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Thread: Looking for Right Chainsaw

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
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    Looking for Right Chainsaw

    I am a woodturner and am looking at getting a chainsaw mainly for going to the woods to maybe cut a tree with a burl or some other tree. I have an electric Makita which does an awesome job at the job...no trouble at all but obvious cant take it to the woods. I was wanting a Stihl.I heard they were easy to start...some have an easy start system. I had tried a Huskyquarna from our local Lowes a while back and it was hard to start. I took it back. I dont want a $500 saw but do want a good one. I think 16" would be sufficient for me. Any help is appreciated. Thanks!!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    Tokyo Japan
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    I'm sure lots of guys will chime in here, I'm in Tokyo Japan, so I can't really comment on what you have available there, but I do have some more basic advice.

    Find a chainsaw shop in your area, for find a couple of them, go in there and just soak in the place, see how they treat their customers, how they treat each other and how they treat you a stranger walking in off the street. Ask about a saw, tell them what you want/need in a saw and ask for their recommendations, tell them that a good used, or reconditions saw would certainly be an option. A good shop will have saws that guys traded up from, or a good used saw that a pro used for a few years and had decided it was time for a new saw, the used one can often be fixed up and will give a guy like yourself, a non pro many years of good service.

    Don't fixate on the brand, I happen to own two Huskys, one Makita and one Shindaiwa, all great saws, I'd also own a Stihl in a heartbeat, I don't think either saw will disappoint you. Stay away from the Borg specials, they are often disposable saws.

    If you find a good chainsaw shop and they sell and support brand X I'd go with that, unless you are going to do your own servicing, I think that the shop would determine which saw I'd buy over the brand. You can have the best chainsaw in the world, but if your local shop is a pain to deal with, or they are just slow getting parts etc then it won't matter a hill of beans how good your saw is.

    I hope this helps.
    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Mountain Home, Arkansas
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    11,825
    Stihl. Period. I know a professional cutter. He has many chainsaws, his 'newest' Stihl is about 20 years old. Other brands last him one or two seasons. I have a Stihl with the easy-start system and will never go back. Just don't loan it. Trying to pull start the old way can break it.
    "Folks is funny critters."

    Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too. ~Voltaire

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
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    Reno, Nv
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    Having worked with Burl Brothers for years, they had about 8-10 saws between them. Every one was a Stihl including the 090 head with a 6' bar that was banned from US sale because of emmission control. Every pull very time. Nothing more than routine maintenance.
    Your Respiratory Therapist wears Combat boots

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    S E Washington State
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    3,777
    Well I know chain saws gave gone up in price since I bought one. but I've had a Stihl for over 30 years. I don't use it a whole lot anymore, but I know it will start easily every time.
    "We the People ......"

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
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    Austin, Texas
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    After several others, I finally own a Stihl, and consider it a bargain. It costs about twice as much as the Home Depot offerings, but I finally realized that Home Depot (and the like) have slightly different versions of name brand saws, made especially cheap and basically unrepairable.

    Consider how big a bar/chain you actually need. Probably my best choice was a 14 inch; I believe Stihl doesn't make anything smaller than 16 inch, but go small rather than going big.

    Stu's recommendation of buying from a service shop is great.
    Charlie Plesums, Austin Texas
    (Retired early to become a custom furnituremaker)
    Lots of my free advice at www.solowoodworker.com

  7. #7
    Join Date
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    My Stihl is one of my best shop investments ever, but with that said, I completely agree with Stu's advice. I went with Stihl because my local shop - which sells Stihl, Husqvarna, and several other pro brands - said that in my area, parts are more readily available for Stihl than the other brands. Had he recommended Husky or one of the other pro brands, I would have gone with it. The Stihl was not cheap, but it was a lifetime investment, and in the long run will cost me a lot less than buying one cheap saw after another. (My first chainsaw was a Poulan from Home Depot, and it lasted only about 2 years. That was $200+ out the window.)

    I also will echo Stu's advice to buy from a local shop instead of from one of the big-box stores. For one, you'll get better service after the sale, and for two, parts for many (if not most) of the saws sold at the Borgs are either hard to get, or not available at all.

    And for a woodturner, I respectfully disagree with Charlie's advice to get a small bar. I have an 18" bar and a 24" bar, and have used both quite a bit. A lot of the turning blanks I've cut would have been difficult or dangerous to cut with a bar smaller than 18". I've also cut quite a few blanks that were pushing the limits of the 24" bar, not so much cross-cutting the log, but ripping it in half down the middle. Keep in mind that I have a lathe with a 20" swing, so I'm often looking for big blanks. Also keep in mind that if you get a big bar, you need a big motor to handle it. Here again, a local pro shop can steer you in the right direction and advise you on which model to get. I ended up with the MS390, which is a relatively heavy saw, but I was more interested in large capacity than I was on light weight.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vaughn McMillan View Post
    ....
    And for a woodturner, I respectfully disagree with Charlie's advice to get a small bar. I have an 18" bar and a 24" bar, and have used both quite a bit. A lot of the turning blanks I've cut would have been difficult or dangerous to cut with a bar smaller than 18". I've also cut quite a few blanks that were pushing the limits of the 24" bar, not so much cross-cutting the log, but ripping it in half down the middle. Keep in mind that I have a lathe with a 20" swing, so I'm often looking for big blanks. Also keep in mind that if you get a big bar, you need a big motor to handle it. Here again, a local pro shop can steer you in the right direction and advise you on which model to get. I ended up with the MS390, which is a relatively heavy saw, but I was more interested in large capacity than I was on light weight.
    Good points, Vaughn.
    I was thinking of homeowner-use rather than turner-use of the chainsaw. Some people call me crazy, but I do climb a tree with a chain saw for major pruning or felling a tree in sections. The 14 inch bar and light-weight saw was better in the tree, and despite the small size allowed me to fell a tree a couple feet in diameter.

