Chainsaws - Is bigger better?

thebaron23

Member
Aug 30, 2020
32
Eastern Ontario
Hello!

Looking for a bit of a lesson on the purpose of "bigger" saws.

Im not an expert wood cutter by any means. I cut about 5-7 cords of hardwood per year and have a few saws.

I noticed today cutting an approx 12 inch tree with my 346xp (50cc) 18" and my ms362 (60cc) 20" that there wasn't much difference in cutting speed and if anything the smaller saw had a bit of the edge.

Are larger saws supposed to cut faster or just able to put larger bars on to cut larger trees without having to roll the log or mess around to get through it?

I guess my question is, am I wasting my own energy cutting a log with the larger, heavier saw where a smaller lighter saw would do the trick or is the larger saw really supposed to cut that same piece faster?
 

johneh

Minister of Fire
Dec 19, 2009
3,231
Eastern Ontario
I don't know if a bigger saw is faster! I have 4 saws-all with
different bars on them. I use the one necessary to do the job.
if I am cutting all day wood that is less than 16 in. I like to use
my old 025 fairly fast but light so I can swing it all day.
Yes, my big pro-saw is fast but heavy not an all-day saw.
 
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WiscWoody

Minister of Fire
Dec 24, 2011
1,969
Winter WI
Same here, four saws and three of them ported so I can take the rakers down a bit more making them faster cutters. My ported 390XP is my biggest saw and it’s a saw on steroids, it has lots of power at an estimated 8.5hp but I only use it if I need the 28” bar otherwise I use the smallest saw I can. My bars and engine sizes are 12“/25cc, 16”/43cc ported, 20”60cc ported and 28"/88cc ported. I also use full chisel chain. I think they are faster cutting than semi-chisel and anti-kickback chains. There might be some difference between your saws other than size like the chain and engine speed.
 

thecoalman

Member
Jul 18, 2008
21
Coal Country
coalpail.com
Put the small bar on the large saw if the pitch is the same . Almost anyone with tree service is going to have one saw with much smaller bar than it was designed for. I took my Brothers saw like that to outdoor party once, I'm going through 2 foot logs like butter. I went to take a break and everyone is standing there like I was the entertainment, they were amazed.
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
5,163
Downeast Maine
Personally I prefer the lightest saw that will get the job done, but I'm not a big dude. At 5'10" and 160 lbs the smaller saws work better for me and I can get more work done than I could using a more powerful, but heavier saw. Unless I'm felling a tree or bucking larger (10"+) logs for the mill I grab the Stihl MS150 TC, which is one of the smallest and lightest saws on the market. Maybe if my property were covered in a bunch of big hickory or oak trees I might have a different opinion. My favorite saw is my ported 346xp, but it's out of service right now, so I'm using my old reliable Husky 460 but it's a boat anchor. The 460 has a ton more cutting capacity than the ms150, but at three times the weight I avoid it whenever possible. A 40-50cc saw, especially a ported saw, is plenty for most firewood cutters and seem to offer the best balance of power and weight.

For perspective, one of my favorite cars I've ever owned was a stock 95 Miata. Second is probably the modified 500 HP Challenger I sold before buying the Miata. I'm a Colin Chapman fan, "simplify and add lightness"
 

Simonkenton

Minister of Fire
Feb 27, 2014
1,834
Marshall NC
Interesting question. I would say that, yes, the main advantage of the bigger saw is that you can put a bigger bar on it.
 

CincyBurner

Minister of Fire
Mar 10, 2015
542
SW Ohio
I agree with views of those above of using the lightest saw to get the job done, and concur with Medic21 about using MS 462.
I have 009, which I hardly ever use, MS 260 (great saw), and this spring bought the MS 462.
The 462 seems a game changer - responsive, powerful, light, and balanced. Time will bear out on its long term performance.
Functionally it doesn't seem much heavier than the 260 and as important, with a 20" Rollomatic ES Light bar it's perfectly balanced.
I'm sure consideration for some buying a larger saw will be whether to skip over the 60 cc class.
The trade-off is cost. Determination of "need" a major factor.
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
5,163
Downeast Maine
If you want to or can only own one saw the 60-65cc class is a good compromise. The increase in torque from going up in displacement is important for pulling a longer chain or felling live trees with stresses and tension. Limbing a tall conifer with a 60-65cc saw is not fun, but probably not so bad on a large broad limbed hardwood like oak or hickory. The type of trees you are cutting matters a lot for this question as well.
 

xman23

Minister of Fire
Oct 7, 2008
2,213
Lackawaxen PA
I've used cheep under powered saws. Also used a big heavy powerful saw on wood that didn't require such a saw. Both were the wrong saw for the job.

