choosing a new (first) chain saw

Discussion in 'Equipment & Survival Kits' started by Dakine, Mar 19, 2014.

  1. LincTex

    LincTex Jack of all trades?

    Woody, there's a lot of stuff I can say that's just going to come out as a generality, so here goes....

    All of the manufacturers have had to "step up to the plate" to meet the four-fold chainsaw dilemma: Weight, Power, Reliability, and cost - you can only choose three of the four!

    The really high end saws are light, powerful and reliable, but not cheap. These are the "Pro" Stihl, Husqvarna, and some Makita (Dolmar) and Echo.

    The mid grade saws are very reliable but sometimes sacrifice a little power or weight to help keep the cost down.
    Same brands as listed before, but the "lower cost" model line. The Poulan 5020AV is the cheapest of these.

    The low grade saws are typically light and cheap - - and powerful "enough" on the ones that are reliable (Like my CS2245 and Husq 445).... and the ones that are cheap and perform with really good power have bad reliability (RedMax, Cub Cadet, Remington - all made in China/Taiwan) Enough said about that!

    You asked specifically about RPM, and 20 years ago it was still true - The Husq's screamed and the Stihls growled.

    Because it's become SUCH a competition to build a saw that's light, powerful and reliable - the differences between them have blurred a LOT. They pretty much all "tach out" around 12,000 RPM now.

    The machining tolerances and materials have advanced so much over the years that there's not so many differences between them anymore except for cost... and you get what you pay for (for the most part).

    When it comes to cost, many folks can't justify the cost of "Pro" grade saws. Like the 50cc-55cc range (most popular for firewood cutters)... you can get a Poulan 5020 for $139 (as a "refurb"), or a new Husq 455 or Jonsrd 2255 or Stihl MS271 all for about $350-$400 or so. I think the Echos are a little less. "Pro" models in this size range seem to run closer to $800 anymore.

    Another one of the biggest reasons saws seem so similar anymore is for emissions. Yes, the good ol' EPA (gotta love 'em [​IMG] ) has been trying to DESTROY all chainsaw manufacturers for years now!! (and all 2 strokes). Sooo, you'll hear new buzzwords like "Strato-Charged" and such. All of the main saw makers are now trying to make saws that will run on leaner mixtures (for emissions) without burning the pistons down. It's been a big challenge to make strato-charging work, but it needs RPM's to work.

    sooooo.... pretty much ALL "new" saws that meet "new" emissions regs... [​IMG]
    ...are now all high-RPM models.
  2. LincTex

    LincTex Jack of all trades?

    Chains are something that can get into "too long" of a discussion.

    Typically, the stuff you find "hanging on the hook" at Lowe's, Home Depot, walmart, etc is all "safety chain" crap. Sure, it'll cut wood.... eventually.

    Folks that are always asking for more HP with big bore kits, muffler mods, bigger carbs, etc... will always find faster cutting if they just buy a DECENT chain!!

    Now, of course... the better, more aggressive chains do require more care and vigilance - because they are more of everything good, performance wise - and that does make them a little more dangerous.

    But you shouldn't own a chainsaw in the FIRST PLACE
    if you aren't a careful person.... but, since idiots won't listen,
    and lawyers speak loudly - - - low-end "box store" chainsaws all have "safety chain" on them. It takes a whole lot of grinding down to make a safety chain NOT a safety chain.

  3. Woody

    Woody Woodchuck

    Thank You Linc!!! They were short and to the point, great.

    What I get out of it is that I should be looking for an 045 (non AV model) to grab parts from, maybe two. And also keep my eye out for an old NOS or partial roll of Oregon chain.

    I guess like older woodstoves that are ugly but really heat, we'll be sniffed out and charged with crimes for having such monstrosities. Planned obsolescence was only beginning to come into vogue in the 70's.
  4. Cotton

    Cotton Supporting Member

    A quick side note for those interested… I own a Granberg Bar-Mount Chain Saw Sharpener, Model# G-106B available at Northern Tool (logging section) ($25).

    I sharpen fairly well free hand. I noticed a few years ago after sharpening 5 or 6 times my saw will always pull to the left just a little. It’s the way I sharpen, my fault.

    I found this tool in a catalog, it’s incredible. Its manual, no electricity and allows me to set the file angle in 3 different axis. It will bring a chain back to perfect factory condition. Accommodates any file size. It will also allow me to tweak the angles for more aggressive cuts. For folks like me who aren’t freehand daVinci’s, this sharpener is a gem! :)

    Edit, to be fair it is a little difficult to figure out at first. But once you figure out how to use it! Amazing results!
  5. LincTex

    LincTex Jack of all trades?

