Second Chainsaw

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Nov 5, 2021
61
PA, USA
Hi all. The wood stove is in at the dealer, and I have a pile of logs in my driveway. I have a Stihl MS180 that I bought a few years ago for storm cleanup and pruning work. Now I need to process firewood. I've been using the MS180, and it's doing a valiant job, but I think I'm abusing the poor thing. What would be a good second saw that would be better suited to firewood processing? I'm thinking something like a Stihl MS251 or MS261. A bar in the 18-20" range would be nice. Trying to cut up logs larger than 16" with a 16" bar is a pain. Am I on the right track here or are there other models I should look at? I'd prefer to stick with Stihl just because I live within walking distance of a dealer, but am open to other suggestions as well. Thanks!
 

blades

Minister of Fire
Nov 23, 2008
3,784
WI, Leroy
if the dealer is good for you stick with them my suggestion would at minimum a 60+cc class saw 70 better. and 24" bar. which equates to about 20" of actual cutting length ( them spikes eat up some of your length.) i do not know the stilh #'s. i run Dolmars - my most used are the 65cc/24"bar and 79cc/ 36"bar. I have a 120cc stilh with 42" and 60" bars ( .404). I routinly get big bottom pieces from Tree services some are more than 3ft across. those big bars make childs play of those. Lot of fire wood in those big chunks .
 

PaulOinMA

Minister of Fire
Oct 20, 2018
1,324
MA
I also have an MS 180. Your post looks exactly like I have been thinking. Also thinking of 251 or the like. Also prefer to keep with Stihl.
 

Prof

Minister of Fire
Oct 18, 2011
666
Western PA
I have a 261 and 362, and I almost never grab the 362. About ever 5-6 months I realize that I haven't touched the 362 and run a tank through it. I can cut much longer with the 261 and not get fatigued. Most of my cutting is done in the woods. A pile of logs may be a different situation and the 362 may be a better option for you. I'd go take a look at the dealership and see which one fits the best. I bought the 362 when I was clearing my building site and some of the trees were a couple feet across, so something that could run a 24 inch bar was helpful. If I was going to regularly cut stuff that size I would have opted for a bigger saw.
 
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bigealta

Minister of Fire
May 22, 2010
863
Utah & NJ
I have a 1990's sthil 029 super and it's a great saw. Running 18" bar. I rarely need anything bigger and can cut 30" + on those rare occasions by going from both sides. If i had to replace the 029, i'd get a sthil 250 or 261. Or try to find a good 025 used or 026.
 

ericm979

Burning Hunk
Nov 2, 2018
202
California
What diameter is the typical and largest log that you have? Do you expect to be cutting logs this size in the future, or smaller or larger?

The MS251 has a reputation of being heavy and underpowered. The MS250 is one of the higher power/weight Stihl saws out of their homeowner line. It's only drawback is hard starting due to a small pulley for it's displacement.

If you can swing a few hundred $$ more, a pro level saw is lighter and more powerful and just nicer to use. They even start easier due to the compression release. If your logs can be cut with an 18" bar and you don't expect anything larger, a MS261CM would be good. I'm not a fan of putting really long bars on small saws. An 18" would be about it for that saw. If your logs are larger, then a MS362 or 400 would be called for. A 24" bar is too much for the 362 though Stihl says it'll run it and I have done so. It's happier with a shorter bar. I run 18" on mine. If you really need a 24" bar then a 400 might be called for, or something larger. I have an MS460 for when I need a 24" or longer bar.

You can cut a log larger than the bar length by rolling it half a turn. Get a good cant hook for moving and rolling logs. Your back will thank you. If the log is on the ground you should be cutting it part way and turning it to finish the cut so you don't run the bar into the dirt.
 
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EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
3,518
SE North Carolina
How much are you cutting at once? Is this a splurge tool for you? I have a Chinese 660 clone with a 28”and a 37cc ryobi With a 16”. I’ll chose the light ryobi almost every time it’s on its second or third bar. ill Admit that I want something in between but but I don’t need it. I can’t justify spending any money when I get by just fine With what I have. Two questions can you sharpen a chain and tune a carb?
 

