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Loweguy5 (Forum Supporter)
Loweguy5 (Forum Supporter) Reader
5/14/20 3:36 p.m.

I trust you guys for car and performance advice, so I figured why not ask about chainsaws?

Over my lifetime I have owned 3 or 4 cheap chainsaws and always end in the same outcome:  they break.

I am interested in buying one and am willing to spend more than a cheapy and would appreciate some opinions.

I am comfortable spending up to $350 and prefer a gas model.  I want to stay away from models that have a plastic chain tensioner as that has been a source of trouble in the past.

Any experience you can offer would really help me.  The intended use is just for cleanup around the house.  I'm unlikely to be using it to fell trees, but more likely for larger limbs and I have a rotten stump I would like to butcher.  

Thanks in advance!

TJL (Forum Supporter)
TJL (Forum Supporter) HalfDork
5/14/20 3:45 p.m.

I personally like poulans just fine, but the majority of people will say they are crap.  Parts are cheap and they are easy to work on. 

stihl is most peoples go-to, but they usually dont make parts availability to easy and i refuse to pay someone to do something i can easily do myself. 

id also probably suggest buying a older used one rather than new. Like everything else, "they dont make em like they used to". 

that said, and i know you are asking about gas, mostly when i need a chainsaw for dropping a dead tree or trimming up, rather than spending half the day screwing with one of my 4 gas saws just to get them started, ive become a huge fan of cheap 120v plug in electric saws. They can usually be found new for 30$ or so and work great. 

mtn (Forum Supporter)
mtn (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
5/14/20 3:46 p.m.

Can't remember what we paid, but we got dad the smallest battery operated STIHL that there was. We wanted battery because it is lighter, and therefore easier to handle for dad, and therefore safer. We went STIHL because it is the best at being a chainsaw, which to us makes it the safest. We went small because it is lighter, and we figured that if there was anything bigger that we needed to cut up, it was a job that we should be farming out as we're professional desk-sitters, and we don't want to berkeley around with something that can kill us that easily. 

Ask around, basically everyone says "don't pass go, get a STIHL or Husqvarna". So my advice would be Stihl or Husqvarna. 

Cadman5 Reader
5/14/20 3:53 p.m.

Just my $.02, I got tired of all the small engines I needed to maintain, especially due to the infrequency of use, so I have been buying electric versions of weed trimmers, chainsaws, etc as I replace them. I have a small generator for locations not near the house. What! another small engine? Well, yes, but one engine for many tools, and frankly I was neglecting the generator by not running it often enough. This way, one engine, and it gets used fairly regularly. There will definitely be dissenting opinions, but this works for me. Mine is a Craftsman, 16", 3.5 hp. Fairly small and not that heavy. There are probably better and more expensive.

EvanB (Forum Supporter)
EvanB (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
5/14/20 3:53 p.m.

I was all set to buy a new Stihl a couple years ago when I found a good deal on a used Dolmar from an arborist. It has been great so far. They also make Makita saws so I would add Makita to the Stihl and Husqvarna list.

Ranger50 UltimaDork
5/14/20 3:58 p.m.


Support the mom and pop places. Only chain retailer I see carry them is rural king. And they have the same set prices as everywhere else.

Cousin_Eddie (Forum Supporter)
Cousin_Eddie (Forum Supporter) Dork
5/14/20 4:00 p.m.

Stihl Farm Boss. 

It's what I have. It's what every guy at my fire department has. It's what all my neighbors have. You can't go wrong.

mtn (Forum Supporter)
mtn (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
5/14/20 4:01 p.m.
Ranger50 said:


Support the mom and pop places. Only chain retailer I see carry them is rural king. And they have the same set prices as everywhere else.

We bought ours from an Ace Hardware, but not all Ace's carry them, and I think most, if not all Ace's can beconsidered Mom and Pops.

NOT A TA SuperDork
5/14/20 4:48 p.m.


In a former life I was an arborist. I've had many saws of different brands over the past 50 years and my current is a POS 20" Poulan I bought because I thought I couldn't justify buying a better saw for my current uses. I was wrong. By the time it gets started & warmed up I'm half worn out. Directions to start are 5 pulls on choke then 5 pulls on 1/2 and if it starts it then stalls, Then repeat 10 pulls and try to keep it running long enough to warm up which takes too long. If I don't wait long enough for warm up it stalls then at least 10 more pulls. I returned the first one thinking something was wrong with it and the second one (currently still have) acted exactly the same as the first. As soon as the virus stuff gets worked out I'm going to buy a small Stihl and just keep the Poulan for taking down big stuff.

The Poulan does work fine once warm but if I set it down for even 5-10 minutes and it cools, the whole starting sequence gets repeated.

I don't recommend buying "old" used saws even with low use unless you're willing to replace the fuel system.  I may dig out my last saw (Stihl) and replace the fuel system instead of buying a new one. I know that's what stopped me from using it. I probably would have rebuilt the fuel system but it was too small for a couple trees I wanted to take down anyway so I bought the Poulan.

Loweguy5 (Forum Supporter)
Loweguy5 (Forum Supporter) Reader
5/14/20 4:52 p.m.

Thank you for all of the responses.  All were very helpful.

