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Walden Ponderer

Help me buy a chainsaw

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I've always just borrowed one when I needed it before. But I's in the country now, and I live in the middle of a forest. A moderate rain a few days ago brought down several pine trees in my woods, and the morning after, I awoke to the sultry sounds of chainsaws all over the county firing up.

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So, I'm going to need to stop being a moocher, and actually own one for myself now.

I won't be a lumberjack, exactly, but based on my observations so far, I'm guessing I'll be bringing it out a couple of times a month, more than likely. What should I look for? Brand recommendations? Maintenance issues I should be aware of? Any random and useful or at least entertaining tidbits to pass along?

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1 minute ago, NeverMarryAStripper said:

Do you need a shovel and some plastic sheeting too?

Nah. I've got the shovel, and I find that lime works better than plastic sheeting. When the body starts to break down, the liquid leaks out the seams of the plastic, and you end up getting the odor still. Lime dissolves the body, though, and you end up with a fairly fertile plot.

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What manly brands does your husband typically buy? Echo, husqavarna or stihl?  I’ve got a stihl m291 and I run pre mixed fuel. Fucker runs good. 

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I've got a Husqvarna.  It's got some new-fangled plastic dial deal to tighten the chain instead of the old-fashioned screw and two nuts (that's what your mom said).  Damn thing doesn't work well at all.  Runs good, though.

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45 minutes ago, Catpfish said:

I'll beat the rush and suggest the Stihl Farm Boss

There ya go.  First reply.

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Consider a electric one. I have both a gas and electric and I use the electric far more often. They have come a long way. 

I have a Ryobi 40W that gets plenty of use. 

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1 hour ago, Catpfish said:

I'll beat the rush and suggest the Stihl Farm Boss

+1 on the Farm Boss.

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Stihl Farm Boss x 11tybazillion.  Use only no ethanol pre-mix 50:1 fuel.  

This is the only answer.

Somehow my SFB case got filled up with water and the chainsaw sat in 4 inches of water for several months.  Oily water and greasy smegma all over it.  I had a lot of work to do, so I emptied the fuel out, put new fuel in, primed it and the dang thing started right up on the 2nd pull.  Worked it for a good 5 hours or so.  Still works like a champ.

Customer for life.

 

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Apparently I'm going against the grain here, but I'm a solid fan of Echo.  You'll commonly find the "CS" line.

Get high HP & don't go massive on the bar length.

I have had good luck with pawn shop finds; bring some oil & a can of pre-mixed fuel (the 50:1 Red Devil or whatever it is that Homer Despot sells) & visit a pawn shop to test one out if you like the overall looks of it.

Check the air filter & make sure the bar & chain combo isn't stuck or off.  Usually some good deals out there if you aren't skeered to negotiate a bit & offer a price in ca$h / no CC.

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Stihl, Echo, Husky are all solid recs.  

Meanwhile, I've got a Poulan that I use about twice a month, and it's rock solid.  Starts maybe not on the first pull, but ALWAYS starts on the 4th or so.   Not a big deal for a casual user.  I'm not cutting wood like a fucking lumberjack.  I start the saw, make a few cuts, and put it back in the shed for the most part. 

Now, my echo weedwhacker is a motherfucker.  I've got two acres and I'm weedwhacking like a mofo, and the echo is a badass. 

I ONLY use pump regular gas (with ethanol) and add Stabil, and synthetic 2 stroke oil.   I NEVER drain the gas.   I've had this thing for 10 years or so, with no issues. 

Edited by Gil Bang

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24 minutes ago, Gil Bang said:

Stihl, Echo, Husky are all solid recs.

This. We have 16, 18, and 20” huskys that have all been solid over the last 10 years, especially the 20. I recently bought a 16” stihl and that thing is pure quality.    Have several Echo brush blades and weedeaters (good ones, not HD shit).  All have been good to great. 
 

I highly recommend having both a 16” and 20”.  I’m not advocating running out and buying $1000 worth tomorrow, but the big ones are great when you need them, but will flat wear you out when a 16” will do 90% of the time.  

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If you have lots of trees, you really need two chain saws.  A gas powered one for bigger bulk work, and a smaller (cheap) electric one that can be easily be managed with 1 hand on the top of a ladder or on a pole.  Sooner or later you're going to have to cut a branch that isn't on the ground.  I have fond memories of growing up in an orchard and being on the top of a ladder with a big ass gas powered monster, but it was actually pretty stupid.

