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  • Lance Mannion
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PZ Myers

I demand a tally of Neddie Jingo's appendages!


Uh, the day the chain saw wins, will there be pics?? (yes, I'm warped)


Chain saws aren't that hard to use, Lance. I used one to help my Pop clear out three acres of cedar trees in Central Texas. Once you've used one, it's easy.

Michael G

A chain saw is a tool. A potentially dangerous one; messy, loud and dirty, but only a tool after all. I don't find using one especially fun, but when one ponders the alernative . . .

I wonder if Lileks has a chain saw, him being so manly and all from living in MN.


That's it, Silas, rub it in. Just wait till Neddie Jingo gets here. I'll bet he's cleared 30 acres with his chain saw.

Michael, if Lileks turns out to have one I'll bet he bought if from Hammacher Schlemmer and not a real manly man hardware store. And if he owns one then I'm going to get one too. I will not be out-machoed by that mall shopping weenie. Good to see you again. Been missing your comments.


Michael's got a point about it being a tool. An eighteen-inch, oily, filthy tool, a ravager of innocent vegetation. It goes RRRRRRRRRRR and vibrates nearly out of control when you pull its rope, and it's insanely dangerous even in experienced hands. Yeah, it's a tool all right.

My Husky failed me miserably the last time I used it. I was trying to take off a branch on a black walnut that's encroaching on our screened porch. Teetering crazily atop my ladder extended to its fullest length, I couldn't keep the damned thing running. Wonder Woman, steadying the ladder, was scathing in her scorn. "Having trouble, big guy? Should I call a pro?"

I finished the job with a handsaw. What a humiliation.

Later, I found the trouble -- a fouled spark plug. Triumphantly, I demonstrated the newly viripotent instrument to WW at the kitchen window. "That's nice that your little toy is working again, honey. Now come in and help me make the beds."

I'm wondering if the chainsaw might be useful for knapping flints.


As a former three-year-old child who lived in North Dakota (and who prefers hand-powered tools to power hand tools) -- excellent blog. Long may your keyboard wave.


You know, Lance, you could start on the kids model first and then work your way up to a real man's saw. :)


How come nobody's suggested a double-bitted axe?


It can now be revealed. My true name is Gary Walrath. And yes, my beard is that full, and that white. I snack on sawdust and wash it down with bar and chain oil. When I fart, it sounds just like an Unlimited Hotsaw running a 90hp 500cc Husqvarva motorcycle engine.

Te hell with eye protection -- just squint, you'll be OK. I don't even wear mules.


If you don't know what the terms "saw kerf" or "kickback" (when applied to saws and logs) mean don't get within 15 feet of a chain saw

Doug K

On my office wall is a picture drawn by my then 4-year-old son, entitled "My daddy up a ladder with a chainsaw". He's captured the look of insouciant bravado with which I tried to convince my wife I knew what I was doing, underlaid by the sheer terror I actually felt. I cheated though, my chainsaw is electric, so really a milquetoast kind of saw.

The wind blew over a 40-ft cottonwood in the back yard, the night before we were leaving for Australia. Actually it didn't go over, it was just leaning over the house.. I rushed out, bought the chainsaw, rushed back, looked up on the internet how to estimate the height of a tree (so I could fell it in the appropriate direction), and had at it. Stayed up until 11 cleaning it up, then went inside to finish packing, such fun.


Normally I just quietly visit these parts from time to time but I just can't resist....

As any real man brought up in the southern shadow of a city built on a mound on the west bank of the Mississippi just south of the confluence with the Missouri river would know, the first step in dealing with all three scenarios doesn't involve a power tool at all (you don't want to overkill the situation). This problem screams for a logging chain, a rear axle and a case of beer (this is the manly brute-force phase of solving the problem).

Once the limb is removed to where nobody's gonna immediately fall over it you then move immediately to the second phase - adequate study. And any manly man worth his salt knows that adequate study takes time (this is the intellectual phase)....and more beer....and perhaps BBQed pork steaks and brats....and perhaps the formation of a regular sunday afternoon research group involving more beer, more pork steaks and more brats. After what seems like an adequate period of study, maybe three or four years, you'll be tempted to prepare a report of findings. Caution - do not rush into this phase. Time is your ally.

There are at least three advantages to this approach: 1) no one gets hurt due to haste or exploding chainsaws*, 2) a new problem is likely to come along which will completely make the old problem moot, and 3) it's ecologically sound.

*however, there might be some danger in the logging-chain phase (this is also refered to as the "interesting" phase) - I suggest video taping for enjoyment during phase II.


Chris Clark is also a manly man:
I am not touching a chain-saw, oh no!


I guess this would be a bad time to mention that even my wife know how to handle a chain saw.


Man, I am going to make some sensitive male a lousy wife some day.

