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Thread: Battery powered chainsaw vs sawzall

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2020
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    Brooklyn NY
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    48

    Battery powered chainsaw vs sawzall

    Hey all

    Im looking to start capitalizing on the downed trees in my neighborhood. I live in a suburb of Brooklyn and it seems like once a week I come across a london plane with what looks to be usable wood. My turning is typically spindle work using kiln dried stuff but Id really like to get into bowls more. Ive turned a few but those bowl blanks are PRICEY!

    Right now my neighbor has two pear trees in his yard. Feln, trimmed, and only the log remains. 10-16. Weve spoken and hes willing to part with all I can manage for a few bowls/vases.

    Heres my question. Anyone use a sawzall for this type of work? Im considering the makita twin battery chainsaw cause it looks like helluva deal, but I am pretty budget constrained at the moment. Figured I could get a sawzall off clist and work my way around the log with a 12 pruning blade. The compact size of a sawzall is also a plus.

    Any thoughts?
    Last edited by chuck van dyck; 05-09-2021 at 10:21 PM.

  2. #2
    I've tried using a sawzall for log processing and it's slow going... not what the tool was designed to do. The 1-1/2" stroke isn't long enough to clear the chips so the blade will both heat up and bind in the cut.

    A chainsaw of any variety will be a much better option for ya.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    E TN, near Knoxville
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    10,761
    Chuck,

    From my experience: a reciprocating saw (sawzall) is great for small limbs or larger limbs with the right blade. I think it would be quite difficult to use one to cut up logs. The kerf is narrow and can get clogged or even get stuck deep into green wood. (some species are worse than others) Also, a 12" pruning blade won't cut a full 12". I think even using a new, sharp blade would be a challenge.

    The teeth on a chainsaw are designed to cut green wood. Most are ground for crosscutting but will rip in a pinch. A sharp chainsaw is a joy to use on trees. It's easy to sharpen the chain by hand with a file.

    I use several chainsaws, both gasoline powered and 110v electric. All are Stihl and all cut very well. I have never used a battery powered chainsaw so I can't compare one to a gas or corded saw but I would expect it to be more appropriate than a sawzall for cutting up logs and prepping bowl blanks. It takes a lot of power to cut through logs so I would be concerned about the battery life - bummer to run out of power half way through a cut. Even with the noise and messing with the fuel and starting it's hard to beat a good gas-powered chainsaw. The one I use the most has a 16" bar which will let me cut through a 30" log. That and a good bandsaw and you can be set with turning wood for life!

    BTW, the bowl turners I know don't buy bowl blanks. There is enough free hardwood in the eastern part of the country to turn all the bowls one can stand. Since it's difficult to dry large blanks most turn green, either turn to finish or rough turn, dry, then finish turn. I personally don't turn many bowls (I prefer to turn smaller things from air-dried wood) but I do cut up logs into a huge number of blanks to dry or for others to turn green.

    I don't know about your area but around here there is ALWAYS good wood available, especially out in the country but in the cities too. I recently gave away most of a large cherry tree (about 1/2 will go to the burn pile) and just today I had a red oak come down that must be 24-30" in diameter. I often have sassafras, maple, walnut, elm, persimmon, dogwood, and others. I know some woodturners who keep a chainsaw in their vehicle and drive around town looking for trees being cut down. You can also contact tree services and utility companies which are often happy to get you to haul off wood so they don't have to. Some will even cut to size and help load chunks into your truck/trailer.

    If you are not experienced with using green wood, make sure you seal the end grain ASAP with something like Anchorseal. If familiar with acquiring green wood, never mind!

    Also, keep in mind the advice of several experts - don't be tempted to take more green wood than you can turn in a week or so. If it sits around very long it will start to check and crack and turn into firewood.

    JKJ

    Quote Originally Posted by chuck van dyck View Post
    Hey all

    Im looking to start capitalizing in the downed timber in my neighborhood. I live in a suburb of Brooklyn and it seems like once a week I come across a london plane with what looks to be usable wood. My turning is typically spindle work using kiln dried lumber but Id really like to get into bowls more. Ive turned a few but those bowl blanks are PRICEY!

