I'm a chainsaw middle schooler, I suppose. Meaning, I've learned quite a bit over the 25 years or so I've occasionally used a small Stihl chainsaw on our property in rural south Salem.
But in no way do I feel totally comfortable with a chainsaw.
A feeling that I was reminded of today when I tackled a challenging tangle of logs that had fallen during the recent ice storm on a common property trail that runs behind our property to Spring Lake.
Yesterday I had the good fortune to stop by Ace Hardware and discover that they finally had some chainsaws in stock after being sold out after the ice storm. I had my eye on a larger Stihl chainsaw with easy start and a quick chain adjuster that doesn't require tools.
So I walked out with an 18 inch MS 251 CB-E. It's in the foreground above, with my old chainsaw behind it. (I'd recently had Ace Hardware replace a broken chain on the old saw, and they flipped the bar as you're supposed to do, which is why the "Stihl" now is upside down.)
Reading the MS 251 instruction manual last night, mainly to learn about how easy start and the quick chain adjuster worked (really simply, pleasingly), I couldn't avoid seeing the many warnings in the manual about all the ways a chainsaw can kill or maim you.
That led me to order the helmet with ear protection and a visor perched in-between my two chainsaws. Amazon offered next day delivery so I was able to use the helmet this afternoon. I'd always worn leather gloves and eye protection, but having the helmet on made me feel even better.
My wife walks to the lake most mornings. She said it was difficult to make her way through the fallen trees and branches. Though I didn't take a "before" photo, my chainsawing definitely made it a lot easier to walk this part of the path.
The MS 251 Stihl chainsaw worked fine after a few stalls, probably caused by it being brand new. It cut through fairly thick logs with no problem. However, I had some difficulty with the chain getting stuck -- my biggest fear when using a chainsaw (other than being killed or maimed).
This happened two times. It was near the end of a cut of a log that was laying either on the ground, or just barely off the ground, preventing me from making a cut on the underside.
Here's a similar log that I had cut almost all the way through, then abandoned when I could feel the shifting large log start to bind the chain. Since it was laying on the ground and easy to step across, I didn't want to take the risk of having my new chainsaw get stuck on its maiden cutting voyage.
I'm sure there are You Tube videos that would show me how to deal with this issue. The photo above shows the basic problem.
The instruction manual illustrated what I already knew from my previous chainsaw experience. When a log is curved, as this one is, you're supposed to make a first cut on what the manual calls the compression side.
Meaning, the side that is going to be compressed when the log is cut through. In this case that's the top of the log with the inward curving shape. Then you make a second bucking cut on the tension side, which would be the bottom of the log.
Problem is, the manual shows a log extending over a slope with the bottom of the log easily reachable.
In this case, I couldn't get the chainsaw under the log, since it is laying on the ground. So I left this log alone, being worried that if I tried to cut all the way through from the top, I'd have a stuck chainsaw.
Likely there's a fairly easy solution to this problem. I just need to find it.
Walking back to our house, I took some photos of downed trees on our property that show how long it is going to take to clean up all of the damage from the ice storm.
These trees on the easement trail await someone with a bigger chainsaw and more expertise. We can walk over and under them. Horse riders will have more of an issue with them.
Some redwoods we planted a long time ago (in background) did fine in the ice storm. Other trees, not so much.
There's a lot of damage along the creek that leads to Spring Lake.
Soon after the ice storm we cleared a tangle of branches that prevented us from walking across the creek. Getting them to a burn pile will take a lot more work.
This sort of sight is repeated all through our ten acres, except right around our house, which is looking pretty much normal with the help of Noberto Flores and his crew.
At least this downed tree is close to the field we use for burning in the spring and fall.
Laurel, my wife, has created some wood art in our yard by arranging cut pieces of large oak branches. The giant mushroom is fake.
We'll have plenty of firewood once the oak is seasoned.
Even after quite a bit of what went through a chipper has been spread around, there's still a big pile left.
The chips make for an attractive path, and don't seem to bother dog paws.