With all that is available,
a first time buyer can feel overwhelmed. However, for the self-reliant
homeowner looking for one do-it-all saw, the selection can be narrowed
down considerably. For trimming and construction that calls for
a chainsaw, it’s nice to have something small and light. For
falling and firewood cutting, it’s advantageous to have power.
A good compromise is a professional grade saw with an engine displacement
of 50cc’s and 16” bar. If additional power is wanted
over agility, a professional grade 60cc saw with 18” bar will
fit the bill nicely.
Why a professional saw? Pound
for pound, "professional" saws have more horsepower than
“occasional use” or “homeowner” saws and
are built to last under demanding conditions day in and day out
for many years. To the homeowner, this equates to an easy to handle
tool that will last a lifetime with proper care.
New, expect to pay between $500 and $620 for
a professional 50cc saw and between $600 and $740 for 60cc's. Costly
yes, but a long term savings by eliminating repair and replacement
costs. Buying used is risky, especially off the Net.
Which brand & model? Stihl,
Husqvarna, Jonsered and Dolmar/Makita are just a few companies with
quality saws in their lineup. Stihl and Husqvarna however, are the
most recognizable names in North America and, most widely available.
Amongst professional users, the Husqvarna 550XP
and Stihl MS261 are the two most popular 50cc saws. Though not widely
available, the Dolmar PS 5105 is the least expensive 50cc "pro"
saw and gets high praise from some. In the 60cc class, the Stihl
MS362 and Husqvarna 562XP are popular.
- Though it may be tempting to save a few dollars
up front by purchasing from a big box store, it costs us all more
than just money in the long haul. Support you local dealer if
possible, or, the next closest independant dealer you can find.
Those few extra dollars will help indivduals in your community,
buy you knowledge, and provide you with in stock parts and service
when you need it.
- When shopping, always consider weight. One
pound can be a lot in sawing positions.
- Study and follow the owners manual.
- Chainsaws are extremely dangerous tools.
Get proper instruction & always wear appropriate safety equipment,
including hearing protection (hearing loss is
the most preventable disability).
- Two-stroke exhaust contains chemicals
known to cause cancer, birth defects & other reproductive
harm. If you can, cut when it is blowing & stay upwind
of the saw. Consider too a respirator capable of handling emissions.
Also, if you're lucky enough to live in a country where a non-benzene
alkylate fuel can be purchased, use it (unfortunately,
the U.S. regulatory figures don't put a premium on health).
Finally, in addition to these ideas, look for ways to minimize
the need for using the saw. Though extremely useful, saws are
obnoxious and unhealthy tools.
- Choose a versatile chain. When salvaging
firewood, many conditions will be encountered from green and
clean to dead, hard & dirty.
- Learn to sharpen your chain and keep it sharp
by touching-up often.
- Consider using vegetable
oil for bar/chain lube.
Links to chainsaw manufacturers:
Some excellent tips on maintaining and tuning
If you’d like to mill your own lumber or
beams, consider buying a second and dedicated larger saw. For occasional
use, buying used is a good option here. Also, unlike a multi-use
saw, the weight of a milling saw is not as important. Any saw in
good working order will do as long as it has enough engine displacement.
Milling is one area where bigger is actually better. Consider 80cc
For mill information, see the following links: