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Chainsaw recommendations


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05-22-17, 05:27 AM   #1  
Chainsaw recommendations

After 20 or so years, we are ready to start cleaning up the backyard . The biggest trees I need to take down are maybe 24" around; most are much smaller. What brand and size chainsaw do folks recommend? I've used 18" and 20" saws at my father-in-law's farm over the years, but those strike me as being too big for my current and future needs.

I appreciate advice and suggestions. TIA!

 
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05-22-17, 05:43 AM   #2  
top 4 brands in no particular order Husqvarna, stihl, echo and dolmar would probably look for a 50-60 cc range should be capable of using a 20 inch bar but you can always put a smaller bar on it.

 
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05-22-17, 07:19 AM   #3  
For a cheap small lightweight saw I like my 14" Poulan .... but I have a Husqvarna rancher for the bigger stuff.


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05-22-17, 08:26 AM   #4  
Whatever you get also get a saw file kit so you can sharpen it, it only takes 3-4 swipes per tooth and it will cut like new. Over the years I have been on the working end of everything from a Mercury-Disston 2 man to an electric pole saw and have determined unless you have a large property to maintain a $59 electric 14in chainsaw and $69 extending pole saw from Harbor Freight is all you will ever need. After the initial job is done the gas saw will set a very long time between uses and when needed it won't start, gotta get fresh gas and 2-cycle oil etc. The electric is always ready and you will be amazed at the power. I cut down a dead maple tree in my front yard that had a diameter more than the bar length with no problems. My gas Homelite hasn't been started for about 10 years and was left with fuel in it, getting that started will be a project some day. The most important thing is to keep the bar oiled and the chain sharp. Have a good one. Geo

 
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05-22-17, 08:28 AM   #5  
Thanks for the info, Geo. Anyone else have experience with electric saws? Or battery-powered ones?

 
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05-22-17, 10:01 AM   #6  
I have an electric chainsaw I inherited from my father. I rarely use it because gas is handier for me but I will say that it does cut extremely well! no shortage of power.


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05-22-17, 11:08 AM   #7  
I am in complete agreement that an electric chain saw is the preferred type when usage is few and far between. I have a Remington "Limb and Trim" dating back to the early 1970s that I have used to cut up trees that fell during a windstorm as well as for just removing overgrown trees. I think my saw has a 16 inch bar but it might be only 14 inch. I have cut trees with a much larger diameter by rolling the tree.

Even using a 100 foot extension cord had no detrimental effect albeit it IS a #12 gauge cord. Do not use anything smaller than a #12 cord and all should be fine.

 
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05-22-17, 01:48 PM   #8  
I can't imagine having to deal with a 24" tree with an electric saw or anything smaller than 50cc. It can be done with a hatchet I guess, but somewhere there is a line where it's just not worth it. My recommendation is to get a husquvarna, echo, or stihl in 50cc or larger and a 18" bar. Like Alan73 said, you can put a smaller bar on later. Learn to use it safely before running it, there are a lot of ways to get hurt faster than you'd think and a lot of ways to damage the saw too. Using a smaller weaker saw will result in frustration and fatigue, which both result in bad decision making and lack of concentration. Not to mention taking twice as long or more. I suppose if you are smaller build and not able to handle a medium saw, the choices narrow. Just keep in mind that a chainsaw is not the tool with which you want to learn a lesson about quality and "the right tool for the job". A good used one from criagslist would be preferred to a new cheap one IMO.


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05-22-17, 03:35 PM   #9  
Never used a corded electric so have no comment, I did have a battery B&D with 8" bar and honestly, knippers or a bow saw was less work.

I used my Husqvarna 36 w/18" bar for over 20 years, the last 6 of those years putting up 4-5 chords/year, Maple, Fir, Alder and Cherry. Much of it > 24"






If you are doing it yearly being able to run a longer bar is much easier on the back, but a smaller saw can and will do it, and is much easier for the limbing and regular trimming you might want for a yard.

Husqvarna would be my first choice or an older Stihl. The newer consumer Stihls I see however, I don't care for at all. Maybe if you get into the bigger Stihls....???
I spent 22 years in the PNW and two brands were used by loggers, Stihl and Husqvarna.

Echo makes a good product and I don't see many saws in the shop, but I have never used one so....


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05-22-17, 03:50 PM   #10  
The key to using an electric chain saw is to have a SHARP chain. Electric saws have enough power but they do not have the power to bull a dull chain the way a gasoline-powered saw can do. The ability to do no engine maintenance and store the saw for years yet still have it ready to cut at a moments notice is what is best about an electric saw.

I would NOT recommend a battery-powered saw UNLESS the battery fits other tools that will get significant usage. My experience is that seldom used battery-powered tools fail when you need them the most.

 
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05-23-17, 03:46 AM   #11  
Any type of saw works better with a sharp chain

I seldom use my electric chainsaw but I was really impressed by how much power it has. My 2 gas saws are more convenient and I often cut where electricity isn't available. While I wouldn't want to use it when cutting something big, I really like my little Poulan as it's lighter than my Husqvarna [easier on my back] and for a small cheap saw I think it cuts real well. I've considered buying a battery operated saw that uses the same battery as my cordless drill but I'm not convinced I'd get enough use out of it to justify the price.


