Q.I’m considering purchasing an electric chain saw. I’ve never used one and wonder if it will really cut as well as a gas-powered chain saw. If I need to use one where there is no electric, I imagine I could use a portable generator. What are your feelings about these tools?
A. I’ve got both a gas-powered chain saw and an electric chain saw. If you were blindfolded and held each saw in your hands one at a time, I doubt you could tell the difference. The saws weigh almost the same, they look nearly identical, and they have virtually the same controls that operate the blade and shut it down in an emergency.
Photo/Tim CarterThis looks, feels and operates just like a gas-powered chain saw, but the electric cord at the handle tells a different tale.
What you may be wondering is if the electric chain saw has enough power to cut through wood. The answer is yes, so long as you buy one that has enough horsepower or gusto. My electric chain saw has a 16-inch blade and a 3.5 hp electric motor.
The cutting action of a chain saw, in my opinion, results from three things. The sharpness of the blade, the speed of the blade moving across the wood, and the weight of the saw.
An electric chain saw with a razor-sharp blade will outperform a gas-powered saw all day long, all other things being equal. A dull saw blade just spins, creating lots of friction, smoke and frustration.
The electric saw I have really works well when you pull back the trigger all the way. The blade spins incredibly fast, allowing the cutting teeth of the blade to vigorously bite into logs more than 2 feet in diameter.
You can push down on a chain saw with your arms to have the blade bite more aggressively into the wood, but why not have the saw do that for you? This means a slightly heavier saw will allow gravity to pull the blade down into the wood. But there is a sweet spot. You don’t want the saw to be so heavy you get fatigued.
In my opinion, an electric chain saw is a great tool for around the home. You know it will operate as soon as you pull the trigger, assuming you have power at your home. Gas-powered saws can be tough to start if you don’t maintain them.
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