The CS33EB16 16-Inch 32.2cc 2-Stroke Gas-Powered Rear Handle Chain Saw is manufactured by Hitachi, which also owns the Tanaka brand.
Powered by Hitachi’s PureFire 2-stroke engine, the company has come up with a lightweight design which provides an excellent power to weight ratio for optimum performance.
In this review we’ll look in detail at what’s good and not so good about this saw so that you can decide if it’s right for you.
Carry on reading to discover more.
Performance and Handling
According to Hitachi’s marketing information, the CS33EB16 is a commercial grade saw designed for both professional and homeowner use. That’s a pretty bold claim to make which would put it alongside some big name products. So how does it stand up to scrutiny?
For a gas saw it is reasonably light (weighing around 11lbs.), which means that it offers a decent power to weight ratio. The weight also makes it a pretty easy saw to handle, as does the saw’s five point anti-vibration system designed to increase user comfort. Front handle vibration is measured at 9.2 m/s² and rear handle at 6.7m/s². These values fall into the medium range (anything below 5 m/s² is considered low, 10 m/s² and above high. At these levels you should limit the amount of time spent cutting and should only spend around 35 minutes in each hour period using the saw. These levels do seem on the high side but the figures have been supplied by the manufacturer and so there is no reason to doubt them. If you suffer from any hand complaints, this saw may not be for you. Wearing anti-vibration chainsaw gloves is definitely recommended.
In conclusion, if you are used to using similar tools, you will find the Hitachi very manageable.
One complaint with many gas saws is that they can sometimes be difficult to start. This isn’t an issue with this saw with consumers advising that it starts easily. A lot of the literature states that there is a purge prime bulb to help with this. This is not correct. To start you simply need to flick the ignition switch to ON, pull the choke lever into position and then pull the starter cord. When the first ignition is heard, the choke is returned to its original position and the recoil starter pulled again.
The manufacturer advises that it produces a noise level at the operators ear of 92 dB(A). Whilst this isn’t overly noisy for a gas powered saw, prolonged exposure to noise at these levels can lead to hearing damage so if you plan on doing any lengthy cutting, ear protection is recommended.
So what is this chainsaw capable of doing? It is designed for light and medium duty cutting. User feedback suggests that it is easy to use and cuts small and medium sized trees quite well. If you’re cutting wood with a diameter up to 10 inches, you won’t have any problems. However, some users did report that when cutting larger pieces the lack of power meant the saw got a little bogged down and tended to overheat. Other uses also mentioned that the saw lacked the power to support a 16 inch bar and that a 14 inch bar (a 14 inch version is available) is more appropriate.
In summary, it is hard to make a case that this is a commercial grade chainsaw. It struggles when tackling more demanding tasks. That said, it has an excellent power to weight ratio and performs well when carrying out light duty tasks.
The CS33EB16 is equipped with a 16 inch Oregon bar and chain. As indicated above this model is available with a 14 inch bar (CS33EDTP).
Both sized bars are designed for lower kickback and have a sprocket nose. This helps the chain to turn more easily around the bar for better cutting. When maintaining the bar, users will need to grease to sprocket hole at the tip of the bar on a regular basis. You can buy a grease syringe for around $10 to do this.
The chains are also Oregon made. They are low kickback chains with 3/8” pitch and 0.05” gauge (thickness). This is the most popular sized chain currently available as it is both reasonably strong and offers good cutting performance.
The saw has a chain brake (see Safety Features section) and the chain speed is almost 24 m/sec which is reasonable for a saw in this class.
Keeping the chain correctly tensioned is a simple operation requiring use of the tool provided with this purchase. The two bar cover nuts on the side of the saw are loosened and the tension screw (also on the side of the saw) is turned to tighten or loosen as required. This shouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes. As with all new saws, the chain will stretch more when new so users should pay particular attention to the cutting components during the first 30 minutes or so of use.
Ensuring that the chain is kept sharp is also critical for good performance. This should be done professionally if you have no experience of this. Alternatively, if you are used to sharpening your own chains or think that this is something you could learn (Read our article: What size chain do I need for my chainsaw which covers this subject in more detail) then you will need a 5/32” (4mm) round file and holder together with a flat file and guard.
Design and Construction
The Hitachi CS33EB16 has a traditional rear handle design. The outer casings are made from hard plastic (which helps keep the weight down) and the engine has a chrome plated cylinder and forged steel connecting rod, plus a heavy duty oiler for extra durability.
