Author Topic: Chainsaw choice  (Read 15616 times)

Offline racer038

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Chainsaw choice
« on: June 10, 2016, 03:42:23 PM »
Poulan wild thing just went down on me.  After 4 trips to get repaired, I'm done.  Choices Husqavara and Stihl.  Husky would be from Lowes, Stihl would be from a dealer 30 miles away.  All things considered looks like about $50 premium on the Stihl when compared to the Husky.  Any STRONG Opinions??????

Offline fritz_monroe

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Re: Chainsaw choice
« Reply #1 on: June 10, 2016, 03:52:09 PM »
I've been very happy with my Stihl.  I found recently that the air filter slipped on it and it sucked in dust.  This scored the cylinder and it's more expensive to fix than replace.  I will be getting a new chainsaw, it will be a Stihl, but will be "bigger" than the last one.  I'll probably go with the Farm Boss, I just hate spending so much, $400.

In my area, Home Depot doesn't sell Huskvarna, they sell Echo.

Offline Fixit

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Re: Chainsaw choice
« Reply #2 on: June 10, 2016, 06:56:06 PM »
Prefer Stihl myself. Just replaced a 221 this month with a 251. That 221 was 12 years old and had kept 3 heaters in wood plus a year around wood cookstove in wood that whole time.

Offline I.L.W.

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Re: Chainsaw choice
« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2016, 08:10:40 PM »
I'd also go with Stihl.

Husqvarna are still pretty good, but not as many dealers. As you noted, you're go-to for parts is a chain home improvement store. That means limited selection of parts for only the current models, and everything else is "special order". You really need one with a dealer and service station in the area.

It's not a brand loyalty choice, and comparing similar class models, the quality of the build is comparable. There might be a slightly higher price on the Stihl, but if you have a dealer nearby, it's worth the markup. If anything goes wrong, it will infallibly happen when you've just felled a tree in your front yard, or a branch has fallen in the middle of the road, or an ice storm dropped a branch on your roof and you need to get it taken care of ASAP.

Hopefully you can do the minor service stuff yourself (small engine rebuilds, blade sharpening etc), but if you need a part, you can't wait 3 weeks for something on back-order.

Make sure you get a couple of blades, a couple extra bars, spark plugs & gap gauge, and if the fuel line is exposed in the model (sometimes they are), buy 10 feet of extra fuel line... they can snag on branches and rip apart. Make sure you always have Gas, motor oil, bar oil etc on hand for the unexpected but urgent jobs. In a cold climate, keeping a bottle or nailpolish remover handy will help (100% acetone). ½tsp in the gas tank will get you a cold start with no problem, just don't do it every time, it tends to dissolve the gas line, but that's a 30 second job to swap it out, and only costs a few dollars.

Get the chainsaw from a dealer, but all the extras you can probably find cheaper through an online outlet like Bailey's.

Offline 1greenman

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Re: Chainsaw choice
« Reply #4 on: June 10, 2016, 08:23:25 PM »
I'm also a Stihl fan.  But sadly I'll be selling mine soon.  Farming is off our future for now.

Where do you live? Maybe I'll sell you mine. 

I bought (AND YOU SHOULD TOO) the 6 pack of Stihl? synthetic oil when you buy your saw.  It added 2 years? Or 1 year to the Stihl warranty!!

Offline Jack Crabb

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Re: Chainsaw choice
« Reply #5 on: June 10, 2016, 09:54:31 PM »
Stihl by a long shot.

Does your state has a hurricane or other annual sales tax holidays. In Virginia, we have an annual sales tax holiday for hurricane-related items such as ice packs, batteries, tarps, etc. Also included are generators under $1000, i.e., Honda 2000w, and chain saws under some amount.

Offline michaelnz

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Re: Chainsaw choice
« Reply #6 on: June 11, 2016, 12:17:24 AM »
I am looking to purchase a an e-go electric chainsaw. I have bought a 2.4 acres of a subdivided farm in New Zealand with with 2 acres of native bush.

