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When is a pro saw justified?

Post in 'The Gear' started by GordonShumway, Aug 7, 2011.

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  1. GordonShumway

    GordonShumway Member

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    I was told in another thread that money would be better spent on a pro chainsaw vs putting it towards a good splitter. How much wood (cords) must you cut each year to justify the cost of a pro chainsaw? Is it based on volume, tree types generally cut, size of tree, speed desired? Granted I believe milling your own lumber would be pretty neat with a pro saw, bc there is no way one of my current ones could do the trick. So when folks had purchased a pro saw, what was the deciding factor to get one?

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  2. CTYank

    CTYank Minister of Fire

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    It's justified when your wife says it is, knowing the payback in local fuelwood production. Sounds like you'd benefit from a discussion with a local like-minded buddy and/or a reputable local saw dealer. We're purely guessing at a loooooong distance, and you're talking lots of your $. As you mention, there are lots of weighting-factors.
  3. MasterMech

    MasterMech Guest

    Hey Gordon,

    The whole reason to get a "Pro-Saw" is speed baby. You can cut more productively since they run at higher rpms, generate more power, and hold up longer than entry-level models. If it's just durability that concerns you, most mid-range saws have got the durability but compromise on the power to weight ratio. Stihl's MS361 vs. MS390 is a great example of two saws rated at exactly the same output but the 361 will cut circles around the 390 and it's a full 2lb's lighter. Pro saws also tend to have better anti-vibration setups and may come with better bar/chain combos too. They also are built from more expensive materials. (Like magnesium chassis and covers as opposed to plastic everything.)

    As far as when the upgrade is "cost-justified" ? If you're happy with your saw's performance and it's in great shape then I say keep it. If you could use the speed, and have the cash, go for the upgrade. Pro-saws also come in all sizes too. (check out a Stihl MS200 or Husky 338XPT, and their price tages!)

    I can't answer your question regarding my deciding factor since my 034 was a "Ball O Dirt" that was abandoned. Comp. tested it and inspected the cyl, carb was NG so that was replaced, put a decent Bar & chain combo on it and have been slicing and dicing ever since.

    Buy the best equipment you can afford (applies to all tools!) 'cause you can't afford cheap tools.
  4. jeff_t

    jeff_t Minister of Fire

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    Pretty well said.
  5. RNLA

    RNLA Minister of Fire

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    Please don't get all mesmerized by the terminology "PRO SAW". The pro saws are built a bit more heavy duty, and yes easier to work on, as a pro user would be required to service their saw on a regular basis due to everyday use. My advice is a split decision. I do have all pro saws but I know many users who can cut as much or more in a day with a farm saw or home owner saw. If properly set up and maintained a chainsaw is only as good as the chain, with an exception for overall power. The reference to power being the right saw for the job. I would say if you cut more than 2-3 times / month then you could use a high quality saw. If you have the money and just want it then go for it....
  6. Kenster

    Kenster Minister of Fire

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    Interesting comparison and one I'm not qualified to dispute. I happen to have a MS390 with a muffler mod. Besides the weight advantage for the 361, is the power that much different? I mean, assuming chains are sharp, are you talking about slicing through the same log in a second or two quicker with the 361? Is that enough to justify the cost of the "Pro?"

    I'm tickled with the performance of my 390. Maybe it was because I came up from a little bitty Craftsman, but it seems to turn my oak and hickory to butter by comparison.
  7. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    A pro saw is justified if you ever want to tell anybody on hearth.com or arboristsite.com what saw you have.

    It is worth the difference not to have to listen to the grief you get with any other saw. :lol: Of course that means you have to buy both a Husky and a Stihl pro saw.
  8. MasterMech

    MasterMech Guest

    That 390 is a beast but the 361 will out run it due to shear chain speed. The 361 revs out a few thousand RPM more than the 390. IMO the biggest difference is how I feel after cutting with the thing for 8, 10, 12 hours. That 2lb diet and the better AV system make all the difference! And while $200 (the approximate difference in cost, Think it was a little less than that.) may be a chunk of change up front. 10, 15 years from now I'm not going to miss it but I sure am going to appreciate the saw that much more.

    PS. I work PT on a golf course and run a MS 390 almost daily in the early spring. I have nothing but praise for it as a "Farm Saw."
  9. wendell

    wendell Minister of Fire

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    It's a question no one can answer for you, Kenster loves his 390. If I had to use a 390 to cut my wood I'd turn on my gas furnace. :lol:

    The one piece of advice I will give you is if you don't think you want to buy a pro saw, definitely don't try one.
  10. oilstinks

    oilstinks Feeling the Heat

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    a pro saw justified? Any time im cutting wood. Although a chain in good order and sharp means more to me than anything but a sharp chain on my big bore dual port muffler 460mag=
    WAHOO.
  11. GordonShumway

    GordonShumway Member

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    [quote author="BrotherBart" date="1312698417"]A pro saw is justified if you ever want to tell anybody on hearth.com or arboristsite.com what saw you have.

    That makes me laugh.
    I hear a lot of talk of pro saws on here. Sounds like those that have them generally use them more then just some one who cuts 4-5 cords a year. I didn't realize that pro saws where engineered to be maintained and repaired by their user over a dealer. That would make that a big bonus. Are the parts for pro saws more readily available? If you were someone looking at getting into selling firewood, would you even consider anything other then a pro saw?
  12. MasterMech

    MasterMech Guest

  13. Bigg_Redd

    Bigg_Redd Minister of Fire

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    I say it doesn't need to be justified. Most people spend $500-$1000 on a computer every 3-5 years. Buy a good saw and you'll spend $500-$1000 once in your entire life and most likely pass it on to one of your kids.
  14. Bigg_Redd

    Bigg_Redd Minister of Fire

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    Or, if you don't want to tell anyone
  15. MofoG23

    MofoG23 Feeling the Heat

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    Which is one of the biggest reasons I bought mine. I wanted to buy it once and plan to hand it down to my son.

