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best chain saw for 250.00

Post in 'The Gear' started by JAred, Nov 20, 2005.

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  1. JAred

    JAred New Member

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    I'm looking to replace my little 16'' homelite I found in my dads shed with somthing bigger and better. whats a good saw for about 250 Bucks?

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  2. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    That's kind of the borderline price for a decent saw. Tack $100 on to that total and you're in the ballpark. You best bet is to go to a saw dealer and see what they recommend for the kind of cutting you want to do. If it turns out you want a bigger saw than you have cash for, consider getting a good used one. If you go to Home Depot or Lowe's or some such, you're not going to get a very good saw (regardless of the brand name on it), and no place to take it if it needs service. Even with a good used saw, the dealer who sold it to you will provide good service and support, and might even take the Homelite in on trade. But don't get your hopes up on that.
  3. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Yep, the extra money spent on a top quality Stihl or Husky is money in the bank over the long haul. It will pay off in dependibility, longevity, safety, lower vibration, easy starting, etc. I've never regretted buying a top quality tool, it starts paying back right away. My bias is towards Stihl, but that's mostly because I've had such good luck with them. Currently I have a Stihl 041 and a Stihl FS185 Weedwacker (also awesome).
  4. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Recent experience causes me to take exception to the idea that at least one name brand at the big box stores isn't the same as the ones at the dealer. That would be Husqvarna. When I decided to buy a new garden tractor I wanted a Husky. Doing the research I discover that Husky, Sears and Poulan tractors are all made by AYP. Not being able to think about ever going into a Sears store again, I headed down to my local Husky dealer. I wanted a gear drive tractor, won't ever own a hydro, and he didn't have any. He advised that I go to Lowes who stocks them. I asked him if buying one at Lowes meant that if it broke it would rust away on the back of his lot waiting to get fixed. He laughed and said "Nope, warranty work pays the same if you bought here or there. Don't worry about buying it there. We work on their stuff all the time.".

    I then walked over and picked up a 359 chainsaw and asked him if it was the same saw I saw at Lowes a couple of weeks earlier. His answer "Yep".

    BTW Eric, I am still swooning over that woodpile of yours. WOW!
  5. bruce

    bruce Member

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    did you ever see a husky with a briggs motor? you get what you pay for!
    ever see a jhon deer with a briggs?
    thats what dealers are for QUAILITY!!


    saw choice is the husky 350e
    i paid 275 at a dealer with 4 chains gallon of oil, 4 pack of mix and a full carry case for only 20$ more
    do that at h-d or lowes
  6. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Now that you ask, my Husky tractor has a Briggs V-Twin motor.
  7. bruce

    bruce Member

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    look at a dealer for a husky tractor! no briggs
  8. KarlP

    KarlP Feeling the Heat

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    http://www.southwestfastener.com/productsHusqChainsaw.htm

    Look at the Husqvarna 350 with 18" bar for $287. If you consider an extra chain, safety glasses and two bottles of 2-stroke oil worth ~$40 you're in luck. :)

    If you can swing it, look at the 18" 353 for $336. Its got a magnesium crank case (instead of plastic), quick release top cover for easy access to the air filter, better porting, more displacement, and runs at a higher RPM.
  9. Dozerjim

    Dozerjim New Member

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    since we all cant or dont want to spend the money for a top quality saw I have had very good luck with the ECHO brand. I own a contracting business and dont want to buy top quality because it dosent get properly cared for. I also dont want junk aka homelite so i find the ECHO to be a very powerful good quality saw for the money. I buy them at home depot and have no problem gettin them fixed at my local tool repair shop. Just my 2 cents.
  10. pinefarm

    pinefarm New Member

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    Spend the extra and get a top saw. Buy it from a dealer. When you do, he will take his tach and set the rpm just right. If you just take one out of a box, you have no way of knowing if it is adjusted right or not. You could run on low revs forever. You should have the dealer check the settings every month or so. It makes a big difference in performance and efficiency. Dave
  11. DavidV