The reasons I have chosen this;

 1. They are mush quieter so no need for hearing protection
 2. Lower maintenance costs
 3. There are other tools in the range I am looking at use same battery /charger
 

Offline CagedFeral

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Re: Chainsaw choice
« Reply #7 on: June 11, 2016, 03:51:37 AM »
I bought a Husqvarna Rancher last year & it's already paid for it's self atleast 5 times. It's been a great saw. Very easy to start.  I'm just using as a homeowner & I take good care of it so I expect it will last many years.




Offline Carl

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Re: Chainsaw choice
« Reply #8 on: June 11, 2016, 05:48:32 AM »
I am looking to purchase a an e-go electric chainsaw. I have bought a 2.4 acres of a subdivided farm in New Zealand with with 2 acres of native bush.

The reasons I have chosen this;

 1. They are mush quieter so no need for hearing protection
 2. Lower maintenance costs
 3. There are other tools in the range I am looking at use same battery /charger

I would like to hear how that works out as to power and run time ,I use a corded electric chain saw with an inverter when away from home and am curious how the battery power compares.

Offline 1greenman

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Re: Chainsaw choice
« Reply #9 on: June 11, 2016, 12:06:18 PM »
I would like to hear how that works out as to power and run time ,I use a corded electric chain saw with an inverter when away from home and am curious how the battery power compares.

Probably limited to 8"-10" (20-25cm)diameter trees?

Run time of 30min or less of active use?

I am asking/guessing.

Offline michaelnz

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Re: Chainsaw choice
« Reply #10 on: June 11, 2016, 03:34:30 PM »

Offline michaelnz

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Re: Chainsaw choice
« Reply #11 on: June 11, 2016, 03:35:45 PM »
The majority of the trees on my property are gorse or manuka so big trunks not an issue.  No need to use a sledgehammer to bang in a nail.

Offline 1greenman

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Re: Chainsaw choice
« Reply #12 on: June 11, 2016, 06:59:24 PM »
True that!

Offline machinisttx

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Re: Chainsaw choice
« Reply #13 on: June 11, 2016, 08:37:50 PM »
I suppose I will chime in here. I have Echo, Husqvarna, Jonsered, Stihl, and other brands that I use depending on what I'm doing, and have completely disassembled and rebuilt a couple with more to be done as I have time.

For good chainsaw brands, there are Stihl, Husqvarna/Jonsered, Dolmar, Echo, and maybe one or two others. Either way, buy one from an actual dealer and not a big box store. Need to know exactly what you're cutting to make a good recommendation as to model or engine size. The big box stores sell consumer grade saws, not true long lasting professional grade...which may or may not be an issue depending on your use. I can also tell you that I find ten or more stihls in the scrapyard for every one husqvarna. I literally have a pile of small homeowner grade Stihls out in my shop that I will eventually get around to repairing and selling. I have several right now that need to find new homes. The construction of the homeowner grade Stihl and Husqvarna/Jonsered saws is exactly the same as the cheap Poulans. I have, or can take, pictures of that if you want to see what I'm talking about. In fact, if you order parts for your poulan, they will probably come in packaging that has the Husqvarna brand on it somewhere....because Husqvarna owns Poulan. Some of the part numbers are the same, depending on model.


One other bit of advice I will offer is that chainsaw chaps will not protect you from an electric chainsaw. Electric motors are constant torque and just keep going, whereas the gas saw will slow enough for the kevlar to jam the clutch and stop the chain.

Offline fritz_monroe

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Re: Chainsaw choice
« Reply #14 on: June 11, 2016, 09:26:22 PM »
I can also tell you that I find ten or more stihls in the scrapyard for every one husqvarna.
By this, do you mean that you feel that Husqvarna is a better saw? 

Offline I.L.W.