    That shot my opinion of "Popular Mechanics" all to hell....

    The small "200" Husqvarnas (235 and 240) are rapidly getting worse and worse reviews as time goes on.

    Avoid one at all costs - many dealers are now refusing to work on them! They are "Poulan Only" inside. The ONLY things they share with the "Real" Husqvarna chainsaws are color and name. Nothing is made in Sweden at all.


    My curiosity finally got the best of me. I now have a Poulan Pro PP5020AV on it's way to me. :D

    $73 and in perfect condition, made in Sweden. :2thumb:

    All reviews on it so far are great. If I think it needs to stay at its new home, I may be tempted to sell off one or two of my nicer saws. The Husky 51 for sure will go bye-bye... since I also picked up a really nice 028 Super AV! (and it's CHERRY - - this one I shall never ever ever ever sell!!)

    We'll see.....
  6. Tirediron

    Tirediron RockyMountainCanadian

    I broke all the chain sharpening rule and used a thin cut off disk in a 4 1/2" grinder on a almost worn out chain to cut some dirty old bridge deck (hey it all makes heat, I think that I am going to make a guide for the grinder, it is quick and it works well.

    My son decided that we should try an old power hacksaw, that was/is a lot better idea, a pretty course hacksaw blade doesn't mind the odd spike.

    Most of the things I do should come with "Shelby" from axemen warning (Don't ever try this , don't ever do it)
  7. zombieresponder

    zombieresponder random gibberish

    Buy a file guide like the Granberg mentioned below, and set it to the recommended angles for the chain you're sharpening. One caveat: Stihl chain is harder than woodpecker lips. You will wear out files regularly and it will take more time to sharpen. I don't mind hand filing chain, but I hate filing Stihl chain. The upside is that it will usually hold an edge slightly longer than other brands, and it's pre-stretched.

    Husqvarna, or the parent company of Husqvarna, owns Jonsered, Poulan, Redmax, and several other brands. Husky and Jonsered both have professional and homeowner grade saws. Redmax did make good pro style saws. The rest are now just homeowner grade. They will cut a lot of wood if cared for, but they will not hold up to heavy use.

    I concur with this. I had an oregon file guide. It was junk and ended up having a date with a ball peen hammer. The Granberg is a much better tool. There are also other file guides that work fairly well. Husqvarna and Stihl both make a decent one, but neither are adjustable for different angles. In the case of filing the depth gauges(rakers), the tool Husky markets is much better IMO.

    As far as saws go, everyone will have their preferences. Personally, I happen to think that the best saw is the one that starts, runs, and does the job I need to do when I need it done. I have saws from just about every maker, most of them are older saws, and in some cases I'd rather pull out the old "slow" saw since it will outwork a newer "fast" saw. As an example, I've got a 30-40 year old 60cc professional grade McCulloch that might get used instead of a much newer homeowner grade Stihl MS290. The old Mac has more guts and will keep chugging along while the Stihl wheezes and stalls. The stihl turns a lot more RPM and has more chain speed, but less torque. It will cut faster, but not if you're heavy handed. That said, in some cases comparing new to old is not particularly valid. An example would be comparing an old, well used pro saw to a new one. The old saw may be down on power due to wear. As an aside since I saw them mentioned, the old husky 50 to 61 series saws had a very poorly designed air filter/carb mount/intake system. Most problems with them can be attributed to that. Even with that fault, they were still pretty good when everything was right.

    I recently bought a homeowner grade Jonsered CS2245 at tractor supply for $75. It was a customer return(defective purchaser, not a defective saw) that was almost unused. To make a long story short, it doesn't have the power I expected. Frankly, I didn't expect a lot from a 45cc homeowner saw, but for what one costs new, I think it's still underpowered. The same goes for the Stihl equivalent MS250(which I also have). This Jonsered model is the same as a Husky 345, just wears different plastics. On the other hand, my Husky 350(also homeowner grade) is a surprisingly strong saw. I probably use it more than any other.

    Whatever you use, buy some safety gear and keep your chain sharp. Kevlar chaps and eye protection are a lot less expensive than an ER visit.

