CHOICE membership

Power & Chain Saws

Choice has tests and buying guides on power tools, like drills and non-powered tools, like ladders, secateurs, garden tools, but nothing on saws; handsaws, power saws, for the home renovator or hobbyist.

It is a bit of a gap - a buying guide would be good.

I’ll admit a personal interest here - we are looking for a saw to cut hardwood joists, plates, studs & noggins to rebuild the interior of a shed eaten out by white ants. Choice is always my first port of call and discussions with friends shows little knowledge of the industry, preferring to take what Bunnings recommends. The types of saw available, particularly powered, has changed from when I last bought C.1980’s 1990’s.

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I’d expect Choice would need to consider how to size up the quality and duty of a brand and model range.

Are you also asking as well for a guide on which power tools are most useful for each type of work?

In the interim, I spend more time than I’d like on our 1880’s vintage cottage. All hardwood framing and decking.
I get the most use out of a sliding compound mitre saw, followed by a handheld circular saw and finally an electric reciprocating saw (timber and metal cutting blades). I get the most use out of the first, but the greatest utility out of the last when trying to cut out damaged from good.

A simple mitre drop saw might suit most users for framing as opposed to the more expensive and more complex compound sliding mitre saws. Fast neat square or bevel cuts. Just be sure it can cut through your largest corner posts in one go.

Choice might need to narrow it down as there are numerous brands and ranges at different price points within each brand.

It is important to note with all saws that the thicker or larger the timber, especially with hardwood the larger the blade diameter required and more powerful the saw needs to be.

Choice might like to comment on battery vs corded. There is a lot to be said for battery over corded for safety for hand tools. There are other trade offs though, including price.

For the home workshop where use is not heavy duty and often, convenience has won over one of the family whose trade is in cutting and joining timber. The workshop has one of everything from a well known economically priced range that shares batteries on most tools.

P.S.
I’d consider a cordless framing nailer if there is a large work load. They are available for hire, given the purchase price might be more than the shed is worth.

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Pretty keen for Choice to do a whole bunch of tool reviews. There’s too much focus on what gets used inside the house and not enough on important stuff like chainsaws, log splitters etc. etc.

Particularly like to know if any of what comes out of companies like Ozito is worth having …

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@cmpmal, I used to look to magazines like Australian Home Handyman for advice on tools. What to use for what purposes. I am not sure that Choice is the place for specialist tool advice.
As far as Ozito goes, I have lots of power tools from Bunnings under that house brand. Never had any of them fail me. Everything from cordless drills to electric lawn mower.

An example of what I’m referring to is: I have a Stihl chainsaw and on hardwood, I’d just like to know if anything could come close, as they’re seriously expensive.

The only place I’d trust for product tests is Choice …

I have lots of Ozito power tools including band saw, cross cut, hammer drill, table saw and the only minor complaint I have is that sometimes the table is too small but I have now mounted it flush into a larger bench. I think they make some of their items like the drill press a little smaller gap wise to save cost. The price however is great even with those considerations.

The following recent overview of some of the brands might be useful.

Stihl is not the only notable high end brand. Hasqvarna and Honda are also from the more expensive end of the market.

While local councils and others seem to favour the big names, I’ve noticed many of the local contractors buy on price (cheaper is better) from the lesser known brands found in the major tool warehouses. EG Trade Tools. - Renegade.
https://www.tradetools.com/search?ProductSearch=Chain%20saws

Whether it’s a $1,000 Stihl or $250 ‘Brand-X’ experience suggests that if you look after the fuel system and do basic maintenance both options are near enough to equal on the day. More so the cheaper brands as it’s possible to buy a higher capacity engine for less. With hardwood a sharp chain, technique and horsepower in that order. Buy a good quality 2stroke oil and always mix with fresh unleaded fuel. Note all fuel has a use by date 4weeks best before without extra fuel stabiliser. And don’t leave fuel sitting in the engines for any length of time (months) unused. The owners manuals should have instructions regarding short and long term storage actions.

I do have several Stihl products, but also Ryobi, Poulain and Ozito (electric only).

P.S.
I’ll suggest Choice would do a much better job of advising on chainsaws than Canstar Blue, if Choice saw the need/benefits for members.

Our Stihl Wood Boss is over 30 years old and “stihl” starts fairly quickly despite the vintage fuel left in it.

After a cyclone hit Cairns some years ago, we went to my wife’s parent’s home to clear the tree damage and the chainsaw did not initially start.

My wife’s sister’s brother-in-law who lived diagonally across the back fence asked me if I had left the fuel in it, but a few attempts saw the beast roar into life.

“Stihl working”. You bet.

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I don’t share your confidence about the Brand Xs (which is why I wish Choice would test them) and hardwood.

They can do the business on your pine etc., but when it gets down to a couple hours’ cutting though logs that are 1-2 foot, in my experience, the cheapies just fall over …

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They certainly don’t sell themselves as Tradesman quality. They have on their boxes that they are for household/craft use not commercial. For casual use they do very well and the price is right. They handle hardwood well enough but only for light to moderate use.

If you want more intense usage then you need to pay the price for those items that are more commercial usage in nature.

I’m sure CHOICE will look into doing tests if they have the budget to do so, but I don’t think we will see the higher priced heavier duty products tested as funds would not support that. There are of course other sources of information such as Woodworking groups, Mens Sheds and others who may be better sources in this regard.

