I haven't heard of or been able to think of a good name for this tool. When I discribe it to others I tell them that it is a chain saw that uses an angle grinder for power.
The reaction is almost always one of wonder. That is, wondering if it could possibly be safe.
I came across it by chance on the internet and it was the perfect product to get my impulse buy. It was marked down from $37.93 to $21.35 and to tell the truth, I wasn't entirely sure that this wasn't a Chinese scam website. But I paid with PayPal figuring that I might at least get my money back if it was indeed a scam.
Shipping was $2.86 and it was supposed to arrive 8-15 days. It took 10 days for payment to clear, and 17 days to arrive. So almost 4 weeks.
This was such an impulse buy that I ordered it immediately with out doing any research or shopping anywhere else. It was only after I had already sent my money out into the ether that I started looking around. This conversion kit is actually not that uncommon as I found it easily on both Amazon and eBay. As a 'tool guy' I'm just a little surprised that I've never seen it before. Oh and the price really is about double of the one that I was getting. But if you're in a hurry...
I have a good gas powered chain saw but I could see the benefit of having the convenience of a small electric. But in all honesty, it just looked like it might be some fun.
Unpacking & assembly
Unpacking the smallish box, the parts seemed to be better quality that I had expected. The instructions contained no text, just b&w images. They helped a little but it was pretty easy to figure out how it went together on my own.
It's embarrassing to admit, but probably the thing I had the most problem with was getting the chain going the right direction. There are very small arrows on the chain and an arrow on the plastic sprocket cover to make it easy had I been paying attention. To fix that problem I took the chain and bar off, flipped it over and put it back on.
It comes with 2 sprockets for driving the chain. One is for a 4 in. angle grinder and one for a 4 1/2 in. angle grinder. I have two old Black & Decker 4 1/2 in. grinders that are only 5.5 amps. Which seemed to have enough power but it makes me wonder what a larger machine would do.
It all seemed surprisingly good, for the most part. But there is no bar oil reservoir, just a small hole to squeeze the oil into. (It comes with the squeeze bottle). It also was missing one bolt. These are metric M8-1.25 cap bolts and the one missing was one of the two that hold the handle on. The handle is plastic and it's not necessary to tighten the bolt down too much, as I did. This split the plastic but the plastic is tough and it doesn't seem to cause any problems. Nevertheless I'll try to find a glue to repair it, and I think a washer will help too.
The cutting length of the bar is about 11 in. I grabbed half round of firewood which as about 8 in. in diameter. Being the first time with this strange hybrid, I was naturally cautious - as one should always be with a chain saw. Surprisingly it felt more solid and balanced than I thought it would. It didn't feel like it was going to kick back on me or go flying apart if I put too much pressure on the chain. And best of all, it cut through the fire wood NOT like the toy that I was afraid it might be.
After the first cut the chain needed tightening, as all new chains do. I kept it oiled and probably used more oil than necessary. If you are making a few cuts you shouldn't have to oil it too much. If you are doing a longer job, I could see where it might be a bit bothersome, but I'm going to talk a little bit more about that shortly.
Making a beam saw
It didn't take me long to see the potential for both the cutting and the entertainment value of my new saw. I began to wonder if the bar could be turned 90 degrees to the body. The short of it is that yes, I can, and I did.
But it required taking the grinder housing apart and making a couple of cuts to clear the way for the main bracket and bolts. Everything went together fine and I even made a base similar to what you would find on a circular saw from some scrap wood.
Once again though, the blade was going the wrong direction, but only if you were pushing the saw. Pulling the saw it was just fine. As with a circular saw, the blade needs to travel upwards from under the base. In other words your leading edge of your chain/bar need to have the chain going up. Or to put it yet another way, the opposite direction of a bandsaw blade.
If the chain is travelling down, the saw will tend to bounce up and down and the work piece will vibrate a lot.
The fix was easy. I just had to loosen the chainsaw unit and rotate it the other direction, 180 degrees. But it required making a new base. Now when I pushed it the chain was travelling up when pushing the unit forward. There is a lot of room for improvement on my scrapwood base. One of the first things I would like to do is make it possible to do up to 45 degree cuts.
The Wrap Up
I have to confess here that the idea of making a 90 degree beam saw is not entirely my own. Prazi USA makes a 12 in. and 18 in. chain saw attachment that connects to a circular saw. A different model is required for worm saws.
The Prazi doesn't fit every saw and a few of the reviews emphasized taking it with you if you were going out to buy a new saw. The reviews are mixed (and what reviews are not).
I don't yet know how far I can push my new saw but it seems good enough for my uses around the yard and shop and it has the flexibility of being a regular chainsaw, a beam saw, and of course, and angle grinder.
Oh and lest I forget, the small 12 in. Prazi is $169. Plus the price of a saw. Even at full retail price, my saw is many times cheaper. And it's fun.
I rest my case.
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