    Edit: Husqvarna branded chain is just rebadged oregon chain, don't waste money buying it instead of oregon. Given a choice, I'll buy oregon chain over Stihl. It also makes a difference which type of chain you're using. Semi chisel style chain will hold an edge longer, but it doesn't cut as fast as round ground full chisel. I have read that square ground full chisel cuts even faster, but it requires different files to sharpen and as far as I know, no one makes a reasonably priced file guide.
  8. Tirediron

    Tirediron RockyMountainCanadian

    If you buy Stihl chain, buy Stihl files, infact if you buy files buy Stihl files.

    I have found Oregon chain too stretchy on hi powered saws, but my small saw is a husky 372.
  9. cowboyhermit

    cowboyhermit Supporting Member

    Sharpened countless Stihl chains by hand, never had trouble, hard chain is a good thing to say the least but of course you need an even harder file.

    Now, a carbide chain, don't even think you will sharpen it by hand, just don't;)
  10. LincTex

    LincTex Jack of all trades?

    Which I why I typically buy & use Stihl (mid/pro) and Dolmar/Makita. They are a little more money, but I don't like having saws break when I need them. I do have a few others... more later on that

    Are you serious?!?
    I used to pay my bills and put food on the table with a Pro Mac 700, with a manual chain oiler and NO anti-vibe.

    I tortured myself mercilessly for an entire year with that awfully primitive wood cutting device. I replaced it with a used Stihl 028 AV Super, which was like going from a rusted out 1974 AMC Hornet into a low-mileage Buick Park Avenue. Such a night and day difference.

    I generally like all people - - and I would never wish anyone experience the horror of the ol' Mac 10-10 series saws and their variants.... :eek:vract:

    This is clear evidence that you have never owned or operated a good Stihl chainsaw. I'll gladly bring a 038 Super or 038 Magnum to cut alongside a Mac 10-10 series saw any day. Even my 028 Super will be very close to keeping up, and it's much smaller cc's than the Mac.

    If you want to get REALLY spanked well and hard, then let me bring a MS361 or an 044 Magnum! Even the lowly "1127 series" MS390 will slaughter a Mac 10-10, and with less weight and with less vibrations. There will not be any wheezing or stalling. Try one, you'll agree.

    No, now you are thinking of Husky, Jonsered, & Dolmar/Makita. In almost every "Stihl vs. Husky" conversation, everyone will agree the Stihls are lower RPM and better torque than the others.

    The MS250 gives Stihl a bad name.
    These are "homeowner" grade saws. Many of them had bad crank bearings and would fail even when "taken good care of".

    I also bought a Jonsered CS2245 at Tractor Supply (I paid more than $75 because it was new in the box, but way less than sticker price). I had to buy one of the "spline tools" to adjust the carb right. They are way too lean from the factory with 10% ethanol gas (the only stuff for sale around here). They also take at least 10 hours to break in well. Keep running 40:1 in yours until you have 15 -20 hours on it. Buy the spline carb adjusting tool for $8.96, you WILL need it to get the carb where it really needs to be.

    No, it's the same as the Husky 445.... pretty big difference.

    Yes, those are a very good firewood cutting saw!
  11. zombieresponder

    zombieresponder random gibberish

    I suppose you're entitled to your opinion, but frankly, a number of your assumptions are incorrect. I do own and sometimes use Stihl's like the 038AV. I've got an 038 Mag and a 10mm 044, among others, out in the shop waiting on me to rebuild them too. I've even got a Husky 394xp that comes out when there's big wood to be cut. I used it a couple of weeks ago on a large elm and had to cut from both sides with a 32" bar. You are correct on the Jonsered/Husky number swap, I don't know why I mixed that up. While I'm thinking about it, the previous generation of this series of Jonsereds, like their husky counterparts, could swap oilers. I was pretty disappointed when I discovered that I couldn't swap in an adjustable oiler from the 2250 to the 2245. The 2250 doesn't have an adjustable oiler either. :(

    All of the Stihl homeowner grade saws are poorly constructed, overweight, and underpowered in my opinion. The same is generally true for the Husky and Jonsered equivalents. That includes saws like the MS290/310/390 which also have a plastic "crankcase" and are assembled almost identically to a $100 walmart Poulan. I can post pics of that if you'd like. I have a box of 1127 series parts, and a couple of disassembled poulans. :D

