Design & DIY

4 gas-free chainsaws for the cottage


Juiced by lithium-ion cells, battery-powered chainsaws have from toy to big-boy tool. I field-tested four 40V cordless chainsaws by running them repeatedly through a 5×5 timber. They all offer quiet, fume-free operation, instant starting, and remarkable power and run time. You can even use them for some indoor demolition jobs. And, unlike their gas-powered brothers, they don’t need winterizing or leave any fuel stink in your car if you take them home.

This 12″, 36V product from one of the most popular chainsaw makers ranked first overall in my testing: fastest cut time, longest run time, and superb ergonomic design. It’s also the lightest saw at 10.8 lbs, and features tool-free chain tensioning. But superior performance doesn’t come cheap: The saw retails for $299, the charger $75, and the battery $199 (buy a spare battery for any of these saws to avoid downtime). More info: STIHL

2) OREGON CS250-E6
Oregon’s 14″, 40V saw had the second- fastest cut time and a long run time, but tended to stall and was the only saw I tested where setting the chain tension is old-school (you loosen the retaining nut and adjust with a screwdriver). A big plus is the self-sharpening feature, similar to Oregon’s PowerSharp technology (see p. 96): Simply lift the lever for a few seconds to sharpen the custom chain. Weighs 12 lbs. Saw, battery, and charger: $399; extra battery: $100. More info: OREGON

3) Ryobi RY40510
Selling for about $229 (including battery and charger; $129 for an extra battery), Ryobi’s 12″, 40V model is the lowest-priced saw I tried. While its cut time was slowest, it was one of the hardest to stall. I found the throttlerelease mechanism awkwardly positioned and, unlike the others, this machine lacks a chain brake (it does have a kickback guard). A tad heavy, it tips the scales at 15 lbs, but it is well balanced. Like the Stihl, it features tool-free chain tensioning. More info: Ryobi Tools

4) Makita HCU02ZX2
Already own Makita cordless tools? This 12″ can use two 18V Makita batteries ($199 each) or one 36V battery ($399). It tied with the Oregon for second-fastest cut time and was hard to stall. While it’s only 11 lbs, I found the two batteries make the saw rear-heavy and least comfortable to work with. It’s also pricey: The saw sells for around $510 (without batteries); a high-speed charger is $119. More info: Makita