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I used to live in old cottage that had a border of Leylandi, which grew so tall that they started to touch the overhead power lines. I got a quote to have them cut down, which was several hundred pounds, but we decided to sell the cottage so never had the work done. My current house has a deciduous tree at the bottom of the garden, which has grown considerably in the seven years that I've lived here and frightened by the cost of having to have it cut down professionally I decided to invest in a chainsaw.
I confess to knowing nothing about chainsaws so my main criteria was something cheap as I knew that it was something that would spend most of its life in my shed and only be used infrequently. I also hoped that I could spend some of the nectar points I'd accumulated (around £30 worth) so the first place I looked was Argos where I found they were selling a Challenge Xtreme Electric Chain Saw for £69.99. Without much in the way of comparison I purchased it. The exact model that I now own is a Challenge Xtreme Electric Chain Saw 1800W SCS718A.
It came packaged in a rectangular box but wasn't too big and bulky and easily fitted into the boot of my car. I still leave it packaged in the box and it stands upright in the corner of my shed so it doesn't take up much space at all. I purchased this chain saw last summer and I've now used it on four different occasions, in fact it's so simple to use that I'm a bit worried I might become addicted. The large tree at the bottom of my garden is now just a shadow of its former self, having been cut back last year and then further still this year.
Using the chain saw is very simple even for a novice like me. There is a plastic blade cover to protect the blade when it's not in use so after removing this it's just a case of unravelling the wire and plugging it in. The cable is only 10 metres long so I needed to use my extension lead to reach the tree at the bottom of the garden, but this was expected so came as no surprise. It has a 1800 watt motor, which seems and sounds quite powerful but it wasn't nearly as powerful as I expected it to be and I doubt that it's really capable of severing limbs easily. Whilst it cut through the narrow branches very easily I found that it didn't exactly slice through them like a hot knife through butter and any branches over about eight inches in diameter it positively struggled with. I soon found that it actually required quite a bit of effort to cut through some of the branches and to chop them up into smaller manageable sections whilst on the ground.
The device is fitted with a chain catcher, which helps to prevent the chain being thrust backwards should it come off the handle and I was certainly thankful of this as it wasn't long before the chain came off and I've found this to be a bit of a recurring problem. As soon as the chain comes lose the power cuts off, which again is another handy feature. Putting the chain back on is actually a lot easier than I imagined and only takes a few seconds and you can adjust the tension on the chain as well, but every time it comes off it is an inconvenience. I admit that I was quite wary of using this chain saw at first but I soon got into the swing of it and it's certainly nothing to be frightened of, but having said that you do of course have to be careful and sensible when using it.
The blades can be replaced if necessary and they should be oiled occasionally to keep them lubricated but otherwise there is very little maintenance involved. There is an oil level indictor on the side of the device and my oil level hasn't gone down yet at all.
According to the instruction booklet the length of the teeth on the blades are 35cm long and the weight of the chain saw is 4.7kg.
I haven't used any other types of chain saw so I'm unable to compare it with others but I recently lent it to a friend who had used other "cheap" chain saws before and he said that it was as good as, if not better than those other ones he'd used and that it had a good power to weight ratio (whatever that meant).
I'm pleased with my purchase and it's certainly a much better and faster option than trying to use a hand saw. This is one of the cheapest chain saws available so it's ideal as a first one to buy if you've never used a chain saw before and especially if it's only going to be something that you are going to use occasionally. If however you need to chop down a lot of trees or branches I'd suggest that you consider paying a bit more money and getting something a bit more robust. Overall good value for money though.