There’s something different about the Oregon CS1500 Self Sharpening Electric Chainsaw and in this review we’ll explain exactly what makes this product unique.
All chainsaw users know the perils of running the bar into the ground. Accidentally hitting a stone or letting the blade come into contact with the dirt usually results in a blunted chain. This can be a real pain when you’re half way through a job and need to stop to fit another one. I should know I've done it a few times!
Well the great news is that here is a saw which can get you up and running again in as little as three seconds. Yep, that’s right – 3 seconds! No need to remove the chain, just pull a small lever and it will be sharpened for you.
If that wasn’t enough, this saw comes packed with some other great features which makes it an excellent product for a first time buyer looking for a safe tool with plenty of power.
Carry on reading to discover more.
Performance and Handling
This is a top end, home owner electric chainsaw designed for carrying out a wide range of light and medium cutting duties around your property. If you have access to a power point, this saw is ideal for felling, bucking, limbing and cutting firewood.
You will find that starting the CS1500 is both simple and instant. Disengage the brake, hold the trigger lock with your thumb, press the throttle trigger and the saw will jump immediately into life. You can then take your thumb off the trigger lock which will stay disengaged until the trigger is released. To stop the saw you simply need to release the trigger.
In terms of handling, Oregon states that it has a lightweight, balanced ergonomic design together with an over-mold comfort handle. Compared to a gas saw the CS1500 can be considered light, although it is heavier than a number of similar electric saws available. This isn’t always a bad thing as the heavier the saw, the more solidly constructed it tends to be giving it an advantage when it comes to durability. In terms of balance, the motor does protrude from the left hand side of the saw and a few users commented that this doesn’t help the balance. Most users, however, found it to be quite an easy tool to cut with.
Compared to gas saws you will find this a much quieter tool to use and there is of course the other benefit of working in a fume free environment. There will be no noise between cuts, which your neighbors will most certainly appreciate.
The other benefit for users is that should you happen to be cutting close to the ground and accidentally dull the chain by running it into the soil and hitting a stone, you can re-sharpen in an instant enabling you to get on with the job straight away without having to replace the chain. This is a great, convenient, time saving feature of this saw.
When it comes to cutting performance, this electric chainsaw excels. With its 18 inch blade it is capable of cutting through logs with a diameter of 16 inches in a single pass and many owners have used it to cut limbs up to this diameter and in some cases more. It is also capable of dealing with hardwoods like oak and hackberry.
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The CS1500 comes with an 18 inch guide bar and chain. It shouldn’t come as any surprise that they are both Oregon products!
The guide bar is a Double Guard 91 model with a small radius nose which helps to reduce kickback. The ‘91’ is etched on top of the bar and this has caused some confusion for a number of buyers who believed that they had received a 16 inch bar. They hadn’t – it was just 91 upside down! The bar has a non-replaceable nose sprocket and a laminated body. The nose sprocket reduces friction and therefore improves cutting, however, it does need to be greased regularly. This is done by injecting grease into the nose sprocket hole with a grease syringe which you can get hold of for around $10.
Turning to the chain, this is a PowerSharp 91PS (Low Profile™) model which is exclusive to this saw. It has a 3/8” pitch, a 0.05” gauge and 62 drive links. Its chisel-style cutters deliver efficient cutting and have excellent stay sharp properties. It meets all the standards of ANSI B175.1 & CSA Z62.3. in terms of being considered low kickback. You should note, NO OTHER chain is suitable for this saw. The chain speed is 15 meters per second, which is at the upper end for an electric saw.
This brings us on to the CS1500’s unique selling point – the PowerSharp® Integrated Sharpening System. When the cuts take longer and the chips get smaller or turn to sawdust, it’s usually a sign to sharpen up. With the PowerSharp® system this is as easy as lifting a lever and it takes about five seconds. That’s right, a sharpened chain in five seconds with no round head files or file holders! Simply lift the lever and run the saw at full power for between 3-5 seconds and the chain is sharp again. You will notice some sparks during the process but this is normal. You should be careful not to apply excessive force to the lever when sharpening as this can reduce the effectiveness of the sharpening equipment.
This is a fantastic, time and labor saving feature which most users love. A few people mentioned that because of the way the system works there can be a little drift with the saw not cutting straight. Overall, however, most people didn’t have a problem with this.
If there is one complaint levelled against the CS1500, it is that the chain had a tendency to slip. In some cases users described this as being extreme. In response to this, Oregon came up with a fix with a simple reattachment of the removable side cover, which appears to have improved things.
It is also fair to say that those users who did not experience any problems usually followed instructions to the letter. This means regular checking of tension (especially in the early days before the chain is broken in) and carrying out recommended oiler checks (see oil section).
As far as tensioning goes, the system used doesn’t require the use of tools. This is done by loosening the side cover release knob and then turning the chain tensioning ring clockwise. The release knob is then re-tightened.
Provided the chain is properly oiled and tensioned and not used too aggressively there should be no problems. That said, if there are any issue Oregon Customer Services are excellent and will assist with any issues.
You can see the CS1500 in action below.
Design and Construction
The Oregon CS1500 is a well-designed saw constructed from hard plastic but with all metal drive components.
As you can see from the diagram above, it has all the usual features. The back handle has a molded grip and incorporates a guard for protection of the user’s right hand. The throttle trigger is positioned in the usual place and the trigger lockout switch is next to this on the left side of the saw (out of view).
