Thursday, April 15, 2010

I THINK I have a decision about the saw

Firstly... I get more comments on a chainsaw post in one day, than most of my gun or political posts ever get.

Actually, ANY tool posts get a lot more comments. People who never comment on anything, go for the tool posts.

Second, I think I have a plan of action for the saw.

After a bit more research, I've decided that I can afford to go a little smaller than the 70cc models. I'm thinking I'll save the weight, and the money (around 30%), and go for one of the pro 50cc models. The landowner/homeowner 50cc models don't have the juice for what I need, but I think with the pro models, I can get away with the 50s.

If I end up needing a 70cc saw (or bigger), I'll buy it later; but for the next two years (until we buy the big property), a 50cc ought to do it for me.

Realistically, I think anyone looking to do a lot of cutting and clearing needs three saws anyway: one smaller model for light trees, brush, and light limbing (the Poulan is perfectly adequate for that); one medium sized saw for felling medium trees, bucking small and medium trees, and heavy limbing; and one saw for BIG tree felling and bucking (a 28-32" 80cc or bigger).

For the next two years, I won't need to be felling or bucking anything more than 24"; and I should be able to handle that with a strong 50cc, with a 20" bar, maybe even a 24" bar (which I think is iffy on a 50, but I don't plan on cutting big hardwood with it. The big ones are all birch, pine, fir, and tamarack. You want at least a 70 to pull a 24" in hardwood).

Oh and thanks to True Blue Sam for the tips on bore cutting etc... I learned the old way, with saws that didn't have the power to do that; and my instructors always jumped HARD on NEVER burying the kicking edge of the nose (even with the attack edge engaged). Even if you didn't kickback, they were dead certain you'd stall the chain (and with the saws we had, you would).

When I had to deal with hard cuts, I was taught to roll in and angle cut at the dog end of the bar, back to the attack edge of the nose, and back again; then cut out the angle created by that, and start the cycle over again.

If you do it right, you keep the tree from pinching the blade out while you're hinging; and you can attack a harder and thicker tree with a smaller and less powerful saw than you would ideally wish (I learned on old, crappy, low powered saws).

Of course, if you do it wrong, your hinge fails. Obviously, the bore cutting technique works better. You can take a much harder tree, much faster and safer, with bore cutting. Theres just a lot fewer ways for things to go wrong, leaving a backstrap on the tree.

At any rate, I'm going to go for a strong 50cc class saw, unless someone with the right experience convinces me otherwise.

I've narrowed it down to the Husqvarna 357xp (56.5cc, 4.4hp, 13-20" bar, 12.1lbs)

and the Stihl MS362 (59cc, 4.6hp, 16-25" bar, 13.7lbs).

The Husky is a fair bit lighter, the Stihl has a bit more power (I think the 25" max bar rating on the Stihl is a bit optimistic, and the Husky can probably pull a bit more than 20" without much trouble... Maybe a softwood rating for one, a hardwood rating for the other), they both run about $650 street. They both have a lot of fans, and a lot of detractors (chainsaw partisans are as rabid as any other tool partisans).

It's been a while since I looked seriously at new heavy duty saws. When I bought the Poulan, it was because I could get a 42cc 18" saw for under $150 out the door; not after extensive research (unusually for me). The new motors on these pro saws... Damn. 25% more horsepower for the same displacement as a few years ago; and the power to weight is so much better it's crazy.

What I'm going to do, is visit the Husqvarna, and the Stihl distributors for the area (there are actually one for each with 10 miles, and 3 for each within 30), take a look at both saws and at both dealers. Unless one or the other saw is clearly better in my hands, I'll make my decision based on which dealer/distributor network I think will give me better service.

With a pro saw, it really is about the service.