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A review of our newest chainsaw the Stihl MSA220c battery saw

a Stihl msa220C battery saw
Our Stihl MSA220C out in the wild

Background

Before we review our newest saw we thought a bit of back ground was in order for those not so familiar with the Chainsaw landscape.

Historically the two big players in the forestry industry, chainsaw wise, have been Husquavana and Stihl.

As a forestry worker you were expected to be either a Husky or Stihl man (this was the 1980’s). Over the years both have made some brilliant saws and some not so good ones. There are also other issues that pop up from time to time as far as designs go but that is probably for another blog.

As a company and family, we started off in the Husky camp and have sort of drifted over the years now running a mix of saws. Our oldest and biggest saw a Husquavana 372xp running a 2’ bar is great for big felling and despite its age will run whatever.

Then there are a pair of Husquavana 357xp’s; one with an 18” the other a 15” bar, these are general felling saws.

Then we go to the Stihl saws a MS260 running a 18” bar and a 241 running a 16” bar; these are used for the smaller work and coppicing.

So why then with all of these petrol saws did we decide to go electric?

The Quiet Revolution

So why battery powered and why Stihl?

Anyone who runs chainsaws for a living can tell you they are noisy, smelly and the fuel and oil isn’t getting any cheaper. While the bigger saws are great for their tasks, we needed something that was a bit lighter and a lot less smelly for cutting small diameter coppice and birch. Also, if you are working in a tight packed crop like hazel or birch the fumes tend to build up which not much fun long term.

We have been keeping an eye on the Battery chainsaws for a while and know a number of people who run them, including a lady hedge layer who used one right through pregnancy a couple of years back. Her view was they are a lot quieter and a lot lighter especially on slopes.

So why Stihl?  We went up to Honey Brothers with an open mind and spoke to the team there. They gave us the pro’s and con’s of the two options (Husky v Stihl) and it boiled down to price. At the time, December 2020, Stihl had an offer on that included a charger and 2 batteries (normally these are extra). Of course if Husquavana would like to lend us a battery saw we would be more than happy to review that as well 😉

So, the review bit

Since we purchased the MSA220c in December it has been used for a number of tasks including clearing a 10” windblown ash tree, cutting knots from timber so we can put it through our firewood unit, and now birch cutting.

For a small saw it is amazingly pokey; it cuts just as well as a larger saw with a lot less drama. For cross cutting it is ideal, although you can’t rush it, whereas a petrol saw would just keep going until the clutch start to slip, the 220 doesn’t have as clutch so if it gets stuck the saw just stops. That said, it will go through a 10” log in no time, as long as it is sharp and the battery is fully charged.

Cutting smaller timber is where the 220 comes into its own. We have just started cutting Birch on a local National Trust site, which is on a steep slope with public around. Most of the birch is around 1”-4” and there is also a lot of stop start between cutting to allow us to move the stems. The great thing about the electric saw is it isn’t sat there idling between cuts and this means you can get a good bit of work out of a battery; we managed about 2 hours from the first battery which had already done some work.  Unlike a petrol saw, the electric only needs to be topped up with chain oil so a refuel is as simple as popping in the new battery and checking the chain oil.

Compared to the MS241, which is around 6kg, the 220 is only about 4.5kg so a lot less weight to carry around, which on the 40-45°slopes we have been working on is a massive bonus.

The noise level of the electric saw is also a bonus, most petrol chainsaws are pushing out 110db; the 220 is producing 84db most of which is the chain running round.

The one thing that takes a little getting used to is the position of the dead man’s switch; unlike a standard saw it is on the side of the back handle, rather than the top. We suspect this is because the saw will run any time without warning unless you put the chain brake on (which of course you should have done).  

So a conclusion for now (pending further use): The Stihl MSA220C is a great little saw for cutting small diameter coppice and birch. It is light and quiet and there are no fumes. This saw is ideal for both professional users and hobby users. The one thing that does hurt is the price of purchase as it is substantial more than a petrol saw of the same size, but there are no fuel costs to speak of, apart from the cost of electricity to recharge the batteries, so there is a potential saving there.

Title: East Meon Country Fair
Location: East Meon village hall
Link out: Click here
Description: We have been supporting this event for a number of years.
This year we will be back bigger than ever with both our Broom squire and pole lath demonstrations, both making unique products for you to buy, all of our timber is cut from our own local woodland which is Grown in Britain certified as sustainably managed. We will also be selling our unique range of leather and green wood products. So why not come and say hello?

Start Time: 13:00
Date: 2019-05-06
End Time: 17:00

Title: Wandering Witches’ Art & Craft Fayre – Witches pirates, and a one armed bandit
Location: Portchester Community Centre Westlands Grove, PO16 9AD
Link out: Click here
Description: This will be a New event for us and as we are going to be out side weather dependant.

For a number of years we have been making pagan inspired Leather work along side our usual Grown in Britain certifed green wood products. We will be bringing our Broom making skills to you at this event as well as our green woods skills in the shape of our trusty Pole lathe.
Start Time: 10:00
Date: 2019-04-07
End Time: 15:00

As we said in the write-up this was a first for us. Well the weather was sunny if a little cold out but the crowed was very interested, and the locals: possible a little confused, not about us, but some of the more colourful visitors to the event.
We were demonstrating the pole lathe and the art of the broom squire, which drew a crowd. Inside there were a good number of stalls selling everything from wooden items to spirit readings.

