This beefy two-handed folding saw is Silky’s answer to the ‘man-powered chain saw.’ This heavy-duty folding saw with a 19 4/5- or 25 3/5-inch, resharpenable blade of superior quality steel, easily competes with a chainsaw. Expect to make mincemeat out of any firewood-sized limbs with a KATANABOY that packs a taper-ground blade with a non-slip rubberized grip. The KATANABOY comes with a sturdy, nylon shoulder bag with Velcro® fastening and pocket for replacement blades. Translated into English, Katana means, ‘curved single-edged sword,’ considered the weapon of choice for Samurai warriors. Today, the KATANABOY is the folding saw of choice for trail building, ATVing as well as all of your outdoor needs. Silky saws are manufactured in Ono Japan, home of the finest cutlery steel known to man. Crafting fine wood cutting saws since the early 1900’s, Silky continues to raise the bar for quality, endurance and cutting efficiency that none can match.
I was hesitant to believe any claim of a hand saw being a chainsaw replacement, until I watched this saw in action. I have had much experience sawing wood, with many different saw types. They always seemed to under perform. Once I had my hands on a Silky Katanaboy, I realized how much of a game changer these saws were.
When discussing hand saws, the Silky name is synonymous with quality. For people in the know, these saws have all of the attributes of which to compare other saws to. This is not a new company, as they have been making high quality saws since the early 1900's. Their company creates a wide variety of saws, from small pruning saws to saws that are twice the length of the Katanaboy 500. I personally feel that the Katanaboy is the perfect length for the homestead. It is small enough to pack on a trip, and large enough to fell trees and to buck large timbers. There are a few things that make these saws special.
These saws are razor sharp. Sure, you may have handled saws in the past, but this one will give you a new appreciation for what a saw should be like. Seriously, this is not for kids. Only let people who can pay attention and be safe use this saw. I've heard that it cuts through flesh quicker than anything, and I believe it! Each one of the teeth are razor sharp on three sides, and they stay that way for a long period of time. It is very common to hear testimonials of these blades staying sharp after a year or two of heavy use. These blades are also durable. You can get them pinched in a tree, and they will not bend. This is a tool that is built to last.
Let's say somehow you actually dull this blade, a replacement blade is going to cost you just under a hundred dollars. For a blade that should stay sharp a year or two, that is a heck of a deal. Some people claim that these saw blades can not be sharpened. That is not the case. They just must be sharpened in a specific fashion, with a specific tool. A true off grid homesteader would likely want to purchase the saw, and an extra blade. If and when the first blade finally dulls, then the decision can be made if it's worthwhile to buy the tools and learn the skill to sharpen this style of blade. The job of sharpening this style of blade is done by artisans in Japan.
Chainsaw replacement? That is a tough claim to swallow, but let me attempt to make light of the debate. This is actually a closer argument than you would believe, but you have to look at the many contributing factors to understand the comparison. If you were to compare a single cut from a hand saw, to a single cut with a chainsaw, the winner would be clear. I have no doubt that a large powerful chainsaw could fell or buck a tree quicker than the handsaw. But wait, that isn't the end of the story.
A small chainsaw weighs over ten pounds, and that isn't one of the large powerful saws that we are comparing the Katanaboy to. This Silky beast weighs in around 4 pounds. If you are travelling with this saw, then the Katanaboy wins in portability.
What about ease of use? The Katanaboy is pretty simple to use. A novice will just use their arms to cut, while an experienced user realizes that they can use their hips and legs to move the saw. This is made possible due to the large katana handle that accompanies the saw.
What about safety? Chainsaws are just UNSAFE! There are injuries and deaths that occur every year from chainsaws. People will cut through a log, and go right into their leg. Sometimes the chain will jump off the bar and fly in all directions. For these reasons, it's suggested that people wear all kinds of safety gear to properly operate a chainsaw. That safety gear is hot and cumbersome, which can make for a very long day of cutting wood. I imagine that you could wear some safety gear when operating a Silky. I would venture to say that safety glasses would be enough, but even that isn't as necessary. The Katanaboy wins on safety.
