Chainsaw commentsgreenspun.com : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread
Now that we've finally gotten moved, it's time to buy a chainsaw. Not going to do 'logging' but looking for something to help cleanup and do some selective felling. Having a healthy fear of these beasts, I want to make sure I get one that I can comfortably handle and use.
I'm interested in comments and suggestions from everyone on brands to buy (or avoid), bar-size comments, and just general info. Also, anyone come across any decent books on chainsaws and their use?
-- j (email@example.com), April 18, 2000
Try Barnacle Parp's Chainsaw Guide (I think that's the name -- anyway, I got the author's name right!). My suggestion for bar size would be about a sixteen inch bar if you aren't going to cut down any trees. Smaller saws tend to be more like toys and don't hold up as well -- but get a good saw. The cheap ones aren't worth carrying out of the store. AND, don't do like my husband did last fall and leave the saw in the back of your pick-up for five minutes while you run in the hardware store for something!! We now don't HAVE a saw, and won't until he can afford five hundred bucks for a good new one!!
-- Kathleen Sanderson (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 18, 2000.
Don't buy a saw at a discount store. Get it at a place that also services the saws they sell. I have a Jonsereds (not sure of the spelling) my second of that brand in 28 years. Just use them to cut all of our firewood, trimming, landscaping etc. Husquavarna and Stihl are also good brands.
-- Jim (email@example.com), April 18, 2000.
We also have a Jonsered and it's by far the best we've had. My husband cuts all our firewood and his saws are well used. They are expensive but if you are going to use it a lot it is worth it. Whatever you do make sure your new saw has vibration dampening/shock absorption. A used saw will be cheaper but the new ones have better safety features . We've learned the hard way that used chainsaws have probably been beaten to death and have big problems. Never again.
-- Peg (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 18, 2000.
This is off the topic a bit but...once you get your saw, never, ever forget to use your safety equipment, chaps, sturdy boots, hard hat and hearing and eye protection. The other important piece of safety equipment you should have is a spotter. My husband avoided a serious accident because he had a spotter and although I don't make many demands of him, not going out alone is one. I don't mean sending a 9 year old out with Daddy either but someone who can administer first aid if necessary, get the injured party into the vehicle and to the hospital. I'm pretty adamant about this because I know two women who are widows because of chainsaws. One man was in a tree pruning with a chain saw. When he was late to lunch, his wife sent their 12 year old son to get him. The man had somehow managed to sever the artery in his leg and bled to death very quickly and the son found him like that. Not something I think any of us would chose for our kids. Anyway, think safety first, last and always. We even take a cell phone when we go should we need to call an ambulance or whatever. All this is cheap insurance that I hope we will never need.
-- marilyn (email@example.com), April 18, 2000.
j, keep the fear. Most important part of operating a chainsaw. For what you need, you could fight with a cheap chainsaw. You'll be happier with the best one you can afford. We use Stihl. Period. The cheap saws are hard to start, picky to run and about what you pay for them. I'd say maybe an 18-20" bar. That's all we ever use and we've cut trees as much as 7' across near the base. We routinely take down trees over 4' across. But that's not a good idea for a beginner. For trimming and felling small trees, you could probably get away with a 16" bar. Make sure you always use a sharp chain. For light use, you can keep it up yourself with a file or two, or find someone nearby who sharpens chains. A sharp chain is many times easier and safer to use and worth much more than the sharpening charge.
Earplugs are a must. The rest of the safety equipment you'll have to make your own decision about. Hard hats are a good idea. So are goggles. Steel-toed boots. You can also get polyester-filament filled clothing. Makes sense, the filaments will tangle in a wayward sawblade and stop it before it reaches your body. Can't say we've ever seriously considered spending the money for it. Other than an occasonal nicked knuckle while hand sharpening a blade, we've never gotten hurt. But we know what we're doing and take as much time as we need to do something safely. I believe that at least some of the chain saw sellers are now sitting buyers down and making them watch a video on using a chainsaw safely. Good idea. Watch it a couple of times. Read the manual. Several times. Get someone you trust to help you if you can. Even right now, have them walk through your trees and pretend to cut them down. Hopefully they'll point out things like that dead branch up in a tree that could kill you, the wires, the tree that'll spin when you cut it loose, things like that. If you've got a metal detector, it isn't a bad idea to run it over the trees you intend to cut looking for surprises. Tree work is an easy way to get hurt or killed. I'm not trying to scare you off, just scare you.
