which Stihl chainsaw

tinyfrogs(z8 NC)November 5, 2009


As the defacto caretaker of a family property in coastal NC, I have been using my cousin's Stihl 011 as the all-around chainsaw to cut firewood, trim branches, etc. For trimming, the 011 is great because of its small size. For cutting firewood, primarily hurricane-downed red oak and hickory, the saw is way too small for safety. With a 14" bar and not a whole lot of power, it can take a long time to cut through a log that's 20" or sometimes much, much bigger.

I plan to do more work this winter, but won't have a lot of time to do it and will need to quickly replenish the woodpile after my cousin who owns the 011 takes away all my hard work from last year. I grew up heating with wood in the northeast and had a lot of experience with Stihls. The biggest one I ever used much was the 044, which if they still made it would be larger and more expensive than I need. There are several local Stihl dealers, and I'm not interest in fanning the flames of the "which brand is better" debate. I need recommendations on which mid-range Stihl models to consider for speed-to-cost ratios. Please help...

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masiman(z7 VA)

Keep the 011 around for small jobs. I think a 50cc saw would be nice but not a big enough jump from the 011 to make a huge difference, assuming you put a 16" bar on it as most do (although some run a 20", but I think that is usually too much bar for that size saw). Something in the 60cc range would run a 20" bar well. After that, you start getting into the 70cc saws like the 441.

Staying in the Stihl lineup, that leads you to the 290 or 310 in their "mid-range" lineup or the 361/2 in the "pro" lineup. The 361/2 is a very nice saw. Although I have not yet read much about the new 362 (heavier, a little more power). If you can afford the $600+ for the 361 I'd get one of those before they disappear. If you don't want to spend quite that much, the 290 or 310 will do well. Try them all in hand to help you decide which one feels better.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2009 at 4:20PM
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If you can get an MS-361, get one. It will probably be the last chainsaw you buy. Tremendous power. Great weight.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2009 at 6:00PM
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tinyfrogs(z8 NC)

I've read good things about the 361, and used the 036 quite a bit, but $600 is out of range. So I will look at the 290 and 310. Thanks.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2009 at 2:52PM
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masiman(z7 VA)

If you are comfortable evaluating small engines, the used route can be a good deal. You could probably pick one up in the $400 range (+/- $50) is my guess. Local pickings might be slim but there are plenty to be found online. More risk going that route though.

If you do go to the dealer, try out the 361/2.

In any case, post back with the route you pick.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2009 at 7:01PM
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tinyfrogs(z8 NC)

A used 361 would be great, but so far no luck on tracking one down. I saw a used 440 on craigslist but that is just too big. I will report on my results.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2009 at 11:29AM
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I was going to say the 290 as well. However, take a look at these new saws because working on them is much harder. You have to take covers off to get to the sparkplug now and the air filter looks to be a pain in the butt.

We used stihl for 30 years now and I still have the original one we started with. My father had a thing about using German products and it's stuck with me.

Good luck and don't be afraid to shop online even amazon because they have a free shipping policy going right now and that could really help you locate your saw.

Here is a link that might be useful: Wood Stoves

    Bookmark   November 13, 2009 at 5:41PM
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tinyfrogs(z8 NC)

cordrills is right. To get to the plug on the 290, you have to open a plastic cover and reach behind the airfilter. It's a pain. I'm moving toward trying to find a used saw that's more old-school in design.

I'm in touch with a guy in my area who sells used Stihls. He doesn't have a 361/036 right now but asked me if I was interested in anything "larger". It seems like there are more 044s available around here. Should I think about getting a used 044 with a short bar and chain, like 20 inches? Aside from the extra weight, is there any reason why that would be a problem? Would kickback be a threat with such a large saw on a short bar?

Meanwhile, the 011AV wouldn't stay running this weekend. I didn't have time to open it up to figure out what was wrong. First guess is that it is an air supply issue, or maybe a clogged fuel line.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2009 at 3:14PM
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masiman(z7 VA)

If you can do what you need to do with a 20" bar I'd stick to that 60cc size. Stepping up to the 440 class is another 2lbs. It's not alot of weight but it is noticeable when handling the saw, especially if you are doing it all day. If you need quicker small movements to cut alot of small branches, the 440 will not be as comfortable to work with as a smaller lighter saw. If you are going to be bucking up alot of firewood, the 440 will be nicer with the stronger engine.

