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18 volt Makita top handle chainsaw  RSS feed

 
Dale Hodgins
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I wrote this last night and then I continued searching the internet, until I found an answer.

If there's something out there that is lighter and more powerful or the same weight and more powerful,  I'd like to know about it. I want to continue searching for an even better saw.

 This thread will serve as a review for the Makita cordless topping saw that I bought today. 
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I need to get a cordless electric topping saw that I will use when I'm in a tree or topping a hedge.

 My E-go chainsaw is perfect for ground work but too heavy for one-handed operation while climbing. It has made my elbow sore.

 Something in the five pound range,  with the handle mounted on top would be ideal.

 I make my living in the tree tops,  so there's no deterring me from one-handed chainsaw operation. That's how it's done.
 For stability and speed, I must be able to hold on with one hand and reach out with a saw in the other,  weather I'm on an extension ladder,  a fruit picking ladder, or I'm in the tree.

 The Makita saw in the photograph looks like it would be suitable.

 I'm in Canada. There are many choices, good bad and silly in the United States. We don't have that many choices.

 Please let me know if you have tried, or if you know of another cordless saw that would be light enough to use while climbing.  Thank you.  Dale.
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Dillon Nichols
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Location: Victoria BC
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I really don't see many direct competitors to this Makita; there are plenty of ~18V saws, but they're mostly a bit heavier with a notably longer bar, which doesn't really seem like a selling point for a saw of this power. The Ryobi puts the battery on one side, which seems like a terrible idea.

I like that there is a dual-18V Makita chainsaw, though that's probably not of interest to you since you've got that E-go...

The design of this Black and Decker looks pretty good, but between that and Makita it doesn't seem like a fair contest. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004JMZH1W/ref=psdc_552918_t2_B00AW72XGA

 
Dale Hodgins
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I ordered one of those today. It may be a newer model. I'm sure that the quality will not match the Makita or the E-go, but I need something light and maneuverable that can also plunge cut and otherwise use the tip. It's 5 lbs. I did about 2 hours of light cutting with the E-go today. Most branches were under 2.5 inches. I climbed this one with the heavy saw. Actual cut time is minimal. Most time and effort goes into getting into the right position. The larger saw should only have been employed for the climbing stubs and the trunk of this cedar. A larger maple on the other side of the driveway, was mostly larger material over 8 inches. The E-go was the right tool for that. So, I could have spent a good portion of the day swinging a 5 lb. saw. This makes a huge difference in fatigue and in safety. A tired worker is more likely to be hurt.
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Dillon Nichols
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Huh, I assumed that tip-guard on the Makita could be removed... though it would still be a mighty short blade.

You've got quite the stable of electric saws going! Looking forward to a report on these additions.

Have you seen the 80V 18" Greenworks saw? I was debating between that and the E-go, then the Greenworks vanished from stores... I'm not in a rush, so waiting to see if it pops back up.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Review of the 18 volt Makita.

This 18 volt topping saw,  weighs in at just under five pounds with the battery included. The tip holds branches in place when cutting with the top of the bar. Most of my cuts were horizontal, making use of the top of bar feature. Once the cut is made, the tip can be used to rake material from the top of the hedge.

I'm a little bit more productive today. I use it to clear before employing the pole saw. This reduces ladder moves and l don't have to lean back to make a long saw work up close.

 This saw will be used in conjunction with my two long reach pole saws, and when I'm removing branches from tightly woven bushes on the ground.

It's not something that should be used to process firewood or for other heavy jobs. I could see it being very useful in maintaining fruit trees. I tried some large cuts, and was surprised by the speed. Much more power than the appearance would indicate. This is a great little saw for me. If you're only getting one saw, this one is probably too small. I will use it only when it is the sensible choice. It will see some use from the ground, when I maintain bushes. The light weight and top handle for one handed reaching, makes this a climbers saw. I will use it as I glide through the tree tops, in search of money. My tired shoulders will thank me.
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Dale Hodgins
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I didn't know about the Greenworks saw. The E-go is serving me well. By the time it wears out, I'm sure there will be more choices.

I currently have 2 cordless saws and the 20 volt Black and Decker on the way. I have the Stihl cordless pole saw (review soon) and the Greenworks corded pole saw.

My hedge cutters include the Stihl long reach which shares a battery and charger with the pole saw ($1600 for those two), the E-go hedge cutter and two lighter hedge trimmers.

I have the E-go blower and string trimmer.

The first item was purchased last July. The Stihl equipment, the Makita saw and the soon to arrive Black and Decker saw have been purchased in the last month.

I'm currently earning 90% of my income with these tools. My income has gone up. I'm healthier and less fatigued at the end of the day. I go home smelling of cedar, not gas. Over the fence sales are at an all time high. The $3000+ spent has been a great investment. I'm charging an average of $10 more per hour than I did a year ago. Even work that has nothing to do with these tools, is more expensive now. When I'm busy, I price everything higher. Demolition customers, hauling customers and others must now match what I can earn on tree work, or I'm not showing up. Getting a brand new tool kit was definitely the right choice.

