This Oregon cordless chainsaw is part of the Oregon 36V Cordless Tool System, where their PowerNow Lithium Ion battery and charger are interchangeable throughout the tool range, thus keeping the price down on subsequent additions to your range of tools. Here we put this unique ’self-sharpening' chainsaw to work and see if the famous Oregon name stands the test of time where cordless equipment is concerned.
Appearance and Build Quality
The first striking thing about this Oregon CS300 cordless chainsaw is that it has the squat appearance of a petrol driven saw, with the battery sliding into the top of the body above the handle. This means that it balances nicely when being handled; looking and feeling very ergonomic. The body of the saw is solid and durable, which is obviously essential for any outdoor tool that must put up with rigorous use. Of course, Oregon are world famous for their chain guide bars and chains, with these being used on many other manufacturer's chainsaws, so there is immediately a sense of quality about the 40cm (16in) guide bar included with this chainsaw.
The set-up is simple and quick once oil has been added, but unusually with this saw, the guide bar itself has to have the chain tensioning mechanism fastened to it before sliding it onto the drive sprocket. This is an easy process and the system seems to work well when tensioning the chain. Of course, the battery has to be pushed into place once charged - then the chainsaw is ready to use.
The first thing to note is that this has a very quiet 36v motor, running the chain at 14.2m/s when not cutting. With safety in mind, we started by checking the front hand-guard brake was working and are pleased to report that on being activated the chain and motor immediately stop.
The cutting chain supplied with the self-sharpening set-up is quite a rough, general purpose chain, suitable for most tree felling and logging work. We found that it reliably cut through everything we set it to do, with older 'seasoned' tree branches and new tree limbs that were full of pine sap and quite wet, being cut through and made into logs simply and quietly. We did notice that the motor simply stops occasionally if it becomes too stressed, but it always carries on when the bar is slightly lifted away from the cut and then continues without any problems. This seems to be a safety mechanism to stop the motor becoming damaged, which must be a good thing, because motors that are pushed under stress always burn out in the end. However, this doesn't happen with the Ego 56v battery operated chainsaw we previously reviewed, so those extra volts must improve the motor's torque.
A very important thing when using this Oregon CS300 chainsaw is the low level of reverberation for the user. Unlike petrol driven chainsaws, the electric motor is smooth and is not constantly reverberating through your arms. This, and the quietness of the motor, make the whole process of woodcutting a far less tiring business. Having said that, it is important to remember at all times that although it is quiet, this is still a powerful chainsaw and all the normal safety precautions must be taken.
Built-in Chain Sharpener
Unique to this chainsaw and quite exciting to us is the inclusion of the 'PowerSharp' chain sharpening system. For anyone who has ever sharpened a chain by hand, or simply ended up buying chain after chain, this is quite a revelation. When the chain becomes blunt and is not cutting easily, the operator simply pulls a lever to bring the sharpening stone into place for 3-5 seconds (be warned there are some visible sparks) and the chain is sharpened miraculously and automatically. This definitely works and is something we found to be extremely useful and time-saving. The only possible downside to this is that the chain must be the correct type for the sharpening process and the removable sharpening stone should be replaced with the chain, but this must be worthwhile for the ease of use that accompanies the whole self-sharpening process.
Battery & Charger
Integral to the whole idea of the Oregon 36V Cordless Tool System is obviously the PowerNow battery and the ability to charge it up for use. Modern Lithium Ion rechargeable batteries are now able to perform incredibly well, with high capacity and no fading during use, as well as retaining charge for many months when not in use. Oregon offer two 36v battery choices, a 2.4Ah and a 4.00Ah for 66% longer use. We have the 4.00Ah, and fully charged this is supposed to be able to make 440 cuts through 2-3 inch material (with the 2.4Ah battery making 270 cuts). In practice we found that it stayed charged for a good hour and more of fairly solid work - using it on and off as logs were moved and branches set up to be lopped, etc., so we have no reason to disbelieve the stated capacities. The battery has four LED lights that show the state of charge at any given time.
There are two charging options with the system. One is a standard charger (C600 @ £35) that charges the 4.00Ah battery from flat in three and a half hours, but the other rapid charger (C750 @ £45) is well worth the small extra investment, it is a fan cooled charger and really speeds things up. We charged our battery from half full in around 20 minutes using this. Both chargers have LED indicators to show how the charging is progressing.
To Sum Up
Cordless electric tools are now serious business, with modern Lithium Ion batteries holding a good charge and not fading during use. At around a £300 price mark, this Oregon chainsaw, model no: CS300, which is one of the PowerNow battery driven tools from the Oregon Cordless Tool System, is solidly built and able to contend with serious tree cutting and logging, but the truly remarkable feature has to be its ability to sharpen the chain so simply and directly at the pull of a lever