What is an Arborist Chainsaw? [Pros and Cons Explained]

Patrick McMann

Knowledge Based

Do you simply want a chainsaw specifically designed to meet the unique demands of tree care? If yes, you’ve come to the right place! In this article, I’ll start by answering what is an arborist chainsaw. Then I’ll delve into its purpose and the features that make it different than a traditional cutting tool. 

I understand that choosing the right arborist chainsaw can be daunting, so I’ll provide valuable information on what to consider when making your selection. Additionally, I’ll share a list of the best and most popular arborist chainsaws available in the market. So, are you ready to revolutionize your tree care experience?

pros and cons of arborist chainsaw

What Is an Arborist Chainsaw?

An arborist or top-handle chainsaw is a cutting tool arborists use for tree care. It is typically lighter than a traditional chainsaw with a maneuverable design, a smaller bar and low kickback chain, and ergonomic handles. In addition, it comes with a vibration-reducing feature and a fuel-efficient engine. 

Arborists are tree care specialists who use specially designed arborist chainsaws for felling and pruning trees and trimming branches. They also remove stumps and diseased parts of a tree and maintain the health of vegetation.

Although you’ll find most arborist cutting tools powered by gasoline, there are also those that run cordless. Gasoline-powered chainsaws are more powerful. But they also produce high emissions.

On the other hand, cordless cutting machines are environmentally friendly and quieter. But they are limited by their battery charging capabilities. If you’re planning to become an arborist, you’ll have to consider the place where you wish to use an arborist chainsaw. 

Many areas have sanctions against using gasoline-powered cutting machines because of their high emission and noisy operation. So, in that case, you’ll have to get a cordless tool. To choose the best arborist chainsaw for tree care, you must consider these factors:

Weight of an Arborist Saw

If you’ll be doing a lot of climbing or cutting for extensive periods, you’ll need an arborist chainsaw lighter in weight and easy to maneuver. But a lightweight arborist tool is not difficult to find. 

Unlike traditional cutting machines that are heavier, arborist chainsaws are made lightweight, with the throttle control mounted near the top handle. So they enable you to use them with one hand.

Engine Power

For most arborist tasks getting a chainsaw with 3-5, hp will be sufficient. However, if you’ll be felling large trees, you’ll need a cutting tool with more HP.

Bar Length

Typically arborist chainsaws have shorter bar lengths which offer easy maneuverability. A bar length of 16-20 inches will suffice for your arborist cutting machine.

Handle Design

As you’ll be holding an arborist cutting machine for extended periods, it’s wise to purchase a chainsaw with well-designed handles. This makes the tool easier to grip and also reduces wrist and arm fatigue.

Safety Features

Checking for safety features is critical when getting an arborist chainsaw. Look for a chain brake, kickback limiter, and anti-vibration features in the cutting tool to minimize accident risks.

Now you know what to look for in an arborist chainsaw, the next step is to check the most popular cutting tools for arboricultural practices. 

Why Are Arborist Chainsaws So Expensive?

While sifting through the above chainsaws, you may have noticed that arborists’ tools are helluva expensive. But why so? Here are the main reasons:

Designed For Professional Use

Arborist chainsaws are not for groundwork or beginner operators. Not only they can cut trees, but they can also perform delicate tasks like pruning branches and removing deadwood with precision. 

This requires a high degree of precision and control. Therefore, the design and construction of arborist cutting machines are solely for professional use.

Equipped With Safety Features

Arborist chainsaws come equipped with additional safety features that may or may not be present in traditional cutting tools. These chainsaws can include chain brakes, anti-kickback features, and low-oil sensors.

Customized to Meet Specific Needs

Arborists cutting machines are often customized to meet the specific needs of arborists. Some of them may only be for pruning, while others are for limbing and cutting trees. Arborists can also customize them according to their tasks, and we all know that a personalized item costs more than a regular one.

Made With High-Quality Materials

Arborists use chainsaws in demanding conditions. Therefore, the arborists’ cutting tools are made with premium materials such as forged crankshafts and hardened steel chains that are pretty expensive. 

What Is the Most Reliable Arborist Chainsaw?

Here are some of the highly rated arborist chainsaws available in the market due to their lightweight design, cutting efficiency, and easy maneuverability. Let’s have a look at them:

Husqvarna T435

It is a gasoline-powered chainsaw with a lightweight and maneuverable design for climbing and limbing trees. What’s more, it features a 35.2cc engine, a 14-inch bar, rope attachment, and an anti-vibration system. This cutting tool is known for its low emissions and fuel efficiency.

Stihl MS 194 T

It is another popular petrol-powered arborist chainsaw weighing 7.28 lbs with a 2-mix 31.8cc engine, a 14-inch bar, and a ⅜-inch PM3 chain. The MS 194 T also boasts an anti-vibration system and a built-in carry ring for easy maneuverability. In addition, it features a one-touch stop to stop and restart the machine without flooding the engine.


The ECHO CS-355T is an arborist-approved cutting machine due to its noiseless operation. It features a 2-stroke 35.8cc engine, a 16-inch bar, an ergonomically contoured handle, and an adjustable-size palm rest to support wrist and hand while cutting. 

What’s more, it has a reduced-effort starting system, a heavy-duty air filter, and an Automatic, adjustable clutch-driven oiler for reduced fuel consumption.

Makita XCU08Z

It is a battery-powered chainsaw for arborists who want a noiseless, emission-free operation. The Makita XCU08Z comes with two 18V LXT Lithium-Ion batteries and a 12-inch bar. 

An Outer Rotor BL Brushless Motor direct-drive system provides power equivalent to a 30cc gas-powered chainsaw. While it’s cutting, efficiency is also 25% faster than a 30cc engine cutting machine.

Arborists Also Ask

What is the difference between an arborist and a tree trimmer?

An arborist is a tree specialist who has certifications and undergoes extensive training and education in the care and maintenance of trees. They provide a variety of tree care services, such as pruning, removal, cabling, limbing, and bracing. 

Moreover, arborists have the necessary qualifications to diagnose and recommend treatments for vegetative health. On the other hand, tree trimmers have training in tree pruning, but they may or may not have extensive education and certifications in tree care. In short, they may be unable to diagnose vegetation problems and recommend treatments.

Do you need to be an arborist to cut trees?

No, you don’t need to be an arborist to cut trees. However, it’s important to have the necessary skills, practice, and proper equipment and safety gear to cut trees yourself. If you are unsure about the health of your trees and don’t know how to diagnose or remove the deadwood, it’s best to hire an arborist. 

How much does it cost to have an arborist look at a tree?

The cost of having an arborist look at your tree depends on the location and size of your tree, the complexity of the inspection, and the arborist’s hourly rate. However, on average, an assessment and consultation from an arborist could cost you around $100 and $250. 

In addition, to these costs, you may also need an arborist report which could cost around $150 and $450. The report expenses may vary depending on its length and complexity.

Final Thoughts

Now that you have a clear understanding of “What is an arborist chainsaw,” you can go about purchasing one. With so many specialized cutting tools available for arborists, remember to consider the unique features that make them different from conventional chainsaws. 

Look for factors such as power, maneuverability, and safety features during your decision-making process. With the best arborist chainsaw in your hands, you’ll confidently tackle pruning, limbing, and other tree care tasks.

Patrick McMann