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What kind of chain saw should I get?

Post in 'The Gear' started by Max Goldman, Jan 15, 2008.

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  1. Max Goldman

    Max Goldman New Member

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    I’m new to wood heating and would like advice on what kind of chainsaw I should get. I use an insert (Lopi Declaration) and anticipate I will need 4-5 cords of wood a year. Any information (brand, model, where to buy, etc.) would be much appreciated.

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  2. zzr7ky

    zzr7ky Minister of Fire

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    Hi -

    Lots of folks will say Stihl but I find them a bit heavy and costly. Husky 346XP, 353, or 359 saws will all do it. A servicing dealer isn't a big deal to me so I wnet with the Dolmar 5100S. Light and powerfull. Tough as any saw out there.

    I like a 50cc plus saw with a 16 or 18" bar.

    What part of the country? What are you cutting? If you don't work on them yourself dealer support is a great thing.

    ATB,
    Mike P
  3. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    Get one that will correctly run the bar sizes you will need. For most people that means a 16-18" bar for 90+ percent of cutting with the possibility of needing a larger bar for the other percentage. Lots of saws will fit this bill. As Mike stated above, Husky, Dolmar, Stihl all make good saws.

    Look at power and weight as well as service (if needed) to be your guide. In other words - if you have a reputable dealer for stihl down the road from you, that should weigh heavily on your decision.

    Look at the "upgrade" or "pro" models if the price is acceptable. These machines are designed for heavy use, but the other side of that is anti-vibration, repairable, stronger cases, etc.

    If you buy a homeowner version, you will be back on this forum the next year explaining why you wish you would have spent the extra cash. That is just my opinion of course, but it gets echoed frequently.

    Stihl - 361
    Dolmar - 5100
    Husky - 359

    All great saws with good reviews.
  4. nhchad

    nhchad New Member

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    I have two saws, a stihl MS 290 with 18" and then a cheap MS 170 14" for limbing. THe MS 290 is called the "farm boss", it's heavy but has good power and is a good saw to start out with. The problem with the MS 361 and other "magnum" stihl "pro" saws is they are not for newbies; if you never used a chainsaw it will be worse than waving a loaded hand gun around. Get something with a low kick back chain until you get 100 or so cords under your belt before you step into a pro saw.

    I love my 290 not so fond of my 170. If I run into some $$ I'll probably upgrade the 170 to new 192E.

    You can't go wrong with stihl.
  5. TMonter

    TMonter Minister of Fire

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    Actually homeowner saws are more dangerous than pro saws as they typically weigh more and the user gets tired quicker. It's like the fact that a dull knife is more dangerous than a sharp one.

    Any new chainsaw user should get personal protective gear, and at the very least read a book on safety practices when sawing.
  6. kah68

    kah68 Member

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    Like above, find a good dealer in the Sthil, Husky, Jonsered (Husky) or Dolmar line. Service is key when it all comes down to it. I like the MS 361 in Sthil, the 346XP NE,357XP and 372XP in Husky, the 5100 and 7900 in Dolmar. If price is important look for something new old stock, you roll the dice with a used saw unless you know and trust the owner. Also save some money for PPE (personal protective equipment) boots, pants, eye and ear protection and a helmet if you do any felling. Stay away from Home Depot or Lowes Saws unless you can get a like new Makita (a green Dolmar) from H.D. rental center.
  7. glenng

    glenng New Member

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    You will want a Stihl 026 with an 18" bar. Buy it now , thank me 10 years from now. Your welcome.
  8. guy01

    guy01 Member

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    I'm not sure about all this stihl talk,I run a stihl ms290 which I love when it's not in the shop getting its trigger mechanism repaired
    Guy
  9. TMonter

    TMonter Minister of Fire

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    I've been running Husky saws for a few years now and I've been impressed. I also have an older Stihl monster that's a great saw as well. Personally I prefer Husky because of my local dealer plus the availability of parts to end users.

    That being said if you're looking for a good all around firewood saw, it would be helpful to know what size timber you cut, whether you do felling ect. Based on past experience if you're looking at a Husky look at the 346XP, 357XP, 359 and 372XP.
  10. JustWood

    JustWood Minister of Fire

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    STIHL !
  11. Sportsman4004x4

    Sportsman4004x4 New Member

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    For a pro quality saw I like the Husky or Jonsered saws in the 45cc to 57cc range, and for light limbing and trimming saw you won't beat an Echo 305, 306, 345, 346. I have used the Husky 346XP, but I find myself using my Jonsered 2156 more. It's like a Husky 357XP, same motor, built in same factory, but with the prettier red paint job. It has an 18" bar and full chisel chain for felling the tree and cutting all the big wood once it's on the ground. I use my Echo 306 or 345 for cutting all the littler stuff and limbing. I used to use the big saw for all of it when I was younger, but my shoulders thank me for using the little Echos for the small stuff. Don't get me wrong, you can cut the bigger stuff with the little saw too, it just takes a little longer. Big saw for the big stuff, little saw for the little stuff. It depends on your budget and what you like. I'm a believer in pro quality tools, buy a good one and buy it once. I also like to run 32:1 high quality mix oil, premium fuel, Stabil in the fuel too, and I run the mixture just a tad rich, all to protect my saw investment. Happy cutting!
  12. MrGriz

    MrGriz New Member

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    This question always leads to some form of the Ford vs Chevy, Miller vs Bud debate. IMO, if you stick with a pro class saw from Dolmar, Husky or Stihl you can't really go wrong.