For a given size wood you need a saw to be powerfully to pull a sharp chain as fast as you want it to go. That and as light as it can be. Power to weight ratio. When you get it right it will cut fast and easy. For my wood the Stihl 260 pro is the saw.
 

qwee

Member
Jan 17, 2013
77
I have 3 chainsaws I'm using - shindaiwa 575 (20" bar), shindaiwa 757 (24"), and dolmar 6400 (24") - so 58cc, 76cc, and 64cc. A couple of weeks ago I cut some downed red elm. The size by the base was around 30" across. I just got the shindaiwa 757. So I was able to compare these 2 shinnies side by side. The little saw would bind up more quickly. I could still cut with the 575 but the bigger saw was more suitable.

However, most of the wood was smaller - 12" to 20" range. Yes in this smaller stuff the 757 was a bit heavy but I didn't really notice the extra weight that much. So in this wood either saw was fine. If I had to have one saw I would go with a bigger one. I think it is easier to stretch a big saw down to small wood than to stretch a smaller saw up and into bigger wood. But the smaller cc saws are cheaper.
 

thecoalman

Member
Jul 18, 2008
21
Coal Country
coalpail.com
Interesting question. I would say that, yes, the main advantage of the bigger saw is that you can put a bigger bar on it.
Certainly but large saw with small bar cuts a lot faster. The one my Brother had was made for up to 30+ inches or whatever it was but he had a 24 inch... I'm guessing on the sizes. This accomodated most of the logs you were cutting, of course he had larger size with really long bar for the really big logs. You are carrying around more weight but it's trade off for speed.
 

gggvan

Member
Dec 6, 2012
99
I'm a homeowner, supplemental heat user, i find a large saw, MS 390, 24" bar, and then a 16" work well for me. I tend to get mostly smaller, manageable logs, and then less frequent huge lots to process. The MS 390 makes easy work of the largest logs.
 
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Woodsplitter67

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2017
1,585
Woolwich nj
Larger saws are better for larger diameter trees and smaller saws are better for smaller diameter trees. I dont use the larger saw for cutting smaller wood and don't use a small saw for cutting large wood. I use the saw that is most appropriate for the cutting to be done. I don't use a larger saw for smaller wood because there's no reason to be carrying the extra weight all that time. If you have a good saw and a sharp chain and your cutting techniques are good and your not cutting more than the saws designed to cut.. its should cut pretty fast..
 

Zack R

Feeling the Heat
Sep 27, 2017
418
Sisters, OR
flic.kr
Hello!

Looking for a bit of a lesson on the purpose of "bigger" saws.

Im not an expert wood cutter by any means. I cut about 5-7 cords of hardwood per year and have a few saws.

I noticed today cutting an approx 12 inch tree with my 346xp (50cc) 18" and my ms362 (60cc) 20" that there wasn't much difference in cutting speed and if anything the smaller saw had a bit of the edge.

Are larger saws supposed to cut faster or just able to put larger bars on to cut larger trees without having to roll the log or mess around to get through it?

I guess my question is, am I wasting my own energy cutting a log with the larger, heavier saw where a smaller lighter saw would do the trick or is the larger saw really supposed to cut that same piece faster?
They seem similar since you are comparing a 60cc saw with a 50cc saw, not a huge difference.
 

salecker

Minister of Fire
Aug 22, 2010
1,253
Northern Canada
One wood trip my small saw didn't want to work...
Had to use the MS661 with a 28" to drop limb and buck the tree really wasn't to bad,after a few days you probably wouldn't even notice the saw anymore.
Remember back in the old days the loggers used the big heavy saws all day long.Compare one of todays"big"saw weights to the old ones and you will feel good about what we get to use.
 

WiscWoody

Minister of Fire
Dec 24, 2011
1,969
Winter WI
One wood trip my small saw didn't want to work...
Had to use the MS661 with a 28" to drop limb and buck the tree really wasn't to bad,after a few days you probably wouldn't even notice the saw anymore.
Remember back in the old days the loggers used the big heavy saws all day long.Compare one of todays"big"saw weights to the old ones and you will feel good about what we get to use.

Oh I don’t know, I wouldn’t want to wield my 390xp 28" all day long but I’ve seen loggers that do it when they can’t use a processor, mostly in hilly terrain. Last year I bucked up a truckload of red oak and 90% of it was with a ported 343xp 16" and it was nice to work with a light saw. The rest was done with a 562 20".
 
Jun 8, 2020
103
Craig County, VA
I thought I had the right saw for most of the wood I would cut-MS250 with an 18" bar-which is at the upper end of the residential and the bottom end of the professional saws. I had a load of logs & chunks delivered with some of the logs being 28-30". Yes, my MS250 would cut them, but it was slow. My neighbor saw my load of logs and said he had a larger Stihl saw "that needed some run time" and offered to let me borrow it. Wow what a difference it made. It was an older Stihl MS460 magnum saw with a 20" bar. I was able to cut up this load of wood at least 3-4 faster. It was a bit heavier, but the wear and tear on my body was much less when it was all said and done since it cut it up so much faster. He also had a 24" bar and chain for the saw, but I never felt like I needed the longer bar, I just cut through what I could and rolled the logs over to finish up the cut. After using the MS460, the MS250 was like using a toy.
 
