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!!!!!!!! Cheap Husky and Stihl chainsaw clones/knock offs, should you buy?  RSS feed

 
pollinator
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Hey folks I just discovered these last night and did a little research but not overly too much.

1st a disclaimer,

if you are a super fan and extremely brand loyal these definitely aren't your cup of tea, in fact I would suggest you just stop reading right here.....
Other wise you will likely get pretty annoyed with what comes further along.


Ok now that is gotten out of the way, and hopefully those who don't want to get angry by seeing clone/knock offs of brand name stuff have left. We can get down to the business of discussing these chainsaws I found out about.

The company is called Farmtec and the brand is Holzfforma. They sell after market (AM) parts and yes complete clone/knock offs of both Stihl and Husqvarna saws.
They can be found at https://www.huztl.net/
As well as on Amazon (though prices tend to be higher here and less inventory) https://www.amazon.com/stores/Farmertec/node/11069206011

I did a google search of "permies farmertec" and found nothing coming up linking to this forum, so figured let me share what I have found about these with my permies friends

Now what is the big deal about these saws?

Well price is the the big deal as well as actually fairly decent quality according to many unbiased folks reviewing and discussing these on youtube.

What got me interested in the 1st video I saw about these was the Stihl MS660 clone/knock off from the video was said to be under $300 (I found it priced at $360 without bar and chain so I think that video price was out of date). For those who don't know a MS660 is a big powerful 90+cc saw. The Stihl MS660 runs $600 and up used and $1200 and up new. Now the price difference gets even bigger, you can buy the clone/knock offs all nice and assembled (minus bar and chain), or you can buy a parts kit. The parts kit have all the parts you need to build the entire saw (minus bar and chain) On the Farmertec site these run $148 to $144 depending on if you want the matching Stihl orange color or the blue not Stihl color. That is a huge price difference for anyone who can put together a chainsaw from parts . Under $150 compared to $1200 and up for the brand name. You could practically get 10 for the price of 1. (there are youtube video playlists of builds from these kits, before buying a kit I suggest watching and making sure you know what your getting into)

But of course you and I immediately say, "but the quality just can't be there, these have to suck bad to be that cheap" Normally you and I would be very right. However investigating these saws on youtube (though only for 2-3hrs last night) I saw over and over unbiased reviews of these saying that they were decent quality. A few serious chainsaw guys who were big into modding their saws with AM parts said that a literal handful of parts would be best swapped with alternate AM parts or OEM (Original equipment manufacture) parts of the saw it was a clone/knock off of. Other wise these folks said these saws were impressive and built near enough to the brand names to be reliable.

So for a homesteader who might want to get a chance to use one of these saws, or have limited use for such a powerful saw but an immediate need, a cheap option that could get them a saw they might not be able to afford otherwise could be highly useful.

For me for example. I just had one of my Stihl saws stolen off my property this fall. Thankfully I had a spare to keep the loss from being dire. But now I am looking at needing to buy a new 2nd saw. Especially since I am planning on working on chainsaw milling timber on my property this year. So for chainsaw milling would I be better served trying out one of these clone/knock offs than dumping the money into a saw not nearly as powerful but higher priced. Because that is the rub, if I only had brand name options I would opt to get a lower cc saw than the 660 clone/knock off. I would get as low as I could but still within the recommendations for milling (over 50cc typically) because the prices go up more powerful they are. But really to do the work of chainsaw milling, you want as high power as you can go really. Otherwise you are going to be bogging down a lot, and of course putting a lot more wear on the saw. Which means a lot of repairs. so for mean the prebuilt clone/knock off or the parts kit could enable me to get a nice powerful saw that really could do the work well without breaking the bank. for a guy like me trying to build a homestead on raw land I need to watch every penny because I still have a long way to go and a lot of expenses yet to come.

Now that I have given plenty of words to introduce this topic, lets go for some pics and videos.

Holzfforma Blue Thunder G660 92cc


Stihl MS660 91.6cc


These are not as powerful and the 660, but Holz doesn't have the 90cc clone of the Husky so I wanted to compare the highest Holz to the comparable Husky

Holzfforma G372XP 71cc


Husqvarna 372xp 70.7cc


So how about some video? OK, here are some reviews of the 2 clone/knock offs I posted pics of. I choose these for being shorter and more direct info, as well as being 1st use immediate impressions. But there are plenty of amazing 30+ min videos that really get into these saws. As well as impressions after months or years of using the saws. But these will help illustrate these saws in action and people's views of them.





