Best chain saw for me?

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Forum topic by Moose44 posted 06-20-2011 11:00 AM 3097 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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16 posts in 2709 days

06-20-2011 11:00 AM

Topic tags/keywords: chain saw brands chain saws blade tree trunk slab slabs

Hello, I am as new as they come and do not mind asking for help. I am getting into making furniture from tree trunks. I need a chain saw. I will not be using it all the time. Just here and there. My question is what brand and size should I get? I do not want to buy the most expensive, but I do want a quality piece. I want something that will not break and that will last.

I have trunks that are 3 feet in diameter that need cut into thinner slabs. I would think I need at least an 18 inch bar. Does the skill level rise when using a longer bar over shorter?

Also I’ll be using this in the woods to get new pieces of wood.

Thanks for any advice given.

-- Kevin. Pittsburgh, PA

18 replies so far

View saddletramp's profile


1180 posts in 2814 days

#1 posted 06-20-2011 12:47 PM

If you have never used a chain saw, find someone to teach you to use it properly. They can be a nasty beast and have a bad habit of trying to maim and/or dismember the untutored. Even seasoned veterans need to be constantly vigilent lest they feel the tooth and claw of the beast.

-- ♫♪♪♫♫ Saddletramp, saddletramp, I'm as free as the breeze and I ride where I please, saddletramp ♪♪♪♫♪ ...... Bob W....NW Michigan (Traverse City area)

View JimDaddyO's profile


575 posts in 3255 days

#2 posted 06-20-2011 01:02 PM

+1 on what saddletramp said. If I was looking for another chainsaw I would go for a Stihl, or Huskvarna first. Then maybe a Jonsered or a Poulan. I run a Poulan now with an 18” bar and would like a bigger saw. A 3’ diameter tree will be a sketchy proposition for a new user with an 18” bar (or any other, start off small).

-- my blog: my You Tube channel:

View dbol's profile


136 posts in 3174 days

#3 posted 06-20-2011 01:03 PM

I own a ms290 made by stihl. It is a good chainsaw and is the first one that I have owned. You can buy it with up to a 20 inch bar. You should first go cutting with someone else that knows how to cut first tho. you can hurt your back very easy when using a chainsaw. You will need a pretty powerful chainsaw to cut a 3 ft diameter log.

View Don W's profile

Don W

18990 posts in 2743 days

#4 posted 06-20-2011 01:11 PM

i second everything saddletramp and JimDaddyo said. I have 2 husky’s. I’ve run most brands. Stihls are great but I like the balance of a husky better. Its a personal preference, not a performance issue. Jonsered are well made as well. Poulans are not as good as they used to be, but would be ok for occasional use. You can usual find decent deals on Craigslist, b ut if your new to chainsaws, make sure someone who knows looks with you. A bar and chain can run $100 or more, so that will affect the price.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Moose44's profile


16 posts in 2709 days

#5 posted 06-20-2011 06:51 PM

Thanks for the advice so far. If you guys could like all the brands worth buying and the brands to stay away from that would be great. I do not want to buy a 16’’ bar and then realize 1 month later that I should have got an 18 or 20’’. I’m sure it will take practice to be good at it, just like anything else.

-- Kevin. Pittsburgh, PA

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Don W

18990 posts in 2743 days

#6 posted 06-20-2011 06:59 PM

I’ve given the brands I’d buy. I stay away from kmart brands. The lenght of a bar depends. I’ve got a 28” and an 18”. Each for a different function. I’ve never done any chainsaw carving, but know there are special blades for that. Here is what I mill with.

Think about how big your furniture will be. If a 16” cut is the deepest you’ll need, thats what to buy.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3250 days

#7 posted 06-20-2011 07:18 PM

Just a thought – - If your work is all going to be done close to your shop or garage, consider an electric chain saw.

Chain saws often set around a lot time between uses and when you go to use them, they often are hard to start just because they have sat idle for so long. The problem of getting it started is not an issue when you use electric. They are also quieter and cleaner.

Of course, electrics don’t give you the same macho feeling.

