I understand the need for a top-of-the-line chainsaw, regardless of cost. But if you’re like me (and most homeowners are), you are looking for something that performs well without breaking the bank. A Poulan Pro chainsaw may be just what you need.
I consider Poulan Pro to be the “no-nonsense”, working-man’s brand. A no-frills, heavy-duty saw at an affordable price.
And don’t forget, Husqvarna owns Poulan Pro and makes all their saws. That means many of the same design targets are used, as are many common parts.
I think Husqvarna uses the Poulan Pro brand as a “price-fighter”, allowing them to play in a less-premium brand space without sullying their premium brand name.
In some ways, this is like Lexus and Toyota, or Ford and Lincoln. There’s nothing wrong with a Toyota, but not many people who are shopping for Toyotas will cross-shop up in the Lexus brand space.
What I want to do here is introduce you to the Poulan Pro brand, and review a number of their affordable saws to see if any of them are right for you.
Poulan Pro Chainsaws
You have probably heard of the Poulan brand. Most folks recognize their tools as being durable, priced right, and comfortable to use. That type of reputation has been cultivated by Poulan for decades. They seem to be dedicated to bringing products to market that are well-liked by the average consumer.
It all started with a guy named Claude Poulan. Claude was a lumberjack, and spent many years of his humble, hard-working life cutting down trees.
I think it’s important to understand the distinction between someone who cuts down a nuisance tree every now and then, or perhaps cleans up a big plot of land after a storm, versus someone who spends years earning their living doing it.
If you don’t do it well, you either get hurt or your get fired. You don’t pay your rent, and you don’t eat!
It’s in that context that we see the significance of Claude Poulan starting the Poulan Saw Company in 1946. A former lumberjack brings certain qualifications to the table when he starts a saw company!
Poulan began manufacturing robustly designed, affordable chainsaws for professional lumberjacks in Claude’s hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana.
You may have already read that the first chainsaw models were two-man machines. These things weren’t for the faint of heart, but did help increase throughput of the lumberjack crews.
Poulan’s designs and manufacturing capabilities continue to grow – along with their reputation – throughout the 1950’s. By the 1970’s, Poulan had created a market for lightweight, consumer-duty saws. The same quality and durability went into these saws as what was marketed to professional lumberjacks, but they had been downsized and redesigned for mainstream consumers.
It’s certainly hard to beat a large, powerful saw when it’s being used all day, every day by a professional. But there are very real, substantial tradeoffs:
Poulan created this niche where saws built for non-professional users were appropriately sized, and didn’t require someone to take out a 10 year mortgage in order to afford them.
At the time, that novel idea was considered a “light-duty” saw. But these days, we’ve come to recognize them as more medium-duty for the average consumer.
In some cases, Poulan has kept up with the market by adding features to its saws. But they aren’t known for being obnoxious about it. If a feature makes sense for the sake of safety, or improved productivity, they tend to gravitate towards it.
Recognizing some of the benefits of battery-powered chainsaws (like ease of starting, less maintenance, reduced noise and vibration), Poulan has been fairly active in the last decade or so in this segment of the market.
In the rest of my article, I’ll try to touch on some of the best, most popular Poulan chainsaws – both gasoline and battery.
If you are looking for easy to handle, durable, affordable machines, I think you’ll find Poulan is one of your best bets. And based on their overwhelming popularity, it’s clear these guys know how to make a chainsaw!
Poulan Pro PR5020AV (967061501)
20″ bar & chain — 50cc, Gas Powered Chain Saw (includes carrying case)
OxyPower engine technology : Extra power via a powerful engine
70% less emissions and 20% lower fuel consumption
Easy to start pull starting system : Reduces pull force 30%
Combi tool is integrated into the rear handle, it’s always there when you need it for maintenance
Purge bulb, which provides the carburetor with fuel
Combined choke and stop control makes it easier to start
Double post chain brake increases safety by right hand activation as well automatically by inertia
Designed for homeowners for general property management and firewood cutting
Its various knobs, plastic pieces, and metal pieces all fit well together, with no weird burrs or areas that make me think “cheap”.
