Chainsaw Vs. Reciprocating Saw: Differences and which is better?

Chainsaw Vs. Reciprocating Saw

Whether you are going to buy a wood cutting tool for professional use or everyday tasks around the home, you must be aware of the working potential and functionality of different types of saws. When we talk about wood cutting the first that comes to mind is the chainsaw since they are pretty common. However, there are many different types of saws out there and a reciprocating saw is the best example.

Different types of tools are designed to perform in different applications so it’s pretty hard to say which one is better. Depending upon your project needs and skill level you may need to go with either chainsaw or a reciprocating saw. To help you solve this equation I’ve composed this guide: Chainsaw Vs Reciprocating saw. I’m hopeful that this guide is gonna help you choose the right saw for your upcoming projects.

Chainsaw Vs. Reciprocating Saw

The major difference between the chainsaw and reciprocating saw lies in their cutting design and mechanism. Chainsaws use a rotary chain with sharp teeth while reciprocating saws use a thin blade that follows a pushing and pulling cutting mechanism. Chainsaws being more functional and powerful are suitable for heavy-duty lumbar applications while the reciprocating saw is more suitable for light-duty cutting and pruning applications.

What Is A Chainsaw?

A chainsaw is a powerful cutting tool with a robust power outlook. It uses a rotating cutting mechanism consisting of a chain with ultra-sharp teeth. The chainsaw can handle heavy workloads like big tree felling and log splitting without breaking a sweat. The chainsaws use engines that are either powered by gasoline or electricity. The sharp teeth on the chain edge combined with the circular motion of the chain allow you to saw through any object.

What Is A Reciprocating Saw?

As the name suggests, reciprocating saws use the reciprocatory motion to saw through the logs and trees. The pushing and pulling mechanism allow the blade to move up and down or to and fro. Reciprocating power saws are available in both corded and cordless options. Battery-powered reciprocating saws are designed for light-duty DIY applications while corded electric options play really well with industrial-grade applications. The working potential of the saw mainly depends upon the blade strength. The stronger the blade the more cutting power it has.

Difference Between Chainsaw And Reciprocating Saw

Difference Between Chainsaw And Reciprocating Saw


When it comes to power, the chainsaw wins the race. Chainsaws are heavy-duty tools that use ultra-powerful engines like 70cc or above. These engines can generate tremendous power to help them cut through hard and wet woods. Reciprocating saws are designed for light-duty cutting and pruning jobs. These chainsaws use smaller motors making them unsuitable for heavy-duty logging applications. Instead, they are widely used in light pruning and demolition jobs.


If you want to operate a chainsaw you must have higher levels of expertise in working with power tools. Chainsaws are heavy-duty power tools with big engines and multiple moving parts. You must have prior experience working with commercial-grade power tools.

Otherwise, you may need to get the proper training to ensure a safe and damage-free operation. On the other hand, reciprocating saws are relatively simple. These saws being lighter and simple are pretty easy to operate. Even with a little experience, and a proper instruction guide you can operate the reciprocating saw very easily.

Power Source

Depending upon the power source chainsaws are divided into three categories: gasoline-powered chainsaws, cordless chainsaws, and corded electric chainsaws. Gasoline-powered chainsaws are the most powerful type of saws and are mostly used in commercial-grade forestry jobs.

Electric corded chainsaws are also widely used in big tree cutting and felling applications. Also, you can find hybrid chainsaws that can be powered with either gasoline or electricity. This versatility in fuel sources makes them perfect for remote jobs where you have limited access to fuel.

In reciprocating saws you have to choose between two power options: cordless battery powered or corded electric. Cordless tools are made with portability and ease of maneuverability in mind. These tools are pretty handy and work really well in repairing tasks and DIY applications. Corded electric reciprocating saws use powerful motors and can handle tough jobs like pruning and small tree cutting.


Since chainsaws are more complicated than reciprocating saws their maintenance requirements are also higher. You need to perform engine maintenance on a regular basis to ensure a trouble-free operation in the field. In addition to that, you need to keep the chain sharp and smooth.

Oiling or lubrication is also crucial to get the best out of a chainsaw. However, advanced chainsaws use onboard chain sharpening and oiling mechanisms. An automatic oiler ensures a smooth and steady supply of oil during the operation and eliminates the need for manual oiling. Also, some chainsaws use onboard chain tensioning and sharpening mechanisms. If you go with a budget option you may not get these advanced features.

