Saturday, October 19, 2013

Choosing The Chainsaw For You


Another name for Fall could be chainsaw season. It does not matter if you cut wood as a primary or backup heating source or prune trees or shrubs. Just being ready to deal with fallen branches or trees- a chainsaw makes a lot of jobs easier. 

This brings me to my topic of which chainsaw should you own. I have helped people choose a chainsaw many many times. When I have helped these people I see two distinct groups. Group one are the people who want the biggest, most powerful chainsaw they can afford. Group two are the people who want the smallest, cheapest chainsaw they can get. Which one is right? Would you be surprised if I said neither? I didn't think you would.

Before you decide on which chainsaw to buy figure out what kind of work you will really do with it. I use my chainsaw a couple of times a week. We use wood as a secondary and backup heating source. We have a solid chord and a half of wood waiting on cold weather. I am of the opinion that wood heat is going to grow in popularity in years to come and I am not alone. As other energy resources continue to get more expensive people are going to return to wood, in fact there are tax credits available for those who use "approved" wood stoves. Wood heating is a personal choice and I am not trying to talk you into wood heat, but if you are thinking about it that will be a factor into what type and size of chainsaw you need.

There are lots of choices. Several name brands and multiple sizes of each name brand. The first chainsaw I ever operated was a Homelite with a 6 inch bar. It was my first job to cut off small limbs after the tree had been fallen. As I got a little older I was allowed to run my dads McCulloch. It had a 20 inch bar and was very heavy. I used to own a Homelite with an 18 inch bar, but I lost it in the April 27th tornadoes (actually I was told that it was looted before I got to my business where I had it stored). I have also run a Sthil and a Husqvarna and currently own a Poulan, and they have all done their jobs well. So I believe as long as you take care of your chainsaw, name brand is a matter of preference.
This is the chainsaw I currently own.



All of the affordable chainsaws have 2 stroke engines. This means you must mix 2 cycle oil with the gas. Depending on brand and age of your saw, your saw may require 32:1, 40:1, or even 50:1 gas to oil ratio. Be sure and read your manual to get the mixture right. If you do not mix the oil with the gas your saw will not last long and you will burn up your saw. If at all possible find a place that sells 100% gasoline. Most older chainsaws are not designed to run on ethanol blends. Ethanol greatly reduces the lifetime of your saw. You will also need to make sure to have bar and chain oil.

If you use wood as a heating source and are planning on cutting all or even most of your own wood, I would say a 16 inch bar is the smallest size I would consider and is the size that I own and use very often. The reason I like this size is it is very maneuverable, not very heavy, powerful enough to do everything I need to do, and I can cut almost any tree that I want with very few exceptions. I wouldn't mind having an 18 inch bar, but for me it was not worth the extra cost.

If you are only going to use a chainsaw for the occasional dropped limb or for pruning of a few fruit trees I know a lot of people who have chosen a battery powered chainsaw and are quite happy with the results. These are small, very light, and have a limited time of operation, but are very maneuverable and easy to operate. Note: You will still need bar and chain oil. Of the people that I know the most popular battery powered chainsaws is made by Black & Decker, pictured below.


The most popular battery powered chainsaw around here.

Another option for very small properties and small jobs are the electric plug-in chainsaws. These are very light, but you are "tied" to the cord so there is not as much flexibility. Most still need bar and chain oil. I only know a few people that have this type of chainsaw, but in their situation most are happy with their choice.

A chainsaw can be a very dangerous tool. I am not going to cover safety because there are hundreds of videos on youtube.com on the subject. If you have never operated a chainsaw before, please read the manual and learn about the safe operation of this tool.

Many times you can find good quality used chainsaws in the local classifieds, craig's list, or fairly often at a local pawn shop. Being frugal is always a good idea.

The more you can do for yourself the better off you are. Always Remember to.....

Keep It Rural

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