A sharp cut, or what is a chainsaw good for?

10 useful features of a modern chainsaw that will make your life easier

In addition to power and engine speed, it is very useful to consider other features when choosing a saw. They will not always be decisive, but they will make the work more comfortable, easier and safer.

Choose your chainsaw not only for performance, but also for functionality, Choose your chainsaw not only for performance, but also for functionality

Choose a chainsaw not only by its durability, but also by its functionality. Photo by Husqvarna

Relentless chainsaw work, presented in front of comfortable temperatures and with pliable materials, is a rarely achievable set of successful factors. Basically, this tool needs to be picked up either in the heat or in the cold. In the cold, everything has to be done quickly, and the wood, as luck would have it, comes across “twisted.” In short, a whole bunch of niceties… That is why it is very important to have a good tool for daily life, where work with a chainsaw is of episodic character and this means that there is almost nothing behind it. We are not going to talk about power here, as it is not the most important factor of usability. We will talk about the features that will help be more comfortable even in extreme conditions.

1. chain brake: contact and inertia

All chains have a chain. This is a necessity dictated by safety regulations. But it can be different. All saws have a contact chain brake that opens when the brake lever is pulled by the operator’s hand during operation. This usually occurs at high chain speed, the front of the saw hoop touches the wood and the saw is thrown or sideways, i.e. a so-called kickback occurs.

The chain brake lever is located in front of the chain saw's upper handle.

The contact brake lever is located in front of the upper handle of the chainsaw.

This is not an ideal safety feature. Sometimes a person doesn’t take care of safety and doesn’t hold the tool correctly, the system doesn’t always work quickly. And most importantly, it takes time to touch it. Usually, it is a fraction of a second, but it is valuable in an emergency situation. In spite of this, this safety system has proven itself – no chainsaw is without it.

To make the tool even safer, the manufacturer reuses the chainsaw with an inertia effect. If it is thrown sharply and uncontrollably to the side or to the operator, the brake lever, which has special weights in its design, will instantly block the movement of the chain. The inertia brake operates almost instantly, automatically and without a hand with a lever. This, for example, is how the Husqvarna H450E II chain saw is equipped. It is an excellent household tool that is semi-professional in a number of features.

Husqvarna H450E II has an inertia chain brake

Husqvarna H450E II is equipped with a chain inertia brake. Photo courtesy of Husqvarna

2. anti-vibration system

People who have to work with chainsaws without vibration protection notice that they get tired quickly. But this is only a superficial symptom. If you work for a long time, this strain affects your health: your joints can become diseased and your circulatory system can be impaired.

The easiest way to make the chainsaw easier to operate is to provide rubber pads between the tool body and handle. Unfortunately, only a small portion of the vibrations can be dampened. In addition, rubber shock absorbers are not durable. They deteriorate and lose their properties with time under the influence of ambient temperature, ultraviolet radiation and fuel deposits on them.

Completely different results are achieved by modern and durable shock absorbers in the form of steel springs and a chainsaw design with the “two-mass” principle where the engine block is significantly reduced from the handles with the fuel tank.

The twin-mass anti-vibration system reduces fatigue even during extended use.

3. Air purification system

Dust and shavings can be a problem, even if you only work for a short time. To keep the chainsaw engine working properly, the filtration system must be able to handle both coarse and fine particles.

To improve the efficiency of the filters, some chainsaw models are equipped with a centrifugal air cleaning system. In this case, the air in the tool passes through the starter coating inside the structure, and the cooling bike distributes the dust to the periphery. Under the action of centrifugal forces, large dirt particles are ejected toward the muffler and supply the air filters and carburetor with pre-cleaned air. Consequently, less dust enters the filter, which means it needs to be cleaned less often. This is especially true if you use your chainsaw for extended periods of time.

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To keep chainsaws in good working order, a high-quality filtration system is essential to keep dust out.

To keep your chain saw for a long time you need a high-quality filter system to protect the mechanism from dust.

Warning. Even with a centrifugal air-cleaning system, you must regularly clean the engine cylinder fins, starter air intake, fan blades, air filter surfaces and other parts that come in contact with dust.