Try never to cut alone, even if you just have a little kid with you to run like the wind for help if you get hurt. Just keep whomever well clear of the area where you're working. A first-aid kit, or at least some chunks of old bath towels and some strips of old sheets to help bandage any large wounds is a good idea. We've never needed to use our first-aid supplies, but I feel a lot better to have them handy.
Depending on where you live, there will probably only be one or two brands of chainsaws backed by full service dealerships in your area.Those saws will cost more, but there's a lot to be said for having a good dealer avaiable to you as opposed to the brands sold in hardware stores. Some hardware stores will be able to fix your saw, others won't. There may be a small engine repair shop in your area where the people are good at fixing saws. Good thing to find out about before buying any saw. Gerbil
-- Gerbil (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 18, 2000.
I used to have a Jonseruds, a big old thing that was capable of handling a 30" bar, but was fitted with an 18". Bought it used for $50 and it lasted me for years. It was a really good saw but I'd recommend something smaller. I now have a Husquevarna Rancher which is just about perfect for my needs. I bought that one used too for $50. Comparable in quality to the Jonseruds and a quality saw. I've actually had pretty good luck with Homelites too. They're not as heavy duty as the other two mentioned but for the money they were ok.
-- john leake (email@example.com), April 18, 2000.
Barnacle Parp's book is great. A few lessons and we girls decided to keep the saw but not use it. Just not worth it. The safety factor is HUGE. I don't use any power cutting tools alone. Will probably sell the saw soon. We use a fixed blade saw. Very hard to do such quick damage to a leg or hand with that. Though I do have a small scar from a tree limb....
-- Anne (HealthyTouch101@hotmai.com), April 18, 2000.
I have opened my leg twice with a chain saw in the past 30 years, once with a Mac, the other time with a Sthl, I prefer the latter for cutting legs. I have 3 sthl's, have had seven in the past 30 years and of course I wear chaps NOW but seldom use a saw anymore. I don't care what braand one gets as long as they get it from a chainsaw dealer who can service that brand.
-- Hendo (OR) (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 19, 2000.
I bought a new jonsered last fall and am very pleased with it. IT has an 18 inch bar, but I can't remember the size of the saw, 2050 or something like that. Had a 610 McCullogh for years and it was a tough,dependable saw for the most part, although it was heavy and somewhat unbalanced. I wouldn't recommend buying a McCullough now, though, because I have heard the company has declared bankruptcy and parts will probably become pricy and hard to come by as time passes. Additionally, the McCullough saws made in recent years, according to a repairman I visited, were cheaply built. You won't go wrong buying a mid-size Jonsered or Huquevarna (I understand the 2 are built in the same factory in Sweden). I have run a Stihl quite a bit and like them, however, they are in my opinion overpriced. Buy the brand you can find parts for locally, and be careful. Happy sawing!
-- nmays (email@example.com), April 19, 2000.
16" is a good size bar in my opinion... Not too big, not too heavy, and a little easier to handle.
If you've never used a saw, find someone you know that KNOWS how to use a saw, and ask them for an afternoon crash course. I've been cutting wood now for 20+ years and haven't cut off any body parts.
And when you get the saw, make sure to get a plastic wedge or two to keep the cut open so the blade doesn't get bound up on you. And don't waste your money on fancy electric grinders - if you're only going to be cutting up some firewood and cleaning brush, a hand file will do fine.
-- Eric Stone (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 21, 2000.
Have been in the chainsaw business for over 40 years...and with the major brands... I.E.L., McCulloch, Homelite,Stihl and Pioneer....and in my book, from the standpoint of reliability,performance, $ value [including parts cost] and dealer service it is really hard to beat a STIHL. Please accept the other good advice on safety already offered...a chainsaw is a wonderful labor saving device....but it can cut you many times faster than the wood it was designed to cut. Read and head the safety section of the owners manual....Blake
-- blake stretton (email@example.com), April 25, 2000.
