Sometimes it’s worth spending a little extra to get a premium quality product and this is certainly the case with the Makita UC4051A Electric Chainsaw.
Many modern chainsaws have a lot of plastic components and some of them even feel down right flimsy! This certainly isn’t the case with the Makita. It has plenty of metal parts which gives it a solid, durable feel. Not only this, but it has some great features and in this review I’ll tell you exactly why it represents fantastic value for money. If you want a reliable saw which offers great performance, this could be just the product for you.
Carry on reading to discover more.
Performance and Handling
One of the first things you will notice about the UC4051A is how easy it is to handle and operate. The saw has a nice balance, helped by the fact that the motor sits directly in front of the handle and not to the side as you sometimes find with other chainsaws. The well-designed, rubberized handle grips also help to enhance user experience and handling comfort.
This is a well-built saw and, as such, isn’t as light as some other models on the market. If you want an ultra-light saw for occasional small cutting jobs, then the Makita isn’t for you. However, if you are used to handling reasonably heavy power tools then this saw shouldn’t pose you any problems.
In terms of vibration, the numbers confirm that this is reasonably low. At the front handle vibration is measured at 5.2 m/s2 and at the rear handle 3.9 m/s2. Anything below 5 m/s is considered to be low so front handle vibration is on the cusp of low/medium. If only used on an occasional basis for short periods the risk of vibration related injury is low, however I would always recommend the wearing of anti-vibration gloves for further protection, especially if you already have hand problems.
Having fitted the bar and chain, all you need to do is add bar and chain oil (see later) and you are ready to go. Unlike gas powered saws, the start-up process couldn’t be easier. It’s simply a case of engaging the lock-off button and pressing the switch trigger. The Makita comes with a soft start system – a feature not found on many other electric saws. Electric saws are so easy to fire up (especially compared to gas saws) that they often unsettle users as they reach full power more or less straight away. The soft start system allows the motor to gradually build up power, allowing the user more time to prepare. The other major benefit of a soft start system is that it can help to prolong the life of the saw’s mechanical parts. This topic, together with the other benefits of electric saws was covered in another article, which you may find of interest.
So what kind of work can you expect the saw to deal with? Well, it is primarily a saw for use around the home and farm, designed for light/medium cutting. It can therefore be used for a range of tasks such as felling small and medium sized trees, cutting firewood, clearing minor storm damage as well as limbing and pruning. As with most electric models, this isn’t a saw you would use every day but if you need an occasional use chainsaw this is perfect. Unlike gas saws, which tend to be temperamental when they have been sitting on the shelf for a while, the Makita will fire up every time and it certainly has the power of a small gas model.
This saw will comfortably handle limbs and wood with a diameter up to 12” and many users have used it for more demanding work. The bar length means that all other things being equal it should be able to cut through a log with a diameter of 14” in a single pass. Users advise that they have been able to cut through 14” cherry and walnut logs without problem. Others have used it to take down and buck medium sized trees (40 feet) in a single cutting session.
In summary, this saw is capable of dealing with most jobs a homeowner is likely to need carrying out. For heavy duty cutting this wouldn’t be suitable, but in any event these tasks are better suited to the professional.
The Makita UC4051A is equipped with a 16 inch guide bar and low-kickback Oregon chain. As you probably know, Oregon are one of the market leaders for chainsaw cutting accessories and it can be assumed that this chain is therefore of a decent quality.
The guide bar has a nose sprocket (as opposed to a hard nose) designed for more efficient cutting due to reduced friction. Hard nose bars with no sprocket aren’t as efficient and are more suitable for dirty conditions where the sprocket might get jammed. You will need to remember to grease the sprocket hole with a grease syringe (which can be bought for around $10). This is a straightforward job which will take a matter of seconds.
Turning to the chain, this has a 3/8” pitch, 0.05” gauge and 56 drive links. The 3/8” pitch is one of the most popular size chains. Even though it is slightly heavier than the 0.325” pitch found on some other saws, it offers an excellent balance between weight and cutting performance. The chain speed is just under 15 meters per second. This compares very well against most electric chainsaws.
One thing that should be pointed out is that this is a low kickback chain which is great for the inexperienced or occasional chainsaw user. Some experienced users who are comfortable dealing with kickback have chosen to replace this chain with a professional semi-chisel chain which offers no protection against kickback but improves cutting performance. This type of chain is excellent for cross cuts and will stay sharper for longer than the low-kickback chain but should only be employed by very experienced chainsaw users.
As with all chainsaws, the chains will stretch during use and this is more common when the chain is new. It’s important therefore that the chain tension is checked regularly and properly maintained. Failure to do so will result in poor cutting performance and the chain jumping from the bar, not to mention possible damage. On the UC4051A, keeping the chain tight is a breeze, thanks to the tool-less tensioning system. Instructions on how to do this are provided, but in a nut shell it involves loosening the sprocket cover and adjusting the tension dial. This is both fast and easy and as I mentioned no tools are required.
Finally, you should always keep your cutting equipment in top condition and this includes keeping the chain sharp. There are a number of telltale signs that a chain is dull, for example it has difficulty penetrating the wood or mealy sawdust is produced when cutting damp wood. If this happens it’s time to sharpen up. With this chain the manufacturer recommends using an 11/64” round file and provides instruction in the manual about how to do this. If you are not comfortable doing this have it done professionally.
Design and Construction
Most chainsaws have one or two standout features. In the case of the UC5051A it is its robust construction. Unusually for an electric chainsaw there are quite a few metal parts and whilst this adds to the weight, it makes this saw particularly robust and hard wearing. Indeed, one common comment from users is how solid and durable this unit feels.
