Chain saw recommendations : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) Preparation Forum : One Thread

I saw some chain saws at Kmart for $127, I'm not sure what the brand was. Is there a recommended brand, like Black and Decker or something? What do you use?

-- Amy Leone (, November 17, 1999



Conventional wisdom says buy either a Stihl or a Husqvarna. They're the best made, will last the longest and cause fewer problems.

They also cost more.

-- Vic (, November 17, 1999.

generally the saws made for the casual user will have parts in it that are made of plastic whereas, the better more "professional" saws will have the same part made of steel.

Depending on your part of the country will somewhat determine which is the best saw. I would say that you should check with the repair shops in your area. Huskies are good where I am as are Polan. Stihl are more difficult to work on. Some American brands are (or were) rather noisy.

jack mcneary

-- Jack McNeary (, November 17, 1999.

I've used Jonsereds (I may have spelled it wrong) for 25 years or so to cut all the wood that we heat with and other uses around the farm. I'm on my second saw of that brand, and I like them a lot. Husquavarna is also Swedish made and of similar quality. I had a Stihl 041 years ago and didn't like it as well- didn't seem to be as well made, and it had some things I didn't like about the construction and how it was assembled. It's been a few years since I got rid of it, and I don't remember the details, although my father-in-law has used Stihl for years and likes them. Of the "American" companies, Homelite makes some cheapies and some good saws. Buy a chain saw at a place that also repairs them, not at a discount store. I can't imagine getting a good saw for less than $200 or $300- although it has been a while since I shopped for them.

-- Jim (, November 17, 1999.

If you're thinking of a chain saw for the first time, think of a bow saw instead. Chain saws can be dangerous, particularly if it's new to you. You can lose control, you can stumble while carrying a running one, lots of ways to hurt yourself. If it's the odd limb to whack, or maybe chopping a tree for firewood, the bow saw will do it (with more work) and won't need gas (got gas?). With a half dozen replacement blades, you're good for a long time. And you won't be loudly advertising that you have a saw (and gas ...).

-- bw (home@puget.sound), November 17, 1999.


The size and weight of a chain saw is also an important consideration.

Mosy folks around here own two saws: A 10- or 12-inch bladed chain saw for small jobs and a larger blade (16+ inches) for bigger jobs.

If you've never used a chain saw, don't start now. They are very dangerous if not used properly. Use a hand saw.

Let me be politically incorrect for a moment and suggest that if you need something done that requires a chain saw, there a man somewhere with one who enjoys using it and helping solve problems for women. Take advantage of your feminity. And this doesn't mean that I'm saying that women who know how to use chain saws aren't feminine!

-- walt (, November 17, 1999.

I've had an Echo 451 with a 16" bar for 25 years. It's been a mostly reliable saw. I just inherited a newer 16"Homelite. I like it better. Being newer, it's lighter.

Around here (Oregon) these are considered to be so small as to be laughable, at least by "real" loggers.

I've used larger (48" bars) a few times, and frankly, they scare the shit out of me. I'll stick to my little baby saws. I've learned a couple of dozen ways to kill myself without doing so; all by experience. I was young, strong, self confident, and (in retrospect) STUPID.

If you can get a copy of a book by the state of Oregon's OSHA (Occupational HEALTH and Safety Administration) dealing with chain saw and logging safety, I highly recommend it. I got to read about most all the ways I was doing things wrong, and several I still hadn't thought of.

These are very dangerous tools. Other than the above advice, I can't stress too much: pay attention to the tip of the bar. If it hits a branch or another tree you don't see because it's under or behind the one you're cutting, or because there is a bunch of brush blocking your view of it, it will try to jerk up very nearly instantaneously and cut right into your face. If you are strong, like I am, and your saw is small enough, you will probably be able to stop the saw with brute force and quick reflexes. If you are only average strength, or if the saw is big, you will quite likely have a serious or fatal cut up the middle of your face.

There are DOZENS of ways to kill/injure yourself. Please be careful.

By the way, I have cut firewood commercially in the past, also done thinning. There are a lot of women doing the latter these days, and some of them do just fine.


-- Al K. Lloyd (, November 17, 1999.

I heartily recommend that everybody reread all of the above posts, lots of good advice. If you are not going to spend the money for a good chain saw, I like my two Husquvarnas ( one long one short ), stick with a bow saw or a good two handled 5' lumber saw. Keep the bow saw and the lumber saw clean and sap-free by putting a little kerosene on the blade which will disolve the sap and lubricate the blade. If you do go the chain saw route, buy at least 2 spare chains. You'll be safer and happier if you keep everything sharp (ditto for the manual saws).

-- Ken Seger (, November 17, 1999.

I heat with wood and have owned several saws over the years.

