Stihl MS 170 Review

Stihl MS 170 Review

A.J. Kilpatrck

One aspect of the chainsaw world that I have always wanted to try my hand at is chainsaw carving. Of course the first step down this road to chainsaw carving glory is the purchase of a chainsaw suitable for use as a detail saw. I had narrowed the quest down to three main contenders: the Stihl MS 170, the Stihl MS 193 C-E, and the Echo CS 370. All three saws are viable contenders for a first time carver. The MS 170 is the most economical and quite light; the MS 193 C-E is the lightest and most nimble; and the CS 370 is the heaviest, but also the most durable with its split magnesium case. The more astute reader will have noticed the title of this post and assumed that Stihl’s MS 170 won out, and this is partly true.

Another great photo of a Stihl MS 170 by the world's best chainsaw blog

Looking and performing like a bigger saw than it is: the Stihl MS 170.

Being economically minded, and considering that converting any of these saws over to a dedicated carver would cost an additional $200.00 for a carving bar, chain and rim/sprocket, I decided to give the MS 170 a try as it was light weight, had a good reputation as an entry level carver, and ,most importantly, cost exactly half of what the other contenders were going for because of Stihl’s Spring promotion which ended on June 30th. Enter the MS 170. The MS 170 feels fairly solid and is well balanced. It weighs in at around 11 and a half pounds fully fueled and comes equipped with a 16” mini bar and picco chain. The MS 170 also still sports the older non strato engine, and I do love the older engine style’s more “rumbly” sound.

The MS 170 is an older design in the Stihl line-up, and, as such, it sports the older style gas and oil caps that are slotted for opening and tightening with a scrench. There are many who prefer this older style of cap as the newer “flip top” caps are more susceptible to breakage at the hinge. If I ever break one of the flip tops, my opinion will definitely change, but as of right now, I marginally prefer the newer style for its slight edge in convenience, but, from a durability/reliability perspective, the older style is superior. The air filter in the MS 170 is a little on the slight side, but that opinion is based solely on the look and feel of it, and not on actual performance.

Yet another great photo by the world's best chainsaw blog!

A close up of the Stihl MS 170 air filter.

Before starting the saw, I decided to check the saw’s oil tank, fuel level, and chain tension, and it was a good thing that I did. The dealer had filled the fuel tank, but not the bar oil reservoir. Not a good sign. I am learning that it is not wise to assume the dealer is doing what they are supposed to be doing. The Stihl MS 170 fired up with out any issue and for a small saw with a tiny bar and chain, it was an impressive cutter. The small chips just flew as this saw cut through the small birch trees that I felled. The saw did not bog in the cut (although I didn’t force the saw-I let the saw do its work). The MS 170 was also an able limber. Its light weight and good balance came through limbing some spruce and cedar trees. The cutting performance of this small saw was impressive. Continue reading

What To Do With My Wood

I always knew that I would have to do something with the troublesome trees that started me down this road to chainsaw and blogging obsession. It wasn’t a question of “if” but of “what”. Then along came Carver Kings and their episode on carving/building a massive medieval table (see review here), and it hit me: I need a new table and I need something to write about in this crazy quest to create the world’s best chainsawing adventure blog. Why not combine these two things into a new adventure? I had already purchased a Granberg chainsaw mill and had planned on milling some of this wood into useful lumber of some sort. Why not a table top? Now all I needed was something for a base. The Carver Kings had used stumps for their base, and it looked freaking impressive. I happened to have a couple of stumps that I had thought might make good fodder for a foray into carving. Why not use one for the base?

Stihl MS 271 vs poplar stump

Poplar stump excavated, cleaned and awaiting surgery.

Deciding to use one of the stumps for a table base was easy. Anybody can decide , “Hey, I’ll use one of these stumps as a table base.” Deciding is easy. Getting the sucker out of the ground without doing too much damage to the stump, myself, or my chainsaw would prove another matter. My design for the base involved incorporating some of the root structure, and incorporating the roots meant digging to expose those roots for surgery. Digging the roots was a bit of a chore, but the use of a small Karcher K2.27 CCK pressure washer helped both in softening/moving the earth away from the roots, and in cleaning as much abrasive dirt off of the roots as possible in the hopes of not totally destroying the chain on my saw. Of course, the problem with digging and cutting roots lies in the danger of hitting rocks and dirt which can dull (or break) a chain in an instant.

Stihl MS 271 cutting Poplar stump

Watch the dirt, jerk!

 

Continue reading

Stihl MS 271 Review: My First Love

Stihl MS 271 Review: My First Love

A.J. Kilpatrick

Looking for a new saw in the 50 cc range, but don’t want to sink the kid’s dreams of being a doctor?  The Stihl MS 271 is a durable performer that can be relied on.  It offers good value in its class, and as an added bonus slinging it through the daily sawing chores will pump up those stringy biceps and forearms.

Review Stihl MS 271

Stihl MS 271: a reliable performer

Continue reading