Want to know what one of the best-selling electric chainsaws on the market is right now? Well look no further than the Worx 16-inch 14.5 Amp 303.1 Electric Chainsaw. This hugely popular machine has proved to be a hit with thousands of buyers and it isn’t difficult to see why.
Well built, easy to handle and packed with great features, you will find this saw capable of handling some of the most demanding tasks around your home and farm. Available at a price that won’t break the bank, the 303.1 is sure to make a great addition to your power tool collection.
Carry on reading for more information.
Performance and Handling
When you’re looking to buy a new chainsaw, two of the most important questions you should be asking yourself are:
1. Will it do what I want it to do? AND
2. How easy will it be for me to handle and operate?
Let’s start off by looking at exactly what this saw will do. With its 16” bar and feisty 14.5 amp engine it will cope comfortably with most tasks around your home or farm. In particular, it’s ideal for chopping firewood, removing limbs from fallen trees or clearing overgrown brush. If you’ve suffered some light storm damage or just let the brush on your land get out of control, the Worx will take care of it. You will find that the saw can cut branches up to 14 inches in diameter in one pass. Feedback has indicated that up to 10” cutting is effortless but once you get beyond this it becomes a little more difficult.
When it comes to felling trees, the Worx is capable of dealing with most small medium sized trees and the manufacturer recommends that it should only be used to cut trees with a diameter up to 14 inches.
Operating the saw is pretty straightforward thanks to its excellent design. To get started you simply need to press the lock-off button and then fully press the on/off trigger switch, which is held into position. The lock-off button can then be released and away you go. If you take your finger off the trigger switch the saw will stop. If you need to restart the saw you will have to go through the start-up process again using the lock-off button. This also acts as a safety back up making it difficult to set the saw in motion accidentally. You will also avoid having to go through the tedious and sometimes complicated start-up procedures found when using gas powered saws.
In terms of maneuverability, most people will find it relatively easy to handle. Weighing 11lbs, it isn’t the lightest chainsaw on the market (although much lighter than most gas powered saws), so it may not be suitable for people who have difficulty lifting heavy items.
When handling the saw, you also need to be mindful that an extension cord is required. The cord should be suitable for outside purposes. Use of an SJTW cord is recommended. This stands for Hard Service Cord. Thermoplastic constructed jacket 300v weather resistant for outside use. It should also be 14 gauge wire if the cord is 50 feet in length, although you might consider a 12 gauge wire (which is actually larger than the 14 gauge) to get the most out of your saw. If your cord is longer than 50 feet you should definitely consider a larger 12 gauge wire. If you don’t have one of these you can pick one up for around $20.
Having made sure you are using an appropriate cord, the next challenge is not to inadvertently cut through it! This can be tricky, especially if you’re a chainsaw novice or have previously owned a cordless saw. One tip is to make sure you have a high visibility extension cord. Using a white cord to clear up after a snow storm is just asking for trouble! Red and orange are good, highly visible colors. Check out the video below to watch the saw in action and see what the guys at ToolSelect.com think.
As the name suggests, this model is equipped with a 16 inch bar (Oregon 160SCEA) and it comes with an Oregon 91VG057X chain. Oregon is part of Blount Inc., the world’s leading manufacturer of cutting chains so you can be certain of its quality.
You’ll find that the most popular saws used by non-professionals have bar lengths ranging from 10” to 22”, so the Worx 303.1 sits right in the middle of this range. This is perfect for the user who plans to do more than just very occasional light cutting but doesn’t need a machine for regular heavy duty jobs like cutting through large diameter tree trunks.
One thing you need to do when using a chainsaw is ensure that the chain tension is correct. This means that it should be a little loose but tight enough that you can’t pull the drive links out of the bar nose. Getting this wrong will impact on performance and worse still could damage your machine as the chain bar and socket will wear out quickly. Adjusting the tension on most chainsaws is done manually by tightening or loosening a screw and tools are generally required. Whilst it’s a relatively quick task it can be a little tricky to get right and it’s something you have to remember to do on a regular basis. On the Worx 303 there is a large, easy-grip knob which is used to secure the chain in the first instance. Simply rotate this knob in a clockwise direction until it is screwed tightly. The correct tension will be reached automatically and will be maintained for hundreds of cuts. This is all part of the patented auto-tension system which also guards against over tightening and helps extend the life of the equipment.
