A New Kid on the Block: the CAT 18” 60V Chainsaw
The CAT 18” 60V Chainsaw (model DG631) is one of the tools in the new line of CAT-branded outdoor power equipment (it also comes in a 16” version). I recently looked at CAT’s new 21” lawn mower, another new CAT-branded OPE tool, and found it was very satisfactory for all my needs.
I’ve always said that every contractor and every homeowner needs a chainsaw in their stable of tools. It doesn’t have to be a super high-end model for timber harvesting in the deep woods, but it needs to be reliable, fool-proof, affordable, and easy to use. The CAT 18” 60V Chainsaw meets all those requirements and is probably all the chainsaw that any non-professional arborist or logger needs.
The Need for a Chainsaw
Contractors need a chainsaw so they can remove small to medium size trees that are in the way of whatever they are installing or working on: a deck, an addition, an outbuilding, etc. If they can take it down themselves, they save time and scheduling hassles with a tree service and can save the client some money. They may also need a chainsaw for occasional large structural timber cutting or, if they are brave, for gang cutting something like joists (brave in that they are willing to goof and ruin a lot of pieces rather than just one!)
Homeowners have a greater need for something like the CAT 18” 60V Chainsaw. They can get by without a lawn mower or a basic set of electricians tools – they can always call in a pro since these jobs aren’t emergencies or time-critical. But, as is the case with a generator, when an emergency or natural disaster strikes, they will need them right then and there. They’ll need a chainsaw to clear out their driveway and any blocked roads if they have to get to work (think ER docs or critical infrastructure workers). Likewise, if they have to get themselves or a family member to the hospital or the veterinarian. Also if they have to get themselves to a loved one (an elderly family member, for example) who needs help during an emergency. You get the idea – at these times you can’t wait for help to come to you – you’re on your own.
My evaluation below is from the perspective of these two needs.
The CAT 18” 60V Chainsaw is obviously battery-powered. This is the right choice for an occasional use chainsaw. You save the hassle of dealing with gasoline (which perhaps has even gone stale), finicky starting, and the whole operation is simply easier. Just make sure you have bar oil in the reservoir and pull the trigger.
Even the pros are moving to electric chain saws for some work. When you’re at the top of a tree removing limbs, you don’t want to deal with temperamental starting or operation – time is money after all.
Also, maintaining a small gas engine takes expertise and time. Electric is definitely the way to go for anyone who doesn’t have either. Keep in mind that with a 60-volt brushless motor, we’re getting into decent power levels for a chainsaw. The CAT 18” 60V Chainsaw is going to be up to the job for anything but felling very large trees (while it could do that job, there’s so much to go wrong with that size job that I’d call a pro in any case). While its 40cc equivalent power is at the lower end for pro tools, I found it more than enough power for my needs as a Type 2 trades practitioner.
CAT 18” 60V Chainsaw Specs
- Voltage: 60V MAX, 54V nominal
- Motor: brushless
- Gas displacement equivalent: approximately 40cc
- Battery capacity 5.0Ah
- Oiler: automatic
- Bar length:18″
- Chain tension: toolless
- Chain pitch: 3/8″ low profile
- Chain gauge: 0.043 inches
- Chain speed: 24 meters/sec, 78.7 feet/sec
- Unit weight16.3 lbs.(with battery), 10.2 lbs.(bare)
- Included with kit: 5.0Ah lithium-ion battery and charger compatible with all other Cat® 60V Outdoor Power Equipment tools.
- 30 minutes max runtime
- Warranty: 3-year (tool), 5-year (battery)
- $280 (tool only), $380 (kit) at Amazon.
Using the CAT 18” 60V Chainsaw
All the normal controls and safety features are present on this saw – no surprises or omissions here. If you know how to use a chainsaw, you’ll be able to jump right in.
The electric motor in this saw doesn’t make the same roaring sound as a gas engine, but it also doesn’t sound “tinny”. I suspect that much of the noise actually comes from the chain moving around the bar.
The 16-pound weight (with a 5 Ah battery) isn’t much different from the 18-inch pro-level gas chainsaw I used previously. The balance is good so the weight, such as it is, is easy and intuitive to manage. Since you should never use a chainsaw above your head, the weight is almost always supported by your arms and whatever you’re cutting anyway.
I had some local trail clearing to do as a result of blow-downs from a recent storm, clearing downed trees of various diameters and species. The saw cut everything smoothly, predictably, and reliably. I never felt underpowered; no issues, no frustrations. Among other tasks, the CAT 18” 60V Chainsaw went through a 12-inches pine log in 18 seconds with the saw doing all the work (see photo). Using it sideways to limb the log was as easy as with any other saw of that physical size that I’ve used. All in all, solid performance, no surprises (that’s a good thing!), and very easy to use.
You see me wearing ear pro in the photos, but I didn’t technically need to. OSHA says that “PPE for hearing protection is required for employees who are exposed to noise levels equal to or greater than 85 decibels averaged over an eight-hour period.” At 36 inches from the saw (the length of my arm), I measured 88 dB with the NIOSH app on my phone. The reduced sound output (and sound pollution) from an electric saw is yet another advantage of the technology, both for you and your neighbors.
Remember that pro-level chainsaw I referred to a few paragraphs above? Well, I’ve moved that along to a pro and kept this CAT 18” 60V Chainsaw. It does everything I want it to and everything I’m likely to ever have to. It can go years without use if need be and, so long as I refill the bar oil reservoir I can simply pop that battery in and go to work. For any normal person (not a tree pro) I think this is a very good value.