Now there are tons of videos about these on youtube out there. I have only barely scratched the surface of what is out there and what sort of info might be out there. As I said a lot of the better videos are 30+ min, so not really forum friendly viewing. One channel I really appreciated and is worth mentioning is afleetcommand  https://www.youtube.com/user/afleetcommand  This guy seems extremely knowledgeable and unbias. He really gives the good the bad and the ugly, in fact he has a video by that title in reference to Farmertec builds. But he is not the only one. Over and over I saw videos of people really giving these a go months and up to 3 yrs and still loving them. I mentioned afleetcommand and he is one of those who goes back 3 yrs and still talks about how good these are, but as I said explaining where they do have some issues and it would be better to swap out a handful of parts for better quality. Another good channel is the1chainsawguy  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCftGtrUT4QxCBeBm8iUdzPA  especially if your interested in what might go into building from one of the kits. This guy has some good playlists of builds he has done.

Worth mentioning for anyone who didn't click the link to the Farmertec site and explore. I only discussed 2 saws as examples of the 2 major band name clone/knock offs, they have a bunch more in a lot of different sizes/power, as well as some other equipment including a chainsaw mill (that I have not compared prices with other mills yet) and low cost chainsaw bars and chains.

I should also mention when searching for the Stihl and Husky pictures. I actually ran across so many of the Hulz clone pics misrepresented it was astounding. I had to really carefully pick a picture I was sure was a real brand name.

Well that about wraps up introducing these and starting this topic. I am sure there is a bunch still to unpack on the topic, as well as probably people who have already had experience with these saws. I look forward to what the forum has to say, and hope to hear from people who have had real world experience with these.

*edit, I noticed I had misspelled Farmertec with a K, fixed a youtube link to be an embedded video, fixed the youtube channels to url links
 
pollinator
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I own a Stihl “Farm Boss” that I’ve had now for over 15 years, and only had to replace chains and bars — plus a carburetor that I replaced with an aftermarket one.  It’s served me very well,  I’ve also got a Husqvarna cordless electric lightweight, modest-noise machine.

Especially since you're happy with your clone, I liked what you wrote about…

Devin Lavign wrote:So for a homesteader who might want to get a chance to use one of these saws, or have limited use for such a powerful saw but an immediate need, a cheap option that could get them a saw they might not be able to afford otherwise could be highly useful.



I'm in no position to pass judgment on the Holzfformas.  The risk involved in buying a cheaper knock-off for a reserve tool, or a little-used but helpful tool, is not so great as it would be for a tool you must rely on frequently.

I haven't tried one, and I don't know anybody personally who's bought one.  I thought I'd post more or less philosophically, for what it may be worth.  I was a member of another forum website concerned with shop tools for woodworking, mechanics, electrical etc a few years back.  Someone threw out the question of participants' opinions about American- or European-manufactured tools versus Chinese-made imports.  I mentioned that I've owned some Makita corded and cordless tools that I've really appreciated and respected, because that Japanese company does good quality control at their mainland-China factories.  I think internal design, materials, and quality control are the keys.

Frequently this is why warranties are usually (I won't say always, because I don't know that) better with name-brand, quality tools.  In my region, people compare their experiences with brands with each other.  Anybody who's owned a particular saw for four or five years of at least moderate use would have an opinion worth considering.
 
Devin Lavign
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Oh I don't own one of these clones, yet at least. Unless I find out something horrible about them I am likely to give them a try however. Which will mean I will add to this thread my personal experience with them.

I typically will agree with higher prices and name brands for quality, and I prefer quality over quantity and affordability.

My thinking with these is that it gives folks a chance to try something they might not due to sticker shock.

I like Stihl saws. I had 2 of them until one got stolen last fall. I am now in the market to buy a new saw to have at least a backup. Especially since I want to do chainsaw milling, being able to afford a higher cc saw via a clone is highly tempting. I can buy their 90cc clone for less than I paid for my MS440. If it only lasts long enough to mill the timber for my house I would consider it a worthy investment. If it lasts longer then I will be very impressed and happy.

I am under no illusions that these will replace good quality name brands with similar quality. I was actually highly surprised to hear so much positive reviews of these from people who should know the difference between cheap junk and quality. They admit these aren't as high quality as the name brands but claim they are also not junk. Somewhere in between I suppose is the best description.

The reason I posted the info up here, for the same reason I am considering one myself. I suspect with all the different high dollar expenses homesteaders have, any way to cut costs can really help. It can make the difference between getting a project done or putting it off for another year. So I shared.
 
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I own a lot of tools, some I've had a long time and I believe that cheap knock offs are just that; cheap. It's often more expensive to buy a cheap piece of crap twice because it doesn't last, than it is to pay for quality the first time. I also think it can be wasteful to buy multiples of something that doesn't last. I believe the old saying "you get what you pay for", but I'm also mindful to avoid getting ripped off.

I had a neighbor that made a comment to me that I'll never forget. We were talking about tools and he said "I love harbor freight! The tools are so cheap, when they break I just go buy another one!" I thought it was such typical American consumerism, buying crap to throw in the garbage which ends up in the landfill and go buy another one, rinse & repeat.

