Over the years, my old Echo chainsaw and I have caused many a mighty oak to tremble and drop its nuts. Lately, though, it’s been somewhat sluggish and underpowered, sort of like a ’76 Yugo running on one cylinder. Or the economy. It can still earn its lube nibbling through smaller trees and limbs, but since we recently bought a piece of property with some wooded acreage, clearly it was time for a backwoods makeover.
I’m no lumberjack (although I’m frequently mistaken for one, probably due to my extensive collection of flannel, and the large double-bladed axe I’m fond of carrying). I wanted something powerful enough to easily slice and dice a good-size tree, but I didn’t need something capable of felling mighty redwoods all day, entertaining though that is (and such great revenge on the Sierra Club for revoking my membership).
After researching the offerings from the best of the chainsaw makers, including Stihl, Jonsered, Husqvarna, Echo, and Poulan, the Husky 450 seemed to have the right combination of power, features and price (around $330), so I ordered one up. It arrived fully assembled, with an 18” bar and not much in the way of extras—a combination spark plug wrench/screwdriver, the manual, and a bar cover. No case, no little starter bottle of 2-cycle oil, no complimentary calendar featuring Swedish beauties in their protective regalia…ah well.
Some Pertinent Spec’s on the Husqvarna 450 Chain Saw:
• Power output: 3.2 HP
• Cylinder displacement: 50.2 cc
• Maximum power speed: 9600 RPM
• Fuel tank volume: 0.95 pint (15.2 fluid ounces)
• Oil pump type: Fixed flow
• Chain speed at max power: 56.89 fts
• Weight: 11.33 pounds
• Chain pitch: .325”
• Recommended bar length: 13” minimum, 20” maximum
The engine on the 450 makes use of Husqvarna’s X-Torq technology, which they claim reduces emissions by up to 60% and fuel consumption by up to 30%. (Maybe the Sierra Club will take me back after all!). A snap-lock cylinder cover allows quick access to the spark plug and for cleaning, and the saw incorporates a “Low-Vib” system to reduce felt vibration, which should help reduce operator fatigue.
There’s also a little window for a quick check on the fuel level, and the use of a quick-release filter makes cleaning or replacing the air filter easier.
Getting the Lowdown
My first move was to page through the manual, which did have some actual instructions cleverly camouflaged among the 497 warnings about how chainsaws are DANGEROUS. I guess they have lawyers in Sweden, too. There were also 113 (by actual count) little pictograms, many of whose sole purpose seemed to be to attempt to make my brain explode, and many of which had no connection at all to the chainsaw I had purchased. Husqvarna explains that their manuals may cover several models, and I guess it’s up to the buyer to sort through it all and determine what’s relevant. I’m sure this saves them a little money, but it’s aggravating (and time consuming) to have to sort through the unnecessary information; a model-specific manual would be a HUGE improvement.
On the positive side, Husqvarna’s web site provides a fairly well-done series of instructional videos. The first set is mostly specific to their own saws, showing how to tension the chain, change air filters, and so on.
The second set relates more to cutting techniques and safety, and would be relevant to any chain saw user. Some of it is a bit simplistic, but there are some great tips for beginners, all delivered in a cultured British accent. (Sven must have been on vacation).
Firing Up The Husqvarna 450
Once I had sorted through the instructions and found the ones that applied, I filled the gas and oil tanks and got ready to fire it up. The steps required to start the saw are actually numbered and stamped onto the saw, which is helpful for us scatterbrained old farts.
The 450 makes use of a combined choke/stop control button, and once you get the feel for how the switch moves, it’s pretty simple to use. The saw started on the third pull, smoothed out quickly, and ran all afternoon with no glitches. We had a large pile of brush and tree limbs, with branches ranging from an inch to around 14”, and the Husqvarna’s narrow-kerf chain tore through it all with ease. Later, I fired it up again, and cut an old chicken coop up into firepit-size chunks. (A word of advice—when burning the floor of an old chicken coop, stay upwind…).
The saw feels well-balanced, it’s easy to control, and it has yet to kick back. There’s an inertia-activated chain brake to help lessen the likelihood of injury if the saw does kick back, which it undoubtedly will do at some point (all those warnings are there for a reason; chainsaws ARE dangerous).
And while we’re on the topic of the chain brake: before removing the clutch cover, make sure the chain brake is OFF. If you don’t, by all accounts you’ll be in for a world of aggravation, probably culminating in a Swedish-expletive-filled visit to your friendly Husqvarna service center.
Bottom line—so far I’m very happy with my Husqvarna 450. For my level of use (cutting down a few trees every year, bucking them up for firewood, pruning limbs, dissecting the occasional chicken coop), it should be more than adequate. I may even retire my trusty axe! Then again, naaahhhh; flannel and a good axe never go out of style. You can find the Husqvarna 450 18-Inch 50.2cc X-Torq 2-Cycle Gas Powered Chain Saw With Smart Start (CARB Compliant) for just over $300 on Amazon.