Chain Saws and Supplies
Chain saws are another heavy-duty item for the well-stocked tree-ring laboratory, used to obtain complete cross sections from logs, stumps, and snags (dead, standing trees). Using a chain saw is best left to those who have been properly trained, so don't assume you know how to use one without taking a safety training course. Purchasing a chain saw is optional - if you don't have one, or don't want to use one, contact your nearby logging company! Alternatively, many agencies (especially in the United States, such as the National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service) have fire crew who can help you obtain cross sections for your tree-ring research.
The better chain saws have 16-24" bars on them - keep in mind though that the longer the bar (the cutting edge of the saw), the more power will be required and the heavier the chain saw. In my opinion, the best saw for dendro work is a STIHL 044 with a 24" bar (which you can still find on auction web sites), and STIHL's latest model is the STIHL 440 Magnum. We also have two STIHL MS250s that we use extensively. Information about STIHL saws can be found at the STIHL Chainsaws web page. Count on spending about $US 700-800 for a Stihl 440.
Don't forget all the other "little" expenses when using a chain saw in dendrochronology! You'll also have to budget for the items listed below, and you can find many of these items for sale from my Tree-Ring Supplies page:
- protective chaps for the legs
- a good sturdy helmet with built-in face shield and ear protectors
- ear protectors (sometimes called "ear muffs") or ear plugs for by-standers
- gloves (optional, but they help reduce vibrations), preferably fingerless
- several spare chains (a 24 inch chain costs about $20-25)
- several "screnches," tools with a screwdriver on one side and a hex nut wrench on the other
- a 2.5 or 5 gallon gas can
- plenty of bar oil
- a spare air filter and gas filter
- air filter oil
- lots of WD-40
- a wire brush
- a raker gauge and flat file
- several round files and a file handle
- a carrying case with bar guard (optional)
- plenty of gas and 2-cycle engine oil
- one or more wedges to keep trees from pinching the bar
- an extra oil cap, gas cap, and hex nuts (they can be stripped out
or lost accidentally)
One company that specializes in chain saws, chain saw gear and supplies, and chain saw safety equipment is:
Besides taking a course on chain saw use, safety, and maintenance, you should read any of the following manuals to learn more about chainsaws:
Tilton's Wood Harvester's Handbook, published by Tilton Equipment Company, P.O. Box 68, Rye, NH 03870 USA, phone 800-447-1152, Fax 603-964-7102, and other U.S. locations. Ask for publication #RT91159 - cost is $2.00.
Consumer Information Guide - Chain Saws, published by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Washington, D.C. 20207, and distributed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service.
Faller's and Bucker's Handbook, 7th edition (1981), published by the Worker's Compensation Board of British Columbia, 5255 Heather Street, Vancouver, B.C. V5Z 3L8, Canada. A 111-page, very comprehensive handbook.