Whether a tree falls down in your landscape or you need to cut one down, there’s going to come a time when you’ll need a chainsaw in your gardening tool shed. For instance, I have a large Oak that is dead and has to come down. Lots of other trees need to be thinned out. Luckily, I have gone through the purchasing process having purchased a Stihl saw seven or eight years ago, and learned some lessons that I’ll share with you here.
A chainsaw is one of the most complicated tool purchases for the average gardener to make. You’ll hear a lot of claims from dealers about which chainsaw is best or which saw gives you a bigger bang for your buck. When I went searching for a new chainsaw, a dealer told me I’d get more for my money if I traded in my old Stihl and get a Dolmar 5100 with a 20″ inch bar for $300. My problem was I didn’t know anything about the Dolmar brand other than what the dealer told me. I did some research and talked to some “tree guys” about their experience with the brand. The Dolmar 5100 is a great chainsaw by all accounts in the 50cc class, but so are the Stihl 260/026 and Husky 346XP. They are all pro quality 50cc class saws. The Dolmar 5100 may run a little better, but it didn’t make sense to trade a good working Stihl 026 for a 5100 plus $300. It’s not a good economic choice because a good working Stihl 026 can fetch $200 conservatively. A new Dolmar 5100 goes for less than $420. Besides, the 5100 is best suited with a 16″ bar. You can run a 20″ on it, but it runs better with a 16″. The same goes for the Husky 346xp and Stihl 026/260.
So, what to do? A lot of the tree guys I spoke to suggested that I should get a second chainsaw that can handle at least a 20″ bar. The Stihl MS361 is one of the real favorites for a 20″ saw. It turns out that Stihl, Husky, and Dolmar/Makita have some excellent saws in that size. For instance, the Stihl MS361 has great power for its weight. If even more power is required (depending on what you are cutting), you should start to look at the 75cc saws: Stihl MS440/441, Dolmar 7900, Husky 372. I was told that the Dolmar 7900 is great bargain for that class. However, machines of that size can get tiring for all day use. Another option is a rental saw. If you only have a one-time use, going the rental route makes a lot of sense.