Chainsaw or Axe – Which One is Best for You? [Answered]

Chainsaw or axe, which one is better? Which one should you use? What are the pros and cons?

I’ll be answering those questions in this post…

Felling tree

When it comes to felling a tree, you might be wondering if you should use your axe or your chainsaw. Here are two factors that would be good to consider before you make that decision.

How many trees are you felling?

Whatever your reason may be for cutting a tree or trees down, you need to consider how long it will take you to fell and clear them. Fifteen minutes? One hour? Two hours?

That is where you can decide if your axe will work best, or rather your chainsaw. If there are more than one fair-sized trees that need to go, then using your chainsaw will save you a lot of time and effort.

Are they small, medium, or large?

The size of the tree needs to be kept in mind. Large trees will take a lot of time to fell with an axe, so your chainsaw will work best. 

A medium tree will take some time and effort with an axe, but it would be entirely up to you. Your axe will be able to do it if you have no chainsaw.

Small trees might not even be worth starting up your chainsaw for unless you are in a hurry.

Bucking

Bucking the tree after felling it is done for many reasons. To make manageable sizes for disposal, making specific lengths of timber, or firewood.

Depending on why you are bucking the felled tree, it is good to know if your axe or chainsaw will work best. Your axe will not do a neat job.

A chainsaw will give you a clean and neat cut.

If you are bucking the felled tree to dispose of it, then a neat cut will not matter. If you need to buck the tree into specific log lengths, your chainsaw will be more efficient.

Also, this comes into play if you want to buck your wood for firewood. You will not get a clean-cut with an axe, so your chainsaw would be best for this.

Splitting firewood

Using a chainsaw to split firewood is possible, but is not usually the tool used for the job. When it comes to splitting wood, your axe will be the right tool for the job.

A chainsaw is very good at cutting wood, but not for splitting it. 

Many people use a splitting axe to split their firewood, but a cutting axe works as well. A splitting axe is generally thicker and heavier so that it can split firewood with more force.

Cutting axes and hatchets are sharp and much thinner. They are made to cut deeper into the wood and would be better for cutting trees down.

Limbing branches

Usually, after felling the tree, you need to delimb the branches to get them out of your way. But delimbing trees that are still growing are also common.

Sometimes foresters will delimb pine trees to grow taller quicker than usual, for example. Here chainsaws are mostly used to save time.

Delimbing trees that are still standing are also part of fire prevention. Trees growing close to each other with many branches can fuel a fire, delimbing trees help slow a fire down instead of reaching the tree canopy.

Trees on the ground can be delimbed quickly with a chainsaw. An axe will also be efficient for smaller branches. Chainsaws will give you a clean cut on big branches.

Pruning

Pruning a tree or bush is a precision job that requires a clean cut to preserve the rest of the limb on the tree. An axe cannot prune a tree or bush.

What is the difference between pruning and delimbing a tree?

Limbing or delimbing live trees is a practice used in silviculture to force growth and thickness in trees such as pine trees. It is also a fire prevention method, as mentioned earlier.

Pruning a tree removes infected and unwanted limbs. Problematic branches get pruned as well to preserve the health and growth of the tree.

Fruit trees get pruned regularly to boost harvest. Without infected or damaged limbs, the tree can use most of its energy to grow better quality crops.

Clean cuts help the tree to heal fast and reduce the risk of the main limb dying. That is why chainsaws or other precision tools get used in the pruning process.

Pros and cons of using a chainsaw

Chainsaws are great cutting tools. But like any tool, they have their disadvantages.

Pros
  • Chainsaws have the power to take on almost any task you need to achieve. More power means they can have longer blades to cut thicker trees or logs.
  • You have the advantage of maneuverability with a chainsaw. Needing to cut something in a tight space is usually easier.
  • Clean cuts are rather effortless with a chainsaw.
  • Large quantities of timber can be cut and processed in a shorter amount of time.
Cons
  • Chainsaws can be heavy and take a lot of upper body strength to operate. Inexperienced operators may find it hard to use a heavy cutting tool effectively, for example… Refueling a gas chainsaw requires the engine to cool down. You would need to allow time for this between refueling.
  • Before storage, you need to clean your chainsaw thoroughly and drain any liquid to avoid fumes and debris from building up in the machine and the engine.
  • Regular services and repairs are needed to ensure your chainsaw operates in optimal condition.
  • Safety equipment is needed to operate any chainsaw safely.

Pros and cons of using an axe

An axe is a great tool to have around and are generally lightweight and easy to use. Here are some advantages and disadvantages:

Pros
  • An Axe is usually light. So you can use it with one hand, or both.
  • Splitting wood along the grain such as firewood or removing bark is also great to do with an axe.
  • If you do not have a chainsaw, you can use your axe.
  • You can use your axe to trim stray branches on small trees.
Cons
  • Using an axe to cut a tree down, for example, takes a lot of effort and creates fast-moving wood chips that can injure your eyes if you are not wearing eye protection.
  • Axes can be dangerous if your hand slips you can turn your axe into a flying weapon which can hurt you or someone around you.
  • The blade can dull quickly and will need to get sharpened regularly.

Conclusion

A chainsaw is able to cut faster and give clean cuts, you can do a lot of big tasks in a few minutes whereas it would take longer for an axe to do the same job. An axe is able to split wood quicker, it’s lighter in weight, and is more cost effective.

Hope you found what you were looking for in this post.

Happy sawing!

– Adam