Makita UC4051A Review
Pros: Great cutting performance, cord stopper, intuitive tensioning system, oil flow is adjustable
Cons: Oil tank location is not ideal, cord placement could be better, limitations of corded tools
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|Pros||Great cutting performance, cord stopper, intuitive tensioning system, oil flow is adjustable||Solid saw performance, easy to start, great tensioning system, light for this type of saw||Spectacular battery life, two chain speed settings, barely consumes bar and chain oil||Decent saw performance, light for this type, good oil tank cap location, extremely affordable||Compact, light, quiet, affordable|
|Cons||Oil tank location is not ideal, cord placement could be better, limitations of corded tools||Noisy, short bar for this type of saw||Not the strongest cutting power, plastic chain tensioning system, electronic controls slow down sawing||Mediocre chain tensioning system, slow wind-up time||Mediocre battery life, slow at making cuts|
|Bottom Line||A corded model that quickly slices through wood and has an easy-to-use tensioning system||A smaller high-performance 2-cycle model that requires minimal knowledge of gas-powered machines||A good degree of performance and an exceptional battery life at a reasonable price||If budget is your overall purchasing decision-making factor, this average saw will get the job done for cheap||This cordless electric chainsaw is our favorite 20V model for small, quick projects around the yard|
|Rating Categories||Makita UC4051A||Stihl MS 180 C-BE||Husqvarna 120i||Worx WG303.1||Worx WG322|
|Saw Performance (35%)|
|Ease of Use (30%)|
|Power Performance (25%)|
|Specs||Makita UC4051A||Stihl MS 180 C-BE||Husqvarna 120i||Worx WG303.1||Worx WG322|
|Model Number||UC4051A||180 C-BE||120i||WG303.1||WG322|
|Bar Length||16 inches||16 inches||14 inches||16 inches||10 inches|
|Power Source||Corded Electric||Gasoline||Battery||Corded Electric||Battery|
|Measured Weight||12 lbs, 6 oz||11 lbs, 10 oz||10 lbs, 11 oz||10 lbs 13 oz||6 lbs, 10 oz|
|Measured Battery Weight||n/a||n/a||2 lbs, 12 oz||n/a||1 lbs, 10 oz|
|Amps||15 A||n/a||4.2 A||15 A||2 A|
|Motor Size||15 Amp||32cc 2-Cycle||36V||15 Amp||20V|
|Measured Runtime||n/a||36 minutes||40 minutes||n/a||22 minutes|
|Measured Run Time Eco Mode||n/a||n/a||54 mins||n/a||n/a|
|Recharge/Refuel Time||n/a||1 min||120 min||n/a||180 min|
|Measured Average Cutting Time||5.7 seconds||7.7 seconds||13.5 seconds||7.4 seconds||38.4 seconds|
|Measured Wind Up Time||0.5 seconds||0.5 seconds||0.5 seconds||1 second||2 seconds|
|Measured Decibel Reading at 48in||94.1 dBa||103.4 dBa||85.9 dBa||99.1 dBa||80.0 dBa|
|Control Type||Side safety w/ chain brake||Thumb safety w/ chain brake||Electronic button, side safety and brake||Side safety w/ chain brake||Thumb safety|
|Chain Replacement and Tensioning Type||Tool free||Tool free||Tool free||Tool free||Tool free|
|Metal Bucking Spikes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||No|
|Bar & Chain Tank Location and Type||Top||Side||Side, flip-up||Top||Top|
|Measured Body Dimesions||19 x 6 x 6 inches||14 x 8 x 7.5 inches||19 x 7 x 7 inches||17 x 12 x 6.5 inches||13 x 8 x 7.5 inches|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Makita UC4051A is the right chainsaw for somebody who doesn't want to deal with a 2-cycle gas-powered engine or invest in a top-tier expensive lithium-ion powered saw, but still wants high performance. Although this model is limited to the length of extension cord that you purchase, as long as your job is within reach and you are good at minding your cord, this machine does the work of most of the high-performance models in our review.
The most important factor to consider when purchasing a chainsaw is how well it cuts, which is why we opted to dedicate 35% of our total score to this section of our review. We divided our cutting performance evaluation into two sections — an objective test to gather numerical data and some subjective judgment.
For the first part, we created a "fake log" by stacking four 4x4 pieces of lumber in a diamond pattern on a sawbuck. By using dimensional lumber rather than random logs, the amount and type of wood cut by each saw would be much more uniform. We made several timed cuts through the wood and then calculated an average from the results. We also timed how long it took each saw to accelerate to full power after pulling the throttle trigger — a measurement we call "wind-up time." With an average cut time of 5.7 seconds and a wind-up time of 0.5 seconds, the Makita UC4051A was one of the top-scoring models for this assessment.
