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Author Topic: Need advice on buying a chainsaw  (Read 11460 times)

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Offline gbischoff3

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Need advice on buying a chainsaw
« on: March 31, 2013, 01:26:52 PM »
Hi All, I bought an old house last June, it's equipped with an indoor wood furnace for heating.  I'm looking to cut my own wood this spring for next winter and need some advice on chainsaw purchasing.  I'm female, 40, about 130 lbs and would prefer a Stihl.  I've found some (what I think are nice-used) saws, but I'm unsure what size I need to cut 15-20 pick up loads of red and white oak.  I don't want something that's going to drag me through the woods, but also want good power so I'm not shot after one load.  My stove takes pieces that are about two feet long up to 10 inches in diameter.  Any suggestions?  Older 028?  New MS250?  Help please.....Gwen

Offline sawguy21

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Re: Need advice on buying a chainsaw
« Reply #1 on: March 31, 2013, 01:38:40 PM »
Welcome aboard, hope you stick around. There have been numerous discussions on this very topic, go to the Search function at the top of the page.
I think you might find the 028 a little heavy at the end of a days work. Great saw but old technology. The MS250 may be a little light for your needs although it will get the job done. The MS261 is about the same size but is more durable and has more power. One of the best in it's class.
old age and treachery will always overcome youth and enthusiasm

Offline HolmenTree

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Re: Need advice on buying a chainsaw
« Reply #2 on: March 31, 2013, 02:56:13 PM »
Welcome to the forum Gwen,
Invest in a forestry / arborist grade chainsaw. Well worth the extra money to last you for probably as long as you will be able to run a saw, for the little cutting you do.
The MS261 or older 260 or 026 is an excellent choice. But try out a MS201 rear handle or older MS200 rear handle and you will be pleasantly surprised with its power and lightness
Making a living with a saw since age 16.

Offline Knute

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Re: Need advice on buying a chainsaw
« Reply #3 on: March 31, 2013, 03:11:58 PM »
Check out the Husqvarna 545.

Offline beenthere

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Re: Need advice on buying a chainsaw
« Reply #4 on: March 31, 2013, 03:40:30 PM »
Welcome to the Forum.
Get to know the Stihl dealer and lean on him/her for available used saws, for getting to know your needs, and for helping you keep the saw in the wood.  They can't help but get on your side of the job you want to get done with their personal interest. May even have some good deals on new saws now or later.
And there is more to it than just getting a saw. Sharpening needs, fuel needs, tuning needs, etc. all enter into the equation.

As well, you will get a lot of help here. Just keep asking.
south central Wisconsin
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Offline beenthere

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Re: Need advice on buying a chainsaw
« Reply #5 on: March 31, 2013, 04:05:56 PM »
Quote
I'm looking to cut my own wood this spring for next winter and

That wood likely will not be very dry for good burning by next winter. It will burn, but not heat well as many BTU's will be used to just get rid of the moisture. Just sayin......
south central Wisconsin
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Offline JohnW

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Re: Need advice on buying a chainsaw
« Reply #6 on: March 31, 2013, 09:32:39 PM »
In general, I would say that's a serious amount of wood, so get a serious saw, from the best dealer and take good care of it.  But that's not what you're asking, so you probably know those things.

Offline CTYank

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Re: Need advice on buying a chainsaw
« Reply #7 on: March 31, 2013, 10:27:20 PM »
I hope you realize that red oak takes twice as long as typical hardwoods to properly air-dry. With the size pieces you're talking, it won't be speedy either. While that oak dries, you might want to have alternate sources handy, of something burnable.

One saw just won't cut it. It will get pinched- Murphy will get involved. Get wedges.