PaulOinMA

Minister of Fire
Oct 20, 2018
1,324
MA
One thing that has stopped me from buying a larger saw is that the little 180 has always done what I've needed as a homeowner that burns a bit over a cord annually. Bought it in 2010. I have only an acre and it has been great for my needs. I have a 16-inch bar on it. There has never been a time that I thought that the saw couldn't do what I was cutting.

It's only 32 cc., 2 h.p. Great little saw for my 1-acre, wooded homeowner needs.
 
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Nealm66

Minister of Fire
Sep 25, 2020
1,365
Western Washington
My brother recently asked me what saw to purchase for homeowner use so I called a veteran saw mechanic friend and he said the 251 would be an excellent choice. I trust his advice so that’s what I’m going to steer my brother towards.
 
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salecker

Minister of Fire
Aug 22, 2010
1,875
Northern Canada
I would spend the extra money on a 261 instead of a 251
261 is a Pro saw you can remove the cylinder without splitting the crankcase
251 is whats referred to as a clam-shell saw.The cylinder and crankcase are one piece and are just not up to the same use and repair as the pro saws.
If you want to spoil yourself and are not mechanically inclined get a MS400
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
7,086
Downeast Maine
I prefer the lightest saw that will get the job done. I cut 12"+ logs with my tiny Stihl MS150TC, I even use it for felling. A bit slower than my Husky 460, but I can get more work done at one time due to less weight. A sharp chain makes a big difference. I also use the 150 for cutting my rough cut lumber to size for projects. If the bar isn't long enough I just turn the log and make another cut. The Husky only comes out when I absolutely have to use it, and normally I keep it fitted with a 16" bar instead of the 20" bar it came with. That 16" bar will handle anything up to 28", which is just huge and I also have a 24" setup when I need it. I'm also milling logs larger than 7" on the small end when possible, but I still buck the logs with my tiny saw. I would use an electric saw if it were lighter. Even though my 150 starts pretty easy, instant on would be even better. Many people want the biggest saw they can get, but they are just exhausting. The largest saw I would suggest is the Stihl 50cc pro saw (MS261?), Husky 550 XP, or equivalent Dolmar/Makita 50cc pro saw.

Seriously, the Husky 460 wears me out, but I can cut all day with the Stihl 150. It is the first saw I grab, even though that 460 will fly through wood with a sharp chain.
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
7,086
Downeast Maine
One thing that has stopped me from buying a larger saw is that the little 180 has always done what I've needed as a homeowner that burns a bit over a cord annually. Bought it in 2010. I have only an acre and it has been great for my needs. I have a 16-inch bar on it. There has never been a time that I thought that the saw couldn't do what I was cutting.

It's only 32 cc., 2 h.p. Great little saw for my 1-acre, wooded homeowner needs.
Agreed, getting really good at sharpening chains would be better than any new saw. Using my 25cc saw I could cut circles around guys with massive saws that just replace chains annually rather than sharpen them. I find a sharper chain to be worth a lot more than more power.
 

CincyBurner

Minister of Fire
Mar 10, 2015
708
SW Ohio
The OP states that he's anticipating cutting 16" diameter firewood. A 50cc pro saw is a solid recommendation for firewood processing. Use smallest saw that still meets your needs. Buy a saw/ bar that meets 85% typical cutting needs. The few times you cut larger logs you can start/ finish cut from other side. Larger saws have their place and are fun to run, but like much in life the mystique of heavy saw wears off after 5 minutes.
I own MS 260 with 16" bar, but use a MS 261 at work that I like very much. With 16" bar saws are light, well-balanced and fast.
I've used Husky a long time ago and liked how smooth they ran with nice balance.
I own MS 462, and also use one on the job. It's not too much heavier than the MS 261. It would be overkill for just small diameter firewood processing but 70cc is great for bucking larger diameter wood should you go route of processing larger stuff.​
 
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Prof

Minister of Fire
Oct 18, 2011
666
Western PA
I would spend the extra money on a 261 instead of a 251
261 is a Pro saw you can remove the cylinder without splitting the crankcase
251 is whats referred to as a clam-shell saw.The cylinder and crankcase are one piece and are just not up to the same use and repair as the pro saws.
If you want to spoil yourself and are not mechanically inclined get a