Sorry for the micro-rant. I believe in "buy it for life"! :)

 
Devin Lavign
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James, understandable, and generally I feel the same way.

I would have not started this thread if I thought these were just cheap junk. From the research I have done they are of decent quality. Maybe not high quality but not junk. Which is why I actually bothered to do all the work of making this thread.

I would not have wasted my time as well as other people's time if there was not such positive reviews of this stuff from people a lot more knowledgeable on the subject than I.

I agree about cheap junk adding to the landfill issues. I would not want to promote that either.

I mentioned if I get one of these if it lasts through milling the lumber for my house I will consider it a worthy investment. Think about how stressful it will be for any saw to do a lot of milling, enough to build a home with. That is not a small job and it will be a lot of wear and tear on the parts in the saw. So if I get one of these and it makes it through that. Then I will be quite impressed.
 
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Devin,

In general I am a "generation tool" buyer, but this is interesting to me because chainsaws are incredibly useful. I am not an expert, nor do I make money from their use. But I use them a lot.

Saws (any tool really) are two things, design and materials.

The designs can easily be reverse engineered at this point, and a factory tooled to make them. Most of the modern saws are plastic anyhow. Most require similar emission and noise controls. Ethics aside (from the aspect of basically ripping off a companies R&D) I suspect the designs are similar in all components. Why reinvent the wheel?

The materials are likely to be markedly inferior (other than the plastic shell). This probably doesn't matter if you are using it in a pretty limited fashion. If you are new to saws this won't make a difference, because we have all screwed up a saw learning the ropes. Sooner or later you will be out a carb or a cylinder or a bar. These sound like they are pretty good, certainly not markedly dangerous.

My only piece of free advice (worth less than half what you pay for it) is that using a 90cc saw or bigger is frankly nuts unless you are using saws enough to make the real deal worth it. They are monsters and the guy in  the video has a comically small bar on that massive powerhead. With a reasonable bar, that is a very heavy saw and challenging ergonomically. I use a 71cc saw for the big stuff, and that will run a 48" bar if you are really good at it, but easily run a skip chain on a 36" at a reasonable load for milling if you aren't mashing it. I normally run a 24" bar on that saw, but 90% of my cuts are with a smaller saw. My uncle is a very fit professional arborist (not logger) and that is the largest saw he owns, and he recommended to me to stay with smaller saws, and I've spent hundreds of hours on saws the last few years. If you are milling bigger logs, a bandsaw would start making sense, and you can often get someone to bring one to you and operate it (depending on your location of course). It is a safe option.

If you really would benefit from an Alaska Mill, but likely occasional use, and have determined to get a big saw for that purpose, I would totally go for the knockoff 660 or 441 from a purely economic standpoint. If you are occasionally cutting some bigger stuff and it adds safety to make one cut through the trunk, I would consider a knockoff 441 if you can handle a 20lb saw/bar (and you have to be honest with yourself). For the occasional user the smaller saws seem like a good idea at their prices. And I'm a total Stihl fanboy.
 
Joel Bercardin
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Tj Jefferson wrote:Saws (any tool really) are two things, design and materials.


The third ingredient in good industrially made, commercially sold tools is quality control.  Companies that pride themselves on providing good tools do good quality control — which involves things like pretty frequent random inspection & testing of tools from a production run.
 
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I have always been a buy once cry once kinda person.  I buy the very best quality I can afford.  I have a Stihl chainsaw I have owned and used continuously since 1990.  It has had a hard life and the only problem it has ever been in the shop for was a clogged muffler which I didn't realize at the time could be a "thing",only ONE spark plug replacement and of course the usual wear parts like bars and chains.   I've used chainsaws so much at work to the point of wearing them out and them being more costly to repair than to replace.   I can't and won't speak to the clones, but for my money I would get the Stihl.
 
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If you go out to where the commercial fallers are working, in North America, Europe Africa or South America, there are two main types of saws that will be seen. Stihl and Husqvarna. It's about the same at Quality Rental shops. Occasionally you'll see some other brand when a brand new rental shop opens up. But if they last a few years and get some money, they start renting out better equipment. I have known dozens of people who've used chainsaws commercially, and I don't know any who stray outside of those two brands.

I'm a big fan of cordless electric equipment. My best quality items are my longreach Stihl chainsaw and hedge cutter. It was a bit of an expense when I bought them, but then I paid for them in the first week. 3 years later they are still going strong. Greenworks and Earthwise make a crappy version of the same thing. I know a landscaper who tried both and both were finished within a year, with slower production. He was saving money. :-) With any equipment that I buy, I try to look at it as something that my customers will pay for, because I can charge more when I'm properly equipped.
 
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Hi Devin, thanks for the post.  It seems that most of the responses are people saying stick to the name brands, which is a bit of a surprise to me.

