A key principle of buying and using power tools is selecting one that’s big enough to handle what you need, with just enough extra capacity to give you a little latitude if things get tough. Simply stated, bigger isn’t always better. A tool sized and built to handle the worst-case scenario is liable to also be big, heavy, loud, and tiring to use. And in the context of chainsaws, this becomes even more important when you’re doing physically demanding work, like framing a house or a deck or cutting firewood. If the tool tuckers you out, you have little hope of being efficient.
My primary saw is the professional-level, gas-engine Stihl MS 261 (one of the best and most cost-effective chainsaws ever built). I use it all the time to prepare test logs for our chainsaw tests and to cut firewood and do landscape maintenance.
As much as I like that tool, it stands in stark contrast to the current crop of electric chainsaws. When I turn off the MS 261 and pick up a small cordless saw and go to work with it, I’m impressed anew by how light, small, and quiet these tools are. I’ll never give up my trusty Stihl, but it’s also admittedly a lot of saw and more than you might need.
Below are two such cordless saws that performed well in recent testing, in general use, and cutting discs in 6-inch-diameter ash logs. They nicely illustrate how much work you can get done with a small cordless chainsaw.
Equipped with a 12-inch bar and a whole lot of spunk for a small saw, this Greenworks turned in a fast and reliable performance. It churned through one cut after another until its battery was spent. Let’s say you had another battery on hand, that would enable a decent morning’s work turning out a small batch of firewood, dropping small trees, or removing over-grown bushes. The hand guard at the saw’s front is not a chain brake, but at least it’s not awkwardly positioned or sized to prevent a view of the cutline. Other things to like about this little saw are its large, tool-free handle that flips up to tighten the chain, the large oil fill cap on the side, and a well-designed handle that permits a good grip while wearing bulky work gloves.
Two side-saddle 20-volt batteries (4-Ah apiece) supply the hefty side-mount motor on the Worx. It looks like, feels like, and cuts like a solid little saw, as the 78 discs we were able to cut with it on one charge amply illustrates. Other standouts are its crisp chain brake, large bar-oil reservoir, an easy-to-grip oil cap, tool-free chain tightening, and a button to help you quickly determine how much charge is left. If you’re invested in Worx 20-volt and 40-volt power tools, the chainsaw would make a sensible addition to your arsenal.
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