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r.garrison1
r.garrison1's picture
What chainsaw would be your 'best saw'

I have three questions at the bottom for discussion; you can skip there if you want. The rest is just my part of the discussion. I'm going to be buying a new chainsaw this spring, so here's something to chat about.

I've had a forester managing my lot for the most part, because I have been paying for my tree farm by working 6 hours away from the woods.

Sometime within the next couple years, I should be able to spend a lot more time in the woods. Now that I have the place paid for, I expect to have my sawmill this spring.

I still plan on marketing the best logs, but anything else I want to process on my mill. At the altitude where my tree farm is located, only rare trees get above 24" diameter DBH.

So far, I've managed with a couple little Poulan saws, with a max 16" bar. I know I need something bigger, but I'm still managing the budget. At this point, I'm considering a Husky 455 or 460 farm boss, or paying the difference for a Stihl. I can get either of them serviced locally (which is important).  The Stihl 291 or the 311 is probably the size I would be comfortable handling; I don't have enough hours on one to consider myself safe on a big saw (although I have been around them enough to know the difference).

The local hardware store carries Remmington, which I won't even consider for heavy duty use. The local co-op and the snowmobile shop both carry quality saws.

I don't think I'm the only person with this decision; at this point, I'll probably go with the husky, but I do respect the Stihl quality; if I were to be using it daily, that would be my only real choice.

 

What saw do you use?

What does it do that you like?

What do you want it to do, but it doesn't?

 

Post Oakie
Post Oakie's picture

I would talk to both dealers about any issues the saws might have at your altitude.  My go-to saw is a Husq 455 Rancher, which I have had for about six years now.  I use it for felling, bucking, limbing, and firewood.  Only maintenance has been routine: plugs, filters, & primer bulb.  Very reliable, handles a 20" bar with no problem.  I want it to sharpen itself, make coffee, and give me a back massage at the end of the day-- so far, it has come up short in these areas.

I also have a Husq 365 and a 2100, both of which are old, but reliable machines.  I have even put a 32" bar on the 365 to trim big logs.  The XP series is their "professional" line and, from what I understand, well worth the extra cost.  I've also used some Stihls, and like them fine.  When I asked a professional logger why he used Husqvarna, he simply replied that "the color makes them easier to find out in the woods."

By the way, I have noticed some correlation between trucks and saws.  Ford owners seem to prefer Stihls, and Chevy owners leaning toward Husqvarnas.

OL' Purple Pete
OL' Purple Pete's picture

As for tucks I use a Ford,And also Dodge 1 ton with a goose neck trailer And also own a chevy motorhome.BUT I STILL HAVE  go 4 saw that is a husqvarna 272 xpg &a 266 with a poulan wood shark for back up.BUT MY TOTAL FAVORITE IS A PETERBUILT 425 cat 18 over and use them all.I also love my motorcycle for cruising around a 750 virago,Going to upgrade the new Indian cruiser,still go to my Norwoods 2000.It does me just fine.So I guess Husky is got my vote ;-) .So to only say try them all and pick your favorite,For I like the saw that keep it self together.

Bill
Bill's picture

Good point on the Ford Chevy thing Dave smiley I've had 5 Husky's, 1 remington given to me I got rid of for $10, and I use a 44 cc pouland? often for limbing I bought new for $90 because it's real light, the largest saw I have left is a 268 Husky XP with a 24" bar. 3 of the Husky's were stolen none have ever warn out. Keep the fuel and air filter clean and they never give you a problem the same probably goes for Stihls. I've used them in the Rocky's with now alt. effects but no idea what it was except it was above sea level.

r.garrison1
r.garrison1's picture

Thanks! This makes me feel better about the Husky. I'm a Dodge owner; is it against the rules for me to get a Husky?

Bill
Bill's picture

I owned a Dodge once the only thing you'll have to be careful with is their a tree magnet , I managed to fall a tree across the back corner of the cab.

Smitty
Smitty's picture

In Webster's the word Dodge means ,to avoid, the tree evidently didn't know that !

r.garrison1
r.garrison1's picture

I understand the tree magnet thing. Towing a travel trailer down a logging road in the snow, I slid sideways a bit and scraped a tree. Still have the dent. 

Post Oakie
Post Oakie's picture

I'm a Dodge owner; is it against the rules for me to get a Husky?