When it comes to chain speed, this saw delivers performance of 12 m/s (meters per second). This is a measure of how many meters of chain pass a fixed point each second. Speed is crucial because the higher the speed the more efficient and quick the cut which will save you time. Electric chainsaws unfortunately can’t compete with the larger gas powered saws which boast speeds of 25 m/s and above. However, these are more suited to heavy duty serious cutting and you will find that electric saws have speeds starting at around 8 m/s and go up to around 14 m/s. A chain speed of 12 m/s is at the higher end for an electric saw and more than adequate for most of the jobs you are likely to undertake around the home.
The chain pitch on the 303.1 is 3/8 inch. The pitch simply refers to the distance between the chain’s links. Usually a larger pitch indicates a bigger and heavier chain, which may be more robust but because of its weight impacts on performance. This isn’t something you should be overly concerned about. Suffice it to say that many professionals use chains with a 3/8” pitch as they offer a good compromise between weight, strength and cutting speed.
The chain has 57 links and a gauge of 0.05”. The gauge is simply the thickness of the drive links (this is the part of the chain that fits into the bar) and 0.05” is a pretty standard size. As with the pitch, this isn’t something you should be concerned about unless you are looking for a replacement chain.
A symbol to show the chain direction can be seen on the base unit beneath the cover plate. You will need to remove the cover plate if you ever wish to take out the bar and the symbol indicates the correct direction of the cutting teeth. You need to ensure the chain is in the correct running direction whenever you attach it to the bar.
To help with stability during use, the chain is equipped with all-metal dogs on the base of the bar. Dogs, also known as bumper spikes, are oversized spikes that are used to rest the chainsaw on wood as you are cutting to prevent kickback. Kickback is when the guide bar is unexpectedly thrown back towards the operator. The spikes are therefore useful in preventing this, which is reassuring, particularly if you are a novice user.
It is recommended that you sharpen the chain on a regular basis to ensure the saw keeps performing to the highest standards. To do this you will require a chain saw sharpener and guard which you can buy on-line for as little as $9. When it comes to choosing the right file size you will need a 5/32 inch file. Sharpening the chain will take some practice. The manufacturer doesn’t offer any advice on how this should be done, however the video below shows you the correct technique to employ.
One issue with the 303.1 is that there is no release feature which enables you to slide the chain along the bar, necessitating removal of the bar and chain to complete the task. This isn’t a difficult operation but means that sharpening your chain will take a little longer.
You should aim to sharpen your chain whenever it becomes dull and generally this means when you have to start applying pressure to cut through the wood. If you don’t feel confident about sharpening the chain yourself there are plenty of hardware and lawn and garden stores which will do it for you for under $15.
Design and Construction
The 303.1 comes fully assembled and ready for use. All you need to do is ensure the chain is properly tensioned, add some bar chain oil and you are ready to go. The user manual provides full guidelines about initial set-up.
Made from steel and plastic, the saw has a very solid build. If you are anything like me, my garden power tools can sometimes take a bit of a hammering and aren’t always placed on the floor as carefully as they should be! This machine is robust enough to take its fair share of bumps and knocks.
In terms of design, this is a classic rear handle type saw. The rear handle is made from over-molded rubber for added comfort. Over-molded means that a layer of rubber has been placed on top of an existing material and in this case it helps with both grip and to reduce the effects of vibration. The front handle is positioned on the left of the unit. You will find that a front side handle is always positioned on the left side of the power head unit – never the right. (Not so great for left-handed operators like me!). You should not under any circumstances try operating the machine with alternate hand positioning as the chainsaw has been designed with the protection in place assuming the left hand is on the front of the unit and the right hand on the rear.
There is a short (roughly 12 inches) two-pronged power cord attachment socket on the back of the handle where the extension cord is attached. There is no coupling device attached to this socket enabling you to lock the extension cord in place. Unfortunately this is a problem with many power tools and you just need to take care not to overstretch the extension cord. Alternatively you can tie the cords off.
Within the main powerhead unit there is an oil reservoir. It has a capacity of 6.75 oz (200ml) and a window so that the oil level can easily be checked. (See oiling section below).
As you probably know from experience, your power tools can suffer from wear and tear and it’s sometimes necessary to replace a worn or faulty part. This can be a problem if you buy a less well-known brand. Fortunately, you won’t have any issues getting spares for the 303.1 as all parts are readily available through the manufacturer or specialist parts companies such as Sears Parts Direct.