Let’s have a look at the saw’s features.
As you can see from the diagram above. The Makita has a sleek, streamlined design. On the ergonomically designed rear handle there is a large on/off throttle switch. The large sprocket cover lever and chain tension dial are positioned on the right side of the saw. A traditional half-wrap handle is situated just behind the front hand guard, which doubles up as a chain brake.
On the left side of the saw (as per the diagram below), you will find the oil reservoir cap and window.
On the front of the saw, there is a set of bucking spikes (also known as dog spikes) which provide extra stability when sawing.
Upon receipt you will need to assemble the saw. No tools are required to do this and full instructions are provided in the operator’s manual. Essentially, this involves removing the sprocket cover and fitting the guide bar and chain. Don't worry about this, it's a straightforward procedure and should take you no more than a few minutes.
As mentioned above, this is a very well made saw and like a lot of power tools in the Makita range has a quality design and construction. As many consumers point out, it has the feel of a saw which will last a long time.
The UC4051A is powered by a 14.5 amp motor capable of generating around 2.3hp. This is at the top end for an electric saw and comparable with many smaller gas powered chainsaws. The motor is more than capable of handling all those jobs around the farm and yard for which it was designed.
One particularly clever and useful feature is the built-in current limiter. If for any reason the saw becomes overloaded, power to the motor will be reduced thereby protecting it from burn-out. This means that if you try to cut beyond the saw’s capabilities you will find that the power will be reduced, unlike some other saws where the motor would continue to strain to make the cut.
You will need to use an appropriate extension cord with this saw. This means having the correct gauge cord. If you have a 50 foot cord a 12 gauge cord or higher (such as a 10 gauge) should be used. Note, a hook is included to enable you to attach the machine’s power cord to the extension cord so that they do not come apart during use.
You can run this saw on a generator with sufficient capabilities. It needs to be able to generate around 2,000 watts of start up and running power.
Finally in this section, in case you were wondering this saw produces a noise level of around 90.8 dB(A), which is quite loud for an electric saw. At these noise levels, exposure beyond 30-60 minutes is likely to cause impairment to your hearing and for this reason you should consider using ear protection.
Chain Oil System
When it comes to the oiler, the Makita gives you the best of both worlds. First, it is an automatic system which means that the oil is released to the bar and chain as soon as you switch the saw on. This means that you simply have to fill the reservoir and go without worrying about releasing the oil manually. Secondly, unlike many chainsaws which use fixed flow systems, the oil release rate can be adjusted with the turn of a screw on the underside of the saw. This enables the operator to adjust the amount of oil released depending on the working conditions.
It shouldn’t be necessary to make any adjustments as the pump should keep the oil flowing at a constant rate, regardless of the oil viscosity or temperature. However, one of the many complaints about automatic oilers in general is that they throw out too much or not enough chain oil so the adjustable feature is nice to have as a back-up.
The oil reservoir capacity is 6.80z. (200ml), which is large enough to ensure that you are not refilling every five minutes. There is a handy translucent window on the reservoir, making it easy to monitor your oil levels.
One slight negative with the saw’s design is that the oil tank cap is positioned in a slightly awkward position. This makes it difficult to fill up straight from the bottle so you may wish to get a small funnel which will overcome the problem. The manufacturer recommends the use of a good quality, biodegradable chain oil. You can pick up a gallon of Makita own brand oil for around $26.
The UC4051A has an impressive list of safety features. These include:
- A chain brake. This operates when the front hand guard is pushed into a forward position and will bring the chain to a halt within 0.15 of a second. Equally instantaneous stopping of the chain will also occur if the trigger throttle is released.
- A lockout switch prevents the accidental start-up of the saw should the operator inadvertently press the throttle trigger.
- Front and rear hand guards protect the hands from flying pieces of wood as well as chain failure.
- A chain catcher on the bottom of the saw will protect the operator should the chain snap or jump off the bar.
- Low kickback chain to reduce likelihood and impact of kickback.
Without the bar and chain this saw weighs around 12.3lbs. Once the cutting equipment is added this saw will weigh not far off 15lbs, which is quite heavy for a home owner saw. It does perhaps reflect the fact that it is solidly constructed with a lot of metal parts.
The saw comes with a plastic scabbard for the guide bar, together with an operator’s manual.
- Solid, well-built product
- Well balanced and easy to use
- Excellent cutting ability
- Excellent reliability – easy to start
- Some great features, including soft start and adjustable oiler.
- Heavier than most electric chainsaws
The reviews of this product are excellent, with well over 90% of people rating the saw as either good or excellent. I’ve read over a hundred reviews of this product and whilst admittedly this is less than some of the extremely popular saws, such as the Worx WG303.1, it is still a fair representative sample.
Users love the quality build, ease of use, excellent performance and range of great features.
It was difficult to find too many negatives, other than some people mentioned it was too heavy for them.
You should buy this saw if:
• You are looking for a high quality electric saw and are prepared to pay a little extra.
• You need to carry out light/medium cutting around the home and yard.
• You want an alternative to a small gas powered saw
You should not buy this saw if:
• You want a lightweight saw.
• You want a budget saw for very occasional use.
• You don’t have access to a power source.
The Makita comes with a 1 year warranty covering defects of workmanship and materials.
If you are not satisfied with the product it can also be returned within 30 days for a refund or replacment.
Price of the Makita UC4051A Electric Chainsaw
This saw is currently priced in the $200 - $300 price range. This isn’t cheap compared to some of the other best-selling electric saws. However, given its robust build and reliability we think this is a fair price.
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