Last updated: August 10, 2021

Anyone who frequently works in the forest knows what a blessing a petrol chainsaw can be. Compared to an electric chainsaw, it convinces with power and endurance. Of course, this chainsaw does not need a power socket either. If you would like to work with a petrol-powered chainsaw, you should pay attention to a few criteria when buying one.

For example, the fuel tank capacity, the engine capacity and the length of the blade are crucial. But you should not neglect the noise level either. To help you find your way among the many petrol chainsaws on the market, we have compiled all the important information in our large petrol chainsaw test 2021 and compared eight different chainsaws for you.

Contents




The most important facts

  • Petrol chainsaws help you with tree care, limbing or tree felling. They usually offer more power and are more portable than electronically powered devices.
  • Basically, you can distinguish between all-round saws, felling saws, top-handle saws, telescopic chainsaws and carving saws. Which one is right for you depends mainly on the area of use of your petrol chainsaw.
  • When buying your chainsaw, you should pay attention to various features. These include the engine power, the weight, the length of the saw bar and the chain tensioning device.

The Best Petrol Chainsaw: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a petrol chainsaw

What should I look for when buying a chainsaw?

The most important point is definitely the area of use for your chainsaw. Depending on whether you want to do tree felling or small tree maintenance work, for example, a different saw is the best chainsaw for you. You can find the most important categories above. Other important characteristics are the engine power, the weight and the length of the saw bar. We would like to provide you with a few guidelines for all categories, whereby you should of course decide for yourself (depending on your area of application) what you ultimately value and how much.

Type Engine power Weight Saw blade
All-round saw 2-4 hp 4-5 kg 30-50 cm
Felling saw 4-7 hp 5-7 kg 45-70 cm
Top-handle chainsaw approx. 2 hp 2,5-3,5 kg 25-40 cm
Telescopic chain saw ca. 1,5 hp 7,5-8,5 kg 20-30 cm
Carving saw ca. 1,5 hp 3-4 kg ca. 30 cm

In addition, many chainsaw manufacturers offer technical aids that make the saw easier to operate. Starting the chainsaw can quickly become a problem. This is counteracted with various starting aid mechanisms. A device for faster chain tensioning (preferably without tools) can also prove extremely helpful. Anti-vibration systems are now also found in many models and help to improve the handling of the saw.

Kettensaege

The choice of chainsaw depends on the area of use.

To make it easier for you to decide which petrol chainsaw is best for you, we have created a table here. In this table you can easily and quickly see which petrol chainsaw is best suited for which application.

Type Type of use
All-round chainsaws These chainsaws are easy to use and are suitable for small tree felling and everyday woodwork such as cutting firewood or tree maintenance.
Felling saws Felling saws have a powerful engine and a very long saw bar. You can use it to fell large trees and do heavy woodwork. However, it is a little heavier and more cumbersome to use.
Top-handle chainsaws These chainsaws used to be called one-handed chainsaws because the handle is on top of the engine block. They are very handy, have low kickback and are suitable for small jobs on the tree where there is little space.
Telescopic chainsaws Because the saw bar is mounted on an extendable handle, they are also called high pruners. They allow you to cut high branches on the tree while standing on the ground. However, they are not as easy to handle.
Carving saws Carving saws are designed for carving and maintaining fruit trees. They are particularly low-vibration and low-recoil and allow fine and precise cuts. They are not suitable for felling work, however.

What petrol should I use for my chainsaw?

Chainsaws cannot be operated with conventional petrol from petrol stations. For your saw to work, you need to fill it up with a fuel mixture of petrol and engine oil. This petrol mixture - also called alkylate petrol - is already available for purchase. However, it is also possible to mix the petrol yourself.

It is important to use both high-quality petrol and high-quality oil to ensure a long service life for your chainsaw. The mixing ratio for the mixture is one part oil to 50 parts petrol.

Did you know that the principle of the chainsaw is really old? It was originally used around 1830 by a doctor in Würzburg to saw bones.

