Rating: ★★★★☆

When I first saw this little thing, I wanted to laugh; this dinky chain saw was supposed to actually work?  I had used gas chain saws before, and I had used electric chain saws – both to varying results – but a battery operated one?  Never.  Now, I have had my mind changed about the usefulness of battery powered tools lately – from the hedge trimmers to the string trimmer I found that they were adequate replacements and a good alternative if you wanted to “go green”.  Would this chain saw further blow my mind on how well battery powered tools worked?

Well…..

While it was a useful little machine, you have to realize what it’s made for, and understand that it does have some limitations.  This isn’t some 18-inch gas powered beast (review incoming on that) – this chain saw with it’s 10-inch blade is definitely made for light jobs.  In order to test it, I went to my parent’s house where a number of small trees had fallen over in their back yard, and were threatening to cause a dam in their drainage ditch.  The biggest one there was only about seven inched in diameter, so what better way to see how it held up.

One of the first things that took me by surprise, was that with this chain saw, you actually have to push a bulb to get the bar/chain oil on it.  The manual recommends pushing it every twenty to thirty seconds of cutting time, which gets to be a bit irritating – especially if you’re so used to it being done automatically.  It’s easy to forget to do, and I really wish they would have just added a valve or something to make it happen on its own.

As to how it cuts, maybe a bit better than you would expect.  Granted, it doesn’t have anywhere near the cutting power of a traditional gap powered chain saw, but it had more than I had thought it would.  It cut through things with a four inch diameter (and smaller) with ease – or as the old adage says “like a hot knife through butter”.  Bigger than that though, and the chain easily got pinched – while pinching is something that happens with any chain saw, the bigger gas powered ones don’t usually have it happening until the very end of the cut; with this one though I was getting pinched as much as halfway through a six inch branch.  I had to make a lot more relief cuts than I would have liked – I supposed that’s because of the decreased torque, but it’s a tradeoff that you deal with when moving from gas to battery.

Clearing away the branches meant that the chain saw had about an hour of continuous run time – and I still had a good amount of battery power left.  It uses the RYOBI One+ batteries though, so if you have any of their other tools lying around you can just swap in one of those batteries in a pinch.  It’s takes about 90 minutes of run time to completely drain one of the smaller One+ batteries on this chain saw – and I think that would be enough time for most people to get through the small jobs it’s made for.

A thing I really don’t like about the RYOBI 18v chain saw, is the fact that you have to drain the oil tank after every use.  Now granted the reservoir doesn’t really hold a lot, and you could easily go through everything you put in it, it’s another thing that’s easy to forget.  I did actually forget to drain the oil after using it, which led to a mess on my parent’s kitchen floor (I was showing it to my dad after clearing the debris).  Just as with my complaint about having to manually squirt oil on the bar and chain, this could be easily changed with the inclusion of a valve and timing mechanism – but it is what it is.

What it is, is a decent little machine that’s good for the average homeowner.  If you’ve got a huge amount of wood that needs cut – then this isn’t for you (and I’m sure you know that).  If you’ve got a few giant pieces of wood, then you should look elsewhere as well – even with flipping a log around half way through, it could only handle a MAX 20 inches, but flipping a log that big is too much of a pain.  If however, you have a bit of light cutting to do – brush removal, yard cleaning, or maybe small wood for a camp fire – then this could be a great choice for you.  The fact that it’s battery powered means it’s a lot greener than using any kind of gasoline powered chain saw (and cheaper – especially with gas prices rising all the time).

This chain saw is also a LOT lighter than a comparable gas, which leads to the user being able to use it for longer periods without fatigue.  This coupled with the fact that all you have to do to start it is push a button, makes it the perfect chain saw for an older person that might have problems with a pull cord.  One thing you’ll need to remember though (especially if you have kids) is to ALWAYS take out the battery when done – the button start is a double edged sword.  Since it’s so easy to start, it’s also very easy to accidentally start.  The RYOBI 18v chain saw is also super quiet – nothing like the roar of a gas engine.  Yes it makes noise when actually cutting, but even that is less than you’re used to.

While not for all audiences, I give the RYOBI One+ Lithium 18v Chain Saw a final rating of four stars out of five.

Pros:

  • Nice and lightweight means you don’t get tired quickly
  • The battery lasts a lot longer than you might expect
  • Extremely good for any small cuts you might need to make

Cons:

  • Have to manually squirt the bar and chain oil
  • Have to drain the oil after every use (or face a big mess)
  • Not meant for any large job at all

You can get a RYOBI One+ Lithium 18v Chain Saw from the Home Depot for $119










Staff