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Re: Chainsaw choice
« Reply #15 on: June 11, 2016, 09:53:05 PM »
If you need more info, check out http://www.arboristsite.com/community/forums/chainsaw.9/
A forum dedicated to chainsaws with 100,000+ topics posted, lol.

Quote
The construction of the homeowner grade Stihl and Husqvarna/Jonsered saws is exactly the same as the cheap Poulans.

The materials used by Stihl and Husqvarna are a higher grade than Poulan, even in comparable models. The plastics used in the Poulan for example will expand and contract, which makes getting the gas and oil caps on an off a real pain in the ass after a couple of years. They give you a wrench for it which twists and breaks, and the bars are definitely flimsier. I've also accidentally yanked the starting cord off of quite a few poulan chainsaws, never had that problem with Stihl.

However, I agree that the lower end are nothing fantastic. The homeowner line is for the suburbanite with a 1/10th acre last and two trees in their yard which need trimming every other year, lol. Not for the homestead. If you're clearing land, harvesting firewood etc, the entry point is around the $600 mark. You can get away with something cheaper for a little while, many people do, but servicing it will end up costing more in the long run.

Offline racer038

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Re: Chainsaw choice
« Reply #16 on: June 12, 2016, 09:30:15 AM »
Thanks, once again to the community, especially I.L.W and machinisttx that seem to have already walked the trail I'm trudging.  Talked to a Lowes employee about the Husqvara, went to two Stihl dealers, and saw the small engine repair guy that had been working on my saw.  Conclusion:  Stihl MS271 with a 18" bar.  Even though the Husky 450 rancher could have been bought for $40 less with my 10% off, I'm going with the Stihl. Oddly enough neither retailer carried the MS271 in stock, so I'm calling early this week to order and pick up Saturday.  The repair guy was very high on the availability and advise of the local Stihl dealers.  His comment about ALL chainsaw makers, "they are all Pieces of S&%$, nobody builds them well anymore!"  But he did recommend buying from a dealer, not a box store.
I have over 100 acres of oak/hickory woods with a lot of cedar.  Within the next month, I need to drop around 30 large red oak, hickory, hackberry and ash that will be cleared for my house, pavillion and septic field.  I will get some nice logs out of these and will sell or have them rough cut for my use.  I will use anything appropriate for firewood.  I also have over 100 of 8-20" diameter cedars that will need to be cut over the next 4 years or so.  My abilities would be considered novice and my age and physical condition will limit my need for the top of the line, professional models.  This model seems to fit the bill for me.

Offline machinisttx

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Re: Chainsaw choice
« Reply #17 on: June 12, 2016, 03:18:12 PM »
By this, do you mean that you feel that Husqvarna is a better saw?

Husky/Jonsered are not that popular in my area. That being said, I have seen some very shoddy parts and finishing from Stihl. Husqvarna/Jonsered has a few well known problems on particular saws as well. I do prefer Husqvarna, but I don't hesitate to use Stihl either.

The materials used by Stihl and Husqvarna are a higher grade than Poulan, even in comparable models. The plastics used in the Poulan for example will expand and contract, which makes getting the gas and oil caps on an off a real pain in the ass after a couple of years. They give you a wrench for it which twists and breaks, and the bars are definitely flimsier. I've also accidentally yanked the starting cord off of quite a few poulan chainsaws, never had that problem with Stihl.

The fuel and oil cap issue, IMO, is more related to fuel(ethanol) and oil additives and poor choice of plastics than anything else. Stihl's bottom of the line bars, while better than the uber cheap bottom end Oregon bars used on Poulans, are not all that great either. The oil holes are too small and the bar rails are never even. Husky/jonsered uses Oregon bars too, some are good and others(low end saws) are no better than the bars on poulans...which are sometimes the same bar with different paint.