The 303.1 is powered by a 14.5 Amp motor which is capable of generating up to 3.5 horsepower. This is the maximum achievable based on the optimum cord and motor efficiency but the average figure is likely to be less than this. A quick calculation can give us an idea of the average HP performance.
Any engineers and physicists out there will know that you can’t directly equate an amp to horsepower. However, one unit of horsepower is equal to 746 watts. Watts are the product of Amps and Voltage. We know that the voltage is 120v and Amps are 14.5 so the total watts are 120 x 14.5 = 1,740. If 1 HP is equal to 746 watts, then 1,740 watts is the equivalent of 2.33 horsepower (1,740/746). This is similar to the power you would find on a boat outboard motor and ensures the saw is capable of handling some of the most demanding tasks.
There may be occasions when you need to use your saw well away from a power point. It is possible to run the saw from a generator and the calculation above is useful in helping determine what size generator you should be using. If the saw is operating at its average level of 1,740 watts then a 2,000 watt generator would be fine. However, if it peaked at 2,600 watts (based on the 3.5 peak horsepower claimed by the manufacturer) then you may find the saw cutting out. Indeed, several users have experienced this problem when carrying out heavy duty tasks. In a nutshell, you may get away with using a 2,000 watt generator most of the time but to make certain a 3,000 watt generator with a 12ga extension cord (14ga if the cord is not too long) is the better option.
Having an electric motor comes with a couple of benefits compared to gas powered machines. Firstly, noise levels are greatly reduced and the 303.1 is no exception. During operation it is pretty quiet which is a real bonus if you have noise sensitive neighbors. It also means you shouldn’t have to invest in a pair of ear defenders when going about your work.
Electric motors are also much cleaner than the engines found in gas powered chainsaws. As such there are no noxious emissions which can have a harmful effect on the environment. The other major benefit is that you don’t have to worry about getting the gas/oil ratios right to power your saw. With a gas powered saw you first have to get the oil and gas, then mix it in the right proportions and then shake it vigorously to mix it together. You then have the issue of having to store flammable liquids in your garage. With an electric saw you just plug in and go.
Chain Oil System
When it comes to oiling the chain, the Worx 303.1 scores highly with its automatic lubrication system. Forget to oil and you will soon find that both the bar and chain will quickly suffer some serious damage. No oil will result in a slow running chain which in turn leads to excessive friction and heat being produced. Forgetting to oil could prove to be a costly mistake!
Fortunately, the Worx’s chain lubrication system will take care of this for you and release the oil as you cut so there is no need to remember to activate a switch to do so. Although more and more saws now have self-lubricating systems there are still quite a few products which have manual oil release mechanisms. There are pros and cons to both but in my view if you aren’t used to manual systems or if you don’t use a chainsaw often, automatic release is the better option. After all, it’s one less thing to worry about!
Of course you still need to remember to ensure that the oil reservoir is kept topped up but this is easy to do with this saw. Like all Worx machines, there is a 6.75 ounce (200ml) oil reservoir which has a transparent window so can keep an eye on oil levels. Oil is easily added through the screw top oil cap filler on top of the unit. As the cap is easily accessible you should be able to add the oil direct from the bottle but if you have an unsteady hand you could consider using a funnel. You should only use recommended chain bar oil for this task. If not, or if you use old or recycled oil, you will invalidate the warranty on your saw.
To give you an idea you can get a gallon of oil for around $20. This is sufficient to fill the reservoir around six times. One point to note, this saw does get through a fair bit of oil. You should expect to get through a reservoir of oil in around 16 minutes depending on intensity and the number of stops in cutting.
You may find that oil will leak during storage. This is completely normal as the oil is dispensed by a gravity system. To prevent this the manufacturer suggests that the reservoir be emptied after use or the chainsaw be leaned on its side.
Finally, to help extend the life of your saw you should lubricate the sprocket on the end of the bar nose (often referred to as greasing your bar tip). This is a very simple procedure and involves injecting grease with the aid of a grease gun into a small lubrication hole on the blade. There is no need to remove bar or chain to do this. You can pick up a loaded grease gun for as little as $8.
When it comes to Chainsaws, operator safety is of paramount important and the 303.1 has some excellent safety features.
First off, the chain has been designated a “Low- Kickback” saw chain in accordance with ANSI B175.1 (American National Standards Institute). This means that it has met all the kick-back requirements demanded by ANSI. From a safety point of view therefore the saw is ideal for a novice or inexperienced user.
