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Best recreational chainsaw?

Matt Thie

Matt Thie

New Member
Joined
Feb 19, 2018
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3
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36
Location
Michigan
We bought a new house on almost an acre, half of which has lots of large mature trees and several massive unearthed stumps and rounds from previously felled trees. I'm also a novice woodworker. I'm looking to potentially pickup a chainsaw secondhand to use for clearing and pruning, as well as to be able to try to process some of the felled trees into some usable wood for woodworking.

I have used chainsaws on occasion in the past, so I am familiar with their basic operation; I'm also pretty handy, so power tool operation is nothing new to me. I'm looking for something that is powerful, very reliable, easy to start and use and maintain, and extremely durable (since I have a knack for breaking things by just looking in their general direction). It should also have the power to handle using a longer bar--20" at absolute minimum, but I'd prefer at least 24"; it doesn't have to be the main-use bar, but I want to at least have the ability to use one to try slab off some of the stumps. I need it to be in decent usable condition, since I don't have the time or the money (and my wife doesn't have the patience) for me to spend on fixing one up. Weight isn't a huge concern for me since I won't be using it for hours on end to cut tons and tons of firewood, but I still need the ability to easily use it for a reasonable amount of time and to be able to heft it up into and safely use it up in the trees (several trees have some large dead sections that are prime widow-makers). As I get older, anti-vibration will also definitely be appreciated.

Since a chainsaw is a want for me and not a need, and since I won't be using it very often, I can't justify spending more than $200-$250 max in total on it (yes, I know that is pretty cheap for a good saw). I've found several on Facebook marketplace, but many either aren't working and have to be rebuilt, are way over my budget, are small dinky things, are low-end junk, and/or don't come with a bar at all. My local Craigslist hasn't yielded much. A friend who has used chainsaws extensively has advised me to not consider anything other than Stihl and Husqvarna, which limits the results even further.

Any suggestions on good models and/or good sources to find one? Is such a saw even available in my price range? Thanks in advance for the help and advice.
 
ironman_gq

ironman_gq

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Echo and Dolmar are well proven saws that offer great warranties if purchased new. I would strongly caution against using any saw up in a tree as a new user, it's a great way to end up in the hospital as trees do not always behave as you intend them to and neither do saws. One slip and the saw can rip itself out of your hands and swing the bar around right into your face, shoulder, legs or anything else within reach of it.
 
happysaws

happysaws

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Sounds to me like you need a McCulloch Pro Mac 10-10, they'll pull a 28" bar with ease (provided the chain is sharpened correctly), they're relatively easy to use, fairly lightweight, and also quite reliable.

They can usually be had for well less than $200 (paid $20ish for mine). A 28" bar and chain for one would be around $80 from eBay.

Stihl and Husky make good saws, so do Dolmar, Echo and Solo, but it'll be hard to find something with those names that will pull a 24" reliably for under $200.

Just my $.02
 
NIP Group
dougand3

dougand3

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$250 max...Need 24" and say 18" bar. So, 60cc minimum. Gotta be an older saw like happysaws says or find a pro Husky, Stihl, Echo or Dolmar/Makita that needs a rebuild. HD rental used to sell Makita 6400 20" for $250 but I think price has gone up to $325. Most reasonable new saw price would be Echo CS590 20" and add 24" bar for ~ $475.
 
Philbert

Philbert

Chainsaw Enthusiast
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Nov 25, 2006
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17,014
Location
Minnesota
I'm looking for something that is powerful, very reliable, easy to start and use and maintain, and extremely durable . . . It should also have the power to handle using a longer bar--20" at absolute minimum, but I'd prefer at least 24"; . . .t I want to at least have the ability to use one to try slab off some of the stumps. I need it to be in decent usable condition, . . . and safely use it up in the trees . . . I can't justify spending more than $200-$250 max in total on it . . .
Any suggestions on good models and/or good sources to find one? . . .
Welcome to A.S.

Hunt unicorns much?

What you are asking for is a $700+ saw for '$250 max'. A 70cc saw, used, in good condition with a 20"- 24" bar might go for $500. That's before you buy some safety and maintenance equipment (chaps, helmet, sharpening supplies, extra chains, etc.).

And a saw capable of slabbing off stumps is not the saw that will be safely used up in the trees. You are asking for a rust-free pickup truck, capable of hauling a 5th wheel trailer, that parks in the space of a Prius; for the price of a used Kia.

