Aimed at smallholders and professionals who need a smaller saw for ruthless cutting efficiency and easy handling.
Chainsaws can be dangerous – even in trained hands – because of the conditions in which they are used. For example up in trees by tree surgeons, or on damp ground with loads of trip obstacles around. However, there is no alternative to their cutting versatility and power. A really sharp, well set up chainsaw can be quite exhilarating to use as it powers its way through a tree trunk, and all the while the user is thinking “Thank goodness I don’t have to do this with a handsaw.” I actually like using them and let me start by saying that the Hitachi CS 33EDP 13 – inch chainsaw I was sent to try out this month is a gem. Just the right size for smallholders, tree surgeons and the likes of myself who occasionally need to get rid of small trees, cut up stuff for the lathe or chop some logs for the woodburner.
The Hitachi arrives in a chunky wedge-shaped box that holds all the bits together quite compactly. However, as is common with new chainsaws, the bar and chain need to be assembled and fitted correctly to the chainsaw body itself. Now is the time to have a good read of the comprehensive instructions provided with the saw so that you can familiarize yourself with the machine and ensure that it is properly set up, with the chain the right way round and properly tensioned. (Yes I have seen people wondering why the chain isn’t cutting as they apply it to the log)
Once the chain is properly mounted round the sprocket, the chain catcher has been fitted into place and the captive nuts tightened with the box spanner provided, it is nearly time to go.
Of course fuel is needed, mixed at the right ratio of 50:1and a high quality chain oil too.
These are added by turning the saw on its side and using the screwdriver end of the box spanner to remove the captive plastic caps for the tanks. Both tanks are clearly marked so make sure that the right liquid goes into the right tank. The chain oil tank has an adjustment screw near the chain brake/front guard to regulate the supply of oil to the chain, according to conditions of use. Chain oil is vital to ensure that the chain runs freely and minimizes wear on the bar.
I rather liked the arrangement of the main handle at the rear of the saw. This forms a continuous quarter loop on which it is easy to get a good grip whatever the angle of the saw. This handle, with its slightly textured grippy surface is mounted on flexible, spring-loaded mounts, top and bottom, and these do a great job of insulating the user from a lot of the engine vibration.
The rear main handle, like a squashed loop, is actually big enough to fit the toe of a shoe through if needed to aid holding the saw while starting. The throttle trigger is big enough to operate with the whole hand and the lock on the top of the trigger handle is easily held during operation so the two triggers work safely in unison.
As far as I could tell, the whole rear handle, trigger throttle mechanism and air cleaner cover are also on spring-loaded mounts and they seem to do a good job in reducing vibration to the user’s hands. I used the chainsaw for pretty well three quarters of a day on and off, and suffered no vibration tingles in my wrists or fingers.
Because the whole saw has a flat base, it sits happily on a flattish surface making it easy to do small adjustments like tightening the chain. On this base, the chain is still held above ground level so that it doesn’t contact the ground and risk being blunted or worse.
Once all the pre-start checks are done and the saw is ready to go, the starting procedures are simple. A few presses of the priming bulb are needed to ensure that the fuel is going through, then the choke lever is set to closed. The on/off switch is well placed right where the user’s thumb can reach quickly and instinctively. With a few quick pulls of the recoil starter cord the motor should burst into life. In real life it took six pulls to start the brand new motor. That is pretty good in my book. The top of the rev range is an amazing 13,500 considering this is a relatively small 32.2 cc engine, and the motor revs freely at the squeeze of the trigger.
Noise was certainly no worse than I have heard from other two stroke motors I have used and despite using it for a short while without ear defenders while I got used to the rev range needed for the cutting I was doing, I felt no ill effects to my ears.
The exhaust port is located behind a plastic grille, and although this gets warm, I felt as though it provided pretty good protection against accidental burns to a stray hand.
The task I used this little saw for was to remove a thirty metre tall Leylandii Cypress from a friend’s garden, because the roots had been weakened by the recent rain and windstorms. As is common with these trees, the main trunk often only extends three metres or so upwards before it splits into a number of smaller trunks. Mercifully, these smaller trunks are much easier to deal with than one big one, because it is possible to attach a rope to them as high up as possible and attach the rope end to an anchored winch, before using the chainsaw to partially sever the trunk. By then applying tension from the winch, the direction of the trunk’s fall can be controlled when the humans are safely out of the way. The Hitachi performed magnificently – starting very quickly each time it was needed and proving to be light and versatile enough to use at shoulder height when cutting the smaller trunks.
I enjoyed the final challenge of felling the two and half metre long main trunk sans smaller offshoots at the end of the job. At a good 45cm in diameter, the trunk was like butter to the sharp teeth of the saw and the final horizontal cut left a good finish to the butt – a beer table for a barbecue evening perhaps?
Definitely a great little saw with a lot of bite and power and up to date safety features that make on feel confident of its handling.