A shot of Jack looking devilish awaiting ol’ Hallow’s Eve.
With Hallowe’en coming up, I decided to experiment with carving a Jack O’Lanten with the ol’ trusty Stihl MS 193 C and MSA 200 CBE. Carving a pumpkin is a relatively easy task, but hollowing out the pumpkin from the bottom, and carving a face into it is a bit more difficult. Luckily, I made it through the hollowing process and face carving without any disastrous slips. Carving with chainsaws is a lot of fun, but they are pretty unforgiving in that they can go from “that’s just about right” to Oh, crap, it’s ruined” in a heartbeat.
Legend says that the fire lighting Jack’s lantern was a wee bit of hell-fire to light his way through his cursed existence. A little reminder of why it isn’t always a great thing to outwit the devil.
The real challenge to the Jack O’Lantern process was getting the pumpkin hollowed enough and the facial features deep enough to really allow the light source to shine through. Altogether, this isn’t a crazy difficult carve by any stretch of the imagination. It is a fun way to cut your teeth on the whole chainsaw carving thing. After the carving process was finished, I was really aggressive with the torch. My reasoning was two-fold: one, I was too lazy to bother doing any sanding, and two, the aggressive charring seemed to add to the creepiness of Ol’ Jack.
Although hollowing out the sculpted lantern was a pain, it seems to have achieved the desired spook factor.
The finished product: a step carved from an old windblown log that was well on its way to fulfilling its role in the circle of life.
Since we were giving the front entrance a bit of a refurb- new door and window, clapboard siding, lights, and GFI outlet, we decided to try to reclaim an old ceder log that had blown down 6 years ago. Seeing the large Eastern White Ceder (large being a relative term as Eastern ceder is quite puny by Western standards) just lying on the ground waiting to complete the circle of life had long seemed wasteful. First up was a little milling with a Granberg chainsaw mill to give us a flat top. Because our Echo CS 590 Timber Wolf is only equipped with a 20 ” bar, we had to drop the front stabilizing arm off the mill to maximize the width of cut. The old ceder was easy cutting, but the Echo sounded a little lean in the cut and had to be adjusted.
Using the Granberg Chainsaw Mill to mill our reclaimed ceder log into a step.
After milling the top and bottom of the log, we discovered that the first inch and a half of the log’s circumference had significant rot damage, so we had to carve/remove it with our trusty Stihl MS 193 C chainsaw. After carving off the rotten shell, we began carving the bark texture back into the log. Carving the bark texture was easily accomplished with Stihl’s 1/4″ PM3 chain and .043 gauge bar– this bar and chain combo is not stock on the Stihl MS 193 C, but it is well worth the conversion. The PM3 bar and chain is great for carving and gives a noticible power boost to this small saw.
The Echo CS 590 Timber Wolf resting with its partner in crime: the Granberg Alaskan Chainsaw Mill.
After milling and carving the log, it was time for sanding, staining, and applying some spar urethane. When it comes to sanding: it seems that you are never finished. I always seem to give up on the process before I am quite where I would like to be. Sanding, it seems, is truly a test of your resolve, discipline, and patience. For this project, I decided to try Helmsman Spar Urethane. It applies easily, and is quite user friendly. Whether it is tough enough for the application will only be revealed in the fullness of time.
Minwax Helmsman Spar Urethane applies easily and has a great finish.
After spending the summer having fun in the sun, doing many different projects and just enjoying the East Coast’s short summer while totally neglecting this humble chainsaw blog, we are finally ready to bring you our review of Stihl’s entry into the world of lithium ion outdoor power equipment: the MSA 200 C-BQ.
The Stihl MSA 200 C-BQ is a great saw. It will make a believer out of most naysayers who doubt that a battery powered saw has any place in the stable of “serious” operators. This saw will not replace large felling saws or a dedicated firewood cutter, but then it was never intended too. The 200 C could replace your small limbing saw or your arborist’s saw. It’s performance is comparable to most sub 40 cc gas saws, although it’s power lies more in it’s torque than in high chain speeds. What really makes this saw stand out is it’s remarkable ease of use, and its clean, quiet, practically maintenance free operation. The MSA 200 C-BQ is so quick and easy to use that you will find you reach for it whenever you have a job that doesn’t absolutely require a large displacement saw.
Stihl MSA 200 C-BQ is a strong contender whose incredible performance coupled with it’s remarkable ease of use will make it a go-to saw in anyone’s stable.
