Representing one of only two powered events on the STIHL® TIMBERSPORTS® Series, it is easy for the stock saw to take second billing to the more powerful, unpredictable and loud hot saw. In fact, the stock saw discipline is often the one spectators watch and imagine themselves doing at home. Make two cuts in a 16-inch piece of lathe turned white pine as fast as possible using a powerful chainsaw that has been tuned, sharpened and prepared by some of the finest STIHL technicians in the. Although it may look easy, the stock saw is more than just going fast. It is also one of the six disciplines on the Series where times cluster very close (sometimes first through fifth are separate by less than a second). So, what does it take to cut two complete discs from a 16-inch piece of white pine using a STIHL MS660 that has been tuned to run exactly as fast the saw it is racing against? The short answer is a lot.
The stock saw event starts with a matched pair of STIHL MS660 chainsaws, the second most powerful saws that STIHL builds. Before the contest, the saws are warmed up and run on a Tachometer to be sure they are turning the same RPM's compared to manufacture specifications and to the other saw used in the competition. Elevation, air temperature and humidity all change slightly how the air and fuel mixture is combusted in the saw and vary from day-to-day, location-to-location, which impacts how the saw runs. The tachometer represents the most precise and predictable way to test and adjust saw tuning before each contest. Factory-fresh STIHL chain is installed for test cuts, which are timed to be sure the saws are cutting exactly equal to each other within a thousandth of a second. After all of this has been completed, the saws are ready for competition.
During the competition, contestants are randomly assigned one of the two tuned stock saws and one of two saw bunks to complete their cuts. In order to compete in the discipline, contestants must wear eye and ear protection along with Kevlar chaps or chainsaw resistant pants to protect them if the race goes awry. After saws are assigned, contestants are given 15 seconds to complete a safe start and warm up the saw. A safe start is completed by placing the saw on the ground, putting a foot in the handle and pulling the starter cord or placing the powerhead between your legs and pulling the starter cord. As some competitors work in the woods running chainsaws daily, they may have bad starting habits so the option to have a saw technician who is present on stage start the saw is a third and final safe start option. Failure to start the saw for the warm-up period in one of these ways results in an immediate disqualification.
After the 15-second warm-up period has elapsed, the head judge calls for hands to the block at which point competitors place the now idling saw on the ground and put all four fingers of both hands across a line drawn on the top of each saw log. When the judge sounds the starting pistol, contestants grab the saw, pull the throttle trigger and complete one down cut and one up cut within the four inches of allotted wood as fast as possible. Time stops when the second wood disc, or "cookie," has been severed from the block. If a competitor does not make two full cookies, and wood is left outside of the four inches marked by the judge, he may attempt to cut another cookie. If at any point the contestant crosses the judges mark four inches from the end of the log with the chainsaw, he is disqualified.
With a matched pair of saws, the same STIHL chain and logs that have been cut from the same tree, the only thing that differs between the saw bunks is the saw operator. Since the chainsaws have been tuned to cut as fast as each other in the wood, the stock saw race is won by getting to the wood first with the saw when the starting pistol sounds and keeping the saw in the wood with fast transitions between the cuts. The best competitors go from hands on the wood to getting a running saw back into the wood in about .8 seconds and then spend less than .2 seconds out of the block on the bottom when they transition to the up cut for the second cookie. With the saw in the wood, the competitors take a keen ear to the sounds the saws are making, trying to feed the saw just enough wood that it is cutting fast but not too much wood that it bogs down. In a well-contested stock saw race, it will sound like two saws are running as one with a magical sort of ringing from the saw exhaust note.
Contestants have the luxury of preparing for the stock saw with their own 660's and saw logs set exactly 16 inches off the stage, just like the race will be on the Series. No other discipline allows the contestants to practice at home in conditions so close to the actual race. In the end, the stock saw is more than racing. Here more than any other discipline, the paradigm of "slow is smooth and smooth is fast" holds true. Smooth to the wood, smooth with the saw in the wood, and two complete discs will fall quickly. Eelco de Beer from The Netherlands holds the world record of 10.03 seconds to take a running saw at his feet to the log for two cuts.