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)

Larger chainsaws costing less than smaller ones, same brand, why?

Post in 'The Gear' started by colsmith, Apr 10, 2007.

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

    colsmith New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2006
    Messages:
    323
    Loc:
    near Milwaukee, WI
    Hubby and I have finally been looking seriously at gas chainsaws online and at the nearest dealer. We were surprised to find that within the same brand the chainsaws are not necessarily priced according to size. For example, with Husqvarna, the 346xp was priced at $440 at the local hardware/tool store, and a much bigger one, the 460 or 480 or something like that, bigger engine, bigger bar, was $400. Hubby found similar pricing differentials online. I had assumed that the bigger the saw, the bigger the price. Why is this not so, at least with various Husqvarna models?

    I am guessing newer technology might play a part in this, and also special features. But still, adds another element of confusion to our decision making. We want something that can have at least an 18 inch bar, although would maybe use a 16 inch much of the time. Are leaning heavily to Husqvarna right now, just trying to narrow down the model. Hubby and I are both fast typing ex-computer professionals with hand problems, so low vibration is very important to us both. Although the darn gas chainsaws weigh so much I can't see myself using it at all, to tell the truth. I am fairly strong, but the carpal tunnel problems interfere with the whole clutching a vibrating object situation.

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. carpniels

    carpniels Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2005
    Messages:
    536
    Loc:
    Rome, NY, USA
    HI Marcia,

    The 346XP is a professional model and thus better built. The larger model you saw might have been a homeowner model and less durable parts are used and thus it is cheaper.

    I will be getting the 346xp this weekend. It is a good saw.

    Carpniels.

    PS. The carpal tunnel problem can be alleviated with different keyboards and mouses. I bought them for my wife (both at over $150 a piece) but they do wonders to alleviate the pain. It is a roller mouse and I forget the keyboards name.
  3. yukiginger

    yukiginger Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2005
    Messages:
    227
    Marcia, the dealer should be able to explain the difference. Professional level saws will have different parts inside, intended to last longer under similar conditions than "homeowner" models. Both Stihl and Husqvarna have different lines for different levels of users.

    MarkG
  4. zzr7ky

    zzr7ky Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2006
    Messages:
    1,052
    Hi -

    The Dolmar 5100 is as powerful as many heavier saws. You might want to compare the weight of the saws you are looking at. The Husqvarna 353 is more saw, more durable than the 346. Those are the 2 saws I shopped. I bought the Dolmar from Amick's. I'm very happy. Sawwing is just a small chore now.

    I'm cost conscious, however a good saw is a long term investment for most homeowners. You're just not going ot wear out a good commercial duty Hsuky, Stihl, or Dolmar. Heck most tree service guys report saws that they get rid of have been dropped, run over, or suffered other tragic accidents. So I didn't fret over the cost to much. Save the chain sharpening cost by learning to file the chain yourself.

    ATB,
    Mike P
  5. MrGriz

    MrGriz New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2006
    Messages:
    1,022
    Loc:
    Waterford, WI
    Hi Marcia,

    These guys nailed it. I am also currently looking for a bigger gas saw than the little Poulan I am currently using. It's really quite confusing. Not only do you need to look for the differences between homeowner and professional grade saws, the numbering doesn't always follow as logically as you would think. Comparing between different manufacturers is also a challenge.

    I would recommend buying a professional saw. You are planning on cutting a fair amount of wood each year and you want a saw that will last you quite a number of years. The pro models are made with higher quality parts and, in many cases, are easier and less costly to repair if something should fail. Many professional saws also weigh less than their homeowner counterparts and provide a better horsepower to weight ratio. I would also look for something that has a decompression valve to make starting the saw easier. This will be a good feature with your carpal tunnel trouble.

    I would also look for a local dealerthat you feel comfortable with and services what they sell.

    Husqvarna makes a very good saw but I would stay away from the 460. That is a homeowner model and does not get the best reviews from heavy users. The 359 may make a good alternative and the 346xp is also a good choice. Take a look at the Dolmar 5100s. That saw gets rave reviews from professional users and it's surprisingly low priced as compared to comprable Husqvarna and Stihl models. You should be able to pick up a 5100s with a 16" or 18" bar for under $400.00.

    You may also want to do some reading in the chainsaw threads on arboristsite.com. There is a lot of good information there regarding saws. Good luck and feel free to PM me, I'll share more of what I learned.
  6. babalu87

    babalu87 New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2005
    Messages:
    1,440
    Loc:
    middleborough, ma.
    Mine was hit by a falling tree, (hey it was the saw or me) still going strong. If you are using it for firewood get the pro model if you can afford the extra $$.
  7. computeruser

    computeruser Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2007
    Messages:
    339
    Loc:
    East Lansing, MI
    Different saws are built for different purposes and in contemplation of different frequencies and intensities of use, and these factors are often more of a consideration in design and cost/pricing of a particular model than engine size, physical bar handling ability, etc.

    The Husqvarna 455/460 that you mention are intended to compete with Stihl’s 290/310 in the occasional user market. These saws have plastic engine cradles into which a metal engine is inserted. This plastic cradle system increases weight and bulk, and makes servicing more difficult than with models intended for a professional customer. However, they are less expensive to manufacture and are plenty durable for their intended market. For the average home woodcutter, any of these saws would be more than capable of handling firewood duties for many, many years – they tend to be reliable and they just chug along and get the job done.