I've already talked about how a Katanaboy can hold it's edge for a year or two, and we know that is absolutely not the case with a chainsaw. If you are going to be cuttting a bunch, you'd better take along your sharpener, your bar tightener, along with your oil and your gas can. I wonder how much all of that adds up to in weight?
Cutting with a chainsaw is mainly done with your arms. After cutting a few cuts, you can get worn out (especially if you're using a powerful chainsaw). Since the Katanaboy uses different and larger muscle groups, you can cut more wood without getting exhausted. You don't have to sit and prime the saw, and then yank it a dozen times to get it started. All of that is tiresome. You don't have to take safety stops to check that your chain is tight, or something else that could go wrong to get you killed.
You are working hands on with the wood, so you are paying more attention to what you're cutting and what is happening. There isn't a loud saw blocking out all other noise in your vicinity, so you can hear if there is a dangerous situation happening.
The Katanaboy leaves this beautifully clean cut on the wood that is practically a finished edge, while a gas saw basically rips the wood apart.
There was an intriguing OpEd article written on how selfish going to workout in a gym was. The author wasn't saying that a person is selfish for wanting to improve themselves, but was selfish in the manner in which they were doing it. People jump onto treadmills and pump iron to burn calories and build muscles. The selfish part is that those calories contribute nothing to society. This author proposed that it was much better for the environment to get a workout through a task such as cutting wood. Not only would that improve the body, but you are not contributing to the vicious cycle of petroleum based infrastructure. Not only did you have to drive to the gym, but you also worked out inside the gym which increases the temperature of the gym. That gym then needs to use energy to cool the gym so that people are comfortable. Then, during the winter you don't have the wood that you have cut, so you need to use the petroleum to supplement the heat that you could have created through wood splitting. The same theory applies to using a large saw. While an axe would be better for splitting, a saw is much more efficient for cutting a large tree into sections (known as bucking). When you cut with an axe, you lose at minimum 3 or 4 inches of tree, as the axe has to cut diagonally to cut out chips to get through the entire log. If you're cutting a larger log, then you can easily lose 6 inches of workable tree just during bucking. A good saw loses but a fraction of an inch.
To me, there is no tool that I value more for my homestead than my Silky Katanaboy. Not only is the name cool, but I feel awesome holding it. I feel even better when I bust through a piece of wood, and don't feel exhausted. There are many other brands of saws that attempt to replicate what a Silky does, but I am a Silky fanboy for life. I might try out some other saws, if it's claimed that they can compare or compete with the Katanaboy, but I will be a constant skeptic until I see it.
Look, the saw costs just about 150 dollars on Amazon. These things are bulletproof. Watch some videos and read the testimonials on Amazon. The one listing has over 160 reviews, and it's still a 5 star item. That should tell you something about their quality and consistency. This is the tool that is going to allow me to build my home with very little cost.
I am not sure there really is a comparison to the chainsaw, not that I think it is better or worse, but just that it is not a fair comparison. It is like comparing a corded drill to a cordless drill. I like cordless drills for driving the occasional screw, but they are completely inadequate for putting holes in steel while fabricating something. It is the same thing with this saw and a chainsaw. I am not going to cut firewood with this saw, but I am not going to lug a chainsaw with me either while I clear trails for hiking or biking. See what I mean...not a truly good comparison.
I can see going through my recent clearcuts and taking out the saplings that the feller-buncher did not want to mess with because they were too small. That would be a pain with a chainsaw, but quick and easy with this saw. Just a few pulls and the sapling would be felled.
But something was amiss with the cross cut saw comparison. This is New England where there are a lot of woodsmen completion's, and I can tell you a sharp cross cut saw will absolutely rip through horizontal log. I mean RIP! That did not happen in the comparison video. The cross cut saw should have absolutely ripped through that softwood log.
As a full-time farmer, I do my best work with a hoe, but what does that say about my wife Katie?
