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Customer service in the power tool industry is an interesting thing. I picture lawyers standing over beaten, hunchbacked representatives who are giving the company line and afraid to commit to any operation or function other than what’s listed in the manual. But recently Husqvarna has taken a unique stance on customer service and started the Answer Army site.

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Answer Army is staffed by product experts who seem to actually try to answer the questions you have instead of the ones the company thinks you should have — things like basic maintenance and frequently asked questions are covered, but also things like “I pinched my chainsaw bar on the cut and ripped the chain in half. What do I do now?” or “The motor on my saw seized up; how do I tell what went wrong?”

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In this first Chainsaw Basics post, before we get our hands on an actual saw it’s a good time to better understand what’s actually going on when the noise lets loose and the chips start flying. We’ll begin by staring down the worst-case scenario and the 800-lb. gorilla in the room — kickback.

Primal fear: It hangs in the very air surrounding a chainsaw. Don’t believe me? Tell someone you’re going to take up a leisure activity involving a chainsaw and see what kind of reactions you get. Try handing one to an unsuspecting visitor to the shop. The snap reaction you’ll witness is a base human response to an object that is violently loud, powerful and potentially deadly. However, base reactions are just that — base. A more correct word is uneducated. So let’s fix that.

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Collecting all the facts about any given subject before you make a judgment is paramount to achieving an enlightened perspective. Take, for example, the humble chainsaw. The media portrays this internal combustion wonder as a villain, but we question if that’s really so. In general, the industry looks to the 1977 Kenobi standard in which the lightsaber dubbed “an elegant weapon” by the scales’ now deceased creator fails to take into account all the elements that make personal-defense multi-tools the competitive industry it is today.

While well-meaning, Ben was overly focused on Jedi recruitment and the lightsaber resale customer base to realize his product was actually part of the problem. The chainsaw is many things; however bringing an entire galaxy under the yoke of an oppressive dictator is the legacy of the “elegant” lightsaber, not the diligent chainsaw. A chainsaw has never slaughtered a temple full of Padawan learners in the hands of a silent assassin — a ‘saber has.

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A chainsaw has always been on the top of my wish list.  You know the list — your friends and loved ones made it for you, and they’ve all agreed that no tool on it is ever going to wind up in your hands.  That doesn’t stop me from lusting after a Husqvarna 359 chainsaw with a twenty-inch bar.

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