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The Makita UC3530A
There is a reason that a picture of this Makita chainsaw – the UC3530A – is also featured on our ‘how to buy the best electric chain saw’ page.
It is simply because this is probably the best corded electric chain saw on the homeowner market and our top recommendation for that sector.
I’ve got one myself and I agree with the 30 odd reviewers on Amazon.com who give this Makita chainsaw (on average) 5 out of 5 stars.
This is a solid, well designed, reliable electric chain saw and one that you can have real confidence in when you use it.
There are cheaper electric chain saws out there, but that shouldn’t be your buying driver in my view.
Instead, if it’s value you want (and I think that’s what we all want), you’d be hard pressed to beat this Makita chainsaw UC3530A.
Key features at a glance
- 14 inch (35.5cm) chain and guide bar
- 14.5 Amp motor
- Tool-less blade adjustment
- Automatic chain oiler
- Soft start
- Safety chain brake
- Built in current limiter/overload protection
What can the Makita UC350A be used for?
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First up you need to be within reach of an electric power source. In most cases that means within an extension cord’s length of an outlet. But if you have a generator, you can extend the range to where ever you can transport your generator to.
Otherwise, this is perfect for landowner, homeowner and domestic use. Here is what a couple of Amazon reviewers say that they use this chainsaw for:
“We have about 5 acres, 90% of which is wooded. I bought this saw to use on downed trees, felling 10-12″ trees, and to cut down honeysuckle. It has performed admirably.”
“The first tree I took down was mature birch with an eighteen-inch trunk. Took about an hour to turn it into firewood and mulch and did it all on a weekend morning before the neighbors were up, they never heard a thing.”
Starting and Operating the Makita UC350A
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Unlike some power tools that jolt as you engage the start button, the Makita UC3530A has a soft start mechanism for comfortable and safe starting.
When it comes to cutting, as long as your chain is in good order, the sturdiness of the build and the powerful 14.5 Amp motor give you all you need to make pretty light work of felling, limbing and bucking logs (cutting a log into lengths).
In the event of binding, or where the motor is overloaded for any other reason, the UC3530A has a built in excess current cut-off. This means that the power supply to the motor is automatically cut. If this happens, just toggle the on-off switch to start up again.
Overall, the chainsaw operates smoothly and with a minimum of fatigue inducing vibration. Although, I should point out that the user manual contains safety warnings that the chain saw is not designed for prolonged use and that prolonged use can cause circulatory problems due to vibration.
Obviously, you need to bear that in mind, but it seems to me that warning is consistent with this being a homeowner rather than a pro model.
Another great bonus with this saw is that it is also a whole lot quieter than a comparable gas powered model.
It also has some other excellent safety features which I’ll cover under that heading below.
Design and handling
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One of the things I really like about this model is the way it seems to have been designed for comfort and balance.
It has rubberized handle grips to help prevent the saw slipping in you hands and the handles themselves are generously proportioned so you can get a solid hold on the machine, even when wearing protective gloves.
It’s interesting that when you pick up the Makita UC3530A’s powerhead (i.e the chainsaw body without the guide bar and chain on), it understandably feels unbalanced. But it also feels quite heavy too.
Then, once you fit the bar and chain, suddenly the chainsaw is balanced and the weight of the machine feels right.
That said, at 14 lbs (just under 6.5kg) it is quite a heavy machine compared to most other electric chainsaws.
Nevertheless, given how well balanced it feels when you use it, you get the feeling that its weight is a testament to the quality of the build and the materials used.
Chain and guide bar
The UC3530A has a 14 inch chain and guide bar.
That’s 14 inches of usable chain – the bar’s overall length is 16.5 inches.
The chain pitch is 3/8 inch and the chain gauge 0.05 inch.
The guide bar is what’s known as sprocket-nose bar, as it has teeth on the end (the nose) which engage the chain and lift it slightly off the bar.
The advantage of this is that it reduces friction as the chain spins around the bar, thus making more power available for cutting and reducing wear on sprocket, bar and chain.
It couldn’t be simpler to adjust the chain tension. No tools are needed. There is a simple chain tensioner handle located on the sprocket cover.
The Makita UC3530A also covers the chore of chain oiling automatically. All you need to do is keep the reservoir topped up – and there is an easily visible ‘view window’ on the left hand side of the machine that allows you to check the oil level.
I’m not sure if it is supposed to ship with a full quota of oil. Mine arrived with traces of oil inside the box and on the saw itself, so it looked as if there had been some leakage.
In any case, I needed chain oil straight off, so you might be advised to order some when you order your saw.
On full power the chain has a maximum rotational speed of 2,600 feet per minute (FPM).
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The operator risks with an electric chainsaw are two fold. There are cutting risks and there are electrical risks.
Subject always to sensible operation by the user, Makita has minimized these risks as far as possible with some impressive safety features.
To mitigate the electrical risks, the chainsaw is double insulated and the body of the powerhead is manufactured from tough materials that are unlikely to crack or degrade over time.
As far as cutting risks are concerned, in addition to the current limiter referred to above, the chainsaw has both a chain brake and an electric run out brake.
The chain brake stops the chain within a fraction of a second.
You can operate it deliberately, by pushing the brake handle away from you towards the bar tip. But it is principally designed to operate if the saw kicks back. It is positioned so that in that event, the back of your hand will hit the handle, pushing it forward and engaging the brake.