The books and manuals were there, the packaging wasn’t a pain in the butt, and I didn’t notice any damage.
The 20312 version comes with a battery and charger.
The battery snaps into both the saw and the charger with no muss or fuss. The charger isn’t flimsy and I get the impression I could get some real work out of this combo.
Right out of the gate I noticed a few things:
much less vibration
feels solid despite light weight
Greenworks, as well as other manufacturers, claim their battery saws are up to 50% quieter than gas saws. I would believe it!
After years spent in the industry, I would never use any chainsaw without hearing protection. But this saw in particular runs very quietly, even at full throttle.
The noise it produces is very mechanical, with no noticeable whine from the electric motor.
The vibration on the 20312 seems to be at near-record lows. Similar to their claims for noise, Greenworks says this saw vibrates up to 70% less than a gas chainsaw equivalent.
I definitely believe their claim. Frankly, if I were to choose a saw I had to use all day long, this might be what I would pick just based on how easy it is on my hands and arms.
Even though this thing feels like a featherweight, it feels solid. The box says it’s only 10.4 lbs, and my lower back corroborates that story.
I think Greenworks did a good job tuning the stiffness and the balance of the saw to match up with its weight. It sits in the hands great, and has that “all-day” comfortable feeling.
It’s hard to get used to how easy it is to start one of these electric saws. Pop the battery in, pull the trigger!
There’s no messing with a choke, and no jerking your arm off. This is definitely one of the benefits I love.
This saw cuts really well.
At 16″, it’s in the middle of the common electric saw range.
It feels plenty powerful. Of course with it being brand new and having a sharp chain, I was pretty impressed with how it slices through pretty much anything.
I cut with it for awhile, and it’s battery life seemed average, maybe a bit more than average.
It’s hard to tell you exactly how that will stack up to what you’re thinking, since there are so many variables, including how much pressure you’re applying through your hands.
Greenworks claims this combo is good for 100 cuts through 4×4 lumber.
4×4’s are expensive, and I’m not about to chop several into 100 pieces to prove a point to ya’ll!
But let’s do the math.
With the power this thing has, slicing through a 4×4 only takes a few seconds. Including repositioning, I think you could make 4 cuts in one minute.
So if it will do 100 of those cuts, that means it would operate in fairly severe conditions for around 25 minutes.
Based on my experience, I think that’s about right. You can always charge the battery in order to go at it again, which will take maybe an hour.
If you’re planning on doing a lot of cutting, it wouldn’t hurt to buy a spare battery. But they are expensive. If you’re going to do that much cutting (which frankly I think is rare for most homeowners), you probably want to consider a gas saw.
20312 vs Black & Decker LCS1240
As I mentioned before, Greenworks meant for this saw to go up against the likes of Black & Decker.
The B&D LCS1240 is probably the closest competitor.
It’s a 12″ saw, 40V, and has similar features like automatic chain oiling and tool free chain tensioning.
You’ll notice the B&D is a 12″ while the 20312 is 16″.
And the Greenworks has a 40v 4.0Ah battery, while the Black & Decker has a 40V 2.0Ah.
Yes, you will need a bigger battery for the Greenworks since it’s a bigger saw, but even with that headwind you will get more runtime.
The B&D saw performs well. It has a good feature set, and there’s nothing wrong with the saw, but honestly they have been resting on the laurels and Greenworks has run right by them.
This is really no competition 🙂
FYI – you may want to check out the LP1000, which is a bit of a specialty saw.
20312 vs DEWALT DCCS690M1
Okay, now we are getting a bit more serious. Nothing wrong with that B&D saw, but DEWALT takes this particular battery chainsaw to a whole-nother level!
This is 40V with their 4.0Ah battery. And a full 16″ bar and chain.
It’s one of their better saws, and they back it like they mean it with a 3-year warranty.
The DCCS690M1 is known for performing well. I’ll just jump to the chase here and tell you about its achilles heel: the weight.
DEWALT sort of hides the weight of the aw, putting it nowhere on the box or the product literature. Having used it myself, I can tell you it weighs just under 16 lbs with its battery.