That's why many guys on this site have multiple saws, for different applications: limbing, bucking, falling, milling, etc. You would do best to clearly evaluate the primary tasks you expect to use the saw for, and focus on that. STIHL, Husqvarna, Echo, Dolmar/Makita all make good saws. A lot of wood has also been cut with Craftsman, Poulan, and other saws over the years. Depends what you are comfortable with, and what dealers or other resources you have nearby to support you.

If you post where in Michigan you are, you might be able to hook up with some other A.S. members, or attend one of our 'get-togethers' (GTGs), where you would have the chance to try a variety of saws - with the caveat that they are addictive.

Philbert
 
ericm979

ericm979

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Santa Cruz Mountains, California
A 24" bar on a smallish (i.e. 60cc) saw for that bar length kind of sucks. The weight throws off the saw's balance. That along with the length makes it clumsy. Not the thing for a novice. You'd think like I did that it doesn't make that much difference. It doesn't for the first cuts but after a while it kind of wears on you. That size saw may not oil enough for regular cross cutting a bar that long and it's even less likely to oil enough for ripping (which requires more oil). I was lucky to not burn up the bar trying that with a 24" bar on my 362cm but it pretty much ruined the chain. I got a 460 to run that 24" and use a smaller bar on the 362.

Unless you get very lucky you won't find a decent sized good condition modern name brand saw anywhere close to your price range. You'll have to change your parameters- smaller saw or needs rebuild or old and weird or more money. I recommend getting a smaller saw for pruning etc. and cutting smaller wood for wood working. You can cut both sides of the log. A 16" bar gets you close to a 32" diameter. A MS250 or 025 would be a good saw and it'll run an 18" bar (thought Stihls 18" is really a little shorter). Good used ones should be in your price range. Parts are easy to find even for 20+ year old 025s.

Don't forget to budget some $$ for safety gear, especially since you have limited experience. It's a lot cheaper than doctors.
 
Matt Thie

Matt Thie

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Feb 19, 2018
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Michigan
Thanks everyone. I figured it would be a "unicorn" and expected the "you're crazy" responses. Duce--I'm down in Brighton, so not close.

Raising my price range brings in more options, but I often find that the used Stihls and Huskys are listed for around the same price as I could get them new. If I ignore the price restriction, then what combo of saws and bar length (smaller for pruning, larger for slabbing) would give the best bang-for-the-buck?
 
computeruser

computeruser

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Your price is a big limiting factor, but your best odds would be, with patience and luck, to find an ugly but reliable Husqvarna 66/266/268, which would give you decent performance for special projects at 24-28” of bar with skip chain, and still be light enough for normal cutting use with a 16-18” bar. An in-tree pruning saw it is not, but it will do everything else well.

For the in-tree pruning, go buy a nice Silky hand saw. A 13” Zubat should do well for you.
 
ironman_gq

ironman_gq

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Find a use MS460 or 046 for the large stuff, they pull a 24" bar great but they aren't cheap. For cheaper you could find an MS390 which will do it but not as happily, for the small stuff an MS250 or 260 would fit the bill perfectly. The 250 you should be able to find in the $150-200 range with some use on it, the 260 is going to be $250+ in decent shape but they do show up for quite a bit less at garage sales. The 460 plan on spending $350-500 on a decent one.
 
foeke

foeke

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Like some others have mentioned, a long bar is only usefull when needed. My makita 7900 pulls a 28" bar in hardwood max. I don't have a bigger saw, so If I need to cut something sizeable that's what I use. But as soon as I can I switch it back to the 20" blade.
A long blade is just clumsy. If you don't need to fell more than 40" tree's, stick to a 20" blade max. Then you can get away with a smaller cc as well.
The downside from a used saw as a beginner, is that you don't know how it should sound and feel when new. My Stihl 200t needs 4 to 5 pulls before the first pop on choke. The 7900 just one. If I would get a used one with an issue, I wouldn't know it should start at the second pull.
And might live life with a dislocated shoulder from cranking a 80cc saw all the time.
So I would just start with a good new one. The money spent over a saws lifetime is mostly the gas/chains/bars etcetera. Maintain a new saw well and you'll enjoy going out together with you wood munching device, knowing it will run well.
Instead of praying it will start when you need it.
For the ease of repair, I would go for Makita/Dolmar saws. At least one which has OE parts widely available.

