Saturday, September 20, 2014

Chainmate Saw

I stopped to clear a few small fallen trees/limbs during my last ride, using my folding pruning saw, but with so many larger trees in the way, I looked for another solution.  I found and purchased a Chainmate "survival saw" made by Green Mountain Products.  It's basically a chainsaw chain with a handhold strap on each end.  It comes in 24", 36", and 48" lengths.   I went for the big one and I thought it was reasonably priced at $17.55 on Amazon.  In the case of a fallen tree, the general approach is to pass the chain under the tree and then, standing over it, hold a strap in each hand and alternately pull each hand.

Today I rode into Webster Park again and gave my new saw a try.  Overall I was disappointed.  I read many reviews and watch several videos showing the Chainmate in action.  I knew it would be tiring.  Indeed it was, but more than expected.  I had hoped to clear half a dozen trees, but I only managed two by making three cuts.  I had a similar experience with each cut, so I'll describe them in general.

Many videos show cutting a limb that's 3 or 4 inches in diameter without too much problem, but I'm targeting 6 to 12 inch diameter trees.  I found I could only cut for short bouts; about 30 seconds.  In the first 30 seconds it felt like I was making great progress ripping through the tree and was about halfway.  But there's an illusion because the chain may work up the side of the log to halfway or more, but of course the cut doesn't go parallel to the ground but rather in an arc.  So in reality I was significantly less than halfway through.

At about that point I found the chain started binding.  I don't think it was getting pinched but just required wider arms or some change in technique.  I made some further progress by varying my technique, usually standing off to one side, but in the end I used my folding pruning saw to finish the cut.  I don't think my pruning saw is particularly great so that took a lot effort.

I'm going to research a long fast cutting folding saws.  Though I still might give the Chainmate a try with another person.  The picture of Green Mountain Products' advertisement shows two people using a single Chainmate by working together on either side of a huge tree.  It makes sense that this is a good technique because it seems to work much better at a less acute angle.  Also, I've read it works better on live wood.  I know the big second tree has been there for at least a year.  Unfortunately most of the downed trees in Webster park aren't new.

Here's a video of me working:

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