Mother's Mid-Sized Chainsaw Guide

If you're heating your home with wood or planning to, we've compiled a chainsaw guide to help you find the right tool to cut it yourself.
By the MOTHER EARTH NEWS editors
November/December 1979
Add to My MSN

A MOTHER EARTH NEWS lumberjack demonstrates the technique for felling and sectioning an oak. The woodsman makes his first cut with a Stihl 031, slicing downward at a 30° angle for 1/3 of an oak's diameter on the same side as the direction he wants the tree to fall.  

Content Tools

Related Content

Have You Had a Farming Accident?

Have you ever been injured on the farm? Tell us how you're doing, and share your advice on how we ca...

Living the Homesteading Question

Imagine farm life in Virginia in the 1900s. That is exactly what Logan and Heather Ward did, spendin...

Make Your Pond Happy

Ponds serve many purposes that add an economic or recreational value to the landowner. If you own a ...

Saturday .... In the Woods

Even after 15 years, Cam still loves heating his home with wood that he cuts himself.

More and more people—spurred on by the upward march of oil prices—are turning to wood as a source of heat. Fortunately, chainsaw manufacturers have responded to the increased demand for their products—which has resulted from the new popularity of wood-burning with technically advanced and vastly expanded model lines of these powered wood-cutting tools.

In fact, there's been so much growth in the chainsaw industry over the past five years that it would be impossible for us to include all brands and models in one article! Consequently, we've limited our chainsaw guide to saws of the size range that MOTHER EARTH NEWS' readers are likely to find most valuable: those tools with engine displacements of between 2.5 and 5.0 cubic inches.

We feel that folks who are heating their homes with wood—and probably cutting at least two cords of fuel each winter—shouldn't even consider buying a saw smaller than 2.5 cubic inches. The advantages of a medium displacement log slicer to a person who actually heats much of his or her home with hand-cut wood overshadow the weight and dollar savings possible with a smaller saw.

In the first place, a substantial-sized cutter will drop trees more easily and quickly than a mini saw, and it will outlast one of the tiny timber choppers, too. Furthermore, because the more powerful tool does the job with less effort, it also puts less strain on its operator. Finally, many experienced log loppers feel that bigger chain saws are actually safer than are the smaller units because additional horsepower reduces the possibility of the chain's bogging or jamming, two frequent causes of kickback.

However, the number one cause of chainsaw accidents is fatigue, so don't pick a saw that's too heavy for you to handle (or work too long without a breather). A basic guideline for choosing a saw of appropriate heft is to buy no more than about one pound of machine for each ten pounds of your body weight ... but, of course, allow for your physical condition as well. Note, too, that some weights given in our Chainsaw Guide Chart are for the saw's power unit alone, while others include the bar and chain. Many don't take into account the additional weight which will be added when the saw is filled with gasoline and oil. Moreover, the tool's balance—which will change with varying fuel levels—influences how the poundage actually feels when you're sawing wood.

We suggest the best way to select a saw is to try out a variety of models first. Putting the blade to a log is the only way to know how the weight, balance, vibration, etc. of a particular tool will affect you. What's more, it's during such a trial process that you'll find out the most important thing you need to know before buying: the quality of the saw's dealer and his or her ability to back up the product.

Post a comment below.


Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 66% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Lighten the Strain on the Earth and Your Budget

MOTHER EARTH NEWS is the guide to living — as one reader stated — “with little money and abundant happiness.” Every issue is an invaluable guide to leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll find tips for slashing heating bills; growing fresh, natural produce at home; and more. MOTHER EARTH NEWS helps you cut costs without sacrificing modern luxuries.

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet’s natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.00 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.00 for 6 issues.