Introduction: Strolling into the Woods
Recently, I embarked on a woodland adventure, venturing into the forest surrounding our cabin in the enchanting Blue Ridge Mountains of northwest Georgia. Our lush woods house a variety of hardwoods and evergreens, ensuring an ongoing need for tree maintenance. Last summer’s thunderstorms left several pine trees in front of our cabin in ruins, their tops resembling the aftermath of a mortar shell explosion. These dangerous situations needed to be addressed, making it the perfect opportunity to put the new DeWalt 40V Max chainsaw to the ultimate test.
Setting the Stage: Professional-Grade Performance
I was eager to put DeWalt’s professional-grade, lithium-ion powered chainsaw through its paces. To provide context, I own a similar pneumatic saw, as there always seems to be a demand for tree work, whether it’s clearing debris from roads or preparing firewood for the upcoming winter. The question at hand was whether the DeWalt 40V Max Chainsaw could maintain its power while delivering sufficient run time to justify its price. According to Clint DeBoer and Kenny Koehler, who had the opportunity to try out this model at GIE 2015, DeWalt’s chainsaw is in a class of its own when it comes to battery-powered alternatives. Filled with hope and excitement, I loaded up my car with family members and ventured into the depths of the woods. Now, let’s delve deeper into the features of DeWalt’s 16-inch brushless chainsaw.
Head to Head: Comparing Chainsaws
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
Initial Impressions: Handling the DeWalt 40V Max Chainsaw
Key Features of the DeWalt 40V Max Chainsaw:
- Low recoil 16″ Oregon bars and chains
- Continuous lubrication with Lubrilink and Lubriwell automatic oiling
- Quick refill with a quarter turn oil cap
- Kickback protection through a chain brake
- Tool-less chain tensioning and bar tightening knobs for optimal bar clamping force
- Variable speed trigger
Upon unboxing the saw, I found the packaging to be excellent. My first impression of the tool was overwhelmingly positive. It exuded a sense of sturdiness and reliability, perfectly suited for a demanding task. Weighing 13.5 lbs with a 6.0 amp hour battery, it was slightly heavier than my pneumatic saw of a similar model. However, the additional weight was understandable due to the battery’s presence.
The handle provided a secure grip, ensuring stability during operation. The tool-less chain tensioning mechanism felt robust, allowing for easy adjustments. Although the rod sheath was initially tight and challenging to slide in and out, it eventually settled into place. With regard to the battery charger, there were no surprises, and I had a fully charged battery within a few hours.
Inserting the battery into its designated port was a breeze, and it securely locked into place. The battery’s LED charge indicator offered a convenient 3-level visual display for monitoring the remaining charge. Additionally, the rod oil tank featured a visual indicator window, enabling easy checks for smooth and proper lubrication.
Operation and Performance: The DeWalt 40V Max Chainsaw in Action
I was pleased to note that the DeWalt 40V Max chainsaw required minimal setup before it was up and running. All I had to do was fill the gas tank, charge the battery, adjust the chain tension, don my safety gear, and prepare for the task at hand. Unlike gas-powered chainsaws, there was no need to mix gases or contend with troublesome start-up procedures. I vividly recall watching my father tinker with our old chainsaw, constantly pulling the starter cord, and enduring the crackling noises.
The tool-less chain tensioning mechanism mirrored the one on my air chainsaw, delivering seamless performance. Simply release the locking dial, adjust the chain tension, and tighten the locking mechanism until you hear a satisfying click. No tools required; it was that straightforward. The bar oiler functioned exceptionally well, ensuring smooth chain operation without any leaks. For those new to using chainsaws, preventing oil leakage may seem like an obvious feature for a new saw. However, you’d be surprised at how many saws suffer from this issue.
One of the most delightful aspects of this saw was its quiet operation. It was considerably quieter than any gas-powered chainsaw, enabling me to stay attuned to my surroundings. The ability to hear the tree creak and crack before it fell made the work safer and more focused. Without exhaust fumes obstructing my view, I could avoid becoming complacent and relying on the noise produced by an idling engine to signal readiness. Thanks to a strategically placed safety switch that didn’t impede the overall user experience, I was able to engage the throttle trigger effortlessly.
Once the throttle switch was engaged, the saw sprang to life, instantly reaching full speed without any warm-up or idling period. The chain brake, a striking safety feature, promptly halted the chain when engaged. Overall, the saw’s operation was smooth and powerful. Equipped with a 40V brushless motor boasting impressive torque, it sliced through 10-12 inch diameter pine trees effortlessly. I successfully felled a pair of towering 60-foot pines, subsequently cutting them into 24″ lengths for our future bonfires. To complete my task, I proceeded to trim the tree limbs into manageable pieces for our campfire. Even after all this work, the battery had ample power remaining. In fact, I used it to cut a small piece of hickory wood for additional firewood.
The Oregon bars and chains performed exceptionally well, with the new chain standing out as particularly impressive. After the initial cut, I did need to adjust the chain tension slightly, as new chains tend to stretch over time. Maintaining proper chain tension is crucial for safe operation. According to DeWalt, the 6 amp-hour battery is designed to cut through 6 x 6 pressure-treated pine 100 times. By the time I had cut through various diameters of pine and hickory, I had surpassed 115 cuts before needing to recharge the battery pack. All in all, I managed to work solidly for 2-1/2 hours before the battery required a break. For those seeking uninterrupted operation, additional battery packs are available, including a new 7.5 amp hour option.
Final Thoughts: DeWalt’s Leap into Battery-Powered Chainsaws
In my opinion, DeWalt’s inaugural entry into the battery-powered chainsaw market is nothing short of remarkable. This exceptional saw delivered outstanding performance, surpassing other lithium-ion powered options I have previously used. Personally, I found it preferable to my pneumatic saws. The absence of noise, starting complications, and emissions associated with petrol engines made the entire experience far more pleasant. The DeWalt 40V Max Chainsaw is akin to the Tesla Model S of lithium-ion outdoor power equipment chainsaws. Prepare to be astounded by the battery’s capabilities!
Editor’s Note: This review is based on our initial experience with the chainsaw upon its release. The rating has been updated to reflect its performance in comparison to similar products in our recent shootout.