What price should I expect when buying a petrol chainsaw?

The price of a chainsaw depends greatly on the type of saw. While entry-level machines can be purchased for just over 100 euros, professional chainsaws start at around 500 euros and can cost three times as much. Small all-round saws are the cheapest. Inexpensive chainsaws can be bought for just over 100 euros.

Machines from renowned manufacturers in this category are available from around 250 euros. Very similar prices can be found for top-handle saws and petrol-powered high pruners. Here, too, you can buy a respectable model for around 200 to 250 euros. Carving saws are somewhat more expensive. Here you can find good products starting at about 450 euros. You have to dig deeper into your pocket for the felling saws.

With these powerful chainsaws, you have to reckon with costs of around 800 euros for an attractive model. The prices for these professional chainsaws are open at the top. Please note, however, that it is also possible to buy used equipment. You can buy chainsaws cheaply in various online marketplaces.

What are the alternatives to a petrol chainsaw?

The two main alternatives to petrol chainsaws are battery-powered chainsaws and electric chainsaws. Battery saws are usually much quieter and easier to use because they are lighter. The situation is similar with electric saws, but with these you are tied to a power connection.

Both alternatives are more environmentally friendly and emit fewer pollutants than the petrol-powered alternative. However, they are nowhere near as powerful as petrol chainsaws and also offer less endurance. So battery and electric saws are an interesting alternative if you use them infrequently or don't do too much work with them.

For whom are petrol chainsaws suitable?

If you don't always work near a power socket and you often have to cut down trees, a petrol chainsaw is just the thing for you. Petrol chainsaws are ideal for you if you want or need to work independently of power sockets and electricity sources, for example if you are a large landowner.

As petrol chainsaws are louder than, for example, electric chainsaws or battery-powered chainsaws, they are also the best chainsaw for you if you tend to work remotely or don't have neighbours who are too sensitive to noise.

However, as mentioned above, petrol chainsaws are also a lot more powerful, making them perfect for larger sawing jobs. They are also more versatile and can easily be used in forestry or on construction sites.

Kettensäge zum Holz sägen

Petrol saws are particularly suitable if you often have to saw trees and are not close to power sockets.

What are the advantages of petrol chainsaws over electric chainsaws?

Above all, the independence from power sources and the stronger performance speak for the purchase of a petrol chainsaw. A big advantage of petrol saws is that you are not tied to a power source. As long as you have petrol with you, you can cut freely.

Because of this mobility, the advantages come into play especially when you want to use the saw on the road or you have a larger working area. Another important advantage is that they usually have a higher power and endurance and thus support you better on larger jobs.

Decision: What types of petrol chainsaws are there and which one is right for you?

Petrol chainsaws can basically be divided into five different categories:

  • All-round saws
  • Felling saws
  • Top-handle saws (one-handed chainsaws)
  • Telescopic chain saws (high pruners)
  • Carving saws

While the term chainsaw immediately brings to mind the all-round saw, there are many different areas of application for chainsaws that are served by these five categories. Each category has its own technical characteristics, each of which has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Depending on what you want to use your chainsaw for, a different type of chainsaw is best suited for you. In the following paragraphs we will help you to find out which saw is the right choice for you.

What are all-round chainsaws and what are their advantages and disadvantages?

All-round saws are - as the name suggests - best suited for everyday sawing work. You can use them to cut firewood or smaller trees. In addition, these power chainsaws are well suited for tree maintenance and for removing easily accessible wood. In addition, all-round chainsaws are usually comparatively easy to operate.

But there are not only advantages compared to special saws. For example, it is much easier to remove wood that is difficult to reach with a high pruning saw. In addition, if you want to be able to fell large trees, the comparatively small chainsaw in this category can quickly be overtaxed and not offer enough power.

Advantages
  • Perfect for smaller sawing jobs
  • Easy to remove easily accessible wood
  • Comparatively simple to operate
Disadvantages
  • Quickly overtaxed for demanding jobs
  • Problems with hard-to-reach jobs

Allround Kettensaege

All-round chainsaws are suitable for everyday sawing work. They are easy to operate, but are not suitable for felling large trees or high branches.

