal choice would be a corded electric chain saw or a battery powered.

Cost

If you have a low budget, consider purchasing the corded electric chain saw because it is a cheaper option amongst the other. But, this also depends on what you need a chain saw for.

For lighter tasks like pruning, removing small limbs, and cutting small trees for the firewood, the best option would be an electric chain saw. On the other hand, if you need to do tasks related to wood and cutting large trees, the best option would be a gas powered chain saw.

Safety Features

When you are purchasing a chain saw, consider the safety features.

Choosing the Size

After determining what type of chain saw you need, you need to decide what size chain saw you need to get. The rule of thumb is that the bar length (the length of the blade while the chain is rotating around) should be at least 2 inches longer than the wood you intend on cutting. Having a longer bar length will allow you to chop with safely. Keep in mind, it is possible to cut big pieces of wood with a smaller bar length, but it calls for extra safety.

If you are cutting trees with soft foliage, small branches or are younger, you can get a chain saw that is 12-14”. In this category, it is common to find electric chain saws. The reason for this is that electric chain saws have lesser cutting power in them, making them the ideal choice to use around your house. It is a chainsaw that can be used for larger cuts occasionally.

If you are planning on cutting down larger branches or tree trunks, you will need to opt for a chain saw that has a bar length of 16-20”. This means you will need to invest in a high-tier cordless chain saw or a gas powered one. Whatever you choose, it must be portable and useful on a daily basis.

If you are cutting large trees on a daily basis, consider getting a chain saw that is larger than 20”. You can even consider getting a chain saw that reaches up to 36”. Although you will have to pay a hefty amount, just know that it will help you get the job done easily.

Maintenance

Constantly cutting through materials can take a toll on your tool, which is why it is important for you to take the proper amount of care for your tool. With the proper care and maintenance, you will be able to prolong its life as well. Therefore, if you want your chain saw to work just as well as it does right now, here are the top maintenance tips to follow.

Make the Chain Sharper

If you want to be able to cut through things easily, it is important to use a chain saw with sharp teeth. The easier it is to cut, the lesser chances of there being slips or kickbacks, making your tool safer to use. To make the chain sharper, you will need to invest in a chain saw filing kit. This will give your tool sharper teeth allowing you to cut with ease.

Clear Debris

The more dirt there is on the chain and bar of your chainsaw, the more it will be prone to get worn down. To prevent this from happening, make sure you are cleaning the teeth of your chain saw so that the dirt is not lingering on it. Cleaning the debris off is even more important if clingy materials like mud are on the chain saw because they lead to rusting and metal damage.

Proper Chain Tension

Your chain saw needs to have at least a 1/8th inch of giving when you tug on the chain, but it should always retract to its original spot. If the chain is too tight, it will make the blade stall, and if it is too loose, it can fall off. You need to know how to correctly fix the chain tension.

Monitor and Change the Oil

If your chain saw is not being lubricated properly, the metal will not move properly and it will be more prone to breaking down. This is why; if you feel that the chain is dry, it is important to give it a good dose of chain oil that can make sure it works properly.

Wrap it up

Leaving your chain saw open, under a shed or just lying around means it will be exposed to different things. The biggest enemy for metal is moisture, which is why it is important for your chain saw to be safe from moisture. Wrapping it properly will make sure it is not getting exposed to harmful elements.

Air Filters Need To Be Cleaned (For Gas-Powered Models)

Gas-powered chain saws incorporate air in the fuel for the motor to work. This filter restricts dirt, dust, and other contaminants from getting into the fuel supply. This is why it is important to clean or replace the filter as soon as you notice it is getting dirty so your engine does not get affected in any way.

Safety

Chainsaw safety

Similar to any tool, there is quite a lot of risk involved when you are using a chain saw. Although they are designed in a way where risk is minimized, it is important to use this tool carefully so you do not hurt yourself.

When it comes to using your chain saw, keep in mind that kickback is a major problem. If you are a new chain saw user, make sure you are purchasing a model that does not have much kickback. Before using a chain saw, it is important to take preventive measures so you can prevent bad things from happening.

Here are a few things to follow:

  • Safety glasses that will protect your eyes from debris and dust
  • Boots that can resist blades if they drop
  • Clothes that are cut resistant

Before starting, make sure you are checking your chain saw. Take a look at the fuel tank, power source, chain, and everything else before turning it on. Checking everything will make sure no problem arises when you are in the middle of a cut.

Make sure your hand is off the trigger when you are ready to cut and the bar should point in the opposite direction, away from you. This will make sure you and the people around you are at a safe distance. In addition to that, you need to make sure your environment is clear as well.

You must use the hand guard (this comes with the chain saw when you purchase it) so you can have a better grip on it while lessening the chances of dropping it.

Conclusion

A chainsaw is a tool that comes with many safety precautions, but it is useful for those who want to maintain the outlook of their property and prefer cutting their own wood. When it is used properly, a chainsaw can aid in saving time, effort, and money on chopping, cutting, or trimming trees, bushes, and more.

When you are on the hunt for the perfect chainsaw, make sure you are considering what you need it for, how big it should be, and what type of chainsaw will be fit for your needs and budget.

With the help of this article, you will be able to determine everything in order to get the right chainsaw.




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