Yes, you’re doing your math right: it is indeed 50% heavier than the Greenworks.
If you get get over that fact. you’ll find the DEWALT is a worth competitor to the 20312.
20312 vs EGO CS1600
EGO steps it up with their CS1600 model. It boasts a 56V 5.0Ah battery.
That’s a lot of power!
It does have solid features. Along with the 16″ bar/chain, it has an auto-oiler, chain brake, and a chain tensioning knob.
I will give it a more in-depth review soon, but I can tell you without spending too much time with it that about the only thing I can easily find missing with the CS1600 are some metal bucking spikes.
It does have some plastic ribbing on the front of the cover that presumably servers the same purpose. But come on Ego, I think you can do better than that.
The fact that the saw is missing these isn’t necessarily a death knell, it’s just indicative that some folks that don’t really use chainsaws for a living might have had a hand in developing it.
20312 vs Zombi ZCS5817
I’m going to lay one more out there, and it may be one you’ve never heard of.
This should be easy, right? Just stick a chain on a bar, power it with a motor, and chop a tree down! In reality, it has taken decades of development and innovation to get to the chainsaw we see today.
The history of the modern chainsaw is convoluted and incredible. It took expertise, brilliance, tedious work, and immense attention to detail, for the invention of this indispensable tool—the coveted staple of every arborist, and other laborers; which eliminates the need for axes—an outdated and tiresome undertaking!
In the year 1830, loggers in California made the first attempt to invent a wooden chainsaw. They considered it more an experiment, than a marketable investment.
Not much detail about these loggers has been recorded, though their efforts were documented. These wooden chainsaws were burdensome and not particularly dependable.
Before we go any further, it’s important to understand that as chainsaw technology developed, so did safety gear. We should consider the protection and safety aspects we would like to adhere to when we operate, own, borrow, or store a chainsaw. There are about a million possibilities and hazards of utilizing this essential machine, as well as the amazing benefits and ease it provides when properly managed!
There are several things to consider; the following are precautions that everyone should take to be able to safely use a chainsaw. Many people are users, so if you educate yourself there’s no reason the be afraid.
For me it’s like the preparation for having a stove in your home; owning a car; lighting a fireplace; firing up your barbecue grill; and the list can be as long as we wish. The reality is, precision and care can be the focus while we operate the chainsaw.
PRECAUTIONS DURING OPERATION OF THE CHAINSAW
The first thing we should think about is the fact that we can be injured, harshly or mildly; neither is a pleasant experience.
Objects in your space, like chips of wood, leaves, or other debris may whizz around during your operation, and be harmful in several ways.
The severe vibration from the saw handle may case physical injuries to your nerves, muscles, limbs, and other biological aspects of your body, specifically your ears.
Protecting your hearing is highly recommended; using ear muffs, or ear plugs.
A heavy chainsaw may cause injury to your back; caution should be taken to use a size that fits your physical needs.
We should all try to protect ourselves, so we can be efficient and (possibly) even enjoy the arborist experience. Let’s wear the right protective equipment. Here are some guidelines:
EQUIPMENT TO CONSIDER
Wearing goggles or a shield to protect your eyes in the best way possible.
Wearing gloves will decrease the vibration to your hands.
Ear plugs and muffs will protect your hearing.
Hard hats are not a bad idea, depending on where you’re at and what you’re cutting.
Wear chaps, leather leggings worn over trousers
The best boots or steel toed shoes you can find.
Note: Never use a saw with a dull blade.
BEFORE STARTING YOUR CHAINSAW
Check and sharpen chain teeth
Check ignition, brake, bolts, handles, cover of the clutch
Add fuel at least 10 feet away from anything that could cause the fuel to ignite
WHILE OPERATING THE SAW
As we operate the saw, preparing to crank it up, nothing should get in the way—so, the first thing we must do is:
Clear the pathway of any obstruction or hindrances that impede our progress.
Trained workers should supervise inexperienced workers who are felling trees.
Firmly keep hands on handles and make sure footing is secure.
DON’T CUT DIRECTLY OVERHEAD OR BETWEEN LEGS.
