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buying chain saw


NCRebuildr's Avatar
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09-11-06, 12:10 PM   #1  
buying chain saw

I've been reading other threads about this subject and seems to me that most chain saw users like the stihl, husquavana and echo brands. And why not, they're pro-grade, high priced, high performance machines.
But I'm torn.

My budget is as small as possible to still get a machine that will do the job today, 3 dead elms 12-14 inch diameter and live through the occasional job in the future helping a friend, limb trim or weed tree.

I like the Stihl 250 16" for $240 and a 1-year warrenty.
The Husky 16" 40cc has a 2-yr warrenty for $199 at the blue box store.
Or the Poulan 18" 42cc with case and xtra chain for $169.

To me the Poulan is the winner right now, for the price and all the extras. Will it handle this first 3-tree workout?
Should I bite the bullet and get the stihl for the extra $70 bucks?
Two neighbors have poulans and say they're just fine. Father in-law swears by the stihl.

Please help me make up my mind.

 
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09-11-06, 12:31 PM   #2  
I would probably spend the extra for the Stihl but then I do not compromise with second rate tools. There has been too many times where trying to save a buck has backfired on me. Also elm will give the saw quite a workout. Elm has to be the nastiest wood there is. There is no real grain to it. I hope you don't plan to split it. It's almost impossible. I have seen a 16" round stop a 25 ton log splitter cold. Stinks to burn on top of it.

 
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09-11-06, 12:45 PM   #3  
yes, go with the Stihl. its worth the extra.

I too have gone the budget route before, and usually ended up sorry I didn't spend a couple dollars extra. The Stihl will probably be lighter, easier to start, and overall more reliable.

 
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09-11-06, 12:46 PM   #4  
Really? Wow.
So I shouldn't try to sell it or give it away as firewood? I always thought elm was a good wood.
They died this spring from canker worms and dutch elm (according to arborist), so are quite dead and already drying out.

Will I have troubles cutting it? Only second time using a chain saw. All are heavily weighted towards the street and away from the house. I'm planning to ladder up to take off the house-side limbs with pole or bow saw to ensure trees fall into street when cut at the ground. Besides clearing away all the dirt around the wood, am I okay cutting below grade?

 
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09-11-06, 12:49 PM   #5  
Lots of stihl fans out there.
Is the Husquavana worth a hoot? Seems heavy, but hard to tell when not side by side.

 
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09-11-06, 01:26 PM   #6  
Azis
I have a 38cc Husqy 16", going on 12 years. Not a lot of use much as you mentioned along with a few bigger jobs helping out friends. Its never failed to keep up even with bigger saws.
Personally I have not seen a newer one from any box stores so can not even vouch if they are made by Husqvarna. You might check and see what the local dealer carries or recomends.
Husqvarna does make a good machine.

 
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09-11-06, 02:21 PM   #7  
My bro has a stihl. I got a chance to actually look at it well. There are many things about it that would make it miles ahead of a Poulan. Worth the difference of money.

Husky? as azis posted, they were good. Make sure it is still a Husky.

 
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09-11-06, 02:26 PM   #8  
How can I tell who makes the Husqy if it's not Husqy? On the box?

 
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09-11-06, 02:27 PM   #9  
So just this weekend I cut quite a bit of wood. We had four saws to choose from:

- New Stihl 16" with easy pull starter and quick chain tensioner(don't know which model) cost about $250 from Stihl dealer

- My couple of year old Husqvarna 340 16" Cost $199 at big box store

- New Poulan 20" - Cost $179 at big box store

- My couple of year old Makita 64cc with 20 inch bar - about $700 new - I bought it used from a rental shop

The best of the first three is the Stihl. It is quieter than the Husqvarna and just as powerful. The chain tensioner is great to work with. I don't really care for the easy start, but it works well. Close second choice is the Husqvarna - easier to use controls than the Stihl - (the trigger lock on the Stihl is annoying - not so on Husky) - but the old bolt style tensioners are a pain - and this machine seems to need a little more hourly maintenance than the Stihl.

Both Stihl and Husky cut equally well and work fine - Stihl is probably slightly lighter weight. Both start easily.

Poulan - even with a 20" bar is a distant third - much less power - harder to start - works OK with a sharp chain - what I would worry about is getting the thing started two or three years from now.

Makita - monster of a saw - not really comparable to the others - heavier and much faster cutting - little finicky to start.

