When we arrived in Maine almost three years ago, we brought with us a nice Stihl chainsaw. A long time ago, I paid around $300 for it. I can remember the day I bought it. I picked it up from a local dealer in New York one morning and by that evening, in the rain, I had about five large oak trees laying on the ground in the woods behind my house. Let’s just say I was excited to have that saw. I went a little nuts with it.
I never did use that chainsaw again as much as I did that one day. Sure, when we arrived in Maine, I cut up some wood here and there. Those were more of clean-up projects though. I didn’t really need to do that work. I wanted to.
Have you ever left a gasoline powered chainsaw to sit on a shelve for an extended period of time without using it? If not, let me tell you what happens. Eventually, you’ll end up working on the saw more than you’ll ever use it again.
After storage, you’ll get it started. You’ll walk to whatever it is you’d like to cut up and then you’ll start cutting. The saw will run fine for a minute or so and then will begin to bog down. And bog down and bog down. And stall and then bog down again. You’ll do the usual – remove the spark plug and fiddle with that for a little while. Then, when the fiddling doesn’t make any sort of a difference, you’ll think about changing the gas. It’s likely old. You’ll never do it because that’s a waste and it’s hardly ever the root cause for the saw running terribly, no matter what anyone says. Then, you’ll toss the saw back in the garage and mention the situation to your father that night on the telephone. He’ll inform you that the carburetor needs to be cleaned out. You’ll think back to the moment you initially parked the saw on the shelf so long ago and recall that it ran fine then. You’ll wonder how a particle of dirt managed to swim itself into one of the carburetor jets all by itself.
Oh yeah – along this wonderful journey somewhere, the starter rope will break. I just had to throw that in there because that’s part of the beauty of owning one of these saws.
This scenario will replay itself for about two years until you decide it’s high time to purchase an electric chainsaw. This is what happened to me. My rationale was this; I hardly ever really needed a chainsaw. Why would I force myself to endure the frustrating ordeal of having to maintain a gasoline powered one when an electric version can sit on a shelve indefinitely with no maintenance whatsoever? Electric saws can sit for twenty years and work perfectly any time after. It only makes sense to jump ship and make the switch.
For almost two months, I pecked around online to see if I could actually bring myself to remove my debit card from my wallet to pay for a nice shiny Makita electric chainsaw. I knew I could probably grab a cheap one from Harbor Freight for around $50, but I didn’t want to do that. My goal was to purchase the last saw I’d ever own in my life. If I used it once a year, that’s good enough for me. I’m not running a tree removal service over here. At the most, I cut up dead branches and then blog about the experience.
I almost pulled the trigger a few times. The Makita costs almost $275, but I knew it was worth it. The word online claimed that the two versions of the same saw, one with the 14″ bar and the other with the 16″ bar, were workhorses. I had no doubt that I’d own a piece of quality. I did, however, take issue with spending so much on something I’d hardly ever use.
One night, I woke up in a cold sweat. I had just experienced a true nightmare. I dreamed that I checked my bank account online, only to discover that $275 was missing. Then, I remembered that I had a new electric saw sitting in the garage. While that made me feel slightly better, I also recalled that I only operated the new saw for about 10 minutes to clean up some branches I had sitting in front of our garage. I didn’t have any further use for it. I cuddled in my blankets and considered that fact that I had made a huge error in judgement. Such is my life. I think far too much. Good thing that was only a dream.
That morning, an idea formulated in my mind. Since I had an old bow saw hanging in the garage, why didn’t I go out to see if that would cut the pile of branches? Perhaps I didn’t need a chainsaw at all. Even if it took all day, I could get rid of the mess and save some money.
The moment the blade of the old bow saw touched the wood, I knew it was never going to work. Apparently, bow saws use two different types of blades. One is for dry, dead, wood and the other is for green, live, wood. I’m assuming the blade I had on my bow saw was for the dead stuff because every time I attempted to push it across a piece, it got stuck. I eventually made it about half way through something that was only about 3 inches thick when the wood pinched the blade so badly, I was hardly able to remove it. They were nearly bonded together. While I gave up on that particular activity, I didn’t give up on the idea.
I whistled while I walked from the garage to the house. Laura gave me an odd look as I sat down at my computer and browsed through many videos of fine folks using miraculous bow saws to effortlessly slice through virtually any thickness of wood. I was amazed. From what I gathered, the difference between my old saw and theirs was that they were using an extremely sharp version of the blade that was meant for live wood. I couldn’t stop watching. I had never seen bow saws perform such beautiful acts. I knew I needed one of these newer types of saws and blades.
The best part of the whole thing is that a pretty decent bow saw costs under $30. The one I purchased is called the Bahco 10-30-23 30-Inch Ergo Bow Saw for Green Wood and it set me back $28.19, exactly. I’d like to show you a photo of part of it.
As you can see, the photo above displays part of the handle and part of the blade. Look at those teeth. I can tell you that they are akin to small razors. They’re very sharp, so I’m careful not to touch them.
Here’s another look at the blade:
If you pick the saw up and view the teeth closely, you’ll notice that they’re flared out slightly at their tips. The reason this is critical to cutting green wood is that they remove more of it than their “dead wood” counterparts. Green wood tends to swell as it’s cut and if the blade doesn’t remove a bit more of it during each pass, it’ll get pinched. That’s exactly what I experienced during my previous bow saw cutting failure.
For a 2 inch thick piece of wood, I swear it only takes a few swipes to cut clear through with this saw. It’s like butter. The first time I used it, I almost couldn’t stop. I was having so much fun. The cut is clean too. It makes a tinny sound as the blade removes the wood and before you know it, the end piece has fallen and the blade is begging for more.
I have a tech blog that I write almost every day on. I recently decided to begin covering the topic of editing video. Because of this, I needed to create some sort of demo that I could use in my tutorials. I decided on capturing the cutting of a piece of wood as that demo. Here it is:
Bahco 10-30-23 30-Inch Ergo Bow Saw – Cutting Wood
Little did I know that making the video would help me with this post. I guess I got lucky.
If you have any questions about this type of saw or are considering purchasing one yourself, I’d like to hear about it. Please leave a comment in the comment section below so we can begin a conversation. Thanks!