I also like the name brands but I'm not a fanboy of any of them.  I know that they are good quality, but I've also found good quality tools in other brands.  Like you, I've usually found the name brands give the best return but that's not always the case.  

I used to work with a bunch of maintenance guys who all bought Snap-On tools.  Every week the Snap-On guy would come and the guys would get giddy, then go in and not only spend their tool allowance, but often a large part of their paycheck.  One of the guys had a wife who worked at Canadian Tire.  He bought all of his tools there because they had a lifetime warranty, were much cheaper yet similar quality to the Snap-On, went on sale often, and he also had 10% off because of his wife.  I worked there for a couple of years and there was no discernible difference between the two brands, except that the Snap-On tools were 3-4 times more than the CT brand.  To top it off, one of the guys had a Snap-On socket wrench break.  When he took it to Snap-On, they told him that the tool was 25 years old and that the lifetime for a socket wrench was 20 years, so he was out of luck.  He switched to Canadian Tire after that!

Like you, I know it's usually best to buy the best tools, but I don't become blind to cost effectiveness.  I've bought many "off-brand" tools in my life.  Some are every bit as good as the name brand tools, and some are definitely inferior, but were much more cost effective.  I've bought some really cheap, kinda crappy tools over the years because I was only going to use them once or twice and they were cheaper than used.  Often, with these, I've had to spend up to an hour going over them to make sure everything is tight and aligned, but they can do the job.  I once bought a tile saw, new, for $20 on sale at a local surplus store (my favourite store ever!).  I knew it was crappy, but I only had a bathroom and hearth to tile.  That was over 15 years ago and I've done several more tiling jobs with it and still use it in combination with my other tile saw that I got for bigger jobs.  I actually think I like the $20 one better.

I'm going to be getting a chainsaw soon and I've been worried about the price.  I'm going to give these a shot, when I get there, because I'll be stretching my money as much as possible on start-up.  If I got a season out of one, I'd be happy because it will have allowed me to get through a year, allow me to save for a better one, and give me time to look for used.  If it's still working fine, I'll probably buy another as a spare.  

I think that these could be great for casual users or to get started on a budget.  If the reviews are accurate, and there's no question to me that the reviewer is much, much more experienced with chainsaws, these saws will probably hold up just fine for years.

I've used an Echo chainsaw (an off-brand here in Canada) and it was crap, total crap.  We used it for two days before buying a Stihl again, so I understand why some people won't give other brands a chance, but I also burnt out TWO Milwaukee 10" circular saws in very short order.  I'm usually happy with their tools, but they shit the bed with that one.  It should have been 240V instead of 120V@15A, or make it a 120V@20A tool instead.  So, if name brands can have lemons, off brands can have diamonds, especially if they rip off the design
 
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For what it's worth, I started out buying middle-of-the-road tools thinking I wasn't in an extreme situation.  None of them, not one lasted more than 3-4 years that were used regularly (generator, water pump, chainsaws, tillers, mowers, ATV) and were so frustrating to start, caused endless frustration and loss of time trying to tweak them into working.  I was exhausted, had wasted a lot of valuable time, which is in short supply during spring and the growing season, and just before a storm.  

If the companies are new it's often difficult to get the right parts, like chains, belts, etc., and we end up having to spend much more time and money replacing the parts.  I had a water pump that I pumped out of the pond with, that went through gasoline like crazy.  It's the money we spend on tools AFTER we buy them that matters.  My quality water pump and lawn mower go for about twice as long on gasoline as the others.  

It's the energy we have to spend making them run that leaves us exhausted, or not, at the end of the day.  I felt like roadkill after using my crummy lawn mower.  I feel just great after using my quality commercial lawn mower for sometimes 5 hours in a day in the springtime.

The other thing about a chainsaw is how easy is it to start 1-2 years down the road?  I use mine maybe twice a year now that things have been basically gotten under control.  So it's going to sit maybe for months.  That's where the rubber hits the road.   My chainsaw has a special pressure button that makes the starting easier, made by a company that's been making chainsaws since 1959.

Until a tool company gets an extremely good reputation that is independently confirmed, after at least 5-7 years, we'll end up buying two of the cheaper ones, and that equals one of the quality ones.  The established quality tools are reliable, you know going out in the morning it will start, it will work all day, it will make it easier than anything used previously, and it will save money in the long run.
 
Cristo Balete
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One more thing about always ordering equipment/parts over the internet from foreign countries....they get shipped to the US in ships that use the worst possible diesel fuel on the planet.  It pollutes the most, it floats on top of the water as it is used.  And we get a belt, a chain, whatever part off Amazon or some site, one small thing adds to the terrible pollution.  Then it gets delivered by a truck run on diesel fuel.   Neighborhoods these days have diesel trucks coming through, to each house, day after day after day.   How can that be good for the air where the kids play and we have windows open?   We create the market for products that have a downside.

