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Things to consider before purchasing a chainsaw

Below is a list of things we recommend you consider before purchasing your next chainsaw:

1. What type of timber will you be cutting with your chainsaw, is the timber green or dry, hardwood or softwood?

This is a very important consideration to take into account. Green, softwood timber is much easier to cut than dry, hardwood timber like ironbark.  The harder the timber the larger the chainsaw and the bigger  the chain pitch you need to get the job done.  Smaller, living trees with softwood like pine or palm trees can be cut with a smaller chainsaw and smaller chain pitch. Firewood often consists of hardwood timber and should be cut using a medium to larger chainsaw.

2. How often will be using the chainsaw? Are you only using it for occasional pruning and felling of small trees or will you be using it often to cut firewood and fell larger trees.

We recommend purchasing a smaller, lightweight chainsaw for pruning jobs around the house and the occasional felling of small trees.  Regular cutting of firewood, fencing and felling of larger trees requires a more powerful, heavy duty chainsaw.  Remember, there is nothing worse than trying to use an underpowered chainsaw to cut firewood or fell a tree.  Buy the right size chainsaw for your requirements, if unsure always buy the model up from what you think you need.  A more powerful chainsaw can be used for smaller jobs, it will just do them faster!

3. What pitch of chain would be suited to your needs, 3/8″ low profile, 0.325, 3/8″ or 0.404″?

90% of the chainsaws you will find at Bunnings or your local hardware store are fitted with 3/8″ low profile chain.  This is the smallest chain available and is generally only suited to the home handyman and pruning applications. Larger 0.325 pitch chain is more suited to felling trees, cutting firewood, fencing and cutting of hardwood timber.  3/8″ and 0.404″ pitch chain is generally only available on larger chainsaws (65cc and above) and professional chainsaws. This pitch of chain is the largest available and is fantastic for felling of larger trees, heavy duty use, cross cutting, milling and cutting hardwood timber.

4. What size of bar length do you require?

Most of our customers always ask for a larger bar with their chainsaw, it is however very important to consider that the longer the bar, the more power the chainsaw will need to have to drive the longer chain through the timber. As a general rule of thumb you should divide the diameter of the tree you wish to cut by 1.5 to calculate the length of bar you require. A tree 20″ in diameter should be fine to fell with a 14″ or 16″ bar.  Manufacturers always fit the bar which they consider best suits the power of the chainsaw. If you require a larger bar than that which comes standard with the chainsaw, we recommend you purchase a bigger chainsaw.

5. What should your chainsaw weigh?

Weight is a very important factor to consider before purchasing a chainsaw.  The cheapest chainsaw is not always the lightest chainsaw. In fact, in Husqvarna’s range of chainsaws  the lightest chainsaw is not only much more powerful than the cheapest chainsaw it is also fitted with a bigger engine and chain. Make sure you pick up the chainsaw and lift it up and down a few times. Hold the chainsaw with your arms outstretched to properly assess the weight of the chainsaw.

6. How powerful does the chainsaw need to be to meet your requirements?

Power is measured in kilowatts (kW) not cubic centimeters (cc). Engine size is measured in cubic centimeters, a larger cc engine does not always equate to more power.  When comparing chainsaws be sure to look at the kilowatt rating rather than the cc rating. Make sure the chainsaw you purchase has enough power to get the job done. When comparing chainsaws always compare based on kW rating not cc rating.

7. Will the chainsaw have good ergonomics, low vibration levels, a slim design and be easy to use?

Before you purchase a chainsaw you should “try before you buy”. Ask the salesperson to start the chainsaw and hold it in your hands while you rev it.  This will give you an idea about the chainsaw’s vibration levels and the feel of the chainsaw in your hands. If you intend using the chainsaw for an extended period of time we recommend purchasing a low vibration chainsaw with ant-vibration buffers.  Chainsaws put a large degree of strain on the operator, make sure your chainsaw feels comfortable in your hands and is not too bulky.

8. How easy is the chainsaw to start?

Chainsaws can be hard to start.  Try to purchase a chainsaw with a primer. This will prevent you from pulling the chainsaw 3 or 4 times on choke to draw the fuel into the carburettor.  Chainsaws with primers typically only require one or two pulls on choke after priming before they will fire.  When purchasing a larger chainsaw make sure it is fitted with a de-compressor valve which reduces engine compression and the resistance on the starter, making the chainsaw easier to start.  Once again, we strongly recommend you “try before you buy”, ask the salesperson to fuel and oil the chainsaw and have a go starting it.

9. How easy is it to tension the chain and gain access the the spark plug and air filter.

Tensioning the chain of a chainsaw is a task which needs to be done often, especially when the chain is new.  Chains stretch quickly when new and it is important to tension them regularly to prevent them from jumping of the chainsaw bar and damaging the chain. Try to purchase a chainsaw with a readily accessible chain tensioner.  Some tensioners are tucked away behind the chainsaw bar and can be hard to reach.  Alternatively you can purchase a chainsaw with a tool-less chain tensioner.  These are easy to operate and have the advantage of tensioning the chain without the use of a spanner and screwdriver.

You need to keep the chainsaws air filter clean and check the spark plug from time to time. Make sure the air filter and spark plug are easily accessible.

10. What safety equipment do you require for example chaps, a helmet, earmuffs and gloves?

It goes without saying that a chainsaw is a dangerous piece of equipment.  We always strongly recommend that you consider purchasing some basic safety equipment for use with a chainsaw.  When operating a chainsaw we recommend that you at the very least wear ear muffs, cut resistant gloves, long pants and closed shoes.  We also recommend the use of chainsaw chaps or trousers.  These will protect your legs if you accidentally slip or cut your pants. Remember a chainsaw does not cut cleanly, it leaves a jagged cut which is hard to stitch and will leave a permanent scar. Helmets should also be worn to protect your head from falling branches.  Try never to work with a chainsaw above shoulder height.

We hope you found this article useful.  Should you have any queries in relation to any of the above, please call us. We would be happy to help.

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