1. Welcome Hearth.com Guests and Visitors - Please enjoy our forums!
    Hearth.com GOLD Sponsors who help bring the site content to you:
    Hearthstone Soapstone and Cast-Iron stoves( Wood, Gas or Pellet Stoves and Inserts)
    Caluwe - Passion for Fire and Water ( Pellet and Wood Hydronic and Space Heating)

Choosing a Saw - What's important?

Post in 'The Gear' started by cgeiger, Jan 28, 2009.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. cgeiger

    cgeiger New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2008
    Messages:
    121
    Loc:
    Northwestern VA
    ok. So I've been trolling the posts on huskies versus stihl versus dolmar, homelite, etc., etc., etc. I'm not too worried about brand at this point other than serviceability and glaring quality problems (none I know of in the above list of manufacturers).

    That being said, I'm not sure exactly how much power I need, how much bar, and what "guage" I should go for.

    Since I know you'll ask...

    I'm reasonably familiar with chainsaw operation from a couple of years of cutting but can always use more training. I'm a firm believer in PPE and safe cutting methods and I know enough to know that I don't want more saw than I could handle. I have exclusively cut deadfall up till now and until I deplete what's available (in about 10 years) I don't plan to tackle too many standing dead trees (no leaners or risky trees either). Most of my stuff is around 16" or less, especially if clearing junk trees to help the healthy, native stuff. However, I do find occasional downed trees that are 24" inches around at the base, so hacking off the stump requires a lot of moving around to get the bar through.

    Up to this point, I've used my dad's Poulon Pro (yuck) with an 18" bar (prolly too much for it) and it takes me forever to cut up a cord. I used to think it was just hardwood but after reading up on here and arboristsite I now believe that saw hasn't been cared for properly when I'm not using it (and no, I haven't stripped it...yet - plan to this weekend). So I'd like to upgrade to something that will let me cut up around 10 cord per year for personal use, in quick fashion. To put it in perspective, it took me around 4 hours to cut up a cord last year :shut: Please help me find something stronger/better.

    Any and all advice is welcome!

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2008
    Messages:
    15,969
    Loc:
    Anderson, Indiana
    stihl farm boss or dolmar 5100!
  3. trek5900

    trek5900 New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2008
    Messages:
    4
    Stihl MS361. That will cut 10 cords in quick order for you. It will handle up to a 25 inch bar. It is considered a professional grade saw. It has a compression release button to help you start it. You will pay extra for it but it should last you many years.
    I don't think you would be disappointed.
  4. kevin j

    kevin j Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2008
    Messages:
    550
    Loc:
    minnesota us
    you'll open a rats nest there...

    how much money?

    16-18 trees, light nimble saw would be my choice. sure, the 60-70 cc class is fast, but me, I'd go Stihl 026/260, Domar 5100, or husky 346 latest versions. I cut for years with the 026 as the biggest saw, still my go to saw. I have a 280 also, the 026 is better for me in that size.

    FarmBoss 290 is pretty common though and decent value for the money. Just a bit porky for me.
    Echos are good value.
  5. savageactor7

    savageactor7 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2008
    Messages:
    3,700
    Loc:
    CNY
    Folks that ask me personally I recommend a pro grade saw from a dealer either husky or stihl ...stay away from the BB stores.
  6. Spikem

    Spikem Member

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2008
    Messages:
    248
    Loc:
    Middleboro, MA, USA
    I have this same saw and it's superb.

    It will set you back over $600, however.

    I have a 20" blade on mine and it's plenty enough for what I anticipate needing it for.
  7. rphurley

    rphurley Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2008
    Messages:
    435
    Loc:
    Central/Eastern CT
    And of course always having a sharp chain is essential.
  8. Sealcove

    Sealcove Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2008
    Messages:
    212
    Loc:
    MDI - Maine
    I agree 100% with the comments above; if you can afford a pro-grade saw it will be well worth the additional cost, and in the pro-grade range both Stihl & Husqvarna are excellent. Dolmar have also gotten quite good, but they don't have the dealer network in most areas. Also size the saw appropriately both in terms of power and bar length. Run the shortest bar that can handle the majority of your cutting (for most people that is a 16-20" bar). You do not need a huge power head for cutting firewood. Something in the 50-60cc range should be the absolute top end, and most users will do fine with something a little smaller.