In this case, the maintenance requirements of chainsaws are pretty high. Reciprocating saws are rather simple and their major maintenance needs are blade changing and sharpening. The oiling mechanism of the reciprocating saws is also pretty simple. Blade sharpening of the reciprocating saws can be dangerous and challenging if you don’t have the right tools on hand.


Commercial grade chainsaws are heavy-duty structures. Gas-powered chainsaws can be as heavy as 25 lbs. However, you can find lightweight options designed for light-duty tasks. The weight of the chainsaw depends upon the engine size and glide bar size. Reciprocating saws are also available in a wide range of sizes. However, in comparison to chainsaws, reciprocating saws are more portable and easy to maneuver. You can find a wide range of reciprocating saws under 5 lbs.


Functionality And Versatility

If we consider commercial grade applications, chainsaws are more functional as they are more powerful. However, for DIY applications, construction jobs, demolition jobs, and repair tasks, reciprocating saws cover more applications than chainsaws. The application of chainsaws is limited to cutting and splitting.

However reciprocating saws can hold down nails in construction jobs, trim the branches for horticulture applications, and perform various finishing jobs in woodwork applications. In addition to that motor-powered reciprocating saws can cut and fell small trees making them an excellent option for forestry jobs. Since they are lightweight and simple, plumbers, electricians, and other skilled workers prefer reciprocating saws over chainsaws.


Power tools are always noisy and both reciprocating and chainsaws make a lot of noise. However, the intensity of noise depends upon the motor and blade sizes. Usually, gas-powered chainsaws are extremely noisy and their noise rating can be as high as 150 dB. The noise rating of corded electric and cordless chainsaws is lower than their gasoline-powered chainsaws. Reliable chainsaws brands try to keep the noise level between 60-110 dB Reciprocating saws are also noisy. The average noise rating of the corded electric reciprocating saws varies between 50-100 dB.


Speed is directly linked with the power output. Since chainsaws use big engines and powerful motors that are much faster than reciprocating saws. However, advanced reciprocating saws come equipped with powerful batteries and brushless motors making them smooth and fast even in tough applications. Whether it’s a chainsaw or a reciprocating saw, the speed of the tool depends upon the motor sizes and the intensity of the applications.


Chainsaws are difficult to operate and therefore the risk of damage is higher. Reciprocating saws are safer than chainsaws since they come with handy power buttons. The blade stops moving as soon as you lift the finger from the power button. Chainsaws feature a circular motion and can be dangerous even when you cut off the power supply.

Advanced chainsaws use a Smart safety system to ensure user safety. When the chain comes in contact with clothes or human skin it automatically stops working. Since chainsaws are more hazardous you must wear proper safety equipment while working with chainsaws.

Chainsaw Vs Reciprocating Saw – Which Is Better?

So from the above discussion, we can safely conclude that chainsaws are made for heavy-duty while reciprocating saws are made for light-duty applications. While buying a new cutting tool, you must consider your project requirements. Both saw types have their own pros and cons. Reciprocating saws are more versatile in light-duty applications like plumbing, construction, and renovation. The simple internal construction and lightweight profile make them more manageable in the workspace.

If you’re obsessed with the power of chainsaws, you can find a wide range of options designed with ease of use in mind. Many brands have introduced corded and cordless electric chainsaws that offer incredible weight-to-power ratios. These tools are equally suitable for beginners and pros. For commercial-grade forestry applications, there is nothing better than a gas-powered chainsaw.

Best Chainsaw To Buy In 2022

1. Oregon CS1500 18-inch 15 Amp Self-Sharpening Corded Electric Chainsaw

Oregon CS1500 Electric Chainsaw

Oregon CS1500 17-inch is one of the best chainsaws that I’ve ever used. I purchased this chainsaw a few years back when I felt my gas-powered Silth chainsaw wasn’t up to my expectations. The idea behind buying the chainsaw was that it is a perfect balance between functionality and ease of use. With a 15 amp ultra-powerful brushless motor, it can easily compete with medium-grade gasoline-powered chainsaws.

Its maintenance requirements are almost negligible as compared to gas-powered chainsaws. It is free of issues like a faulty spark plug, engine maintenance, oil-fuel mixture, and smelly carbs. All that it needs for smooth functioning is lubrication and chain sharpening. For chain sharpening, this tool comes with an onboard sharpening mechanism. It allows you to sharpen the blade without removing it from the tool. In addition to SelfSharp Tech, it also boasts LubriTec technology.

