Sunday, 18 March 2012

Chainsaws


I often speak of the need to use both old and new techniques and technologies as our civilization moves forward.
For every pro there will be a con when determining the value or necessity of something.
Using cast iron cookware instead of chemical non-stick coatings helps prevents toxic build up in our bodies and keeps piles of warped and peeling pans out of the landfills.
However, you still need a smelter and foundry to produce the pans.
We could cook without cookware, but then how many people are going to go along with that suggestion.
The point is that many positive and sustainable choices have downsides.  It's important to consider as many factors as possible.
What does this have to do with chainsaws?

The legendary 028


Most people hate chainsaws.
They're noisy.
They're polluting.
They cut trees down.





On the homestead or farm, they are perhaps the greatest time and work saving machine that there is.
That makes it very difficult to leave the chainsaw in the past.
Now, I'm talking about well-made, high-quality, contemporary saws.
Like anything else, poorly made products contribute directly to ecological decay.
There are electric chainsaws available that do not save time and work.
They are intended solely as a gimmick sales product.
For infrequent and light duty cutting, hand tools such as a basic bow-saw are superior to the joke that the cordless electric chainsaw is. 



There was most certainly large scale wood harvesting before the gas chainsaw came along.
The two-man crosscut saw and the axe, in it's many forms, were enough to do the job.
The major difference is the scale of the manpower and the lifestyle.
Timber operations were very heavily manned.  In many cases, men left their farms in the Winter to work in logging camps.
On the homestead, untold hours were consumed for clearing, lumber, and fuel wood.

Hand sharpened for extra love!

Modern homesteading no longer allows the time required to cut wood by hand.
Smaller and more isolated families mean fewer hands to work the tools.
Most families have at least one income source from outside the home.
Time has become a valuable commodity that can no longer be squandered when it needn't be.
Machines have been invented for a variety of reasons, but are most often intended to save time.
Time to tend to the animals.
Time to tend the the crops.
Time to spend with your children.
Time to spend with your spouse.

It's easier to understand once you have had to do the work.
The amount of work that a chainsaw will do with a small amount of gasoline is incredible.
The power to weight ratio is outstanding.
It's not simply the combustion engine doing the work.  It's the design of the cutting chain as well.
A well-fueled chainsaw with a dull chain is a waste of time and fuel.


Newer models of chainsaws are having to meet EPA standards that contribute to superior fuel economy and oil usage.
A gas-powered chainsaw uses three petroleum products for use. (exceptions are the plastics, etc.)
Gasoline, two-stroke oil, and bar oil are consumed during cutting.
The best saws use the least amount of these products.
Quality benefits economy and ecology.


I sold my snowmobile and bought a 441

I suppose that I can't hide my brand preference, and so I should address that too.
Chainsaw owners tend to be brand loyal and feel very passionate about their choice.
There are two major brands and then a few smaller ones that make up the difference.
Stihl and Husqvarna are the two quality choices.  Any other brand and you are definitely taking your chances.  
I prefer Stihl saws.
Yes, I just heard all you Husky owners boo me down.  Just wait a minute.
The only people who say bad things about Stihl, are Husqvarna owners.
The only people who say bad things about Husqvarna are Stihl owners.
The fact is that both companies manufacture top-quality saws.  
Husky owners love their saws.
Stihl owners love their saws.
What is more important is to consider the model of saw you choose.
Husky makes a saw for Canadian tire now.  I don't have any evidence, but I doubt that the model carried in the big-box store is going to be very good.
Stihl makes a wide variety of models with similar size and horsepower ratings.
Too many, I believe.
If you don't know better, you may think you are getting the best saw but you may be just buying one of their lower quality options.
As with most any product purchase, thorough research is in order before you buy.
Buying on brand name alone is for sheep.

If you can afford the time for hand tools then I would have to agree that the overall environmental impact is less.
Hand tools are quiet, emission free, and certainly elegant.
There still needs to be industrial facilities to produce the tools, but they could last a long time and only need you as fuel.  Of course, the two-man crosscut saw needs two of you.
However, there is never enough time on the homestead to get everything done.
Sacrifice and compromise are always involved when scheduling the day.
Tools and equipment that rescue time for us benefit not only economy and efficiency.
They allow us extra time for our families, 
which is the reason that we are homesteading to begin with.







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