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05-23-17, 05:48 AM   #12  
Chain Saw

I recommend a Husqvarna 36. I have a Husqvarna 36 and a Husqvarna 266. Both are highly recommended for their intended purpose. The lighter 36 would be more suitable for lot clean-up.

I prefer chisel chains to chipper chains.

Get a properly sized file to match the size chain you have.

Clamping the bar in a vise makes sharpening much easier. This allows two hands on the file, one on the handle and the other on the tip.

 
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05-23-17, 06:05 AM   #13  
Cheese, I agree with not wanting to use an electric on a 24" tree, but Arlo said "24 around", so maybe he can clarify, but I'm thinking 7-8" diameter, and that seems reasonable, as far as I am concerned. Arlo, I have an electric that my father-in-law picked up for me at an auction quite a few years back, and I really like it, except that most of where I want to use a chainsaw is farther from the house or shop than I care to run cords, so that's something to consider. And you have to be comfortable with the fact that it has been taken care of, but I definitely agree with checking craigslist for something like this, whether you decide on gas or electric. Depending on how much you have to do, and, again, how comfortable you are with the individual, you might find someone around who would be interested in taking them down for you for the wood. We've had a couple of times that I fell trees out front before they fell into the road that I actually sold the wood as is, and they cut it up and hauled it away. In fact we had one young couple 10 years or so ago to who I simply asked to be careful and not leave me a big mess, and I had to actually tell them it was good enough because they came back the next night and spent an hour or so raking up the saw chip piles and loading into their pickup.

 
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05-23-17, 11:21 AM   #14  
Thanks for the info and insight and help everyone!

My biggest tree is about 24" around, 7-8" across. Since I plan mainly to take down a handful of
smaller trees and prune some dead limbs and it'll just be yearly yard maintenance in the future, an electric saw is sounding like the right tool.

 
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05-23-17, 12:51 PM   #15  
"Around"... I looked over that, measurements normally being across instead of around. I agree, an electric would suffice. I still would stay away from the poulan ones, they have a cheap plastic gear that doesn't last long at all. I just threw one someone brought to my shop in the trash that looked brand new but the gear was already stripped and it wasn't worth putting a new one on.


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07-25-17, 06:29 AM   #16  
Reading this now since it's time I need to get a chainsaw for our cabin in the woods. No electricity available so that rules out electric and battery. So gas it is.

Looks like most of you recommend the Husqvarna, and Echo's. I like what Cheese had to say "My recommendation is to get a husquvarna, echo, or stihl in 50cc or larger and a 18" bar. Like Alan73 said, you can put a smaller bar on later." But do I need a high quality unit for heavy initial use but only occasional use thereafter?

I wonder if Arlo the OP is reading this and tell us what he settled on.

I do have a specific question. Are there any units that use straight 87 octane gasoline or are they all 2 cycle? And if straight gas is available what would be better, gas or 2 cycle?

Inactivity is one of my concerns. Once we do a clean up (mainly small size branches but a few 12" to 16" diameter trees), use will be very sporadic and far between. what would be recommended for storage when not in use for weeks or months?

Also I would like to keep the cost down below $200. Is that possible?

 
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07-25-17, 06:53 AM   #17  
I've never seen a 4 stroke chainsaw, generally speaking a 2 stroke has more power.
I have 2 gas saws, a little cheap 14" bar Poulan and a Husqvarna rancher with an 18" bar. My little Poulan gets the most use, it's lighter and easier on my back. The rancher is a better stouter saw but weighs more. The little Poulan is only a little over $100, the rancher was about 3x that. FWIW - both are made by the same company.


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07-25-17, 07:49 AM   #18  
Now that I think about it a 4 cycle would require an oil reservoir and a filter. I don't think a 14" would do what I need. I have a McCullock electric 14" that I've using with a portable generator. But lugging that generator around is getting old real fast. Today I'll look at the big box stores for an Echo or Husquavarna.

Anybody want to tackle my question about long term storage or long term non-use?

 
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07-25-17, 10:49 AM   #19  
In the price range you have, I'd stick with echo... they have a little 14" for $199. The husquavarnas in that price range are just going to be orange poulans. The cheapest model echo will be far superior to the cheapest model husquvarna.

For long term storage of a 2 stroke chainsaw, I recommend emptying the gas, pump the primer until the fuel has returned to the tank and dump that too, then add mineral spirits and pump the primer to fill the carb with mineral spirits and leave that in it and put a tag on the handle to let people know it has mineral spirits in it. The mineral spirits doesn't turn to varnish or gum up and helps keep the diaphragms and gaskets soft and keeps them from drying up. When ready to use, dump it, fill with gas and prime until the carb is flushed with gas again.


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07-25-17, 11:04 AM   #20  
Cheese, You are correct about the price. I just took a quick trip to Big Blue and Big Orange to check pricing and models. I think I must revise my thinking to an upper limit of $250.00.