The picture below provides a view of the left side of the saw. There are no unusual features here. The trigger switch and lockout levers are on the rear handle. Both the oil and fuel tank caps are large and easily accessible which should make filling up easy. There is a full wrap front handle which allows easy cutting at different angles and just in front of this a hand guard, which when pushed forward acts as the chain brake.
The image below shows the position of the ignition switch and choke lever. As part of your maintenance program you will need to occasionally clean the air filter and spark plug. Access to this is straightforward and users simply need to turn the locking button to remove the cover.
The final image shows the position of the bar cover nuts and tensioning screw.
The saw does not come fully assembled. You will need to attach the bumper spikes (optional) as well as the bar and chain. Full instructions are provided on how to do this.
32cc PureFire Engine
Power is provided by Hitachi’s 32.2cc PureFire 2-stroke engine, designed for lower emissions. It is able to provide 1.6 HP and whilst this is okay, it doesn’t really justify the ‘commercial grade’ tag.
In terms of fuel, you will need to use a mix of gas and genuine 2-cycle oil. The manufacturer recommends a ratio 50:1. The gas should be a minimum 89 octane (the higher octane the better) and have a low or no ethanol content. High ethanol content in fuel has been known to damage engine components and at the very least will result in poor performance. Using a premix oil is an option if you are uncertain about the type of fuel to use.
The fuel tank capacity is 0.75 US pint and the fuel consumption is rated at 500 g/kWh. In effect this means that you will use around 0.8 liters (0.2) gallon per hour when the saw is at minimum revs of 3,100 rpm. The maximum revs on this saw is 12,500 rpm.
Chain Oil System
Another important aspect of chainsaw operation is keeping the cutting components properly lubricated. The Hitachi has an automatic oiling system so users don’t need to remember to manually release the oil to the bar.
A good quality bar and chain oil should be used and this is added through the cap on the side of the saw. The oil reservoir itself has a capacity of 8.5 oz. (250ml), which is a decent size compared to other saws.
A couple of reviewers mentioned that the CS33EB16 leaks a lot of oil during storage. This is a problem which affects many saws and if you find your saw leaking, the best solution is to ensure you drain the tank before storing.
The CS33EB16 is equipped with a variety of safety features, including:
- Oregon bar and chain designed to reduce kickback.
- A chain brake which will activate in the event of serious kickback. The brake is activated by pushing the front hand guard into the forward position. It is designed to stop the saw immediately.
- Chain catcher. This small device on the underside of the saw is designed to stop a slipped or broken chain hitting the operator.
- Hand guards which prevent the operator’s hands from coming into contact with both the chain and any flying debris.
- Throttle trigger lockout switch which prevents the accidental operation of the throttle trigger.
- Spiked bumper. This acts as a pivot when in contact with the log to provide more stable cutting.
Whilst the safety features will help to keep the operator safe to an extent, it is recommend that appropriate safety gear is worn at all times. This, along with the proper operation of the saw will ensure the user remains safe.
One of the Hitachi’s unique selling points is its good power to weight ratio. This saw weighs 8.4 lbs. without the cutting equipment. With the cutting equipment attached the weight will be around 11lbs. which is one of the lightest gas saws you will find on the market for sale.
The CS33EB16 comes with an operator’s manual, guide bar cover and tool to be used when changing the spark plug and adjusting chain tension.
• Very light for a gas saw
• Good power to weight ratio
• Starts well
• Automatic oiling system
• 7 year warranty
• Slightly underpowered with 16 inch bar
• Can overheat during heavy cutting
• Leaks oil during storage
There are over a hundred reviews online for the Hitachi, with almost 70% rating the product as either excellent or good.
Users liked the fact that the saw is lightweight and easy to handle, as well as the fact that it is easy to start. Consumers were also pleased with its performance, especially on smaller cutting tasks.
Some consumers felt that the saw is a little under-powered with the 16 inch bar and chain and that the 14 inch bar is more appropriate. Others mentioned that the saw can overheat when making more demanding cuts on larger logs and trees so care should be exercised not to over tax this saw.
You should buy this saw if:
• You want a gas saw for light cutting duties
• You want a lightweight, manageable gas saw.
You should not buy this saw if:
• You have a lot of heavy duty cutting
Price and Recommendation
The Hitachi CS33EB16 is priced under $200 which compares with the Husqvarna 240 2HP (a similar saw). If you are looking for a 16 inch saw then we would suggest that the Husqvarna represents a slightly better deal.
As mentioned, the Hitachi comes with a 14 inch blade (CS33EDTP), which costs slightly over $200. We think that this length bar is more suited to this chainsaw and which we believe would make a better buying option.