If you’re not a fan of gas powered chainsaws and need to do some cutting far away from your nearest power point, a battery powered saw could be just the answer. In this review I’ll tell you exactly why the Black and Decker LSC 1020 20V Lithium Ion Chainsaw is a great saw for dealing with all those small jobs around your property and why it would also make a great accompaniment to a larger saw in your tool collection.
Manufactured by a long established and trusted power tool brand, this versatile little saw is both easy to use and maintain. Read on to discover more.
Performance and Handling
Let’s first have a look at what this saw is capable of doing. The manufacturer states that the LCS1020 is ‘ideal for pruning applications and cutting small logs up to 10 inches in diameter.’ This statement is no doubt accurate but does it really tell the whole story?
The saw is perfect for light pruning. It is lightweight and maneuverable and the fact that it doesn’t have a cord means it’s great for close quarter cutting when you need to get the saw bar into tight and awkward situations. If you have a small yard overgrown with brush the LCS1020 will clear it in no time.
Being battery powered also makes it an ideal saw to take with you on camping trips if you need to cut up some light firewood or to do work around your home in those places where an extension cord just won’t reach. Sure, your gas powered saw can also do this but sometimes it doesn’t make sense to get out the ‘big guns’ just to do a few small cutting jobs. After all, do you really need a 20 inch blade or want to go to the trouble of mixing oil and gas just to cut through a few small branches?
Having established that this a great saw for pruning, what about Black and Decker’s claim that it is ideal for cutting small logs with a diameter up to 10 inches? Whilst the saw will definitely cut through a 10 inch log, you are likely to find that prolonged use at this level will quickly drain the battery. Many users have commented that the saw will comfortably get through branches up to 5” maybe 6” thick but after this it begins to struggle. The thicker the branch the more the LCS1020 will struggle and the quicker you are likely to use up battery power. If you have a large one-off task, such as taking down a 10 inch diameter tree this saw will probably do it with some patience (and possibly a spare battery) but you will get most out of this saw when using it for minor cuts, small trees and shrubs and small sections of firewood.
As with most electric saws, starting the LCS1020 up is very simple. All you need to do is engage the lock off switch (positioned on top of the rear handle) and then squeeze the trigger switch. This should set the tool running, at which point the lock switch can be released. To stop the saw, simply take your finger off the trigger switch.
To summarize, this saw is easy to start, handle and operate. The only issue you may have is that because the saw is so light it has a tendency to bounce around off the limbs. A few users have mentioned this but it shouldn’t be an issue as long as you keep full control of the saw. It may not be the biggest saw in the world, but it’s still dangerous!
The Black and Decker LCS1020 comes with a 10 inch premium Oregon low kickback bar and chain. Oregon are one of the leading manufacturers of guide bars and chains so you know that the quality will be good.
There is handy marking on the guide bar which shows you the direction in which the chain should be fitted. This might seem obvious to an experienced user but there are plenty of people who have fitted the chain on the wrong way only to discover their error when realizing the chain doesn’t actually cut. One final note on the bar, you cannot swap it for a larger or smaller one on this saw.
The chain itself is an Oregon Micro-Lite. It has a 40 links, a pitch (distance between links) of 3/8” and gauge (link thickness) of 0.043”. This is a popular size and is proven to have good cutting ability to weight ratio. Like all chains, you should ensure that it is kept in good condition and sharpened when necessary. One thing to note, as with all chains the cutters will dull immediately if they touch the ground or hit a nail while cutting.
To sharpen the chain you should use a 4.5mm file and a file holder which will ensure you always get the right sharpening angles. You can pick up a sharpening kit for less than $15 if you don’t already have the necessary tools.
In terms of cutting ability the chain does a pretty good job when used for its intended purpose of light cutting. One common complaint from a number of users is that the chain tends to loosen very easily and needs to be regularly tightened. With some saws, where you need tools to adjust the chain tension, this would be a real issue. However, on the LCS1020, tensioning the chain is easy thanks to the large chain tensioning knob on the outside of the saw. Full instructions on how to do this are provided in the manual but this is a simple procedure which can be done quickly and without fuss.