    Start by identifying the type and average size of the wood you will be cutting and size the displacement and bar length of the saw based on your need. Beyond that, look for good local dealers, especially if after sale service is a big issue for you. Go in and physically hold a couple of different saws. Each manufacturer feels a bit different in your hands and balances a bit differently. Go with the one that meets your needs and feels most comfortable in your hands. Don't forget to buy PPE also.

    BTW, I would advise going with a pro saw right off the bat, rather than starting with a homeowner model and quickly deciding that you want to upgrade. It's like any other tool, the better the quality, the easier they usually are to use and the better the results. Not to mention that this tool can kill or seriously injur you in the mean time. A pro saw will weigh less, last longer and be more servicable in the future than a homeowner model.
  13. MarcM

    MarcM New Member

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    While I don't own one, I've used them before and have had a chance to compare it side by side with the 029 (Farm Boss).

    Glenn speaks the truth. 029 is heavy (13 lb powerhead) although fairly powerful (3.8 bhp). The 026 has a bit less power, 3.2 bhp but is significantly lighter at 10.6 lb powerhead. 029 = 3.42 lbs/hp and 026 = 3.31 lbs/hp. The 026 I thought felt much better balanced, although I used both with a 16" bar.

    It looks like we'll be getting an 026 in addition to the 029. The 029 will probably get an 18 or 20" bar and be used mostly for felling and bucking. The 026 felt like my father's older 024 Wood Boss with much more power.
  14. struggle

    struggle Minister of Fire

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    I will not comment on the type of saw you should get, but I know where you got that screen name though buttercup :lol:
  15. splitNburn

    splitNburn New Member

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    I am a tree surgeon and run saws all day long. Stihl is the best. If you want to save some quarters, go for a Huskey. I would consider where you will be having the saw serviced. If there are no dealers near you, you might opt for the other. Regardless of the brand of saw, keep the air filter clean, and the chain sharp. I recommend at least a 18 inch bar. That would be adequate unless you are doing some heavy sawing. I have a small Huskey that I have had for awhile. It is a good saw a starts up every time. However, with hard everyday use, they don't hold up as well as a Stihl will. I have run older ones of both brands, I think it depends alot on how the saw was maintained.

    don't forget the ear plugs ! and happy sawing
  16. bjorn773

    bjorn773 Member

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    Ah the old brand debate... Stihl vs Husqvarna, Chevy vs. Ford, Coke vs. Pepsi... they all make a good product. Like others have suggested, go with a brand that you can either get serviced or attain parts for locally. The dealers are probably the way to go over the big box stores, since they usually service as well. That said, I did buy my Husky 359 at Farm & Fleet. My previous cheapo saw died the day a tree service dropped a dumptruck full of logs in my driveway. I needed a saw asap and the F&F;was open. I love the saw and would recommend it anyday. In fact, I've bought 2 other Husqvarnas since. Very happy with them all and they all have their place. No one saw will handle all situations, but a 16-18" will do quite a bit. I cut about the same each year as you are anticipating, 4-5 cords. My saws are 4 years old with no real signs of deterioration. Like any machine, longevity is determined by how you take care of them.
  17. jklingel

    jklingel Feeling the Heat

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    And may I add "Which of the possible 258 calibers that are quite adequate are you going to chose for deer hunting?" I have a Shindiawa, because the comparable Husky was not in stock; they have not changed this saw for 13 yrs; all they make are pro models. This is my first "real" chainsaw, and I must say there is no comparison to the cheap ones. Get a good brand, as suggested above, that will cost $300-500, the right size for you, and forget the rest. Spend your time cutting wood; debate later. j
  18. detmurds

    detmurds New Member

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    I bought a Craftsman,..it works great for me, and I cut wood all the time, all year!
  19. tw40x81

    tw40x81 Member

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    I went to Lowes and got a Husky 142 for the small stuff. Then the big logs on my triaxle load laughed at that saw, so I went to Tractor Supply and got a Husky Rancher. I'm not a tree surgeon, I don't need the best saw. I plan on cutting up one or two triaxle loads a year at a very leisurely pace, and when the life is up on these saws, I'll get shiny new ones. The saws are cheap enough, and I'm very easy on them.
  20. WarmGuy

    WarmGuy Feeling the Heat

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    I got a new Craftsman through Craigslist for $100, and I have to say that it's been fine except for one time when the spark plug needed to be replaced.

    In fact, I find that I like it a lot. Just the right weight, etc.

    If I ever replace it, I'll probably get a Stihl, because of the comments on this forum, and because I know now that I will use it a lot. But I have no complaints. Neighbor has a similar model, and his has worked great for many years.

    The thing I like least about it is that on the first page of the owner's manual it says this:

    FOR OCCASIONAL USE ONLY

    That sure doesn't inspire confidence.
  21. TMonter

    TMonter Minister of Fire

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    Shindaiwas are great saws, my complaint is that they haven't made any inroads to weight on vibration on their bigger models in quite a few years.
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