You can't compare a normal crosscut saw to a competition saw. They are two different beasts. That's like comparing a normal chainsaw to those competition chainsaws that are known as "hot saws". As for that head to head showdown, there are a couple of things that don't make it perfectly 1 to 1 test. He's an expert with that crosscut saw, because he has used them for years. He's a professional woodland firefighter, and has to fell trees in horrible situations in order to create burn lines and such. His proficiency with the saw gives him an advantage, while the guy with the Katanaboy has absolutely no idea of how to use it properly. He's cutting completely with his arms, and not swinging his core back in forth. His crosscut saw is also not brand new and perfectly sharp. While he sharpens his own saws, that katanaboy is sharp as a razor from the factory, and those are the first cuts with the folding saw.
As for not cutting firewood, I think that it's very situational. I would much rather cut with this saw than an axe, and there are many times where lugging a chainsaw is not realistic. I was a complete skeptic until I used the folding saw. Can I see situations where a chainsaw would be better? Sure, the larger the tree then the bigger the saw is needed. However, I would just cut trees that are proper size and leave the biggest boys alone. Considering over 30,000 injuries yearly from chainsaws, I can see how someone could make the decision to go without a chainsaw.
As for the crosscut versus Katanaboy, you might be interested to see an earlier video in his Japanese versus American saw showdown videos. In this one, he pairs the same crosscut saw versus a much smaller silky saw .... and they are but seconds apart.
Here is a pretty good video to reference a much better crosscut saw, but it is head to head with the Silky 650 (150mm larger blade then the Katanaboy). The creator of the video proposes that the two saws featured are about equal on a 6 inch log, with the crosscut being faster on larger logs and the Silky being faster on smaller logs. The skewing factor of this test is that he is comparing a 5 foot blade to a blade that is just over 2 feet long. One would expect a skew with such a size difference on large diameters.
As for the saw comparison with Wranglerstar, he has gotten a ton of flack for the earlier videos. To his credit, there are not many head to head videos about this subject, and he did his best to create an impartial test.
I completely understand being on the fence for this type of saw. It's not for everyone, just like everyone doesn't need to own a chainsaw. It's one of those things where you need to test one yourself, and then compare it to the cost of a chainsaw, the cost of maintenance, repairs, fuel, and oil for the year. This conversation intrigued me, so I did a couple of google searches to see if anyone has estimated the cost of running their chainsaw. It seems like this guy has factored in nearly everything:
"From my experience between fuel, oil, and chains, full out cutting averages about $5 an hour using my Husky 365. A tank going full out lasts about 20 minutes. I usually throw out a $15.00, 28" chain after 4-8 sharpenings.
Any decent saw should go 300+ hours without major repair (nothing you can't easily fix).
So, figure six spark plugs, 3 air filters, and three fuel filters into the cost of the saw and divide by 300 to get a rough idea of what it will really cost you. Obviously some saws will go 1,000+ hours without major repair. Just I consider most saws under 60cc good for about 300-500 hours and I estimate on the low side.
I usually only keep a saw < two years, obviously the longer you keep it the better ROI."
I also found this seemingly academic breakdown of repair and maintenance cost of chainsaws. It groups the saws by kW and estimates their maintenance cost in pounds per hour. I could definitely see how larger saws and smaller saws would cost more to maintain over time, with there being a sweet spot that most normal saws fall into. With that sweet spot being .14 pound per hour translating to roughly 20 cents per hour, it makes me wonder if that jives with the prior guy's estimation of 5 dollars an hour cost to run.
https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/b124/dece750b07cea8e4f834aed2cdb83db8438a.pdf "Power – Snaga Cost – Troškovi
kW € hour
The guys at this arborist website give their input on how much fuel they use per hour. https://www.arboristsite.com/community/threads/how-much-fuel-per-hour.64171/ It sounds like 4 tanks per hours is normal, and I think most chainsaw's tanks hold a pint of fuel. That's just a half gallon of fuel per hour. With the national average being about 3 dollars per gallon, that means it's 1.50 per fuel per hour. If we add in 20 cents per hour for maintenance, then we're looking at less than 2 dollars per hour for running the saw. I'm thinking that the guy who estimates 5 bucks per hour is adding in some additional factors, and I'm not sure how accurate that is. Anyways, I'm just trying to show all variables in the discussion.
