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Need a chainsaw? Clueless.

Post in 'The Gear' started by jkranes, May 13, 2013.

  1. jkranes

    jkranes Member

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    I'm new to wood burning and have never operated a chainsaw in my life. I live on a small suburban lot and don't plan on felling any trees or getting into wood scrounging, as I don't own a truck. I plan on burning only about a cord a year. But the cord I had delivered last weekend (CL ad), despite being advertised as 14-16" length, was more like 17-19". And my tiny insert won't take anything over 17" (as in, 17 1/4 will not fit). So I'm guessing the only solution is a chainsaw. But I don't know where to start (length, brand, etc.) (And no, I don't know a single person who owns a chainsaw and could lend it to me). We have a local power equipment store where I have bought my weed trimmer, mower, snow blower etc and they are a Stihl dealer. The other option would be to rent a saw once or twice a year: I can get a 16" saw (brand unknown) at $50/day from the local tool rental place. Presumably I need to buy the safety gear in any case as the tool rental place doesn't provide it.

    Thanks for any advice.

    Jon

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  2. swagler85

    swagler85 Minister of Fire

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    For simply trimming splits I would buy a used craftsman or similar saw off craigslist. I have bought and sold a few of these in the last few years. A 30-40cc saw with 16" bar will do what you want. Should be able to pick one up for around $50 on CL. I used an older craftsman for a few years before buying a bigger saw, it did everything I needed it to do.
  3. NH_Wood

    NH_Wood Minister of Fire

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    If you decided on a saw for this job, I'd go super cheap for the amount of work you plan to do with it - e.g. Walmart sells a cheap Poulan Wildthing for under $100. Not a ton of fun to use, but it will get the job done and not cost a lot. Take care of your cutting and then run the saw completely dry - air out the gas tank, etc. - super low use power equipment (once or twice a year) needs to be stored well. You can search for several setups for holding the splits as you cut to length. If the future, I'd specify your length to the seller and refuse if too long - in your case, this is a PITA - you are paying good money - with an early order, you should get your length. Cheers!
  4. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

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    Chop saw maybe the way to go.
    gmule, Coal Reaper, Jack Fate and 3 others like this.
  5. blujacket

    blujacket Minister of Fire

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    I had never used a chain saw before I joined this site and became a cord hoarder. I bought a Husky 435 from Lowes as my 1st saw. I scrounge all my wood and it has done what I have needed to get done. I am however looking into something bigger now that I am comfortable with using one. Probably a 20" bar saw from Stihl or Husqvarna for the monster pieces I have to noodle. Just got a monster Honey Locust this past week that laughed at my little 16" when I had to noodle the 3' trunk. It did the job but was a little slow and ate my chains up.

    I second smokinj on a chop saw too. I bought a cheap 12" compound miter from Harbor Freight that I use to shorten splits when needed.
  6. jkranes

    jkranes Member

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    I am planning on building some sort of stand out of 2x4s that will hold a bunch of splits to be cut all once, using the 2x4s as guides for the saw. I was assuming I could make it about 4 feet high, but how wide? Presumably this is related to the saw length but I'm not sure exactly how.

    Regarding the idea of refusing the wood if too long: this is kind of a dilemma. I paid $200 for a cord which is a good price around here (I've been watching ads for a while and have called a lot of people). Nearly all wood around here (Boston area) seems to be cut 16-18 (or that's what they call it). A couple people offered to do a 'custom' job for $500/cord. So I think buying wood that's too long and cutting it down myself may just be what I'm stuck with.

    And I think that cutting down the better part of a cord one split at a time with a chop saw would be a bit too tedious.
  7. BrianK

    BrianK Guest

    I cut and split my wood on the lot behind my office so I keep all my equipment there. If one slips through that is too long, I have an electric chainsaw at home I can use to shorten it.
  8. bigbarf48

    bigbarf48 Minister of Fire

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    I second the chop saw idea. For as little as you need to use it a it'll be a big hassle to make sure a chainsaw is stored properly and the carb doesn't gum up.

    If you want to go the chainsaw route get an electric one. Quiet, easy to store, no maintenance, and they'll work everytime you need one. Plus they're cheap on CL, even new ones are cheap if you want to go that route
    Thistle and BrianK like this.
  9. blades

    blades Minister of Fire

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    2 nd on the electric,
  10. jkranes

    jkranes Member

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    Electric seems feasible, as I'll be doing all this work within an extension cord's length from my home. But could I expect it to slice though a 4 foot high stack of splits set up in rack? Or would it really be for just cutting one or two splits at a time? I was originally thinking I would try to cut everything down before I stack it, so I'd have one day a year when I was using the chainsaw a lot and then not touch it for another year. But the other option would be to deal with the long pieces in smaller batches (I'll be bringing wood from the backyard racks up to a smaller 4' wide rack on the porch which I refill throughout the season, so could plan on doing it then).