Lastly, with regards to chain tension, the manufacturer recommends that when the saw is new you check the tension regularly during the first few hours of use. (After removing the battery). As with all saws this is the time when a chain is most prone to stretching.
Design and Construction
The LCS1020 is constructed of metal and hard plastic which aids its lightweight construction. It’s probably not the most robust saw you will come across but then again it was never designed to be a tool you could throw around.
There is a lock-off button positioned on the top of the rear rubberized handle and this is used in conjunction with the trigger switch to prevent accidental starting. The rear handle also has a guard to protect the right hand against flying debris.
You will note from the photographs that the front handle is the ‘half wrap’ type which comes as standard on most chainsaws made today. If you like to grip the front handle on the side as opposed to the top, you may find your grip slightly impaired by the battery unit which is on the same side of the saw. You will therefore need to grip the handle above the battery unit. Just in front of this handle you will find a plastic guard for left hand protection.
Turning to the powerhead, the oil cap and oil primer bulb are positioned on top of the unit in an easily accessible place. The primer bulb actually forms part of the screw off cap. There is also a translucent window on the oil reservoir which helps you to keep an eye on that all important chain oil level. It also helps to prevent overspill when filling up.
On the left hand side of the saw you will find the power unit into which the battery is slotted. On the right hand side there is a sprocket cover which needs to be removed to fit the bar and chain. The saw doesn’t come assembled so you will need to fit the bar upon receipt. There are instructions both in the manual and on the side of the sprocket cover showing how this is done. On the LCS1020 it is a pretty simple task which you can perform without any tools.
Of course, if you are a fan of electric saws, the major benefit is that you are not restrained by a cord. This means you don’t have to worry about getting the right length, proper gauge extension cord or taking a portable generator with you if you aren’t near a power socket. You also don’t need to be concerned about a cord hindering you whilst you are cutting.
Which brings us on to the power source. The LCS1020 is equipped with a Lithium-Ion 20v 2 amp hour battery.
A lithium-ion battery is simply a type of rechargeable battery. It has several advantages over other types of rechargeable battery including being lighter, holding its charge better and also having no memory effect (which means it doesn’t have to be completely depleted before recharging).
In terms of voltage, it has a power rating of 20v, although the nominal voltage is 18v. If you’re not sure, the nominal voltage (sometimes referred to as the normal voltage) is measured at the mid-point between fully charged and fully discharged.
The battery is rated as two amp hours, which means it should be capable of delivering a current of two amps to a load for one hour, or one amp for two hours and so on. There is a lot of theoretical stuff about amp hours that you don’t really need to worry about. It’s useful for comparing batteries (for example a four amp hour battery will have more capacity than a two amp hour battery so if you are using it on the same device will last longer) but all that really matters is how long the charge will last. We’ll come to that shortly.
At the outset, the manufacturer advises that the battery will take between 3-5 hours to fully charge with the battery charger provided. In case you were wondering, the battery is also included and is a standard Black and Decker product which is interchangeable with their other battery powered tools. If you already own some Black and Decker products using this size battery, like a drill or a weed whacker for example, you will already have a supply of back up batteries. As you can see from the video below, the battery included is part of Black and Decker’s 20V Max system.
Fitting the battery to the saw is simply a case of sliding it into the tool and removing it with the release button is just as easy.
Now to the all-important question, how long will the battery last? This really depends on the nature of the work being carried out. For light cutting you should get between 30 and 45 minutes of continuous use. If, for example, you were cutting 1.5 inch thick limbs, you would get around 200 cuts. For more heavy duty work you may find that the battery is depleted after just 20-25 minutes of continuous cutting. It’s always a good idea, therefore, to have a spare battery, particularly in those circumstances where you have a job which can’t be left unfinished. After all, you wouldn’t want to leave a partially felled tree! You should note that if you overtax the saw the battery will overheat and shut down. You will then have to wait for it to cool and in some circumstances recharge before using again.
For extra battery life you could upgrade to the 20V 4 Amp hour battery (Product reference: LB2X4020-OPE) which costs slightly over $50 but will provide twice the capacity of the 2AH.