Never carry the saw on your shoulder; the blade is next to your neck if you fall.
Be constantly aware of your co-workers; working at a safe distance from them (approximately twice the height of the trees).
Check for loosely hanging branches and tree limbs.
Avoid cutting with the tip of the chainsaw; keep a close eye on the tip of the saw.
It is strongly suggested that the throttle be shut off, or released before withdrawing, or retiring, while carrying the chainsaw more than 50 feet, or over dangerous regions.
Too tired workers tend to make mistakes, so be mindful of taking your breaks.
Using the right fuel is paramount to effective operation of a chain saw
Frequently check the bar and chain oil level
File the chain teeth often
Sharpen the cutting teeth
Frequently file depth gauges
Replace worn out cutting tooth if less than 4mm
Keep chain lubrication up to date
Tighten loose bolts, nuts, and screws
Basic engine maintenance like air filters, spark plugs
HISTORY OF THE CHAINSAW
WHO INVENTED THE CHAINSAW?
Numerous foreign manufacturers, around the middle twenties, have staked their claims in advertisements, for the invention of the chainsaw; and followed with similar inventions. Somehow their declarations always pointed back to the Bernie Heine chainsaw.
March 16, 1918 edition of the Scientific American highlighted a picture of a chainsaw, on the cover. The design was apparently of German origin and showcased a gasoline engine distinct from the saw element.
INVENTORS AND STYLE VARIATIONS
1785: The Medical Bone Chainsaw
Although clearly not used for wood, this was alleged to be the first chainsaw from late in the 18th Century, engineered by two Scottish doctors: John Aitken and James Jeffray. The fine serrated edges were used for the excision of diseased bone; and to remove cartilage that held the pelvis together. Continue reading “The History of Chainsaws”
Too many casual chainsaw users make the mistake of thinking safety gear isn’t important. I wanted to make a post about the 10 best chainsaw gloves on the market in 2018 specifically to draw attention to this topic.
At a minimum, I would recommend the following safety items
steel toed boots
If you’re just going to the backyard to trim a small, annoying branch off a tree, and it’s only a few minutes worth of very safe work, you can probably disregard some of that equipment. But
BETTER SAFE THAN SORRY
Before we get to the actual product options, let’s talk about what I look for in a good pair of gloves…
Factors to Consider
I polled a few of the folks I know, and it sounds to me like people have been choosing gloves based primarily on 1) style, 2) availability.
This surprised me. Most of the guys I know who use a chainsaw, either casually or even for a living, tend to be what I would consider to be “macho men”. Not a group that I would think is overly concerned about how a pair of gloves look.
But I guess this is a bit like the whole “macho car” thing. Some guys prefer to drive a car or truck that looks a certain way. They want something that looks powerful, tough, etc. Same thing with gloves – they don’t want to be seen wearing gloves that look wimpy, or something that would make them seem like amateurs.
And in talking through the availability topic, I’ve realized people who shop in stores tend to buy whatever brand or type of glove the store they are in has available. If they are in Lowe’s or Home Depot, they tend to buy whatever is in stock at that store.
People who shop on the internet of course tend to have a wider selection, so availability becomes less of a concern.
Regardless of what those folks are telling me, I would NOT rank availability or style as the two most critical factors to consider. I’d say it goes like this…
I think chainsaw gloves need some element of abrasion resistance, as well as some element of cut resistance.
Cut resistance probably resonates with everyone. After all, we are talking about using a chainsaw with a chain spinning at thousands of RPM.
I mention abrasion resistance, because inherent in doing any kind of work with a chainsaw will be quite a bit of wood handling. That can be really rough on your hands. A good glove will help reduce scrapes, blisters, splinters, etc.
It’s great to protect our hands, but if you’re like me you hate that you lose so much of the tactile feel you need to do a job well when you wear gloves.
Ideally, a glove makes a good trade-off between maximum protection and dexterity.
Grip is critical. Not only do you have to keep control of the chainsaw, you will also probably be picking up wood and moving logs around. Depending on where you’re working, you may have to use a wheelbarrow or some kind of cart.