For the second portion of this section, we noted the overall feel and balance of each saw while in operation. We considered things such as front-to-back balance, the comfort of the handles, and if there was any way to get the saw to bog down or stop by leaning into the cut too hard. Driven by a 15 amp motor and a house-current of electricity, it is no surprise that our team loved the way the Makita UC4051A cuts. We found that it hardly slows down or struggles with most types of wood and handles better than all but the best of the best models.
Ease of Use
The next 30% of the overall score is comprised of this section. To assess ease of use we began by measuring and weighing each model. We then meticulously inspected the saws for any design innovations or flaws that will either aid or hinder its overall performance and usability. Finally, we employed every feature that we found while using the tools in the field. After many days of testing, we determined that the Makita UC4051A is one of the easiest saws to use that we've seen.
If you've ever used a corded power tool for any length of time, chances are that you've pulled the cord out of the outlet and didn't notice until you got completely positioned, put your fastener in place, or got ready to make your cut, and pulled the trigger. If you've experienced this, you know it can be nothing short of maddening. The Makita UC4051A has an added clip near the end of the cord that uses a loop for your extension cord that won't allow anything to be accidentally disconnected.
The Makita UC4051A has an adjustable oil flow pump. The viscosity of bar & chain oil can change with various oil brands as well as with air temperature. If the chain isn't getting enough oil, it can cause permanent damage to the saw. On the flip side, if it's getting too much oil it can spit oil all over your project and all over you, not to mention waste oil. The one flaw we found with the oiling system of this model is the location of the tank and cap. It's a little too close to the chain brake and a bit difficult to get the proper angle to fill without making a mess.
Once it's plugged in and it's time to make a cut, the Makita UC4051A is one of the easiest saws to use. Many battery-powered models have an electronic on/off switch that needs to be engaged and gas-powered models need to be primed, pull-started, and warmed up. To initiate this saw, you simply hold the side safety down with your thumb and pull the trigger.
Of the bells & whistles offered by the Makita UC4051A, the chain tensioning system is our favorite. There's no need to read the instructions because there are graphics showing how to tighten the chain on the side of the saw. You simply unfold the lever, loosen the bar, tighten the chain with the small wheel below, then tighten the bar.
Next, we examined the power source for each of the three types of chainsaws — corded electric, gas-powered, and battery-powered. For gas-powered saws, we measured their runtimes as well as how long it takes to mix a gas can of fuel and refuel an empty tank on the saw. For battery-powered versions, we measured runtime and also timed how long each battery takes to charge. For corded electric models, there is nothing to time because they're already plugged in. However, due to the limitations that come along with requiring an extension cord our team decided that we could not give these types of chainsaws as high of a score as the best gas-powered and battery-powered models for this metric.
We came to this decision on several factors. For one, they don't truly have an unlimited runtime because the oil tank needs to be periodically checked and topped off. Also, many corded models such as the Makita UC4051A have a mechanism that shuts the saw down after excessive constant cutting to prevent overloading.
The extension cord also can't be any old cord and the outlet can't be any outlet. This type of saw requires a heavy-duty cord and it's highly recommended that the outlet be protected by a ground force circuit interrupt or GFCI. Battery-powered and gas-powered chainsaws are substantially more portable and versatile. Yes, you could technically take a corded model camping or to harvest a Christmas tree, but you'd need to haul a generator or a power bank, which is a whole other device to deal with.
The fact of the matter is that every chainsaw is terribly loud. Some are much louder than others, but even the battery-powered low-voltage models have a metal chain spinning at high velocity on a metal bar. To test the loudness levels of each model, we used a National Institute of Occupational Safety & Health-approved sound pressure level meter to gather numerical data in the form of decibels. We also had a panel of judges note their opinions of how annoying each device is to listen to. This section accounts for the final 10% of our total score.
Our judges agreed that this particular model emitted a whiny and annoying pitch. With a decibel reading of 94.1, the Makita UC4051A did not earn an impressive score for this metric. That said, we've found that several of the models that have the best cutting performance make a whole lot of noise.
If you have decided that a corded model is the right type of chainsaw for you and you want supreme cutting performance, then the Makita UC4051A is well worth the investment. Makita is a trusted brand and we've found that their power tools generally earn high scores in a wide variety of categories. However, if you're looking for a chainsaw that you'll seldom use for small projects such as pruning backyard trees, it likely makes sense to go with a more affordable and less powerful battery-powered model.
The Makita UC4051A has some very desirable elements such as an adjustable oil flow and a fantastic tool-free chain tensioning system. When set head-to-head with gas-powered and cordless models in a cutting competition it held its own with the best of the best. The main drawback with this cordless model is the cord itself.
— Ross Patton
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