If I discount my climbing saw usage, I think I would use a 440 about 30% of the time. I have a couple 60cc saws that I currently use about 80% of the time. If I mixed in a 440, I think it would split about about 40/40 of my time. The point is that a 60cc can alot of what a 70cc saw can do. It more depends on the type of work that you are doing in those ranges. For more general work with carrying and all, I'd go with the 60cc. If I were mainly dropping and cutting firewood, I'd go with a 70cc. My current plan is to skip the 70cc saw and add an 80+cc saw to the mix.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2009 at 2:55PM
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tinyfrogs(z8 NC)

I figured I should get a smaller saw than a 44 for more all-around use...felling small trees and cutting off branches, or bucking larger (storm-fall) oaks. I'm trolling Craigslist pretty hard right now and might resort to eBay to find a 60cc saw.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2009 at 3:52PM
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masiman(z7 VA)

You can expand your craigslist search by typing "craigslist stihl 360" or 361. You might find a saw you like with a person who is willing to ship without having to compete against the ebay'ers. You won't get the most up to the minute results through google and some of the ads may have expired, but it can give you some good leads. I saw a couple available when I did this search.

Another option, but not a for a Stihl, is if you have a HD nearby with tool rentals, give them a call to see if they have any of their Makita 6401's for sale. They are 65cc, heavier than a 361 but not quite as heavy as a 440 and are quite solid runners. Of course they are rentals and depending on the tool guys they may or may not be well maintained. But you can get these ~$450 saws for under $200. I have 2 of them. A nice part about them is that this Dolmar/Makita (same saw different color and badging) can be upgraded to a 85cc saw with a fairly simple Piston and Cylinder kit that you can get for ~$200. The 85cc saws sell for ~$600. For about the $600 (saws plus 1 p&c kit) I have put in to mine I have over $1k worth of saws. The 361 is only better in that it has a little more power and is lighter but the Makita is no slouch. The 85cc is one of the best ones available.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2009 at 6:04PM
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tinyfrogs(z8 NC)

The local HD has one of the Makitas for $181 right now! I'm going to check it out this evening. If it looks too rough, than I will probably go with a new Stihl MS 310...or maybe I'll do both?! I haven't had much luck looking for a used Stihl.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2009 at 11:17AM
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check out the arboristsite.com. Scroll down to the trading post section. There is a guy selling a ms361 including shipping for $365.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2009 at 1:02PM
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masiman(z7 VA)

If I were looking for a 361 series saw, that would be one I would pick up.

MS361 for sale

    Bookmark   November 24, 2009 at 3:20PM
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tinyfrogs(z8 NC)

OK, I never heard back from about that 361 (there were a lot of views. so probably sold)so I bought the Makita. I think it went on sale because they had two newer ones to rent and the spool cover was cracked on this one. BUT the guy who was manning the rental shop, an old-timer who really seemed to know his way around the machine and does most of the work on them there, found an extra one off a junked saw and put it on for me. It has a new bar and chain and has been tuned. Not a new saw, certainly, but I think I just scored. It starts easily and rrrrips. What power. I can't wait to cut with it.

Thanks masiman and everyone else for the advice. I think I need to upgrade my safety gear.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2009 at 9:47PM
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I think the extra bucks for the Stihl would have givin' you a lifetime saw. I still have my original 028 woodboss that I bought new in the mid 80's. It has cut more wood than most people can imagine. It supplied 2 outdoor wood boilers for 2 homes for several years. I still use it ocasionally. I also now have a 038, 034, and a 361. I really luv that 361. Smooth with lots of power. I also like the longer 20" bar on the 361 because I'm getting older now and don't have to bend over quite as far.
I wish you the best of luck with your purchase.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2009 at 11:39PM
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Makita saws are built every bit as good as Stihl saws and a lot better than Stihl homeowner saws. Steve

    Bookmark   December 9, 2009 at 5:49AM
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check out the allchainsawreviews.com. You will get the useful information.

Here is a link that might be useful: Chainsaw Reviews

    Bookmark   May 23, 2014 at 6:06AM
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Stihl....Model 026 with a 16 inch bar....you can't go wrong with that choice!

    Bookmark   May 23, 2014 at 5:38PM
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