Sent from my SM-G935F using Tapatalk
 
captain dangers

captain dangers

partner 1633B (skil) chainsaw
Joined
Oct 2, 2011
Messages
541
Location
cumbria U.K
We bought a new house on almost an acre, half of which has lots of large mature trees and several massive unearthed stumps and rounds from previously felled trees. I'm also a novice woodworker. I'm looking to potentially pickup a chainsaw secondhand to use for clearing and pruning, as well as to be able to try to process some of the felled trees into some usable wood for woodworking.

I have used chainsaws on occasion in the past, so I am familiar with their basic operation; I'm also pretty handy, so power tool operation is nothing new to me. I'm looking for something that is powerful, very reliable, easy to start and use and maintain, and extremely durable (since I have a knack for breaking things by just looking in their general direction). It should also have the power to handle using a longer bar--20" at absolute minimum, but I'd prefer at least 24"; it doesn't have to be the main-use bar, but I want to at least have the ability to use one to try slab off some of the stumps. I need it to be in decent usable condition, since I don't have the time or the money (and my wife doesn't have the patience) for me to spend on fixing one up. Weight isn't a huge concern for me since I won't be using it for hours on end to cut tons and tons of firewood, but I still need the ability to easily use it for a reasonable amount of time and to be able to heft it up into and safely use it up in the trees (several trees have some large dead sections that are prime widow-makers). As I get older, anti-vibration will also definitely be appreciated.

Since a chainsaw is a want for me and not a need, and since I won't be using it very often, I can't justify spending more than $200-$250 max in total on it (yes, I know that is pretty cheap for a good saw). I've found several on Facebook marketplace, but many either aren't working and have to be rebuilt, are way over my budget, are small dinky things, are low-end junk, and/or don't come with a bar at all. My local Craigslist hasn't yielded much. A friend who has used chainsaws extensively has advised me to not consider anything other than Stihl and Husqvarna, which limits the results even further.

Any suggestions on good models and/or good sources to find one? Is such a saw even available in my price range? Thanks in advance for the help and advice.
depending on your age? you may like to consider something with a decomp-valve ? I would have recommended a Husqvarna 266 but they have lots of compression and you need to be strong to start them. the pro mac 10-10 as someone else mentioned is worth considering as they are very well made saws and spares shopu8ld be plentiful in the usa, I don't think they have anti-vibes though so I think with your budget compromises may have to be made ? sachs dolmar 120/123 would suit to but I you may struggle finding one on that budget? but I would recommend something around the 65cc mark with the exception of the pro-mac 10-10 which will pull a 24 inch bar no problem if running right. the Husqvarna 359xp/365 would be a god saw, but again the budget is a problem. Husqvarna 262xp ? again with budget. I think an ideal saw would be an un-restricted Stihl 039 OR MS310 semi-pro which would come very close to ticking all boxes ;o)
 
ericm979

ericm979

ArboristSite Operative
Joined
Apr 18, 2017
Messages
405
Location
Santa Cruz Mountains, California
I often find that the used Stihls and Huskys are listed for around the same price as I could get them new. If I ignore the price restriction, then what combo of saws and bar length (smaller for pruning, larger for slabbing) would give the best bang-for-the-buck?
The size of saws you'd want for pruning and slabbing depends on what (size and hardness) you're pruning and slabbing, and how much of each. And what you're going to call an expert in for vs do yourself. Generally for most homeowners there's more pruning and small saw work and less big tree stuff, unless you live in a forest of large trees. For example: I've lived on our mountain 20 acres for 20 years. For most of that time I was fine with an 025. It did all the small to medium stuff. Anything large I hired out or didn't do. Now I'm doing a lot of that myself plus removing trees for fire safety, looks and an additional building. It involves 2-4' diameter trees and cutting them into rounds for firewood so I needed larger saws. I'm also doing a lot of brush clearing so I got a small light Echo specifically for that. If I had to have only one saw it'd be 025 sized.
 
Mad Professor

Mad Professor

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stihl 038 super are found reasonable $$$ and cheaper than a 038 Mag, either of which if you could find would good by but neither is a climbing saw. Both will pull a 24" bar.

If you want to climb look for ~50cc or less.

Want a really cheap suggestion? Homelite super XL. Pretty light but no AV. The 60cc reed engine won't bog a 24" bar too bad and can be for for $50-150. Reliable as the sun.
 
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