    DavidV New Member

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    I'm gonna take a different tak on this one. I have a 14 inch poulan which has served me well. I am holding out on my next saw for a Husky or Stihl. I have however looked at the poulan pro 290 at the Lowes. I read some reviews in popular mechanics a couple years ago that put it at the bottom of 7 saws reviewed but based on my own experience, I wouldn't have too much trouble buying one.
    What size wood will you be cutting, how often? how much wood each year?
  12. drizler

    drizler Minister of Fire

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    I have a Husky 141 and wouldn't brag about it. The other one I had sucked a mount nut and blew the engine, a problem Husky seemed to know about and gave me a new one under warranty. It still starts like crap and doesn't have a primer like even the cheapies have. Those new auto-dump chokes are an environut's dream but make starting absolutely miserable. I would love to use it on the neck of the senseless bureaucrat that dreamed that Rube Goldburg monstrosity up. They are damned hard to disconnect too and seem festooned on nearly all new small engines. Thats a big negative IMHO for buying any saw brand new. Overall I would recommend even an older Stihl as they tend to keep on tickin. I know a lot of guys with 20 + year old Stihls that love them They just keep changing out parts and rebuilding the bars and engines. There is not much improvement in saws in recent years except for that lovely choke to swear at. Apologies for the mini rant but I just hate it when bureaucrats take a perfectly functional device and ruin it.
  13. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    One thing you can't live without (literally) with a saw, whether new or used, is an internal, inertial chain brake. It automatically engages and stops the chain in the event of kickback. All new saws have them, but they're not as common on older models. Make sure yours has one, and that it works.
  14. saichele

    saichele Minister of Fire

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    You can't beat stihl for routine use, but I'd cast a second vote for echos. I have a beat up little Echo limb saw (great if you're climbing) I bought used 6 yrs ago, use it a couple days a year, and it runs like a champ. Starts every time.

    I had really good luck with a Sachs Dolmar, until by brother ran 4 cycle gas through it. Doh.

    Steve
  15. amctfc

    amctfc New Member

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    I've got a Stihl 025 with an 18 inch bar that I've just beat the crap out of for four years running. No mistreatment (well, except for the hickory that dropped on it), just honest hard use. I can't complain. It starts as good as the day I got it, cuts trees, only tried to bite me once. It's a little underpowered (I'm in the Northeast, the trees are smaller here), but it also weighs about 1/3 of the damn Mac I dragged around the woods 20 years ago.

    In short, I'm really satisfied with the Stihl level of quality. It's worth every penny, and frankly, it wasn't that much more. I'd splurge and Stihl it up, were I you.
  16. carpniels

    carpniels Minister of Fire

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    HI,

    I think 250 is not enough money.

    Let me tell you my story.

    My first saw was a brand new Craftsman 18" for $150 including case and oil. I used it for two years. What a mistake. At the time I thought I was doing OK, but when I got into the 18" black cherries, it took 5 minutes for 1 cut. I decided to upgrade and after much research, I settled on a Husky 359 with 18" bar. I bought it used for 300 on ebay. What a difference. The saw was in perfect condition (actually, the local logging supplier I showed it to couldn't believe it was used, that is how good it looked) and I bought a few chains and the like. That same 18" black cherry cut now takes 10 seconds.

    I have saved myself dozen of hours of not cutting by getting a better, stronger saw with a more aggressive chain (72V). I wish I had know this before I bought the craftsman.

    The best feature is (apart from the fast cutting) the lack of vibration in my hands. The craftsman used to make my hands shake after a few hours. The husky is a godsend with the vibration dampeners.

    My 2 cents. I hope this helps in your decision. Learn from my mistake.

    Carpniels
  17. wg_bent

    wg_bent Minister of Fire

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    I have a Husky 136 (which I understand may actually be made by Poulan), but regardless, It used to take a long time to cut also, until I purched a replacement chain. Not the thing rips through wood like crazy. It does not vibrate at all as I remember my fathers Homelite (not a Homelite slam here...that saw is 30 years old) did.

    My only complaint is that the if I move the saw around at idle quickly or sit it down for more than 30 seconds, it stalls.
    I suspect it's a safety "feature" on the consumer grade saws. Otherwise the saw seems to work just fine. (point of note here...One does have to learn the trick to getting it started when it's cold)

    I think my saw is marginal on power, new chain or not. It has a 2.2 cu in engine. I'd look at the Husky's more professional line (with the little hooks to dig the log) for a bit more power than mine has.

    One little thing here, and I'm not sure what to make of it...The local power equipment dealer I bought my Husky from just stopped carrying Husky. Their claim: "Husky is not a company we care to deal with anymore"

    They previously carried Stihl and Husky, but now exclusively carry Stihl.
  18. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Stalling out when idling is not a safety feature, Warren. It's probably something that can be adjusted by the dealer. It shouldn't do that.

