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Anti-kickback chainsaw, yea or nay?

Post in 'The Gear' started by wccountryboy, Jan 4, 2009.

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  1. wccountryboy

    wccountryboy New Member

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    I just got a new Stihl MS390, as I've got access to pleanty of wood to burn (this is my first year). I have some experiance with, and am comfortable running a chainsaw, but far from an expert. This is also the largest saw I've used. The saw came with the regular, not anti kickback, bar and chain. The 2 questions I have are, first, how effective a safety device are low kickback bars and chains? And second, what are the disadvantages to using them?

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  2. rphurley

    rphurley Feeling the Heat

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    If you don't get an answer here you could check the forums on arborsite.com
  3. pinewoodburner

    pinewoodburner Feeling the Heat

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    You have a pretty good size saw, it is not a homeowner saw. That being said, you need to keep your chains sharp. The anti-kickback chain comes on most smaller homeowner chains. A sharp chain is safer than a dull one. I don't like the safety chains, but you need to be careful no matter what chain you run. Spend the money and get some chain saw chaps and helmet. For less than $150, those two items are much cheaper than a visit to the emergency room. Be safe. The anti-kichback chains cut slower because they take less of a bite of the wood.
  4. wccountryboy

    wccountryboy New Member

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    I did spend the $ on the safety gear, I've had one of those ER visits several years ago courtesy of a Stihl Farm Boss (that sadly got stolen) and my own stupidity. The dealer did spend the time showing my how to sharpen the chain, using my little Poulen. Nice little "extra" service, I thought. I went with the bigger saw knowing I need ot put up 3-4 cords a year.
    So, the low kickback is slower, but how much "safer" is it really? I don't particularly mind taking a little extra time if the safety is greatly increase. But I'd be looking at another $125 to replace the bar and chain. It comes down to risk vs reward... is the margin of saftey increased enough to justify the additional time and expense?
  5. Brian VT

    Brian VT Minister of Fire

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    You've got plenty of saw there for most cutting. If you're unsure of your skill level go with reduced-kickback chain. You shouldn't have to change the bar.
    My saw came with Oregon Vanguard chain and my buddy, who is a pro., was suprised at how well it cut. I'm gonna stick with it until I feel the need for more speed.
  6. ken999

    ken999 New Member

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    Negative...toss it.

    The lawyer chains are like putting a rev-limiter on a Ferrari. IMHO, the safety chains make you work harder to accomplish anything, making you more tired and more susceptable to hurtiing yourself. It's like using a semi-sharp knife to cut things...why?

    Get the proper PPE, learn WHY a saw kicks and how to avoid it, then pay attentiong while you are running your saw.
  7. Brian VT

    Brian VT Minister of Fire

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    Well put, ken999. I guess maybe I've got a false sense of security with the "reduced-kickback" chain. I have very little experience but I suppose that if I put
    my saw where it shouldn't be then I'm gonna get bit, regardless of what chain is on there. I'm just trying to be as careful as I can.

    That said...do they take less of a bite ? I'm filing my rakers to .025 which I think is common for most chains ?
    I thought the safety device was that the rakers stand proud of the teeth as they go around the tip and help to prevent kickback that way.
  8. pinewoodburner

    pinewoodburner Feeling the Heat

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    There are two sponsor's on that site, Amricks and Baileys. You can get chains for your saw for like $11 each. You could get two anti-kick back and several more aggressive chains. That way you can see the difference for yourself. Your bar should have what you need stamped on it, like 3/8, .050, 20" 72. Luckily my Sthil 361 and Husky use the same chain. $60 at Lowes for 2 chains or 5 for less than $60 shipped to my door. It always pays to have extra chains.
  9. Sealcove

    Sealcove Member

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    Essentially yes, but it is not the rakers. There is an added fin on the drive link that act as a ramp towards raker and cutting tooth. If you look at these kinds of chain while on the bar, you will see that the angle of these ramps is such that when rounding the tip, into the kickback zone, they become more proud relative to the cutting tooth, and all but prevent cutting at the tip. This has the negative side effect of reducing cutting performance for regular cuts, and obviously plunge cutting is not realistic with a safety chain.

    Here is a random link to the Oregon site showing one example of low kickback chain.

    Some folks find that the cutting performance with low kickback chain for normal use is acceptable for them. I would rather see most users learn to cut safely, use PPE, and use a high performance chain.