On the rear handle guard you may notice a small hook. This is the strain relief bracket and is used to tether the extension cord. It will prevent the power and extension cords separating during use as well as reducing the wear and tear on the power cord.
The oil reservoir cap is situated just in front of the handle above the reservoir window. On the outside of the saw is the chain tensioning ring which sits just inside the cover loosening knob. Just above this on top of the saw is the PowerSharp lever which is used to sharpen the cutting gear. On top of the saw is the molded wraparound handle and just in front of this is the front hand guard, which also doubles as a chain brake.
The picture above reveals the inside of the saw, including the sharpening stone, drive sprocket and tensioning gear. This shows how the sharpening system actually works and where the chain comes into contact with the blue sharpening stone.
With its 15 Amp motor, delivering 1,800 watts, this chainsaw is at the upper end in terms of homeowner electric saw power. This gives it sufficient power to carry out the medium size cutting tasks demanded of it.
To get the best out of the saw, it’s important to use the correct power cord. If using a 50 foot cord, Oregon recommends the use of a 14 gauge (AWG); and for a 100 foot cord a 12 gauge (AWG). The higher the gauge (that is the lower the number) the better the cord will be, so if you already own a 100 foot, 10 gauge cord this will be better than the 12 gauge.
Unlike a number of gas saws available today, the CS1500 does not have a brushless motor. Brushless motors are generally 85%-90% efficient, whereas motors with brushes are 75%-80% efficient. This efficiency difference provides better performance in brushless motors, as more the motor’s power is being converted into rotational force. This might be an issue with a smaller amp motor, but the Oregon’s 15 amp motor still generates more than enough power to get the job done.
Chain Oil System
As you probably know, the oiling systems on chainsaws can differ. (Read this). In the case of the CS1500, the oiler is an automatic fixed flow device which is common on many saws. This means that the oil will be released to the bar automatically at a given rate when the saw is running, although there is no provision to adjust the rate of flow. The viscosity of oil changes depending on the cutting conditions and it is sometimes useful to be able to adjust the oiler to match the conditions.
Before using the saw for the first time or whenever it hasn’t been used in a while you should prime the oiler. This involves removing the guide bar and chain and running the saw for a few minutes until the oil starts dribbling out. It’s always a good idea to do this over a piece of cardboard or newspaper.
Some users mentioned that they found this to be a little inconvenient. This really is a five minute job and will ensure that the oiler is working properly.
The oil reservoir itself has a reasonable sized 4.7 oz. (140 ml) capacity. You will find that when pushed, a fair amount of oil is released to the bar so you should always ensure you keep a supply with you. One slight downside is the angle of the oiler which makes it difficult to add oil you need therefore to exercise some care when filling up or better still get a funnel. The oil levels should be checked regularly, which is easy enough thanks to the transparent window. If you can’t see oil in the window you need to be adding more. Oregon recommend the use of their own brand chain oil, which costs about $12-$15 per quart depending on the deals available.
The saw has an array of safety features, such as:
- Both the narrow kerf bar and the chain have low kickback qualities.
- A brake which will stop both the motor and chain in the event of kickback. Many electric saws don’t have brakes as the chain stops when the throttle trigger is released. In the case of the CS1500, the cutting equipment stops almost instantaneously when the operator’s finger is removed from the throttle, so the chain break is a bit of a luxury.
- Front and rear hand guards to protect the hands from the chain and flying debris.
- Bumper spikes to help support the saw when cutting.
- Throttle lock switch to prevent accidental start-up of the saw.
- Catcher. This protects the hand in the event that the chain snaps or comes off the bar.
With the cutting equipment attached the dry weight (without oil) of this saw is 12.6lbs. As mentioned earlier, compared to gas saws this is pretty light, although it is heavier than some comparable electric saws.
This isn’t always a bad thing and reflects the quality of construction.
The saw comes with a protective scabbard for the guide bar, an operator’s manual and a small amount of bar and chain oil. (You should get some extra oil if you plan on doing any serious cutting).
- Easy to sharpen the chain
- Instant start
- Excellent cutting power
- Tool-less chain adjustment system
- Uses a lot of oil
- Chain can slip off the bar if not regularly checked and properly tensioned
There are several hundred reviews on-line for this product and 80% of buyers rate it as good or excellent. Buyers like this saw’s cutting power, ease of starting and the tool-less chain tensioning system. They also especially like the sharpening system. Indeed some users mentioned that it was so easy they perhaps did too much sharpening and got through the chains quicker than normal.
In terms of negatives, some users thought that the saw required too much maintenance (such as priming the oiler), which made it less convenient to use than other electric saws. Other buyers had problems with the chain slipping frequently. It is noticeable that a lot of the chain problems occurred in the early days and in the more recent reviews, since Oregon introduced their fix, this doesn’t seem to be the same issue.
You should buy this saw if:
- You don’t wish to sharpen your own chains or get it done by a professional.
- You have access to a power source.
- You have some medium duty cutting jobs to do on an occasional basis.
- You don’t want a gas saw and have to deal with all the problems associated with them.
You should not buy this saw if:
- You need a heavy duty saw for regular use.
- You like maintaining your own saw and chains.
The CS1500 comes with a 3-year warranty. You will find that Oregon has an excellent brand reputation and stands behind its products. In addition, their customer service is excellent.
Coming in at under $150, this is around $20-$40 more expensive than some comparable electric saws currently available. (Such as the Worx WG304.1 and Black+Decker CS1518). However, given the features that come with this product and the quality of the brand, we believe this represents excellent value for money.