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Which Size Bar?

Post in 'The Gear' started by firecracker_77, Oct 6, 2012.

  1. firecracker_77

    firecracker_77 Minister of Fire

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    If you were cutting mostly logs of various sizes, would you buy a Stihl MS 290 with a 16", 18", or 20" bar?

    The 20" comes off the dealer floor. The other sizes would have to be installed and save a little money, only $10 per 2 inch increment smaller than a 20" bar.

    Is a 20" tough to handle compared to an 18"

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  2. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    I got mine with only a 16" bar simple because that is all I need for the wood we have to cut. The good part of going longer though is some less bending when cutting limbs.
  3. firecracker_77

    firecracker_77 Minister of Fire

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    Does a 16" have more zip?
  4. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Yes, it is bound to have a bit more zip because of less chain and bar. Not a big difference though. Much more between 16 and 20 than 16 vs 18
  5. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    My late daddy always said to "use the shortest bar you can get away with." He used a 14-incher for years, then started cutting bigger trees (they grew, 'cause he thinned them over the years) and bumped up to a 16. I use a 16 because I only cut firewood and some of the trees get to a good size. Remember, you can (theoretically, at least) cut a 32-inch tree with a 16. And yes, less bar means less chain and less drag on the engine, so your saw will have more zip with a shorter bar.
    ScotO, amateur cutter, zap and 2 others like this.
  6. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Your daddy was correct Eric.
  7. firecracker_77

    firecracker_77 Minister of Fire

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    So a 16 or 18" is probably all I'd need then.
  8. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    I'm pretty happy with my 18 incher . . . not too big, not too small . . . Goldilocks "just right" for my saw, wood and style of cutting.
    jjs777_fzr likes this.
  9. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Unless you're cutting pretty big wood on a regular basis, I'd go with a 16-incher. There's certainly some skill and experience involved in successfully cutting bigger trees with smaller bars, but I doubt the lack of 2 inches of bar length is going to have a big effect on your cutting performance in the vast majority of your cutting situations, so I'd opt for the shorter bar. In my experience, anyway, you get into less trouble hitting rocks and dirt with the "lesser" appendage. If you catch my drift. And you enjoy the advantage of having a bit more power. Over time, that helps.
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  10. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

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    Where not talking a big diffrance either way. If I was only going to have one bar it would be the 20 inch though. Darn sure cant put 4 inchs on if you have to have it....
    Thistle likes this.
  11. mecreature

    mecreature Minister of Fire

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    the last 2 weekends all i needed is a 16. thatnis usually all i need
    i wish i would have went for the 16 on my 280.

    no biggie though. the 20 is nice when you need it

    get both
  12. amateur cutter

    amateur cutter Minister of Fire

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    If you're gonna run a 20" on a 290 you'd better run .325 chain. They're under powered to pull 20" 3/8 full chisel in hardwoods imo. A C
    Thistle, Ash_403, MasterMech and 2 others like this.
  13. firecracker_77

    firecracker_77 Minister of Fire

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    I only intend to buy one saw, and no money has been spent yet. If you were looking to split logs, not necessarily drop trees, exactly what saw would you buy? Money is not the limiting factor, although I am not looking to go overboard. I want to know I got the perfect saw for what I need and I will never be tempted to upgrade. $100 today is better than buying a second saw later. I keep the things I buy a long time and take very good care of them. Quality doesn't need to be replaced saving money in the end.
  14. rwhite

    rwhite Minister of Fire

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    What size logs will you be cutting? 99% of what I cut is 12-15" and I run a 20" w/ 3/8" on my 026. I like the extra reach for limbing. When you do get a large log (over 20") you have to learn to let the saw work and sometimes hold it back a bit to keep it from bogging down. I also have a 16" bar and I think the performance is neglible for the size of wood I cut. Another factor is unless I get a town scrounge there is no hardwood to be had so most all of my wood is lodgepole or fir which may make a difference. We also have cutting restrictions so we can't fall over 15" dbh. Whichever bar you decide I would go with 3/8" full chisel chain.
  15. HittinSteel

