5 On Your Side

The right chainsaw can ease yard work

Posted October 28, 2013

Whether it's the aftermath of a big storm or just time to clean up the yard, chainsaws make the job go quickly.

Homeowners with access to a chainsaw can take care of downed tree limbs without spending to contract help.

Consumer Reports tested 20 chain saws that range in price from $70 all the way to $400. They rated how fast they cut and how much they vibrate. Too much vibration can make a saw hard to hold, especially for a long time.

Testers also checked "kickback" – when the tip of the saw hits the wood and lurches back.

If you just need to cut branches a couple of times a year, testers say an electric chain saw is convenient.

Consumer Reports named a $100 model from Worx a Best Buy.

"Of course you're connected to the power cord," pointed out Consumer Reports' Peter Sawchuk. "If the power's out, you're out of luck."

For bigger jobs, testers recommend a gas-powered saw, but found those are they're trickier to use.

"You need to know the right mixture of gas and oil for your saw and how to start it. It can take several pulls of the starter cord to get it going," Sawchuk said.

The top rated gas saw was a Stihl for $230 dollars. For even less, a $150 Craftsman is a good choice. It's not quite as fast, but it comes with a storage case and some supplies, such as chain oil and a chain-tightening tool.

Either can make quick work of that next yard project 

Consumer Reports says to use gas chainsaws for an hour, you'll need about 32 ounces of pre-mixed gasoline and oil and a quart of what's called "bar oil." For electric saws, you need a heavy extension cord, one that's 12 gauge.



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  • grimreaper Nov 1, 2013

    Get a Stihl...don't look back...they just work...definitely worth the money amortized over time...only run premium gas in your combustion equipment and put Sta-bil in it...don't mix your 2-cycle until you need it...premium gas + Sta-bil = no problems.

  • 68_dodge_polara Oct 31, 2013

    Many years ago Homelite was a good saw, many years ago.

  • Lightfoot3 Oct 31, 2013

    Don’t know about these, but I’ve had horrible service from my Homelite. I’ve only used it a few hours, over the last 5 or so years. Just needed a small saw for around the house. First, it’s mostly flimsy plastic. The muffler fell off. Both oil and fuel caps started leaking, needing to be replaced. Fuel filter broke off. And lastly, the actual fuel line broke off inside the tank this year so now it’s not even usable, nor worth getting fixed.

    Doesn’t even begin to compare to the old McCulloch chainsaw my dad and I used for firewood.

    I borrowed a friend’s Husqvarna and it seems to be much better built than Homelite.

  • 68_dodge_polara Oct 29, 2013

    And about fuel, as with any small engine be sure to use non ethanol blended fuel as ethanol is really bad on two stroke engines also it destabalizes quickly (loses it's octane). By a quality saw, use factory specified oil mix, and non-ethanol fuel with stabilizer additive and your saw will last for many years of lots of use.

  • 68_dodge_polara Oct 29, 2013

    I wish they would have mentioned electric saw as well as if one is only looking for a saw to use around the house (within extension cord reach) and isn't planing on using it often they can be a great option as you don't have to worry about fuel going bad.

  • 68_dodge_polara Oct 29, 2013

    Always heard good things about Husqvarna but the new small Husqvarna saws are now the same saws as the Poulan saws. So which is it? Do you get a really good saw made by Husqvarna for the cheap price of a Poulan or do you get a saw that won't last made by Poulan when you buy Husqvarna. Don't know, but I've never seen where one gets more than one pays for something but often one can pay more for something than it's worth.

  • 68_dodge_polara Oct 29, 2013

    I've found Stihl last a tremendously long time. I currently need to replace one that I've used extensively for over ten years and finally just plane wore out. Can't complain as "used extensively" means cut somewhere around 3-4 cords a year as we heat entirely with wood and also sell about two loads a year.

  • 68_dodge_polara Oct 29, 2013

    Nothing about how long they are expected to last? It's only the most important thing we need to know when choosing a small chain saw.