Sorry, you have to get a Poulan.cheeky  Actually, I understand that their bigger saws are OK, but the small, cheap junk gives them a bad reputation.

bcloutier
bcloutier's picture

I have used Stihl chainsaws for 40 years, nothing else. They start great, even in cold weather, can take a beating and still keep running strong, and are also easy to find in the woods. I currently use an MS 362 professional model with a 20" bar. It's powerful enough at 4.6 hp to handle most trees I encounter on my woodlot (white pine and red oak up to 30"+) and not slow down. The 20" bar is long enough to cut those bigger trees and not so long that I'll cut my toes off if I'm cutting or limbing around my feet (I'm 6 "2"). I've owned 4 saws in the 40 years, so you can tell they last a long time, and I sold them after I went to a new saw and got pretty good money for them after 10 years use, especially on eBay! What mine doesn't do that I'd like is run quieter. I have to wear ear plugs along with my logger headset because it screams pretty well and I have tinnitus already and my ears can't handle the noise. It's not enough to change my mind though. Husky is also a great saw, but I'm a Stihl guy through and through. I have used my cousin's 2 Huskys, and prefer my Stihl. Depending on how much you spend cutting and whether you are felling/limbing, the weight is a big factor, too. My Stihl is great for felling and cutting on the landing, but for limbing, it puts a strain or your arms after a few hours and a 2nd smaller saw would be preferable to have. Good luck on buying a new saw!

r.garrison1
r.garrison1's picture

Thanks for the feedback!

If I knew it would get enough hours, Stihl would be my only serious choice; that said, most of the serious work is done my the forester (we've been working together for 10 years, so I don't plan on dumping him any time soon), I consider myself more in the farm/ranch category of user rather than professional.

I have two smaller Poulan saws; they work OK for firewood and limbing, one with a 14" and one with a 18" bar; pretty dependable and lightweight saws. I always avoid the basic series when getting something like that; I think almost every company (with the exception of Stihl) makes some junk that is for the homeowner that uses it twice then puts it in the garage.

It's nice to know a 20" bar is that versatile; I know I didn't want to risk toes or anything, so I won't consider anything bigger at this time. 

I may start looking at used Stihl saws; I see some from time to time. I'll have to check with my service department to see what to avoid in a used saw.

WoodTurner
WoodTurner's picture

I have been a Stihl user for 30 years. Started with an 034 in 1985 and it is still (no pun intended) going strong. I picked up a used Stihl 084 a few years back. It has a 36" bar and is reserved for my Alaskan mill but I have used it a time or two to buck a large log. Three years ago I picked up a Stihl170. It is light and a pleasure to use for limbing larger trees and clearing bush trails. Two years ago I bought a Stihl MS362. It is now my main saw for dropping trees and bucking logs as, the 034 is getting a little tired. My only complaint concerns the Stihl170. In some instances the saw stops working after a couple hours use. The first time I talked to the dealer and he said to take off the muffler and check the spark arrestor screen. Sure enough it was clogged with an oily tar like substance. I just hit it with a propane torch, burned it clean and I was back in business. According to the dealer, if the saw spends a lot of time idling or at low rpm, it will clog up. If you see tar coming out of the muffler ports it is time for a cleaning. I guess I could take off the screen but prefer to leave it on. This has happened a few times. One other thing, this saw has no adjustment for fuel mixture, only idle speed. It is their lowest price saw so maybe I shouldn't expect it to perform like the others. It is a pleasure to use after carrying one of the others for a few hours.

bcloutier
bcloutier's picture

WoodTurner, It's nice to see someone else who likes the MS362 as much as I do. Right now, it's my only saw, so limbing is a chore, especially those higher ones. But I hope to get a smaller saw for limbing this year after I sell some firewood. I got hooked on Stihl saws starting in 1976 with a Stihl 015 (14" bar), then to a 041 AVSuper Electronic, then to a 044, and finally to the MS362 all which has 20" bars. If I could afford it, I'd get the next size up, MS441 Magnum, 5.6 hp. That's as big a saw as I want....the weight of the saw is key. After a few hours of toting around a big saw, your arms fell like an Orangutan's. Imagine the MS880 Magnum! Over 22 lbs. without bar, chain, gas or oil! I'd like to run one, but not carry it around....need a caddy for that! Have fun sawing!

eddiemac
eddiemac's picture

You can sometimes find great values in used saws by going to auctions, garage sales, craigslist, etc.  I bought a Husky 371XP (372XP now, great lightweight logging saw) for $80 at auction and a Stihl 029 at a garage sale for $75.  Summer is probably the best time. 