Title: Beltain Festival
Location: Butser Ancient Farm
Link out: Click here
Description: Beltain is the ancient Celtic celebration to mark the beginning of summer, with music, dancing and the burning of the giant Wickerman.

We have been celebrating with festival goers for a number of years, as always we will be bringing our pole lathe. why not come and visit us and view our range of Pagan inspired leather work as well as our Grown in Britain certifed green wood products.
Start Time: 16:30
Date: 2019-05-04
End Time: 22:00

[products limit=”9″ columns=”3″ orderby=”date” order=”DESC” ids=”1883,1828,1808,1797,1673,1688,1698,1686,1687″]
our ring kilns loaded and onto our 10ft trailer and truck, ready to ship back to Hampshire

Our charcoal story started 10 years ago with a course on the Hampshire/Dorset border, just outside Cranbourne, with the aptly named Pete “the Charcoal” Jameson (PJ). Pete threw us in at the deep end and we learned the processes and the smells of charcoal burning.

Our next journey took us to Wales to collect our shiny new ring kilns from B.M Wilson (now sadly retired) who was the premier kiln maker at the time.

Within a week we had the kiln set up on site and loaded with wood. With the help of PJ we fired our first kiln load of mixed hardwood on the 17th of July 2008. In the ensuing 10 year the kilns have been filmed several times for tv/radio and weour ring kilns lit for the first time the 17th of July 2008bsites. In 2013 we move the kiln to a site in our own wood from one nearby.

Fast forward to 2016 and the ring kilns were joined by our Hookway retort kiln as we were finding it hard to empty the ring kilns due to 2 wet summers. While the Hookway kiln improved the turnaround time and could be emptied in as little as 10 mins between showers, it is limited to 6-8 bags per burn, which has got us out of a few holes. It also made us realise that the retort was the way to go, as it has a much faster turnaround time. With a ring kiln you have to wait for the fire within to go out which to be safe is a minimum of 24-36 hours. The retort works by cooking the timber so there is no flame in contact with the wood.

We had been looking at the mobile Exeter Retort kiln for a number years and knew a local Wood Collier who used one, but we also thought there were some issues with the early models. We also knew that the Carbon Compost Company who designed it, had been working on these issues and were willing to listen to suggestions. At the South West Wood Fair at Longleat 2017 and we spent a good time looking at the latest design and talking to Robin and Geoff about the improvements and design changes they had made which had removed all the reservations we had previously. 

Returning from the show we looked at the price and possible funding available. We had been involved with the Fieldfair Leader scheme in the past and knew that there was European Grant money available to support companies like us. Thus started the process of applying for funding towards our new investment. Although it would take longer than anyone had planned we were awarded our grant in June 2018 and placed the order straight away.

our exeter Retort Kiln has arrivedOn the 25th of July 2018 our new kiln arrived; not only did Goeff bring the kiln up from Devon, he spent 2 days teaching us how to fire the kiln putting first a half load and then a ¾ load of timber through giving us a good amount of charcoal to bag.

Not only is the new retort quick to load and empty, but another bonus us the reduction in wood needed because of the way the kiln converts the wood to charcoal. The losses to fines (small charcoal/dust) are reduced and the number of brown ends (unburnt wood) are reduced to virtually zero.

defra, EU and feildfair Leader Logo

Title: Hamble Festival
Location: Hamble-le-Rice
Description: Another new show for us this year in the lovely village of Hamble-le-Rice (Hamble) and again we will have our full range for sale as well as a slightly different demonstration
Start Time: 09:30
Date: 2017-05-06
End Time: 15:00

Title: Beltain Festival 2017
Location: Butser Ancient Farm
Link out: Click here
Description: This will be our third year at this beautiful event and it gets better every year. but remember it is a ticked event so get your tickets now.
Start Time: 16:30
Date: 2017-04-29
End Time: 22:00

Title: Shamrock Quay Festival
Location: William Street, SO14 5QL, SO14 5QL Southampton
Link out: Click here
Description: This is a new event for both Hampshire Farmers Markets and us but it looks like being a stunning show. even better we will have our full range of products for sale and a few little surprises too 😉
Start Time: 10:00
Date: 01-04-2017
End Time: 15:00

Title: Beltain at Butser
Location: Butser Ancient Farm
Description: We are honoured to have been invited back to demonstrate and sell at this year’s Beltain Event. We have been moved along the site this year opposite the beer tent (event better) and we will have lots of Celtic a Pagan Theme.
Start Time: 16:00
Date: 2016-04-30
End Time: 24:00

Title: ‎Meon Springs Country Experience Weekend‬
Location: Meon springs Westmeon
Link out: Click here
Description: The Meon springs countryside event gets bigger and better every year and as always we will be in a prime position in the main show field along with other members of Hampshire Coppice Craftsmens’ Goup.

Start Time: 10:00
Date: 2016-04-09
End Time: 16:30