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If a ‘cheapies’ brand claims to be suitable for such purposes and does fail when used for such purposes, then the consumer guarantee under the Australian Consumer Law would come into play. Looking at say the Ozito website, it does not exclude chainsaws cutting 1-2 foot logs. One model indicates that it is designed specifically for felling up to 330mm logs (just over a foot in diameter).

If one uses a domestic designed tool for commercial purposes, then the warranty may be voided and there may not be any restitution possible under the ACL. In such case, it would fall under ‘misused a product in any way that caused the problem.’ Misuse as the product has been used for a purpose it wasn’t designed for (or in contrary to the user manual) and this use caused the failure.

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That might answer the request. Any user who intends to spend 2-4 hours running a petrol chain saw on a regular basis might easily justify a more expensive commercial grade product. That’s a lot of stops to retention the chain, clean the drive, refill the bar oil and fuel tank. Also unlikely to be the average Choice home user.

The cheapies may or may not keep up with the continuous duty cycle. Especially if source quality is variable, there will be good examples and not so good. Any fair dinkum test might need to purchase 10-20 samples at random from different serial no sequences to find the whole truth? How many tanks of fuel required to run the motors in? How many tanks of fuel and logs to test the durability and reliability?

P.S. don’t forget the quality of the cutting chain, especially with hardwood or dirty wattle. I find fresh pine the most bothersome because of the high sap/resin content clogging everything up.

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I don’t think they have ever intended them for heavy duty use. They do make that clear enough on all the products I have purchased. I also agree that the warranty would be voided if used in a manner contrary to what they were designed for and supply a couple of examples of what they intended below.

The terms of their coverage are quite explicitly laid out for at least one of the chainsaws:

"WARNING
The following actions will result in the warranty being void.

• Professional, Industrial or high frequency use.
• If the tool shows signs of damage or defects caused by or resulting from abuse, accidents or alterations.
• Failure to perform maintenance as set out within the instruction manual.
• If the tool is disassembled or tampered with in any way.
• Professional, industrial or high frequency use."

Note they repeat the warning re professional, industrial or high frequency use. It is meant for light to moderate use in a “domestic” use scenario. Perhaps just a typo but still it reinforces the warning.

In the heavier 41CC one again the coverage for warranty states:

"WARNING

The following actions will result in the warranty being void.

Professional, Industrial or high frequency use. (my bolding)
• If the tool shows signs of damage or defects caused by or resulting from abuse, accidents or alterations.
• Failure to perform maintenance as set out within the instruction manual.
• If the tool is disassembled or tampered with in any way."

It is clear it isn’t for hours of heavy duty work.

On some of them they even say “THIS PRODUCT IS INTENDED FOR DIY USE ONLY.”. I think it is pretty clear that the intended usage is not commercial, and/or heavy duty.

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You get what you pay for?

The Ozito PCS-406B has an Oregan branded bar and chain :+1:, easy to start recoil system :ok_hand:, and a great price at Bunnings.

A similar bar length and engine capacity Stihl MS231-CBE is heavier, adds a tool-less chain tensioner, weighs more and may come with an extended warranty beyond 12 months depending on the deal on the day.

The Ozito (1.5kW) requires a heavier 40:1 two stroke mix compared to the 50:1 Stihl (2.0kW). Note the power difference.

The Stihl model comes from the Land Owner (the pro saws are all another $1,000) middle of the road product range for $849rrp.

Ozito at Bunnings just $148.

Note:
Stihl also produce a home owner range starting at $249rrp if you feel the need to have a bright Orange tool collection.

There are numerous lithium battery powered options from Ryobi, Ozito, Stihl, Hasqvarna etc. A single battery system can be used on the chain saw, brush cutter, pole pruner, hedge trimmer, leaf rearranging tools or even the lawn mower. Probably enough for the average large back yard, quieter except the blower, and zero two-stroke to mix.

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I recall a few years ago that how one purchases a tool may also impact on Warranty. There was a community member who bought a domestic tool for personal use at home on their Bunnings PowerPass Account. As this account is set up for ‘professional trade customers’ and the warranty associated with the tool was for DIY/domestic applications, Bunnings refused the warranty claim as they could only assume that the tool was bought for professional purposes as it was bought using one of their ‘professional trade customers’ accounts.

The thread which discussed this particular issue possibly also contains information relevant to the above discussion.

(Bunnings, Powerpass automatically invalidates your warranty for products not deemed trade, by staff)

Other tool manufacturers also has domestic and commercial ranges. Bosch blue and green… and Ryobi once did as well.

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Some of the tools here aren’t common consumer items and may be classed as trade tools, so perhaps are not Choice’s first focus. How many homes have a $900 SCMS or chain saw?
There are tests of some in woodworking magazines and blogs.
Handsaws are a large and exotic group. My dad knew a cross-cut and a rip in the workshop and a bow saw in the garden. I have many more.

You’ve done better than me on the ozito lawn mower then, I’m on my third in five years but with the 3 year warranty I’ve only paid for one. I wonder how they make a profit.

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@andrew.p as others have posted, it is horses for courses. I have a little front lawn, and my Ozito lawn mower does the job. No fuss with petrol, starting the damn thing up, it just works.

My front lawn ‘isn’t’ - my battery powered (charged during the day from the panels) blower blows the leaves from the gum trees away in no time. My back yard requires no maintenance, but the sand is mighty hot in summer when hanging out the washing :slight_smile:

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What is a reasonably priced petrol chainsaw with 20 inch chain