What the Prepper Needs to Know About the Usefulness of Chainsaws
As I’ve told you in previous articles, most of my woodcutting I do with a bowsaw and my ax. They give me a great workout
, as well as being economical on fuel. Well, for the most part, as Mrs. JJ would tell you, I eat like a horse at the end of a day! I keep a couple of chainsaws handy, though, because you never know when you might need one. Not just for cutting wood, but in an emergency.
The situation I’m describing is nothing “covert” or where noise discipline is required post SHTF. The times I’m referring to are such as when a tree falls on your house or vehicle, or you have a bunch of downed trees blocking the road that you can’t drive by. A chainsaw can be a great tool that will save you time and maybe bail you out.
On a personal note, I’m using mine this season, because we had wildfires in Montana and for the better part of a month, everyone had to stay indoors most of the time and when we were outdoors we needed to wear masks. Yes, that is one of the disadvantages to living in Montana during fire season. The other disadvantage is that you’re not allowed to use a chainsaw when the fire danger is either high or extreme.
Buy the Best Equipment You Can Afford
Naturally, this placed a damper on my woodcutting, so I’ve been a little bit behind. Time to break out the chainsaw. Firstly, allow me to say that I don’t receive any money from any companies (chainsaw or otherwise) for my recommendations. I believe that the two best types of saw are Stihl and Husqvarna, bar none. In the case of chainsaws, the old adage “Cheap you buy, cheap you get,” although grammatically heinous is wisdom wrapped in brevity.
If you don’t have a saw, it would be good to pick one up. Firstly, they won’t be affected by the EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) if they’re not any new-fangled electronic-start type. If it’s a standard pull-cord model? You’ll be good to go. Remember to store enough fuel for them, and depending on the type of engine (mine is a Stihl 2-stroke), you’ll have to mix in oil with your gasoline. Do this in a one-gallon gas tank especially reserved for your mix.
They have different types of oils that you can squeeze the bottom portion of the container and have a precise “dosage” of oil to just pour into the mixed-gas container. Save that bottle: You can then do a “cool” trick: drill a small hole in the top of the lower chamber of your squeeze bottle. Pick up a kid’s squirt-gun for a buck or so. Take off the little plug that closes the squirt-gun, and plug the hole with your oil “dosage-squeezer” bottle. In this manner, you’ll be able to buy oil on the cheap and then pour it into your little squeezer to take the guesswork out of the estimate.
My personal rule is for each chainsaw, you should have at least 5 spare chains. What this does is when you’re at the halfway point of 3 chains that need re-sharpening? You can drop these off and still be able to work for a few more days before they come back. Invest in a good rat-tail file, so that when the “S” hits the fan, you can sharpen your chains on your own by hand. The main thing is to keep plenty of oil inside of the saw in the reservoir, and oil the chain by hand as well. Every time you top off with fuel, you should oil the saw.
Take Care of Your Equipment: Cleaning is Key
Cleaning the saw is really important, too. I have a friend of mine that never cleans his, and they last about two seasons. Clean the inlet for air, clean around where your oil and fuel reservoir covers are, and wipe all the debris and filth off on the outside. Wipe it all off when you’re changing a chain. Another thing: anything that services that saw should be kept in a box that is just for the saws…nothing else. Try fabricating one of those “T” tool wrenches to adjust chain tension.
Keep the saw in a case with a blade cover. Remember, after you cut wood, you’ll have to allow the saw about 45 minutes to an hour to cool down. You don’t want to burn yourself or melt your cover. Keep your saw inside of the house. Sound dumb? It’s not. Keep the changes in temperature and humidity from affecting the saw. If you take good care of it, a saw can last you about ten years or more. Another thing is servicing. If you’re a good small engine mechanic, then you can do it on your own, but if not? Then turn it over to one who specializes in chainsaws. Tune it up, keep it clean, and don’t overwork it.
If you’re like me, then if you take a drive over twenty miles, you automatically throw it in the back of your vehicle…topped off and ready to roll. Also: some types allow you the use of ethanol in your fuel. Even if this is so, just burn the premium in it without any ethanol. One of the by-products of ethanol is water, and you don’t need anything to foul up your saw. For info on that, see some of these engine reviews that recommend using only gasoline in older vehicles to prevent just such.
The chainsaw is a valuable tool that enables you to cut a lot of wood in a fairly short amount of time. Get one that is not too big to manage, and buy the best kind you can. The dealer will help match you with one you can handle and that will suit your needs.
And as the old joke runs: If you’ve only cut down one tree with a whole day’s work? You might want to remember to turn the engine on the next day! Fight that good fight, and don’t let up for an instant!
Jeremiah Johnson is the Nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces (Airborne). Mr. Johnson was a Special Forces Medic, EMT and ACLS-certified, with comprehensive training in wilderness survival, rescue, and patient-extraction. He is a Certified Master Herbalist and a graduate of the Global College of Natural Medicine of Santa Ana, CA. A graduate of the U.S. Army’s survival course of SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape), Mr. Johnson also successfully completed the Montana Master Food Preserver Course for home-canning, smoking, and dehydrating foods.
Mr. Johnson dries and tinctures a wide variety of medicinal herbs taken by wild crafting and cultivation, in addition to preserving and canning his own food. An expert in land navigation, survival, mountaineering, and parachuting as trained by the United States Army, Mr. Johnson is an ardent advocate for preparedness, self-sufficiency, and long-term disaster sustainability for families. He and his wife survived Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Cross-trained as a Special Forces Engineer, he is an expert in supply, logistics, transport, and long-term storage of perishable materials, having incorporated many of these techniques plus some unique innovations in his own homestead.
Mr. Johnson brings practical, tested experience firmly rooted in formal education to his writings and to our team. He and his wife live in a cabin in the mountains of Western Montana with their three cats.
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