The0retical (Forum Supporter)
The0retical (Forum Supporter) UberDork
5/14/20 4:59 p.m.
Cousin_Eddie (Forum Supporter) said:

Stihl Farm Boss. 

It's what I have. It's what every guy at my fire department has. It's what all my neighbors have. You can't go wrong.

Seconded. My STHIL MS271 Farm Boss has been fantastic. Best part about it is that it's incredibly fuel efficient compared to similar saws while having good power. I've had it 3 years now, cuts dozens of cords of wood and cleared a ton of brush without a hiccup.

Grizz UberDork
5/14/20 5:00 p.m.

I have a 10" battery powered stihl I have used to cut down all sorts of stuff I shouldn't.

Ranger50 UltimaDork
5/14/20 5:14 p.m.

In reply to mtn (Forum Supporter) :

Because it's a franchise.

Jcamper Reader
5/14/20 5:16 p.m.

I have a nice bigger husky, but I see that Milwaukee has a set that has an interchangeable head so you can do a saw, trimmer, etc. I have been buying the Milwaukee Fuel stuff in 18v and 12v variety and it all seems super nice. When my saw dies that is what I will likely go with. 

Loweguy5 (Forum Supporter)
Loweguy5 (Forum Supporter) Reader
5/14/20 5:21 p.m.

I love the Stihl suggestion as the John Deere dealer where I got my tractor sells Stihl too.

 I noticed nobody suggested Echo.  I thought those were supposed to be very good saws too and was surprised not to see them mentioned.

RevRico PowerDork
5/14/20 5:24 p.m.

Add me to the stihl bandwagon. My 024 wood boss is now 40 years old, it's been in for service once, and has never been babied. No bar lube? No problem. Drain the gas for the offs season? Never, what if I need it in an emergency? But it's still always happy to come out of its case and play. 

Between my dad who bought it originally and myself, it's had probably 10 chains, it's on its second bar, but it just keeps on cutting. 

Don't buy it at a big box store, by it from a real Stihl dealer if you go new. For me, that means rural king, the John Deere dealership, or a standalone authorized dealer and service center. 

If you can find an older husqvarna, they're another solid saw. I won't recommend any made in this century though, still the higher upfront cost, but I personally feel the quality has gone to E36 M3. 

bigbrainonbrad Reader
5/14/20 6:20 p.m.

Bought an Echo CS310 a while back to knock out a big stump in my yard that the gas line runs under. 16 inch blade, Oregon chain from the factory and under 2 c notes. So far so good, would recommend.

Dr. Hess (Forum Supporter)
Dr. Hess (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
5/14/20 7:34 p.m.


bearmtnmartin SuperDork
5/14/20 7:40 p.m.

Stihl or husquvarna. I live in logging country and those are the only two I ever see. I have two gas Huskys but since I permanently borrowed my dad's electric Stihl I have not fired the gas saws up..

Fueled by Caffeine
Fueled by Caffeine MegaDork
5/14/20 7:54 p.m.

Orange stuff seems to work the best. Husky and Stihl being the biggest. I've not had problems with either. I own a small husky currently. 

jgrewe Reader
5/14/20 8:01 p.m.

I have a Stihl saw and multi-tool set up. Love both of them.  I used to own a tool rental company and had to stop using Stihl because guys would rent them and use mine to rebuild their worn out POS.  I went to Jonsered, good saws but not a Stihl.

I have a friend that has a pretty big tree company locally. He picked up a Husq' battery powered saw for pruning and ended up buying like 5 more after his guys were fighting over who got to use it.  He could stop raving about the power it had and how long it ran on a charge.

ClemSparks UltimaDork
5/14/20 8:11 p.m.

I bought a craigslist craftsman/poulan when we bought our property.  Not-A-TA's starting procedure sounds about right.

Then about 5 years ago, I decided to do something different.  I went to a dealer and bought a brand new Stihl.  You WILL NOT regret doing the same.  

Join the "I bought one nice saw 20 years ago so I don't know who's making what crappy saw today" crowd.  

I did the same with a line trimmer ("weedeater") a year later.  I bought a nice Stihl.  I hate line trimmers, but I have one that starts every time and runs a blade.  I "love" it as much as I can love a tool that enables me to do something that I loathe so much.

As I ostensibly "smarten up" a bit with age...I keep telling myself stuff like, "You don't have to work on and fix EVERYTHING in your life.  You can tinker with cars (because you like it) and pay professionals to fix/maintain the things like the house and the mower/saw/trimmer."  To that end...you can always have your Stihl saw fixed.  You can fix it yourself, of you can drop it on the counter of your dealer and say "call me when it's ready, please."  At least that's how I sold it to myself.  Sometimes I'm my toughest customer.

mikeatrpi HalfDork
5/14/20 8:18 p.m.

Love my husqvarna 346xp

Woody MegaDork
5/14/20 8:33 p.m.

In November, I walked into a local shop and told the owner that I needed a chainsaw. I told him that I own about two acres of property and I don’t have a fireplace or a wood stove. I just needed a saw to manage homeownership. He took me directly to this saw.

I did way more work with it this winter than I ever would have expected and I was very happy with. 

I chose a Stihl saw because we have three of them on the firetruck,


Woody MegaDork
5/14/20 8:35 p.m.

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