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Chain Saw recommendations

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by MarkAndrews, Jan 8, 2015.

  1. MarkAndrews

    MarkAndrews

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    33
    Location (City & State):
    Costa Mesa, CA United States
    First let me say thank you to all the folks on this forum. For a new guy AAW is like having mentors available any time you need advice (which is all the time!). I've been to one AAW meeting in Tustin CA and plan to join AAW this month. Every day is like a new adventure and I get up every morning with a smile on my face looking forward to the day's learning and creating.
    So onto my question. I've obtained several large logs (about 15 - 20 inches in diameter). I have no experience with a chain saw. I've done lots of reading and I'm aware of the safety issues (face sheild, ear protection, chaps etc). I am not afraid to spend the money to get a good, reliable and hopefully safe chainsaw. I'm considering a Stihl MS261 based on what others have said about it. Is this overkill? I live in Southern California so cold weather starting isn't an issue. I had initially considered an electric but they appear to subject to burning out and I really only want to do this once. What are the major factors outside of price that I should be taking into consideration? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
    Mark
     
  2. hockenbery

    hockenbery AAW Advisor Staff Member

    Joined:
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    Location (City & State):
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    Mark,

    To over state the obvious, chain saws can be dangerous. Get some instruction!

    Find a reputable dealer. They will show you how to safely start and operate the saw.

    I have had a Stihl 440 magnum for about 12 years.
    Maintenance has been new spark plugs, new filters a couple of n ew sprockets and one new bar about 3 years ago.

    The saw you mentioned can take a 20" bar. That may be big enough.
    I have a 24" bar on my saw and there are days when I wish it were 36"
    And after cutting couple hours I wish it were 12"

    Bigger saws weigh more and they run longer in a tank of gas and waiting for the tank to run dry on hot day is too long between breaks.

    I have been very happy with my Stihl. There are other good saws out there.
    Most turners seen to have Stihl or Husqvarna.



    Work safely,
    Al
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2015
  3. Donna Banfield

    Donna Banfield

    Joined:
    May 19, 2004
    Messages:
    303
    Location (City & State):
    Derry, NH
    Welcome to the vortex, Mark. The MS261 is my primary chain saw. I do all my cutting and bowl blank prep using an 18" bar. For larger diameter, we also have a MS440 that has several bars, up to 36". I don't run that saw, but leave that cutting for my husband.

    Like Al pointed out, the bigger the saw, the more tired you get, and Dave uses my saw more often than his 440. It is a sweet chain saw. In my opinion, you can't go wrong with any Stihl saw, but make sure you have a reliable service shop for the expected maintenance.
     
  4. John Torchick

    John Torchick

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2010
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    2,655
    Location (City & State):
    Cleveland, Tennessee
    I bought an electric saw as I don't do a lot of cutting away from the house. FWIW, I would go with Stihl or Husqvarna. They both have good reputations. You can go to the box store websites like Ace Hardware, Home Depot, and Lowe's and look at their lines; you can get reviews on them by customers.
     
  5. Hu Lowery

    Hu Lowery

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2013
    Messages:
    485
    Location (City & State):
    Roseland, LA
    best to swing both ways

    There is a lot to be said for swinging both ways. An electric saw is very handy around the shop when you need to make a few quick cuts or you find that the blank doesn't quite clear the lathe ways.

    I think I would like to be able to pull a 28" chain on my noodling saw, that usually means a saw around seventy cc's. Big saws are dangerous because they are powerful. Little saws are dangerous because you will try to make them do too much and most of us grow impatient with small saws and dull chain. A 28" bar will let me noodle pretty much any blank I want to and gives me a little reach working which can be a little easier on the back.

    A few things to note:

    You will want to be able to sharpen your own chain if you can't already. You will want two or three chains for each bar too. For the small difference in safety for what we use our saws for I recommend pro style chain. Cuts better, an increased chance of kickback.

    That leads to learning the zones and keeping the saw and your body in the safer positions. Do a search for chainsaw forums and you will find one gets a lot of hits. Think alphabetical order too. Reading there is an easy way to learn a lot. There are a bunch of good chainsaw forums. As a general rule they may be a little lacking in couth but good folks!

