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Please help, about firewood & chainsaws???

Post in 'The Gear' started by Bigfoot, Apr 24, 2013.

  1. Bigfoot

    Bigfoot Member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2009
    Messages:
    65
    Loc:
    Hi Desert Southern California 3000' level
    Was about to get a new expensive chainsaw so I can get logs to make firewood. Closest place from my house to go & scrounge for wood is around the Big Bear area in the San Bernardino national forest in Southern California...25-40 MILES from my house. Spoke to the forest ranger yesterday & its $15 per cord of wood for a firewood permit. I need 1.5- 3 cords of wood per season.
    Saved up $$$ (sold junk) to get new saw or saws.Was going for the ms362 but have extra $$$ Total investment for the 70cc stihl ms 441 rcm m-tronic with 2 bars, chains, safety gear is about $1350. Still need a smaller 30-40cc saw. PLEASE NOTE I'm a finish carpenter I would also like to make rustic log furniture to sell & possibly learn how to carve with the saw...I like working on projects....I'm in my mid 30's & fit. I have a 1/2 ton long bed truck to get the wood, need a utility trailer. Because there are other firewood hunters in the area & large wood up there I think the bigger saw is nice plus I love the m-tronic carb set up.....It self adjusts for altitude which is nice since I will be going to 5000'+ I believe. Almost ordered saw yesterday from the dealer, I went there with cash in hand but only left with a print out.
    Today I brought up this subject with a few guys I know & they think I need to have my head examined. They said they did the whole big bear mountains firewood thing (20YEARS AGO) & it was a lot of work & time but mostly work. They said it was better to simply have a cord of wood delivered to the house for 250+ bucks. They POPPED my bubble so to speak. It got me thinking.
    We had a $600 electric bill this past January from heating (long story) It gets to be 14 degrees here at night during the winter months, 40 degrees sometimes for the highs here at my house (zone 10) Not bad compared to others but still COLD!!! Im far from rich or even well off, I make every dollar count, always have PLUS being a carpenter work is somewhat slow lately.
    So, does anybody have any thoughts on this. To recoup my initiaL saw purchase I figure with OUT the price of fuel it would take around 15 successful trips to the mountains to get full loads of wood (rounds) to bring back home, split & stack to season. fuel may be $40-$50 per trip. I hope to get trees that are already down, rangers mark the trees that can be cut down with paint & they will on a daily basis give people a heads up as to where they have been cutting down trees to help out. I know I can make furniture out of some of the wood for fun, for myself, friends & family plus I can sell stuff like that as well.
    I know I can get a ms362 but for 200 more the 441 is an awesome saw. I also know I can check craigslist for wood or even trees but does it make a lot of since to do all this, 300 for a cord of wood is a lot of money for just wood & 15 trips to the forest can be spread out over years & it may be fun however the guys from today(friends from way back) said to trust them & do not do it besides its dangerous! So I am backing off a bit, sorry for the long post BTW. any advice/thoughts would be great.
    Hope I posted in the right forum........-------Mike

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  2. Bigfoot

    Bigfoot Member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2009
    Messages:
    65
    Loc:
    Hi Desert Southern California 3000' level
    I may run up to the big bear area and scope it out this weekend to see what its like & whats available. I Just don't know if the investment is worth it or not.I would like to start a conversation. Thanks, MIke

    PS.. I will take pics of the trip for potential wood claims =)
  3. MrWhoopee

    MrWhoopee Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2011
    Messages:
    567
    Loc:
    Shingletown, Northern California (elev. 4000 ft.)
    Just a few thoughts:

    When it comes to wood, how big can you handle? I found that a 50-60cc saw with a 20 in. bar will cut wood bigger than I care to (or can physically) handle. Buying a smaller, used saw will cut your investment significantly.

    The distance you specificed would make me look for a more fuel efficient way to get there or a way to haul more wood per trip. A 1/2-ton truck will handle less than 1/2 cord of most softwood. Even less hardwood. Figure minimum 1800-2300 lbs./cord dry, much more wet/green. That makes your fuel cost close to $100/cord.