What's the point of driving an electric vehicle when we create a demand for vehicles using diesel to jump in use to the point that it starts affecting the planet we live on?
 
Timothy Markus
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Cristo Balete wrote:One more thing about always ordering equipment/parts over the internet from foreign countries....they get shipped to the US in ships that use the worst possible diesel fuel on the planet.  It pollutes the most, it floats on top of the water as it is used.  And we get a belt, a chain, whatever part off Amazon or some site, one small thing adds to the terrible pollution.  Then it gets delivered by a truck run on diesel fuel.   Neighborhoods these days have diesel trucks coming through, to each house, day after day after day.   How can that be good for the air where the kids play and we have windows open?   We create the market for products that have a downside.

What's the point of driving an electric vehicle when we create a demand for vehicles using diesel to jump in use to the point that it starts affecting the planet we live on?



First of all, much (most?) of the equipment and parts we use isn't made in the US, so you don't have a choice if you want/need it.  Ships use the worst possible 'diese'l on the planet because it isn't useful for most other applications.  I've never heard ship fuel referred to as diesel, only fuel oil or heavy fuel oil.  It's so viscous that it has to be heated to flow.  I would also expect that an ocean freighter, for all the fuel it uses, is one of the most fuel efficient ways to move goods.

I would say that most products have a downside, but I think that the way I use the products more than makes up for the cost to the environment in the medium term, let alone the long term.  If I'm faced with buying a 3/4" solenoid valve here for $75 or one from China for $25 with shipping, I feel that the environment can take that $50 hit so that I can set up an automatic watering system for my veggie garden that precludes me buying veggies that are trucked in and grown using fuel.  I'll make up for it pretty soon.  Add to that the fact that the $75 solenoid comes from China anyway and it's not even a question.  

Being able to buy less expensive items from China allows a lot of us to do what we do.  I'd love it if everything I need could be bought in my country for the same price, but many things you can't even get here.

I'm also not sure what the point of driving an electric vehicle is.  It costs more energy to produce than a diesel vehicle and I'm not convinced that you can make up for that over the life of the vehicle.
 
Devin Lavign
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Tj Jefferson wrote:My only piece of free advice (worth less than half what you pay for it) is that using a 90cc saw or bigger is frankly nuts unless you are using saws enough to make the real deal worth it. They are monsters and the guy in  the video has a comically small bar on that massive powerhead. With a reasonable bar, that is a very heavy saw and challenging ergonomically. I use a 71cc saw for the big stuff, and that will run a 48" bar if you are really good at it, but easily run a skip chain on a 36" at a reasonable load for milling if you aren't mashing it. I normally run a 24" bar on that saw, but 90% of my cuts are with a smaller saw. My uncle is a very fit professional arborist (not logger) and that is the largest saw he owns, and he recommended to me to stay with smaller saws, and I've spent hundreds of hours on saws the last few years. If you are milling bigger logs, a bandsaw would start making sense, and you can often get someone to bring one to you and operate it (depending on your location of course). It is a safe option.

If you really would benefit from an Alaska Mill, but likely occasional use, and have determined to get a big saw for that purpose, I would totally go for the knockoff 660 or 441 from a purely economic standpoint. If you are occasionally cutting some bigger stuff and it adds safety to make one cut through the trunk, I would consider a knockoff 441 if you can handle a 20lb saw/bar (and you have to be honest with yourself). For the occasional user the smaller saws seem like a good idea at their prices. And I'm a total Stihl fanboy.



TJ, thank you for the advice and the comment. Yes I am planning to mill, which is why I am looking at such a big saw. Though the company does offer much smaller saws as well. I have a decent amount of timber on my property that I plan to fell and mill. Rather than an Alaskan mill I am looking at the Norwood mill, which is a bit of a compromise between a bandsaw mill and a chainsaw mill.



Would I prefer a bandsaw mill, yes I would. Can I afford one, sadly not. Is there folks that could bring one to my site, probably. But to rent a mill I would be stuck rushing to maximize the mill while it is there, etc.. While if I have chainsaw mill, I can work at my own pace, with less of a rushed feel. And the chainsaw mill would likely still be the cheaper option. Since they start under a $1000, and there are only a few upgrade options to raise that price. For my house I will need to mill well over 100 posts and beams for the timberframe construction I am planning. Many of the posts will be 5 sided rather than the typical 4 due to a hexagon shape I am using for my home. It is also going to be a wofati (ish) earthshelter, but rather than round wood, I am going to square the timbers that will make up the walls and roof. This means 100's of more logs to mill to fill those spaces. So having the ability to mill affordably is pretty important to me.

Now the bar suggestion you made, yes! I will be using a longer bar, 48-36" I will be looking into which. I also very likely will use a more name brand bar and chain rather than the ones they sell on the Farmtec site. Since the bar and chain get so much wear. I have been eyeing the Oregon bars, even for my Stihl saws, or I guess just saw now I am down to 1 Stihl. I have heard a lot of praise for the Oregon bars from professional loggers. I am from WA state, and have talked with plenty of loggers as well as just seen what they have on their saws.