4. Easily accessible air filter.

Both fuel and air filters need to be serviced and changed regularly. And while the former needs to be replaced every 1-2 years (depending on fuel quality), the latter needs to be cleaned systematically during operation. Therefore, be sure to secure the chainsaw body cover. It is clear that it will take some time to loosen and tighten the screws. For example, if you have to work in the cold, intervening can be very inconvenient. It is easier to work with a chainsaw, the cover of which is attached by special clamps. In some models it opens manually, while in others you have to open it with a screwdriver. Here it is important to pay attention to the quality of the clip and body material. Cheap chainsaw models, most likely, can not boast about it!

5. Easy cold start

The chainsaw engine is started by pulling the starter handle. If the fuel mixture in the tank is used up, in cold weather or during a long break, starting can be difficult and the user often starts with a lot of effort.

A primer, a hand pump to transfer fuel from the tank to the carburetor, helps speed up and facilitate this process. Instead of repeatedly pulling the starter knob, you can press the primer with your fingers crossed until fuel mixture appears in the clear pump-pump. Then press a few more times, pull the starter rope, and the engine will start immediately.

6. Intelligent starting system

To minimize the effort required to start a chainsaw engine, Husqvarna engineers developed and patented the Smart Start system. How it works: The ignition system has a special module that provides a stable and powerful ignition spark in the cylinder, even when the starter cord is not pulled. This reduces starting resistance by 40%. A very useful feature, especially when you have to work with stops and repeated starts and shutdowns.

Husqvarna Smart Start System makes it easy to start the saw.

Husqvarna Smart Start makes starting the saw really easy.

7. Fuel gauge

Seemingly trivial, but you rarely, if ever, need to use a chainsaw in ideal conditions, so fuel gauge solutions are a must-have. In this case you always know how much is left before the next filling, and just do not get distracted by minor things, and continue to work in a comfortable mode.

8. Side chain tension

The chainsaw chain needs to be tightened regularly. Usually you can’t do without additional tools. There are models in which the process of tensioning the chain is extremely cumbersome and requires special tricks from the owner. However, manufacturers justify this approach by the fact that a simple, linear design eliminates the possibility of breakage. Therefore, the side keyless variants are unreliable.

Experience shows that the lateral location of the regulator does not guarantee problems with the mechanism. For responsible manufacturers, the quality of workmanship and reliability of materials solves the problem. In everyday life, when you decide to chop firewood or clear the garden of unwanted trees, it is easier and more convenient to use the keyless wrench. Husqvarna H450e II chain saw has a similar chain adjustment system.

Husqvarna H450E II chain saw with side-mount chain

Husqvarna H450e II chain saw with side chain tensioner. Photo courtesy of Husqvarna

For more information on how to tension the chain and how to change the saw blade yourself, please see How to choose a chain and saw bars for both gasoline and cordless saws.

9. Operation of the cutting system lubrication system

Keeping the cutting system evenly lubricated saves you money. For every chainsaw owner, the purchase and replacement of saw bars and chains is a necessary expense without which no further use of the tool would be possible. All chainsaws today are equipped with a system to regulate the lubrication of the chain and bar. This greatly reduces the likelihood of their failure, but obliges the owner to systematically monitor the cleanliness of the design elements.

10. Felling direction marking

This function is useful for those who not only want to cut firewood, but also to cut trees. Experience shows that almost everyone has to deal with such work (e.g. removing a diseased apple tree or a larger tree from a plot). This is a serious job that requires proper training. You can learn more about its nuances in the article What you need to know to properly cut down a tree.

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But there is a “chip” that will greatly facilitate your task. On the body of some chainsaws made technological tide (risk), located at an angle of 90° to the bar. When making the first guide cut on the trunk, pay close attention to this risk: visually its continuation should get to where you plan to cut the tree.

Read the instruction manual before you cut down a tree!

Read the instructions before you cut the tree!

Warning. Felling trees requires special skills and knowledge, so read your chainsaw manual before you start. It should describe the working process in all important details.

How to choose a chain saw: tips from professionals

We continue the series of articles dedicated to power tools. Today we will consider saber saws, find their strengths and weaknesses, identify the differences between different models and find out why they are so loved in the West.

How to choose a sabre saw

The dark horse is the champion we know almost nothing about. So it is with saber saws. They are incredibly popular overseas, saber saws are consistently among the top three tools, and in some countries they even have the undisputed lead. Women and children working on their land (at the ready with a saber saw) is a classic image of modern bourgeois cinema.