    The next alternative is to find a source closer to home.
  4. StihlHead

    StihlHead Guest

    I used to live in Sandy Eggo and in LA, and I have been to Big Bear and the mountains around LA and San Diego many times. As I recall up higher around BB Lake its mostly pine and scrub oak. Pine is not the best firewood, as it is light and has low heat value. I burn it though, but only as I have a lot of it on my property. I can get a wood scrounge permit here as well for $10 a cord from the forestry office, but the west side of the Cascades has been closed to wood gleaning (after they log out tracts) for the past 2 years because of limited logging operations and late season snow. Its a permit to hunt for wood, but you may or may not find any sites that have anything to cut. BLM also has wood permit areas here, and I have gotten permits from several logging companies to comb their slash piles for firewood. It is a good idea to go up and look around at what is available before you buy a saw.

    Now as for saws... The 441 M-tronic is a good saw, but it is a larger saw than you will likely ever need. Most of the pine trees up in the BB and San Bernadino Mountain area are pretty small diameter, 2 ft. DBH and under (DBH = tree diameter at breast height). A 441 will run a 32 inch bar. A 362 will run a 28 inch bar, but the oil pump is limited to oiling a 25 inch bar. Even a 25 inch bar should be fine for the size wood that you are apt to find. If you get a non-M-tronic saw either tune the saw when you change altitude, or tune it at lower altitude and run it a tad right at higher elevation. Do not tune it at higher elevation and run it lower, or you will run lean and score the engine (I have seen that happen more than once). I am talking about several thousand feet elevation changes here. I run my saws up to 6,000 feet here cutting, as well as down at 400 ft.

    My recommendation would be to find a good used 361 or 362 on CL, or even an 026/260 or a 261. I do a lot of firewood cutting and I use my 361s and 026s the most of all my saws. For small stuff I use my 211, and that is a good little saw I the 30cc range. A 361 will set you back about all of $400 on CL and a 211 can be had for about $200. That of course is in Northern CA, OR and WA, where saws are more common, and not SoCal. Not very many used saws listed in SoCal on CL. I do not recommend buying saws on Ebay, as they are way more expensive there than they are locally. There was a 361 that someone posted from CL to this forum in MA state not long ago for $400 shipped. If you have to get a new saw from a dealer, I would get the 362. It will hold it value and appeal to more people in SoCal than a 441 will.
  5. WiscoWoodman

    WiscoWoodman Member

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2012
    Messages:
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    Loc:
    SW Wisconsin
    Yeah, just start slow to minimize risk. Get a used mid-power Stihl on CL or Ebay, which you can always resell to get your money back if you don't like how things are working out. 1.5-3 cords is not a lot of wood. Honestly a Stihl 290 would be fine. Avoid the huge trees as they are more work anyway. Keep an eye out for wood nearby to save on gas. Since you have a truck, don't bother with the utility trailer until you have saved enough money from electric bill to pay for it. Same goes for saw upgrades and other luxury items. Good luck!
  6. DexterDay

    DexterDay Guest

    036/360/361/362 series is the best power to weight ratio saw out there (Stihl anyways ;))

    A decent 36 series saw is gonna run $200-$500 (used) but will last awhile.

    441 is a Nice saw, but may be over kill (I love over kill!!) A 26 series is gonna be a great saw also, but that depends on the size of wood you cut.
  7. MasterMech

    MasterMech Guest

    A 70cc class saw like the MS441 with a 20" bar and 8 pin sprocket will make everyone holding a 361/362 wonder what they're doing wrong. Just sayin' :p

    Good idea to go look at whats available before getting a saw.
    smokinj, mikefrommaine and nate379 like this.
  8. bogydave

    bogydave Minister of Fire

    Joined:
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    Loc:
    So Cent ALASKA
    Welcome.

    Good idea to check out & get a feel for it before making a big investment.

    Most here know how much hard work it is to process our own wood.
    We're just nuts & enjoy the outdoor work ;) Which, the enjoyment is worth some $$.

    Sounds like you are formulating a plan. Keep us posted on your progress :)

    As for saws, I think the MS362 would make the 440 & 460 users drop their jaws. Light weight
    & great power. Liming, trimming & bucking most firewood. The 362 might just out work them LOL ;lol
    You can swing a 16 lbs monster maul or a 6 lb maul & split about the same amount of wood.
    The heavy one, just more work IMO ;)
    charger4406 and StihlHead like this.
  9. HittinSteel

    HittinSteel Minister of Fire

    Joined:
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    1,587
    Loc:
    Northeastern Ohio
    Are you married? Kids?

