How to Buy a Used Chainsaw

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How to Buy a Used Chainsaw

Anyone involved in a lot of woodcutting is likely to use a chainsaw at some time or another. The best invention yet in terms of cutting trees, a chainsaw is quick and efficient, albeit a little noisy if equipped with a petrol engine. Chainsaws are available in a wide range of sizes, some suited for cutting saplings and others for cutting through the boles of large trees with ease. Interested customers can buy large petrol-engined chainsaws, or smaller electric models. One thing that any chainsaw user does have to consider, though, is that they are not inexpensive. A top quality chainsaw can be quite dear, hence, a budget-minded customer may want to consider looking at used chainsaws instead. The possibility of buying used, allows purchasers with smaller budgets to buy a chainsaw they may not otherwise be able to afford, and it allows those with larger budgets to potentially afford a better chainsaw than they may be able to buy new.

History of the Chainsaw

The chainsaw is one of many different inventions that seems to have been invented twice, possibly with no connection between the two incidents. The earliest reference to something that could be considered a chainsaw dates back to a Canadian medical journal in the 1830's. That particular version was powered by a hand crank and used for cutting bone when performing amputations, but it had all the basics of the modern chainsaw, including the cutting teeth, guide, and chain. Still, the chainsaw as a portable woodcutting tool did not really enter the picture until the late 1920s, by which point the petrol engine was firmly ensconced as the primary power source. Andreas Stihl patented an electric model in 1926, and a petrol version in 1929, and it was the latter that really indicated the arrival of the chainsaw.

There had been other chainsaws in the intervening period, but they were all much larger devices designed to be operated by two or more loggers as a team, not by a single person. Some evidence indicates that the first petrol-powered chainsaw may date back to 1905 California, but there is no evidence that it led to the portable chainsaw used by so many homeowners and woodcutters alike.

How a Chainsaw Works

There are three basic components to a chainsaw: the power source, the guard bar, and the chain. The typical chainsaw also includes other parts such as safety guards and handles, but the functionality depends on the three basic components. The first, the power source, is usually petrol-powered, but there are lighter-duty chainsaws available that run on mains power, or even batteries. The bar is usually made of steel, and contains a guide for the chain which does the actual cutting. The chain itself is an endless loop that resembles a bicycle chain with teeth.

There are three possible kinds of teeth that can be used in a chainsaw: cutting teeth, rake teeth, and depth gauges. The cutting teeth are the ones that do the work, while the rake teeth clear debris from the cut and the depth gauge helps prevent the chain from binding. Not all chains have both rake and depth gauge teeth, although they all have cutting teeth.

What to Look for in a Used Chainsaw

When buying a used chainsaw there are a number of things for a prospective purchaser to consider, ranging from general factors regarding the kind of chainsaw the buyer wants, to factors regarding the specific chainsaw they intend to buy. This is one area where buying used differs significantly from buying new. A person purchasing a new chainsaw need only concern themselves with the details of that specific make and model, whereas someone buying used should consider the details of the specific chainsaw they are looking to buy, not just the make and model.

What Type of Chainsaw to Look for

The first thing to do when looking for a used chainsaw is to consider the needs of the buyer. A person who only needs something for light work in close proximity to their house may be fine with an electric chainsaw running directly off the mains. If the same person needed to use a chainsaw at a greater distance from the house, they may find a battery-operated chainsaw to be more useful. On the other hand, a person who needs a more powerful chainsaw, or one that is not tied to an electric source for power, would likely be better off with a petrol chainsaw, particularly if they need to use it for the entire day, as refilling a petrol tank is much faster than recharging a battery. The only drawback to petrol-engined chainsaws is that they can be loud, requiring hearing protection.

What to Look for When Buying a Used Chainsaw

When buying a used chainsaw, the most important thing to look at is the description and detailed information regarding that specific unit. This is where the buyer can determine whether the chainsaw works, or if it needs repair, and if so, which repairs it likely needs. Chain condition is particularly important, as is the presence of a chain guard. Other factors to consider are whether the chainsaw comes with all the necessary safety gear, such as gloves and glasses, and how much it has been used. An older chainsaw that’s only been used a few times may be in better condition than a newer chainsaw that’s been used for several hours a day ever since it was purchased.

If the chainsaw is being sold locally, it is a good idea to examine and try it before spending the money. If it is not a local purchase, then doing due diligence becomes that much more important for the purchaser. The first step is to pay particular attention to the specifics of the seller's description. The prospective purchaser should make sure they understand whether they are buying a working unit, or one that is being sold for parts. They should also look at any photographs that are available, as they provide even more information than can be included in the description. If the chainsaw is electric, does it include an extension cord, or will the buyer have to provide their own?

Used Chainsaw Buying Decision Process

The actual process of buying a used chainsaw is fairly simple. The first thing to consider is how the chainsaw will be used. Once that is clear, the next step is to decide what kind of chainsaw is best suited, followed by determining the buyer's budget, as the greater the budget, the better quality chainsaw the purchaser may be able to procure. After all these questions have been answered, finding the right used chainsaw becomes much easier.

How to Buy A Used Chainsaw on eBay

Buying a used chainsaw on eBay is a quick and simple process, starting with the search box that can be found on any eBay page. Just enter your search terms and watch the results come up. Once you have your list of results you can use the filters in the sidebar to narrow them down by anything from whether it is petrol or electric, to length of blade. You can also sort your filtered results to ensure that you can focus on the ones that best fit your needs.

Once you have your results, the next step is to find your best match amongst eBay's many reputable sellers. The best way to do this, is by checking out the seller's profile page where you can see everything from their feedback rating to their location. You can also see whether they have any special shipping policies, and whether they offer bundles such as selling both the chainsaw and protective gear. Some sellers may even allow local buyers to pick up their used chainsaw, which can provide a significant saving as they are quite heavy and can be expensive to ship.


Buying a used chainsaw is a simple process, and can be done quickly and easily by any purchaser who has taken the time to identify their needs. Used chainsaws are an excellent choice for anyone wanting to try and stretch their budget so their money can be used most efficiently. When a buyer has identified his or her needs, and set a budget, the next thing they need to do is find the right used chainsaw. The key here is for the prospective buyer to do their due diligence and learn all they can about the specific chainsaw they intend to buy. They should pay attention to the description so they know exactly what is being offered, as well as any photographs the seller provides. By paying attention to the details, buyers will become fully aware of the specifics of the chainsaw they are wanting to purchase, and thereby ensure that their new item meets all their needs. There is no reason for buyers to buy a new chainsaw, when a used one will do everything they need at a lower cost.

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