Section I: Sharp edges
How to buy a saw
Before sharing their experience with specific saw brands, many carvers have something to say about the process of shopping for and buying a new saw. Ed.
Whatever saw you buy, get safety equipment and use it! Marty Tisdale(CrazyCarver)
Where you buy the saw(s) is almost as important as the brand you buy. You can find some deals at big outlet stores but I want a dealer who knows equipment, can help with problems and parts, and the closer, the better. It’s worth paying a little more in the long run. Joe King
I am not into the maintenance part of the carver’s life because I am a part-time carver and would rather spend my time CARVING. The local Stihl® shop does a great job of keeping my saws running, at very little cost. On occasion, I set up and carve in front of the shop and just let the people watch. You have carve somewhere and I work on orders I am trying to fill. This gives good results for both parties. Some of the local dealers in my area are willing to work with me and like having their product shown. The truly best saw is the one sold in the local shop that supports you. Butch Kuchta
One of the most important factors is dealer and dealer network support. I deal with a shop that stands behind all of their equipment. They recognize that their major competitors are the Big Box stores. They cannot compete on price but they can and do offer superior warranty and after-sales service. Frank Vandermey
You take a car for a test drive; do the same with saws. Test a few and see how you like them. The features to look for are quality anti-vibe, power to weight ratio (not RPMs to weight as that is misleading), impregnated chrome piston ported engine, and the ability to mount a carving bar and ¼ pitch chain and sprocket.
The best way to try different saws is at a carving event like Chainsaw Carving on the Mighty Mississippiin Quincy, IL, or the RidgwayRendezvous in Ridgway, PA. If you can’t do that, try several dealer demo saws so that you know what they feel like and how they perform. Pick what fits you and your situation best. One thing that you want to keep in mind is service: where and how long a wait, whether a dealer will work with you or not. If the saw does not run, you will not carve. It boils down to how well you like the dealer and what he will do to help you, as well as what you like in a saw. Carroll Sanders
I have two chainsaw dealers within easy range. One sells Sachs-Dolmar, the other Stihl®, Husqvarna®, and Echo®. The first is a single guy working alone in his garage with limited availability to me and really short Saturday hours; he blew me off on an emergency fix once and that put a ding in the relationship. The next Dolmar dealer is a LONG way away, and while I liked the saw, I was a bit leery of setting myself up for a long drive if I needed help in the future.
I’ve bought four saws from the second dealer and have taken his advice about what would work best for me. I get a pretty good deal and I’ve received fast service on any work that I’ve needed. (Probably helps that there aren’t a whole lot of women shopping there, but I’ll take it.) Karen (Penguin_Lady)
I would never buy a chainsaw from a catalogue mail order place or an off-the-shelf hardware store. Unlike the 4-cycle engine, the 2-cycle engine depends on near-perfect lean-rich adjustment and fuel mix. For that reason, I buy strictly from an authorized dealer who will take a new saw out of stock, fuel it up and start, run, and adjust the saw. I will have a satisfactory product before I leave the building. If I have problems later, I’ll have some recourse. When you buy from a catalogue, hardware, or department store, you don’t know what you are getting. You could be getting a returned saw that someone else was dissatisfied with and tried to fix themselves. You might think you are getting a better price with mail order, but if you have problems, the hassle, communication, and shipping costs can add up to a lot of time and money. Joe Curtis (Bullpine)
The carving market
In my day job as a timber harvesting manager moving 4000 tonnes of wood a week, I only know maybe four people who earn a daily living swinging a saw in the woods. They probably each have two saws. Last weekend, by contrast, we had 11 carvers competing and we probably had 40 saws among us. I feel chainsaw carving has to be recognised by the manufacturers someday. Peter Bowsher
What saw should I buy?
One of the most-often asked questions on the Carving Post is, “What saw should I buy?” The basic question gets wrapped up in details—“I have this saw already, I’m looking for something bigger, or smaller, or quieter, or cheaper, or a new color.” Each manufacturer has its fan club. Responses have been aggregated by brand and contributor. Manufacturers are listed in alphabetical order. Ed.