Racer038, I think for your use, you would be much better served with an MS261 or MS362 if you stick with Stihl. Both are professional grade saws whereas the 271 is a homeowner/farm/ranch saw. It's mostly plastic, even the "crankcase". It's also a bit undersize for the size of tree you say you'll be cutting. If I run a 20" bar, I want at least a 60cc saw(MS362), and IMO, 70cc is better in hardwood. With the smaller 271, and to a smaller degree MS261, you'll be right at the limit of what the saw can handle with a 20" bar/chain....and you'll have to baby it a bit at that. It's harder on the saw and operator to use a marginally large enough saw for the job, and it requires more time/fuel/oil. The 261 has the same size engine as the 271, but about half a horsepower more. The 362 gets you another .7 hp more over the 261....and it should handle a 24" bar well enough for what you're doing. I think you'd be far happier with it than anything smaller. I don't know where you are, but I always offer to swing by and let folks run a couple of my saws when they're local.


Offline Davew223

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Re: Chainsaw choice
« Reply #18 on: June 12, 2016, 08:52:13 PM »
I can't say for sure about Husky or Stihl but many of the products in the box stores are not the the same as in the regular retail stores, even with the same model number.  Milwaukee is notorious for this.  As for deciding between the two, flip a coin but buy it from a local dealer that actually services them. Everything I have is Stilh and I have no complaints but I have used Huskies quite a bit and would not think twice about getting one.

Offline I.L.W.

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Re: Chainsaw choice
« Reply #19 on: June 13, 2016, 07:42:57 AM »
I agree with machinisttx on going a bit larger if you can. The 271 in fairness will do most of what you're looking for. It's definitely a huge step up from Poulans.

Cedar is easy cutting if you keep the chains sharpened.

Ash, you you could hand-saw as quick as chainsawing, lol. It's dense wood, but very easy cutting as long as you have a steady hand and keep the bar perfectly perpendicular to the trunk. With any cutting, try to avoid angled cuts, as that's more surface area, and thus more gas spent and more wear on the blades for the same end result. Ash however binds on angled cuts. In this case a smaller bar can be a benefit.

Oak won't be a problem if you make your cuts away from nodes in the trunk. These are areas with primal buds under the bark from which a new branch would sprout. In the lumber these are the small knotholes or grain which extend out from the heartwood to the outer bark layer, perpendicular to the rest of the grain. These areas are very dense and can dull a blade quickly. They are usually just a few inches below an existing branch joint.

Hickory will be where a bigger engine and larger bar comes in handy. It's fibrous and likes to splinter.  You'll be alright with the 271, but keep a close eye on the bar oil and cut slowly.

The 271 is fine for around the homestead, but you wouldn't want to use it as a professional arborist (cutting wood all day, every day as your primary income). Smaller bars have fewer teeth on the chain, which mean they dull faster. That means less time cutting, more time sharpening, which doesn't work well when you're on the clock. But if you can work at a more leisurely pace, I think it'll do the job nicely.

It's the difference between "I'm going to drop 20 trees today" and "I'm going to drop one tree this week, cut it up, stack the wood, clean up, sharpen blades, and change the oil before cutting the next one". I think the latter is more likely on the homestead.

Offline SelfSufficientPath

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Re: Chainsaw choice
« Reply #20 on: June 13, 2016, 08:18:35 AM »
Desperately wanted a Stihl when I needed a "bigger" saw last year.  But the price tag scared me off.  I went with the Jonsered from Tractor Supply.  It runs like a champ.  Plenty of power, no stalling even on heavy cuts.  Really nice.  Only problem I've had with it is it can be hard to start.  I have no problem pulling it (repeatedly), but sometimes it just doesn't want to start.  That said, my father has a Stihl, and it sometimes suffers from the same problem.

Offline fritz_monroe

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Re: Chainsaw choice
« Reply #21 on: June 13, 2016, 08:38:05 AM »
I've heard nothing bad about Jonsered.  Seems to be comparable with Stihl and Husquevarna
Desperately wanted a Stihl when I needed a "bigger" saw last year.  But the price tag scared me off.  I went with the Jonsered from Tractor Supply.
In my area, Jonsered, Stihl, Echo and Husquevarna are all similarly priced, give or take $40.

