August 17, 2015

Chainsaw Week at Tool Snob


We're kicking off our first (and possibly last) Chainsaw week.


What's happened is that I've got a massive pile of logs that I need to turn into firewood and with the renovation over, I'm finally getting time to deal with it. This newfound freedom has also coincided with me trying to get a couple chainsaw reviews wrapped up. Add the two together and... *poof* ...Chainsaw Week.

So to get everyone in the mood, let's strap on the kevlar chaps and look back at some of our old chiansaw coverage...

It was years ago that I reviewed my old Poulan Pro 18-inch Wild Thing. Although the uber-stupid name still drives me crazy, it's a really nice, inexpensive saw that has never let me down. I treat it terribly too. Once it sat for a whole year with un-stabilized gas in it, but it still started up fine. It's just one of those tools that seems to keep giving and giving, without ever asking for anything in return. I tend to do well with tools like that.

Then, I reviewed the bionic Husqvarna 576 XP Auto Tune, which was (and probably always will be) the nicest chainsaw I'll ever use. It has since been stolen (don't get me started...), but I think about the saw all the time. I'm like the kid at the end of the Road Warrior. "...And the Husqvarna Chainsaw...that was the last I ever saw of it... It lives now...only in my memories..." And what memories they were. The thing I recall the most about that saw was how safe I felt using it. The way I think about chainsaw safety is that using a chainsaw is the same as being leashed to a thousand rabid pit bulls. You'd better be 100% aware of what you are doing 100% of the time, or you're in a whole lot of trouble. And even if you're doing everything right, you need to keep somewhow raising your awareness, because you still could be in a whole lot of trouble. The Husqvarna Auto Tune had such a nice weight to it and such a smooth cut that it felt like there were maybe only 980 pit bulls instead of 1000. So it still wasn't something I wanted to turn my back on, but I could lower my guard maybe by .05%.

We also tested the PowerSharp Sharpening System, which is a contraption that you attach to the end of your bar and you can use it to sharpen your chain. This is nice because typically sharpening a chain involves a trip to the hardware store (and a week wait while they do the work), or it means a trip to the vise if you're sharpening it yourself (which, for me also includes a couple bloody knuckles). I remember that in order to test the PowerSharp, I dulled the chain by trying to saw through a cinder block. It's a strange thing, being that evil towards a chainsaw. But in the end the PowerSharp got the chain up to speed again, which is really kind of amazing.

I've done a bunch of other chainsaw coverage, but those were a few of the highlights.

It's important to note that there's more to disassembling a massive woodpile than just a chainsaw. You've got to split the wood too and man, oh, man, there are a lot of options for that. In doing a little research, I found this mesmerizing video. It really drives home the fact that technique is everything.

With just this flick of the wrist, the woman here is effortlessly splitting up these logs. Granted, they look pretty dried out, but still she's not overworking herself with some Lou Ferigno/David Ortiz power swing that does nothing more than bury the axe in the wood. The fact that she's barefoot only adds to the Zen. Is it make the call (I vote "stupidity" on that one).

Building on this same concept is the LeverAxe, which made the PR rounds last year. It's a splitting tool with a weight off-set that supposedly does the wrist flick for you. There are a few impressive videos of it in action, but the Amazon ratings tell a slightly less spectacular story with the overall consensus being a little "meh." Who knows though, maybe people expected it to solve all of their wood splitting problems and it didn't. It's certainly a cool idea, but $300 for a splitting maul is a little tough to take. I mean, even the Gransfors Bruks are well under $200.

But the one that has me really interested is this Fiskars X27 Super Splitting Axe. It's almost $60, which is about the limit of what I think I should be spending on a splitting tool that I don't pour gas into. I think I've finally reached the point where I'm realizing that just getting the cheapest maul down at Ace with the bright yellow fiberglass handle just might not be the best idea for serious splitting.

Lastly, for kindling, a small hatchet is the way to go. Our choice there has got to be one of the gems from Hardcore Hammers. Probably the Ultimate Survivalist or their regular hatchet.

But anyway, here we go....Chainsaw week. Huzzah.

(one final chainsaw video for your viewing pleasure)

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Posted by Doug Mahoney at August 17, 2015 8:00 AM
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