Again thanks for your constructive advice and comment.
 
Devin Lavign
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Timothy Markus wrote:Like you, I know it's usually best to buy the best tools, but I don't become blind to cost effectiveness.  I've bought many "off-brand" tools in my life.  Some are every bit as good as the name brand tools, and some are definitely inferior, but were much more cost effective.  I've bought some really cheap, kinda crappy tools over the years because I was only going to use them once or twice and they were cheaper than used.  Often, with these, I've had to spend up to an hour going over them to make sure everything is tight and aligned, but they can do the job.  I once bought a tile saw, new, for $20 on sale at a local surplus store (my favourite store ever!).  I knew it was crappy, but I only had a bathroom and hearth to tile.  That was over 15 years ago and I've done several more tiling jobs with it and still use it in combination with my other tile saw that I got for bigger jobs.  I actually think I like the $20 one better.



Thank you for your comment.

I generally believe in you get what you pay for, and to spend on quality over quick and cheap. When I first saw these saws, I thought they were just going to be junk. But was amazed how over and over positive and realistic reviews were being given by people who really know saws. Did they claim they were better, or exactly the same? No, but they do claim they are decent and with a few replacements of simple parts are close to the name brands they are clones of. That is some pretty high praise I feel. Which is what got me thinking seriously about them.

Funny thing about name brand vs cheaper. I have a Yamaha generator that has been nothing but trouble for me, but the Generac back up I have has out performed the Yamaha. Go figure the lower cost less name brand does a better job. I have also heard praise for Champion generators, though no personal experience with them, from people who bought them as just a cheap get by till can afford better. But they found they didn't need to get "better", or did get "better" but went back the the Champion due it actually being better than the bigger name brand.

Back on saws, I have also been hearing rumblings and muttering from long time Stihl users that the newer Stihl quality has been going down (though not the commercial professional grades). Here is one such video explain his decision, though he seems to be oddly happy with Echo, so go figure.



I have seen this with plenty of name brands that quality has dropped and they seem to be just coasting upon their name rather than actually living up to it. Which is why I have never believed in brand loyalty, only quality loyalty.
 
Walt Chase
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Devin as far as your chainsaw mill.  I completely understand about the expense of the thing.  Have you ever run a chainsaw mill?  It, from what I understand is back breaking work and they are pretty hard on a chainsaw too.  I want to suggest that you go to the  forestry forum ( http://forestryforum.com/ ) and do some reading in the sawmills and sawing section there.  Most of the guys have Woodmizer or one of the other big name brands, but there are some that have some of the lower priced mills and have had good luck with them.  I'll also suggest that you look at the Woodmizer LT15 mills.  While more expensive than your chainsaw mill I think you would be better served by saving your pennies a bit longer and getting  one of them.  I personally have a Woodmizer LT28.  Was planning on a LT15, but when weighing the pros and cons decided to go with the LT 28.  Yes it was expensive, but has not given me a minutes trouble and from what I understand the customer service, which I have yet to use, it second to none.  One other thing I have gleaned from the Forestry forum is that if and when you decide you no longer need a sawmill the Woodmizer has an excellent resale value.
 
Devin Lavign
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Cristo Balete,

That is a valid concern and one that is worthy of consideration for anything. Timothy covered most of what I would have responded. So I don't need to repeat that.

I would say if these were just complete junk, like most Harbor Freight stuff, this consideration and the issue of landfill waste would be a top concern. But from all accounts these are not junk just cheap.

But your comment about being aware of the environmental cost of travel is a good and valid point to keep in mind. Though as Timothy mentioned, sadly most things tend to be imported. It is hard to find actual made in the US or Canada, etc... Even stuff that claims to be made in country often is just assembled in the country and the parts come from China or elsewhere.

Personally I don't even like to have the need to use a chainsaw. I did trail maintenance in the Cascades, and actually know how to use a cross cut saw, and have some. But the time and effort to use those vs the chainsaw, just doesn't make the human powered a reasonable option. I am living in a crappy travel trailer until I build a house. I need the chainsaw to build the house. After I might opt for the cross cut saw to do the majority of my timber felling. Since then I wont be in a hurry to have shelter to live in.
 
