It’s not often that you come across a product where it’s hard to find too much fault but Makita XCU02PT 18 volt x 2 Cordless Chainsaw is definitely in this class.
If you are already a devotee of Makita power tools you probably won’t need me to tell you just how good their products are. However, if you’ve never had a Makita in your collection, this review will tell you exactly what’s so great about the XCU02PT
Designed for light cutting duties around the home and garden, this chainsaw is packed with some of the most advanced technology you will find in any cordless product on the market today. Both reliable and easy to use, this model is ideal for anyone looking to buy their first top handle saw.
For more experienced users, it would make a great accompaniment to their larger gas powered saws to carry out all those small jobs where firing up the ‘gassy’ isn’t an option.
Read on to discover more and see if the Makita is right for you.
Performance and Handling
Using the Makita XCU02PT couldn’t be easier. Just slot in the two 18 volt batteries, add a little oil to the reservoir and you are ready to go. Simply press the lock-off button, squeeze the trigger and the saw will start immediately. Releasing the squeeze trigger will bring the saw to a halt. When it comes to doing all those small tasks which involve a lot of stopping and starting, this is both safe and convenient as you don’t need to leave the saw running between cuts.
As far as handling goes, the XCU02PT is well-balanced and reasonably light. It weighs in at just over 10lbs, which is in the mid-range for a battery powered model but much lighter than the small gas chainsaws available. To enhance the user’s ability to cut more evenly, Makita has developed a rubberized top grip handle. Overall, therefore, it should be within the handling capabilities of most people.
As well as this, overload protection has been built in which is an excellent feature for novice users. There are certain cutting situations where too much pressure is placed on the saw and it draws an abnormally high current. If unchecked, this can overheat the battery and cause damage to the device. However, thanks to the Makita’s STAR Protection Computer Control technology, the tool will automatically shut down in these conditions, thereby preventing any damage. If the battery has overheated it will need to be allowed to cool before the saw will restart.
You will also find that this is a much quieter saw than gas equivalents making it preferable if you are working in a noise sensitive environment or, for example, if you have to carry out some emergency work at night. The measured noise levels of 89 dB(A) are much lower than gas equivalents, which can often be well in excess of 100 dB(A).
When it comes to performance, the XCU02PT is at its best when performing light cutting duties. This includes felling small trees, small storm clean-up, trimming and cutting small/medium firewood. This makes it useful not only for carrying out jobs around your lot but taking on camping trips, where it will prove a more than adequate replacement for your gas powered saw.
It is pretty efficient when cutting wood up to 10” in diameter and some users have confirmed that they have been able to employ it on more demanding tasks. It is a particularly popular ‘second chainsaw’ with many individuals who have a large gas saw for heavy duty cutting. Its reliability, portability and ease of use means that it is ideal for use on those occasions when getting out the gas saw just doesn’t make sense.
Don’t expect to be cutting down any 20 inch trees with the Makita, but you will find that it handles most tasks the average homeowner will likely need it for.
The XCU02PT is equipped with a 12 inch guide bar and chain.
Firstly, the guide bar has the narrow-kerf design favored by many home user saws as they require less power to make the same level of cut than a standard bar design. The bar has a nose sprocket which reduces friction and therefore improves cutting ability.
The chain is a 3/8” pitch, 0.043” gauge and has 46 links. The gauge relates to the thickness of the chain’s drive links and 0.043” is about as thin as it gets. The advantage of this is that it is light, which in turn can lead to more efficient cutting. The downside is that it is not as robust as say the large 0.05” or 0.058” gauge chains. The chain speed, which is an important part in performance, is around 8.4 meters per second. This is low compared to other electric and small gas models which can have speeds starting at 12 m/s. Notwithstanding this, users report that the Makita has excellent cutting proficiency and the lack of speed is compensated for by the chain design.