    The professional saws like the 346xp are distinguished by their unitized magnesium crankcase/oil tank assemblies with bolt-on cylinders. This design makes for easier servicing, less bulk (no plastic cradle to insert the engine into because the engine IS the saw), and a machine that is easier to rebuild (loosen four bolts, swap piston and cylinder, tighten bolts back down). These professional saws also often tend to be designed for a peakier powerband, resulting in higher peak horsepower but requiring a bit of finesse and a sharp chain to keep the saw in its powerband and working at peak efficiency. The Husqvarna 346 is notorious for this characteristic; the 353 has a slightly larger, slightly detuned cylinder on the same bottom end and crankcase, and it has a much more forgiving, wider powerband than its 346xp sibling, making it a better choice as an all-around chainsaw for many users.

    For most homeowners, it is more likely that they will kill the saw through neglect or non-use than from actually wearing the saw out from using it to cut wood. So the manufacturers offer the 455/460 and 290/310 type machines for the homeowner market, figuring that these saws will not likely be rebuilt but replaced when the time comes. Bear in mind that this does not mean that these machines are junk, because they are not. Junk would be the modern Homelite, McCulloch, Poulan, Sears Craftsman machines. These homeowner saws from reputable manufacturers are just a product designed for a particular market and they will meet that market’s needs very well.

    Also, I should add that one of the distinguishing features of the professional saws is the ABSENCE of “special features” like primer bulbs, E-Z chain adjustment gizmos, and start-assist “technologies.” The regular user doesn’t see these as advantages, but rather just one more unnecessary feature to have fail at an inopportune moment. I think this sentiment is properly applied to these “special features” for most users.

    So here’s the deal: if you are shopping by budget and are looking to spend about $400 on a saw capable of pulling a 16” to 18” bar in hardwood without being at all overtaxed by the task, and you want to buy a saw from Husqvarna, your choices would be as follows: tied for first place would be the 353 or 359 (lighter and more nimble versus bigger and more powerful, pick which attribute matters more to you), followed by the 346xp (powerful and light, but a very peaky powerband and a strong preference for short bars to reach its true performance potential), and then followed by the 460 (selling point: legitimately capable of pulling a 20” bar in hardwood) and lastly, the 455 (all-around uninspiring when compared to the others).

    Oh, one final point: when in doubt go with the SHORTER bar!
  8. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    5,705
    Loc:
    Central NYS
    That's an excellent post, cu. Somebody ought to sticky it, 'cause it basically covers a very common question around here.

    And I enthusiastically second your final point. Like my daddy always told me, "if your bar is never too short, it's always too long." As you might suspect, he runs 346xps with 13- and 16-inch bars.
  9. computeruser

    computeruser Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2007
    Messages:
    339
    Loc:
    East Lansing, MI
    Thanks.

    As for bar length, your quote is right on. I am consistently amazed when people try to use long bars on smaller powerheads. It may work, but I find it frustrating and tedious. I am a firm believer in a 3:1 cc:bar length (inches) ratio being the best choice for most uses. 4:1 is even better, assuming the powerhead isn't too heavy. By way of example, my 79cc Dolmar 7900 usually wears a 20" bar, my 50cc Stihl 026Pro wears a 16", and my newest saw, a new-old-stock 38cc Husqvarna 238se, wears a 13" with narrow kerf chain. These combinations provide for sufficient power so as to never have the engine overwhelmed by the bar being run on the saw, which I think makes me a more productive, safe, and efficient operator.

    In the case of the little Husqvarna 238, I find that it is a much more lively saw with the 13" bar than with the 16" that most people would set it up with. Even though I purchased this saw to be used as a high-RPM, limbing-only saw, I am still able to make an honest 13" of cut; as my pictures illustrate it is capable of cutting respectably-sized hardwood logs.

    Attached Files:

    • 1.jpg
      1.jpg
      File size:
      90.5 KB
      Views:
      581
    • 2.jpg
      2.jpg
      File size:
      114.4 KB
      Views:
      552
  10. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    Great advice here so far But I want to point out the 346 xp is a higher RPM saw I like my 357 xp tremendeous rpms a nd perfect match for an 18" bar and can pull a 20 " bar.
    If the 357 were not given to me my first choice was the dolmar 5100 again high RPMS that matches may even be better than the 357xp.

    Do not overlook the Dolmar saws the logging pros have used them for years I also own a Stihl Farm boss the rancher /fram boss is a grade above the common homeowner saw more
    rugged ,a saw the many fire wood home owners will get many years of service out of
  11. colsmith

    colsmith New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2006
    Messages:
    323
    Loc:
    near Milwaukee, WI
    Thank you all for your advice about gas chainsaws over the past few months. We read and pondered and researched and are now the owners of a Husqvarna 353. Will be cutting up an old apple tree tomorrow and checking it out.
  12. KarlP

    KarlP Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    485
    How the heck did you come to that conclusion???
  13. zzr7ky

    zzr7ky Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2006
    Messages:
    1,052
    KarlP -

    Sorry - my mistake - I was under the impression that Hsuky's 350 and under were plastic bodied... I know the 353, and 359 are metal. I liked the 353's power to wieght. Because of your comment I looked at the specs for the 346XP and is sure is impressive on paper. I should have researved comment of asked a question here. Thanks for raising the issue. The 346XP seems to have a lot going for it being lighter and having about the same HP.



    Marcia -

    I think you're going ot like the saw!


    All the best.
    Mike P
  14. twistedgrain

    twistedgrain New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2007
    Messages:
    4
    I have been using a stihl 029 super farm boss for ten years and it has performed flawlessly. I cut a lot of wood, and my only regret is going with the 20" bar instead of the 18" I believe was standard.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page