Devin Lavign
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Walt Chase wrote:Devin as far as your chainsaw mill.  I completely understand about the expense of the thing.  Have you ever run a chainsaw mill?  It, from what I understand is back breaking work and they are pretty hard on a chainsaw too.  I want to suggest that you go to the  forestry forum ( http://forestryforum.com/ ) and do some reading in the sawmills and sawing section there.  Most of the guys have Woodmizer or one of the other big name brands, but there are some that have some of the lower priced mills and have had good luck with them.  I'll also suggest that you look at the Woodmizer LT15 mills.  While more expensive than your chainsaw mill I think you would be better served by saving your pennies a bit longer and getting  one of them.  I personally have a Woodmizer LT28.  Was planning on a LT15, but when weighing the pros and cons decided to go with the LT 28.  Yes it was expensive, but has not given me a minutes trouble and from what I understand the customer service, which I have yet to use, it second to none.  One other thing I have gleaned from the Forestry forum is that if and when you decide you no longer need a sawmill the Woodmizer has an excellent resale value.



I appreciate your comment, I know if I had not research bandsaw mills I would really be looking into them after that comment.

Believe me, I have done the research on mills including that and other logging/milling forums. Both Woodmizer and Timberking were on my original wish list before even buying land. However Norwood slowly kept creeping up the list due to lower cost, and the ability to add upgrades rather than having to sell then buy a full machine with the new upgrade. If I were to buy a band saw mill for homestead use, I would opt for a Norwood it fits the bill for the hobbyist milling needs of a homestead best. If I were planning to make a business of milling I would opt for Woodmizer or Timberking, though personally I don't like Timberking's business practice and advertising so would likely not opt for them.

Yes chainsaw milling is hard on the person as well as the saw. Which is why I have said, if I get a Hulz saw and it can last through the milling I will be impressed. It is also why I would opt for the larget saw, as well as likely get a good quality bar and chain to put on the saw. The hard on the person is why I am looking at the Norwood chainsaw mill, which mounts the chainsaw on a track system rather than the person having to hold the saw and push the saw through the log unassisted. It is still harder than a good bandsaw mill but less back breaking. It is a compromise for sure, but the benefit over the standard chainsaw mill is great.

Believe me, I have not been going into this lightly with no research. I have been working hard researching and trying to figure out how to get the best bang for the buck. If I had deeper pockets I would have definitely sprung for the bandsaw mill. It just has become a matter of needing the milling done sooner than later. I need to get started on building my house, and get out of the temporary trailer living.
 
Cristo Balete
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I moved that part of the discussion about the dirty Mega Ships and electric vehicles to here:

https://permies.com/t/107213/Healthy-Planet-Cheap-Stuff
 
Timothy Markus
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I'm looking at a similar use, Devon.  I'm thinking of buying some wooded land and running pigs and chickens through it as I clear it for building materials and firewood.  I'd like to start as cheaply as possible and then upgrade when I can.  If the activity warrants it, you can always justify upgrading, but if I'm looking at a chainsaw mill or no mill, I'll take the chainsaw.  

I would hope I can get a Woodmizer before long, but I also know that business doesn't always develop the way you want and, if another enterprise turns out to be very profitable, I'll be happy to putter along with a chainsaw mill.
 
Devin Lavign
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Timothy, you might want to check out Norwood, I am pretty sure they are a Canadian own company. Why import a Woodmizer, or Alaskian chainsaw mill, when Norwood is locally made.

From their site

And each and every Norwood is quality-built in the USA and Canada (not China, Taiwan or Poland). Make no mistake – every single custom-fabricated component in every Norwood is precision-made in US & Canadian facilities (they’re not just assembled out of foreign-made parts).

 
Timothy Markus
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Devin Lavign wrote:Timothy, you might want to check out Norwood, I am pretty sure they are a Canadian own company. Why import a Woodmizer, or Alaskian chainsaw mill, when Norwood is locally made.



Yeah, they're only 3-4 hours from me.  I did a lot of houses up in their area the last couple of years.  I'm almost sure I'll end up out east, NB or NS, so I'll have to see what works when I'm ready for it.  If I can find something local or in Maine, that's used I'd probably go for that.
 
Cristo Balete
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The other thing I've started doing in the last 3 years or so is buying top of the line equipment that's refurbished.  This not only gives me quality equipment, but it's as local as I can make it, and I didn't create the need for it in the first place.   I give business to a place that maintains/repairs and refurbishes equipment, get to know the people there, and I can depend on them.  I can tell them that I am looking for something or will be in the market for something in the next year, and let me know if something comes in.  Email works great for this.

We are at about 90% thrift store-consignment store consumers at my house, so that doesn't create the market in the first place.  It's not as quick as pointing and buying online, but making it a routine to check out a few of the second-hand stores regularly has worked.  It takes a little planning ahead.  And since we end up having to maintain our own small (and big) engines, we are a lot better off being on good terms with local handymen.

If the country can't stop importing stuff, at least we can keep it functioning and out of landfills.  

No one said that helping the planet was the cheapest way to live.  Organic food costs more than traditionally-grown food.  If we really are going to try to make a difference -- and isn't that what Permaculture is about -- then it takes a bit more effort on our part, some planning ahead, and a bit more money (which I honestly believe is offset by buying quality items), an awareness of what we are able to do in the bigger picture, and a sense that we at least tried.