My most recent Stihl 026 was nearly $500 with the spare bar, chain, sharpening file and wrench. The saw when new would cut like a hot knife in butter and was probably the most powerful saw I have ever owned.

For a while...

After 4 years of use and 12 cords of wood the saw suddenly stopped. While not siezed up, it wouldn't run except under extreme choke and then only for a minute or two. An examination of the cylinder revealed that the saw had self destructed by virtue of the cylinder scoring. (Yes, I used a 50/1 mix per recommendations and use the same fuel supply for the "other" chainsaw and weedwacker with no problems)

I learned two things...

1. Stihl, while they make an expensive quality product, do everything they can to discourage "home repairs." A parts blowout is not available, parts are by company policy not sold to individuals, service at an authorized dealer is priced "per hour," and parts bought through an "authorized dealer" (when they'll sell them to you "out the back door") are expensive beyond belief.

2. Most of the Stihl saws incorporate a magnesium housing rather than aluminum or aluminum with cast iron bore. Magnesium is light but not terribly resistant to "galling" which seems to be the source of the problem in this case.

The "highly engineered" Stihl is now a doorstop in my shop. I have since bought a Homelite 3300 which is a cheaper (at $139 1/3rd the price), smaller saw but works reliably, is easy to fix (they give you a parts blow out right in the owners' manual and a number to call for parts directly from the mfr.) The new Homelite, spare bar, spare chain were bought for less money than the repair parts for the Stihl.

I also use a 25/1 mix for all my 2 cycle engines now. The 50/1 mix may be good for the environment and meets the EPA's interests but bad for my engine wear and tear. There is some black carbon buildup on the exhaust muffler spark arrester screen but I can deal with that.


We're still learning...

Best regards, Joe

-- Joe (, November 18, 1999.

I "blew up" my stilh 041 once when the gas tank cap vent hole became plugged and as I burned the gas, no air was able to get into the tank, and the saw ran leaner, hence less oil on the piston rod to cool it, and it just got too hot and blew up. Now, everytime I fill up with gas, I always check to make sure the vent hole is clear. Luckly, I had just bought the saw used and the shop fixed it for free. The only other trouble I have had with the saw in 8 years is from using old gas, and have had the carb rebuilt. I try to use gas that is less than one month old.

-- chicken farmer (chicken-farmer@, November 18, 1999.

Thanks for all the answers! It was all new to me!

-- Amy Leone (, November 18, 1999.

"Let me be politically incorrect for a moment and suggest that if you need something done that requires a chain saw, there a man somewhere with one who enjoys using it and helping solve problems for women."

Guys, too, can take a breather on this one.

Walt -- you just helped me trim my shopping list by one item. I did a little bit of (macho -- copy my buddies) chainsawing in my 20s. Also rushed two friends to hospital (hand, foot) when they got bitten. Now I'm a city escapee with woods that generate a few big treefalls each winter, plenty for our needs.

There are probably a thousand chain saws in our small town, and a few hundred who know how to use them. Lots of unemployment ahead? There will be plenty of help to take the work out of my hands at reasonable cost, and getting to know neighbors. I'll stick to doing what I know best, and safest, and it doesn't involve chainsaws. Thanks again, Walt.

-- jor-el (jor-el@krypton.uni), November 20, 1999.

We bought a Stihl in 1977 in Valdez Alaska. We used it to cut up a logpile that someone had pushed up into the middle of our property before we bought the land. Since then, I have no idea how many cords of wood that saw cut up for us. Shortly after we got it, DH dropped a dozer blade on it. He jumped off the dozer, and ran to the ex-brand new saw. He dusted the dirt off it and pulled the cord. Took two pulls. It hasn't quit since. He's replaced the bar twice, and had many new chains, but the saw itself has never missed a beat. I wonder if there's a Stihl hall of fame? Remember the ad they had for a while: Lumberjack comes into Stihl dealership with belligerent attitude and walks up to the counter. "I ran over my new Stihl chainsaw with my truck...!" he says. The man behind the counter tries to explain about warranties not covering that, but the lumberjack comes back with the rest of his sentence: "...and I broke my TRUCK!"

-- Liz Pavek (, November 22, 1999.

Why thank you walt. :-)

Actually, I have one point to make. No, I don't cut down trees, firewood or anything else with our saw, but hubby does. They are very dangerous. A friend lost 40% of his fluids and most of one ear one day when a tree kicked back. He set out to cut the tree down alone, but his friend insisted on coming along.

Never use a chainsaw when alone.

We live in a remote area, help can be a ways off. I made sure, before my son was grown, that I at least knew how to start and operate the darn thing. If hubby became trapped under a tree, I needed to be able to assist. But if you aren't comfortable with being the "alternate user", insist on a second person who can before felling a tree.

-- Lilly (, November 23, 1999.

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