So now I have to buy a Chainsaw...! Advice please?

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Forum topic by JohnMcClure posted 09-18-2017 01:27 AM 2055 views 1 time favorited 28 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View JohnMcClure's profile


1018 posts in 1417 days

09-18-2017 01:27 AM

Topic tags/keywords: buying chainsaw question

In the never-ending downward spiral of tool purchasing, I’ve decided I must have a chainsaw. You see I bought an awesome 17” BS, which now needs a constant supply of the right size and character logs. So now I must go and buy anOTHER tool to feed this one!

I believe I need two chains – one for crosscut and one for rip.
Question 1: Can you buy a rip-cut chain or do you have to file a crosscut chain to rip? Is there a decent “combination chain” to save the hassle?

Question 2: I think I should go cheap on this. I’m not making fine cuts with the chainsaw – that’s what the BS is for – and I don’t think I need a very large bar, since the BS will be the size-limiting factor. Am I silly to just buy HD’s cheapest, 14” gas-powered saw? Or a used saw from CL or a local small-engine shop?

Question 3: Is there some feature or characteristic that should make-or-break my decision, that a novice like me wouldn’t otherwise know to look for?

Thanks all!

-- I'd rather be a hammer than a nail

28 replies so far

View Desert_Woodworker's profile


2790 posts in 1991 days

#1 posted 09-18-2017 02:13 AM

Harbor Freight 14 electric w/ blade around $40 I have one and it is a good deal. To rent a Makita 14 from HD $40-50 dollars, for 4 hours. Regardless what you purchase- keep it cleaned and oiled….

-- Desert_Woodworker

View Combo Prof's profile

Combo Prof

4252 posts in 2054 days

#2 posted 09-18-2017 02:25 AM

Buy a husqvarna. I bought a small mccullough and it was a mistake. I bought a 24” husqvarna after that.
I think you will find a 14” to small.

I have never heard of a rip chain or a cross cut chain. There is standard, semi-chisel, skip tooth. It will come with a standard chain and that is all you need. Never get your chain in the dirt.

I recommend going to a chainsaw dealer and to talk to someone.

-- Don K, (Holland, Michigan)

View GR8HUNTER's profile


7575 posts in 1489 days

#3 posted 09-18-2017 02:29 AM

do not buy Stihl 180c they are leaking piles of junk that never run

-- Tony---- Reinholds,Pa.------ REMEMBER TO ALWAYS HAVE FUN

View oldwood's profile


162 posts in 2020 days

#4 posted 09-18-2017 02:40 AM

Go with gas.
New or used Stihl, Husqvarna or Jonsered. Test run used before buying.
Get at least 16”.
Get a rip chain, plenty on line.

View MrUnix's profile


8096 posts in 2975 days

#5 posted 09-18-2017 03:08 AM

New or used Stihl, Husqvarna or Jonsered. Test run used before buying.
Get a rip chain, plenty on line.
- oldwood

Or Dolmar (now owned by Makita)
I’d stick with the stock chain unless you plan on using it as a chainsaw mill.


-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

View Gilley23's profile


489 posts in 1158 days

#6 posted 09-18-2017 03:11 AM

Go to HD or Amazon and buy the Poulan Pro, 20”, 5020AV. It’s a Husqvarna, the logos are stamped on some of the parts. I’ve had this saw for a few years and I love it. Plenty of power, and for $200 it can’t be beat.

Like all big box saws, it will come with a more friendly homeowner style blade designed to reduce kickbacks. Get a new chain, this one:

Order a couple to have a spare or two on hand, and a file to keep it sharp.

View AZWoody's profile


1477 posts in 2000 days

#7 posted 09-18-2017 04:36 AM

It also depends on how good you are as far as maintenance. Will you regularly take care of it, drain the fuel after using or will you use it and let it sit?

If you do go gas, it might be worth it to buy the premixed gas as it’s ethanol free and if regular gas sits too long, you’ll more than likely have to clean the carburetor and spark plug to make it run.
I’m going to be purchasing a drum of racing fuel to use on all our 2 cycle motors soon for the farm as we don’t use them regularly and we lose a lot of time to make things run when we do need to use them.

