Aimed at: pro users or anyone that needs a really good cordless circ saw.
Pros: powerful, accurate, and easy to adjust- with all the modern electronics to guarantee effiency.
Hitachi power tools have always had a reputation for rugged build and solid performance and I think, have been unjustly overlooked in some quarters. Possibly this might have been because of their quirky detailing and “individual” presentation, but every Hitachi owner I have ever spoken to will refer to the solid reliability and long working life of their Hitachi tools.
With the launch of the Hitachi 6Ah battery pack earlier in the year, a number of cordless tools that can take advantage of them were launched simultaneously. I tried the 136Nm DV18DBXL Combi Drill and risked broken wrists trying to get the most out of it – but it sure underlined the power on tap from the new brushless motors and 6Ah battery packs. And no-one could complain about the sophisticated restyling and ergonomic handling of it either.
So the chance to get my hands on the C18DBAL cordless circular saw just as I was about to start my annual spring activity of cutting hardwood planks into more manageable sizes for furniture making, was well timed.
Although available in what is becoming the “compulsory” plastic stacking boxes, I was happy to get the saw in its “naked” form – without batteries and charger, for the review. For end users this is a great way of saving money and space – there are only so many batteries and chargers that we can accumulate before we have enough.
Just by picking it up users will realise that a lot of work has gone into the design of the tool to make it robust, easy to handle and very functional. For example, the main handle is covered in black grippy rubber overmould with the bottom part of the handle dimpled for extra grip. There is a handy black knob handle for the left hand to grip onto for providing a steady guiding influence on the cut.
Another good feature is the rubber “bumpers” provided on the left hand side of the motor and battery housing. These allow the saw to be safely sat on its side rather than on the blade cover, which may risk blade damage.
Just underneath the handle right on the centre of gravity, is the surprisingly compact motor and just behind that, the robust slides for the battery pack. This system of battery mounting works well, as well as concentrating the weight at the bottom of the saw. I largely used the 6Ah battery pack for my review, but the Hitachi mounting has full compatibility with all Hitachi slide-type battery packs – and these go back some years.
One of the main reasons why Lithium Ion has finally been “tamed’ as a reliable power source, is that engineers have managed to build in sophisticated electronic controls on motors, chargers and battery packs to prevent overheating and deep discharge, as well as allowing optimum times for battery charging. The Hitachi system is completely up to date and uses some of the most reliable battery packs available today, so it delivers punchy power for every charge, as well as ensuring that battery packs last as long as possible.
There are a couple of nice additions to this saw that users can either ignore or use, depending on their tastes. Directly under the main handle is a small panel of indicator lights. Press the battery icon and it will show the state of the battery charge. Press the middle switch and the user has the option to select a bright LED worklight that illuminates the cut line when needed. This turns on automatically when the motor trigger is pulled and goes off after a short time when the motor stops.
There is also a “silent” mode that can be selected. This allows the motor to run at reduced revs and more quietly when it is not under load, but as soon as the blade engages with the workpiece, full power kicks in.
I used the saw mostly for cutting 45 and 50mm thick oak and beech and I soon came to appreciate the solid cast alloy base and guarding of the blade, as well as the spring-loaded bottom blade cover.
The base is very rigid with straight sides so it is easy to use with a guide rail if needed.
Other controls are simple and effective too. A clearly marked depth of cut quadrant is easy to set via a cammed lever that make adjustment quick, easy and secure. With a depth of cut of 66mm at 90 degrees and 45mm at 45 degrees the saw has enough capacity to deal with “second-fix” carpentry needs, and could probably take on some “first fix” applications where portability is a requirement.
Setting angles for angled cuts is again very easy as the two angle quadrants are part of the robust cast base and all that is needed is to unscrew the fixings (no tools needed) and set the angle. As is the case with all portable saws, if you want perfect angles, make sure you have an angle finder with you for the settings, because the markings on the quadrants are only guides. But what is good, is that there is an adjustable grub screw that can be used to set perfect right angles from base to blade should that become necessary.
Safety-wise this Hitachi is advanced. It has an electronic motor brake that stops the blade within seconds once the trigger is released. It also has an electronic kick back prevention system that monitors blade speed in use and will stop the motor if it feels like the blade is binding in the cut. I really needed that a couple of times when I was cutting up some very twisty elm that seemed to move with every cut I made.
There is an optional dust collection nozzle that can be attached to the top of the main blade guard and both main and sliding blade guards are strongly made and operate effectively.
After using this saw for several days cutting a variety of timber and boards I came to like it – a lot. And I found that my site mate reached for it very often too. The combination of cordless motor, 6Ah battery pack and advanced electronics coupled with a really solidly made body meant that it was a safe and versatile workhorse of a machine that embodies the tough and reliable image of Hitachi.
For more information on Hitachi Power Tools, please visit www.hitachi-powertools.co.uk