Dewalt FlexVolt Chainsaw Review
The FlexVolt is a well balanced, very fast cutter with good runtime and wide handles that feel secure in the hand. But there are a few idiosyncracies that keep it from the top tier of saws.
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Regular readers will recall that recently I pitted eight battery-powered chainsaws against one another in an exciting tooth-to-tooth shootout. We’re taking a closer look at each saw and today I’ll present to you the Dewalt FlexVolt Chainsaw. It is one of two DeWalt saws in the competition – the other being a 40V Max saw with 6.0Ah battery. DeWalt’s FlexVolt technology is distinctive, for reasons I’ll explain soon, and what better way to test it than by sawing up a bunch of logs?
The most obvious standout feature of this saw is the FlexVolt technology, so here’s a quick explanation for those unfamiliar with it: the FlexVolt system uses uniquely designed batteries that change voltages – between 20V and 60V – depending on the tool’s voltage requirement. However, DeWalt’s 20V Max batteries cannot be used to power the FlexVolt tools, and there is no cross compatibility with DeWalt’s 40V outdoor power equipment line.
This DeWalt chainsaw is outfitted with an Oregon 90 chain with 0.043-inch thick drive links, as were most of the saws in this shootout.
There’s a handy flip-up tab on the oil cap but make a note: the caps are easy to open with a quarter turn and the large diameter makes it easy to add oil but there’s a section of the cap that goes into the tank and displaces what seems like an unnecessary amount of oil. If you add too much, it’ll spill out when you replace the cap.
Whereas some of the competitors have only a minimal trigger safety and some have electronic versions, the Dewalt FlexVolt Chainsaw features a mechanical lockout.
The tool-free bar adjustment is certainly convenient, but of course, you rely on one stud and your own strength rather than two studs and the leverage of a wrench. There’s also a chain brake (similar to a blade brake on a circular saw) that most of the other saws don’t have, which is a nice touch.
The bucking spikes are small and plastic, which can hamper performance.
Flexing Some Muscle
You can see the full testing method in the shootout article, but suffice it to say that I wanted to know everything about the saw’s feel and performance. As I began making some sawdust, I realized that both the front and back handles of the FlexVolt are very wide – in fact, they were the widest of the competitors. It gives the saw a solid, secure feel in the hands, especially with the rear handle’s full-wrap rubber grip. Guys with larger hands will really appreciate the amount of gripping surface.
Get a Grip
When you make vertical cuts to a log, you use what’s called a bucking grip, because you rock – or buck – the saw back and forth slightly to speed the cut. This is the reason bucking spikes are useful: they are designed to grip the side of the log and help you gain downward leverage against the wood. If the bucking spikes are insubstantial – as the DeWalt FlexVolts are – then the security of your leverage against the log with a bucking grip suffers.
The bucking grip itself rates Good. It is better at the felling grip – a horizontal cut used when felling a tree – and rates Very Good in that hold.
With an average of 5.93 seconds, the FlexVolt is just one of three chainsaws to break the 6-second mark cutting through an 8-inch pine log. It ranks 3rd in battery efficiency measured as cuts per watt-hour (read: fuel efficiency or gas mileage) with an average of 0.40. The saw’s runtime is surprisingly good for a 3.0 Ah fuel tank, but of course, with 60 volts, that’s a pretty large tank. The production battery tested is rated at 167 watt-hours but the final production models will be larger and rated higher.
I found the side cover design let chips pile up above the tension knob and made it able to clog the saw. This results in a spray of woodchips from the front of the saw which can impair visibility. The chips should flow freely out of the bottom of the saw. Hopefully, a design tweak can fix this in the near future.
FlexVolt 60V Max or 40V Max?
If you’re interested in a DeWalt cordless chainsaw, how do you choose between the FlexVolt line and their 40V line of tools?
Well, consider that FlexVolt offers a deep bench of cordless construction tools. The FlexVolt battery is compatible with the brand’s 20V Max line (but you can’t run a FlexVolt tool with a 20V Max battery). Although the Dewalt FlexVolt Chainsaw outpaced its 40V brother in speed, the 40V line is where DeWalt is targeting landscaping Pros. The FlexVolt line is best for property owners and construction Pros who need to do some work around the jobsite from time to time.
The Bottom Line
In the end, the Dewalt FlexVolt Chainsaw ranks 4th out of the 8 saws in the shootout, with a 3rd place finish in cutting speed and 4th place finish in runtime. It is in the top half of each performance test and boasts an excellent feature set. The FlexVolt technology allows the 60V max, 3.0Ah battery to be used with any other 60V or 20V DeWalt tool. I really like that kind of flexibility. I consider this chainsaw to be a part of this shootout’s second tier: solid performers but needing a few improvements to move up to the top tier.
Pros include comfortable, generously–sized handles, the easiest to use tool-free adjustment system, the very nice addition of a coast-down brake for safety and speedier handling, a quarter-turn oil cap with a large flip-up tab for easier handling with gloves on, and the best oil-pouring access of all the brands tested.
Cons include an enclosed side cover design which lets chips pile up above the tension knob and clog the saw frequently, letting forth a spray of wood chips out the front of the saw which impairs the user’s visibility instead of allowing the chips to freely flow out of the bottom as they should.
Dewalt FlexVolt Chainsaw Key Features
- Low kickback 16-inch Oregon bar and chain
- Tool-free chain tensioning and bar tightening knob
- Auto-oiling system w/quarter-turn oil cap
- Chain brake
Dewalt FlexVolt Chainsaw Specifications
- Model: DeWalt DCCS670X1 (kit), DeWalt DCCS670B (bare)
- Voltage: 60V
- Weight with Battery: 12.24 pounds
- Kitted Battery: 3.0 Ah
- Battery Watt Hours: 167
- Chain: Oregon 90
- Bar Length: 16 in.
- Warranty: 3 years limited
- Price: $329.00 (kit)
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