Am I doing something wrong? Unfortunately vague description

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Captain Bruce

Captain Bruce

ArboristSite Operative
Joined
Apr 4, 2015
Messages
274
Location
Michigan
Hello,

So, I wanted to ask a pretty stupid question since I know the ultimate answer is if you don't feel safe doing something with a chainsaw you just don't do it, end of story. But I wanted to know if this is specific to me, sloppy technique or just generally acceptable to feel this way.

I'm not a professional by any means, but I do spend probably 12+ hours a week in the woods cutting up dead trees for firewood over the winter. Live on an (active) dairy farm so its the best time of the year to have the time to do it. We have two smaller saws, both very small and handy, I think the newest one which is the larger of these two is the MS180 series. Its really nice, reliable, runs exactly as well as I want it to for most of the jobs im doing (I cut up more large branches and small trunks than anything else) and I feel great using it. Okay that's great.

But then I get to some bigger jobs and we have a larger saw. I wish I knew the number because its not with me but it still has "MADE IN WEST GERMANY" on it so its an older model for sure, lol. Its significantly larger than the others though, more than twice as heavy and while the others make a nice hum and higher pitched rumble this one sounds when it idles and runs to sounding very deep and like a large dirtbike. The thing does intimidate me, i'm not going to lie, but i'm fully comfortable with it cutting into a large tree trunk. Since the material isnt going anywhere I know if I just take my time, get behind the saw and control it, make relief cuts as I keep going and be careful towards the end I will be absolutely fine. However lately the smaller two broke and we have a family friend fixing them who is not especially....timely.... about getting the work done. That's fine, he's a busy guy too and its nice he doesnt charge us "mechanic" prices for when something is so broke it needs to be replaced. All that backstory said, we're running low on wood (I moved away last year to be a teacher and they did nothing in my stead) and when I go back i'm afraid of running that saw to do the smaller work. I just feel like its not easily controllable and too powerful for those jobs. That its just too much of a risk because if something happened the mass of is just too heavy to stop-even though I know "overpowering" a kickback should never be your primary or even planned defense, feeling that you could have a reasonable time getting it under control is reassuring at least.

I know a lot of you work with much larger equipment and are probably unimpressed. But i'm just a guy doing what he has to in order to keep my family warm, not someone trying to make money.
Is this a reasonable concern? If not, Is it just that my mechanics and experience base isnt large enough to feel comfortable? I'm not at all lacking in physical strength, so is it just mental or what?
At the end of the day I think i'd rather just go buy a pawn shop saw that I feel safer running and leave it at that, but I want to know if i'm being reasonable about this, its bothered me for a little while to know if i'm letting my fear dictate the situation.

Of course I know this is just your opinion and nobody here knows me, my specific equipment or my specific situations. But it would help to hear from people much more experienced than I.

Thank you for your time, even if you dont respond.
5 long paragraphs to say your scared? Just put that big OLD saw out to the curb. It will be gone in an hour, and likely working with someone skilled. Go to town and buy another MS180C. Leave the big wood where it lies. The only thing worse than going into the woods with a guy who doesn't know what hes doing, is with a guy whos afraid of doing it.....
 
lwmibc

lwmibc

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Joined
Jan 6, 2011
Messages
46
Location
SW BC
I think the uncomfortability you're feeling by using the big saw in a small job is healthy; using the right sized tool for any particular job is an important factor in safety no matter what the job. My smallest saw is a 12" 18V DeWalt; largest is a 36" Homelite 750, with a whole range in between. The 750 feels as awkward and useless in limbing as the DeWalt feels useless in a 12" log; each one has its place. Compensate for uncomfortability with slowing down; make sure everything is done with zero possibility of injury.

My best advise?--learn chainsaw mechanics as you're able. Then when the right saw for the job even starts to act not quite right, you'll be able to fix it in minutes and get it back to work.

The best education about internal combustion engines I got 70 years ago when playing with a lighter on the farm where I grew up: if you get gas, air, and a source of ignition in the same place at the same time, there's gonna be an explosion. You eyebrows will be gone, face and hands black, and your pants are on fire somewhere; find it and put it out.

The engine is the same; if it doesn't fire, one of those three is missing; find out which one and resupply it. It's not a rocket, just an improvement on a 1910 Fairbanks-Morse hit-and-miss.
 