    The first thing I always do when I get a new saw is take the "log spikes" off. They do more harm than good because they allow you to over-lever the saw, which will eventually wear out the bar and chain before their time. Properly-sharpened chains and bars in good condition will draw the bar through the wood just fine. They put them on saws because few people are very good at chain sharpening, but it's a skill worth acquiring.

    The best way to start a cold saw (sometimes the only way) is to 1.) turn the ignition on, 2.) pull the choke out full, 3.) engage the throttle lock (sometimes the choke and the throttle lock are designed to engage at the same time or with the same lever), and then pull until it fires. Then close the choke and disengage the throttle lock and pull again. Some people leave the throttle lock on until it fires up. Should start, either way. If you mistakenly flood the engine, turn the choke off, hold the throttle trigger on full, and pull until it starts.

    Obviously, there are safety issues involved in starting saws, especially when you are locking the throttle on or holding the trigger all the way down. Read your owner's manual, or some other good reference, about the safe ways to start a saw. There's more than one.
  19. wg_bent

    wg_bent Minister of Fire

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    o.k. time to get it looked at.

    I wasn't trying to make any particular statements on the log spikes...just that the better Husky's seem to have em.

    Actually I don't seem to need them especially with this new chain on my saw. Any pressure in excess of the saw's own weight will stall the chain.

    If given a light touch it rips through the wood nicely.
  20. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    They can take the bucking spikes off that big yellow sucker in my aviatar when they wrench the saw from my cold dead hands.
  21. wg_bent

    wg_bent Minister of Fire

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    :cheese: :cheese: :cheese: :cheese:
  22. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Eric are the inertial chain brakes pretty reliable mechanically? I have never had a saw with anything but the manual "Hope that bumping the forearm thing works!" chain brakes.
  23. bruce56bb

    bruce56bb New Member

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    i'm unfamilar with these intertial chain brakes. does a husky 51 have them and how do they work?
  24. gumbydammit

    gumbydammit New Member

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    I cut and sold cordwood for 12 years full time and have had a ton of saws. My favorite at the time (18 years ago when I stopped doing it) was a slightly modified Husky.

    After a long break in a "warmer" climate, I returned to the land of cold winters this year. I needed a saw to feed the Huntsman in my greatroom.
    I went looking for a Husky, but the lower end models looked much like the cheapy saws quite frankly.

    A call to a friend in Maine with the same question the thread starter asked here, produced this saw as a suggestion:
    Sears item #07135084000 Turns out, he runs several of them with his crew and has yet to run into issues. When they get dropped from a bucket, these break just like the big dollar saws.
    Yep, a Craftsman.
    But after getting it for 179.00 on sale, I cannot complain a bit.
    PLENTY of guts and when put against the 500.00 husky at the equipment store...it did not win...The Husky did...but not by as much as one might think.
    The 40cc motor saw is a joke to use, but the one I got with the 55cc motor is decent.
    I think that is what the guy starting this thread asked for. A decent saw for 250.00.
    Is it a Husky? Nope. Will it do a good job on the wood for the average homeowner? Yep.
    I certainly have no complaints. Sears is pretty good about parts too...and honestly, if the thing dies, no big loss. I can remember spending more on my Husky every year than this saw cost me actually.

    Snap-On tools are awesome if you wrench for a living. Joe homeowner does just fine with Craftsman though.
    I feel the same way about this saw. So far, it has made my new house nice and warm, started perfectly and not misbehaved in any way.
    If you are stuck at the 250 mark, this saw will do the job for a homeowner.
    I like mine and so do a few buddies in Maine.
  25. carpniels

    carpniels Minister of Fire

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    Hi Gumbydammit,

    Interesting post. I guess I have to make a comment about my Craftsman to put things in perpective. My Craftsman was a 36 or 38 CC saw and had the skinny chain. It just did not have the power and aggressiveness as the Husky 359 has. These two major differences (size of motor and chain design) made all the difference.

    In the end, I guess you are right. It comes down to what you need it for. For my large trees, the Husky does the job really well and fast. The Craftsman is good for small (12" and less) trees and trimming.

    Thanks for your post. Hope my comments help.

    Carpniels
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