To tighten the chain, the Makita employs a tool-less system making the job quick and easy. Checking and correcting chain tension is a critical part of running a chainsaw. One reviewer complained that he had to check the tension of his chain every hour. I would suggest that that person has little experience using saws because chain tension needs to be checked more often than this. In the early days especially, new chains will stretch and checks need to be made every few cuts.
Correcting the tension couldn’t be simpler and is performed by operating a lever and chain tensioning knob on the side of the saw (see diagram in Design section). As mentioned, no tools are required and when you get used to the saw this procedure will only take you a few seconds.
You will need to ensure that the blade is kept sharp, which can either be done professionally or by yourself. If you are happy to do this you will need a 3/16” round file and file holder. There are detailed instructions in the operator’s manual covering this topic.
Some users mentioned that they had difficulty sourcing replacement bars and chains, but all the following can be used:
Makita 531-290-046 saw chain, 12-Inch.
Makita 12 inch bar - reference 165245-8.
Oregon 90PX045G Micro-Lite Chain
Design and Construction
Available in Makita’s traditional turquoise color, the XCU02PT has a particularly distinctive design.
As you can see, this is the less common top-handle design. The handle has a rubberized grip and throttle trigger. The lock-out switch is positioned out of view on the left of the handle. With this type of tool, the left and right hands are closer together than with the rear handle design and some users felt that this was uncomfortable to cut with. The majority of users didn’t have this issue so it really boils down to personal preference.
The two 18 volt batteries slot onto the back of the tool and not the side like on some saws, helping to maintain balance.
There is a large, easily accessible cap for the oil reservoir and a useful window to enable you to quickly check oil levels. On the underneath of the power head unit (out of view) there is a screw which allows you to adjust the rate of oil flow.
In terms of construction, the saw is built with premium high grade plastic. It is a pretty solid product but if you plan taking this into a tree don’t expect it to survive a 30 foot fall like some of the aluminum gas models. Treat it carefully and you won’t have any issues.
A final point on construction is that it features Makita’s clever Extreme Protection Technology (XPT™) which is designed to provide increased dust and water resistance in harsh job site conditions. This is thanks to a series of integrated seals which channel water and dust away for increased durability.
Through clever design, Makita has been able to incorporate this chainsaw into their 18 Volt power tool platform, which is the largest cordless tool system powered by 18v Lithium-Ion batteries. By including two 18 volt batteries, you get 36 volt performance enabling the XCU02PT to compete with small gas saws in terms of power.
This particular model comes with two 5 Amp Hour (AH) batteries and an 18 volt dual point charger, which allows you to charge both batteries at the same time – a great time saving device. Our article on Lithium-Ion batteries explains all you need to know about amp hours but basically this means that each battery is able to continuously deliver a load of 5 amps for 1 hour or 1 amp for 5 hours, and so on. Five amp hour batteries are pretty powerful and superior to the 2AH or 4AH batteries found in many other cordless chainsaws. Indeed, Makita also produces 3AH batteries which can be used in this saw but they obviously don’t deliver as much run time. The 5Ah battery provides 65% more run time per charge than the 3Ah version.
The batteries themselves both have LED indicators to show how much charge is remaining. This will give you a good idea whether or not you have enough juice to finish the job when you are out in the field. As well as this Makita has incorporated their Star Protection Computer Controls™ technology into this saw. This allows the tool and batteries to communicate with each other to monitor performance and prevent over-loading and overheating. Fitting the batteries is straightforward. You just need to align the groove on the battery cartridge with that in the housing and slide it into place.
Charging your 18 volt batteries is quick and easy. The dual-point charger allows you to fully charge the 5 Ah batteries in 45 minutes so you never have to wait long to get started on your job. As a bonus, the charger also features a USB port so you can also charge your portable electronic devices.
So, how long can you expect to get out of batteries before they need a recharge? This depends on the level and intensity of cutting but you should get around an hour of reasonably intense cutting time from the 5Ah batteries before they need recharging. Obviously, if the saw is used intermittently you will get much longer before recharge is required.