I finally burned up my McCullough Pro-Mac 610 after 16 years of abuse. It cut roads into woods, provided me with 16 years' worth of firewood, cleaned up after Hurricane Hugo (many downed oaks and pines) when I lived in Charleston, South Carolina, and has kept the bigger trees in and around my yard trimmed and pruned. It was heavy, but that was the tradeoff for most of the parts being metal and very durable, and besides I am a big dude anyway so it was light enough for me. At various times I had 16" bars on that saw, a 20" bar for a while, and I finally settled on 18" bars -- best of both worlds, for ease of handling and depth of cut. I worked on the saw myself over the years. It needed a carburettor, several bars, periodic tuning, and a clutch, but little else. I didn't realize how much I appreciated this saw until it died and I went shopping to replace it. I finally got a Stihl, but the saws I looked at were either cheap pieces of crap, like Poulan, Homelite, or Craftsman (at Home Depot, Lowes, Walmart, Sears, etc. -- the usual unknowledgeable consumer kinds of places)), or they were Cadillac-priced machines at specialty equipment dealers, like Echo's or Husky's. I looked at some John Deere chainsaws that were in the middle, price and capability-wise, but one had buggered threads on the gas cap and leaked gas (cheap, thin plastic tank and cap) and the second saw would not start after 30 minutes of effort by the store staff. This was a bad omen. I walked out. Finally, I found a Stihl that is to my liking, but it was also very expensive. With the disappearance of the McCullough Pro Mac series saws there are no more mid-priced, reasonably durable chainsaws for a guy who uses them occasionally as part of maintaining a rural life. Sure, there are very expensive, tough saws for pros who chainsaw for a living, like builders who use them to clear lots for construction, and there are almost disposable "Bic lighter" type saws that women could use to trim low-hanging branches once a year, but I had a lot of trouble finding a reliable, heavy-duty saw for the occasional user, like me. I spent five hours looking at chainsaws at 12 different places today. I guess I'll never be smarter about them than I am right now. I settled on a 3.7hp 18" Stihl. I just cut down three trees with it. Zip zip. Cheerio.
Roger Scott Fredericksburg, VA
-- Roger Scott (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 05, 2001.
Jonsered has been a great saw for many years, for me. Think safe !
-- jz (email@example.com), April 05, 2001.
Joke: A guy was falling from the sky and he meets a guy going UP. He says, "Hey, you know anything about parachutes?" Guy going UP says, "No, you know anything about chainsaws??" little joke :)
-- tang (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 08, 2001.
First of realize and there are going to be people that are biased towards certain brand names. Like always.
I have 3 saws. A Poulan Wildthing 2375 40cc 18", a Poulan Pro 295 46cc 20", and a Poulan Pro 330 54cc 22".
I have to say that the Poulan Pro saws are VERY high quality and start up on the very first pull and will run all day.
If you want a really good, industrial strength saw, and you don't want to pay for the STIHL brand name, get a Poulan pro. I personally recommend the 330.. is is fantastic.
You heard it from me, unbiased and fair. :)
Huskvarna saws are good too, but they are weird problems like melting plastic around the muffler. I would Get either Stihl (if you want to pay that much), Poulan Pro, or Jonsered.
-- anonymously answered, August 07, 2001
Can't say that ALL the loggers around here use Stihl, but I haven't seen any with another brand.
Twenty-six years ago, I bought an Echo. It's been a damned good saw. I even cut firewood commercially with it for two years. I still use it. It can't hold a candle to Stihl, though, in terms of speed of cutting.
-- jumpoff joe (email@example.com), August 07, 2001.
I'm in a similar quandry, have used (and done a lot of tinkering on) McCullochs for years (10-10, 310, 610 etc.) and facing a lot clearing operation am considering buying something I'll use maybe one weekend a month for the next few years, (burnt the 650 up clearing storm damage a few years ago, used the 10-10 clearing hedgerows, my arms still ache) have looked at a Solo 651 $400 and Poulan Pro 330, $330 (set up with McCulloch 16" heavy bar, the dealer says chain and bar match right up - he deals in obsolete McCulloch NOS so I'm not sure that's the best way to go but it looks more rugged). I hope to get a saw that will still be around, along with parts supply, 10 years from now. My brother had a Solo weedeater and it took months to get a little piece of rubber used in the fuel system, so I'm hesistant to buy that one because when I need it I can't wait months for a part. So what does everyone think is the best 3 cubic inch, 18 " bar, vibration dampening equipped chainsaw, at less than Stihl prices? I'm tempted by the Poulan Pro 330.
-- Rennie Elliott (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 28, 2001.
i have owned two poulan chain saws one a 14" i can't remember the model and one 20" model 3300 i think it was and none of them was worth anything, the two biggest pieces of junk i have ever owned now i have two homelite xl's 10" and 14" bar and a 20" stihl 038av fantastic saws all three are 15-20 yrs. old. stay from craftman their made by poulan.
