Chainsaw Guide Books to Sharpen Your Skills

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Illustration by Fotolia/patrimonio designs
Read first before you try cutting anything. A chainsaw guide will get up to speed with your tool and help you use it safely.

Here at MOTHER EARTH NEWS we fondly refer to Barnacle Parp’s Chain Saw Guide, by Walter Hall, as “the chainsaw guide book,” or “the classic.” It is both. Originally published back in 1977 by Rodale Press, this fine instruction manual has been out of print for some time now. But not long ago we happened to speak with the author, and the upshot of that fortunate conversation is that MOTHER EARTH NEWS has agreed to publish Barnacle Parp’s New Chain Saw Guide. The new version will be larger, more comprehensive, and better than ever, but it won’t be available for some months yet — and the initial printing may not meet the built-up demand for this fine title. If you’d like to reserve a copy (or copies), send us your name and address, along with the number of books you’d like us to hold for you. As soon as the guides start rolling of the press, we’ll send you complete ordering information.

Another fine all-purpose chainsaw guide is Robert A. Ouellette’s Chain Saws: Buying, Using, Maintaining, Repairing (1981 from Tab Books). The title reflects the contents of this comprehensive 144-page paperback. (One of our technically disoriented editors calls this one “the book that finally got it through my head how to sharpen a chainsaw chain!”) If you can’t find Chain Saws at your local bookstore, you can order it for the cover price of $6.95, plus 50¢ handling for one or two copies, or $20 for three or more, from Mother’s Bookshelf. Chain Saws is copiously illustrated with photos and drawings.

The next five publications we’ll discuss here all hail from the McCulloch Company.

First there’s YourChain Saw, by Robert Scharff (154 pages, hardbound, 1980), which is a nice little guide to using a chainsaw for cutting firewood; it includes operation and safety tips, maintenance information, and a section on do-it-yourself chainsaw crafts projects. Your Chain Saw is $7.95 from the above address.

The next McCulloch offering is Firewood and Your Chain Saw by Robert Scharf (176 pages, hardbound, 1981), which is an easy-reading guide to choosing, cutting, and seasoning firewood, with sections on safety, firewood burning, and the selection and maintenance of woodstoves. Firewood and Your Chain Saw is $7.95.

Creative Chain Saw Projects, by Robert Scharff (who seems to be McCulloch’s number-one chainsaw writer), offers step-by-step instructions for a variety of chainsaw carpentry projects, including log structures, furniture, yard and garden projects, and hints on selecting, finishing, and preserving wood. Creative Chain Saw Projects goes for $7.95 (160 pages, hardbound, 1981) from McCulloch.

McCulloch’s Guide to Firewood Cutting on Public Lands is a free brochure covering firewood characteristics, safety, public access to firewood, heating with wood, and both state and national directories of where to write to obtain firewood-cutting permits. For the price, it’s most certainly a bargain.

And for the final offering from McCulloch, you might be interested in sending for a free Chain Saw Safety and Preventive Maintenance brochure. The basics of safety and maintenance are detailed in a series of comical drawings. Though this little publication is far from being an all-encompassing manual on its two topics, again, the price is right.

Chainsaw Lumbermaking, by Will Malloff (The Taunton Press, 1982), is a large format, hardbound, 213-page tome available at bookstores, or from the publisher for the cover price of $22.95 postpaid. Author Melloff spent three decades as a professional logger and some 20 years developing and refining the chainsaw lumber-making procedures he describes in this monumental reference work. The price keeps us from recommending this one to the casual chainsaw miller. But if you’re planning to build a cabin or other large structure with lumber you’ll be milling with your chainsaw, then Chainsaw Lumbermaking quite likely will pay back its cover price the first day of cutting. Briefly, there are sections on saws, chains, lumber mill attachments, winches and other log-handling tools, felling trees, and precision and specialty milling.

And if you are considering milling your own lumber, you’ll certainly want to send for a copy of the free Forest Service brochure titled A Checklist for Drying Small Amounts of Lumber (Technical Report No. 6). Request a copy from the Forest Service Product Laboratory. (We’ve been cautioned that supplies of this popular publication are limited, so please request only one copy.)

Stihl, Inc., offers three chainsaw-savvy publications. The Stihl Chain Saw Safety Manual runs 22 pages and is free. Sharp Advice for Chain Saw Owner” is a guide to the care and maintenance of saw chain (not saws), and can be yours for 50¢, which cover postage and handling. Stihl’s most interesting offering is How to Select, Cut and Season Good Firewood, by John Vivian, author of Wood Heat. This attractive 30-page booklet is replete with drawings by Liz Buell and covers what the author calls “getting into the wood” with vivid, unusual flair.