    The Pro Mac 700 did not have antivibe and was just a larger displacement 10-10(which is 54cc and has an auto oiler, btw...except the 10-10S, which was 57cc I believe). The 700 had manual and auto oilers, just like the 10-10. I believe I would have sprung for an SP80 or SP70 over the 700 if I was making a living cutting wood. My Mac SP60 does have antivibe(as do the larger SP70 and SP80) and doesn't leave your hands numb. I don't have to pump the manual oiler either. As far as a 50ish cc saw doing anywhere near the work of a 70cc saw...not happening. Unless you were cutting limbwood or the 700 was worn smooth out, I ain't buying it. It's like saying a nova with a 283 will post better quarter mile times than a Chevelle with a 396. :eek:

    My reference of rpm and chain speed was a comparison between old Macs and new Stihls. Most of the Macs in the 10-10 era didn't turn but around 8k, maybe 10k, rpm. The 1127 series Stihls are, per Stihl's service manual, 12,500 to 13,000 rpm. All modern saws turn more rpm and have higher chain speeds than the ones made 30 years ago.

    I already have all of the carb adjusting tools :2thumb:, and unlike the original purchaser of the 2245, I didn't dump an entire bottle of 2 cycle oil in the fuel tank. I guess they must have thought it oiled the chain with the fuel mix, since the oil tank was bone dry. The tag stated that it didn't run or oil the chain. :rofl: Right now it's running fat and on 40:1. If I keep it(no need, really), it will get retuned after it's broken in. That said, I predict it will still be an underpowered homeowner grade saw. :beercheer:

    As far as the 10-10 goes, it was and still is a decent saw. Far from great, but definitely far from junk too. My uncle still occasionally uses the last one my grandfather bought new in the mid 70's, shortly before he passed away. It still puts wood on the ground and in the stove, with little more than normal maintenance. I'd say that's pretty good for a 40 year old saw, and far better than today's consumer grade saws will fare 40 years from now.
  12. chigger digger

    chigger digger Member

    I have a stihl 028 super that just gave up the ghost after cutting at least 4 cords of oak firewood every year for 25 years ! the first year ( when we were both young ) I cut and sold 19 cords .I replaced it with a 271 ,,,,,,,we'll see , but the days of cutting wood from dawn till dusk are over for me LOL
  13. LincTex

    LincTex Jack of all trades?

    Shoot me a price on what you think you'd like to get for it.....
  14. zombieresponder

    zombieresponder random gibberish

    Not sure what you mean by "gave up the ghost", but those saws are well worth spending a few bucks to rebuild. Seems like the last time I looked, a fellow could get a high quality aftermarket piston and cylinder kit for $150 or less. Here's an example: What I've seen of the Hyway brand has been good.
  15. BF1911

    BF1911 Newbie

    I've had Stihl, Poulan and Husqvarnas. My Poulan is dead, Stihl is dead (VERY early on) I have two Husqvarnas and they're really good saws. Even if I haven't started them in months, they usually crank up after a few pulls. I'm not saying Stihl or Poulans aren't good saws, I know A LOT of people use them. I just had bad luck with one.
  16. Balls004

    Balls004 Not new, just older

    I work on both Stihl and Husqvarna chainsaws at the equipment company I work for. From a mechanics view, I tend to slightly favor Stihl over the Huskies, but only because Stihl's are a little easier to work on. They are both pretty dependable if used properly and maintained properly. Most failures I see are caused by the operator, not the equipment. Leave old gas in one, use raw gas once, you'll be in to see me soon.

    My best advice is to use a premium gas mix, or one of the available canned premixes, and run the saw dry before you put it up.
  17. koldsteel

    koldsteel Member

    Balls004, I just jack up my MS190 w raw gas. I've found rebuild kits for that model. Is that a valid option or would I do best to purchase another saw ? I'm pretty good mechanically but wasn't sure if I had to crack apart the housing to repair. I haven't looked closely at the saw yet.
  18. ZoomZoom

    ZoomZoom Rookie Prepper

    A friend just did something similar. He got new parts from China on e-bay for cheap (like $30) and said the chainsaw has worked flawlessly since.
  19. hashbrown

    hashbrown Peckerwood

    I really hate to tell anyone this story but I guess I will. A couple of years ago my 026 came up missing. I blamed everyone I knew for taking it, borrowing it, stealing it. Well skip forward to this year, I go to cut some wood in a spot a rarely go on our place I walk over the hill and there's my damn saw right where it had ran out of gas. I got to thinking about it, I had a truck load of wood cut and when the saw ran out of gas I decided to split and load what I had and call it a day. I had to install a new fuel line and chain and I was back in business. My Grandfather always blamed everyone else when he lost things, guess this is just the beginning. :nuts:

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