None of that is easy to do if you’re wearing a glove that has slick, low-friction surfaces on its finger pads and palm.
This is a fairly broad category.
Like shoes, wearing chainsaw gloves that are improperly-sized can actually be a liability. Too large and you risk losing your grip, or getting them caught in a spinning chain. Too small, and your manual dexterity and comfort are impacted.
Even if the glove is sized right, some gloves are more comfortable than others. I’m picky about where seams are inside the glove. Nothing wears a blister on me faster than a seam riding right on the tip of a finger.
I’ll also mention that I prefer a wrist closure with a strap rather than elastic. It’s not that elastic is terrible. I just feel like I can get the glove more secure with a strap that I can make as tight or loose as I want.
These likely aren’t super-cheap, junky gloves that you can throw away after each use. These cost a few bucks, and we are making an investment in our safety.
So we would prefer a glove that doesn’t fall apart after only a few uses. One pet peeve of mine is stitching – if a glove is made so cheaply that the stitching starts coming loose, and I see threads flapping around, I don’t like it.
Taking a cue from the “performance” section above, we want a glove that can endure some abrasion and some sharp edges. Also, moisture resistance is important, as we can’t be picky when we are in a tough outdoor environment with our saw.
I would rank cost as a factor. I guess everyone’s budget is a little different. I tend to be frugal, but maybe less so when it comes to safety gear.
I would never say “cost is no object”, but at the same time I’d rather have a glove that performs well than one that I can brag about buying on a blue-light special.
The last factor I would consider is style. Some folks would lump the brand of the glove in the same category.
As I mentioned before, I understand that many guys don’t want a glove that makes them look like a wimp or a newbie.
Since this is my lowest priority, I would consider a good style as just a bonus. It’s a factor in my ranking, it’s just not a particularly important one.
Now that I’ve gone over some of the things I considered when ranking gloves, let’s go over some of our options.
I’ll actually present these in a table according to rank farther down, so for now they are in no particular order.
Youngstown General Utility Chainsaw Gloves w/ Kevlar Lining
These are some very high-quality gloves.
The seams and stitching are basically perfect. They have a strap at the wrist for closure, which I like. Every inch of the glove is lined with Kevlar, which is almost overkill (in a good way).
Some folks consider these to be the bigger daddy of Youngstown’s general utility glove, but I would not necessarily consider them to be better.
They certainly look cooler, with the TPR overlays on top of each finger. Also, a reflective coating increases visibility, which is especially helpful if working in low-light conditions and/or with members of a crew.
They are actually four times stronger than leather! And NoCry claims they were certified to the highest EN 388 level 5 cut resistance standard.
They are machine washable. They have the consistency or feeling of a heavy-weight cotton, so they are very pliable and help with manual dexterity.
A couple of obvious drawbacks here. They do not provide a very good grip. And also, the weave of the fabric is such that they probably don’t provide as much protection against splinters as something like leather.
I tried these out with my chainsaw, and honestly I don’t think I can recommend them. They are just too slippery. They are fairly inexpensive, so if you want to give them a try, I don’t think you will be out much money.
Elvex Pro Chainsaw Gloves
If you aren’t a lumberjack or don’t cut wood for a living, chances are you’ve never heard of Elvex gloves. I don’t know what this company’s marketing budget is, but it must be small!
I came a cross Elvex as an option when one of my “pro” friends suggested them. And indeed, they do offer what they call a pro glove.
They take a different approach to glove design than some of the other options I have covered. They are a looser, more over-sized fit that other chainsaw gloves, almost reminiscent of something you would see in a welding glove.
I tried to be fair with my ratings. The Husqvarna and the Titan XT gloves were really close, and it might boil down to which you prefer the styling of.
Understanding Glove Ratings and Cut Resistance
I want to spend a few minutes trying to summarize what I’ve learned about glove performance and ratings for cut resistance.
The general idea is to:
provide a standardized way of testing gloves
provide a rating system so glove performance can be compared
Sounds like an awesome idea, right??