If you go with those Professional models, be prepared for the sticker shock.  The MS261 goes for  $610-$750  and the MS362 goes for $730-$830 depending on sub-model and bar length.   It will probably last your entire life, but that's a big difference from the $400 for the MS271.

Offline fritz_monroe

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Re: Chainsaw choice
« Reply #22 on: June 13, 2016, 08:43:21 AM »
Thought I'd add a link to a Popular Mechanics article comparing the big names.  Chain Saw Comparison Field Test

This is dated Jan 7, 2015 so is not the current models.

Offline Zef_66

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Re: Chainsaw choice
« Reply #23 on: June 13, 2016, 10:35:02 AM »
Within the next month, I need to drop around 30 large red oak, hickory, hackberry and ash that will be cleared for my house, pavillion and septic field.  I will get some nice logs out of these and will sell or have them rough cut for my use.  I will use anything appropriate for firewood.  I also have over 100 of 8-20" diameter cedars that will need to be cut over the next 4 years or so.  My abilities would be considered novice and my age and physical condition will limit my need for the top of the line, professional models.  This model seems to fit the bill for me.

You are just a step or two behind me. I just got finished clearing probably 50 trees, mainly maple and oak, for my house and drain field. I found that if it was just me cutting on a Saturday, I could only get 3, maybe 4 trees (15-20" dia) cut down, brush dragged away to a pile, tree cut to firewood length, and stacked away from the clearing in one day. Two people cutting/helping and that number doubled. Three people helping and that number tripled. Just to give you an idea what you are up against. Oh, and you mention age; I'm in my early 30s, so that is working hard from sun up to sun down.

For saw brand, I'm loyal to Stihl because that's all I've ever known and ran. They work great and I never had too many issues with them. I have a bunch of saws, but my go to saws are a MS291 w/ 16" bar and MS362 with 20" bar. I drop them with the larger MS362 because of the longer bar, more power and more aggressive chain. I will also do most of the large diameter cutting with this saw as well. The MS291 is lighter and shorter bar, so it's great for limbing and small stuff. I like this combo and switching back and forth. I can get more cutting done in a day without stopping so much. And always have a saw to cut myself out if I get one pinched. I'd recommend this combo for you as well since it seems like you will be doing very much the same thing as I am.

Offline machinisttx

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Re: Chainsaw choice
« Reply #24 on: June 13, 2016, 08:25:33 PM »
And always have a saw to cut myself out if I get one pinched.

I always take at least two saws, but mostly because I take a big saw, medium saw, and a small saw. No sense in swinging 20+ pounds of saw when fifteen or ten pounds of saw will do the job.  :) Using plastic wedges in the kerf will almost 100% eliminate the bar getting pinched. I carry spare bars and chains too, in case something happens and one gets damaged. The same strategy works if you get it bound up in a cut. Just swap the bar/chain and cut the first one out, being sure to use wedges so you don't get both stuck.   ;)

I have an ms290...haven't had a chance to run a newer 291. My old McCulloch SP60 and 610's with longer bars will outcut the 290....the only advantage to the latter is that it weighs less. Had an 038, which I rebuilt, ran a bit, then sold to a coworker. Decent enough, but it didn't do anything the Macs couldn't, so off it went.

Offline racer038

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Re: Chainsaw choice
« Reply #25 on: July 30, 2016, 07:59:43 AM »
After a lot of hemming and hawing, fretting about the purchase, I have ordered the Stihl MS261.  I talked with 2 owners of this saw and both were very happy.   The small engine guy says the pro models are all excellent.  Yes, there is some sticker shock, but the guys that run this saw every weekend say it's worth it.  They also said the 2 lb difference between this saw and the MS362, made a lot of difference, without a serious loss in ability.  One guy runs a 18" bar the other a 20".  Each said they would never run anything else, so I'm assuming it's what you get used to.  Saw should be in in a week or so and then during August we'll be cutting fresh timber.

