Best Chainsaw 2019 – Buyer’s Guide

Purchasing a chainsaw can be a daunting task, and if you have a big job ahead of you, finding the perfect one is imperative.

Whether you don’t know where to start, or have a good idea of what you need but want to find the best of the job, our reviews and buying guide are going to come in handy. The wrong chainsaw could be the difference between a simple task and one which takes hours of work, and may even put the user in danger.

These are the best chainsaws we have found on sale at the moment, and no matter whether you’re looking for a cordless, wired or petrol model, there is an option here for you.

The Best Chainsaws – Our Top Picks

IMAGE PRODUCT DETAILS
Makita DUC353Z Cordless Chainsaw
  • Guide Bar Length: 25cm
  • Dimensions: 21.5 x 23.5 x 44.3 cm
  • Weight: 4.1 kg
  • Power: 36V
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BOSCH UniversalChain 18 Cordless Chainsaw
  • Guide Bar Length: 5.5”/17cm
  • Dimensions: 34.9 x 23.5 x 21 cm
  • Weight: 3kg
  • Power: 18V
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Husqvarna 435 Chainsaw
  • Guide Bar Length: 15”
  • Dimensions: 48 x 34 x 26 cm
  • Weight: 4.2kg
  • Power: 1600W
  • Engine: 40.9cc
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Best Cordless Chainsaws

Makita DUC353Z Cordless Chainsaw

A brushless top handle chainsaw ideal for tree surgeons. This Makita has been designed to be up to 50% more efficient than its rivals, with a brushless motor which doesn’t wear away or cause the chainsaw to stutter.

There is a variable speed control option at the press of a trigger, which will help with a multitude of tasks. When faced with larger jobs, chainsaws can sometimes start to slow down as they struggle to get through the material. However, thanks to constant speed control, the motor and chain won’t stutter so you can keep going.

Automatic chain lubrication will keep the saw cutting for the duration of the battery life, and the reservoir is visible so you can easily see when the oil needs topping up. The opening is large, so it is mess-free to get going again.

Also visible is the battery level for both of the two 18V batteries which work together to power the 36V motor. When in use, there is low noise and low vibration, so it is comfortable to use at all times. Extreme Protection Technology (XPT) provides extra guard against dust, debris and possible water pollution, which can be problematic on sites, which is great if you are a professional.

Unfortunately, the batteries and charger are not included, so you will have to buy separately if you don’t have them already. Makita uses the ‘one battery across the range’ approach to their power tools, so if you own other items from the brand, you only need one set of batteries.

This is the body-only option, but is still well-priced for the sheer power and comfort levels you get for the money, even when the extra purchase is taken into consideration.

We like

  • Battery life is generous
  • Relatively quiet
  • One of the more lightweight options but still powerful

We dislike

  • Batteries aren’t included

Final Verdict

So easy to use, and can cope with quite large jobs which don't require the power of a petrol model

+ Specifications

  • Guide Bar Length: 25cm
  • Dimensions: 21.5 x 23.5 x 44.3 cm
  • Weight: 4.1 kg
  • Power: 36V

Ryobi OCS1830 18 V 30 cm Bar ONE+ Cordless Brushless Chain Saw

An automatic oiling system will keep you going for longer without having to pause and manually adapt everything. The wraparound overmould handle is comfortable to grip no matter what position the unit is held in.

The brushless motor technology doesn’t only reduce the amount of noise and straining from the use but gives you 20% more power and 40% more run-time per charge too. It features both mechanical and automatic chain brake assistance to prevent any accidents, so whether you quickly need to stop it or are unintentionally pushing it to the limits, you aren’t going to cause any injuries or harm.

This particular purchase is sold as a bare/zero tool. It is part of the ONE+ System of over 100 tools for the home and garden, so having just one battery can work across all of the Ryobi items in the collection.

It works incredibly well to say that it is both electric and cordless, without producing a horrible amount of noise or straining with tougher jobs.

We like

  • Tool-free assembly
  • Automatic start up
  • Easy to take care of

We dislike

  • No option to buy with battery

Final Verdict

A really nice chainsaw, comfortable to use and ideal for easy home tasks

+ Specifications

  • Guide Bar Length: 30cm/12”
  • Dimensions: 49 x 21 x 24 cm
  • Weight: 9.07 kg
  • Power: 18V

BOSCH UniversalChain 18 Cordless Chainsaw

One of the lightest on the market, which is great if you struggle with heavy appliances or long durations. It is best for pruning or lighter firewood tasks because of this but is incredibly effective at the job.

