Chainsaw weight is listed as one of the features in our ‘Comparison Table’, but how important is this factor for the first time buyer when it comes to choosing a saw? Should buyers be concerned about a saw’s weight?
The answer is maybe.
Homeowner chainsaws vary greatly in weight. Small electric models can weigh as little as 6 lbs. whereas some of the larger gas products can weigh up to 20 lbs. Some of the professional machines weigh a lot more than this but this isn’t something which need concern the occasional users like you and me. Bear in mind though that some of the heavier bowling balls weigh around 16 lbs. and you can get an idea of how a top end machine might be difficult for some people to operate. Would you be able to carry a bowling ball around for hours on end?
Generally chainsaws will be heavier if:
• Their construction contains more metal than plastic parts. For example, on some saws the powerhead unit casing and chain sprockets are constructed from plastic. This tends to make the saws lighter and rustproof but not as robust as their metal counterparts. All things being equal, if the weight is as a consequence of the material used in construction, a heavier machine will hold up better than a lighter one. If you’re looking for something which will last a while and which you can throw in the back of the truck without worrying about a few scratches then this could be the way to go.
• Engine and battery size are larger. A 62cc 2-stroke engine will weigh a lot more than a 38cc engine in the same way that an 80 volt 4 amp hour battery will weigh more than a 24 volt 2 amp hour equivalent.
• The cutting equipment is longer. A 20 inch bar and chain will weigh a lot more than a 12 inch.
• It is a gas model. You may be undecided about whether to buy an electric saw or small gas machine which weigh roughly the same. Bear in mind that you then need to fill your ‘gassie’ with fuel which will add to the weight.
This leads to the question: what exactly are you going to use the chainsaw for?
Firstly, wielding a 15lb saw for twenty minutes to do the occasional job around the home or farm is a lot easier than using it to carry out a big project taking several hours. Many modern saws have excellent ergonomic designs and feature anti-vibration mechanisms to help reduce user fatigue but trust me, these can only go so far. Use a heavy saw for a prolonged period and you will get tired. Not only does this impact on your ability to finish the project but it can also be dangerous. Fatigue can lead to carelessness, not to mention poorer control of the saw.
The second point relates to the type of work being carried out. If you are bucking (cutting a fallen tree into logs) for example, a heavier saw can be an advantage. You can use some of the saw’s features, such as its bumper spikes to provide stability when cutting and then allow the weight of the saw to cut through the limb in a downward motion. This takes less physical effort than if you are doing a lot of pruning. Here, you may need more maneuverability and may find yourself having to lift the saw more and cut at different angles.
The third, and perhaps the most obvious consideration, is the user’s physical capability. My dad used to be able to easily handle his 22lb Stihl but now in his eighties he wouldn’t even think about using it. A user’s size, age, gender and level of physical fitness should all play a large part in your decision about the size of saw you buy.
It may be that, like my dad, you can’t physically handle a larger machine and that’s fine. Your ability to safely handle a chainsaw is the most important consideration and you should never be tempted to use something beyond your capabilities.
To summarize, when it comes to choosing a chainsaw based on its weight, remember the following.
• Safety is paramount. This should be your number one concern. Chainsaws are one of the most dangerous tools you will ever use and you should never try to handle something which is beyond your capabilities.
• Type of work. Remember, heavier saws are more suited to certain types of work and if you have only light pruning tasks to carry out around the yard then you can look at a lightweight machine. Alternatively, a lot of medium duty felling and bucking will in all likelihood require a heavier saw.
As I mentioned at the start of this article, all chainsaw weights are listed in our comparison table. We always highlight any handling difficulties in our reviews. Perhaps almost as important as weight is the balance of a particular machine and where the weight is situated. Many modern, good quality machines have excellent balance, making them easier to handle.
If you are considering buying a particular chainsaw I would suggest that you read the individual product review. We always raise issues about handling under a ‘Performance and Handling’ section as well as highlighting any user comments in the ‘Consumer’ Ratings’ section of our reviews.