    Right now my neighbor has two pear trees in his yard. Feln, trimmed, and only the log remains. 12-16. Weve spoken and hes willing to part with all I can manage for a few bowls/vases.

    Heres my question. Anyone use a sawzall for this type of work? Im considering the makita twin battery chainsaw cause it looks like helluva deal, but I am pretty budget constrained at the moment. Figured I could get a sawzall off clist and work my way around the log with a 12 pruning blade. The compact size of a sawzall is also a plus.

    Any thoughts?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    West Boylston Massachusetts
    Posts
    596
    Hello, I received a Stihl battery chainsaw for Christmas in December. I am very impressed with this saw, it has cut anything a asked it to.
    I have cut constantly for 30 minutes without running the battery out. It is light, quiet and a pleasure to operate. It would be perfect for
    those quick city cuts, Good luck getting bowl blanks, Kevin

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    Wayland, MA
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    2,637
    I've used one (Sawzall) on occasion, it's really slow going. Chainsaw is the way to go for processing logs. Don't have an electric one yet, but a few more times out trimming bowl blanks in the sleet and I may be convinced. Of course it's not sleeting now, nor for another few months...

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Morocco IN
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    1,262
    I bought a Wen 16" 40V chain saw for 150 bucks and it works great.
    You know, the worst ain't so bad when it finally happens.
    Not half as bad as you figure it'll be before it's happened.
    - Bob Curtin

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Kapolei Hawaii
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    3,144
    A friend of mine bought the 60V DeWalt big chainsaw. He likes it so much he GAVE me his 20" Stihl. I have the 20V DeWalt and that will be better than a sawzall, but NOT up to the task of 16" logs. Excellent trimming blanks saw, if you have a couple Stills. As mentioned, I'd not try a sawzall.
    The good thing about the DeWalts, is that the batteries interchange with the 20V tools should you own any.
    Lastly, the DeWalt Tough System radio is beastly. I have 2 of them I love it so much. But then I'm a DW fan.....

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Millstone, NJ
    Posts
    321
    I bought the Milwaukee Chainsaw last summer. along with blower /trimmer/pole trimmer

    I really am impressed I had a stihl 251 that was awesome when I bought it but one too many people borrowed it. It seemed like anytime I wanted to use it I had to sharpen or put a new chain on it because someone was cutting concrete or dirt with it.

    The Milwaukee with an 8ah battery lasted me 6 cuts through a 24" log. I had to cut it oneside than roll it and cut again because the bar wasnt long enough but I was thrilled with that.

    The saw also cuts faster than most gas saws because it uses a thin chain.

    I would recommend this over the stihl because batteries have more uses and its much cheeper.

  9. #9
    You might look into renting a chainsaw. If you want to buy one, then the DeWalt 60 volt is very good, as is the Stilh electric, but I think it runs on a power cord. Note here, If you have no experience with a chainsaw, they can be very dangerous. Sycamore cuts very easily. The pear tends to be rather bland for colors, but cuts like butter.

    The London Plane, which is a sycamore, or the other way around, is rather plain wood, unless you quarter saw it, which means the center of the tree becomes the bottom of the bowl. Most of the time, we do it with the outside of the tree being the bottom of the bowl. If you can catch the tree guys, some times they will cut it up into firewood lengths for you. You can split the blank and then attach a face plate and turn off the corners. If you have other friends that turn, they may volunteer to help, with their tools, in exchange for some wood.

    I have a bunch of videos up on You Tube, mostly about bowl turning, and including some about cutting up logs for turning bowls.

    robo hippy

  10. #10
    I just bought a Makita cordless chainsaw, the one that runs two 18V batteries. I'll let you know how it works after I fire it up in the next few days. My personal reason for getting it was that I need a chainsaw for yard work every now and then, and my experience with chainsaws is that they never start when you need them, just like rototillers and other gas equipment that doesn't get run frequently. In fact right now in the garage I have an old McCullough I inherited that (naturally) won't start.