For one of your saws, I'd recommend a 435 Husqy. Can be had for $170 from VMInnovations as a refurb. For the second, a 555 Husqy. Unless you want to dump $ on stihl. Use the $ on PPE.  :)

Whatever the saw, learn how to file the chain well, and do it often. No saw will cut well for long with a dull chain, no matter how you press.
'72 blue Homelite 150
Echo 315, SRM-200DA
Poulan 2400, PP5020, PP4218
RedMax GZ4000, "Mac" 35 cc, Dolmar PS-6100
Husqy 576XP-AT
Tanaka 260 PF Polesaw, TBC-270PFD, ECS-3351B
Mix of mauls
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Offline trapper

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Re: Need advice on buying a chainsaw
« Reply #8 on: March 31, 2013, 11:09:44 PM »
find the best dealer in your area.  Dealer is more inportant than saw brand.  Just get a major brand saw.
stihl ms241cm ms261cm  echo 310 400 suzuki  log arch made by stepson several logrite tools woodmizer LT30

Offline SLawyer Dave

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Re: Need advice on buying a chainsaw
« Reply #9 on: April 01, 2013, 02:07:49 AM »
Welcome to the Forum

Your profile does not list where you live.  If you are in a hot area like mine, where summer temps are generally over 100 and humidity is less than 15%, then if you get the wood split down to a manageable size, it should season enough over the summer to give reasonable heat next winter.  If you are in a cooler location or with a lot higher humidity, then your ability to dry the wood before next winter could certainly be in jeopardy.  It will cost more and be more labor intensive, but one of the things you can do to accelerate the drying process is to use a "green house" type wood shed that doubles as a solar kiln.  That will increase the heat, and you will likely have to have a fan running to remove the resulting moist air out of the kiln/shed.  Splitting the pieces smaller also helps accelerate the drying process as it creates more surface area that will dry quicker.

As to saws, I am also a confirmed Stihl fan.  My first saw was a Stihl 024 with an 18" bar when I was 12 yrs old, (and probably about your size).  It still runs and is now a backup saw.  I cut hundreds of cords of oak with it over the years.  Pound for pound, that was the best saw I have ever used.  If you can find a good running, refurbished 024, I don't think you could go wrong.

One of the things you really need to think about is the size of the trees you are going to be cutting.  If they are 24" or smaller on average, then a 16 to 18" bar should be your best fit.  If they are bigger, then you really probably want at least a 20" bar.  Depending on your height, you may find one length does better for you, especially when cutting limbs sitting on the ground.  Too short a bar, and you will be left having to lean over or squatting which will put more stress on your back and legs and tire you quicker.  A longer bar than you need, is more weight you don't really need, and again, will tire you quicker.  I find a 20" bar is perfect for me for most oak trees in my area, but you need to try some different length bars at your Stihl dealer to see what works best for you. 

Unlike probably many or most on this forum, I would not recommend spending the extra money on a "professional" Stihl chainsaw.  You are going to be cutting a lot of wood, but nothing compared to a professional that is using their saw everyday.  I would recommend one of the mid-grade, (ranch saws), that Stihl markets.  Either the MS-271 or MS-290 would be my recommendation as a starting point.  The MS-271 is almost a pound lighter, (8% difference) than the MS-291, which may make a big difference to your comfort level using it.  The MS-290 has more power and higher torque, and is my personal preference, but again, you should try them both and see which feels better to you.

Just a note about the length/size of firewood you will be cutting.  While your stove may be able to handle a 10" width and 24" length, you have to figure out whether you can handle carrying, stacking and loading that length and weight of wood.   You can also run into difficulties getting multiple long pieces in the stove at the same time.  So I generally have found that cutting 16-18" lengths seems to be the sweet spot for most people.  You will always end up with some shorter and longer pieces, but again, on average I would predict you will find 16-18" will best fit your needs.  If you are using a hydraulic splitter, making the pieces 7-8" thick on average is also probably your best bet.  Easier to load in the stove, and optimal for drying/seasoning.

Hope that helps.  Let us know when you make your final decision and what you chose.