Surprisingly, there is no such trend in our country. Few people are familiar with such units, even salespeople in specialized stores sometimes do not know what they are talking about, let alone market vendors. At the same time, it is impossible to say that saber saws have appeared quite recently in the post-Soviet space. Leading foreign manufacturers are at a loss, but stubbornly import more and more models of this tool, both mains and cordless. Many of them have in their catalogs more than a dozen positions. what are we worse than the assortment should be complete! – We have made up our minds, and there are sodas of domestic brands in the nature. In general, there are many to choose from, if only one had a desire. Now the word belongs to the consumer.

What is good about the sabre saw

This device is simple and clear to any user who has at least experience with power tools. A long barrel, a pistol grip, a gazelle, a pair of switches, a working blade – nothing new. Even a beginner will figure out what it is advisable to use the multifunctional unit for.

In fact, a saber saw is an analogue of the familiar hand saw, which is sometimes called an “electric chopper”. The principle of action of this tool is the same as that of the jigsaw. It is not surprising that they are very often compared. To be fair, let us note that the “saber” was developed a few decades earlier (1927) and became the ancestor of the electric jigsaw. The working blade makes reciprocating movements and uses the teeth to pick up material for cutting. At one time was revolutionary was the invention of the pendulum gear, which greatly increased the efficiency of the SAW. We’ll talk about it a little later.

How to choose a sabre saw

Skeptics argue that the saber tool can be easily replaced by any other cutting tool, a grinder, jigsaw or a set of all kinds of saws. But is this true?

First, the saber saw is really a versatile unit, useful for the carpenter, plumber, roofer, finisher at both amateur and professional levels. It can cut wood, wood with metal elements, steel, non-colored metals, stone, plastic, foam blocks, composite materials, ceramics, glass. – You only need to choose the right canvas. We have an absolute omnivorousness.

Second, this tool has a very successful longitudinal cut. With the narrow extended pinion and long blade, you can get into very limited space. Imagine that you need to cut through a whistle or flush a jet with a wall, neither a circular saw, nor an UHM, nor a jigsaw (with its short saw blade, wide support pad and tightly spaced halyard) will help here.

How to choose a sabre saw

Thirdly, the jigsaw is ideal for straightening masses, including with details of any shape – corners, boards, poles, pipes, shaped roller products. For the same reason, the tool is very productively used for pruning trees (landscape architecture), if you need to neatly remove the crown, cut down a large branch.

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Fourthly, a saber saw with a narrow blade, which has good maneuverability, helps to make a figure. Sawing curvilinear parts from slab materials, round kerf, making complex structures is not a problem, especially since there is usually a large supporting shank, although there is no big supporting shank.

Fifth, the “saber” is indispensable for disassembly. It quickly cuts through old window frames, cuts openings, and removes steel heating. And the ability of the saber saw to cut a wooden bar along with hammered nails or self-tapping screws is really worth a lot.

Sixth, this tool is much safer than sanders, raisers and chainsaws. When working with a jigsaw there is not much dust, you can not be afraid of sparks, fumes and overheating of the workpiece.

Milwaukee 6538-21 15 Ampere Super Sawzall

Milwaukee 6538-21 15 amp super saw

Seven saws are unpretentious in maintenance and last a very long time.

Those who could not make friends with the saber saw blame the two-handedness of the device, the lack of a support roller and a full-fledged platform (indentation of the sheet). These nuances can be attributed to the disadvantages, after all, it is not a puzzle – “saber” solves a much wider range of tasks.

Choosing a jigsaw

Household or work

Sabre saw will be a good helper for the amateur “do-it-yourself”, it will prove useful and when working in the garden, and in the construction of a country house. Therefore, you can pay attention to hobby-class models from well-known manufacturers for non-professional use. They are of no less quality than their industrial counterparts, only designed for less intensive work. They are well equipped and often have the same functions and skills. Household saws need regular “calming down”, while the professional machine is able to work without interruption for the entire layer thanks to especially durable parts with a huge resource.

Many people have a question: Why do they make a tool that needs to be turned off regularly? It’s very simple: The manufacturer gives you the opportunity to choose a saw according to your needs, which is many times cheaper. In addition, the machine can be made simpler, more economical and more compact, without striving for supercapacity. Often comes with a set of domestic models with a lot of universal or special equipment – “bought and drank”.

The purpose of a particular model (mode of operation) is usually specified in the instruction manual. Be guided solely by the manufacturer’s recommendations regarding the duration of continuous operation, otherwise you will very easily get lost in terms like “semi-professional”, “universal”, “hobby”, “for all works”… You shouldn’t make a deal with companies that carefully conceal such data.

