Chainsaw Reviews: Felling in the Woodlot
Late last fall – while it was still warm enough to work in light long sleeves – Editor-in-Chief Hank Will and Managing Editor Caleb Regan had the pleasure to spend a day in the woodlot working on some chainsaw reviews. Hank had a stand of old dead pines he wanted to thin out so that several young live oak trees might have a chance to flourish. Here’s Caleb’s account.
We ran a number of saws that day – Echo, Husqvarna, Oregon and GreenWorks – and it was all about getting a start on the project and ultimately testing some awesome felling and limbing saws in an authentic setting.
There were no perfect 12-inch hackberry trees to watch the machines rip through. Instead, we needed to systematically dissect our way through the pine stand and sort out around 25 dead trees from the rest of the woodlot – even a couple of humongous oaks in the mix. Plus we limbed up a portion of the downed trees to maintain order and walkways.
It was such a blast. The day was all about calculations. When you’re felling that many trees in one lot, you have to go about it in a specific order, so that one 75-foot-tall pine going down in one spot will create a nice hole to lay another tree down, and hopefully it’ll all work out and prevent smashing healthy trees in the same timber stand. Then there were also the necessary calculations of where Sam the boar was rooting through bark and grubs as compared to the lean of yet another pine that needed to come down. And then if we apply some loader bucket pressure about 8 to 10 feet up the base of this tree, can we get that puppy to overcome the wind and fall just perfectly between that cedar and that young oak?
The saw of the day turned out to be the Echo Timberwolf CS-590. This saw, as well as the smaller Echo CS-370 were so easy starting that by then end of the day, it was a relief reaching for a saw and knowing it would take only one tug on the pull cord to get it fired up. The CS-590 was the saw that all sawyers reached for by the end of the day for felling big pines and oaks. It was light enough to hold in place while making the bottom upward-angled cut of the notch – about 20 trees in, we were having better luck with the “Humbolt Notch” – and had plenty of power to eat right through any type of wood you might encounter in Kansas. The dogs on the CS-590 dug right in, and it was easy to let the saw do the rest – one of those saws that make you smile while you’re operating it.
The Echo CS-370 came in handy when it was time for limbing work. One thing becomes clear after six or so hours in the woodlot, no one is reaching for the big saws when it comes time to limb timber up and keep things tidy.
Also along for the fun that day were the Husqvarna 450 Rancher and the Husqvarna 562XP. The 562 is a lot of saw, and I’d put it in the category of being a chainsaw that makes the operator smile. It eats through logs – the thing rips – though it is a heavier saw that can get tiresome if you’re felling as many trees as we were. Make no mistake though, it’s a quality saw for felling larger trees and bucking large logs. The 450 is the quintessential homeowner saw that Husqvarna makes, and being a little lighter, if a sawyer were going to have to only own one saw, it wouldn’t be a poor choice. It was another easy-starting saw that held its own all the way up until its chain was smoked.
The other saw that made an impression in the woodlot that day was Oregon’s electric model, the CS 250 that runs on a 40-volt battery. The self-sharpening feature on this chainsaw worked like a charm – simply lift a lever and run the saw for a 5-second interval and you have a chain restored to only slightly less sharp than you could achieve with a file. And as lightweight as it is, it’s another go-to saw for limbing work.
Cutting wood is an important part of our heritage, and felling can be the most fun and technical part of the work. Wedges, sledgehammers, bore cuts, even the tractor on multiple occasions – we pulled out all the tricks on that fall day, and it was a blast of a chore, especially with a partner.
Funny thing, after about a dozen trees were down, just when you might think the novelty was gone and it could become a dogged chore, another well-placed pine came down just according to plan, and if Sam the boar was within earshot and listening, he heard, “That never gets old!” And it doesn’t.
With a little know-how and some time to tinker, learn how you can keep these essential homestead tools purring along.
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