I would spend the extra money on a 261 instead of a 251
261 is a Pro saw you can remove the cylinder without splitting the crankcase
251 is whats referred to as a clam-shell saw.The cylinder and crankcase are one piece and are just not up to the same use and repair as the pro saws.
If you want to spoil yourself and are not mechanically inclined get a MS400
I would second this. I've owned homeowner and mid range saws, and the pro saws are really in a different class in ways that matter--weight, power, fit and finish. I didn't know about the MS 400 until now--I'm intrigued, but want to be at least a little realistic in my needs vs wants. The truth is that the 261 I have will likely take care of my needs for the next decade or so.
 

hedge wood

Feeling the Heat
Mar 1, 2009
311
Eastern NE
Hi all. The wood stove is in at the dealer, and I have a pile of logs in my driveway. I have a Stihl MS180 that I bought a few years ago for storm cleanup and pruning work. Now I need to process firewood. I've been using the MS180, and it's doing a valiant job, but I think I'm abusing the poor thing. What would be a good second saw that would be better suited to firewood processing? I'm thinking something like a Stihl MS251 or MS261. A bar in the 18-20" range would be nice. Trying to cut up logs larger than 16" with a 16" bar is a pain. Am I on the right track here or are there other models I should look at? I'd prefer to stick with Stihl just because I live within walking distance of a dealer, but am open to other suggestions as well. Thanks!
We normally process 15-20 full cord a year of hardwood mostly hedge. Getting older and a couple of shoulder surgery's I needed a smaller saw. We used to use a 461 and a Makita 6401 and a 660 for falling the big stuff. The 461 and the 6401 had been great saws. Two years ago next month I bought a 261 Stihl. Its my crew of three including me the go to saw now. Its been so good I will probably get another one this summer. The 461and the 6401 spend more time in the saw trailer now. Spend a little more and get your self a 261.
 
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gzecc

Minister of Fire
Sep 24, 2008
4,996
NNJ
I just bought a Timberwolf Echo 590 70cc saw brand new off evil bay for < 400. Its a beast.
 
I would spend the extra money on a 261 instead of a 251
261 is a Pro saw you can remove the cylinder without splitting the crankcase
251 is whats referred to as a clam-shell saw.The cylinder and crankcase are one piece and are just not up to the same use and repair as the pro saws.
I agree ..
 

bigealta

Minister of Fire
May 22, 2010
863
Utah & NJ
How much $ is the Sthil 261 now?
 

kennyp2339

Minister of Fire
Feb 16, 2014
6,697
07462
60cc w/ a 20" is a great combo, I've havent the need for anything bigger since I started burning 10yrs ago.
 

PaulOinMA

Minister of Fire
Oct 20, 2018
1,324
MA
And that's what is stopping me from buying a second saw. I just don't want to spend $630 plus tax on a second saw when the little 180 has been doing all I need.

I would seriously consider the 261 if I didn't have a saw
 
Nov 5, 2021
61
PA, USA
Thanks for all of the feedback. The pile of logs I'm working on currently are averaging around 18" diameter. I few are smaller, and one big beautiful oak log is about 24". I bucked up about 4 logs yesterday with the MS180. It did alright. I went through about 4 tanks of gas, refilling the chain oil each time I refilled gas. It did a good job. It started to struggle on a big chunk of cherry, but by that time the chain also needed to be sharpened again. The 180 gets it done, and I'm glad to have it but it would be mighty nice to cut larger logs with a single pass.

There is an MS361 on the local CL at a very good price but its been up for a week, so I suspect its gone. Seller hasn't replied to me. Otherwise I'm keeping a lookout for a used MS261 or 026 at a good price. I'm not looking to go crazy overkill here. Something that can run a 20" bar confidently is enough. I'm trying to stay around $400 if I can.
 
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Grab a Stihl/Pferd 2in1 sharper for you chains..
 
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PaulOinMA

Minister of Fire
Oct 20, 2018
1,324
MA
... CL at a very good price but its been up for a week, so I suspect its gone. Seller hasn't replied to me ...

Yup. Same thing here. Great price on a bigger Stihl on CL right near me. Seller didn'treply. I followed-up. It was gone. Think that's why he didn't reply.

Thanks for the reminder. Been a little while since I've searched Stihl in the region CLs.

Also need to get a town resident drop-off facility sticker. They have a swap shop with free items. It's right by my house, too.