    It sounds like you have the right attitude towards PPE and training. Take advantage of recurrent training of opportunities are available (this is coming from a professional user).
  9. Wet1

    Wet1 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2008
    Messages:
    2,528
    Loc:
    USA
    Dolmar 7900 with a 20" or 24" bar... Under $650, pro grade, can work as your only saw, is light (about the best power to weight ratio in the game), will cut anything you find in VA in short order, can handle up to a 36" bar with skip tooth chain, and will lay a smackdown on everything listed above. No need to look any further. :coolsmile:

    Best bang for your buck... Makita 6401. You can find them new/refurbished on ebay for under $350 and can be upgraded with a P&C;change to the 7900 for about another $200.
  10. Sealcove

    Sealcove Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2008
    Messages:
    212
    Loc:
    MDI - Maine
    I would strongly recommend against an 80cc saw for the average user cutting their own firewood. Even most professional loggers and arborists do not normally run saws that large unless they primarily work with big timber.
  11. kevin j

    kevin j Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2008
    Messages:
    550
    Loc:
    minnesota us
    ditto. I think 79 is too big for a one saw plan. The 6401 is a great value, but same weight as the 79 since it is on the same chassis.
    60-65 cc is great as an only saw, thus the 6401 is great too, but in almost all cutting I think they are too big.
    In anything up to about 16 inches I use the 026 or 280. slower cutting but faster manuevering. Only above 12 or 16 inches does the 7900 pull ahead. I really only use the 7900 above 20 inch trees and those are pretty rare in my area.
    I would not want to limb and buck most of what I do with the dolmar, but dang it sure is a fun saw in big wood with 24 bar.
  12. jeff6443

    jeff6443 New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2008
    Messages:
    139
    Loc:
    NJ South
    I have an echo cs 440 I ve been uesing it since 06 . I take care of my stuff . Never lend it out . anal about chain, bar , bar sprocket replacement . I run the oil at the factory setting.
    an wash n wax before i put it away . So far it works . I cut oak and silver maple (i think ) free from Al My wood guy . Went there sunday to get some dry stuff He said have a beer with me . 3 hours I left
    no wood . lol . oh my brother has a husky ranch whatever he beats his stuff ,my saw 4 pulls she idels , he has to work to start it and mine cuts better .MAINTENCE
  13. Bigg_Redd

    Bigg_Redd Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2008
    Messages:
    3,644
    Loc:
    Shelton, WA
    Really? To me a Homelite is a 2nd rate Poulan.

    For quality/performance/reliability you need to throw Echo in there too.
  14. Wet1

    Wet1 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2008
    Messages:
    2,528
    Loc:
    USA
    What should average users use, a 50cc saw? I suspect the OP will be quite unhappy with a little saw in no time.

    I have dozens of saws, from little guys all the way up to the biggest saws made and I find I very rarely use the little ones for anything. In fact, I use my 192 or 200 for most of my small limbing (under 5" or so) and use either my 064 or 7900 for just about everything else since they have tons of power and an excellent power to weight ratio. Yes my 036/361 will cut the under 12" stuff just about as fast, but the 064/7900 only weighs a pound or two more and will cut through everything I generally have to cut... plus do it faster.

    I understand not suggesting a 80cc saw for a first saw, but this guy has been cutting for a couple of years now, so he knows how to use a saw. He already has (or has access to) a small saw and wants something substantially faster. What's the point of getting another little saw??? Sure a new little 260/346/5100 would be nice, but they are only a little more saw than what he already has. If he buys a 260 today and continues to cut for any period of time, it wont be long at all before he wants a real saw that will cut up a cord of respectable sized wood in no time. I wouldn't recommend anything smaller than a 361, and at that, the 7900 is only a hair heavier, has way more power on tap, and can be had for almost the same money. I just hate to see someone buy an expensive saw and find that it's not not enough saw for them and end up buying yet another one (which they should have bought in the first place). Go look on AS, most guys are continually buying bigger saws... save yourself from wasting money on all the baby steps and get yourself a nice small saw (260/346/5100) and a nice larger saw, such as the 7900 and basically all your needs are covered. Since you already have access to a little saw, I'd get the big one first and then consider a better small saw later.

    Just my two cents.
  15. drdoct

    drdoct Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2008
    Messages:
    431
    Loc:
    Griffin, GA
    I found my ms310 stihl with a 20" bar for $175 or so used. It's a heavy bulky saw for a 20" bar, but I have no complaints to it's power. I'm not felling yet, but cut green and years old White/Red Oak trunks up to about 35" in diameter with absolutely no problem. That's using the yellow stihl chain. As long as I keep my wedges in it will cut full bar all the time. I know it's not a pro saw, but it works great for the money I spent and my firewood production. I'll go ahead and make the comment you always see on every chainsaw board.... ALL THE COOL KIDS ARE GETTING DOLMARS!
  16. KarlP

    KarlP Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    485
    Other than parts being available in the future, brand isn't necessarily important. For firewood cutting I'd need ...