    As much as you will use your saw, the difference your talking about regarding price is actually very little...what is a couple hundred bucks over 20 years of wood cutting? The lighter weight, speed and better AV will certainly be noticed over that period of time.

    You've got the bad arse splitter, finish your tool kit off right. :)
  16. MarkinNC

    MarkinNC Minister of Fire

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    Having made the jump last year, the difference is more than slightly noticeable. I really like processing firewood and running the saws is by far the best part for me. When I got my 372xp last year, I had my wife time me cutting a couple of cookies on about a 18 red oak. the 50 Special cut through the log in about 90 seconds and kinda struggled along the way. The 372xp ripped (i know it's really cross cut) through the log like a beast in 45 seconds. There different size saws, 70 versus 50 cc, but damn what a difference in speed.

    I am not sure what size those Echo saws are you have, but I really like the 70cc class. I was shopping for a 372 xp or Stihl 440 when I bought mine. I found a used 372 on CL for $550 like new. The 441 had just come out and I was afraid of an untested new saw, but I hear that it is an awesome running (and fuel sipping) saw.

    I do think the pro saws are more durable and one of my goals was to get very successful commercial saws so that parts will be around for years to come.
  17. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    The purchase of a pro saw is justified whenever you wish to buy one. You won't be disappointed by going pro.
  18. stee6043

    stee6043 Minister of Fire

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    When my MS310 gives it up (which may never happen) I will replace it with a pro series Stihl. And I only run a measly 4-5 cord per year. I've borrowed pro gear from my brother and it's just "better".

    If I had my choice right now I think I'd be running a 361/362 90% of the time and have a 440 for the big logs. But...I need beer money so this is not currently in the cards.
  19. thinkxingu

    thinkxingu Minister of Fire

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    There are very few cheaper items as good as more expensive ones. Quite simply: as in most things in life, it is justifiable if you can afford it.

    S
  20. amateur cutter

    amateur cutter Minister of Fire

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    When is a pro saw justified? Only when you're gonna cut wood imho. :coolgrin: That said, I know many people that have cut 100's of cords with farm & homeowner grade saws for years, me included. Years ago I ran a friend's 046 mag against my 041 av, & it was game over. Found a nice used 064, learned how to properly sharpen a chain, & haven't looked backed since. Remember two things about saws, a sharp chain is your best friend, & there is no replacement for displacement. A C
  21. DexterDay

    DexterDay Guest

    Well said.... Sharp Chain and Big CC's.. Just got my 1st Pro Saw. Picked up an 036 (Mint). I only used a couple times before the oiler quit. It sat dry for years. Thinking the lines and other parts just dried up. My buddy bought it new.

    Anyways... My 455 is only about 7 cc's smaller than the 036. The 036 Runs Faster (Chain Speed) and revs quicker and faster. Sounds a H#LL of lot "Meaner" too.

    I am currently going to sell my 435 and 435T and replace them with MS 441, 660, or 880 (660 more than likely). Still gonna keep the Rancher 455. I have used it more than anything. Good saw, it has its place. But a Pro Saw gets it DONE and gets it DONE in a HURRY!!! Like stated above. Dont run a Pro Saw, if you dont want to buy one. Love at 1st Slice...
  22. TreePointer

    TreePointer Minister of Fire

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    A good test for the pro vs. homeowner/landowner saws is when using the same bar & chain while making stumps or completely burying the bar. That's when you'll often notice the torque difference.
  23. wannabegreener

    wannabegreener Member

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    Gordon,

    I also read the "spend your money on a pro saw" and was curious. After reading all of this I have the itch to get one, but not sure what to get. All of the comments seem to say get the most you can afford.

    I just quickly looked at 4 stihls and priced them all with the 20" bar (the 880 starts with a 21" bar)

    441 $869
    460 $989
    660 $1109
    880 $1729

    This is all suggested retail so I'm not sure if you can get them at a better price or not. Does anyone know if most dealers are selling for suggested retail?

    Is there a big difference between the 441, 460 and 660? The difference in price from the 441 to 660 is $240. The 880 must be a monster. I was shocked when I saw the price.
  24. TreePointer

    TreePointer Minister of Fire

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    Around here the Stihl dealers don't move from the suggested retail price, but they'll throw in extra goodies which may include one or more of the following: 6 pack of 2-cycle oil, extra chain, 1/2 price carry case, free hat.
  25. amateur cutter

    amateur cutter Minister of Fire

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    I'd also look @ good used maybe, & don't buy an 880 unless you're gonna cut 40" & bigger stuff consistently, the 660 will cut faster @ higher rpm with plenty of grunt till you get beyond a 28"or even36" bar buried in hardwood. The 660 weighs a lot less also. Yes the 880 is a monster saw, but built pretty much for huge wood or milling. Jay know's them better than I do. 460 is more saw than 441 in same weight class. A very nice 2 saw combo is a 260/261 for limbing & light cutting, & 460 for bigger work. Sling a 460 or 660 all day, & you know did something, but the production is amazing. A C
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