What are felling saws and what are their advantages and disadvantages?

A felling saw is a very powerful petrol chainsaw that you can use to cut down large trees. It has a powerful engine and a very long saw bar. This makes this large chainsaw capable of very powerful work. However, due to the larger engine, this chainsaw is comparatively heavy and can quickly tire your arms.

They are also sometimes more cumbersome than all-round saws and therefore more difficult to operate. The large felling saw is the right choice for you if you regularly want to fell large trees and you already have other tools for tree care or firewood procurement.

Advantages
  • Tremendously powerful
  • Perfect for large felling jobs
Disadvantages
  • Not suitable for tree care
  • Very heavy and unwieldy

What are top-handle chainsaws and what are their advantages and disadvantages?

Top-handle chainsaws (formerly called one-handed chainsaws) get their name from the arrangement of the handle, which is placed on top of the engine block. This allows the chainsaw to be compact and space-saving. This very small chainsaw is perfect for doing work in the tree or in environments where space is very limited.

This is also made possible with a comparatively small saw bar. In addition, good top-handle chainsaws feature very low kickback saw chains, which ensure greater safety. However, this reduces the cutting performance.

Advantages
  • Very handy and low kickback
  • Perfect for hard-to-reach tree care
  • Small and manoeuvrable
Disadvantages
  • Low power
  • Cannot be used as an all-rounder

Naturally, the top-handle chainsaw specialises in small, hard-to-reach jobs. Since it is too small for large felling jobs, it is often used as a second saw, especially by professionals. Please note: Top-handle chainsaws must not be used one-handed for safety reasons.

What are telescopic chainsaws and what are their advantages and disadvantages?

The telescopic chainsaw - also known as a high pruner - is a chainsaw that is attached to an extendable handle. It allows you to cut high branches from the ground. Usually a small saw bar is used for a telescopic chainsaw, as it is easier to handle at height. A major advantage of using telescopic saws is the increased safety with which sawing work can be done - no ladder or securing in the tree is necessary.

Advantages
  • Safe sawing of high branches
  • Easy to handle
Disadvantages
  • Strong vibrations
  • Power-consuming

However, working with telescopic saws is also more strenuous than with conventional chainsaws. In addition, strong vibrations on the handle of the chainsaw can make it even more difficult to operate, especially with petrol-powered high-powered chainsaws.

Teleskop Kettensaege

A telescopic chainsaw is a chainsaw that is attached to an extendable handle. It enables the cutting of high branches, but is also more strenuous.

What are carving saws and what are their advantages and disadvantages?

Carving saws are special chainsaws that you can use for woodcarving. This does not necessarily only mean the artistic form of carving, but can also be very important for the care of (fruit) trees. Chainsaws in this category are characterised by very low-vibration engines and little kickback.

In addition, they have specially shaped saw bars with which you can make fine, precise cuts. Carving saws are not suitable for regular felling work, however, as they have too little power and the blade is too short. If you want to do this kind of felling with your tool, we recommend that you look at other chainsaws. A carving saw is the right choice if you only want to do fine work with your chainsaw.

Advantages
  • Enables very precise work
  • Little kickback
Disadvantages
  • Specialises in fine carving

Buying criteria: You can use these factors to compare and evaluate petrol chainsaws

In the next few lines we would like to show you which criteria will help you to evaluate and compare a chainsaw with others. This will help you decide which chainsaw to buy.

  • Power
  • Displacement
  • Blade length
  • Weight
  • Tank volume
  • Volume
  • Lateral chain tension
  • Chain brake
  • Starting aid

In the next paragraphs we will explain the criteria in more detail and show you what to look for in each case.

Power

The engine power is of course one of the most important criteria for a petrol chainsaw. The power should correspond to the main task. To cut down large trees, you need a powerful saw. Here you should look for a value above 4 hp (2.9 KW).