Performance characteristics of sabre saws

Power tool performance is, of course, one of the most important indicators. Giving preference to a more powerful motor, we are entitled to expect higher performance. But we should remember that the other side of the coin will be the serious weight and size of the product. This will also affect the price of the saw.

Buying a Saubre saw, we have the opportunity to choose a model with power from 500W (Metabo PSE 0525 or Lep’s Penn-0.5) to 1.5 kW (Makita JR3070CT). These are radical options; most machines in the region consume 0.9-1.2 kW – a temporary middle ground that provides the tool with the most versatility.

Makita JR3070CT

Makita JR3070CT.

Obviously, the maximum permissible size and type of equipment, its speed and length of distance depend directly on the current consumption of the motor. It turns out that the “insatiable” machine handles the task faster, cuts a larger workpiece and offers better depth in harder material. These figures are accurately stated by the manufacturers of sabre saws in the passes. You should pay attention to these numbers when choosing a model. The higher they are, the “better” the device. So, what we are looking for:

  • Number of movements per minute, frequency (2.5-3,000 bpm);
  • Saw length, amplitude (19-32 mm);
  • Depth of cut for certain materials (indicated in millimeters).

Speed adjustment

Cutting different materials is best done at different speeds – it’s a well-known fact. That’s why Saber manufacturers deliver their tools with speed limiters (4900 AA). All saber saws have this feature, although it is implemented in different ways.

Skill 4900aa

sanding 4900 aa.

Option one is to use a sensitive electronic wrench (usually a large one) with a large punch that can be “gambled.” This method is not widely available, but requires a certain amount of manual dexterity on the part of the operator.

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The second option is more advanced. Several modes are set on the bike or slider with a limited maximum speed, and more fine-tuning is already done with the power button. Even if we press the start button completely, we will not exceed the speed limit.

Presence of pendulum stroke

The pendulum stroke allows the blade, which winds up, to move in the opposite direction from the cutting line (Kress 1200 SPE). With this maneuver, the saw heats up less, the waste is easier to remove from the work area, and the cutting speed is significantly increased. Note that this option is not available in all models. Moreover, it is not always relevant. For example, for curved cuts, the pendulum must be completely disabled.

Kress 1200 SPE

Kress 1200 SPE

Savvy manufacturers went further, they made the pendulum adjustable in their saber saws – advanced machines have a special multi-position for this (Hitachi Cr 13VA). For each material you can choose its own zone with its own density.

Hitachi CR13VA

Hitachi CR13VA

Availability and functionality of the support shoe

This device allows the tool to rest on the workpiece and stabilize it relative to the level of the cut. As a result, the speed and quality of the saw is less fatiguing.

Typically, the stop moves along the axis of the saw and is defined in several positions. Then, with your help, we change the flies on the blade and get to use all the teeth. It is a special chic if the stop can change its tilt or turns, this allows you to adjust to a complex shaped part or cut from the bottom up without any problems. By changing the position of the stop, you can make rational use of the blade resource, especially if the device is multifunctional (different teeth in different areas).

The correct support shoe switches to the maximum number of positions, does not require an auxiliary tool (just press the button on the body or turn the lever), does not “play” and can even be completely removed.

blade changer

A good rule of thumb is to replace the file without tools if you don’t have to run to the shop every time for a special wrench or screwdriver. Manufacturers offer a lot of interesting options, but usually you have to turn the locking lever or move the locking ring to remove or insert the blade. It is interesting that on many saws the access to this node is blocked by the body (in extremely cramped positions), and one has to drive the tool until the chuck stops “on the surface” – you cannot get it out with your hands by the file.

The pinnacle of perfection is the chuck that can fix the blade with its teeth upwards (AEG US 1300 XE). Really a very good option when you need to cut from bottom to top.


AEG US 1300XE.

Be sure to check how tightly the blade is attached, how easily it comes off, and whether there is a strong recoil – the first enemies of quality and durability.

safety clutch

This option avoids kickback if the tool jams (AEG US 900 XE). This mechanical system helps to protect the tool from breakage and the operator from possible injury. It is a pity that not all “sabres” can boast this feature.



overvoltage protection

The system automatically shuts down the machine when it overheats, thereby preventing the failure of an expensive device (Flex SK 602 VV). Considering the home user’s tendency to “fully load” the tool it’s a very useful thing.

FlexSK 602 VV

FlexSK 602 VV.