One more question. Can and should gas stabilizer be added to 2 cycle gas mixture?

 
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07-25-17, 12:05 PM   #21  
I add StaBil to the gas mix anytime I don't expect to use it up promptly. I often leave gas in my saws but it's rare for me to go 6 weeks or so without using them, maybe longer with the big saw.


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07-25-17, 01:32 PM   #22  
most of the better 2 stroke oils will already have a stabilizer should say so on the bottle if it does, probably the best thing you could do is find a source for gas with no ethanol and try to use the mix up in a certain time frame say within a couple of months if you cant use it In your 2 stroke equipment use it in your 4 stroke engines to get rid of it.

 
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07-25-17, 02:39 PM   #23  
Ya, I forgot to mention all my small engines [except mower] get non ethanol. When you are only buying a gallon or two the extra cost and trip are negligible. I've I remember correctly the husqvarna brand oil has the stabilizer .... although I generally buy what's on sale.


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07-25-17, 03:30 PM   #24  
Cheese is right about the Poulan/Husqvarna Low end line, however, be they green or orange, nearly all that come through the shop leave running usually needing just fuel lines or primer bulb. Nice thing about them is they still have fully repairable and tuneable carbs.

As far as storage, I personally do little of anything. Whether in the mild PNW or extreme weather of Kansas. I simply store them on their side (the same as if you were adding fuel or bar oil, never come back to a puddle yet ) on a concrete floor out of the weather and sun, I never use stabilizer and don't look for it in my mix oil (Might be in some I have used however I use the cheapest I can find). However mine are older saws without a primer bulb! Maybe I am just lucky but if you really want to do it right, I would go with cheese suggestion...never used the mineral spirits so not sure bout that but....MMO is good stuff and it has Mineral spirits in it.


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07-25-17, 03:34 PM   #25  
I like Sthil and Husquavarna. I have 2 Husky's saws and one Husky weed wacker/brush cutter. They have served me very well and I am the 2nd (or 3rd) owner. Jonsered is also a very good brand which I have used from others who had them. Jonsered is also owned by Husquavarna.


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07-26-17, 05:58 PM   #26  
Bought the Husqvarna model 555e Rancher. Me and son #1 were at Lowes looking at the chain saws. I told him to hold on while I went to look at something else. When I got back to him he was all smiles. He bought the unit on line from Amazon. Paid less and a better model that what was at Lowes. I told him his wife was going kill him (I was going to buy it for him). He laughed and shrugged his shoulders. We spent so much so far on this cabin he felt obligated to buy something towards it. Oh well she'll get over it.

 
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07-26-17, 08:58 PM   #27  
I've seen lots of the 455, never seen the 555 that I recall. The 455 saws seem to be good saws for the money. You probably got a pretty good saw.


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07-27-17, 03:38 AM   #28  
I think mine is the 455 and it is a good cutting saw. My only complaint with it is the weight and if my back was 20-30 yrs younger that wouldn't be a concern. You'll also want to get a file so you can keep the chain sharp! I've always done well just eyeballing the angle but they sell guides if you don't trust your eye.


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07-27-17, 05:27 AM   #29  
I've seen lots of the 455, never seen the 555 that I recall. The 455 saws seem to be good saws for the money. You probably got a pretty good saw.
My mistake, it's the 455.

Yes I will get the file. What kind of file is recommended?

 
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07-27-17, 05:38 AM   #30  
There are 3 sizes of chain files [if I remember correctly] I think that saw takes the middle size but you need to see what size chain [not length] and get the correct file for that chain. You'll find the chain files near the saws. They also sell stones you could put in a drill. I usually have one in my HF 'dremel' I believe a file does a better job though.


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07-27-17, 04:27 PM   #31  
Yes I will get the file. What kind of file is recommended?
Oregon file. Tell us the numbers on the chain teeth and the brand of the chain if you need help with the proper size file.

 
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07-27-17, 06:11 PM   #32  
There is a specific kit just for that model saw and chain.

Lowes $14.98

Viewed a YOUTUBE video, looks pretty easy.

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07-28-17, 02:38 AM   #33  
Ya, it's not a difficult task. The main thing is keeping the angle correct .... and if it does get off too bad you can always pay to have it sharpened. When I first started using saws I'd take mine in to have it sharpened about half way thru the chain's life to correct my mistakes but I haven't done that in ages. I always found that little guide unhandy, they make a bigger version but I've never used one.


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08-07-17, 06:44 PM   #34  
I bought a Worx 16-inch 14.5 amp saw plus Tanaka oil from Amazon. I've run it maybe 20 hours in the last 6 weeks or so. It has done a fine job with the little trees and took down a 12-inch poplar that was encroaching on the house. It uses oil, of course, but hasn't leaked. I've put it away for now with no worries about fuel.

Thanks to everyone for the advice and info!

 
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08-08-17, 08:17 AM   #35  
I don't think you will be disappointed the next time you get ready to use it, just keep it sharp. Have a good one. Geo

 
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