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Non-traditional Chainsaw Designs
and their Advantages

I did an informal and unscientific poll of my family members to find out what they thought a chainsaw looked like. Invariably the response was pretty much the same every time – in their minds a chainsaw had a small engine inside a housing with a bar that extruded from the housing and a chain that went around the bar. It’s probably a safe bet that’s what most people picture when they think of a chainsaw, but this traditional design is only one possible alternative when it comes to chainsaws. When I first came across some of the other different chainsaw designs out there, I was a little surprised myself. I think they’re important to consider as viable options when you’re looking at purchasing a new chainsaw.

There are actually a few different designs available and they all have some potential benefits that may make them more attractive than traditional chainsaw designs. This article explores those different design options and takes a look at the benefits and drawbacks of each one. You may still decide that a traditional chainsaw is right for you, but at least now you’ll know that there are other options.

Standard Design

The standard design of a chainsaw is still the most popular choice in the chainsaw market. As we briefly mentioned in the opening, a standard chainsaw features a small housing that holds an engine with a blade wrapped in a chain that protrudes from the housing. There are gasoline-powered chainsaws, battery-powered chainsaws, and electric chainsaws that all have this traditional design. It’s a design that’s been around for several decades; that’s because it works quite well. That doesn’t mean that other designs don’t have some potential advantages.

Manufacturers have certainly improved upon this design by adding safety features and including things such as anti-vibe technology, but the basic design principles have remained the same. If you walk in to your local hardware store or look for chainsaws online, invariably more than 90% of them feature this standard design.

Pole Saws

One option instead of the traditional chainsaw design is something called a pole saw. There’s no real mystery to this design as it is exactly what it sounds like – a chainsaw placed at the end of a pole. At first glance you might not think there’s a lot of benefit to this design, but there is. By placing a chainsaw on the end of a pole you extend the chainsaw’s usable reach and eliminate the need to use a ladder to cut branches that are higher up in a tree. It’s quite a unique design that can potentially save you a lot of time when trimming branches. In many cases the chainsaw can be removed from the pole and used separately when the pole isn’t necessary.

While pole saws may seem like a magnificent design innovation they do have one glaring flaw – manipulating a chainsaw on the end of a pole can be quite awkward. That means manufacturers of these types of saws have had to make sure they keep the chainsaw as small and as light as possible so that they’re not too difficult to control at the end of that pole. Consequently, the blade bars on these saws are normally fairly short and are not really meant for chopping the thickest branches. For some basic trimming, though, they are ideal.

Jaw Saws

Another innovative chainsaw design is something called a jaw saw. These saws are typically much shorter than traditional chainsaws and kind of look like a weird pair of scissors. They have handles that you hold in either hand and you cut using a scissoring motion. At the end of those handles is a jaw with two separate blades both featuring chains to cut through wood. Since the jaws aren’t extremely long they’re not meant for cutting large pieces of wood, but they are ideal for quick trimming jobs.

If you’re wondering what possible advantage a jaw saw could have over a traditional chainsaw, it really comes down to safety. Because the saw’s two chains are completely covered on either side of the jaw there is very little chance of accidental injury due to the operator coming in contact with the chain. It’s also a much more natural way to cut and can be a lot less wearing on the body.

Two-Handled Industrial Saws

The last type of chainsaw I’d like to talk about isn’t really one you would probably consider for home use. These are the type of saws that large lumber companies would use every day in remote forest locations. They typically feature a blade bar that may be 6 to 8 feet long with handles on either side of the bar. These saws are meant to be operated by two people at the same time working together, so it’s unlikely you would ever use one of these in your backyard – that is, unless you own several acres of property and are quite ambitious when it comes to cutting wood.

Finding the Right Chainsaw Fit

Most people are going to opt for the traditional style of chainsaw because it’s a design that works quite well. If you are looking for something a little different though, a pole saw or a jaw saw both have some real advantages. Personally, I’m particularly fond of the pole saw – being able to cut tall branches without having to pull out a ladder seems like a great idea to me. There really is no right answer as to which type of chainsaw design is the better one, as it really depends on how you plan to use your saw.

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