No question I would buy the Stihl - I might even look on Ebay for a used one before going for the Poulan. However I do have an old McCoullough 14 incher that I paid $89 for rebuilt about 20 years ago - it still works, and as long as you have a good chain on it, it cuts OK. - so I know what it is like to live on a budget.

 
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09-11-06, 02:39 PM   #10  
Also, about Husqvarna - they are the same saws as Jonsered - which is another brand you might see.

I wouldn't hesitate to buy one of them - even the smaller "consumer grade" saws sold at the blue store will do more than any homeowner will ever need. They aren't made by anybody else as far as I can tell.

If you only have a couple of trees to cut, why not rent or borrow a saw for a day?

 
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09-11-06, 02:50 PM   #11  
My main concern in renting is that it turns into a multiple day project. My helper is only part time this week and I have two little ones to look after with the Mama.
Borrowing...all my friends have old poulans that I worry would crap out during or after my project and I'd end up buying them a new saw and still be left empty handed.
And shouldn't every man have a chain saw to call his own?

$40 and 1 year warrenty difference between Hus. and Stihl...might just be which store I'm closest too tomorrow morning.

Besides cc's, weight and extras, what else should I look for or to compare other models apples to apples?

 
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09-11-06, 03:19 PM   #12  
Azis
Pretty much just what color of orange u like best
Indy made some real fine points about controls and such. If you have the chance (Maybe not at the box stores) pick each up and toss them around, check out which feels better or catches your attenetion.
This is one case where the best buy is a larger initial investment.

 
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09-11-06, 07:57 PM   #13  
I own both a stihl and husquvarna. Both are probably around 15 to 20 years old and they still start easily, run like a top and outperform most anything else I've used. They get fairly heavy use every season because I heat primarily with a wood stove. I've also had and worked on nearly every other brand out there. Poulans generally wind up in the trash pile rather than fixing them. They usually don't last long enough to wear out the original drive sprocket. So do most other low end saws. Some of the low priced consumer grade husqvarnas are poulan saws in orange clothing. For the differences in price you're looking at, you'd be ahead in the long run to get quality. If you just want a saw to get you out of a bind, and don't care if it still works 5 years from now or not, then the poulan should be ok, although still more aggravating to work with while you do use it.


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09-12-06, 05:10 AM   #14  
I've heard this "low end Husqvarnas are just Poulans" a couple of times here - however I don't think it is true.

Perhaps Husqvarna now owns Poulan, so they are manufactured by the same company - maybe even at the same factory - but the design of the saws is totally different - at least it was a couple of years ago when I checked it out.

Maybe I should go back and look again - if they made the Poulans into the Husqvarna design - heck buy one of them.

 
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09-12-06, 05:23 AM   #15  
Maybe I got lucky but I've owned a poulan pro for about 6 years now and it's cut a many of trees down and up. I haven't had a problem one out of it as of yet.

 
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09-12-06, 08:01 AM   #16  
Posted By: NCRebuildr $40 and 1 year warrenty difference between Hus. and Stihl...might just be which store I'm closest too tomorrow morning.

Besides cc's, weight and extras, what else should I look for or to compare other models apples to apples?

I wouldn't pay any attention to the warranty. You won't use it on either the Stihl or the Husqvarna or probably the Poulan - unless you start cutting lots of wood.

Also, I suspect the Stihl dealer would do warranty work on site, and of course the big box store doesn't.

The only thing you really need to worry about on a chainsaw is getting the proper mix of gas in the tank, keeping the chain oiler tank filled, and keeping the chain sharp and tightened.

Buy a sharpening file that fits your chain. Sharpening a chain isn't hard by hand with a file - takes about 10 minutes and gives your arm a workout - but the results are dramatic. I can sharpen a chain about 5 times by hand in the field and then I take it off and get it professionally ground. I'd buy an extra chain for your saw as well.

Keeping the chain tight is the most frequent and important maintenance you'll do. So the method to tighten the chain is pretty critical to the ease of use. My Husqvarna requires loosening two bolts tightening the tensioner with a screwdriver, then tightening the bolts - it takes about 3 minutes - but still, I've ruined chains because I don't take the time to do it.

The Stihl uses a quick system that can be done without tools - takes less than a minute - that alone is worth the difference in price to me.

Good Luck with whatever you choose, and be safe with it.

 
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09-12-06, 09:19 PM   #17  
Husquvarna doesn't own poulan. It's pretty much the other way around. Electrolux bought husquvarna (electrolux owns poulan). Since that happened, Husquvarna names started popping up on some poulan made equipment. This is the same time Husquvarna mowers made by AYP began to appear. Electrolux owns AYP, Poulan/weed eater, and Husq.