    I got the Makita because my other cordless tools are Makita, and they had a deal where you got an extra two batteries for free (and I like Makita tools in general). Supposedly the 14"/16" bar models have the equivalent power of a gas saw that size. I do know I am beyond impressed with the power the single battery Makita weed whip has that I got at the same time, so I have high hopes for the chainsaw

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2020
    Location
    Brooklyn NY
    Posts
    48
    Thanks for all the replies!

    Okay, so point taken. Invest in chainsaw. I've heard REALLY good things about that Makita. And the current deal they have where you get 4 batteries and a dual charger is pretty dang good. I also am a Makita guy, so having all the batteries in suit there is a huge plus. I do have zero experience with a chainsaw but I have a friend who's a pro will show me what's what. From what I've read its all about not burying the tip.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    E TN, near Knoxville
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    10,761
    Quote Originally Posted by chuck van dyck View Post
    ... I do have zero experience with a chainsaw but I have a friend who's a pro will show me what's what. From what I've read its all about not burying the tip.
    If interested, Stihl has a nice general-purpose chainsaw safety document that is not specific to any particular saw.
    https://www.stihlusa.com/WebContent/...y-Manual_1.pdf

    Watching the tip is important to avoid kickback. Also watch the tip when you can't even see it! For example, if you are cutting through one log and there is another or a limb hidden behind it, contacting the hidden one with the end of the chain in just the wrong way can result in a nasty kickback.

    There are lots of ways to get seriously hurt or killed with a chainsaw but most of them are related to cutting down trees, which you probably won't be doing. But you might on occasion cut chunks from a tree that is already down and there are things that can get you there as well, especially if the tree is large. One big danger is a heavy limb or log section moving or falling in an unexpected way. Even a small limb can cause serious injury. I always wear a hard hat with a face shield:

    helmet2.jpg

    Be aware of the direction of the tension in a horizontal log or limb, down or up, hanging in the air or pressed against the ground - the first can be cut normally from the top down but the second is cut from the bottom up using the top of the bar. It's real easy to get the saw pinched and trapped in the wood, a good way to ruin your afternoon. One trick is to purchase a second bar and chain. If the saw becomes trapped you can remove the power head, attach the spare bar/chain, and make another cut to release the first one.

    One big safety advantage an electric saw is the instant on and instant off.

    BTW, I started working on a big tree today. It came down Sunday afternoon in the wind and rain, blocking the road from my house to the shop. This tree is 32" diameter at the base and still 28" ten feet up the log. The main trunk is probably 60' long. The tree is Red Oak which is not a particularly popular wood for turning so I won't save any but I'll let our turning club know just in case. I probably won't saw any boards from it either. Maybe someone will want it for firewood! I got a good start on cutting it up this evening - I'll do most of it with one of my 16" chainsaws.

    At least this one is mostly flat on the ground which makes it a lot safer to deal with. A few years ago an even bigger one came down across the fence behind the barn, much of it held high above the ground by a single dangerous "spring pole". It was a massive job to clean up, especially doing it myself!

    tree_down.jpg

    I counted the rings in one limb - it was over 100 years old.

    JKJ

  13. #13
    On the safety side,I try to have someone that can help, or call for help if needed, with me.

  14. #14
    Plus 1 the Makita 36v is the bees knees!!!!

    Jack

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Seemann View Post
    I just bought a Makita cordless chainsaw, the one that runs two 18V batteries. I'll let you know how it works after I fire it up in the next few days. My personal reason for getting it was that I need a chainsaw for yard work every now and then, and my experience with chainsaws is that they never start when you need them, just like rototillers and other gas equipment that doesn't get run frequently. In fact right now in the garage I have an old McCullough I inherited that (naturally) won't start.

    I got the Makita because my other cordless tools are Makita, and they had a deal where you got an extra two batteries for free (and I like Makita tools in general). Supposedly the 14"/16" bar models have the equivalent power of a gas saw that size. I do know I am beyond impressed with the power the single battery Makita weed whip has that I got at the same time, so I have high hopes for the chainsaw

  15. #15
    Oh, you need to learn to sharpen your chains. Best to have at least 2. A hand file is fairly simple, and there are some jigs. It gets expensive to run to the saw shop to have them sharpened, and/or your friend can help you out.

    robo hippy

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