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Zack R

Feeling the Heat
Sep 27, 2017
418
Sisters, OR
flic.kr
I thought I had the right saw for most of the wood I would cut-MS250 with an 18" bar-which is at the upper end of the residential and the bottom end of the professional saws. I had a load of logs & chunks delivered with some of the logs being 28-30". Yes, my MS250 would cut them, but it was slow. My neighbor saw my load of logs and said he had a larger Stihl saw "that needed some run time" and offered to let me borrow it. Wow what a difference it made. It was an older Stihl MS460 magnum saw with a 20" bar. I was able to cut up this load of wood at least 3-4 faster. It was a bit heavier, but the wear and tear on my body was much less when it was all said and done since it cut it up so much faster. He also had a 24" bar and chain for the saw, but I never felt like I needed the longer bar, I just cut through what I could and rolled the logs over to finish up the cut. After using the MS460, the MS250 was like using a toy.
The 460 was the right tool for the job. A large saw for me is actually less tiring than a small one when bucking logs or felling trees. Its when you use a large saw for limbing or light work that really can get tiring.

Solution = have a smaller saw for limbing and a larger saw for bucking and felling. I would consider the MS250 a small saw, perfect for most around the house work and limbing but too small for the kind of bucking work you are describing.
 
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BIGChrisNH

Minister of Fire
Dec 16, 2015
536
New Hampshire
The 460 was the right tool for the job. A large saw for me is actually less tiring than a small one when bucking logs or felling trees. Its when you use a large saw for limbing or light work that really can get tiring.

Solution = have a smaller saw for limbing and a larger saw for bucking and felling. I would consider the MS250 a small saw, perfect for most around the house work and limbing but too small for the kind of bucking work you are describing.
I agree with you. I cut logs now mostly with my Jonsered 2166, and the Stihl MS250 is perfect for limb work.
 
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EbS-P

Feeling the Heat
Jan 19, 2019
454
SE North Carolina
So I have a Ryobi 16” 37cc and a ms660 Chinese clone with 28” and 36”. My back gets pretty tired running the 16” bent over. Buckin Billy Ray says stand up and buck with a 32”. I get it but I’m not quite man enough for the extra bar length and weight to make it pay off for me. So in the end I think I could get done quicker bigger saw but it’s more work. I have a small stack of 4’ long logs,14” is he biggest diameter. I’m gonna grab the 660 With the 28” bar to buck it up. Now if you want speed you want to keep the chain sharp no matter what saw you are running .
Evan
 
So I have a Ryobi 16” 37cc and a ms660 Chinese clone with 28” and 36”. My back gets pretty tired running the 16” bent over. Buckin Billy Ray says stand up and buck with a 32”. I get it but I’m not quite man enough for the extra bar length and weight to make it pay off for me. So in the end I think I could get done quicker bigger saw but it’s more work. I have a small stack of 4’ long logs,14” is he biggest diameter. I’m gonna grab the 660 With the 28” bar to buck it up. Now if you want speed you want to keep the chain sharp no matter what saw you are running .
Evan
Hence the 2in1 Sharpener .... ;)
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
5,163
Downeast Maine
One wood trip my small saw didn't want to work...
Had to use the MS661 with a 28" to drop limb and buck the tree really wasn't to bad,after a few days you probably wouldn't even notice the saw anymore.
Remember back in the old days the loggers used the big heavy saws all day long.Compare one of todays"big"saw weights to the old ones and you will feel good about what we get to use.
I saw a vintage McCulloch ad for a 42 lb saw, and I'm pretty sure they were bragging about the light weight...
 

Sawset

Minister of Fire
Feb 14, 2015
1,113
Palmyra, WI

In 1926, German Andreas Stihl patented an electric two-person tree trimmer chainsaw. It weighed 106 pounds and had about 3 horsepower. Then in 1927, a German company called Dolmar developed a two-person petrol-powered chainsaw, the “Type A”. Later in 1929, Stihl also developed a petrol-powered chainsaw that was designed to fell trees, weighing 101 pounds and with 6 horsepower.
 
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Nealm66

Minister of Fire
Sep 25, 2020
597
Western Washington
I used to get a new saw every 6 months when I was falling timber for a living. Mostly stihl but huskies the last 5 years. They were pretty tired for pro use but lots of life left for firewooding. I’d keep it for a spare and give the older spare away to my friends. I’d stick a short bar on them to lighten them up. It didn’t take very long before nobody wanted one. Too heavy and hard to start. I did tree service work on the weekends and never had any trouble getting rid of the smaller saws when they got tired. I gave a couple 026’s to a close friend and he literally wore them out beyond rebuildable repair. As an experiment, I bought a similar size husky ( slightly bigger) and he’s still running it although he says the clutch springs are finally done and wants me to tune it. I think the newer pro saws aren’t as homeowner friendly, meaning, I believe they won’t hold up with a lot of dull chain usage. Hope this helps
 
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