The run out brake will probably impress you if you are used to power tools, like saws and drills, that stop spinning gradually when you release the power. The run out brake simply stops the chain immediately when you release the on-off switch.
This reduces the risk of injury and also increases productivity, as you don’t have to wait for the chain to stop spinning before you make your next cut.
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All you need to do when the saw is delivered is to fit the guide bar and chain and, if necessary, top up the chain oil.
The first time you do this, you might find it a little bit fiddly, but when you’ve done it once, you can usually do it in about 5 minutes.
All you have to do is:
- remove the sprocket cover
- fit the bar in position
- fit the chain to the sprocket and the bar
- replace the sprocket cover and tension the chain
- Fill or top up the chain oil reservoir.
To help you with this I’ve put together a 5 minute video showing you the process:
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Here are the main dimensions of the saw:
- Overall length: 32 inches
- Overall bar length 16.5 inches
- Usable bar length/length of cut: 14 inches
- Weight without bar and chain: 11 pounds
- Weight with bar and chain: 14 pounds.
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Firstly, you need to make sure that there is always sufficient chain oil in the reservoir whenever you use the saw. The manual recommends Makita’s own BIOTOP oil. But, if you can’t find that, just make sure you use a proper chain oil, as this kind of oil has an adhesive additive that prevents it being thrown off the chain too fast.
Otherwise the main regular maintenance tasks involve:
- Keeping your chain sharpened, or replacing it as necessary
- Cleaning the guide bar
- Lubricating the sprocket nose
- Inspecting and, if necessary, replacing the carbon brushes.
Full instructions for all these procedures are in the user manual which, unlike many of its kind, is actually very comprehensive and easy to follow.
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The chainsaw comes with one saw chain and a chain cover.
You may wish to invest in a spare chain, so you always have a sharp chain available.
For sharpening the chain, you are also likely to need a 3/8 inch chain gauge, a 4mm diameter round file, a flat file and a file holder. A good selection of chainsaw chain sharpening tools can be found here.
You’ll also need a good quality outdoor extension cord, rated for use with a 15 Amp motor. That means that a 100 foot cord, should have a wire size (American Wire Gauge) of 12. This 100-Feet Yellow Jacket 2885 12/3 heavy-duty 15-Amp extension cord fits the bill.
Pros and Cons
This Makita chainsaw has a lot going for it, which is what makes it our top rated electric chain saw. It’s main attributes are these:
- Starts immediately with the squeeze of a trigger. No mixing gas and oil, no gummed up spark plugs, no pulling on a recoil cord and no engine flooding
- Plenty of power, enough for almost anything you ask it to do and comparable to similar sized gas powered chain saws
- Solid build with quality materials
- Well designed for comfortable use over a reasonable time
- Well balanced, meaning it cuts efficiently and limits the fatigue of the user
- Low noise
- Great smooth start feature
- Comprehensive safety features: run off brake, electric chain brake, double insulation
- tool-less chain tensioner
- Easy to see chain oil reservoir.
I suppose the cons of this Makita chainsaw are mainly linked to the fact that it is an electric chain saw.
From my experience and what I can see from other reviews, these are the main downsides with this saw:
- You are limited by the length of your extension cord and/or the portability of your generator
- You need to manage the cord as you work, keeping it away from your feet and where you are cutting
- Requires some assembly that some people find a bit tricky
- Heavier than most electric chain saws.
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There are 33 reviews of this Makita chainsaw on Amazon.com
29 reviewers give it 5 stars, 4 reviewers give it 4 stars. There are no reviews at 3 stars or under.
I’m in the 5 star camp.
The reviews are worth reading. It’s unusual to find such universal agreement about an item of power equipment. Usually somebody gets a dud or is unhappy with their purchase in some way. Here are a couple of tasters:
“It has met and exceeded every expectation. The ergonomics are better than most gas saws I’ve used, the tooless chain adjustment is quick and simple, the provided chain is razor sharp, and it’s so quiet it’s almost a pleasure to listen to the whirr if you’re used to deafening gas saws. I haven’t found a lack of power at all compared to average 16″ gas models.” Read more …
“This chainsaw is the cat’s pajamas. In other words, it tears through trees like there’s no tomorrow. In other words, if you want a 14inch chainsaw that has ridiculous amounts of power; is well designed; starts “every time” by just pulling the trigger; will probably last for a long long time; and that you will never-ever, regret purchasing… then this is your saw! Don’t be lulled into buying one of the cheapy electric chainsaws because of their lower price. This is the saw you want. You could probably own this saw for 20 YEARS and your total cost for those twenty years would be 83 cents per month.” Read more …
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This by no means a cheap saw when compared to other corded electric models. But it is also not as expensive as many gas models.
Check out the latest price through the links below. If you buy from Amazon, you should also be able to get free super saver shipping.
You really can’t go wrong with this Makita UC3530A electric chainsaw
16 inch bar model
Makita also offers the Makita UC4030A Commercial-Grade 16-Inch 15 amp electric chain saw
This model has exactly the same specification as the UC3030A, except that it has a 16 inch usable bar and chain rather than 14 inch, as with the UC3035A.
UK and Australian readers
What do you think?
If you’ve got one of these chainsaws, do you agree with this assessment?
Let us know what you think in the comments below.