    1) If its full of gas and not under water, it better start in no more than five pulls.

    2) It should put/leave enough oil on the bar.

    3) The air filter should stay clean or clean up easily.

    4) It should be light enough to use for a couple hours without tiring out my arms/shoulders. (Moving all the wood should do that, not cutting it.)

    5) A good local dealer that stocks parts or a brand I can get parts in a reasonable amount of time via mailorder.


    I'd like ...

    1) 50-75cc

    2) Magnesium crank case

    3) Decompression valve

    4) Rim drive sprocket


    Whatever saw you get you want sharp chain without bumper links. IMO, low kickback teeth/depth gauges are great for limbing and bucking. Large bumper links slow cutting dramatically so if speed is a factor avoid these. For ripping or bore cutting you really need the "extra dangerous" teeth. Don't forget to file your depth gauges down as you file the teeth back.
  17. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2008
    Messages:
    15,969
    Loc:
    Anderson, Indiana
    I think we all just need to get together and race!
  18. WOODBUTCHER

    WOODBUTCHER Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2006
    Messages:
    935
    Loc:
    Pomfret, CT
    BlueRidge,
    Whats your budget? I've had my share of Pull-on's and Craftsman. I cut about 8-10 cord a year of grapple loads. Mostly 10-18" diameter.
    Dolmar, STIHL and Husky all make fine saws.

    My choice was made by budget (under $400.00)
    Dealer availability (6 miles )
    Something close to 4 horsepower but lightweight
    Pro-grade
    18" bar 3/8 chain

    That said, my 5100s cuts multiple circles around my 42cc craftsman (not that a STHIL or Husky can't)
    Check it out cutting green white oak

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NmKWhsg6UkU

    5100s
    3.1 ci.-50.7 cc
    14,500 rpm
    3.9hp
    11.2 lb. powerhead
  19. Sealcove

    Sealcove Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2008
    Messages:
    212
    Loc:
    MDI - Maine
    50-60cc is not a little saw. 80cc is a very large saw. Outside of some western states, professional loggers and arborists typically run saws in the 50-70cc range. I work with half dozen master loggers in Maine, and all run stuff in the 55-65cc range for 90% of their cutting. I don't think I have ever seen a professional logger in Maine running anything larger than 70cc, at least not commonly. Unless you have need to run a large bar, there is simply no advantage to running an over sized power head. If you run a saw every day 2 pounds is a lot of weight, and the difference in wet weight is usually even more given the larger fuel tank and oil reservoir.

    Cut with what you like; I am just sharing what is normal in the professional world. An 80cc saw is overkill for home firewood cutting.
  20. KarlP

    KarlP Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    485
    Unless you are heating your home and your parents home with three ~34" trees a year. ;-)
  21. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2008
    Messages:
    15,969
    Loc:
    Anderson, Indiana
    nice video woodbutcher thats getting it done quick!
  22. cgeiger

    cgeiger New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2008
    Messages:
    121
    Loc:
    Northwestern VA
    Master of Fire wrote:
    Working my way through the great responses! Thanks! Wrt to a little saw, somewhat experienced, want bigger saw - yes! I'd like to relegate the Poulon for limbing/rescue and have a much bigger saw for bucking/felling. With regard to price/performance - I'm willing to spend the money now to:

    1. Save me time (most valuable commodity)
    2. Get enough saw so I won't spend even more money just buying a bigger saw later.

    As for the better, smaller saw later - yes there as well. My most pressing need is to greatly speed up the processing time (safely) to get the wood out of the woods and in my backyard for processing.
  23. cgeiger

    cgeiger New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2008
    Messages:
    121
    Loc:
    Northwestern VA
    Budget is relative - I'm willing to pay what it takes to do it right. Since I believe in proper use and maintenance (though I still have much to learn in the latter) I figure the extra investment will pay itself back in fewer replacement parts, better performance and, ultimately, faster/easier (read - less fatigue, time) performance.
  24. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2008
    Messages:
    15,969
    Loc:
    Anderson, Indiana
    "Most of my stuff is around 16” or less, especially if clearing junk trees to help the healthy, native stuff. However, I do find occasional downed trees that are 24” inches around at the base"
    dolmar 5100 stihl farm boss or stihl 260 pro if your looking to speed things up. 50 cc saw should do what your looking for ( there are many more good 50 cc saw out there)
  25. WOODBUTCHER

    WOODBUTCHER Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2006
    Messages:
    935
    Loc:
    Pomfret, CT
    I'd look at the STIHL MS361

    59cc 4.4 horsepower 12.3 lbs....it will set you back $600.00 (since you said budget is not a problem) ......Don't know what Husky has to match.....

    WB
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page