-- julian harrison (email@example.com), December 27, 2001.
I worked in a chainsaw shop for 20 years and have seen many different brands come and go. The chainsaw business is down to 3 major players Stihl, Husqvarna, sister company Johnsred. The most important is to look at your local support parts, repairs,and service. The three brands , listed will all work out for you if a saw is selected of the proper size for what you are planning to do. Chainsaws are classified by weight being the most important then power. The dealership should ask what are you going to do with the saw! If they don't find another place to purchase your new tool. p.s. Have fun
-- Mike (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 28, 2001.
Have to agree with folks happy with Stihl, Huskies, and Jons if you have real work to do.... I grew up in timber country and every Ford pick-up had a Stihl attached. Buy Stihl or Husky if you're serious about your equipment or plan to do real work. Never had a problem with a properly maintained Stihl.
Hate to admit it, but I bought a little Crafstman at Sears last year. Can't say it's much of a saw, but works reaonably well with a regular chain as opposed to the no kick-back one it came with. Makes for a good "pick-up saw" to carry for downed trees on the road in the winter (and I wouldn't be too upset if it was stolen). Mainly bought it because it was on close-out...cost $50 new with a case, extra chain, and a few other doo-dads. Ya get what ya pay for. First "cheapo" saw I've owned, but it works well within it's own limitations. Also mighty handy for limbing, etc., with an 18" or 16" bar. Definitely worth $50 new, but I sure wouldn't pay the $150-$200 they want for one at regular price. good luck
-- Bob Hazelbrook (email@example.com), January 30, 2002.
In the past three days I bought and returned two Craftsman chainsaws to the Sears store where I purchased them. I needed a saw to limb and section three moderate size trees that I had professionally dropped in my backyard. Having had good luck with Sears and Craftsman in recent years, I purchased a 2.6CID/42cc saw with 18" guide bar. I test started the first one and cut for about an hour. It seemed to do a good job, and the saw seemed to be put together well. However, the following morning, after three hours of trying, it refused to start or give any hint of starting. In spite of following all of the suggestions in the owner's manual, I had no success. Attempting to check the sparkplug proved futile...it would not budge even with a second wrench attached to the plug wrench. After calling Customer Support at Craftsman, I was politely advised to return it to the store for a replacement since there was obviously a problem with it. I returned it for a replacment. That one also refused to start after one hour of continous effort. I returned it the same day for a refund. I then bought a Poulan of similiar size and price from Lowe's. I have yet to attempt to start that one.
-- Charles McGlothlin (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 02, 2002.
best saw is the one that starts,runs, and doesn't break down often. My father has an 041 Stihl farmboss,25 years old, still runs. Awfully heavy shake you up pretty good. Nothing wrong with Poulans if you buy the one suited to your application. You spend 79.99 you get 79.99 worth of chainsaw, period. I have a 505 Poulan Pro 24" bar, 5 cid, $700. Rip 95% of Stihls & Huskys a new one. Bar length for limbing has alot to do with the persons height & style of cutting. Has anybody thaught of Sachs-Dolmar, still made good saw.
-- mark mush (email@example.com), April 01, 2002.
Echo. I have two older saws. They run and cut excellent. I alternate the two when cutting all day for fire wood. These are about 10 years old and have never been in the shop. I use oregon bars, and chains from bulk rolls. We run the gas out after each use, and keep the saws clean. Our power trimmer is also Echo brand. No problems. Another thing to think about is the fuel mix. I make sure that all of our 2cycle equipment uses the same fuel mix, to avoid any mistakes in filing the tank. Just a thought but it helps. I think runnig the gas out all the way is the best advise I have. I also have a Macolluch factory reconditioned saw. Cuts great, and runs great but I have to change the plug before trying to restart, when the saw is hot. Brands not too important. Find what you need then get a little more power. Having an extra saw is alos good advise, even if it is kind of an old beater. If you run into problems you can still get the job done. When we are not cutting hedge, we have to drop trees into the roads and streets, this is not the time to be without a spare cutter. In my opinion Stihl has to be a good saw but others stil must compare. It is like John Deere...Pretty expensive green paint...and pretty expensive to have work done on. Good luck.
-- Bart Peace (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 17, 2002.