Dave

 

Offline mad murdock

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Re: Need advice on buying a chainsaw
« Reply #10 on: April 01, 2013, 02:48:59 AM »
Welcome
To the Forestry Forum. You have been given some good advice on saws already, the only thing I will add is if ou don't know your way around a saw a lot, look into a safety course, or look up someone you trust who has a lot of saw experience, that can show you firsthand safe chainsaw use. Of course proper PPE(person protection equipment) will save body parts and maybe your life, and at least it will save your hearing and keep the chips out of your eyes!  Cutting wood is a lot of fun (at least I find it so).  Good luck, and stay safe!
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Offline ladylake

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Re: Need advice on buying a chainsaw
« Reply #11 on: April 01, 2013, 05:42:26 AM »
Welcome to the Forum

Your profile does not list where you live.  If you are in a hot area like mine, where summer temps are generally over 100 and humidity is less than 15%, then if you get the wood split down to a manageable size, it should season enough over the summer to give reasonable heat next winter.  If you are in a cooler location or with a lot higher humidity, then your ability to dry the wood before next winter could certainly be in jeopardy.  It will cost more and be more labor intensive, but one of the things you can do to accelerate the drying process is to use a "green house" type wood shed that doubles as a solar kiln.  That will increase the heat, and you will likely have to have a fan running to remove the resulting moist air out of the kiln/shed.  Splitting the pieces smaller also helps accelerate the drying process as it creates more surface area that will dry quicker.

As to saws, I am also a confirmed Stihl fan.  My first saw was a Stihl 024 with an 18" bar when I was 12 yrs old, (and probably about your size).  It still runs and is now a backup saw.  I cut hundreds of cords of oak with it over the years.  Pound for pound, that was the best saw I have ever used.  If you can find a good running, refurbished 024, I don't think you could go wrong.

One of the things you really need to think about is the size of the trees you are going to be cutting.  If they are 24" or smaller on average, then a 16 to 18" bar should be your best fit.  If they are bigger, then you really probably want at least a 20" bar.  Depending on your height, you may find one length does better for you, especially when cutting limbs sitting on the ground.  Too short a bar, and you will be left having to lean over or squatting which will put more stress on your back and legs and tire you quicker.  A longer bar than you need, is more weight you don't really need, and again, will tire you quicker.  I find a 20" bar is perfect for me for most oak trees in my area, but you need to try some different length bars at your Stihl dealer to see what works best for you. 

Unlike probably many or most on this forum, I would not recommend spending the extra money on a "professional" Stihl chainsaw.  You are going to be cutting a lot of wood, but nothing compared to a professional that is using their saw everyday.  I would recommend one of the mid-grade, (ranch saws), that Stihl markets.  Either the MS-271 or MS-290 would be my recommendation as a starting point.  The MS-271 is almost a pound lighter, (8% difference) than the MS-291, which may make a big difference to your comfort level using it.  The MS-290 has more power and higher torque, and is my personal preference, but again, you should try them both and see which feels better to you.

Just a note about the length/size of firewood you will be cutting.  While your stove may be able to handle a 10" width and 24" length, you have to figure out whether you can handle carrying, stacking and loading that length and weight of wood.   You can also run into difficulties getting multiple long pieces in the stove at the same time.  So I generally have found that cutting 16-18" lengths seems to be the sweet spot for most people.  You will always end up with some shorter and longer pieces, but again, on average I would predict you will find 16-18" will best fit your needs.  If you are using a hydraulic splitter, making the pieces 7-8" thick on average is also probably your best bet.  Easier to load in the stove, and optimal for drying/seasoning.

Hope that helps.  Let us know when you make your final decision and what you chose.

Dave

 Your 024 is a pro saw,  in the Stihl lineup I'd get a used 026  or MS260 way before a new MS290 or MS291.      Steve
Timberking B20 15000 hours +  Case75xt grapple + forks+8" snow bucket + dirt bucket   770 Oliver   Lots(too many) of chainsaws, Like the Echo saws and the Stihl and Husky     W5  Case loader   1  trailers  Wright sharpener     Suffolk  setter Volvo MCT125c skid loader