Oregon CS1500 18-inch 15 Amp

The automatic lubricator ensures a smooth and steady supply of oil to the chain and helps you get a strain-free experience. With a 15 amp motor and 17-inch blade, it can easily cut through trees up to 16 inches. I’ve been using it for cutting and felling trees around my garden and so far there is nothing much to complain about. Even during the thick pruning jobs, motors ensure a constant power supply to help you go smoothly through everything. It weighs only 12.8 lbs which is pretty impressive considering its power output and potential.

It has low kickback and anti-vibration features that enhance your control of the tool. It reduces the chances of dry operation making it equally useful for beginners and pros. Another thing that I love about this chainsaw is that it has low noise i.e 50 dB. The only issue I faced with this tool is that it needs frequent chain tension especially when you are working in heavy-duty applications. Chain adjustment is easy but it affects your work speed. This chainsaw is backed by a 2-year warranty making it a safe investment.


  • Highly maneuverable
  • Low maintenance requirements
  • LubriTec technology
  • Incredible cutting efficiency


  • Need frequent chain tensioning

    If you are looking for a chainsaw to perform light to medium duty cutting and pruning jobs around your home Oregon CS1500 is the best option you can have. Its low maintenance requirements combined with anti-vibration and low kickback design make it equally suitable for beginners and pros.

    Best Reciprocating Saw To Buy In 2022

    2. DEWALT Reciprocating Saw, Corded, 12-Amp (DWE305)

    DEWALT Reciprocating Saw

    Dewalt is a big name when it comes to buying power tools. All their tools are known for reliability and efficiency and this one is also no exception. The saw is designed to perform light to medium dirty cutting jobs around the home and at construction sites. It uses a powerful 12-amp motor that delivers enough power to cut through trees as thick as 10-inches.

    The chainsaw is versatile and works at 6 different speed levels. This feature makes it exceptionally versatile and functional in various working environments. A variable speed trigger allows you to adjust the speed as per your requirements without stopping the operation. You can choose various speed levels between 0-29000 spm. The best part of this saw is its flush-cutting efficiency.

    DEWALT Reciprocating Saw, Corded

    It is equipped with a 4-position blade clamp making it a perfect choice for flush cutting applications. In addition to that, you can pair it up with a wide range of blades. The keyless lever-action blade clamp makes the blade changing a real breeze.  It uses a high-speed steel blade that is strong and robust enough to deal with tough wood materials. It weighs only 8 lbs and offers an untiring experience even during the extensive hours.

    It comes packed with safety features. The automatic shut-off technology prevents accidental and dry operation. The tool is rated five stars on Amazon and there is nothing much to complain about. The biggest issue reported with these reciprocating saws is poor vibration control. At higher speed levels it vibrates which can be a little challenging if you are a beginner.


    • Lightweight and portable
    • Class-leading cutting efficiency
    • Packed with safety features
    • High-strength stainless steel blades


    • Lacks vibration control

        DeWalt DWE305 chainsaw has impressive functionality with reliable power output and user-friendly design making it the best reciprocating saw. It is made for the needs of light to medium duty cutting jobs and I loved its efficiency and ability to adapt to various working environments.


        Can you use a reciprocating saw to cut logs?

        Yes, you can use a reciprocating saw to cut logs. Reciprocating saws with powerful motors and high-strength blades can handle medium-duty log citing jobs. A 14-inch reciprocating saw with a 12 amp motor can easily glide through an 8-inch long.

        How big a tree can you cut with a reciprocating saw?

        Reciprocating saws can cut logs between 6-8 inches. A reciprocating saw with a 14-inch blade and brushless 12-amp motor may be able to cut logs as big as 10-inches.

        Is a reciprocating saw better than a chainsaw?

        If you are looking for light-duty cutting applications like DIY jobs, construction jobs, and tree cutting in the garden a reciprocating saw is a better option. Reciprocating saws are lighter than chainsaws, have simple operations, and have lower maintenance requirements than chainsaws. However, for commercial grade forestry jobs and big tree felling, a chainsaw is a better option.

        Final Verdict

        I’m hopeful that this information will enable you to figure out the most dependable and safe tool for your projects. Whether you buy a chainsaw or reciprocating saw make sure it is equipped with safety features. Also, you should look for advanced features like automatic oiling, onboard chain tensioning and tool-free blade changing.

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