Chain Oil System
The LCS1020 has a manually operated chain oiling system, which means you have to remember to release the oil during use. This is done by pressing the primer bulb on the oil cap three times before making each cut. This obviously isn’t as convenient as an automatic oiling system but after using the saw for a while it will become second nature.
Oil is added through the screw cap positioned on top of the unit and there is a translucent window and indicator which enables you to see the oil level. The level of oil should never be allowed to fall below a quarter full. The reservoir capacity is just over 50 ml (1.7 fl. Oz.) A quart of oil will cost around $10 and will fill the reservoir around 19 times.
As with all saws you should use a high quality bar and chain oil. The manufacturer advises that as a temporary substitute you can also use a non-detergent SAE30 weight motor oil. If you are pruning trees, a vegetable based bar and chain oil is recommended as this is not harmful to the trees.
Now the downside. Unfortunately, the biggest user complaint about the 1020 is its chain oiling system. Many users have complained that the manual oiler doesn’t work and that when the primer bulb is depressed no oil is released. This problem seems to be a bit hit and miss as it functions perfectly well on many saws.
The issue could be due to air being trapped in the system. A number of users said they were able to sort the problem by gently blowing air from a compressor through the rubber pump breathing hole. Obviously you shouldn’t have to go to the trouble of doing this and if you are unlucky enough to get a saw with a defective oil pump you should contact the manufacturer to resolve the issue. Interestingly, there are quite a few users who, despite the oiler problems, decided to keep the saw and oil the chain manually from an oil can. Note, oil is not provided with your purchase.
The LCS1020 has a range of safety features, including:
• Low kickback bar and chain (as designated by the ANSI B175 standard) to lessen the effects of kickback. You should not totally rely on this to protect you because kickback can still occur. Proper handling and avoiding certain actions can help. For example you should keep the elbow of your left arm locked so that it is straight, giving you proper control against kickback. Also, try not to touch objects with the nose or tip of the guide bar.
• Lock-off button. This must be depressed to enable the trigger button to operate, thereby preventing accidental start up.
• Front and rear handle guards to protect the hands against damage from flying objects and a snapped or derailed chain.
As always, you should not rely entirely on the saw’s safety features to keep you out of harm’s way and should use the product in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions at all times.
Including the bar, the product measures 26 inches long x 9 inches wide x 10 inches high.
It weighs 7.2 lbs. fully assembled.
It’s a reasonably small, lightweight saw which is relatively easy to store.
The saw comes with a user manual and guide bar scabbard. It doesn’t come with a carry case and unfortunately finding a suitable case is difficult. However, this saw will comfortably fit in a sports hold-all which can be bought for as little as $15.
• Excellent for close quarter cutting in tight spaces
• Easy to handle
• Simple chain tensioning feature
• Easy to start
• Not restricted by a cord
• Issues reported with the manual chain oiler.
• Not for heavy duty cutting.
• Chain tension needs to be checked regularly as it has a tendency to come loose.
There are hundreds of consumer reviews on line and it’s fair to say this chainsaw gets the thumbs up. Four out of every five reviews are positive. Buyers are happy with the saw’s portability, its ease of use and its ability to tackle a wide range of light cutting jobs. Buyers also like the tool-free chain tensioning mechanism (but not the fact that the chain tends to come loose quite often).
The main criticism of the saw is its chain oil system. Although Black and Decker claim that it is an improved system, the fact is that in many cases it does not work out of the box. Many technically minded individuals have been able to make adjustments to get the oiler working but this isn’t something that the buyer should have to do. That said, a number of buyers like the saw so much they have used an oil tin to manually oil the chain by hand.
You should buy this saw if:
• You want a saw to carry out light duties around the home.
• You want a portable saw that does not require access to a power point (for example to take on camping trips).
• You want a saw which is easy to assemble, start and handle
• You are looking for a small chainsaw to complement a larger saw in your tool collection
You should not buy this saw if:
• You need something to carry out medium/heavy tasks on a regular basis.
• You require the saw for prolonged use where depleted battery power may be an issue.
• You don’t want to go to the trouble of tightening the chain on a regular basis.
The LCS1020, although not perfect, has a lot of things going in its favor. It has some great features and is clearly very popular with consumers. At just over $100, the saw is worth the money.