The first important rule in chain saw shopping is: look for a nationally known brand and don't spend too much money. You can buy a good saw for under $150 for work around the homestead or farm woodlot. It should last for years if cared for properly.
You'll find models where the chain runs when the motor does, and models that have a centrifugal clutch so you can run the motor without running the cutting chain. The latter kind provides a measure of safety.
Some models have self-oiling features, which keep the chain oiled automatically. They don't seem to offer much advantage over the hand operated oilers chat squirt the chain when you push the plunger.
Some manufacturers make a saw with a rotating tip set in the end of the blade. These are supposed to reduce wear on the chain, and this feature is a plus, although not necessary to good operation. You'll also find models with self-sharpeners, but these tend to wear the chain clown too fast and require an unusual chain design that may not be as efficient as the standard chain,
Try starting the saw you intend to buy, If it is hard to start in the showroom, it'll probably be hard to start in the woodlot.
An 18-tnch blade should bfc fully adequate for use on the homestead or farm, so don't pay extra for blade length you can't use.
Chain saws have to be sharpened precisely. If you do it yourself, invest a couple of dollars for a saw-sharpening guide. Otherwise, entrust the job to a professional or a friend who does craftsmanlike sharpening. The chain must also be kept at the right tension, and you'll need a wrench and screwdriver for this.
Remember to keep the gas-oil mixture balanced. Too lean on the oil means a burned-out engine. Too heavy on the oil means a fouled motor and a hard start.
Be very careful of secondhand saws. You're more than likely to be buying someone's problem, Since a properly kept new saw lasts for many years, the initial investment is very often worth it.
And finally, use some discretion with the saw. A chain saw is noisy and dirty and doesn't offer the rhythmic harmony of hand sawing or felling trees with an axe. However, it can increase your sawing power ten times over what you can do by hand, and the little bit of gasoline involved can be put to hard, practical use freeing you from what could be a back-breaking chore.
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