It is nice and compact, so can be stored away in between uses, which is good if you’ll only be using it occasionally. A charge of around 45 minutes should give you around 30 minutes of power, depending on the task at hand.

You can choose to buy it as a body-only purchase or with the battery and charger, and said battery could be used with other items across the Bosch range. It bounces a little on contact, so a very firm grip is required, and you need to put some weight behind it too. Having said this, as long as you don’t push it to the limit, you should be able to tackle the task with no strain.

We like

  • Much easier than a handsaw/hedge trimmer
  • Good battery life for size

We dislike

  • Quite a bit of setting up required as it comes unassembled (but this is simple enough)

Final Verdict

Well made and simple to use for those smaller tasks such as pruning or cutting wood up to 8” diameter down into more manageable piles

+ Specifications

  • Guide Bar Length: 5.5”/17cm
  • Dimensions: 34.9 x 23.5 x 21 cm
  • Weight: 3kg
  • Power: 18V

Best Mains Chainsaws

Oregon CS1200-35 Corded Electric Chainsaw

A very generous 6-metre power cable and 1800W power level make this chainsaw one of the best corded electric models around and can deal with those medium-duty tasks with little effort.

It has a 35cm blade, so is as good at chopping down small trees as it is pruning hedges. The tool-less chain tensioning allows you to set it up quickly and easily before use, and when it is at work, the anti-kickback chain and bar will ensure no stuttering or uncomfortable motion.

We weren’t expecting much for the price. We certainly weren’t expecting the performance we got. It is one of the cheapest electric chainsaws, yet one of the best. Okay, it is a little more plastic than others, and the design isn’t as eye-catching, but it does the job it should.

We like

  • Cuts through wood with ease
  • Great chain speed and power
  • Price

We dislike

  • Not the nicest design

Final Verdict

Brilliant for the price. The perfect balance between low cost yet high performance, and perfect for home users who need the most help possible on a budget

+ Specifications

  • Guide Bar Length: 35cm/18”
  • Weight: 5.24kg
  • Power: 1800W
  • Cord Length: 6m

BOSCH AKE 35 S Electric Chainsaw

One of the larger guide bars available for a corded electric model, this Bosch is the perfect answer to all of those slightly more difficult tasks where the thought of using a manual cutter is unbearable.

Despite the fact it is one of the most powerful, it is also one of the lightest to hold, which is very surprising. At just 2kgs, even if the task takes a prolonged amount of time, your wrists should still be good with the effort.

All of the bonuses are there too, such as oil level indication and an anti-vibration system which both leave you fully in control of what is going on. It takes a few minutes to assemble, but when in use, it isn’t jerky and needs little maintenance attention.

The booklet has some good tips and usage guides included even though the initial instructions are sparse, so while it may look like a bit of a scary appliance if you are a novice with power tools, it should be easy and safe to use if you read up and know what you are doing before you start.

We like

  • Well built for price point
  • Lightweight
  • Good safety features

We dislike

  • Assembly instructions are poor

Final Verdict

It isn’t going to give you the ultimate petrol power, but for the cost, it is well worth having for giving you a helping hand with easier general garden cutting

+ Specifications

  • Guide Bar Length: 35cm/18”
  • Dimensions: 32.1 x 12.1 x 21.2 cm
  • Weight: 2kg
  • Power: 1800W
  • Cord Length: 1.5m

WORX WG305E

Combining a high powered motor with a high-speed chain, this is a heavy-duty chainsaw which still gives you a lightweight and efficient design.

Ideal for light to medium duty trimming, cutting and pruning around the garden, there is little maintenance to carry out, so it is perfect for anyone who wants to be able to reach for their tools time after time with little effort.

It is safe to use, too; the automatic chain brake stops the unit in under half a second if something isn’t right, and there are two handles, so it is comfortable to hold and easy to move around.

The chain tension can be set manually, so there is no need to get the allen keys and spanners out. When this is done, the chain management system kicks in when the unit is on to control the tension automatically.

There is oil level indication, so you know when you have to pause to top it up, and the low-maintenance auto-tensioning chain system keeps all of the mechanisms working for longer. It has one of the longest power leads of all corded electric models, which is a bonus, especially if you struggle to reach power sockets when using outdoor appliances.

