Lumberjacks once called them widow makers. Since the late 1960's, however, a variety of different types of chainsaws and various safety improvements have brought the chainsaw into commonplace home and ranch use. While these tools still have the capacity to maim users, the addition of throttle triggers, hand guards, chain brakes, and chain catchers make them safe enough for the average homeowner. Choosing the best types of chainsaws for different jobs is the main concern for most modern users. Many will gravitate towards long bars and high horsepower, but these are not always the best-suited tools for the job at hand.
Different types of chainsaws can be classified in a variety of ways. Horsepower, bar length, weight, duty ratings, each of these are categories under which you could sort the various types of chainsaws. However, for the average consumer, the power source of a given chainsaw head is the most common way to sort options. Power sources include gas, electric, or battery power. Gas powered chainsaw heads are 2-stroke or 4-stroke, and maintain a certain amount of classic tradition in terms of tools. Gas motors further divide into displacement options such as 30, 40, or 45cc.
Electric and battery powered chainsaws, generally speaking, are lighter, less expensive to buy and run, and require less maintenance. Electric saws, whether corded or battery powered, serve well for smaller jobs requiring shorter bars. These types of chainsaws are sorted based on amps or volts. Battery-powered electric saws most commonly have short bars of 10 inches or less. Corded electric chainsaws have bars between 12 to 14 inches, but can fit up to 18-inch bars.
Each of the different types of chainsaws serves a useful purpose. Depending on the job at hand and the frequency of use, many users find it beneficial to have multiple chainsaws available. For example, when bucking logs into firewood, cutting down larger trees, or otherwise cutting wood in the 12 to 14 inch diameter range, gas powered heads fitted with 16 to 18 inch bars are the best types of chainsaws to use.
For uses around the home, where electricity is readily available, corded electric chainsaws are useful and convenient. If you have smaller logs or branches to cut with less than 10 inch diameters, corded electrics fitted with a 14 inch bar are the best types of chainsaws. For light pruning over shorter periods, battery powered chainsaws work well. Unfortunately, of all the types of chainsaws available, battery-powered saws are the least versatile. A 10 inch bar and limited horsepower simply cannot handle bigger jobs.