BTW, both recommended the Stihl brand oil and that I should drive 30 miles away to buy ethanol free premium gas at a boat dock.  HIGH DOLLAR!!!!! I don't know if this is good marketing or reality, but I'm going to do it.

Offline CharlesH

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Re: Chainsaw choice
« Reply #26 on: July 30, 2016, 08:16:15 AM »
I don't know about the oil brand, I generally use whichever oil is available for both the engine and the bar.  However, I have also heard that high octane gas is better for two-cycle engines and I do use that.  I was told buy a small engine guy several years ago that the higher octane fuels combust at a lower temperature which helps the engine. 
 
I own a Stihl and a Husqvarna.  The Stihl has a 20" bar and I use it for large jobs.  I have a 16" bar on the Husqvarna and use it for most of my jobs (which involve clear cutting hawthorne).  I like them both.

Offline fritz_monroe

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Re: Chainsaw choice
« Reply #27 on: July 30, 2016, 11:40:36 AM »
When I bought my Stihl saw, I also bought a 6-pack of the Stihl oil.  It doubled the warranty.  But I still have 6 bottles of that oil because I buy the pre-mixed cans of ethanol-free gas.  Yes, it's expensive, but I'm not a professional.  I figure I put about 1 gallon of gas through the saw each year.  Ends up being about $30 per gallon, but I don't have to mess with mixing the oil or adding stabilizer.

Figure in the cost of driving that 30 miles to get that gas.  Not just the price, but it's a PITA to have to go after it.  You also have to find the time get it.  The pre-mixed gas is available at the Stihl dealer, or other brands of it are at Home Depot.

Offline r_w

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Re: Chainsaw choice
« Reply #28 on: July 31, 2016, 07:09:14 AM »
A couple cans of that premix should be in every hurricane kit.  Yes it is expensive, but cheaper than rebuilding a carb for the occasional user. 

Offline khristopher23

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Re: Chainsaw choice
« Reply #29 on: August 01, 2016, 03:58:03 PM »
I wouldn't believe all the hype about how bad the home owner grade saws are from Stihl. My dad runs a Stihl 25 (which is the predecessor to the 251 I believe). He has run that saw over 20 years with no problems at all, primarily heating with wood, and burning about a 10'X12'X6' "stall"worth every winter. He expanded his woodshed to about 50' long several years ago and used that 25 to stock the whole thing to about 6' tall. That was primarily cutting old gnarly oak and hickory wood, but he doesn't have the internet for people to tell him his saw isn't up to the task lol! I wouldn't hesitate a bit to buy a 251 if that was all I had the budget for.

That being said, I had an old maple that needed to come down at the house, and when I went to the local dealer trying to decide between the 251 like dad's or the 271, I ended up letting the dealer talk me into the 291. Granted I haven't used that saw a lot, but so far I love it. It is a little more saw than I need right now (I only live on a little over an acre with about 8 trees on it), but I had planned on helping my dad keep his woodshed stocked, but at 80 years old, he said he thinks once he gets this last bit of wood burnt, he's probably just going to go full time with LP.  So, my 291 probably won't get a whole lot of use (unless dad wants to keep going with the wood) until we get out of this house into something more like my idea of a homestead, but it's good to know it's there.

My dad did use my 291 to put the maple on the ground for me (it was too close to the house, dead, and rotten on the inside, so that one called for experience) and couldn't believe at the power it had though, compared to his 25, so I believe if he were 20 years younger or so and buying again, he would spend the extra money on a 291 or bigger. He said several times "That is a fine saw!'. I used it a couple more times helping him  cut up some stuff he already had on the ground, and it does run circles around the 25. it got to the point to where he would just take his and mark off where to cut, and I would go behind him and do the actual bucking (my dad is pretty particular with his firewood)!