Offline gspren

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Re: Need advice on buying a chainsaw
« Reply #12 on: April 01, 2013, 08:09:27 AM »
  I have the 261 Stihl that was mentioned earlier and really like it. It has a compression release that makes it easier to pull when starting and just has a nice balance in my hands. Safety equipment like chaps, helmet with face shield and hearing protection are not just for people that cut a lot, the first day cutting may be the day you need them!
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Offline rooster 58

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Re: Need advice on buying a chainsaw
« Reply #13 on: April 01, 2013, 08:45:32 AM »
    I had a ms261 when I was doing thinning work on a national forest here in Pa. It had great power, was very light, and had the decompression button to aid starting. I wish that i would have kept it ;)

Offline MidWestTree

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Re: Need advice on buying a chainsaw
« Reply #14 on: April 01, 2013, 10:06:00 AM »
I've run Husqvarna pro series saws for the majority of all our needs the last 30 years with a few Stihls in the lineup. Dollar for dollar Husky has always had the next leg up in innovation at slightly less cost, I've never not taken a hard look at both manufacturers comparable models when it was time to buy saws, for that kind of money it would be foolish not to compare them for value.

Outside the pro line and homeowner grade saws from either Husky or Stihl, by all means look at what Echo has brought to the table. Compare the required EPA labeling for engine life hours, first thing you'll notice is Echo rates their saws at 300 engine hours versus the 125 hours the competition offers on homeowner grade units. Much better warranty, five years IIRC. Better quality and value all the way around at fair prices.




Offline thecfarm

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Re: Need advice on buying a chainsaw
« Reply #15 on: April 01, 2013, 11:00:45 AM »
A good dealer should help you choice too. Around here "good" is harder and harder to find.By good I mean good knowledge. Yes,there is saleman,book knowledge,but woods knowledge is getting hard to find. Most now sell alot of other stuff to get by. I don't know if the companies make them sell all that other stuff or not.
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Offline JohnG28

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Re: Need advice on buying a chainsaw
« Reply #16 on: April 01, 2013, 11:10:17 AM »
I don't know if you have PPE previously mentioned, but check this out if you don't. Good to think about.

 http://www.forestryforum.com/board/index.php/topic,65363.0.html

As for a saw, what size logs are you going to be cutting? You'll probably want 50cc at least, something like a 260/026 or 261 would be a good bet.
Stihl MS361, 460 & 200T, Jonsered 490, Jonsereds 90, Husky 350 & 142, Homelite XL and Super XL

Offline s grinder

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Re: Need advice on buying a chainsaw
« Reply #17 on: April 01, 2013, 07:03:11 PM »
I also have a MS261 with a 16" bar and  very happy with the power, balance and starting of the saw

Offline John Mc

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Re: Need advice on buying a chainsaw
« Reply #18 on: April 01, 2013, 09:41:25 PM »
I agree with JohnG28 that a good 50 cc saw is a nice place to start if weight is at a premium. What you get as you go from homeowner saws, to midrange, to pro level saws is an improvement in reliability, repairability, and power to weight ratio.   Stihl, Husky, Dolmar, and others all make some good saws in this size range.

Within most major manufacturers saws, there are less expensive saws in this size range, but you'll pick up some extra weight.  It may not seem like much, but even a half pound can make a noticeable difference, especially when you're not a 200#, 20-something year old who does this every day. Something to put saw weights in perspective for you:  a 13 pound saw for you, Gwen, would be like a 20# saw for that 200# 20-something. Some of the pro-level 50 cc saws are around 11 or 11.5 pounds.  They are a good match for a 16" bar, and will cut your oak acceptably, if you keep the chain sharp (I'm assuming you are not cutting a ton of 14"+ diameters... you can cut those with 50 cc saws, it just takes a bit of patience)
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Offline DDDfarmer

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Re: Need advice on buying a chainsaw
« Reply #19 on: April 01, 2013, 11:07:15 PM »
Start with your LOCAL dealer then go from there. Buy the best saw you can in the pro/forestry range, built to last.  Buy for quality and reliability the FIRST time.
Treefarmer C5C with cancar 20 (gearmatic 119) winch, Husky 562xp 576xp chainsaws


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