Choosing a chainsaw

thorny(z8 VA, USA)July 3, 2008

I'm shopping for a new chainsaw and would like some advice. I'm torn between being cheap or jumping into the better quality. Here's what I'm considering:

- Poulan Pro 4620, 46cc, 20 inch, $200 new

- Shindaiwa 488, 48cc, 20 inch, $290 new

- Makita DCS6401, 64cc, 20 inch, $225 used with maybe 60 OR 80 hours on it.

I'm not likely to take it into a shop to be fixed. If I can't fix it myself then buying a new cheap one is cheaper than paying hourly rates for repairs. But 30 years ago I could rebuild a VW engine so I understand basic engine repair.

I rarely fell trees. I'll use the chainsaw to clean up trees downed by storms and to cut firewood. I don't expect to ever cut a tree larger then 24". But I do scavenge trunks of trees being removed by tree services. I'm using about two full cords a year of hardwood cut down to stove size. Mostly I split it with a 20 pound maul but crotches and cross-grained parts that don't split smoothly will be chainsawed down to stove size.

Thanks in advance for your time.

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If you don't mind the extra wieght the Makita should cut good, Shindaiwa would nice too and light. With the Poulan you,ld get more practice fixing. Steve

    Bookmark   July 3, 2008 at 2:29PM
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It's a no brainer!! Go with the DCS-6401. You might also consider throwing on a 7900 jug and piston which will cost about $200.

The 488's are supposed to be good saws but Shindaiwa is really an orphan in the chain saw business. Getting parts could be tough.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2008 at 4:34PM
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cciaffone(durham NC)

Not sure about that Poulan model, and am well aware
of the criticisms, buttt ... I have had a Poulan 2000
16 inch gas saw for about 15 years I would guess. It
has been thru several hurricanes and scary ice storms
here in North Carolina, mostly felling and cutting
up dead and/or broken trees, mostly really BIG pines
but also a few Maples and Oaks. Gotta keep on top of
the cheapo fuel line and clean the air filter.

I am finally looking to replace this saw only because
I really need a bit more power for some of the really
big, thick trunks. After 15 years this Poulan deserves
a break. Probably an Echo CS400.


    Bookmark   July 4, 2008 at 10:35AM
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Nothing wrong with old Poulans or Macs or Homelites, the new management decided to make money by making the new ones cheaper. Steve

    Bookmark   July 4, 2008 at 1:06PM
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cciaffone(durham NC)

Any opinions on the Echo CS 400 (available locally
only thru HD so far as I can tell)??


    Bookmark   July 4, 2008 at 1:43PM
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My vote is the Shindaiwa 488. Parts are readily available via "Edge & Engine" if you can't find them locally. I just picked up a great running 488 off e-bay for $63 delivered to the door. While they aren't as popular as Stihl or Husqvarna they have proven to be a good choice as I've been running Shindaiwa product for 25+ years with very little problems. You won't get the high rpms some saws turn out, but the torque in the cut makes up for it.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2008 at 10:15PM
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If cutting mostly 16" and smaller I'd go with the 488 also, but if a lot of bigger trees the power of the 6401 would be nice. I'll agree with artey the 488 might not be the highest reving saw but with good torque it will cut just as fast and is more user friendly. Keep the chain sharp and the rakers at the right hieght to take advantage of the torque. The Echo CS400 (can be bought on Ebay for around $200) is a nice saw also but at 40cc will be a ways behind the 488 in power, more of a limbing saw. Steve

    Bookmark   July 6, 2008 at 6:56AM
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"Makita DCS6401, 64cc, 20 inch, $225 used with maybe 60 OR 80 hours on it."

Sounds like a Home Depot rental saw. You`re familiar with the concept of why rental companies get rid of equipment after a certain amount of usage, right? They`ve got it figured that it`s going to start costing them more money than it`s worth to keep that unit in the fleet, buyer beware. Furthermore, how much of that 60-80 hours is trenching dirt and rocks and then forcing a dull chain to cut those monster trees that the homeowners cheapy Poulan wouldn`t handle, thus necessitating the rental of a "big" saw.

I also find it entertaining that anyone would caution you about parts availability for the Shindaiwa, which probably will never need anything more than a sparkplug, and they not warn you about buying a Makita, which is ultimately a Dolmar.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2008 at 5:39PM
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I bought a chainsaw this spring. This article helped me do my choice.

Here is a link that might be useful: how to choose a chainsaw

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 11:39AM
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tom_nwnj(z6 NJ)

These saws are a pain to fix, and expensive to take to the dealer. I'm on the cheapo side, disposable.

On my second Poulan 16". Cut six cords with it last winter.
Tip: killed the last Poulan by getting it too close to the tuff, dirt got in the carb. Now it's a parts saw. Be careful about that.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 5:52AM
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