When I hear the word Makita, I think professional power tools. I think of tools made to work hard and last. However I found out that Makita is not just power tools, but they also make some lawn and garden tools such as blowers, weed whips and more. In fact, they make some great chain saws. Now they may not be as popular in the states, but from my understanding, they make some of the best chain saws. I heard they now have a newer cordless version out, the HCU02ZX2 which is a 36V saw. This isn't any 36V, it actually runs off your 18V battery platform which I will get to in a second. I have to say when I first heard of a 36V chain saw, I thought it sounded cool, but how much work could it really do? Well I promise you, this small little saw will surprise you in every which way, even run time.
Alright, back to the platform. Makita has the largest 18V platform around and someone at Makita was really thinking when they came up with this design. Makita designed an adapter to fit on the back of this chain saw that will allow the user to insert two 18V batteries, making this a 36V. How cool is that? Personally this is one of the coolest concepts I have seen. Instead of a user investing in a new battery line, they can take their current Makita 18V and get even more out of their 18V line up. As a note, this isn't new to Makita. They do have some other tools that use this same concept. Personally I think this is a huge reason to take a serious look at Makita. You can have one battery line that will do anything from a simple impact driver, to a powerful rotary hammer, to a chain saw and more.
Okay, now on to the saw. The first thing you notice is the weight and balance of this saw. Weighing in at about 11 lbs (with batteries), it feels very nice in your hands and easy to control. As noted it's powered by two 18V batteries and delivers 1,650 FPM with a 12″ guide bar. Now I don't use chain saws everyday, but I have used enough of them in my life. It is still so weird to just be able to pick up a saw and start cutting without pulling a cord and hearing a loud motor running, 89 dB.
Since it's powered by two 18V batteries, you don't have to worry about gas, changing oil, or a spark plug going bad on you. Now you still will need chain oil for lubrication for the chain (Makita includes a small bottle for your first fill up).
Another great feature of this saw is the tool-less chain adjustment. Just flip up a black lever towards the front, turn to loosen the nut and then you are ready to adjust the tension, it's that easy. As with other chain saws, this also has a front hand guard to actuate the chain brake. Not to leave anything out, it does have an automatic chain lubrication, so no need to worry about that. Plus it has an electric brake. Another important aspect about this saw is that on the back of the power adapter, you can check the battery level simply by pressing a button. One last item to mention is the retractable metal hook to attach to ropes or harnesses for transporting.
Okay, now that you know a little bit about the saw, let's talk about the operation. When we first received the saw, we had to attach the bar and chain to the saw. One thing I really can't stress enough is how easy it is to set up this saw and start working right away. Again all the adjustments are tool-less. Just unscrew a nut, take the cover off, insert the chain and bar, then put the cover back on. Makita includes oil, so just fill up the reservoir and you're off to the races.
Now I don't think this saw is really meant for an arborist unless it's tree topping, but we had to take it to one of our friends from Bode Tree Care. At the time they were taking down a large tree, so he was using it on the ground. He ended up telling me how surprised he was at the power, torque and run time. He was making a lot of relief cuts to branches with the saw just before it went into the chipper. He ended up cutting a bunch off branches just to see how well it would perform. In fact, a couple times he pressed on the saw extremely hard to try and get it to cut out. He ended up using it for a couple hours on and off working with different cuts, so we really did get a good chance to see this in action and get some feedback from him.
As he stated this was a great saw. While he wouldn't get any use from the saw because of the large trees they work with and what they do everyday, he said this is perfect for a landscaper, homeowner or someone looking for a great chain saw. It's quieter than the gas, less messing around with fuel, oil and other stuff. It can sit around and when you need it, it's there. You don't have to worry about flooding the carburetor, having bad gas and he would be confident he could cut this tree down with one charge and not have any problems. He said when he first saw it, he really questioned the run time and power, but after using it for a couple of hours, it surprised him.
During this time I had a chance to make some cuts and play with the saw. While I am not an arborist, I love this saw. Sometimes I need a saw three times a month, but other times I don't need it for three months. It's nice to know I can just put two batteries on this saw and I am ready to rock and roll.
I think Makita hit a home run with this saw. A user doesn't have to invest in a new battery platform and can have portable power without all the hassles of a gas saw. This saw is perfect for the landscaper, homeowner and more. In reality I can sit here and tell you how much I love this saw, but this is just one of those tools you have to use to fully understand how well designed, how powerful and how easy it is to use.