    Buy a Stihl or Husqvarna with full electronics. The systems are working well, about like the electronics in your car. The saws will start easier and run better. Also be a bit more tolerant of fuel and oil mixtures. Widely agreed that 40-1 mix works well. Get a good synthetic two-cycle oil and mix to 40-1 or your decided on mix. Oddly enough the usual assumption that more oil can't hurt is wrong! The oil either doesn't burn at all or far less than gas and two much oil can ruin your saw by running lean and burning up the piston and cylinder. Too little oil ruins your saw too, lack of lubrication, piston, cylinder, and bearings. Mix oil and gas carefully.

    After doing a little homework and using some care which your mention of buying the safety equipment indicates you will, chainsaws are fun and very effective. Hopefully you can find a local mentor to help a little getting started and getting comfortable with a saw.

    By the way, anudder turning newcomer. I have used chainsaws a little longer than wood lathes.

    Hu
     
  6. robo hippy

    robo hippy

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2007
    Messages:
    2,943
    Location (City & State):
    Eugene, OR
    Mark,
    Here is a link to my You Tube channel. Lots of bowl turning info, including one on how I cut up a log. One suggestion on the chainsaw, you really want hands on teaching by some one who really knows how to use one. It has more exposed sharp teeth than any other tool we use. Most clubs will have mentors, and some one can help you. Lots can go wrong.

    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7rV_Y9vwoTl18_dSSaffjw

    robo hippy
     
  7. Dean Center

    Dean Center

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    1,065
    Location (City & State):
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    Having patched up a sizeable number of people injured by saws of all kinds, as well as various other woodworking tools, I love chain saws. They put my youngest child through an out of state university! Seriously, chain saw wounds are often very large and if you get a kickback, the wound could be in your forehead. Learn safe cutting from a thoughful, experienced person.

    RE: electric vs. gas, the electric saws have adequate power for much of what we woodturners do, and the makita and stihl have overload protection. The MS261 should be able to do what most turners will want.
     
  8. Owen Lowe

    Owen Lowe

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2005
    Messages:
    887
    Location (City & State):
    Newberg, OR: 20mi SW of Portland: AAW #21058
    Mark,
    My primary saw is a Makita gas with 18†bar. That size bar will allow you to cut a log nearly 2x that in diameter or ripping length - remember you can cut from both sides of the log! I have another saw, an old Stihl with 24†bar, that saw is very tiresome to use for any length of time. It’s just not necessary for 95%+ of the wood that will fit on 99%+ of the lathes out there.

    Hope those few comments will help with the size of saw you are considering.
     
  9. Dave Fritz

    Dave Fritz

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2008
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    Location (City & State):
    Montfort, Wisconsin
    I really agree with Al on this. Not only for instruction but service as needed, chain saw sharpening, and general questions you may have. Some conservation groups offer courses on chain saw operation. Volunteers have to take the class before they're allowed to touch a chainsaw on a project site.

    Played in a band with a fellow that died cutting firewood. The saw kicked back and cut his throat. Been scared ever since and careful. Still things can happen. Wear protective gear, keep the chain sharp and don't force a cut.

    Dave Fritz
     
  10. MarkAndrews

    MarkAndrews

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    33
    Location (City & State):
    Costa Mesa, CA United States
    Chainsaw Recommendations

    OK you guys have all succeeded in scaring the crap out of me:D!!! So I've been on the Stihl website and all the authorized dealers in my area are lawnmower dealerships (remember I live in the concrete jungle that is SoCal). I have no idea if there will be any "experts" in residence. I'm going to check them out. I'm also going to my local AAW chapter meeting tonight perhaps some kind soul will take pity on me. Thank you for all of your help and advice I truly appreciate it.
    I will keep updating this post as I progress through this process.
     
  11. MarkAndrews

    MarkAndrews

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    Location (City & State):
    Costa Mesa, CA United States
    I'm already a subscriber Reed, as a matter of fact yours was the first YouTube channel I subscribed to. I also purchased your wonderful Robo Rest, it such a great idea (I'm the one who was having trouble centering it).
     
  12. hockenbery

    hockenbery AAW Advisor Staff Member

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    Mark, You need to be respectful more than scared. :)
    Look for the lawn mower dealers who sell to professional landscapers, arborists, and tree trimmer they probably will know chain saws.
    I get my Stihl saw support from Pasco tractor and they would be mostly a mower sales and service company.
    They deal with lots of tree trimmers etc.

    If you want to cut that concrete jungle, concrete saws are sort of like a chainsaws with a blade mounted on the sprocket.


    There should be someone in the local chapter who can point you toward a good dealer. Al
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2015

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