    Also, do I need the full set of protective gear for using an electric chainsaw? Or would safety goggles and gloves suffice?
  11. WellSeasoned

    WellSeasoned Guest

    I've seen some city slickers on here go from a fiat to a dodge ram and a pair of pruning shears to a 372xp and buy a couple hundred acres of woodland, just to feed their stove. I guarantee 2 years from now you'll have an 8"beard filled with woodchips and noodles.
  12. fossil

    fossil Accidental Moderator Staff Member

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    smokinj likes this.
  13. Sean McGillicuddy

    Sean McGillicuddy Burning Hunk

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    Ya once you jump in you could be in for a lot of hurt!
    Never enough saws/wood etc...;lol Just ask how most started.
    pyroholic and ScotO like this.
  14. fossil

    fossil Accidental Moderator Staff Member

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    Chainsaws are wonderful tools...but if all you're needing to do is shorten some splits, consider everything that comes along with a chainsaw:

    Saw, Personal Protective Equipment, gas, 2 kinds of oil, chain sharpening, noise, then figuring out how you're gonna safely take an inch or two off those splits. Lots of folks do it, I do it occasionally, but I really think in your situation I'd opt out of the chainsaw and go with a simpler, easier, cheaper, quieter, less equipment-intensive solution like a compound miter saw. Rick
    WellSeasoned and smokinj like this.
  15. jkranes

    jkranes Member

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    So let's say it's between an electric chainsaw and a chop saw. Cost about the same. Originally I had in my head that I'd be able to use a chainsaw to cut a batch of splits all at once like in this video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=7rxVn6ap0QI&feature=endscreen). With an electric chainsaw is that possible? If I'm going to be cutting splits one at a time then the chop saw seems like the right tool. I would just need to adjust my workflow so I deal with overlong splits throughout the season rather than my previous assumption which was that I'd handle them all at once before stacking my annual cord.
  16. fossil

    fossil Accidental Moderator Staff Member

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    Yeah, lots of folks here have constructed variants of that kind of rack for the purpose. Generally folks who already have all the chainsaw gear that they primarily use for other purposes.
  17. bigbarf48

    bigbarf48 Minister of Fire

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    An electric saw is certainly capable of doing what you need. I had just a little electric Remington for a long time and cut some pretty sizable wood with it. A quality electric saw would be the best option here I think ESPECIALLY if you only wanna use it once a year. No gas, oil, fuel stabilizer, etc. Chaps won't stop an electric saw anyways so no need. Just be very careful using it. Just cause it's quieter doesn't make it safer
  18. Bigfoot

    Bigfoot Member

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    I went to boston to look for a chop saw for you (CL), looked at dewalt or craftsman, couldn't find anything to post but that's what I use for trimming.
    A 10" or maybe a 12" chop saw. Sorry, I didn't read every reply but with a chop saw you can use your left hand to hold the wood in place & simply use the right hand to cut with. I'd buy new, even ryobi for less then 100 bucks........Good luck -Mike

    Ps, electric chain saws can be dangerous, use a cheap blade on a chop saw with something like 24teeth. Watch your fingers, wear ear protection & save the cut offs. It'll go fast.
    Ryobi is cheap but good, delta is like craftsman quality wise & dewalt IMO is great. If you don't like the chop saw remember it is returnable before 30 days with the receipt.
  19. lukem

    lukem Minister of Fire

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    Cutting green wood with a miter saw isn't fantastic. It works, but once the blade gets hot the water/sap start to gum up and make a mess. If the wood is dry I'd saw miter saw all the way....smaller kerf, less waste/sawdust, no sharpening, etc.
    HDRock and ScotO like this.
  20. Danno77

    Danno77 Minister of Fire

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    Another vote for an electric chainsaw. No worries with keeping the engine in working order, it can be pulled off the shelf and run one year after setting it there. No worries of bad gas.

    As far as safety clothing, most chaps, etc do not work with electric chainsaws because they aren't clutch driven and have a lot of torque. Get some steel toed boots because you'll feel cooler, definitely some eye protection, a face shield would be nice.

    if you get a nice stand made, then there is no reason you couldn't just load it up cut straight from the top to the bottom, unload and repeat all day long with an electric chainsaw

    Make sure you get one that has an AUTO chain oiler. I think most do these days, but my tiny Remington is a thumb pump oiler and that thing stinks for any large amount of work.
  21. jkranes

    jkranes Member

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    If I go the mitre saw route then I think the plan would be to deal with the long splits as I go during the burning season, after the wood is dry.

    I guess the big unknown is the percent of long splits in each cord. The one I just bought (for the '15/'16 season) was especially bad, probably over 50% will need to be cut down. The '13/'14 wood is pretty good, probably under 10% over 17". For '14/'15 it's all under 17" because it's from trees in my yard and I had the tree guys leave me the rounds which I made sure they cut to the right length.
  22. bogydave

    bogydave Minister of Fire

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    +1
    For trimming the ends, of less than a cord/year
    Quiet, no mixed gas to mess with, ease of use.
    Go electric
  23. MrWhoopee

    MrWhoopee Minister of Fire

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    My first saw was the Poulan Pro 18 in. electric. I did some seriously big cutting (24 in. oak) with it before I got my Rancher 61. Even did some modest falling (12-14 in. diameter) with it, dragging over 100 ft. of extension cord around my property. Some serious hp in those electrics. On the flip side, a friend destroyed the bearings in his new HF miter saw by jamming it while cutting limbs into lengths.

    +1 more electric chainsaw
  24. Don't listen to them. You need something like a 550xp or ms261. Both are great all around saws that are the minimum I would feel comfortable using for your proposed use.

    And in 10 years when the saw still looks like new and doesn't start I'll gladly pay you $50 to take it off your hands.


    :)
  25. Danno77

    Danno77 Minister of Fire

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    Did anybody say Poulan WildThing with Nitrous yet?

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