My definitive experience of men wielding chainsaws is the afternoon I spent helping my dad cut down trees in front of my grand-dad's cabin in the Yukon. Dad wielded the chainsaw, Mom had a machete, and we children scampered in with mud to cover the stumps so that if the Federal government flew overhead, it *might* look as though the beavers had done it.

I swear to God that I now live a quiet, bookish life in Manhattan. Some things, though, you never do grow up out of.


Three year old children who live in Minnesota are more macho than me.

Do you really want to admit that James Lileks's daughter is more macho than you? Aieee!!

Jack (CommonSenseDesk)

True wisdom means never trying to undertake those things that you cannot possibly accomplish without doing serious harm to either yourself or others. That wisdom only comes from years of experience and spectacular failures caused by overreaching. Knowing your limits and being "manly" (whatever the hell that is) enough to understand them is a significant accomplishment.

Incoherent? Perhaps ~ but it's late. Good post.


I like to think I am as dainty and effete as it is possible to be, but chainsaws are not dangerous. If you're tired or not concentrating or silly you can kill yourself with one but the same is true of shotguns or lawnmowers. You just put on the hard hat and the silly trousers (actually the hat is for poofs but why take risks) and hold onto the thing tight.


Ok, folks, you've got me convinced. I'm going to buy a chainsaw. The heck with my marriage. I'm a man, dammit!

But first I'm taking Jim's suggestion and getting me a pickup, a logging chain, and a case of beer. Who wants to form a study group?

Angie, if the chainsaw wins there won't be pictures unless I still have enough hands left to take them myself. The blonde's hatred of tools stems from a fear of all technology that she inherited from her father and that includes cameras. She's the worst photographer in the world. If she rushed out with the camera, after dialing 911 I hope, all she'd get would be a lot of pictures of grass and sawdust with, maybe, the base of the tree that was my Waterloo in a corner.

Exiled in NJ

Like you, Lance, my dead late wife and mother-in-law would never let me touch the Poulan at the cabin in the Adirondacks, so I decided to play Paul Bunyan with an axe and one of those band saws where someone should take the other end. The pine was long dead and not that thick and all went well until I realized I had no idea which way it would fall, on the cabin or into the clearing. That is when I saw your logic in getting a pickup first; I could have bulldozed it in the direction of the lake. As it was, it fell in the direction of the woodpile.

Before you take up the chain saw, read Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown's autobiography.

res publica

I'm pretty pro-chainsaw myself. I'm a network engineer, so I have an affinity for the use of machines to extend my will and shape the soft, pudding-like natural world into the form of my desires. Just kidding. Mostly. Unfortunately, as an urban apartment-dweller, I have pitifully few opportunities for power-tool-wielding.

However, I think it's pretty clear at this point that Neddie Jingo is in fact the manliest man in the universe. I may have two very robust testicles, but he obviously has no fewer than three, and probably more like 7 or 8, each the size of a grapefruit or small melon. Because while I have in fact used a chainsaw to accomplish the super-fun task of cutting things up, I shave with ordinary, wussified shave gel and one of those razors with 16 blades and 4 lubricating strips. But to shave with a chainsaw? That is to achieve the platonic form of butchness. Neddie Jingo: the Paul Bunyan of our times.

a different chris

Ok, if you came to my house you would observe:

a) Two gas chainsaws, small and upper-mid sized
b) The larger chainsaw clearly sprouting a newer bar (Oregon bar on Echo saw), indicating that it has been used enough to have worn out at least one original bar. Again, that is the bar itself, not the chain.
c) A number of spare chains, the boxes marked with bright labels marked "Warning: High Kickback, for professional use only"
d) An electic chain sharpener bolted to the workplace

Now do my balls hang heavy and low, or what? Err, well, actually "what" as all this equipment is the property of my wife and not only do I rarely use it but I'm actually not allowed to do so without clearance.

I do note that all this stuff (the new bar, chains, and general expenses) go on my credit card, though. In fact I had to buy her the sharpener for Christmas a few years back. That must count for something on the manliness meter, I hope.

a different chris

Oh, and I should have mentioned that all this stuff wasn't bought at a hardware store, but a shop that specializes in commercial power equipment. Hardware stores are apparently sissy places for this stuff.

res publica

I totally need to go to a store that specializes in "commercial power equiptment". I bet they have some great killin' gear.

jeff Boatright

Ah, life's deep questions. Husqvarna or Stihl? I'm a Stihl man, myself, but my wife thinks that Husqvarna is very sexy, the way saying the name makes you exhale and nearly simultaneously press your upper teeth lightly against your lower lip followed by that roll of the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth. Yes, superior in every way to "McCollough".


I've used a chainsaw. It's not difficult at all. And I'm a weenie girl.

Of course I also run my own roto-tiller and other power tools. I don't like having to rely on the kindness of strangers.


Great. I didn't mean to start a pissing contest with this post. I especially didn't mean to start a pissing contest that the girls would win!

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