They know Makita drills and angle grinders, but our testers are not familiar with Makita chainsaws. Yet after a morning of using these three saws, all members of the review panel are impressed.
Northard's favourite is the 3500. "Makita certainly has the power at full revs. For a ground saw, this is top notch," he says. Plus, Makita chainsaw are now backed by a three-year warranty, providing the unit is serviced by a recognised dealer in the first year.
The "F" at the end of each model number stands for "Farmer" class. These are mid-range saws designed for semi-professionals. Never having used any Makita branded models before, the testers first spend some time taking them apart. Cullen notes the attention to detail. "I like the angled slots on the fuel cap," he says. "They allow you to undo the cap with a spanner but not tighten it with a spanner. I'm pleased with that - it means you can't over-tighten it."
He finds the hand nut on the air filter covers somewhat fiddly on the 3500 and 4300. "I'd prefer something a bit quicker to undo, perhaps with a slot for a combi spanner," he suggests. He also notes that on these two models the primer bulb sticks out and has little protection. But on the 3601F, things are slightly different.
"It would seem a more domestic model but the air filter cover has clips that can be sprung open with a spanner and inside the wing nut on the filter is captive. That's good - you shouldn't lose it - and the primer bulb is more protected," says Cullen. The 3601 also has a fuel level window and tool-less blade tensioning.
Next the Oregon guide bars are dismantled. "The oiler system feeds out of two ports so you could fit a different guide bar if you wanted," says Cullen. "But the biggest advantage is that it doesn't have a small oil hole that could block."
All the testers find these saws, aided by spring-assisted recoil starters, only take a light pull to fire into life. There is plenty of grunt when cutting and the saws as easy to manoeuvre. The chain brakes are responsive and vibrations are low. The only feature that takes some getting used to is the dab switch.
Bar sizes: 35cm or 40cm/35cm/38cm or 45cm
List price: EA3500F: £427 + VAT (35cm) and £436 + VAT
(40cm)/EA3601F: £320 + VAT/EA4300F: £510 + VAT (38cm) and
£518 + VAT (45cm)
Tel: Makita - 01908 211678
Tested this issue
STIHL MS 201 C-M
STIHL MS 150 T-CE
Hyundai HYC36Li 36V
Hyundai HYC2610 Top-handled
The Review Panel
Jason Buckton, level 3 student, arboriculture, Bridgwater College
Darren Chambers, lecturer, arboriculture, Bridgwater College
Mike Cullen, head of arboriculture, Bridgwater College
Andre Gardner, manager, Cannington Centre for Land-based Studies, Bridgwater College
Gareth Martin, level 2 student, arboriculture, Bridgwater College
Simon Northard, level 3 student, arboriculture, Bridgwater College