 
Dale Hodgins
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This is the first tool employed when the fruit picking ladder is moved to a new position. I find it handy for anything within 4 feet of the ladder. I often use one hand to draw the brush away from the cut and the other for the saw. Binding is not an issue. With small stuff in the 2 inches diameter range, I cut 3/4 through and when it starts to bind, I send it in the right direction with a twist of the wrist. The cut is finished as the top falls to a desired location.

Sometimes, cut material lies just out of reach on a flattened hedge top. I reach out with the saw and give a brief trigger burst, in order to fling the material toward myself. Clogging hasn't been a problem.
 
Dale Hodgins
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I used it at the farm, to clear some small trees. This cut took two seconds.

The tree that fell on my old truck, took five seconds at the thickest point that I could reach.

The saw is very compact. It is kept in the cab, ready for use at all times. It's perfect for little things that come up. Yesterday, I cleared the view around a stop sign.
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Lee Daniels
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Thank you Dale (and other reviewers) for these tool reviews. Due to lack of others posting, it may seem like you're talking to yourself? Not true. We're listening, you just can't see us, or we have nothing useful to add.

I will be buying an EGO 56v chainsaw because of your other review.

Thanks again, Great pics and commentary!

- L. Daniels
 
Dale Hodgins
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Thanks Lee. I've made it my mission, to become the resident expert on cordless equipment. If I can compete as a commercial tree and hedge guy, I hope readers will see that it's all they need.

Consider getting the hedge cutter as well. Mine has become my primary mulching tool. I reduce bushy materials before loading the truck. Probably 20% of my use of this tool has been on hedges. The extra battery will make the chainsaw more useful.

I reduced a big bushy California lilac to two garbage cans of clippings and a little firewood.
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Dale Hodgins
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I really put a little saw to work today. I cut several hundred little branches ranging from pencil thickness to that of a pool cue.

 I also made about 20 cuts of branches  four to six inches thick.

 All of this was done while on the ladder or while climbing in the trees.
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Ron Helwig
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You said this isn't a good saw for firewood, but I have a rocket mass heater and small branches seem perfect for that. I've been looking for something I can use to cut up the tens of thousands (so it seems) of fallen branches and limbing leftovers from bigger felled trees. Do you think this would be good for that sort of work, or is there something more appropriate?

We do have a regular gas powered 18" chainsaw we use for the big trees and traditional firewood, but it is overkill for smaller branches and scrounging.
 
Dale Hodgins
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The Makita isn't suitable for bulk work. You would be constantly bent over and it's slow on hard, dead wood. When I'm climbing, most time is spent getting to the right spot. The longer cut time gives me a break from climbing. Tree tops contain wet, new growth. Most cuts are done on branches that reach horizontally. The branches droop and the cuts open up as the saw works. So, most of the time, I'm cutting soft wood that is in tension. The Makita is really good at this.

The 56 volt E-go cordless, is my primary tool for most ground work. It cuts about 350 pounds of wood on a full battery.

http://www.permies.com/t/40208/gear/Cordless-chainsaw-bought-powerful-Works

I use it almost every day. It's doing fine with used deep fry oil as the only lubricant.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Today, I used to saw to rescue myself from a difficult situation. I had climbed to well beyond the maximum height of my ladder, when I dropped a branch which made the ladder useless. It kicked out the bottom and turned it sideways to the tree. A strap prevented it from falling.

 The tree was very bushy. I had to trim away hundreds of little branches in order to clear a path to let me climb down, using the thickest branches as a ladder.

 I was stuck for 90 minutes. The day was getting very hot my pants and shirt had both dried out. I normally wear a wet shirt and dampened pants when ascend for any length of time in the summer.  I was very hot and thirsty,  by the time I made it down.

Resting now. I'll take a picture later.
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Dale Hodgins
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The saw is perfect for cutting small stuff between one and three inches thick.  All of the material in the first shot,  was taken down using one battery.

 When I do tall hedges, it's impossible to get the pole saw into the space at first. The Makita,  is used to clear an area as far as I can reach with one hand.

 After this is done at intervals along the length of the hedge, it's just a matter of connecting the dots while using the Stihl,  cordless electric pole saw.
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Dale Hodgins
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80% of the first hedge was done using the Makita. The rest was done with the Stihl pole saw. I thought that the pole saw would be used more, but with the little saw, one hand can be used to toss branches to the desired location.

The second hedge was done entirety with the Makita.
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Dale Hodgins
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This saw continues to exceed expectations. Along with hedges, I have used it for quite a bit of ground work. It's often necessary for me to clear all growth around the foundation of houses. I use this before going in with my E-go saw. I can cut stuff one inch from the concrete, without risking the chain. The top sheer bar is rested against the concrete in these tight situations. Also very handy when cutting bushy materials that are being reduced for transport.

I've done quite a bit of work where I'm on my knees and advancing slowly with the saw on it's side. This is done under certain trees that send up dozens of little suckers. If those suckers are less than three quarters of an inch, I use my hedge cutter. When they are one to three inches, I use the Makita saw. There have been many situations where a larger saw might have been called for, but the Makita was right there, and I used it.

The top bar has been used against the edge of 2x4s when I'm doing rough framing. This stops it from bouncing around at the beginning of a cut.

Of all of the Makita tools that I have ever owned, this is the one that has performed the best.
 
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