Bill
Bill's picture

Here's a few saws for sale with the difference in the $ it would probably more than pay the shipping.

http://www.kijiji.ca/b-tool/british-columbia/chainsaw/k0c110l9007

If nothing else should give you some idea of prices.

wayne busse
wayne busse's picture

My arms must be stronger than my back because I prefer my stihl ms 310 with a 20" bar for limbing over my light weight 435 huskavarna with a16" bar. If the top is close to the ground I don't have to bend over as much and if the limbs are up in the air, I like the longer reach and it keeps me away from flying chips and twigs. Yea, my arms get a work out but my sore back will shut me down quicker.

Baron
Baron's picture

Buy the brand that is best represented in your area both near your home and near your mill. In 1980 I dropped a 54" 080 from 120' out of a Redwood in Orick CA. It really splattered.I used to say that once you've used a Husky you'll never want to use another brand but that was a long time ago. 

Stick to commercial brands represented by well stocked or connected dealers. Johnsered and Husky, last I heard, were both owned by the same company. Dolmar and Stihl are separate companies. Echo has a new professional line and I admire Shindawa. Although I've owned many a Poulan and also a couple Remington and Homelite they are pretty washed up and no longer produce their own stuff as far as I know. 

I use a $159 Stihl 171 mill-side for trimming. I wish it had the 16" bar instead of the 14". I run it a little lean and keep it screaming with a very sharp chain and it cuts very nicely. Its light and quiet.

For bucking and ripping big realy big stuff I use a Stihl 660. Its big and really snorts, not light and not quiet. I have a 25" and 32" bar for it and hope to acquire a 52" bar for it. I bought it used from a tool rental where my brother clerks and was able to verify the maintenance record. I paid half price ($600).

My next saw purchase will be something in the 3.0 to 4.0 Cubic inch size and it will have something  like a 20" and 25" and 28" on it.

The 171 and 181 are used as sales leaders and are always on sale somewhere for $169 or $179.. My son and i used a 171 to minister to folks with needs after hurricane Sandy and I can't believe how good it cuts. Rule #1, If you only think its kind of sharp, sharpen it again to be sure. Get a good file holder, 1/8 or 5/32 files and learn to file on the job. 

 

r.garrison1
r.garrison1's picture

Bill,

Thanks for the link on used saws; I checked the local Craigs site, and found both a MS310 (head only) and MS311 with 25" bar - $375 each.

I also found a MS211 for $250, an 090 for $60.

Right now, I'm leaning toward the MS311. Both here and in the Wallowas, Still seems to be king. I can find Husky saws, but most of the serious folks have Stihl.

My primary concern is there are a lot of landscaping companies with a lot of Stihl saws around, and not all the saws get decent maintenance. If I can't find a good used one, I'll probably go Husky 455 or 460 if I buy new.

eddiemac
eddiemac's picture

Husqvarna professional saws are just as good as Stihl in my opinion.  Are you sure that's a Stihl 090 for $60?  Not an 009? 

r.garrison1
r.garrison1's picture

I stand corrected; it was 009. Funny how my fingers didn't get that right. :)

 

I also believe Husky saws are good, in the right series. Poulan, too. That said, I need to have something that the service folks have parts for... and Stihl seems to be the one around here.

Bill
Bill's picture

Roland Husky's never need parts smiley one review I read said the Rancher worked well for him the last 2 yrs. at 9,000 ft. elev. 

Bamatimes
Bamatimes's picture

Has anyone considered a DOLMAR or EFCO chain saw. I am a dealer for both brands.Dolmar made in Germany and Efco made in Italy. Both are great saws. Efco come with a 5 year warranty. Go to their web sites and look at the different models, or maybe in your area there is a dealer.

r.garrison1
r.garrison1's picture

I need to consider that where I will be cutting most of the time, cows outnumber people 8 to 1. There aren't a lot of dealers in the area, and so I need to get something that the few dealers can work on.