We like

  • Top mounted oil cap for easy filling
  • Low kickback

We dislike

  • Handle is very large - maybe uncomfortable for those with smaller hands

Final Verdict

A nice price for an item which can really take the effort out of all of those smaller cutting tasks in the garden. Worx continually deliver

+ Specifications

  • Guide Bar Length: 25cm/10”
  • Dimensions: 41.5 x 25.3 x 21 cm
  • Weight: 3.6 kg
  • Power: 1100W
  • Cord Length: 5m

Best Petrol Chainsaws

Husqvarna 435 Chainsaw

A nice mid-priced petrol saw from a brand who are well-respected in the power tool world.

It works like a dream, both easy to assemble and start when needed. There is an inertia-activated chain brake, so if you push it a bit too far, it will stop in its tracks to ensure no injuries are caused.

The power levels are extremely high, so it is one of the best petrol chainsaws for getting through tougher jobs such as tree trunks and logs for firewood. It features 60% lower emissions and 20% fuel saving capability too, so it is good for both the environment and your purse.

Distinct felling marks make it easier to undertake these big tasks, and also increases safety. The ergonomic rear handle is designed to give you the perfect amount of grip and steadiness, for simpler control. When it needs to be topped up with fuel, you’ll be able to see thanks to the visible fuel tank line. Anti-vibration dampeners also absorb excess movement, so your arms will forgive you.

We like

  • Flip-top oil tank lid
  • Start/stop switch start
  • Air injection technology for hands-free filter cleaning

We dislike

  • Chain needs tightening frequently

Final Verdict

Incredibly simple to use, and it has been designed with the user firmly in mind

+ Specifications

  • Guide Bar Length: 15”
  • Dimensions: 48 x 34 x 26 cm
  • Weight: 4.2kg
  • Power: 1600W
  • Engine: 40.9cc

McCulloch CS 340 38 cc Cordless Petrol Chainsaw

A powerful engine, 20m/s chain speed and anti-vibration system, this McCulloch is ideal for occasional use when you need to call the big guns in for tasks.

The CCS air filter system means it can be used for longer periods with less air filter service. Centrifugal cleaning pre-cleans the intake of air, and larger particles are ejected before reaching the main air filter. Not only does this give you longer running times, but it is less hassle to maintain as well.

A double activated chain brake increases the likelihood that the chainsaw will stop should you press the trigger or by inertia. This increases safety, as the risk of accidents is reduced. You also get soft start technology to reduce the resistance in the starter cord by up to 40%.

It is by far one of the easiest to work, start up and maintain in between uses. If you can cope with the weight, the lower price should make it perfect if you don’t want to spend too much yet need something worthwhile.

We like

  • Good level of safety
  • Comes fully assembled
  • Price

We dislike

  • Handles are a little awkward to get used to

Final Verdict

Ideal if you need some more power but still want something home-friendly and simple to use once you’ve read the instructions

+ Specifications

  • Guide Bar Length: 14" (35cm)
  • Dimensions: 45 x 27.5 x 30 cm
  • Weight: 8kg
  • Engine: 38cc

Stihl MS181 14-Inch Chain Saw

Designed primarily for top comfort when in use, this Stihl has low-level vibration and reduced emission engine technology, for both physical and environmental benefits.

Whether it be logs for a wood burning stove or hedges in the garden, it can slice through most of those low to medium tasks. The handles are comfortable to grip, even when the unit has to be turned at angles.

It is a two-stroke engine, and easy enough to start once you get the hang of it. Topping it up with fuel is also simple thanks to the large opening and easy to remove/refit cap.

The price is at the higher end, and to be honest better ones can be found for less money, but it is a trusted name, and a powerful pick so is still worthy of a place on our list. We would say that it basically gives you the power and performance of an electric model without the use of electricity, which may suit some of you out there just fine.

We like

  • Easy to start
  • Good instructions included

We dislike

  • Price

Final Verdict

If you want a petrol model but nothing too overboard in terms of strength and power, this Stihl is the perfect balance

+ Specifications

  • Guide Bar Length: 36cm/14”
  • Dimensions: 40 x 28.5 x 28 cm
  • Weight: 6 kg
  • Power: 1500W
  • Engine: 31.8cc

Help and Resources

Chainsaw Buying Guide

Types Of Chainsaw

  • Corded – Electric chainsaws are often seen as the most popular and easiest to use, particularly if they are corded. They require the least maintenance and are the easiest to care for. The higher the Amps or Watts, the more powerful
  • Cordless – Pretty much the same as the corded options, but they offer a lot more freedom in terms of movement. This could be good if you don’t have great access to plug sockets, or will be reaching higher places. It is also a good idea if you are a little haphazard and don’t want to worry about power cords. The power is measured in Voltage
  • Petrol – Often seen as the strongest and most capable of big jobs, as they have more powerful motors. They require more maintenance than the others, so are best if you are going to be using them frequently, so they aren’t sitting still for ages. Power is measured in terms of the engine size, in cubic centimetres (cc)

Guide Bar Length

Size matters when it comes to chainsaws. The guide bar is measured from the very tip to the place where it enters the housing/body.