    HittinSteel Minister of Fire

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    yes, forget the 20" on 290 unless you cut only christmas trees or want to mod the muffler.
    amateur cutter likes this.
  16. amateur cutter

    amateur cutter Minister of Fire

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    I hate to beat this to death, but.....If you truly want a saw for the long haul, I'd go pro saw. MS 362 with a 16" & 20" bar in 3/8 pitch chain would handle anything from limbs to 30" + logs. Even a 261 would be a better long term saw than the 290. Better power to weight ratio, air filtration, & anti vibe features. As far as never wanting to upgrade, well good luck with that.;) If you're not a gear head, addicted to power type personality you may have a chance. Handle a few @ the dealer, maybe rent & run a few different saws, or try out a couple of your buddy's saws to get a feel for what you like? Just some thoughts. A C
    Dairyman likes this.
  17. bsa0021

    bsa0021 Feeling the Heat

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    I've used a stihl 023 with 16" bar for years. Never really found anything I couldn't cut. Always thought if it was too big for the saw it was too big for me to move/load on the truck. Then I found a 20" husky at a garage sale. It is nice for cutting stumps close to the ground or bigger logs but to heavy to use for small stuff. I will still grab the Stihl first. It just feels better.
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  18. Flamestead

    Flamestead Feeling the Heat

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    I run a 16" on my 359 based on the advice of some local loggers/safety trainers, and for the trees and logs I cut it has been just fine. Previous saw had an 18", haven't missed the length or weight.
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  19. TreePointer

    TreePointer Minister of Fire

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    You will be happy with a 290, but never get your hands on a pro saw in it's displacement class. If money is not an issue, you will have buyer's remorse.

    Look at these:
    ~60cc class = Husqvarna 362XP, MS362, used MS361.
    ~50cc class = Husqvarna 346XP (new edition), MS261

    Even though it's lower displacement, I'd take one of those 50cc saws over the 290 every time. I have saws up to 80cc. but most of the time I use my NE346XP with 16" bar--great speed, throttle response, balance, antivibe, much lighter.

    The versions that are coming out with automatically adjusting carburetors (Husqvarna AutoTune, and Stihl M-Tronic) are getting nice reviews.
    amateur cutter likes this.
  20. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    I have the 346XP with a 16-inch bar and it's all the saw I need for what I do, which is to cut about 12 full cords of beech, yellow birch and hard maple firewood every year. So much power in such a small, light package. It just snarls. I assume the comparable Stihl is just as good. I know the Jonsereds certainly is.
  21. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    AC, I've thought the same and have been put down for that statement. When I purchased the saw I have now, I had my choice of 16, 18 or 20 for the same price. Of course I was put down for getting the 16" but the fact is, I really do not need any longer of a bar so why get it. I had my fill of big saws many, many moons ago.
    TreePointer likes this.
  22. amateur cutter

    amateur cutter Minister of Fire

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    Nope, I'd never deride or discourage a man from running a 16" setup on 50cc's. I run the crap out my 026 with the 16" bar, it's the go to saw for 14" & smaller firewood, & I'll guarantee you I could make all my firewood with that setup. My thing is saw collecting & I enjoy running the things, hence when a big tree comes along I can process it pretty quickly, if I choose to take it. I passed on a 48" red oak trunk last week cause I didn't feel like wrestling the big rounds off it. Took 2 1/2 cord of the limb wood up to about 2' & gave the trunk away. By the grace of God, & a little hard work, I'm not hurting for wood or places to cut, so I'm learning to use my time a little more wisely. I've started charging a little for removing those big suckers.

    To the op, Dennis is spot on, you can do all you'll ever need to do with 50 60cc saw & 16" bar, & not be so tired at the end of the day. I get way carried away with bigger powerheads, chain speed in the cut, etc. It's a hobby for me, so take my advice with a grain of salt, & listen to the more reasonable people here.;em A C
    Thistle and firecracker_77 like this.
  23. MarkinNC

    MarkinNC Minister of Fire

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    I have a friend who has a 029 that runs well but recently got a new 261. He cannot believe the difference in power and the lighter weight. He is running an 18 inch bar on it but that is his big saw. I run a 16 incher on my 50cc saw but I do have a 70cc saw as well.

    I would get a 261 with an 18 inch bar and .325 chain.
    HittinSteel likes this.
  24. Dairyman

    Dairyman Feeling the Heat

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    Try the different bar lengths on the powerhead and get the length that makes the saw feel most comfortable to you.
  25. ScotO

    ScotO Guest

    You guys are funny. 16" bars...;lol ...20 inch bars......;lol

    42" bar, .404-.063 full chisel full skip.>>

    Go big or go home.......:p::-)

    100_3054.JPG
    HDRock, Thistle, Joful and 4 others like this.

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