If you are going to be felling trees, then a tool that you need in your kit bag is a quality, reliable axe. A good axe is an indispensible tool for clearing brush out of the way, stripping thick, dirty bark off the trunk that would otherwise dull your chain prematurely, or driving your wedges. It can also be a handy tool to check the soundness of the trunk before cutting. A good, strong whack from your axe can help to reveal if there is any rot in the trunk that might cause your hinge or back-strap to fail prematurely.
A look at the business end of the Fiskars 28″ Chopping Axe.
Although the local hardware store is filled with many different axes, not all axes are suitable for use in a forestry application. When it comes to “forest” utility axes, the Gransfors Bruks is king, but they might not be readily available in your neck of the woods, or, maybe, you’re like us and don’t feel like dropping two to three hundred bones on an axe that will only see occasional use. Enter the Fiskars Chopping Axe. With a 28″ Shock-absorbing FiberComp® handle and a razor sharp 2.31 pound (1.05 kg) forged head, the widely distributed chopping axe is a great choice for anyone who needs a high performance forestry axe at a reasonable price. Continue reading
Can an electric chainsaw perform as well as a small gasoline powered saw? The short answer is yes. What the electric motor lacks in speed, it makes up in torque. It’s all about the torque, baby, torque. I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical about the buzz on the internet concerning the Worx 303.1 14.5 amp chainsaw being comparable to a small 30ish CC gas powered chainsaw, but it really does handle itself well. Are there drawbacks when compared to a gas powered model? Yes there are, but there are some advantages as well.
A handsome fellow with his orange and black coloration: the Worx WG303.1.
- No harmful CO emissions which makes it ideal for using indoors (especially in the winter).
- It is plug and go- no carburetor related issues when starting/operating.
- Substantially cheaper for those who are all about the Benjamins
- Low maintenance
- Much quieter than a conventional chainsaw
- Weighs 11 pounds
- It is tethered to an electric cord which limits its range and sometimes makes it awkward to maneuver with
- Ultra sensitive safety brake that is set too close to the handle. This makes the saw prone to stopping at the slightest change in hand position and limits the saws manoeuvrability while greatly increasing frustration for the end user through repetitive stops.
- Weighs 11 pounds
- Low grade bar
After finally getting around to putting a dedicated carving bar onto a Stihl MS 193 C, it was time to try a little chainsaw carving. Since the Christmas season was fast approaching, I decided to try my hand at carving some small trees. Trees seem to be pretty simple to carve and would be a good starting point for a beginning carver, and, with the silly season almost upon us, a carved tree would add to the festive decor (and maybe make a gift idea or two).
Small carving serving as a centerpiece.
The first challenge for carving was securing the wood to keep it safely immobile during carving. A few screws into an old wooden sawhorse did the trick, and it was off to the races. Using a 50 cc Stihl MS 271 to block in the rough shape, it wasn’t long before I was putting the new carving bar through its paces. The new carving set up worked quite well.
Basic shape carved and ready for some detailing.
Work is progressing. The “scalloped” technique is more time consuming.
Stihl MT2 and Timber Tuff Universal Chainsaw Tool
Ah Christmas, sweet Christmas. Santa came and dropped a small piece of Stihl branded Chrome-Vanadium steel and plastic goodness in the form of a Stihl MT2 into my humble stocking this year. I don’t know about you, dear readers, but anytime I am gifted with some chainsaw tool related piece of awesome, my heart flutters the dance of joy. Unfortunately, the joy would come with the asterisk of disappointment.
The Stihl MT2 is looking good with quality EU construction.
First off, the Stihl MT2 comes equipped with a 19 mm (3/4″) and a 16 mm socket. The MT2 also has a T27 driver, a 7 mm slotted screw driver, in addition to a 3.5 mm slotted driver for carb adjustment. Let us accentuate the positives: Like most Stihl branded tools, the MT2 is made of high quality materials, as well as a high degree of finish to the parts. This little tool should withstand years of use. For a pocket tool, the MT2 is pretty huge: measuring 5 3/4″ x 1 3/8″. Bigger is better, but maybe not in a pocket tool. Although quite large, the Stihl MT2 is relatively light- weighing in at a lean and mean 228 grams (8 oz).