    I do have a friend with an 8 foot bar on one of his chainsaws (he specializes in large slab lumber), and even has a 100 inch wide jointer planer to go with that saw! I bet you agree that is too large!
    Charlie Plesums, Austin Texas
    (Retired early to become a custom furnituremaker)
    Lots of my free advice at www.solowoodworker.com

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    just south of the LA/MS border off of I-55
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    The main issue is plastic or metal case, the main body of the saw. The plastic cased saws are what you buy at the big boxes like home depot. Some hold up pretty well for occasional use, some are junk from almost day one. However, Stihl makes three lines of saws all with the Stihl name on them. Buy a home owner line saw and often you haven't gained much over a big box throw away saw but you paid a lot more. The farm and ranch saws are a little to a lot better depending on model and other than the occasional lemon design the pro saws are what everyone talks about lasting forever. If you do kill one you don't throw it away, you fix it unlike the toys. Same about multiple lines with Husqvarna and they sell a herd of brands too now.

    Makita bought out Dolmar so Makita/Dolmar is a top quality saw, many think the match of Stihl and some pro's including logging companies run nothing but Dolmars, especially in Europe. Dealer support is poor to nonexistent in the US but parts are readily available. Stihl and Husqvarna both have fans. Debatable but Stihl might be a hair better, many like the ergonomics of the Husqvarna better. I am spelling out Husqvarna for a reason. Usually we just call them Huskies so there is a Husky brand taking advantage of that!

    Beware of counterfeits buying used or new too cheap. They are out there. ArboristSite and SawHawgs are my favorite sites for chainsaw info. The people are a bit rough around the edges but very knowledgeable both places. Searchs will give you a ton of information especially once you have narrowed your choice down to a few saws.

    One consideration is what type of chain and bar do you want to run? My choice is .375 fifty gauge because it is common as dirt and gives me the most options in chains and bars. It is also wide enough that I have little problems with pinching. I did buy a handful of plastic wedges, good practice to slap one in the back cut as soon as you get the bar in deep enough. You do need an over forty CC saw to pull this chain as a general statement, over fifty is better.

    My Makita/Dolmar has a decompression valve, a handy feature on bigger saws. Buying new I probably wouldn't consider a saw without electronic carburetor and ignition control either. I am usually leery of such things but the pro's are very happy with the saws with the electronics and they have been around awhile now. A simplified version of the controls of the vehicles we drive everyday. Starts easier, runs better tuning itself on the fly, adjusts to the fuel and mix you put in the saw, seems to work as advertised.

    A good saw isn't cheap but when compared to the aggravation of a cheap saw and the lifetime of each . . . , if you can buy a quality saw. A good chance that if you use one much you will be buying a nice saw after fighting a cheap one awhile so often money saved to buy quality and cry once.

    Hu

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie Plesums View Post
    ...I do have a friend with an 8 foot bar on one of his chainsaws (he specializes in large slab lumber), and even has a 100 inch wide jointer planer to go with that saw! I bet you agree that is too large!
    Yeah, my general rule of thumb is to never run a saw that's longer than I am tall. (I'm afraid to ask how big his lathe is.) For general yardwork and such, I agree with you about the shorter bars. Much easier to use for that type of work. I'm fascinated watching the pro tree trimmers who climb like monkeys and wield their little chain saws one-handed.

    Quote Originally Posted by hu lowery View Post
    ...However, Stihl makes three lines of saws all with the Stihl name on them. Buy a home owner line saw and often you haven't gained much over a big box throw away saw but you paid a lot more. The farm and ranch saws are a little to a lot better depending on model and other than the occasional lemon design the pro saws are what everyone talks about lasting forever. If you do kill one you don't throw it away, you fix it unlike the toys...
    Good point about the multiple lines. When I bought my MS-390, my Stihl dealer actually talked me out of buying the pro line, and sold me the mid-level line instead. He said for my use (on average a few hours once or twice a month), the mid-level saw would last me a lifetime with proper care and maintenance...the parts likely to wear were easily available and replaceable. If I was planning to use it all day every day, he said the extra money for the pro-level saw would be justified. Also, the pro saw of comparable horsepower was a bit lighter than mine, but here again, for my occasional use, the extra weight wasn't really going to be an issue.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

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