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09-13-06, 12:05 PM   #18  
I have had a Stihl for about 10 years now and it's still going strong. I cut mostly oak for campfires and trimming up my 10 acres. My brother has a Husquavana and it seems to run at a higher speed than my Stihl. One thing I like is that his Husquavana's air filter doesn't seem to get as clogged up with saw dust as my Stihl does.
I don't think you can go wrong with either chain saw.

 
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09-13-06, 12:51 PM   #19  
Posted By: NCRebuildr Really? Wow.
So I shouldn't try to sell it or give it away as firewood? I always thought elm was a good wood.
They died this spring from canker worms and dutch elm (according to arborist), so are quite dead and already drying out.

Will I have troubles cutting it? Only second time using a chain saw. All are heavily weighted towards the street and away from the house. I'm planning to ladder up to take off the house-side limbs with pole or bow saw to ensure trees fall into street when cut at the ground. Besides clearing away all the dirt around the wood, am I okay cutting below grade?
I am truly serious when I say that elm is extremely difficult to split. Not even worth it. You should give it away to someone you don't like then watch them try to split it lol (kidding) As far as cutting it it will cut ok but I imagine a little more strain then usual but not really a big consideration thinking about it. Stay away from gimmicks like self sharpening. I have never seen one with Stihl but the ones I have seen were junk. It takes a special expensive chain and does a crap job of sharpening. IMO sharpening saw chains takes a bit of skill and for the most part it's better to have them professionally sharpened and not very expensive. A saw chain will stay sharp for a good while as long as you don't hit anything you shouldn't with it. Touching the ground even briefly will result in a dull chain almost instantly. You shouldn't try to cut the stumps below ground.

 
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09-14-06, 07:13 AM   #20  
It is easier to split elm when it's about 10-20 degrees outside. I agree it's better to pass on elm unless you have a gas powered log splitter.

 
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09-14-06, 08:59 AM   #21  
Considering your statement that $$ are a consideration, and it sounds as if you probably will not be using a chainsaw with much regularity, I would think that one of the less expensive big box store saws will probably serve you adequately. My first chainsaw was a relatively inexpensive McCulloch homeowner’s grade which I purhcased about 25 years ago for a fallen tree in the yard. It has served me very well over the years of occasional use. For my purposes at this point (more trees and more $ available), I prefer Stihl. I have a 20 year old 028 given by my father in law. I like it so well that when I lost my pecan grove to Katrina last year, I purchased another similar Stihl (280, now) as a back-up in case we had trouble with the old one. It is very important that whatever you choose, that you keep fresh gas mix in it. If it is going to sit for some time between uses, you need to drain the fuel out of the tank and run it dry.

 
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09-14-06, 03:17 PM   #22  
Went Stihl

Thanks a bunch guys/gals!

I ended up getting the Stihl MS210 16" bar 35cc $239.
I just finished felling the second elm and the thing cuts like butter!!! The dealer threw in the extra chain when I asked for it(although yellow sticker, when they say green is best for anti-kickback).
I do have a few questions now though.

As I got down the the real thick wood of the trunk of the second tree, the chain would sieze up or stall briefly in the cut. Do you suppose this is due to the size of the trunk, wettness of the wood, opperater cutting off center, or the blade beginning to dull?
Oil/gas mix...it says to use 50:1. The 2.6 oz. 2-cycle oil I bought says it's good for 50:1, 40:1, 32:1 and 16:1 with no instructions as to how much oil to mix into a gallon of gas? It makes it sound as if this 2.6oz bottle is good for any of those ratios. Is it some sort of universal mix, good for any of these uses?

Last tree comes down tomorrow, then I'm giving my shoulder a long rest!

 
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09-15-06, 05:15 AM   #23  
Saw...

Good choice on the saw - I have an 036 that is great for cutting.

2.6 ounces of oil in 1 gallon of gas will give you 50:1.

Are both of your chains yellow sticker or is the one on the saw green and the one he sold you yellow? If you have one of each compare them you'll notice on the link between the cutting links there is a little 'fin', on the yellow chain there isn't a 'fin'. I'm sure the green blade is designed for lower kick back, but I've used both and didn't notice a difference - the yellow chain did cut nicer though.

The most likely cause for the chain stopping is the wood is tough - don't force the saw through. Also if the log is trying to pinch closed as you cut will cause that. To be safe check to make sure the chain is getting oiled - if it's not getting enough lubrication it will have a harder time spinning.

