And so it came to pass that there were semi-great storms in the Texas area in early 2011, and they did reap horrid damage unto the land. Trees were splayed in twain and fences did break loose from their moorings. The simple Texan folk looked out onto their devastated lawns and saw that it was horrible. They cried out — on the internet — for a savior, a tool to salve the wounds of their broken shrubbery, and reading from the book of interweb-jackass they did find a chainsaw. And lo, there was much suffering across the land.
I can’t count how many times I’ve seen people who really don’t need to be using chainsaws cranking one up to do jobs they don’t know how to manage with tools that are complete overkill for the task. For that reason, we’ve been big believers of the Alligator Lopper since it came out a few years ago. For those who haven’t seen one, it’s essentially an electric chainsaw with grabber guards on each side of the bar — and they’re handy as hell. What the Alligator Lopper does is remove a lot of the common issues with chainsaws but still gives the operator the power and convenience that comes with one.
Case in point: Recently we had storms in the North Texas area which messed up a bunch of trees, fences, and roofs and left about 100,000 homes without power for a few days. Afterwards my fellow neighbors lost their minds a bit. We had a good amount of tree damage, but no fallen branches bigger than 3 to 4 inches around. To clear this rather small problem, at least three people on my block bought $250+ chainsaws with 2’ to 3’ logging bars on them, filled them with fuel, and started attacking their yard. The damage from these decisions was catastrophic: one cleaved his cable connection in two, another managed to mangle a completely innocent Kia Sportage, and the third brainchild tore open his thumb.
Here’s the thing. If you’ve never used a chainsaw and don’t know the difference between what’s safe and what’s not, how to cut and what to do when confronted with a less-than-perfect cutting situation (which is any situation not entirely set up by you), then perhaps you should opt for something you have a little more control over.
The aforementioned Alligator Lopper is your friend in these cases. I don’t have a lot of experience in uncontrolled environment cutting, so the jaws on the Lopper and the relatively small 4″ bar make it a welcome addition to storm recovery as long as you’re not dealing with giant limbs or old-growth trees. Add in the scissor motion of the jaws that grab a limb and keep it from kicking back, plus the fact that you now have a grip on either end of the blade if it does do strange things, and we begin to have a winner here.
It’s designed for anyone to pick it up and slice up wood without difficulty and that’s just what it does. In either the plug-in variety or the battery pack version, it really doesn’t matter; for about $70-$135 you can get either model.
My place had a few trees that cracked in half about three feet from the ground and had become very unstable. In short, they had to go. The Lopper went to work and sliced up each of them in turn and created a pile of foliage in close to 25 minutes, instead of the looming accident waiting to take my fence down.
There’s nothing wrong with large chainsaws. They’re most certainly great tools and there are lots of folks out there that can handle them without issue. They’re powerful, handy, and sometimes the absolute only correct tool for the job. My issue comes when people who don’t know as much about them as they should attempt to Malboro-Man their way around with one and wind up hurting themselves or something else because of it.
So we say unto thee, if ye have not the knowing of chainsaw safety, and the ancient ways of logger-craft escape you, then hurry thyself to house of Black & Decker and procure a Lopper. Surely it will save flesh and bone, Kia Sportage, and all manner of other worldly goods in the immediate vicinity after nature’s wrath hath done grievous damage to your once-prosperous backyard visage. For we look upon its safety-scissor-like jaws and see that they are good.