During my research, a number of questions kept cropping up with regard to the batteries including:
Can I use other manufacturers’ batteries in this product?
No, you can only use Makita’s 18 volt batteries.
Can I use Makita’s 20 volt batteries?
Again, the answer is no. They must be Makita’s 18 volt batteries.
Will the saw operate with a single battery?
No, you must have two batteries to operate this saw.
Can I use Makita’s 3Ah batteries?
Yes, provided they are 18 volt.
Chain Oil System
The XCU02PT has an adjustable flow, automatic oiling system. In my view, this is the best type of oiler you can get on a chainsaw because it provides convenience and flexibility. You don’t have to remember to release oil to the bar – this will be done when the chain starts turning. Secondly, if you feel that the cutting conditions require more or less oil to be released to the bar, the flow rate can be adjusted by the simple turn of a screw. This is done with the universal wrench supplied with the product.
Oil is added through the reservoir cap (shown on the diagram in ‘Design and Construction’). Although this is a little flimsy, it is quite large and easily accessible and so adding oil isn’t difficult. There is a window in the oil tank which allows you to gauge the oil levels and top up if necessary. Basic things like this make using this tool very easy to use.
Good quality bar and chain oil should be used and if you are pruning then this should be botanical (vegetable based) to prevent harm to the trees. Bar and chain oil is NOT supplied with this product.
There are a number of safety features incorporated, including:
- Chain brake – this is activated by pushing the hand guard into a forward position resulting in the immediate stopping of the chain.
- Run down brake – when you release the trigger the chain should come to a complete stop within a second.
- Safe-starting, thanks to a lock-off switch which must be activated before the trigger throttle will activate.
- Front hand guard to prevent the front hand coming into contact with the chain if the operator loses grip.
- Low kick back chain which meets the standards of ANSI B.175.1. This, together with the reduced kickback bar design, reduces the likelihood and impact of kickback.
- Overload protection – as mentioned earlier, this prevents too much stress being placed on the saw as well as overheating.
The operating weight of the Makita is 10.1lbs. There are lighter battery saws available but gas saws will be much heavier in comparison. Overall, this saw should be within the handling capabilities of most people.
The XCU02PT kit includes:
• Guide bar protective cover
• Dual port battery charger
• 2 x 18 volt 5Ah batteries
• Multi-purpose tool
• Operator’s manual
- Lightweight, easy to use saw.
- Solid construction
- Excellent light duty cutting ability
- Powerful, fast charging batteries
- Batteries can be used on other tools in the 18volt platform.
- Incorporates the latest Makita Technology
- Automatic, adjustable flow oiler
- Tool-less chain tensioning
- Chain cutting speed slow compared to gas saw
The ratings for this product are first rate, with 90% of people evaluating the saw as either good or excellent.
Consumers like the ease of use and the convenience of a powerful but portable non-gas saw. Positive comments about the cutting performance, quiet operation and excellent battery life also featured prominently.
It was very difficult to find many genuine criticisms of the Makita. For example one negative reviewer mentioned that the saw was barely able to cut through a 2 inch branch, before going on to recommend a competitor. You can take these sort of reviews with a pinch of salt.
You should buy this saw if:
- You are looking for a chainsaw and already own power tools in Makita’s 18 volt platform
- You need a saw for light cutting duties.
- You want a reliable, easy to operate top handle tool.
- You don’t want the hassle of a gas saw.
You should not buy this saw if:
- You have a lot of medium and heavy cutting work to carry out
- You want a budget chainsaw.
Price of Makita XCU02PT Cordless Chainsaw
At just over $300 this saw isn’t cheap. For example it costs over twice as much as the Black and Decker LCS1240, a comparable cordless saw which would also make an excellent choice if you have a smaller budget. That said, given its enhanced technology, quality design and excellent features, we believe this is a fair price for the product.
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