This chainsaw was brought to me to try out at the East Anglian Game and Country show on 23rd April '16 by Andy Campbell, to give my verdict on how it would behave as a carving tool, and to show what could be done with it in front of an audience.
The nature of the techniques of chainsaw carving mean that the 'ideal' characteristics and requirements of a 'carving' 'saw are slightly different to those required of a 'forestry' saw. Where an ordinary saw is designed to be used below the waist either vertically or on its side, when chainsaw carving, 'saws get used at all sorts of awkward angles in many different ways, utilising a wide variety of chain speeds (trigger control) to achieve the plethora of special techniques. The first available lithium 'saws didn't have a variable trigger, which is essential in carving, so I was relieved to see that the 536 does.
On picking the 'saw up, I was instantly struck by it's perfect balance, it could be twisted into many different positions in an instant, while maintaining a nice, safe comfortable grip with minimal effort. the geometry of the saw meaning that the balance and control over the 'saw through the handles felt great. I also noted how rugged and functional it appeared, -that it might withstand many hours of hard speed carving in the professional world.
Andy told me the trigger time on the lithium battery was around 20 minutes (discounting use of the handy 'economy mode' so for my test, I decided I would carve one of my 20 minute 'speed carve' tawny owls on one battery, with the standard bar and chain combination. I chose a 1,1/2 ft piece of dry cypress.
On starting the carving, I was instantly struck by how quiet and smooth it felt, a much more pleasant experience altogether. My first cuts were the bigger 'blocking out' cuts, and where I'd expected the saw to lose chain speed and stall (Andy had told me not to hold back on it, so I gave it it's all), to my surprise it didn't flinch at all, seemingly with more torque than most of the smaller saws we carvers use for carving, simply cutting quickly, smoothly, and a pleasant experience with no fuss or drama!
Around three minutes in, I could feel myself starting to smile, the speed at which I could flick the 'saw from one cut to the next was breathtaking, the trigger response instant, and carving with it I found an utterly pleasant experience! I noted out of my peripheral how much attention it was getting from the audience, too, who could hold conversations whilst spectating, where with petrol 'saws, this wouldn't have been possible. After shaping and proportioning the owl, I did the bore cuts around the feet and legs, not holding back at all, normally I could stop just about any carving 'saw here, but the 536 wouldn't stop at all, just cutting swiftly and smoothly, with no fuss, and the highest degree of accuracy. The bar and chain combination supplied were also I feel very well matched to the saw, 3/8 lo-pro chain being the 'traditional' chain of choice for most chainsaw carvers.
For the last part of the carve, -feathers, details and textures, I chose the 'economy' mode, as here, I would ordinarily be using a lower chain speed from my trigger. I found this very useful for the finer details, with a great level of control, as well as obviously maintaining the battery life. Andy had told me the battery in it had done around 5 minutes before he handed it to me, and the 'saw stopped about 3 minutes before I'd finished, so we popped the spare in just to finish up, so we can confirm the 'saw can cope with a 'flat out' 20 minute 'speed-carve' on a single battery. I did note how easy it is to forget to refill the bar oil when swapping batteries!
In summary, the 536 took all that I could throw at it in an intense 20 minute speed carve, and didn't flinch, -rather carried it out smoothly, efficiently, and pleasantly, with no noise and fumes, (or discomfort) with the highest degree of control. In all a thoroughly pleasant, and eye-opening experience, I enjoyed this saw immensely.
L. O. Chapman (woodcarver)
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