Saturday, October 12, 2013

Chainsaw Work

Dale Matson

Stihl 440 Magnum

Many of the guys I know, including me, own guns, knives and flashlights. It seems like you can’t have too many of them. Another important ‘man tool’ is the chainsaw. I cut my teeth on a Homelight XL 12 back in the 1960s. I was a student working part time for the grounds department at my university. The “XL” meant extra light and it was. In those days there were Homelights (blue) and Mccullochs (yellow). The other saws were a distant second.

In the 1980s I lived on a five acre wooded parcel and heated my earth sheltered home with wood off the property. The first saw I owned was a Homelight 901. It was hard starting like many Homelights and I eventually traded it in for a Mcculloch Super Pro 60. The Mcculloch was and remains a great chainsaw. It had compression relief and was shock mounted. I cut three full cords of wood every year for 12 years with it. I believe flushing stumps even in Wisconsin winters was some of the hottest and hardest work I have ever done.  My younger son has it in his garage. Actually, he has everything in his garage…somewhere.

Today, I have three Stihl chainsaws that I use on our property. I have the 440 magnum for bucking up big logs. It is the best saw I have ever owned. That bad boy cuts through logs quicker than you can say, “Jack Robinson” and has more horsepower than my lawn mower.  The 260 is for limbing but takes medium logs in stride. The 150 is for the little lady for pruning fruit trees and such.  It seems like every year there are trees that just up and die on the seven acres of woodland. When they fall, they usually fall on the driveway.

Today the main saws are Stihl (orange and white) and Husqvarna (orange). I remember the earlier model Huskies being redder in color.

Safety in the 60’s was a pair of sunglasses and cigarette filters in the ears. Current saws have an anti-kickback (chain break) feature. Today, I wear gloves, safety glasses, ear plugs, and a hard hat and when bucking up logs, I wear chaps. Yes, I have cut myself and have scars on my fingers to prove it….but I still have all ten fingers. I hated cutting brush that had been pushed up by a bulldozer. Some of the limbs were really spring loaded and flew back at you.

Here is some free advice for those of you that believe that one saw is enough. I recommend buying an extra bar and chain. That way, when the log closes in on your cut and traps your bar, you can disconnect the saw, put the other bar and chain on it and cut in another spot to free up the other bar and chain.     

While it is a bit of a comedown from chainsaw work, I still mow my lawn. When I am vacuuming the house, a requirement from on high, I pretend the vacuum cleaner is a man tool but we know it really isn't. It’s not loud or dangerous enough! Be careful.

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