New Products: Snarls in Suburbia

Among the more familiar sounds of summer in the suburbs, the throaty roar of the power lawn mower has long had no rival. But now there is a new and equally assertive voice racketing across the backyard fence. It is the ear-assaulting snarl of the gasoline-powered chain saw.

Until recently, portable chain saws were mainly a logger's or tree surgeon's tool, too heavy (as much as 50 lbs.) and expensive (up to $400) for casual, do-it-yourself yard work. Less than ten years ago, the industry estimates, virtually all 2,250,000 chain saws then in use in the U.S. were in the...