SAWTECH1

SAWTECH1

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Joined
Nov 12, 2021
Messages
49
Location
Lansing, MI
Hello,

So, I wanted to ask a pretty stupid question since I know the ultimate answer is if you don't feel safe doing something with a chainsaw you just don't do it, end of story. But I wanted to know if this is specific to me, sloppy technique or just generally acceptable to feel this way.

I'm not a professional by any means, but I do spend probably 12+ hours a week in the woods cutting up dead trees for firewood over the winter. Live on an (active) dairy farm so its the best time of the year to have the time to do it. We have two smaller saws, both very small and handy, I think the newest one which is the larger of these two is the MS180 series. Its really nice, reliable, runs exactly as well as I want it to for most of the jobs im doing (I cut up more large branches and small trunks than anything else) and I feel great using it. Okay that's great.

But then I get to some bigger jobs and we have a larger saw. I wish I knew the number because its not with me but it still has "MADE IN WEST GERMANY" on it so its an older model for sure, lol. Its significantly larger than the others though, more than twice as heavy and while the others make a nice hum and higher pitched rumble this one sounds when it idles and runs to sounding very deep and like a large dirtbike. The thing does intimidate me, i'm not going to lie, but i'm fully comfortable with it cutting into a large tree trunk. Since the material isnt going anywhere I know if I just take my time, get behind the saw and control it, make relief cuts as I keep going and be careful towards the end I will be absolutely fine. However lately the smaller two broke and we have a family friend fixing them who is not especially....timely.... about getting the work done. That's fine, he's a busy guy too and its nice he doesnt charge us "mechanic" prices for when something is so broke it needs to be replaced. All that backstory said, we're running low on wood (I moved away last year to be a teacher and they did nothing in my stead) and when I go back i'm afraid of running that saw to do the smaller work. I just feel like its not easily controllable and too powerful for those jobs. That its just too much of a risk because if something happened the mass of is just too heavy to stop-even though I know "overpowering" a kickback should never be your primary or even planned defense, feeling that you could have a reasonable time getting it under control is reassuring at least.

I know a lot of you work with much larger equipment and are probably unimpressed. But i'm just a guy doing what he has to in order to keep my family warm, not someone trying to make money.
Is this a reasonable concern? If not, Is it just that my mechanics and experience base isnt large enough to feel comfortable? I'm not at all lacking in physical strength, so is it just mental or what?
At the end of the day I think i'd rather just go buy a pawn shop saw that I feel safer running and leave it at that, but I want to know if i'm being reasonable about this, its bothered me for a little while to know if i'm letting my fear dictate the situation.

Of course I know this is just your opinion and nobody here knows me, my specific equipment or my specific situations. But it would help to hear from people much more experienced than I.

Thank you for your time, even if you dont respond.
Hello, I also cut wood , we burn and sell, I can tell you that if you came into my shop with this concern i would ask you some questions , like what size wood are you cutting, how often do you cut, what type of wood....etc. When i started out several years ago ,I have a stihl 028 av, which is a good saw and can cut logs up to 20 inchs, and i could handle just fine, when i wanted to cut larger logs, I had to buy a bigger saw with a 36 in bar, and that saw is ONLY used to cut down trees and log sections. I understand your question, and my reply is get the right size saw, for what your cutting a ms 180 is really a good saw for limbing , I always wear my safety gear, even with the little saw in my hand. Big saws should give you pause, when your handling them, anything can happen, if you try to use a big saw to do a small job, it may get you hurt....ie cut a scrub down, or trim a small pine tree....etc. Big saws are heavy and rightly so they need larger engine to cut through larger wood. I think your thinking is right to stop and ask yourself if i should be using this big saw for every part of the cutting process.
be safe
 

KASH

ArboristSite Guru
Joined
Nov 4, 2004
Messages
606
Location
ontario canada
Not trying to be a smart a.. but why don"t you read your owners manuals there is a wealth of knowledge on those pages plus it will tell you what model saws you have.Here is what I don"t get you say you cut wood 12 hours a a week x52 weeks in a year puts you at over 600 hours a year.You carry those 3 saws around in your hands with the model numbers staring up at you for 600 hours a year for gods knows how many years and you a teacher can not remember the model numbers.
What gives is this a serious post?
Kash
 
SAWTECH1

SAWTECH1

ArboristSite Lurker
Joined
Nov 12, 2021
Messages
49
Location
Lansing, MI
Not trying to be a smart a.. but why don"t you read your owners manuals there is a wealth of knowledge on those pages plus it will tell you what model saws you have.Here is what I don"t get you say you cut wood 12 hours a a week x52 weeks in a year puts you at over 600 hours a year.You carry those 3 saws around in your hands with the model numbers staring up at you for 600 hours a year for gods knows how many years and you a teacher can not remember the model numbers.
What gives is this a serious post?
Kash
Good point!
 