Stihl MS 193 C Carving Conversion
After a busy summer season of home renovation projects, the beck and call of my chainsaw obsession led me down the road into the savage art form that is chainsaw carving. As the leaves turned and fell, I finally took the plunge and ordered the parts to convert my Stihl MS 193-C into a dedicated detail carver. The MS 193 is probably the most popular saw for detail carving in the Stihl line-up as it is a light-weight and nimble 30 CC saw that is more robust than its more consumer targeted cousin the MS 170, but less pricey than its professional cousin the MS 201 or MS 150. It’s lower torque and power also makes it more dime-bar friendly than the MS 200.
The MS 193-C converted to a dedicated detail carver and looking pretty with a 12″ .043″ gauge carving bar.
In order to convert the MS 193-C into a dedicated detail carver, I decided to mount a specialized Stihl carving bar known as a dime-tip to the saw. Mounting a bar with such a small tip radius involves more than just changing the bar. In order to make the most out of this specialized bar, you also need to change the drive sprocket from the stock 3/8″ pitch to a 1/4″ spur drive sprocket. On this model, that also involves changing the worm gear for the oiler (which greatly increases the oil output- a necessity for such a narrow tipped bar). Stihl offers a specialized carving chain for use on their .050 gauge bars, but I opted for the newer .043 gauge carving bar which gives the finest cuts, but uses the 1/4″ chain usually used on power pruning bars. There was a two week wait on the newer narrow gauge bar, and I paid the extra thirty dollars to have the tech do the swapping of parts in order to save me some stress (plus, I was unaware that the new clutch assembly comes with the specialized tool to lock the piston-apparently the pistons in these newer small saws are delicate and do not appreciate the standard rope/dower in the piston chamber trick.) The grand total for the conversion in my area was around $220.00. Don’t forget to get a small 1/8″ round file for sharpening the new 1/4″ chain.
One Log, One Picnic Table
Recently, I decided to try another experiment to see if I could transform one log into a picnic table. Using a chainsaw and a Granberg Mill, I set about turning an old spruce log into a new picnic table. I was aware that the end product might not be the most beautiful piece of outdoor furniture in the world, but it had to turn out prettier than the poplar bench experiment.
A log awaiting its destiny. Even as a seedling, this Spruce always felt like a picnic table trapped inside a barky shell.
First up was the milling process. I am still working out the kinks to the Alaskan mill thing, and considering the type of logs I have lying around, I am not sure if it will be worth the time and effort. I just can’t bear to see the logs chunked up to rot when, with a bit of effort, they might be turned into something useful. These trees should not have died in vain. Plus it gives me something to write about. It also gives me a reason to fire up a chainsaw- which I find to be strangely therapeutic. It’s a zen thing.
It turns out that this log was just a bit too large for the 20” bar to rip through as you lose almost six inches of cutting length once the saw is lashed into the mill. It is a bit frustrating when, halfway through ripping a log, you find that the log’s knots, and a slight twist, halt the passage of the mill. In this case, I could take the saw out of the mill, trim the log, and then reattach the saw to the mill- a simple task, but it takes time and is annoying. Alternatively, I could use the smaller 50cc Stihl MS 271 to give the log a shave and a haircut. And hey, that means I get to use another of my babies.
After a shave and a haircut, this log awaits the surgeon’s touch to release it from its shell.
Stihl MS 193 C-E Review
Stihl’s newest midrange rear handled “arborist” saw: the Stihl MS 193 C-E.
In a previous post, we reviewed the Stihl MS 170 that was purchased to convert into a dedicated carving saw, but the MS 170 had some issues with the engine (see full review here), so it was returned for a Stihl MS 193 C-E. The MS 193 C-E is a light-weight and nimble 30.1 cc rear handled saw. Weighing in at 10.2 pounds fully fueled with a 16” bar and 3/8”p chain; the MS 193 C-E is extremely light. Its strato-charged engine promises a BHP of 1.8 with lower fuel consumption and reduced emissions. The anti-vibe is incredibly smooth and refined and this saw promises to be a well balanced detail carver once I get around to forking out the additional $200.00 to equip it with a carving bar, chain and sprocket/rim.
Extremely light-weight and nimble
Fully adjustable carb
Incredibly low vibration
Strato-charged engine promises lower emissions and lower fuel consumption with increased power.
Outboard clutch for better balance.
Easy to start
Strato-charged engine is cold blooded and needs more time to warm up
Adjustable carb is quite finicky with a hard to find sweet spot
Small, narrow bar is very sensitive to dirt and debris- clogs easily
Chain tension system requires breaking in and is difficult to tension out of the box
Automatic oiler is anemic with 16” stock bar
Outboard clutch makes bar and chain removal more difficult