This option is usually offered with high-powered tools to protect the mains from overloaded starting currents. In our case its benefit is the soft “breakaway” acceleration of the blade, which has a positive effect on system safety. Oh yes, and let’s not forget that sabre saws up to 1500 watts are not so rare.

Electrodynamic brake

After we release the start button, the blade stops very quickly. This makes it possible to immediately put the tool on the scaffolding or start changing tools. A very important function for safe and comfortable work.

Locking against accidental start, locking the start button

In the first case, it is a small additional button, like on “big” angle grinders. The motor is energized only when it is pressed simultaneously with the main button (Bosch GSA 1300 PCE). Not all models have this system. In the second case, there is also a small button on the handle, but it is responsible for locking the shutter button in the enabled state. Not a less useful function, because you can, of course, relax the brush during prolonged work, if the speed mode is chosen correctly.

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Bosch GSA 1300 PCE

Bosch GSA 1300 PCE

Double insulation of live parts

Effective protection for the operator against electric shock, as prescribed by the latest European safety standards. A serious advantage of this technical solution is the longer service life and the ability to work at the socket without grounding. Thanks to this system, we can work safely with the “sabre” on the road in rather wet weather.

vibration damping system

This is the prerogative of powerful modern sabre saws. These models use a dynamic counterweight design (Makita JR3070CT – AVT technology) that seriously reduces noise and vibration. Everything is usually limited to elastic pads on the gears and handles.

Makita JR3070CT

Makita JR3070CT.

Insulated body

Several problems are solved here. All “insides” of the sabre saw are specially protected (sealing system, labyrinth channels) against dust and moisture – reliability of the tool is increased. The rubber cover on the gearbox prevents electric shock if the housing is “punctured”.

Brush maintenance

The latest in technology are brushes that automatically detach when they are critically worn. It is better if the brush assembly is accessible for cleaning from the outside (special cover).

mains cable

Sabel suction often works on the weight, “in place”, so the length and quality of the umbilical cord have higher requirements. Manufacturers try not to save on this element, often equipping the tool with a powerful four-meter cord (Dewalt DW310), which allows you to move far from the outlet or high stage, without resorting to the use of carrying. Of course, special attention is paid to the point of entry into the enclosure. Bosch, for example, used its famous no-watch input (Bosch GSA 1200 E).

Dewalt DW310

Dewalt DW310

ergonomics issues.

When choosing a sabre saw, you need to find a model that will work for you as comfortably as possible. Not only safety, but also the efficiency of the tool depends on it. The average saw looks like a large drill with a D-pin. However, manufacturers, as always, endow their tool with many features that deserve close attention.

The first is the comfortable grip of the main handle. Here, its thickness, slope, and the presence of anti-slip pads or grooves are important. For example, in the Metabo PSE 1200 model, the handle is rotatable and fixed in four positions. For the open type, there are “pistol type” options.

Metabo PSE1200

Metabo PSE 1200

The second is the grip feature with a second hand. In this case we are talking about the housing on the gearbox. It is good if it is immediately at hand and has large sides. Alternatively, there may be a rotating additional handle, such as the B. on the Black & Decker RS105ek.

Black & Decker RS1050EK

Black & Decker RS1050EK.

There are saber saws with a Z-shaped layout (Metabo PSE 0525, Lep’s Penn-0.5). It’s quite possible that some people like it better.

An interesting model is the Flex SKL 2903 VV 230/CEE, in which the front body can rotate and lock into 13 positions.

Cordless Sabre Saws

These devices are increasingly closing in on their corded counterparts (Milwaukee V28 SX Sawzall, Dewalt DW008K). They are almost as good as they are in performance (Makita BJR181RFE, Bosch GSA 36 V-LI), their battery capacity has seriously increased, and the units charge very quickly, without an hour. Cordless saws have become simpler and cheaper (Metabo ASE 18 LTX). Not surprisingly, a wide range of cordless hobbyists have recently emerged among professional builders. Almost all major manufacturers have taken a serious look at cordless technology, and we’ll be sure to cover them in future articles.

Metabo ASE 18 LTX

Metabo ASE 18 LTX

So, what have we learned about the saber saw? This is a multifunctional, durable, safe, high-tech, in many cases absolutely indispensable tool, which is sure to find its consumer in our country. While philistines are only watching, smart professionals are already arming themselves with “sabers” with power and strength. Pay attention to this humble toiler, believe me, the saber saw is worth it.

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