A Handy Electric Chain Saw
There are few sounds more easily recognized than the familiar buzz of a chain saw. As the weather warms up and the wife and I look at removing dead trees and planting new ones, it's a sound my neighbors may hear quite a bit. The first priority was a plum tree that had gone wild in our yard, with contorted branches and huge thorns. So I was thrilled at the chance to try out a brand new Poulan chain saw on my leafy nemesis.
Poulan is a big name in landscaping, gardening, and home maintenance. They have been around for almost eighty years, and they make some excellent products. What I had the chance to try out was one of their light-duty chain saws, the PLN1514. It is the lightest of the Poulan chain saws, only 14 inches long with a 1.5 hp electric motor.
(For more information on Poulan chainsaws and other products, check out their website at http://www.poulan.com.)
It comes with a relatively thick book of warnings and instructions, which I found was worth my time to review. The package says that it is well suited for "limbing and pruning," which goes along with its small size and relatively light power. It is also a perfect for my project, since the plum has soft wood and small branches. One tree removal later, here are my thoughts on the PLN1514.
- Ease of Use. Electric tools are almost always lighter than their gas-powered counterparts, and the Poulan PLN1514 is no exception. The small size and light weight make this saw very easy to handle. It can be comfortably carried with one hand, though you should never operate it that way. There is a "safety" button on the handle which must be held down in order for the trigger to be pulled. This is a handy safety feature, and even with bulky leather gloves it was easy to do. Keeping track of my cord was a new challenge for me, since I had never used an electric chain saw before, but with a little attention it was not hard. Another thing I noticed was that the electric motor shakes the tool a lot less than what I have experienced before with similar chainsaws. This meant that I did not get the numb feeling in my hands from vibration that I often get with gas-driven tools.
- Maintenance. By the time I had finished most of the tree, the chain had developed a bit of slack in it. Fortunately, the bar is easily adjustable. A wrench was all I needed, and I had the chain fitting properly again in under a minute. With so little time, it is impossible to say how well the tool ages, or what maintenance might be needed as it gets old, but it stood up well to the amount of use it saw in one day. It does require chain oil; the spout to pour the oil in is a little small, I think, but easy to find, and with a small funnel the size should not be an issue.
- Pros. The size and weight make this a great chain saw for those of us lacking in upper-body strength. The power was more than enough for what I needed, even cutting through branches and secondary trunks several inches thick, as long as I was patient and did not use too much pressure. I should note, though, that this was very soft wood. If you have old-growth oak to remove, you should probably use a heavier duty tool. But if its bushes or small trees you need removed, then this chain saw will fill the need quiet well. The safety features were nice as well, with a large hand-guard for the left handle and the safety button on the right handle.
- Cons. I could not find anything to complain about with this tool. It does not have great power, so I had to be patient with some of the cutting, but that is the nature of a light-duty electric saw. Dealing with cords is not my favorite activity either, but again, this is an electric saw: if you can't keep track of your cord, get a gas saw. My wife may find a drawback: I will probably be harsher in evaluating the rest of the trees, just for an excuse to use the Poulan PLN1514 again.
- Overall Experience. I loved the Poulan PLN1514. It did everything I expected and more. I was expecting to give it a challenge, taking out a whole tree. Other than the slack that developed from breaking it in, it held up to the challenge perfectly. It is comfortable, safe, and portable. I highly recommend it for light and medium work.