As for chain, ripping chain will produce a smoother cut for ripping but it’s not necessary. If you’re running a chainsaw saw mill, then you might want it but if it’s just for breaking down logs to then process further on the bandsaw, a standard rip chain will do and usually faster. You might want to look into a carbide chain. Especially if you’re salvaging logs and don’t know where they’ve been or what you might run into. Around here, they really make a difference with sand embedded trees and extremely hard woods. I need to sharpen a regular chain within minutes on ironwood. That gets old fast.

If you choose to go electric, I also have a Worx 18” and I love it. Frankly, I love that i can pick it up and go and not have to prime and fight with starting a chainsaw for the odd times I need it when I’m trying to trim something up on the sawmill. One of my employees laughed and thought it wouldn’t be worth much but eventually, I saw he had an electric saw for chopping his mesquite bbq logs.

Gas brands I have liked is Echo and Stihl but Stihl has a pro line and a consumer line. Do your research as they are very different in terms of quality. I tried Husqvarna for a few different kind of small engine tools and they might be great around a home but none of them held up well on the farm.

Sorry if that got long winded. I have a love hate relationship with chainsaws but for me, the electric one I have made it much more pleasant to use and more of pick it up, cut and move on kind of tool.

View Woodknack's profile


13395 posts in 3156 days

#8 posted 09-18-2017 04:41 AM

I have a 14” Poulan and 16” Worx, both electric, the Worx is significantly better with more power for about $90. Some people will tell you gas has more power but that is not true until you get into bigger saws. What I like about electric is that it starts every time, no fussing with fuel or chokes, is quieter, and lighter weight. Of course you have to be within range of a plug. The better electrics have an auto-tension chain. Rip chains can be bought or filed from a regular chain.

-- Rick M,

View newwoodbutcher's profile


813 posts in 3626 days

#9 posted 09-18-2017 04:50 AM

I’ve been using a 24” Stihl pretty heavily for about ten years. I think I had it tuned up twice and sharpened the chain 5-6 times. Works like a charm

-- Ken

View Combo Prof's profile

Combo Prof

4252 posts in 2054 days

#10 posted 09-18-2017 10:57 AM

Also, and this is important, never ever put gas that has ethanol in any small gas motor. It will eat the aluminum, brass , rubber and plastic. It will ruin the motor. I learned the hard way. This means only premium gas and only from certain gas stations. You will have to look around to find a station that has ethanol free gas. See this consumer report.

-- Don K, (Holland, Michigan)

View bigblockyeti's profile


6577 posts in 2497 days

#11 posted 09-18-2017 12:40 PM

Depending on what size, species and frequency you plan on ripping, a bigger saw might suit you better than a smaller saw. Ripping with a chainsaw requires a sharp chain, lots of power & lots of patients. I would rather have to cross cut with a chain ground for ripping than rip with a chain ground for cross cutting. A dedicated chain for each operation would be preferable.

-- "Lack of effort will result in failure with amazing predictability" - Me

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5290 posts in 4737 days

#12 posted 09-18-2017 12:44 PM

Excellent advice on draining the fuel after ya use the saw.

-- [email protected]

View Combo Prof's profile

Combo Prof

4252 posts in 2054 days

#13 posted 09-18-2017 01:24 PM

Yes drain the fuel.

-- Don K, (Holland, Michigan)

View JohnMcClure's profile


1018 posts in 1417 days

#14 posted 09-18-2017 01:40 PM

Thanks everyone for your helpful advice!
Now we’ve narrowed my options down to ranging from 14” electric to 20” gas… LOL…
But seriously this helps. If I can find an inexpensive gas-powered model, any size, I’ll probably just get it. If I can’t I’ll look for a little electric model, put a decent chain on it, and save the extra money for more bandsaw blades.
Trouble is, with electric, I can’t bring it to the tree if I find one fallen….. We shall see!

-- I'd rather be a hammer than a nail

View Markmh1's profile


115 posts in 1220 days

#15 posted 09-18-2017 01:41 PM

The ethanol in the gas absorbs moisture from the air, water. Water then collects into very small pools (droplets) and provides an environment for sulfur reducing bacteria to grow.

This bacteria grabs sulfur from the gasoline, eats it, and secretes an acid. This acid is what corrodes parts in the carb and fuel system.

This will happen frequently to small engines. This is what is known as the gasoline becoming sour and will produce a rotten egg smell.

IMO, small engines that sit for a while between runs are candidates for this evil, think chainsaws and snowblowers.

Ethanol free gas is a large part of the answer.


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