 
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Devin,

Sorry for the assumption you were new at the game. I cut/moved about 2 cords of wood today for mushrooms (yum!!!) and I am SORE!!!  This picture is everything wrong about saw milling. To make that stack was tens of hours of back pain, I was chuckling at the visual, way easier to move the setup to smaller piles. Assuming you are not employed at a very marginal wage, a bandsaw pays for itself very quickly, and can be sold for a small margin used (I know I've been looking for one! They are tough to find.) If you can afford to hold a $2000 investment for a year, it generates a whole lot of lumber very quickly. I have zero experience making hexagonal cuts, but with the dogs on a standard bandsaw, I would expect much more precise cuts than the chainsaw mill pictured.

I am clearly a proponent of the bandsaw, but I am very interested in your results. I have a huge stack of cedars I plan on milling for my Wobaaati (sheep barn) and am interested in how many chains and hours it takes to do it, so please report back. I have the saws, and my decision is between having a portable mill for the day (and loading it myself to maximize utilitization) versus a hybrid mill like that. The portables here are generally $50 setup and $50/hr, so roughly $500/day. For a house with three cuts per upright it starts eating into that for sure and may make it worth losing wood on the kerf. I have a lot of marginal width cedars and plans to use the slabs for siding. It does depend on your design.
 
Devin Lavign
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Timothy Markus wrote:

Devin Lavign wrote:Timothy, you might want to check out Norwood, I am pretty sure they are a Canadian own company. Why import a Woodmizer, or Alaskian chainsaw mill, when Norwood is locally made.



Yeah, they're only 3-4 hours from me.  I did a lot of houses up in their area the last couple of years.  I'm almost sure I'll end up out east, NB or NS, so I'll have to see what works when I'm ready for it.  If I can find something local or in Maine, that's used I'd probably go for that.



If you are going to be looking for a used machine it is less likely you will find a Norwood, they don't come up for sale used too often and get snatched pretty quick when they do. Likely because Norwood actually allows upgrades while Woodmizer doesn't. So the folks who get an entry level Woodmizer then want to upgrade tend to sell their's off fairly regularly.

Best of luck to you when you are ready to get one, hope the right machine comes to you nice and easy. Then you can share it here on permies with us all explaining the joys of milling.
 
Devin Lavign
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Tj Jefferson wrote:Devin,

Sorry for the assumption you were new at the game. I cut/moved about 2 cords of wood today for mushrooms (yum!!!) and I am SORE!!!  This picture is everything wrong about saw milling. To make that stack was tens of hours of back pain, I was chuckling at the visual, way easier to move the setup to smaller piles. Assuming you are not employed at a very marginal wage, a bandsaw pays for itself very quickly, and can be sold for a small margin used (I know I've been looking for one! They are tough to find.) If you can afford to hold a $2000 investment for a year, it generates a whole lot of lumber very quickly. I have zero experience making hexagonal cuts, but with the dogs on a standard bandsaw, I would expect much more precise cuts than the chainsaw mill pictured.

I am clearly a proponent of the bandsaw, but I am very interested in your results. I have a huge stack of cedars I plan on milling for my Wobaaati (sheep barn) and am interested in how many chains and hours it takes to do it, so please report back. I have the saws, and my decision is between having a portable mill for the day (and loading it myself to maximize utilitization) versus a hybrid mill like that. The portables here are generally $50 setup and $50/hr, so roughly $500/day. For a house with three cuts per upright it starts eating into that for sure and may make it worth losing wood on the kerf. I have a lot of marginal width cedars and plans to use the slabs for siding. It does depend on your design.



No worries, I would rather folks assume I had less knowledge than to assume I had more and not tell me important details. Not to mention, it is good reference to others who might be reading with less knowledge.

Yeah I posted that image more to illustrate the potential length of logs it can do, I imagine the person in the pic used a machine to stack those logs rather than moved them by hand.

No doubt I would prefer a bandsaw mill. They are pure awesome. It is just about affordability, which is why I am also interested in these chainsaws. Trying to make my money count, since I have a lot of expenses now and to come to turn raw land into a homestead.

I will hopefully be starting to work on milling this year baring any unforseen delays, so will keep this thread updated on the saw if I do end up getting it. And will likely start a new thread that I will link here for the mill itself.
 
Cristo Balete
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In case anyone is interested, YouTube has some good videos on chainsaw tips and tricks.  This one is someone testing a cheap chainsaw, and the tree he cut has some unexpected consequences, and he has some good advice about that.

He doesn't think it's too bad, but any chainsaw that won't start without some kind of tweak isn't a good chainsaw.  He also mentions things to look for.



Testing The Cheapest Chainsaw On AMAZON

https://youtu.be/tP0FnVmpBUs

 
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