    This is a decent investment of time and money. Make sure the family is onboard if you have one or else the trips to the mountain will become more chore than fun.
  10. downeast

    downeast Guest

    Those max 2' DBH softwood trees are overkill for a 440 as said here.
    No matter how fit, you're going to have to hump the butts and gear a long way for a truck load. Try out a 261; the dealer will probably do a trade for you.
    I just got a MS261 and love the beast. A 16"-18" bar withy the 261 should do ALL of what you need: DBH and softwood cutting.
  11. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    4,160
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    Nova Scotia
    Spending all that money on a huge kick-butt saw like that, plus all the time and wear & tear expense on the travelling/hauling, while only burning 1.5-3 cords a year seems to me to be a bit out of whack. Do you have a wood splitter? You'll need one of those too. Plus if you've never cut before, plunging right into a tree-cutting situation that
    would require saws that big would seem to be a bit of a risky proposition.

    Can you buy wood in larger lots? Long lengths? You could have one truck load delivered that would last you a long time.
  12. tekguy

    tekguy Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
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    Loc:
    west mass
    buy logs if you can and have them delivered, out this way I pay 80/cord delivered for hardwood logs.. time is precious and at that cost its worth it
    Nixon likes this.
  13. bogydave

    bogydave Minister of Fire

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    +1. Good idea if you have the space.
    I bet in the big scheme of things, this would work out cheaper ;)
  14. StihlHead

    StihlHead Guest

    This is SoCal we are talking about boys, not the heart of logging country. You are not going to find logs by the truckload for sale down there. Firewood is a scrappy biz in that area. Mostly fruit and citrus wood from orchards, and euc, pine and oak from landscaping jobs.

    Buying splint/seasoned firewood is likely a good option. There is a guy on CL in the high desert that sells euc for $275 a cord. That is good hot burning wood. There are several ads for cords of orange and lemon wood from orchards up there, but I do not know how that stuff burns. There is also an ad on CL for seasoned pine from Big Bear for $200 a cord, delivered and stacked. Another guy sells oak in the high desert, $250 a cord. I would go for the euc or the oak, myself. They have about double the heat value of pine for only a quarter to half more in price.
  15. lukem

    lukem Minister of Fire

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    Indiana
    Figure 2 hours in the truck round trip per load, 1/3 cord per trip...maybe 1/2 before you run out of weight on a half ton. So for 3 cords you are looking at 12-16 hours of driving. Plus another 2-3 hours of actual cutting and loading per trip (if the wood is relatively easy to get to). I'd say you are going to have 30-40 hours into 3 cord. Being realistic here.

    Log loads sound more appealing and faster, for me anyway. Tree service? I can't devote 4-5 hours to a load of wood.

    I'd rather see you buy a good used saw that won't depreciate until you figure out if this is sustainable over the long term, rather than buy a new $1,000 saw that will depreciate. A good used saw that's well taken care of can be easily resold for no loss if this doesn't work out.
  16. teutonicking

    teutonicking Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
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    Loc:
    Maryland
    Just a suggestion--why not rent a 6x12 trailer from U-Haul? You can get it for less than $50 a day and it can haul over 2600 lbs, or close to a full cord of dry wood. So if you are trying to bring back 3 cords, you could do it in 3 roundtrips.
  17. StihlHead

    StihlHead Guest

    I rent a 5x8 trailer that holds 2800 lb. for $28 a day here to haul larger loads of firewood in. I can get about a cord of green pine in the half ton PU bed and the trailer. Dry pine is about 2400 lb. per cord, green pine is more like 4200. Fir is about 3000 dry and 5000 green and I have to pare back on weight. Oak is a different story, and Oregon white oak is 3700 dry and 6200 green. Hauling green wood can be a challenge in a half ton PU. My ex had a Ford one ton and we could get 2/3-3/4 of a cord of dry fir in the large bed, with stakes in the rails.
  18. MasterMech

    MasterMech Guest

    My SRW 1 ton is rated to carry 3700lbs payload. That means with my rear end in the seat and minimal gear, 3500lbs in the bed. (That's pretty much on par with a newer 3/4 ton truck these days) Let's just say that's real conservative considering I have had an easy 1/2 cord of dripping green Oak in the bed and the truck rides and handles better than it does empty. And appearance wise it sits perfectly level, about 2-3 inches down from the empty ride height.
  19. lukem

    lukem Minister of Fire

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    Indiana
    I can haul a little more than 1/3, little less than 1/2 cord of green oak in my F-150 before it gets to be too much. It handles fine in all regards (acceleration, stopping, turning, etc.) but the P rates tires feel too splashy for my taste. When the @$$ end gets to swaying, that's when its too much for me.
  20. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