I'd also suggest getting a corded (plug-in) electric rather than a battery powered one since they typically have more power and don't fade as a battery dies.   

You'll also find that a small electric chain saw is just damn convenient (as long as you have a place to plug it in).     

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I worked in a lumber mill just up the road from where you are and all we used were Stihl saws. Never, ever had an issue with one. I don't think you'll need the 38" bar or whatever the fuck we had but the brand was solid.

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I’ve got a 20 year old Husqvarna 350 with an 18” bar that has been bad ass. I’m gonna rebuild it pretty soon. I bought it when I was laid off and was cutting firewood.

My next one will be a Stihl, probably a ms190 or something like that with a 16” bar.

Don’t get a big one because those damn things get heavy quick.

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I'd also suggest getting a corded (plug-in) electric rather than a battery powered one since they typically have more power and don't fade as a battery dies.   
You'll also find that a small electric chain saw is just damn convenient (as long as you have a place to plug it in).     


I bought the $49 one from Home Depot a decade ago and my gas saw has not been cranked up once since then. It can handle pretty much anything an urban lot throw at it. I added an 18v chain pole saw last year. Other than sucking battery life very quickly, it’s been extremely useful.

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18 hours ago, Alex Karev said:

True fuel is your best bet for chainsaws. I wouldn't bother mixing fuel unless I was using my saw everyday.

Here we go. 

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On 2/11/2020 at 1:45 PM, Catpfish said:

I'll beat the rush and suggest the Stihl Farm Boss

Listen to this man. Stihl is the Earl Campbell of chainsaws. It will tear shit apart without breaking a sweat.

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17 hours ago, 0xdeadbeef said:

If you have lots of trees, you really need two chain saws.  A gas powered one for bigger bulk work, and a smaller (cheap) electric one that can be easily be managed with 1 hand on the top of a ladder or on a pole.  Sooner or later you're going to have to cut a branch that isn't on the ground.  I have fond memories of growing up in an orchard and being on the top of a ladder with a big ass gas powered monster, but it was actually pretty stupid.

I'd also suggest getting a corded (plug-in) electric rather than a battery powered one since they typically have more power and don't fade as a battery dies.   

You'll also find that a small electric chain saw is just damn convenient (as long as you have a place to plug it in).     

That's a solid rec.  

I say that as a guy that was recently up a  ladder with his heavy-ass gas saw trimming a palm tree.  A small electric would have worked just fine for that. 

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I’m I’m an Echo fan and have 5 different pieces of Echo equipment. I have a CS-370 16” saw and use it 3-4 times a month. I am probably going to get CS-590 20” later this spring when Echo does their annual 15% off sale.

The 16” is great for limbing and small trees but it is lacking in power once trunk size is about 16” or so.

Echo, Stihl or Husquvarna are all great brands but I think Echo provides a better value for the home or ranch owner. Whichever brand you choose, run the premixed non-ethanol fuel. This is probably the single best thing to keep your saw running.

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yes I do.  I also use Stabil in all my shit.  

My chainsaw starts on 4 pulls or so.  Sometimes on 1 or 2.  My echo stuff starts on 1st or 2nd pull.  My mowers (I have 1 for grass and 1 for weeds...I have 2 acres) both start easily, first or second pull.  

The weed whacker, blower, and grass mower get used weekly.  The weed mower a couple times  a month.  The chainsaw  is used occasionally, maybe 10 days a year. 

This subject has been argued on this board at length.  I'm not fucking paying 25 dollars a gallon for fucking gasoline.  I'm not doing it. 

Edited by Gil Bang

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I use stabil in my fuel too. But the stuff that doesn’t get a lot of use is getting trufuel. I might use a gallon a year. If I was going by either of the places that sell 91+ octane ethanol free gas, I’d take a can and mix my own.

 

My mowers just get gas with stabil. They get it used pretty regular. If it sits too long, I will put it in my truck with a nearly full tank.

 

Whether you agree with it or not, alcohol doesn’t belong in gas. It’s bullshit and it ruins stuff.

