Adventures in Amateur Tree Removal
An underpowered chainsaw and a tree that simply would not give up – sounds like the making for some sort of disaster waiting to happen. Thankfully, in this case, the results were rather harmless. Here, a man somehow managed to pull a tree down but didn’t think to check if the roots were still intact.
Adding insult to injury, he takes what looks like a Stihl 30.2 cc 2-Cycle MS 170 Chainsaw to do a job meant for a Husqvarna 455 Rancher. Of course, the MS 170 is a very affordable chainsaw – available at all the major hardware supply stores. It’s great for shrubbery and saplings, not full sized trees – and that was this guy’s first mistake.
Chainsaws are those things that the average person only needs every so often. A tree limb came down unexpectedly or an old tree died and needs to get taken down before a storm can get to it – people tend to opt for the cheapest choice. It’s possible to get a good deal on a chainsaw, but you can only get a good deal if you know what you’re looking for. We’re going to cover some chainsaw basics.
The gauge is the thickness of the chain as it rotates about the bar. You don’t necessarily need a super heavy chain but do keep in mind than an inferior one will end up causing
The gauge is the thickness of the chain as it rotates about the bar. You don’t necessarily need a super heavy chain but do keep in mind than an inferior one will end up causing you problems. The thicker the gauge, the wider the cut. Conversely, thin gauge is ideal for making quick work of saplings and brush.
If you’re looking at upgrading the bar you’re currently using or you need to replace your current chain – keep in mind the chain pitch. This is the width of the groove relative to the angle of the bar itself. A 3/8” pitch chain, for instance, gets fitted to a 3/8” bar. You’re inviting misery to try to fit the wrong chain on the wrong bar or just simply “eyeball” it.
This is a product of engine performance and design but it’s essential in determining your chainsaw’s effectiveness. A recommended speed range is between 70 and 90 feet per second (fts). The faster the chain is able to go, the more chewing power it can apply to the wood. Chain speed can be deceptive. While manufacturers will rate a chainsaw for 74 fts, a powerful engine will likely enable you to go well above that.
The length of the bar designates the longest possible piece of wood you can cleanly cut through. The longer the bar, the more exposure of the chain to the tree. For cutting through old growth (150+ yrs), the typical length recommended is anywhere from 22-28”. That can seem like an unwieldy length and it is if you plan on cutting down sapplings. But for bigger trees, it’s better to try to get the bar length to at least match the tree’s girth.
A chainsaw’s engine is directly linked to the coupler that rotates the chain about the bar. The max torque is an indication of how much force that engine is capable of applying to that chain. It ties in to your chain’s speed, but also how fast your chain will continue to cut when it’s embedded in the trunk of a tree. A good number to shoot for is ~3.5-4.0 Nm (Newton meters) at 6600 rpm.
Engine displacement is an important factor to consider. The more horsepower an engine has, the more ability it has to displace force. This isn’t necessary if you’re just knocking down saplings or yearlings in the backyard but if you need to slice through a tree that’s threatening to come down on your roof – you don’t want to get your saw stuck. A good range for something that could fell a tree in this video is somewhere around the 4.0 – 5.0 hp range.
Rent or Own
If you’re not familiar with tree removal and you don’t have a long term need for a chainsaw, consider renting versus owning. Many hardware supply stores, like Home Depot or Lowe’s, have a selection of heavier duty chainsaws that enable you to get the equipment you need without sawing through your wallet. A good chainsaw is worth its weight in gold many times over. So if you find yourself with a partially downed tree in the backyard, spring for a Husqvarna 365 or similar versus settling for Stihl MS 140.