In the collecting world, Wayne Sainsbury is simply a cut above the rest.
About 100 cuts above the rest, literally, if you count the number of chainsaws neatly stacked across the shelves of his shed.
From monsters that weigh almost half as much as him, to sleeker newer models, they include the well-known names, like Stihl, to the lesser-known and probably one of the rarest, a Danarm Tornado, circa 1955. It has a Villiers motor and a rare hand clutch – and weighs a whopping 25 kilos.
With more than 100 already, you’d think Wayne would be happy with his lot. But no, like a proper collector he has a wish list and right at the top is something he’s never seen, just heard about in what could well be a rural myth – a two-person chainsaw with the engine at one end and the handle at the other.
Apparently, it’s only used for the biggest of jobs in forests – but there’s no doubt Wayne would make room for it in his shed. Or perhaps build one especially for it.
About three-quarters of his collection only need some petrol to fuel them up. The ones that don’t work are only because Wayne hasn’t got to them yet. He also collects broken ones – “you can always use them for parts.”
Wayne’s collection takes up almost every available space in the shed behind his Yass house – the town where he was born and bred (and he wouldn’t be anywhere else).
Wayne has a place for every chainsaw, and his other collection of some of the chainsaw’s earliest relatives – the handsaw, axe, scythe and some other early cutting weapons that you would seriously not want to get into the wrong hands.
He knows where every one of them belongs, what’s next to what, what deserves to take pride of place – and what can take a leg off. (Most of them, if used incorrectly, can take a leg off – which is why his passion for the machines themselves is only matched by one for the safety measures required while working with them).
Wayne’s interest in chainsaws can be traced back to his early working life, a life that was never going to be behind a desk. He started on a property on the Dog Trap Road outside Yass before going to work for the then Yass Shire Council as a grader operator.
“I guess I first became interested in them when I started cutting wood for people,” he said. “A friend showed me the way the Forestry people taught you the correct way to fell a tree – how you should check whether it’s hollow, which way it is leaning – that sort of thing.
“I guess what has kept me alive all these years, doing this sort of work has been by learning how to do it properly.
“Sure, you can read books about how to do things, but I reckon it’s best to learn from experience.”
Wayne also trains State Emergency Services volunteers in how to use a chainsaw as well as other tradies who need the skills for their work.
In his “training trailer” which he takes to most jobs, are a pair of chaps: “I show them to the students – without them, I probably would be without a leg”.
Wayne’s expertise, calm demeanour and encyclopaedic knowledge of chainsaws, has helped to save lives – and not just the students he has taught. His skills made him an invaluable asset with the rescue crews during the Thredbo landslide of 1997 and again in 2003 during the Canberra firestorm. They are times he will always remember, but doesn’t talk about.
Like many collections, Wayne’s began through the generosity of family, friends and perfect strangers.
“I had a few chainsaws,” he said, “and then people started giving them to me.
“People have been really generous when they know you collect them. There was this guy in Yass who was a dealer for the Homelite brand. When he passed away, he told his sons he wanted me to have the ones that were left.”
Wayne reckons he will continue to collect chainsaws for as long as he has room to house them – but you get the feeling he will build more shelves in the shed before he says no to a chainsaw he doesn’t already have.
“I am running out of space a bit,” he said, “so will I get a bit more selective about what I collect? Yes … and no.”
Do you love collecting? Historic, kitsch, tasteful, weird – there’s no judgement here, except we are not immune to tacky (hint, hint).
Just email a few details about what you collect and why to firstname.lastname@example.org, and you may well see your collection displayed right here for all to enjoy.