 

Also, what the hell do you use a chainsaw that much for? I haven’t cranked mine in 2 years. Lol

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Buc-ee's sells ethanol free gas for about $3.50 a gallon.  I go every few months and get a few gallons for my small engines.  I use true fuel for the 2 stroke engines because it's just easier and I don't use enough to make a difference even at $15 a gallon.  I also install a gas shut off valve on the fuel line of any small engine that I have that doesn't already have one so I can shut off the fuel and run the carburetor dry when I'm done using it  I just got fucking tired of rebuilding and cleaning the carburetors.  Fuck politicians in their goat ass for ethanol in gas.

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17 hours ago, Jkwellborn said:

I use stabil in my fuel too. But the stuff that doesn’t get a lot of use is getting trufuel. I might use a gallon a year. If I was going by either of the places that sell 91+ octane ethanol free gas, I’d take a can and mix my own.

 

My mowers just get gas with stabil. They get it used pretty regular. If it sits too long, I will put it in my truck with a nearly full tank.

 

Whether you agree with it or not, alcohol doesn’t belong in gas. It’s bullshit and it ruins stuff.

 

Also, what the hell do you use a chainsaw that much for? I haven’t cranked mine in 2 years. Lol

I have 2 acres. I have 3 big greenwaste bins that the city provides.  I trim my trees piecemeal.  Trim until the bins are full, 1 tree at a time. 

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There's a small gas station in Bowie that sells ethanol free gas. See a lot of nice looking old cars there on the weekends.

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If you go gas run the god damn ethanol carb gunking shit out of there to save your carb.  

I will say that I bought a Greenworks battery chainsaw and could not be happier.  Works maybe 45 minutes at a shot.  Which is more than enough for me before I need a break.  Actually I was very surprised at how comparable it was to my old McCollugh I had for years.  But no mess, and no trying to restart up in a tree.  

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I already have the Milwaukee M18 system & have been thinking about their chainsaw.  Future purchase... I need some of y'all with a decrepit roof (but not TOO old) to get whacked by hail or maybe a mini-tornado to roll through your joint.

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I too have some of those Milwaukee tools.  I didn't realize that the chain saw was available. 

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400 dollars?   Fuck that.  

I assume it's a quality tool, but for me the chainsaw is occasional use.  

Thanks for the links though.

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16 hours ago, ROFL BOX said:

Thanks.

I'm going with the Stihl Farm Boss for now, since I need my "main tool' first, but I will definitely be looking for a pole saw at some point, and I'm thinking cordless for that will probably be the best bet, since it's only going to be an occasional tool for very specific jobs. None of my fruit trees will get too tall to work with just an 8' ladder and a regular saw, and I don't really care about pruning any of the non-fruit trees. Let 'em go wild, and I'll just cut 'em up when they fall over.

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For cutting cedars down, I like to use the polesaw & get into the trunk from a distance & then come at them later with the Echo CS-400.

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Make sure you get one of these mini electrics so you can carve thanksgiving turkey like almighty all time badass

 

Edited by Homercles

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I've lived in a rainforest for more than 20 years and run saws for at least 5 hours a week except during late summer (fire danger).  Stihl is easily the most popular brand used in the timber industry, followed by Husqvarna.  Like others have said, 2 saws are necessary, and the best combo for general use is a 16" bar on a 40+ cc powerhead and a 20" with 55+ cc.  Not just because of the difference in weight, but also because you'll eventually get a saw hung up and need another to cut it loose.

Premix fuel is a waste of money, plus Power Punch brand 2 stroke oil makes my saws run cleaner than any premix.  Ethanol free gas, called clear gas around here, is essential for small motors with any plastic parts. 

Match up the file diameter with the teeth.  The chain package will tell you what size file to use.   It takes practice to get the angle right when sharpening by hand.  A file guide makes it a lot easier, but I only sharpen with a file as a last resort.  I have a bench mounted sharpener that works well, but what I end up using more than anything else is this $30 12V sharpener made by Oregon:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B073GSGNLV/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o03_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I wear chainsaw chaps and steel toe boots if I'm doing any real work.   I never run a saw without hearing protection.  One of my logger friends is always saying "I'm deaf in one ear and can't hear out the other."

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I’ve got an 18” and 20” Craftsman and a 24” Husqvarna. The husky is great for trunks, but will wear you out using it for anything else.

I use ethanol free gas for all of my small engine stuff with stabil. There might be a bit of a drive to find marine gas in your area, but it’s worth it.

Run your chainsaws dry after use unless you know you’re using it within the next couple of days.

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