Krusty469

Krusty469

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Joined
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Messages
12
Location
Sydney Australia
I’ll chime in with the rest
Have respect for all saws - and wear safety gear with all saws - chaps are a must I feel - everyone can tell you a horror story of legs/ artery being chopped , death comes quickly
Your doing nothing wrong by being concerned , screw the hero’s that say grab a monster saw - it’s your life not theirs
I have a ms 180 - I think they are a great saw and perfect for smaller wood , just don’t expect the same lifespan of a more expensive saw ( the 170/180 are made in China I believe under Stihl control )
Maybe pop to a stihl Or huskie dealer and pick up a few saws and feel the weight
I have an old 025 that has a bit more go than the 180 but isnt much heavier
I think you will be happier with a high 40-50cc saw ? Go and browse and borrow off a mate if you can to try other saws
I let my mate try a few of mine and he loved my huskie 350 - but didn’t love the 372 …
Each to there own
 
Dudders

Dudders

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Joined
Jun 29, 2019
Messages
21
Location
Sussex, UK
Not trying to be a smart a.. but why don"t you read your owners manuals there is a wealth of knowledge on those pages plus it will tell you what model saws you have.Here is what I don"t get you say you cut wood 12 hours a a week x52 weeks in a year puts you at over 600 hours a year.You carry those 3 saws around in your hands with the model numbers staring up at you for 600 hours a year for gods knows how many years and you a teacher can not remember the model numbers.
What gives is this a serious post?
Kash

I've had my bunch of saws for years, use them most days, cut firewood for us and to sell, also timber for my mill. Sharpen & clean the saws every day I use them, look after them like I'm their ma. Model numbers? Well, the 2 Stihls are both MS something, the 3 Huskies - no idea. Guess I'm a bit deficient... 😞
 
HarleyT
Joined
Dec 6, 2014
Messages
19,105
5 long paragraphs to say your scared? Just put that big OLD saw out to the curb. It will be gone in an hour, and likely working with someone skilled. Go to town and buy another MS180C. Leave the big wood where it lies. The only thing worse than going into the woods with a guy who doesn't know what hes doing, is with a guy whos afraid of doing it.....
The testosterone runs strong in this one........
R.jpg
 
Sthil a grasshopper

Sthil a grasshopper

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Messages
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orange , TX
I would look on FB market place for a good used Stihl 250-260 series, or a husqvarna 450/455/460. Something with an 18-20” bar. If you don’t care for it once the other ones fixed you should be able to sell it for pretty much what you bought it for. Being taller, I prefer some thing that’s a little heavier but I can run a longer bar on it, it actually reduces fatigue for me because then I don’t have to bend over as much and I get to work done faster.
 
Ted Jenkins
Joined
Apr 18, 2016
Messages
3,302
Location
Twin Peaks
I was afraid or scared when I took on my first tree job. I did not know what I was doing but I needed the money. I was 14 with my father in another country and my mom two states away. So I bought a Mac for twenty five bucks and started. I had a little trouble collecting my money but sold the logs for another $200 so $400 for the removal and I have been afraid ever since. It has helped be more than average safe. So for sixty years being afraid has not caused me any heartache. My neighbors had a tree that was leaning over the house and deck that they wanted gone. I spent two nights while I should have been asleep thinking how can I get that thing down with out causing damage to me or the house. I have a part time helper who helped me lower the branches down then I dropped the stem by myself. I was relieved when it was done now on to the next. All this time after so many trees I still get nervous until they are laying on the ground. Plan twice and get the work done. Thanks
 
MontanaResident
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N. W. Montana
I was afraid or scared when I took on my first tree job. I did not know what I was doing but I needed the money. I was 14 with my father in another country and my mom two states away. So I bought a Mac for twenty five bucks and started. I had a little trouble collecting my money but sold the logs for another $200 so $400 for the removal and I have been afraid ever since. It has helped be more than average safe. So for sixty years being afraid has not caused me any heartache. My neighbors had a tree that was leaning over the house and deck that they wanted gone. I spent two nights while I should have been asleep thinking how can I get that thing down with out causing damage to me or the house. I have a part time helper who helped me lower the branches down then I dropped the stem by myself. I was relieved when it was done now on to the next. All this time after so many trees I still get nervous until they are laying on the ground. Plan twice and get the work done. Thanks