I love that it is rural; in fact, the entire county of Wallowa doesn't have a single traffic light (I'm even hard put to think of a blinking red light that is not associated with road construction). But, the lack of service is a down side.

Post Oakie
Post Oakie's picture

Sounds like your best bet is a backup saw, extra chains, spark plug & filters, and a set of tools.  There are two lines of thought: two different saws close enough in size that they can overlap functions, if need be, or two identical saws, maybe with different bar lengths, so that you can swap parts if you really get in a bind.  With the pro quality saws, failure of the electronic ignition is extremely rare.  The key is to maintain the saw before you head out to the woods.  The biggest concern is how to take care of YOURSELF.  What are your options if you get hurt in a place that remote?  Do you at least have first aid and reliable communications?  I got my ham radio license because cell phone service is so poor around here.

r.garrison1
r.garrison1's picture

Yeah, the backup stuff is important. There are neighbors within earshot, and I keep a little canned air horn in the rigs. I also have a handful of FRS radios, so I can rotate them and always have a charged one. When I'm out working, Vivian has another sitting on the charger in the house.

Phone coverate is pretty spotty, so that is a concern. 

You bring up a very important point; I need to think that through. Find a work area that may have better reception, and drag most stuff there.

When I was a finish carpenter, I spent a lot of time alone in a house; I got into the habit of thinking things through before I started; I knew that if things went wrong, no one else was there. Even then, accidents can happen. I always keep a stocked first aid kit, including triangular bandages.

I may look into getting a ham license.

papow22
papow22's picture

Well I'm not going to put my huszvarna down,For it is the best for me 372 XP and I have 2 little poulans for doing the limbing and topping.Tried the stihls saw and it's was like the vibrating motorcycle that has cops chasing for noise than sea gull around the a&w looking for fries laugh.the stihl needed a scredriver set and allen wrench set to stay together.So back to old faith full huszvarna.I don't know why the reason for the saw to keep on falling apart.But some people like it more than the huszvarna.I like the little poulan for smaller jobs cause it lighter.wink.But just the dodge and the ford thing ,I still love my ol 66 chevy 1/2 ton.

Post Oakie
Post Oakie's picture

"I still love my ol 66 chevy 1/2 ton"

I won't be parting with "Scotty", my '87  3/4 ton Chevy Scottsdale any time soon.  Any time I'm pulling a steep hill with a heavy log, I holler out "Beam me up, Scotty"!

wayne busse
wayne busse's picture

Dave , which saw mill do you have ?  Did you trade up once ?

r.garrison1
r.garrison1's picture

Dave,

Looking good!

I notice your helper there wants you to get back to work, or go for a walk or something. 

 

Bill MacLellan
Bill MacLellan's picture

PO I have an 86 Chevy,1/2 ton, I'll post a picture when I get the chance. been in the family since new. 

I've not chimed in on the saw thing yet but... now is my time. I'm far from a pro with a saw, most likely the same as the rest of you. I cut my own fire wood and fall tree's for my mill, do some rough carpentry with it from time to time. I have had Jonsered's (someone liked that one better than me) and stihl's. I  bough a Husky just over 18 months ago and made a big mistake. Husky's like the rest of the manufacturer's produce 2 versions of saw's. Home owner's editions and pro saw's. I... bought the home owners edition, I was looking for a light saw 45cc to 50cc just for bucking small wood limbing etc. I bought the Husky 345, 45cc saw, quite, light, enough power for what I wanted to do with it, saved $150 bucks over the pro model. sure as hell wished that I was not so damned cheap. So my advise is buy what ever brand you like but buy the pro model, they all have 2 models now so don't be tempted by the least cost. The Husky works but I have not been able to keep it so it will idle. I have had it back several times and as well as taken it to others who know there thing. They are so concerned with emissions that they just will not run and the carbs are not repairable with very little to no adjustment. So RG take that into consideration when you make the purchase.

Bill
Bill's picture

Bill your just not holding your mouth right laugh I have  44 cc pouland & a 45 cc husky that your not suppose to be able to adjust the carb but neither would idle so i popped out the plastic plugs and messed with them a while and now they both idle very well though the pouland gets temperamental occasionally  but I ignore it and it fixes itself after I swear at it.

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