Stihl: A chain saw that really cuts to the chase |

Stihl: A chain saw that really cuts to the chase

John Colson
Aspen Times Weekly

Acting on the principle that at least where chain saws are concerned, bigger is better, I am now better equipped for my annual late-summer trip to a friend’s cabin near Gunnison, where the two of us pretend we’re still in our 20s and have more boundless energy, stamina and strength than we actually have.

In any event, I am now the proud owner of a Stihl, a German-born tool that reflects all the attention to detail and fanatic production values implied by its provenance, and that’s worth something.

Beginning at the beginning, I’ve been cutting firewood for a long time, but only once a year. I have been using a McCullough 14-inch saw, but it crapped out last year. So, to fulfill my obligation to my friend as well as my self-imposed directive to never again buy firewood until the prices come back down to Earth, I found myself in the Gunnison NAPA store in search of a saw of a higher power.

The one I picked (only “slightly used,” and discounted about $50 because of that) is called the “Farm Boss.” It has a 20-inch chain bar and a 3.45 cubic inch, two-stroke engine that idles at about 2,800 rpm, and the thing weighs in at about 13 pounds.

It cuts through pine and fir like a hot knife through a block of lard; you can sense the resistance, but when the chain is newly sharpened that’s about all it is ” a sense of something rather insubstantial getting in the way.

Sideways, upward or downward, it’s all the same to the Stihl, and it is well-balanced to the point where it almost seems like the machine is handling you instead of the other way around.

Typically, when Matt and I get together to split some wood, we try to get started shortly after sun up. But it doesn’t always work out that way, especially if we’ve spent the prior evening getting reacquainted with each other’s drinking habits. You don’t want to be pulling on the starter cord of a chain saw with a fresh hangover, believe me; you want to give it a little time to mellow and settle.

Up in the high meadows above the Blue Mesa Reservoir, deadfall and standing dead pine and fir are as plentiful as snakes in a bayou, thanks largely to the fact that it’s been privately held ground for some time and off-limits to loggers.

We buck up the logs lying on the ground, feed them to the splitter and, in a couple of days, can easily put up a few cords without breaking too much of a sweat.

Although, I must admit, the recovery time from these weekends at war with the woods seems a little longer than it used to. And a little harder.

But then I think of the warmth of our wood-burner on those cold winter nights ” and the lower gas bills ” and I am content.

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