Recently I decided to get to work – to go into the woods. My adventure involved some tree work in the forest surrounding our cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains of northwest Georgia. Our woods are lush with hardwoods and evergreens, which means trees are always needed to keep our small forests thriving. Last summer's thunderstorms wreaked havoc on several of the pine trees in front of our cabin, making the tops of some look as though they had been blasted apart by mortar shells. These widowmakers had to go. What a perfect setup to put the new DeWalt 40V Max chainsaw to the test.
I really wanted to test out DeWalt's professional-grade lithium-ion powered chainsaw. As a good point of reference, I keep a similar pneumatic saw in my shed. There always seems to be a need for tree work, whether it's clearing dead wood from a road or getting firewood ready for next winter. The real question is whether the Dewalt 40V Max Chainsaw can keep the power going while still giving me enough run time to make it worth the money. Clint DeBoer and Kenny Koehler had the opportunity to try out this model at GIE 2015. Kenny assured me that DeWalt's chainsaw is not like any other battery powered chainsaw I've ever used. I took a car full of my family into the woods with high hopes. Let's take a closer look at DeWalt's 16-inch brushless chainsaw.
Editor's Note: This is an original review based on our experience with the chainsaw when it first came out, but the rating has been updated to reflect how it fared compared to similar products in our recent shootout.
Head To Head: Check Out This Chainsaw With Others In Its Class!
DeWalt 40V Max Chainsaw Specifications
- Model: DCC690M1/H1
- Power: DeWalt 40V Max battery pack
- Motor: DeWalt 40V Max Brushless
- Pole Length: 16″
- Run Time: 100 cuts (6.0 amp hours), 70 cuts (4.0 amp hours) in 6 x 6 pressure-treated pine
- Weight: 13.5 lbs
- Price: $399 (4.0 amp hour kit), $479 (6.0 amp hour kit)
- Warranty: 3 years
- DeWalt DCCS690 Brushless Chainsaw
- DeWalt 40V MAX 6AH Li-Ion Battery
- 16″ Oregon Bar and Chain
- rod sheath
Dewalt 40V Max Chainsaw First Impressions
DeWalt 40V Max Chainsaw Key Features
- Low recoil 16″ Oregon bars and chains
- Automatic oiling with Lubrilink and Lubriwell for continuous lubrication
- Quarter turn oil cap for quick refill
- Chain brake for kickback protection
- Tool-less chain tensioning and bar tightening knobs provide proper bar clamping force
- variable speed trigger
The saw was well packaged and my first impressions of the saw after unboxing were very good. The tool feels well made, sturdy and fit for all business. It weighs 13.5 lbs with a 6.0 amp hour battery – just a little heavier than my similar model air saw, but understandable given the weight of the battery.
The handle is easy to grip and provides stability. The tool-less chain tensioning mechanism feels well-built and solid. The rod sheath is very tight and difficult to slide in and out of the rod, but stays in place very well. Maybe using some it will open up a bit. There were no surprises with the battery charger, and I had a fully charged battery ready in a few hours. The battery slides easily into its port and locks securely into place. The battery's LED charge indicator provides a 3-level visual display, so you can check the remaining charge from time to time. The rod oil tank also includes a visual indicator window so you can check the rod oil level to make sure you're running smooth and oiled.
DeWalt 40V Max Chainsaw Operation and Performance
I'm glad to see that the DeWalt 40V Max chainsaw is up and running with very little setup. I fill up the gas tank, charge the battery, tighten the chain, grab my safety gear, and get ready for work. As with all Li-ion OPEs, luckily there are no gases to mix and no hard-to-start antics to hinder the process. I have fond memories of watching my dad do something to our chainsaw while pulling the starter cord only to hear the chainsaw crackling. The tool-less chain tensioning mechanism is very similar to the one on my air chainsaw and works very well – just release the locking dial, adjust the chain tension, and tighten the locking mechanism until you hear a click. No tools, no problem. The bar oiler is also strong and keeps the chain running smoothly. As a bonus, it doesn't leak! If you're new to chainsaws, this may seem like a no-brainer for a new saw, but you'd be surprised how many saws leak oil.
One of my favorite features of this saw is the lack of noise. It's much quieter than any gas saw and really lets you hear what's going on around you. You can clearly hear the tree start to crack before it starts to fall. No exhaust blowing in your face makes for safer and more focused operation. It's easy to get caught on autopilot and forget that you won't hear the noise of an idling engine to warn you that the tool is ready to cut. There's a safety switch to depress before you pull the throttle trigger. It's a standard safety feature, and DeWalt places it where it doesn't get in the way of an otherwise great user experience.
When the throttle switch is engaged, the saw instantly springs to full speed without any warm-up or idling – it's ready to roll. The chain brake is an eye-catching feature that stops the chain quickly when engaged. Saw operation is very smooth and powerful. The 40V brushless motor has impressive torque and will easily run through a 10-12 inch diameter pine tree without any issues. I felled a pair of 60' pines and cut them into 24" lengths to burn next season in our outdoor fire pit. After that, I moved on to trimming the limbs to manageable lengths for the campfire. I still have sap in my tank (or is that the cells?), so I also cut a small piece of hickory wood for firewood.
As expected, Oregon bars and chains are doing very well – the new chain is the best! I did need to adjust the chain tension after the first cut, as new chains usually stretch a bit after a while. Keep an eye on chain tension to maintain safe operation. DeWalt claims the 6 amp-hour battery is rated to cut 6 x 6 pressure-treated pine 100 times. I made about 115 through various diameters of pine and hickory before needing to charge the battery pack. All in all, I was able to get a solid 2-1/2 hours of work before the battery took a break. Multiple batteries can be purchased, including a new 7.5 amp hour battery pack, to ensure continuous operation.
In my opinion, DeWalt's first foray into the battery powered chainsaw market is brilliant. The saw performs really well – much more powerful than other li-ion powered saws I've used, and I prefer it to my pneumatic saws. Work is much more enjoyable without the noise, starting issues and emissions of the petrol engine. The DeWalt 40V Max Chainsaw is like the Tesla Model S of the Lithium-Ion OPE chainsaw market — you'll be impressed by the capabilities of the battery!