At trade shows and media events, I take notes as much for Rural Lifestyle Dealer articles as for my own personal knowledge. Lately, I have been thinking about small outdoor power equipment, and specifically chain saws.

A few nights of severe storms this summer have topped about a half-dozen trees around my property in rural Wisconsin. And a large stand of pine trees — planted too close to each other several decades ago — is rapidly dying out. I figure I have a couple of good weekends worth of wood to cut and stack before everything gets buried under snow.

For years, I have used a chain saw made in the 1980s. It's heavy and all of the vibration from the engine is directed straight to my arm, but it starts every time. It doesn't get a lot of hours over the course of a year, which has kept it in good condition.

Since that machine's been running well, it's given me the room to acquire other small outdoor power equipment, including a string trimmer with a straight shaft and a chipper/ shredder so I can convert all of the fallen limbs into mulch.

Before he retired, a friend ran an equipment dealership in central Wisconsin that catered to professional loggers as well as large property owners.

When I'd stop to visit, I would always wander over to the chain saw room. I promised he would be the first to know when I bought a new chain saw, but it was hard for me to justify replacing something that never let me down.

Chain saw technology has advanced in the years since mine was produced, but not until I attended a media event over the summer did I appreciate just how much.

At press events, editors often have an opportunity to operate new equipment while learning about the latest technology. These events have a similar look and feel to dealer meetings hosted by equipment manufacturers, where engineers and managers talk about new products.

The new chain saws offer better ergonomics. They're lighter, run with less vibration, and chain tensioning has been made easier, too. The chain brakes have been improved. All of this adds up to a chain saw that is safer and more efficient to run.

Buying a new tool when the right job presents itself makes sense. That's something my Dad taught me. I think it's time to put the old saw on the shelf.

To the untrained eye, chain saws look like they always have. They have a handle, an engine, and a long, toothy blade. Your customer probably has an old one sitting in a case that he uses sparingly.

But when a large property owner walks over to your wall of hand held equipment, does that consumer understand the new technology that's packed into a chain saw's compact body?

Tools, such as chain saws, are designed to make outdoor work safer and more efficient, even fun. Take the time to explain the differences between the new tools and the antique they're using!