    BTW - .025" is a common depth for raker clearance, but you should double check your chain specs to make sure that is correct.
  10. wccountryboy

    wccountryboy New Member

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    It sounds like there's no real need to get the low-kickback chain, and just cut slow and safe. Two follow-up questions: I looked a bailey's site. They had chisle, semi-chisle, and skip-tooth chains. What are the recomendations and pros and cons of each? Also, they had a couple different brands. Is one better than another?
  11. sl7vk

    sl7vk New Member

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    What kind of saw are you running, what length bar, and what kind of wood do you typically cut? Those factors will give us the data necessary to answer your question.
  12. wccountryboy

    wccountryboy New Member

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    The saw is a Stihl MS390 with a 20" bar. Cutting mostly white oak, some red oak and hickory, and pecan and pine on occasion.
  13. Bigg_Redd

    Bigg_Redd Minister of Fire

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  14. day52

    day52 New Member

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    As mentioned before, you can get good inexpensive chains from Bailey's, Amick's, or other online sources. Go to their sites and compare prices to your local shops. My experience has been I can often get a bar/ chain combo for the price of a chain locally. Get a couple regular semi-chisel chains and compare. I think then you will keep the anti-kickbacks for spares. Kickbacks will happen, but again my experience has been that smaller saws are more susceptible because they are so light. Just use your protective gear, stay outside the plane of your saw's bar and chain, and rest if you start to feel fatigue. Be safe and good luck!
  15. Sealcove

    Sealcove Member

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    With that saw I would be looking at something like a Oregon 72LG (assuming you have a .50 gauge; check your bar stamp), or an equivalent Stihl chain. Most folks, myself included, find that the money spent on Oregon or Stihl chains to be well worth it when it comes to chain quality and longevity.
  16. computeruser

    computeruser Feeling the Heat

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    Like everybody else said, the low-kickback stuff is not really going to do anything that using your brain and your PPE couldn't do better.

    Bailey's WP 30RC has been a great clean wood chain that hand-sharpens nicely, and the 30SC is a good semi-chisel for the dirty stuff. I prefer it to the Oregon stuff, unless I was going to 100% hand file, in which case I find the Oregon to be easier. For Stihl, I buy their square-ground stuff and when I can't keep my angles straight anymore, I regrind it round and it finishes its life out that way.
  17. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

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    well said!
  18. rphurley

    rphurley Feeling the Heat

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    I'm sorry, I meant "arboristsite.com."
  19. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    "Safety Chain" is kind of like "Friendly Fire" - both are names that carry a false impression, because they both aren't... "Safety Chain" is slightly less likely to give you a kick back, but it will still get you if you are stupid... You are going to be far better using safe working habbits with pro-chain, than you would be using bad habbits and safety chain... I'd rather go with the pro-chain and be able to get my production done before wearing myself out with the extra work safety chain needs.

    As to chain types - there are some other threads where we talk about this, but it has to do with the number of cutters on the chain, and their shape, along with the way they are ground....

    Full Chisel has a "square" profile on the outside of the tooth, and will tend to cut faster, but also need more frequent sharpening - excellent on clean wood, some use it all the time, and just plan to touch it up after every tank of gas through the saw. It can be round filed (easiest and probably most common) or for the ultimate performance, square ground (needs expensive machine or more elaborate filing techniques, most don't bother)

    Chipper has a rounded profile, and doesn't cut as well when sharp, but stays sharp far longer - It doesn't seem common on hand held saws any more, but some of the firewood processor machines or automatic tree harvesting machines use it to maximize service intervals.

    Semi-chisel is a compromise design, that tries to combine the cutting performance of full chisel and the durability of chipper - it doesn't really get there, but it does cut reasonably well, stays sharp longer, and is popular with people that cut "dirty" wood (lots of dirt in the bark or embedded in the wood)

    Skip and Semi-skip are chain assembly techniques that are mostly intended to allow the use of longer bars on a saw than might otherwise be desireable, or to allow the saw to reach a higher chain speed - They put fewer cutters on the chain than you would find on a normal "Full Comp(lement)" chain - This loads the saw less, so you can run a longer bar... Popular with the chainsaw mill guys or the folks cutting really big wood, probably not something you'd need with a standard length bar on most saws if you stay within the 3cc's of engine per inch of bar rule, or reasonably close to it...

    Good luck, and Work Safe

    Gooserider
  20. Singed Eyebrows

    Singed Eyebrows New Member

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    You want a full chisel chain like Windsor 50AL, no safety links, no nothing except sharp pointed cutters. There is no risk if you are carefull, the saw must be to the side of your body! These are safer because you are not trying to push the saw through the wood, an aggresive chain like this is a pleasure to use. You will need a motorized grinder to keep it sharp. These used to be $350.00 & are less than $100.00 now. I cut a lot of wood on the ground with a Homelite 925 with a 36" bar & never 1 kickback. When you need to cut near the bar tip at times you should use the top of the bar. I personally found that the full chisel stayed sharper longer than the chipper chain. Once you use a good full chisel chain I doubt you will go back to anything else. The exception to this is the chipper chains I sharpened for the local power co. They had no choice because of OSHA & the ins. co.
  21. Bigg_Redd

    Bigg_Redd Minister of Fire

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    Chisel bits are great if you cut a lot of standing trees. 99% of the wood I cut is on the ground and has been yarded or machine piled and is therefore dirty. If I used a chisel bit I'd be filing/swapping chains more than actually cutting. Dirty wood - round bit. Clean wood - chisel bit.

    The end.
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