The guide bar of your appliance should be at least 2” longer than what you are trying to cut, so if the tree is 14” in circumference, your chain saw should be 16”. It is okay if yours is shorter, as it just means you’ll have to cut the wood in two places, but you will just have to be warier and use a different practice to ensure full safety.

If you just want a chainsaw for light tasks, a small size should be fine.

Chain Sharpening

Just like a knife, the chain will need sharpening every so often to ensure it still cuts when under speed. A blunt chain will cause burning and buckling when against wood, which is slow and dangerous.

It could be worth buying a dedicated chainsaw sharpening kit, and reading up about the best techniques before you have to use it for the first time. You can tell whether your saw needs sharpening or not by looking at the waste – wood chips mean it is fine, but dust means it is time.

Weight

A chainsaw is an appliance which you need to hold at all points of use and then move, so you don’t want something which you can’t even lift when it is still and powered off. As well, one may seem light on paper, but after 20 minutes of use could be straining your wrists.

Try to work out the best weight for you, and also don’t do the whole job at once – know that it is okay to have pauses.

Safety

Chainsaws are dangerous to use, even for those who are heavily experienced. Not only should you have the correct model for the job in terms of power and size, but it should also be comfortable for you to hold for the duration of the task, and you should ensure the area is clear.

If the task ahead of you is a big one, fitness levels could be important. Your ability to hold and manipulate the chainsaw is going to be paramount.

Also consider wearing the proper equipment:

  • Safety pants/chaps
  • Safety glasses/goggles
  • Ear defenders
  • Head protection
  • Gloves
  • Cut-resistant boots

Other Features To Look Out For

  • Anti-Vibration Technology: This dampens the vibration effects of the chainsaw so you can hold and use it for longer, as it won’t become uncomfortable to use
  • Heated Handle: Only top-end options may have this, but it could be vital if you are working outside in colder temperatures or the heat will help with hand strain
  • Assistant Starting: Requires a lot less effort to get the machine going. This may either mean a better pull system for petrol options or a simple on/off button with electric models
  • Maintenance: Is it easy to access the filter and tighten/secure the chain? If it is too much to maintain and look after, you may be less likely to use it knowing you have a task on your hands
  • Handle Type: Top Handle vs Rear Handle – The former is designed for cutting trees or elevated work and are usually best for professional tree surgeons, while the latter is for chopping wood or other items on a flat surface. Rear handles give you an extra level of control, and top handles are good for more free-form cutting

FAQ’s

What Are Chainsaws Used For?

A chainsaw is essentially a cutting tool which uses a motor to power a metal chain, hence the name. When the teeth come into contact with the wood, the teeth can cut into it.

They are used by gardeners, tree surgeons and carpenters to either cut down trees and brambles with no effort, or shape and design them. Many ordinary people who like to do the gardening themselves can also use them, however – they are great for cutting back trees and hedges coming into Spring, or breaking down logs for the fire in Winter.

The best chainsaw for you depends on what you’ll be using it for. Trimming hedges and occasional branches will likely only need a lightweight model, but professional or frequent use may need something more substantial.

How Much Should I Spend?

Petrol cutters are generally more expensive than electric models, starting at at least £100. Those at the higher end of the scale will be easier to maintain, start up easier and often be more powerful.

Electric chainsaws can be bought for as little as £60, which are fine for smaller tasks such as hedge trimming or cutting bramble, but ones nearer to £200 will likely be more powerful and for larger tasks. Cordless models are also generally a bit pricier, but as this technology becomes more the norm, their cost is dropping.

Do I Need To Use Oil?

Oil keeps the chain running alongside the blade. To ensure no stuttering or stopping, which could cause damage or injury, ensure the chain is oiled frequently.

The manufacturers often make oils dedicated for use with their particular saws, as they need to match the speed and air temperature at which it operates.

What Are The Best Chainsaw Brands?

Look for models from brands such as Stihl, Makita, Bosch, McCulloch, Titan, Husqvarna, Qualcast, Black + Decker, Worx, Ryobi, Oregon and Spear + Jackson.

Some well-known hardware stores may make their own brands which could be worth a look out for too, and while they could be more budget-friendly, the chances are they aren’t as strong.