Howdy. I'm Pat McLene. Welcome to my blog. I used to write a weekly column on about prepping - or as I prefer to call it - Self-Dependence. The purpose of this blog is to allow me to go deeper into self-dependence than I did at WND and to help those who are starting the journey along. Check out the About Me link to the right for more info on yours truly. And thanks for stopping by.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Alternate Tool Ideas

One of the axioms of being a prepared prepper is the rule of three. That rule goes: "Three is two, two is one, one is none." Basically what that means is that you should always have or try to have three of any one tool in case one or more breaks, and it can also mean you should have at least three different ways to do the same job or perform the same function.

For example, to light a fire, the experienced prepper would have available as needed: a propane lighter, a Zippo lighter equipped with fluid and spare flints, matches, flint and steel, and maybe even a magnifying glass. All of these tools can be used to strike a spark or ignite tinder.

Just as you should have multiple ways to light a fire, you should also have multiple ways to cut firewood. I've been heating my home, either primarily or completely, with firewood for over 20 years. I own multiple gas-powered chainsaws, a two-person buck saw, and various axes and mauls -- all of which are suitable for turning logs into firewood.

I also own another tool I've used pretty much exclusively in the last three years for cutting rounds when the time comes to harvest my winter's wood supply. And at the risk of having to turn in my Man Card, I'd like to suggest you consider getting one of these tools to take a place in your prepper toolbox. I'm talking about an electric chainsaw.

A few years ago, after my gas-powered chainsaw bit the dust, I started looking around for alternatives. It wasn't that I didn't need a gas-powered chainsaw, heck, everybody needs a gas-powered chainsaw. It was just that at that time finances were a little tight, and as anyone can tell you a good chainsaw is expensive. I'd heard about electric chainsaws, but like pretty much everyone around me out here in the hinterland, I assumed they were not much more than a toy. Nevertheless, after checking them out, I decided to take a leap of faith and bought a Worx electric chainsaw.

And I've never looked back. I cut maybe six cords of firewood a year to keep my house warm. Because of my location, I don't have a whole lot of opportunity to get some of the better-quality firewood varieties like oak or locust. No, where I live the best available firewood is tamarack or red fir. Sometimes I can get a fair amount of the wood I need for the year out of my woodlot. But other times, I take advantage of a good friend who brings me in a logging truck-load of fir or tamarack acquired from salvage sales. Because he can not only deliver, but can also offload those logs, I have the opportunity to have them placed quite close to my shop. With a heavy-duty 100-foot extension cord and my Worx chainsaw, I'm able to easily cut those logs into the firewood I require.

My particular model runs on 15 amps and has an 18-inch bar. Having used a gas-powered chainsaw for 17 years, I can tell you the Worx chainsaw is similar in power to a gas saw. It also has certain advantages (and disadvantages, will get to those in a bit) over a gas-powered chainsaw.

Obviously, the first advantage is it uses no gas. This has certain other ancillary benefits like not buying gas, no more mixing oil and gas, no more spills, and a therefore a definite savings in operations cost. The electric chainsaw does use bar oil, and it uses it at a quicker rate than the equivalent gas-powered model. It also seems to me that it works better with a thinner oil than the usual bar oil you pick up at the store. I found cheap off-brand motor oil works very well in the electric saw, and I've even occasionally used old motor oil effectively.

Another advantage of an electric chainsaw is the issue of safety. When you release the trigger of an electric chainsaw, that's it. The saw isn't idling, it's off. All of the Worx chainsaws I've used are equipped with the same type of anti-kickback breaking device found on gas-powered saws. But I've also found another use for that anti-kickback device in that when engaged by hand, you have effectively flipped a circuit-breaker and you can't accidentally start the saw until you disengage the the brake.

Yet another advantage of an electric chainsaw is that it's so darn quiet. It makes more noise in cutting the wood than it does running. Finally, it's also lighter than an equivalently powerful gas saw.

All of these things are pretty good, but they don't negate the need to own a gas-powered chainsaw. For one thing your range is fairly limited. The Worx chainsaw manufacturers recommend you do not use an appropriately-sized electric cord longer than 100 feet because of the potential damage the drop in voltage over a greater distance can do to the saw. Also, you can't ignore the fact that you are indeed tethered to an electric outlet, which means you have to keep an eye on where the extension cord is lest you find yourself with no power and a cut cord.

Still, if like me, you can arrange for delivered firewood as logs or can yard the logs that you take from your own property wherever you like, I'd recommend you consider the idea of owning an electric chainsaw. Think of it this way. I also own a very nice Stihl saw. It's great: dependable, powerful, and mobile. It also cost me just a bit over $400. In the last three years, I've purchased two Worx electric chainsaws at roughly $100 apiece. That's pretty good economics in my book.

Now you might be thinking, "Sure Pat. But what happens if the power goes out?" Well, I could reply by asking, What happens if gas is no longer available? ...but I won't. That's why you never depend on only one way to get a job done. Besides, if you own a generator, your electric saw might still be valuable...and portable. Or, if like me, you have a generator that fits on the PTO of your diesel tractor, you then have in effect a diesel-powered electric chainsaw that can go practically anywhere.

So consider buying an electric chainsaw. It Worx for me.

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