Carl Smith: There are many brands of chain saws available on the open market and as with everything else, some are better than others. Keep in mind that some retail stores such as Sears have various manufacturers build their saws for them and then put their own name on them, like Craftsman. If you want cheap and inexpensive saws, go to Wal-mart or K-mart and purchase a Homelite, McCullogh or Poulan but remember the warning about warranty work.
I will not mention all of the brands available as I have not used them all. My personal recommendations go to Stihl and Husqvarna. They are both excellent chain saws and will last a long time, given proper maintenance. They are excellently engineered pieces of equipment for their weight to power/chain speed ratio. The Stihls require metric tools and the Husqvarnas do not. The Husqvarnas are also easier to work on, if you ever have to.
Q: Storage is important if you want to extend the life of a saw. What is the proper way to put up a saw.
Carl Smith: After you have used your chain saw, proper storage procedures must be followed if it is not going to be used for a while. The gas to oil mixture must be drained from the saw's tank. If this is not done, the gas mixture will eventually turn into a varnish and will plug up the carburetor. The engine will not operate properly, if at all and a trip to the repair shop will be unavoidable. A chain and bar cover or guard should also be used to protect the chain and anything that the chain may come in contact with. Some of the smaller chain saws have a case that can be purchased, for this purpose.
Q: In my limited experience, a dull saw chain is completely worthless. I would go a bit further and suggest it can be dangerous as well. Got a few words on this?
Carl Smith: Yes. Keep the chain sharp at all times. You will be able to tell the difference between good clean chips versus powder. When a chain becomes dulled, it will not cut straight - if at all. Keep it out of the dirt at all times. Avoid rocks, nails, wire, etc... and after every third hand filing, the chain should be sharpened on a grinder, to true up the cutters, rakers and gullets.
Q: Safety is the main concern when training saw operators to use their equipment. When you saw safely, you are properly cutting the tree with the appropriate technique and tools. What are the essential pieces of equipment you need for safety sake?
Carl Smith: My students are constantly drilled that the following items be used while operating a chain saw: A hard hat, protective leg chaps, gloves, eye protection, hearing protection and "above the ankle" leather boots. Other necessary tools and supplies should include wedges, ax, large hatchet or maul, properly mixed fuel, bar oil, bar wrench, chain file with protective handle, small screwdriver with magnetic head, minor maintenance tools and a first aid kit.