If we look at the amount of wood needed to be cut for an average winter household, then we should look at the time needed to cut (not split) 4 cords of wood. The best estimations that I've seen claim that it takes one hour to cut the rounds needed for one cord of wood. This would make just 4 hours of pure cutting with the chainsaw. At less than 2 dollars per hour to run and maintain, then we are looking at less than 10 dollars to cut rounds for the entire winter heating of an average house. That's not too shabby at all.
I have a Silky pull type pruning saw, and it is very sharp and is my go too saw for a lot of things. I could see where for making firewood for rocket stoves and such, it would work well, but probably only up to about 6 inches, and even then...would get tiring fast if there was a lot of cutting or bucking to do at that diameter.
In a survival situation, I don't know...I think an axe would be far better. The saw does one thing and does it well...it cuts cleanly, but with an axe stuffed in a persons backpack, they have a lot more versatility. As one smart person once said, "I would rather be caught alone in the wilderness with an axe then a gun". It makes a lot of sense, from pounding, to cutting, to chopping, to self defense, and splitting, there is a reason we have all heard about axemanship, but not handsawmanship. But I grew up with an axe, and am pretty handy with them; including sharpening them.
But a chainsaw versus this saw: again, I am not sure there is a comparison. I am not saying it is a bad saw, I am not, I just do not believe a lot of people will put down their chainsaw and pick this saw up so they can buck up firewood. I would not even use it for Rocket stoves. I might fell the saplings because that is hard to do with an axe, but to buck them into uable lengths, a hard blow with an axe at a 45 degree slant will sever a pretty big sapling in one blow. Most people try to chop the sapling at 90 degrees, and it does not work well.
For traditional firewood, where the wood diamter is even bigger...a chainsaw just makes more sense. If the world comes to an end and I am forced to heat my home without gas to put in my chainsaw, yes I will grudgingly revert back to felling trees with axe and crosscut saw, just because I have too. As for calculating in fuel consumption for the chainsaw, to me the figures looked high, but honestly I very seldom cut firewood from stump to firewood shed. I cut a lot of wood, but have bigger sized chainsaws. A tank will net me 2 cord of tree length wood, then some more tankfulls to cut it up into rounds. Doing it that way I can do about 5 cords per day. A lot of that is methods though. I have a log loader and found that by picking up the firewood to waist height, having the wood at the ideal level, and not having to remove cut wood out of the way, I can get about 3 times more wood cut. I never dull my saw either since I am always off the ground, and never pinch my bar; so all that plays into production. But I am non-typical; I cut hundreds of cords per wood every year and have the equipment to move wood.
As a full-time farmer, I do my best work with a hoe, but what does that say about my wife Katie?
I watched the "handsaw showdown - America vs Japan" video and all I could think was: Let's see how close it is on the 5th cut through the log. The pull saw guy seemed to be putting way more effort into it and in a way that would give me cramps in all kinds of places.
"Hundreds of years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in or the type of car I drove... But the world may be different because I did something so bafflingly crazy that it becomes a tourist destination"
I like the look of the Katanaboy, but I have to agree with Travis on this one. Axe trumps saw in overall rugged versatility.
Also, I don't care how good the saw is, it is definitely better suited to its niche than it is a generalists' tool. I would be happy to carry one to help break trail, but it would take a back seat to my kukri (or parang, I just happen to have a kukri by Cold Steel right now) for general work. Anything under the 4" threshold is a one-chop matter for either of those, and I would have my kukri out of the sheath, the job done, and have it back in the sheath before the Katanaboy locked into useable position.
The best tool to use is always the one that's best suited to the nature of the task. I could see the Katanaboy being useful if I needed to clear limbs in a crowded area where I didn't want to unintentionally damage what wasn't being cut, and do so in a minimum of pulls, but if there's room to swing, the diameter of the offending thing needs to be much larger.
A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
-Robert A. Heinlein