Anything less than that runs the risk of the chainsaw getting stuck. For cutting firewood, a value of 2.5 hp (1.8 KW) is also sufficient. However, you should also be careful not to take a saw that is too powerful. More powerful chainsaw engines with larger displacement are also heavier, which affects handling.

Displacement

Strongly linked to the engine power of a chainsaw is also the size of the engine displacement. More displacement provides more torque and thus also has an influence on the cutting performance.

The displacement describes the volume that can be displaced by the stroke of all pistons in an engine. Accordingly, a larger displacement usually means higher performance. For average use, we recommend a displacement of about 35 cubic centimetres. For felling saws, 50 cubic centimetres or more is optimal.

Blade length

Here too, the saw blade should be optimally matched to the area of application. The length of the saw-bar can be measured in two different ways. On the one hand, the entire length can be measured, i.e. also the part that is built into the housing. On the other hand, it is also possible to measure only the part that protrudes from the housing.

While a felling saw with a length of more than 50 centimetres is best suited to a saw rail, 35 centimetres is sufficient for an all-round saw. You also have to consider that the saw bar should match the engine power. You should choose a ratio of one horsepower to ten to 12 centimetres of bar length. Of course, other factors also play a role, such as torque.

Weight

The weight of the chainsaw is especially important for the handling of the saw. It is obvious that heavier machines will tire your arms more quickly. The engine is the main factor that determines the weight. It is therefore important to find a good balance between power and weight to ensure optimal handling. Large chainsaws can weigh up to eight kilograms. Most all-round saws weigh between four and five kilograms.

Tank volume

The fuel tank capacity of a chainsaw determines how long you can work with your chainsaw without interruption. The larger the fuel tank, the longer you can work with it without having to refill it. There are also big differences between individual chainsaws. While small chainsaw tanks are manufactured with a volume starting at about 300 millilitres, the value for large models can exceed one litre.

Here it is especially important to pay attention to what you want to use the chainsaw for. If you often want to do mobile work without lugging around a petrol tank, a rather larger tank is recommended. At the same time, however, it is important to remember that a larger tank will increase the weight of the chainsaw, which will make it less comfortable to work with.

Volume

Very often the noise level of the chainsaw is not taken into consideration when buying. However, your neighbours will definitely be grateful if you keep an eye on this parameter. This point also depends very much on the engine of your chainsaw, although the variation here is very small. Most saws have a sound power level of around 90 to 105 decibels.

Tip: To protect your hearing, you should always use hearing protection.

Lateral chain tensioning

Lateral chain tensioning offers considerably more comfort when maintaining the chainsaw. It also speeds up the chain tensioning process considerably. If you want it to be even more comfortable, or if you always misplace your combination spanner, you can also use tool-free quick chain tensioning systems. Tensioning with such systems works via a side-mounted wheel that can be turned to tension the chain. However, this tool-less type of tensioning is also somewhat more prone to failure.

Chain brake

Nowadays, the chain brake has become a standard feature, but not every saw has one, especially on older models. The chain brake is the most important safety feature of a chainsaw. It prevents the chain from continuing to run if the saw kicks back.

The front hand guard is usually connected to the clutch bell, and the mechanism stops the saw chain directly on kickback. In addition, on some models the chain is also braked directly when the throttle lever is released, so that it only runs during active use.

Did you know that the STIHL company had a catalytic converter installed in its chainsaws for the first time in 1988? This leads to more efficient work because, in addition to the increased working ergonomics, the odour pollution has decreased.

In principle, chain brakes are fitted as standard on all modern machines. But especially when buying an older, used chainsaw, you should make sure that your future saw has a chain brake built in.

Starting aid

Mechanically starting a petrol-powered machine can be challenging. Fortunately, many chainsaw manufacturers now offer technical aids for starting the chainsaw. However, the manufacturers have very different approaches.