Next, there is a built in chain brake. This will be activated if you are cutting and the chain gets stuck and unexpectedly pulls forward. Some users have indicated that the brake is quite sensitive and kicks in a little too easily, especially when tackling large jobs. Some experienced users may find this a little inconvenient but for novices and the casual user this isn’t such a bad thing.
There is a chain catch bolt positioned on the unit just beneath the bar. In the event the chain snaps or derails it is possible the chain will be thrown underneath the chainsaw. The catch bolt will prevent the chain from hitting your right hand.
As I mentioned earlier in the review, there is also a safety feature built into the starting procedure in that you must first press the lock off switch before you can activate the ON/OFF trigger. This will help prevent inadvertently starting the saw.
The saw power unit (including handle) is 19.7 inches long, 14.6 inches wide and 8.1 inches high. When the bar is attached the length of the saw is extended to just under 36 inches long.
Including the bar and chain the weight is approximately 11lbs
Bear in mind that the saw doesn’t come with a long power cord (this seemed to take a few buyers by surprise) so you will need to ensure that you have an extension cord.
If you have plenty of shelving in your garage you shouldn’t have any problems storing your saw. If you’re short on shelf space you can easily follow a friend of mine’s approach and attach some hooks to the wall and rest the saw in a horizontal position.
The saw comes with a plastic blade cover and a small amount of bar chain oil. The amount of oil supplied is relatively small and not enough to fill the reservoir so it is recommended that you buy more oil before you start using your saw. As I mentioned earlier you can pick up a gallon of chain bar oil for around $20.
• Low price
• Solid construction
• Automatic chain tension system
• Automatic chain oiling system
• Quiet operation
• Excellent safety features
• Great for beginners
• Great for regular yard maintenance tasks
• Buyers who have difficulty lifting heavy weights may find the saw hard to handle.
• Uses a lot of chain oil
Consumer Reviews for the Worx Electric Chainsaw WG303.1
There are over 1,200 reviews on-line covering the 303.1, which is hardly surprising given this saw’s popularity. The views of people who have actually bought the machine are critical in forming an opinion about its performance, reliability, strengths, weaknesses and suitability. I have read through these reviews in detail looking for any trends regarding issues with the saw and am pleased to report that vast majority of buyers have provided positive feedback.
Buyers are impressed with its power and cutting performance and many purchasers mentioned that this had actually taken them a little by surprise. Buyers are also happy with how easy it is to handle and operate. Gas power chainsaw aficionados are particularly impressed with the fact that they no longer have to worry about gas/oil ratios.
In terms of the few negatives, some consumers thought the saw was too heavy for them and others mentioned that it uses quite a lot of bar chain oil. A number of negative reviews centered on the saw leaking oil and chain tension not being quite right. These reviews are possibly the result of user error or inexperience. Most chainsaw “leaks” are usually nothing more than residual oil from the bar and chain dripping off the bar, which is common. With regard to chain tension, it is possible that the manufacturer’s instructions weren’t properly followed prior to use. There are detailed steps in the User Manual covering the steps needed to get your saw ready for use.
Sometimes you have to treat on-line reviews with a great deal of caution, especially when there aren’t many reviews, as people can be offered incentives to write a positive review or competitors can sneakily drop in a poor review. This is not an issue here, however, given the sheer volume of reviews for this product. We can safely say, therefore, that the positive feedback for the Worx 14.5 amp is genuine and well deserved.
You should buy this machine if:
• You are looking for a reliable and flexible chainsaw
• You want something capable of tackling a range of jobs around the home and farm, including removing limbs from trees, chopping firewood, clearing scrub and felling small/medium sized trees.
• You need something which is easy to handle and has excellent inbuilt safety features.
You should not buy this machine if:
• You struggle to lift heavy objects
• You need something to tackle regular, demanding jobs such as felling large trees and cutting through stumps.
The manufacturer offers a 3 year warranty subject to terms and conditions.
Worx Electric Chainsaw WG303.1 Price
Coming in under $100 the saw represents excellent value for money, offering features and performance you would expect to find in a much more expensive product. Given its solid construction and excellent track record you will probably find this machine far outlives its warranty and in my mind that represents great value for money.
The product is currently listed on the Worx website for sale at $79.99. I have checked with the manufacturer and there is an additional shipping charge of $17.80 making the total price $97.79.