I can't say I was afraid/scared, but my first years dropping dead standing trees would have me breathing hard and feeling exhausted. I still approach them with heightened caution and an abundance of what if's. I probably drop about 4 to 5 a year, but they have to be special, i.e. close to the road, good quality, and not a giant amount of low branches. I mostly look for dead fall, or wind blown down. Dropping trees is no cake walk. There is a surprise in most all of them. My anxiety spikes when they lean back on me, and I have to get out all the wedges and have to push the tree back in the right direction. I pinched my B&C on my 461 this year and it took me a good 1/2 hour to get it to go the right direction. Turned out it was a great tree with lots and lots of quality firewood. Only bad was it was for the neighbor as the tree for me was the one before.
 
Cricket

Cricket

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Messages
129
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Allegan, Michigan
I was afraid or scared when I took on my first tree job. I did not know what I was doing but I needed the money. I was 14 with my father in another country and my mom two states away. So I bought a Mac for twenty five bucks and started. I had a little trouble collecting my money but sold the logs for another $200 so $400 for the removal and I have been afraid ever since. It has helped be more than average safe. So for sixty years being afraid has not caused me any heartache. My neighbors had a tree that was leaning over the house and deck that they wanted gone. I spent two nights while I should have been asleep thinking how can I get that thing down with out causing damage to me or the house. I have a part time helper who helped me lower the branches down then I dropped the stem by myself. I was relieved when it was done now on to the next. All this time after so many trees I still get nervous until they are laying on the ground. Plan twice and get the work done. Thanks
This. I'm 5' tall and while I'm ridiculously strong for my size - "for my size" means that ain't much. I worked my way up to... pretty much everything, including a bigger saw (I'm the crazy person who liked the Mini Mac, after all...) - my current saw (until I get around to fixing four others) is a Husky 445, so not a big saw, but bigger. And I only used it under perfect circumstances for quite a while, until I got a real feel for it - then I moved the risk/benefit ratio up a very small notch - rinse, lather repeat.

Also, while googling for the weight on my Husky, I ran across this (on another wood cutters site discussing saw weights...) "Medical journal says the average weight of a bowel movement is between 2-4 lbs (sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less)"

There, now you know something you didn't before...
 
Ted Jenkins
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Twin Peaks
This. I'm 5' tall and while I'm ridiculously strong for my size - "for my size" means that ain't much. I worked my way up to... pretty much everything, including a bigger saw (I'm the crazy person who liked the Mini Mac, after all...) - my current saw (until I get around to fixing four others) is a Husky 445, so not a big saw, but bigger. And I only used it under perfect circumstances for quite a while, until I got a real feel for it - then I moved the risk/benefit ratio up a very small notch - rinse, lather repeat.

Also, while googling for the weight on my Husky, I ran across this (on another wood cutters site discussing saw weights...) "Medical journal says the average weight of a bowel movement is between 2-4 lbs (sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less)"

There, now you know something you didn't before...
It matters not what one is gifted with as every one has an area to shine provided they try. When I was working in Oregon for the USFS I got to know a bunch of fallers who had be falling for years. The guys who were not so tall were having no trouble with their backs like the taller ones were. I was born with with some back issues so have figured out how to get on my knees as much as possible which has helped me keep going when others can not. Thanks
 
Cricket

Cricket

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Allegan, Michigan
It matters not what one is gifted with as every one has an area to shine provided they try. When I was working in Oregon for the USFS I got to know a bunch of fallers who had be falling for years. The guys who were not so tall were having no trouble with their backs like the taller ones were. I was born with with some back issues so have figured out how to get on my knees as much as possible which has helped me keep going when others can not. Thanks
Oh, yeah - short is helpful in a lot of ways, mostly involving not getting one's back screwed up. And small hands were very useful for reaching through sharp holes in transfer cases to hold a nut my late mate couldn't reach with his big old paws... though I'm not sure that's an *actual* advantage.

But one does have to be aware of things like physics - like having to lean further out than a taller person might need to, lever long enough, fulcrum... kind of iffy - oops. Or (have to occasional convince someone of this) - me holding one end of a rope is not going to have the same effect as my 6'2", 240# friend doing the same, unless I have something I can get a *really* good brace against.

And LOL at the "get on my knees" - I do that a lot - thank you forty years of shoeing rank horses - so I'm glad to know I'm not alone. If I can kneel safely, I'd much rather do so, than lean over *and* have to reach, with a running saw.
 
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