But as always, the devil is in the details. As awesome as the idea is, getting into the nuance of test methods and ratings may be more detail than you can suffer through. But let’s try!
As you can imagine, there are many different certifications and governing bodies for safety equipment.
The three most common references I’ve seen for gloves are:
ASTM ANSI Cut Resistance
EN 388 Gloves Giving Protection Against Mechanical Risks
EN 381-7 Requirements for Chainsaw Protective Gloves
Let’s take these one at a time, and explain what you can expect if you see them listed for a particular glove.
ASTM ANSI Cut Resistance
The ANSI/ISEA 105 standard was revised in 2016. In goes into detail about how a glove should be tested, and how it’s performance should be rated relative to cut resistance.
The standardized test uses a TDD machine to apply a variable load to a razor blade, which is dragged across the test sample. A sensor underneath the glove measures conductivity to determine when the razor cuts through the material.
The data from a test sample is then used to look up the performance level in a chart.
So if a glove was tested and was found to withstand 5000 g over one inch of blade travel, per the old ANSI standard it would be rated a 5. Per the new standard, it would be rated an A8.
EN 388 Standard
The EN 388 standard classifies glove performance according to four different factors. It’s easiest to show this as a chart.
Abrasion Resistance (factor)
Blade Cut Resistance (factor)
Tear Resistance (newton)
Puncture Resistance (newton)
Specifically for the cut test, it uses a standardized test called a couptest rather than the TDD test ANSI uses. The couptest is very similar to the TDD test, but it uses a round/rolling blade and considers how many times it can move back and forth.
EN 381-7 Requirements for Chainsaw Gloves
EN 381-7, just by its name, seems to hold the most promise.
It puts the glove in a certain class (Class 0 through 3) based on the speed of the chain it can withstand.
Also, it has two different designs, A and B. Design A specifies a protection zone on only the back of the hand. Design B requires protection on the back of the hand as well as the top of the fingers.
As if that’s not enough, one or both gloves can have either of these types of designs, and any of the Classes!
Sometimes glove manufacturers will list several different standards for their product, taking more of a “shotgun” approach. This is more prevalent in Europe.
Getting gloves tested and certified is expensive. At least in the US and Canada, the information can be hard to come by.
Furthermore, manufacturers may use different standards, or even different revisions of the same standard, making side-by-side comparisons of gloves difficult.
I am more than willing to cut to the chase for this review: the Black & Decker LP1000 Alligator Lopper is very good at what it does, and may be perfect for folks who don’t need an actual chainsaw.
Although I live and breathe chainsaws (hence the website), I realize they are not necessarily for everyone.
Some people are intimidated by them. Some people don’t feel comfortable using one. And many people just don’t need one.
But honestly everyone should own one of these. Yes, I mean everyone! You too!
There are some limitations of this lopper. I will cover those in a minute. There are certain jobs around the house that only a chainsaw can do. But if you use this thing for what it’s intended, there actually isn’t a better product in the market.
The ECHO CS-590 started production in 2013, while the ECHO CS-590 Timber Wolf started in 2014. The Timber Wolf won the won the Dealers Choice Award from Power Equipment Trade magazine. That’s fairly prestigious considering over 1,000 lawn and garden power equipment dealers participated in the survey. At the very least, we have to recognize that this is an impressive chainsaw that customers love.
Welcome to my in-depth review of the Earthwise LCS35814.
If you’re like me, you’ve never heard of Earthwise chainsaws. Most folks say the same thing, since the Earthwise brand hasn’t been around very long. I think they launched around 2006. I’ll try to give you a bit of the history for Earthwise, and talk a bit about their background in addition to covering the saw itself. I think you’ll find the company has been around awhile.
The point of this review is to focus on the Earthwise LCS35814 14” cordless chainsaw. I’ll be providing an in-depth review of how the product feels, performs, and its features. While I’m at it, I’ll also review the WEN 40417 16″ cordless chainsaw, since it’s a comparable alternative to the Earthwise. As you’ll see, the WEN is more of a bargain, but has slightly different features and characteristics. Continue reading “Earthwise LCS35814 Chainsaw Review | 58-Volt Battery Performance”