I cut up a lot of dead trees each year. I use the logs to heat my home and hot water during the winter. To do so, it is important to have a chainsaw with a sharp chain. Having recently switched saw brands to Stihl, and knowing that Stihl puts their name on their chainsaw chains, I was surprised to find my local chainsaw repair shop put Oregon chains and bars on the chainsaws in his shop. He is NOT a dealer...
Recommend this product?
When I asked the repairman about it, he explained: "The chains are good quality, and they cost less than the Stihl blades." I found this hard to believe, since I frequently go to the Arborists' web sites to hang out, and I recall a lot of pompus lumberjacks touting their Stihl chains are the best.
Well, I happened to be in the repair shop to have my Stihl chain sharpened, but opted instead to have it replaced for only $10 more. He sold the Oregon chain off of a spool, then put a link in at the proper length. Then he sharpened my old Stihl chain, which I plan to use as a backup.
After putting the Oregon chain on my Stihl saw, it cut through logs with ease, sending chips of wood flying all over the place. I was very impressed. In fact, the chain held up after cutting up four full sized poplar trees with trunks 30 inches wide. The chain was still sharp, until my father-in-law came to visit and decided to help out. He has a habit of dragging pieces of wood over a stump, then cutting them close to the ground. Once the blade hits the dirt, it gets dull quickly.
Anyway, the chainsaw repair guy sells the replacement chains for my saw for only $15. He sharpens the chains for $5. If the cutting piece is under an 1/8th of an inch or if the raker gets to short from wear the chain is toast. Also, if there are burrs, bends, stretched links, or uneven wear, I change the blade. Under normal use, I change the bar after about every dozen blade changes, unless the bar gets damaged before hand. I also periodically change the drive sprocket too (a damaged sprocket can destroy a chain quickly).
I've used other brands of replacement chains too. Carlton makes a good replacement chain, although they are not as easy to find in stores as they used to be. In comparison to the Oregon, I would say they are about just as good, although I bought the Carlton blades for my old Mac saws.
I have recently purchased an electric chainsaw chain sharpener that I purchased from a tool supply company over the internet. It can sharpen most chainsaw chains with ease! It takes me about 10 minutes to sharpen a chain with this saw. Doing so forces me to focus on the condition of the chain. This is because you must sharpen the chain link by link. I noticed that the Oregon chain is holding up very well, considering the use it gets (and abuse).
Holding the blade up next to the Stihl chain it replaced, I notice some slight design differences. Yet, I am not convinced the Stihl chain is any better because of these differences. I know some chains have carbide coated tips, and they cost a lot more, but stay sharper longer. This Oregon chain is a basic steel chain, but it has nevertheless held up quite well.
I use the chainsaw to cut ALL types of woods. I've cut oak, cedar, maple, pine, cherry, apple, willow, poplar, birch, walnut - some of the most evil wood in existence. It is delivered to me for free by some local landscapers who know I have an outdoor wood burning furnace (which burns all types of wood!) The Oregon chain gets through all of it, especially when it is being powered by one of my Stihl saws.
The chains are available in many stores too. They are very popular here where I live. I purchased them in Walmart, Lowes, Tractor Supply, and various other hardware stores. Whenever there is a sale or clearence I stock up on them. I have also bought them online on Ebay. You can also get the chain on rolls and save some extra money. The most I ever paid for a replacement chain was $20, however, the price is usually around $16 in the stores.
Here are some maintenence and safety tips to consider:
1) Always cut wood with a sharp chain. The chain is dull when it spits out saw dust instead of chips of wood.
2) Always wear safety glasses with wrap around protection. Chips fly everywhere!
3) Always make sure your chain and bar are well lubricated. A dry bar will cause you chain to stretch, cause wear to the chain and sprocket, and slow down the chain and make your motor work harder.
4) Always use good quality chain sharpeners when sharpening a chain. The sharpener should have a chain guide - never try to sharpen a chain freehand, unless you know what you are doing. Sharpening a chain correctly is an art!
5) Oil your chains and keep them in a dry spot when not in use to keep rust away.
6) Always use the correct size chain for your saw/bar. Most packages indicate all of the model numbers appropriate for the chain.
7) Never operate the chainsaw with either a too loose or too tight chain. You could damage the saw, injure yourself, or brake the chain.
8) Always wear steel-toed boots when operating a chainsaw. This if for two major reasons: 1) Did you ever have a 30" wide log fall off and hit you on the toe? Ouch! 2) If you should drop the saw on your foot while the motor is running, you might save your toes.
9) Never wear dangling jewelry or loose clothes while cutting wood - it could get caught up in the chain.
10) Always cut wood holding the saw at a comfortable stance, with nothing around you, in case you should fall while the chain is turning.
All in all, the Oregon chain is a great chainsaw chain. I have gone through many chains so far and they hold up well. They are not as expensive as some of the saw branded chains (which I'm told are often contracted out to Oregon anyway). Oregon does have a website for more information: http://www.oregonchain.com/index.htm. You can also download their maintenance and safety guide from this site.
I would recommend this chainsaw chain. It is always good to have a spare handy, in case of breakage or heavy wear. As always, thank you for reading my review and best wishes for a nice day!