Stihl, for example, uses ElastoStart, a system that uses a spring in the starter handle to ensure smooth starting without power peaks. Husqvarna uses a system called SmartStart, which is supposed to reduce the resistance of the starter rope by up to 40 per cent.

In addition, decompression valves and manually operated fuel pumps are already standard with most major manufacturers. Decompression valves help to reduce resistance on the starter rope, which in turn makes it easier to start.

Facts worth knowing about petrol chainsaws

How does a chainsaw work?

The chainsaw housing houses the two-stroke drive engine, which can be started with a pull-start. A saw-bar is attached to the front of the housing and has a saw-chain around it. This is driven by a centrifugal clutch and is only moved when you operate the throttle.

The two handles of the saw are also attached to the housing. On a conventional chainsaw, the upper handle is responsible for carrying the saw, while the throttle is located on the rear handle (exception: top-handle saw). When this lever is actuated, the saw chain is set in motion and cuts through the wood with the help of its alternating vertical and horizontal teeth.

During this process, the chain is continuously lubricated with engine oil to allow it to run more smoothly. In addition, a deflection star is attached to the front of the saw blade - also with the aim of reducing friction.

What can I do if my chainsaw does not accept gas?

Problems with gas acceptance are often related to the fuel system. If the chainsaw goes out completely as soon as you open the throttle, it is very possible that the engine is not getting enough petrol or that the petrol is too old.

Especially with machines that are used a lot, it is also possible that the carburettor is clogged or that dirt has got into the carburettor. The suction head or the fine screen may also be clogged and need to be cleaned or replaced. Another problem that can occur is a crack in the fuel line, which also means that the chainsaw engine is not supplied with enough fuel.

What can I do if my chainsaw does not start?

If you have too little and/or old petrol, worn spark plugs or a defective piston ring, it is possible that your chainsaw will not start at all. With luck, only your tank is empty. However, all the other fuel system problems described above may also apply here.

With this problem, it is also possible that you will have to replace the ignition coil or spark plugs, as these may be faulty. And problems with the engine itself, such as cracked piston rings or a leaking crankcase, can also mean that your chainsaw will no longer start.

How can I adjust my petrol chainsaw correctly?

If your chainsaw is giving you problems but you can't find a reason for it, you may be able to solve this by readjusting your carburettor. We will briefly outline how an adjustment works with a diaphragm carburettor. However, we must mention that every manufacturer builds their saws differently and therefore the adjustment may differ from our model.

Caution: Carburettor adjustment is challenging and should only be done by experienced users themselves.

Before you start the adjustment, you should start the saw for about three minutes to let the engine come to operating temperature. The chainsaw must be in perfect technical condition to ensure that the problems are caused by the carburettor. You should also have a tachometer with you so that you can accurately set the maximum speed. Most chainsaws have three adjusting screws. The idle stop screw (marked LA, T or S) controls the idle speed.

If the saw chain rotates while the saw is idling, you can adjust the speed with this screw. The L-screw controls the acceleration phase up to the maximum speed, which is controlled with the H-screw. The basic setting for your chainsaw is given in the operating instructions. You start the adjustment by carefully closing the L-screw and the H-screw completely and then opening them again to the basic setting.

This will give you a safe carburettor setting. The idle stop screw can now be screwed in as far as it will go. Then start the saw and let it warm up. The chain may rotate during this process! Now adjust the LA screw until the chain is stationary.

Then apply full throttle and check the saw's acceleration, which you can then adjust with the L-screw. In a further step, check the maximum speed and adjust the H-screw if necessary. Finally, check the idle speed again and adjust it if necessary, and your carburettor is set.

Accessories: Find the ideal complement to your petrol chainsaw

How can I best sharpen my saw chain? Sooner or later you will have to ask yourself this question when working with your chainsaw. If you use your chainsaw more regularly, or simply don't want to file it, a saw-chain sharpener is just what you need. Before you start sawing, you should take appropriate protective measures. This includes wearing cut protection, training with the saw and taking a course.

Photo source: 123rf.com / Hana Tipplová

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