There are electrics that rival the gas models with respect to power.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View sparks44pay's profile


24 posts in 2710 days

#8 posted 06-20-2011 07:23 PM

Aside from the professional brands like Stihl, Husquarvarna, and Echo most of the saws are made by a company called Olympia. Not much difference in them except for the names. From what I’ve heard Echo’s quality has dropped in recent years. I have a Stihl 026 pro with 18 and 20 inch bars. I cut and sell firewood and have slabbed down logs for my own wood working projects. Vary rarely have I wished for more saw.

View rance's profile


4264 posts in 3336 days

#9 posted 06-20-2011 07:25 PM

I have a 10” Craftsman that I’ve used for 25 years. I love it. Other than that, maybe this one:

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View sparks44pay's profile


24 posts in 2710 days

#10 posted 06-20-2011 07:27 PM

Good points richgreer. I’ve never used any of the larger electrics. If people empty the fuel out of their chainsaws when their done the won’t have nearly as many starting issues.

View Moose44's profile


16 posts in 2709 days

#11 posted 06-20-2011 09:10 PM

I know what you mean about the electric ones. The huge drawback is that I can not take it into the woods with me… I think I am going with a Stihl. Obviously new is better. Would anybody consider buying one used?

-- Kevin. Pittsburgh, PA

View ChrisForthofer's profile


150 posts in 3243 days

#12 posted 06-20-2011 09:59 PM

I would consider a used stihl, saw or otherwise provided it wasnt obviously abused. I dont have any of their saws but after buying several homelite or other cheaper brand yard tools I am convinced that pay a bit more up front and cry about it then, not 3 years down the road when it wont cut butter or wont start many miles out in the middle of your project. I have one of their commercial string trimmers (not the biggest and baddest but up there) and its WORLDS different than anything I have used prior. My 2 cents.


-- -Director of slipshod craftsmanship and attention deficit woodworking

View NH_Hermit's profile


394 posts in 3272 days

#13 posted 06-21-2011 12:14 AM

I want to loudly echo what saddletramp stated! I think of my chain saws as the most dangerous tools I own, and treat them with the upmost respect. I’m also a firm believer in good protective gear, so I always wear a helmet with face mask and ear protection. I have the Husqvarna 505 67 55-15 ProForest Helmet System. The helmet has saved me from a headache (or worse) more than once from falling debris. I also wear good non-skid boots and leather gloves, and always watch my footing. You may call me a whimp, but you’ll not be calling my wife a widow because of a chainsaw accident.

I’ve owned cheap but quickly moved to a Stihl but now have a Husqvarna 350 with an 18” bar, and prefer the Husqvarna for balance and ease of starting. I think the difference between the two is more personal preference.

I also want to echo Rich’s comments about saws being hard to start after sitting around awhile, so drain the gas and let the thing run out of what’s left in the line.

I used mine for cutting my own firewood for ten years.

And keep the chain sharp! Better yet keep 2 or 3 extra sharp chains on hand.

-- John from Hampstead

View dpop24's profile


115 posts in 2745 days

#14 posted 06-21-2011 01:07 AM

I’m still on my very first chain saw that I bought 12 years ago – an 18” Craftsman. I’ve long thought of upgrading to a Stihl, Echo, or Husky but this darn thing won’t die! Since I have no other experience to compare to, I assume my Crapsman is a fine piece of machinery but I always wonder if spending $700 on a professional grade Stihl would be worth it for someone who uses it about 20 times a year.

-- If it ain't broke, take it apart and find out why

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3824 days

#15 posted 06-21-2011 02:54 AM

I’ve had a couple of Craftsman saws and no complaints about them really.

I think for your first saw, buy a decent used one that cuts straight. The
groove in the bar can get distorted and the saw won’t cut straight
as the chain will lead in the cut.

Learn to sharpen your chain first thing.

Many chainsaw carvers use several saws. Even the medium size 18”
gas saws get tiring to use.

If you’re making lumber with a chainsaw, that’s heavy work indeed and
I’d get one of the better brands… but if making lumber you’ll want a
big saw for ripping and a small one two for crosscutting smaller pieces
and for carving.

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