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    even a 7 pin.
  21. blacktail

    blacktail Minister of Fire

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    Western WA
    It strikes me as odd that a guy in southern California needs a pro saw to cut 2 cords a year.
    StihlHead likes this.
  22. xman23

    xman23 Minister of Fire

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    Lackawaxen PA
    Burning wood is a lot of work. We all tweak the process to make it stream line as possible. Everyones situation is different. My wood comes from the woods out back of the cabin. Others here can comment how they scrounge wood from long distance. I would look into getting logs delivered. Buy the best quality saw you can afford. I have a 18" bar, which works well for the wood I cut.
  23. DexterDay

    DexterDay Guest

    That is odd.......

    I need at least 5 Pro sales to cut 3-5 cord a year!! ;)

    Once CAD takes over, there is little you can do.... ;lol
  24. Bigfoot

    Bigfoot Member

    Joined:
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    Loc:
    Hi Desert Southern California 3000' level
    Guys, thank you for the replies & good ideas. We bought our house 10 years ago in the hi desert & it came with 1/2 acre so plenty of space for me to work wood. We moved from Upland, ca which is 10 miles from los angeles county. I had no idea it got this COLD up here, I compare it to the mountains such as mt baldy & we get plenty of snow as well. I still commute to LA county & orange county almost daily ( I drive 200 miles per day to work & back...900-1200 miles per WEEK) Anyhow,yes its cold cold cold!!! We looked up here (top of cajon pass area) for the right house during the spring & summer months & moved in October 2001. It was cold, we never been up here during that time & thought it was the heat we only needed to worry about in the summer, yeah its hot but nothing like the winter. It sucks & IM TIRED OF BEING COLD,, LOL...
    I need a pro saw because i'm a pro carpenter, ha so there =) ..We currently burn in the fireplace but conserve due to the fact my firewood is not unlimited. With a saw that would change. The new wood stove will be installed this summer in the back garage/shop 1200 sq ft building so that will be fun & hopefully new wood stove in the house in a few years. Its possible we can go through more then 3 cords of wood per year if we wanted. We will start burning from October part time, November part time, December part time but more often, January 14 hours per day & february back to part time depending on weather. March & April we will burn to stay warm as well as needed......
    I LOVE the trailer idea. I like the idea of renting a trailer from u-haul until I can buy my own.
    My wife says she wants to help me look for firewood, she loves burning. I know I live in southern California but i'm not down near the coast or the valley.
    I'm up here where its mostly always sunny, fresh clean air, great water. I live near silverwood lake which is in the mountains 3,200 ft elevation.
    Will continue this posting in a few, thanks everybody...

    OH, YEAH, Forest lady(permit giver) said she gets lots of folks from my area so guess i'm not the only one.
  25. Bigfoot

    Bigfoot Member

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    Loc:
    Hi Desert Southern California 3000' level
    Now for the saw....
    I ALWAYS work on projects, do NOT watch t.v. so lots of work shop time. I'm a carpenter & lately been selling other outdoor garden related items just for fun & making a few dollars to support the hobby. I figure a chain saw would give me an advantage. I can have more options...
    Those guys I spoke of in the first posting brought me down I'll admit. They must be weaklings. With a chain saw I can build log benches & who knows what else & get almost free wood.....
    Having time to think about this and ALL YOUR HELP & advice on this forum I think I have made up my mind. The cost of 3 cords of wood maybe 4 I can get this chainsaw so its almost a no brain er to just suck it up & go for it. Yeah, I doubt it will be possible to have logs delivered here, I have the room. Now the best idea is to go for a strong used trailer in the future, in the mean time I can use the truck to get wood & if I find a jackpot of wood logs up there I can always go home & come back in a few days with a renter trailer (love that idea)
    The 441 has the self adjusting m-tonic carb so its a good choice for me since I would have to learn how to adjust a regular carb if I went with a 362or 261. We don't have a large used stihl chain saw section on craigslist so its better to buy new. I checked oregon's C.L. & wow, lots of good used deals there..... I will be going to big bear area Sunday to scope it out I think. Thanks everybody.....pics & maybe video to come of that adventure.....

    PS. I hate this thread title. CAN a mod pls remove the "please help" at the beginning, lol. it sounds so desperate.... I cant edit it from my end, oh well. more to come, keep the ideas or advice coming -Mike

    YOU GUYS ARE GREAT!!! THANKS
    MasterMech likes this.

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