If you haven't already I recommend spending an extra $75 and buying saw chaps and a helmet with face shield and ear muffs. The chaps will keep the saw from taking you leg off if you slip. The nice thing with the helmet is the shield keeps sawdust away from your face (still wear safety glasses) and the earmuffs help muffle the noise of the saw.

As others have mentioned - I usually but stabilizer in all my fuel and if the saw is going to sit for more than a month I run all the fuel out of it.

 
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09-15-06, 06:36 PM   #24  
let that elm sit

If you have the space and can use the wood, let it sit and age a long time. The fiber will break down a bit making it a lot easier to split. I have to do this with live oak and gum (eucalyptus). The grain intertwines and it is almost impossible to split some varieties. I have driven a large wedge with 12-pound sledge through and out the bottom of 12 inch green wood of these types without splitting the backside. A workout few can afford. Let em sit a while and your in another world. I store it outside so there is some degradation of quality.
Sometime you take what you can get.

you chose wisely

 
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09-15-06, 07:29 PM   #25  
Posted By: NCRebuildr Thanks a bunch guys/gals!

I ended up getting the Stihl MS210 16" bar 35cc $239.
I just finished felling the second elm and the thing cuts like butter!!! The dealer threw in the extra chain when I asked for it(although yellow sticker, when they say green is best for anti-kickback).
I do have a few questions now though.

As I got down the the real thick wood of the trunk of the second tree, the chain would sieze up or stall briefly in the cut. Do you suppose this is due to the size of the trunk, wettness of the wood, opperater cutting off center, or the blade beginning to dull?
Oil/gas mix...it says to use 50:1. The 2.6 oz. 2-cycle oil I bought says it's good for 50:1, 40:1, 32:1 and 16:1 with no instructions as to how much oil to mix into a gallon of gas? It makes it sound as if this 2.6oz bottle is good for any of those ratios. Is it some sort of universal mix, good for any of these uses?

Last tree comes down tomorrow, then I'm giving my shoulder a long rest!
The saw will bog down when you give it more work then it can take. Chainsaws have what you call a centrifugal clutch. Looks almost exactly like brake shoes and drum in an auto. If you get to this point slow down a little bit and let the saw catch up. Be careful not to bind the saw under pressure or you will get it stuck. Be glad you got the regular chain. Yes the safety types have less kickback but also loses about 30% cutting speed. Kickback is a genuine concern though and you should read your manual thoroughly.

 
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09-15-06, 08:21 PM   #26  
I agree, I think I was pushing the saw too hard. Actually pushing it in and through the log. I'll let it do the work and just guide from now on...thanks.
Did read every word of the manual before starting. As if that wasn't enough, just being around a chainsaw makes you respect it. The noise, smell, and wood chips flying everywhere really make you pay attention.
Can you believe the manual says the chain can travel as fast as 67 mph?!?!

And thanks for the info about elm wood, but decided to wipe my hands of it and let the county take it on trash day. Will make for some very good mulch the county sells for just $8/yard. Cool that they recycle AND take yard waste here and keep it all out of the landfill.
I suspect the black cherry trees we have here would make for excellent fire wood in a few years. They're native here and seem to pop up right next to or in between other plantings. If I could let them get full grown where they are, I'd probably be able to make some very nice furniture from them around the time I retire. Flowers, berries and beautiful wood...they're a great tree in the right place.

Thanks again all...great thread!

 
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09-16-06, 05:59 AM   #27  
Posted By: chumiser let it sit and age a long time. The fiber will break down a bit making it a lot easier to split. I have to do this with live oak and gum (eucalyptus).

The gum trees I have cut for firewood needed to be split imediatetly. I found gum easy to split when fresh but let it set a half a day or longer and it is next to impossible to split although you can kind of peel it around the edges.


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09-16-06, 06:20 AM   #28  
I'm surprised no one mentioned Shindaiwa?

 
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09-17-06, 12:58 AM   #29  
Nice saw, but expensive for the casual homeowner and harder to find parts and service for.


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09-17-06, 10:07 AM   #30  
Posted By: kbalona I'm surprised no one mentioned Shindaiwa?
I might have if we were talking about weed eaters. Never used their saws or even seen one that I can recall. I imagine they are decent though. The weed eaters were the best in the lawn industry.

 
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09-17-06, 11:06 AM   #31  
Shindaiwa makes some excellent home-owner saws.

 
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