Concrete Chainsaw Overview
Most people think about buying a chainsaw for cutting trees and branches but if you work in the construction industry you’re well aware of the need for a specialty chainsaw for cutting into concrete, stone, brick, pipe and so much more. This type of saw is referred to as a concrete chainsaw even though they’re used on other materials. A concrete chainsaw is quite similar to a regular chainsaw but there are some key differences that distinguish it and allow to tear into these hard materials.
For starters, the chain itself contains diamond grit to give it the strength and durability required to cut tough surfaces. Another significant difference is that the chain is lubricated with water in order to overcome the high friction and to wash away the dust as you cut; saving you from inhaling it into your lungs.
These concrete chainsaws are serious tools typically used by construction professionals. For example, they are often used to cut deep holes in concrete, precision cutting, pile cutting or even for removing stone in the pre-carving phase of creating a sculpture. Fire departments often use them to enter buildings in case of an emergency. These are precision tools capable of cutting extremely hard surfaces thanks to the high quality materials used to engineer such powerful tools. Continue reading to learn more about the various applications of a concrete chainsaw.
Read our in-depth article on the Husqvarna K760 concrete saw, as well as other Husqvarna power cutters.
Another option available for cutting hard surfaces such as concrete are rotary power cutters, which are equally powerful but they aren’t as capable for cutting small deep holes into concrete. They have different uses, but their is an overlap as well for some of the applications they can be used for. What you need depends on the type of work you do. This Makita EK7651H is an excellent example of a power cutter. This model has a 4-stroke engine, as well as many other features too numerous to list here.
Concrete Chainsaw Safety
It may sound counter-intuitive at first but concrete chainsaws actually have less chance of kickback than traditional wood chainsaws because the material being cut is non-fibrous, which significantly reduces the odds of the chain getting caught or snagged on something. One of the most common methods used when using a concrete chainsaw is plunge-cutting, which essentially means that the tip of the chainsaw blade is pushed into the hard material. This allows the operator to make small square cuts, which would be impossible otherwise.
A concrete chainsaw is still a dangerous tool and full safety gear should always be worn when working with one of these tools but it is less dangerous than a wood chainsaw. Although, instead of kickback, people who use concrete chainsaws have to be careful of something called “pushback,” which occurs if, for example, a concrete block were to move and pinch the blade of the chainsaw.
Now, let’s have a look at three excellent gas powered concrete cutting tools that will tackle the toughest construction jobs. You’ll also realize that these saws are more expensive than your everyday home chainsaw because these are high-quality professional grade chainsaws made with the best materials for reliability, power and durability. You get what you pay for in life, and concrete chainsaws are no exception.
If you’re in the construction industry then I suggest you find the right saw for your needs rather than try to buy the cheapest concrete chainsaw you can find. The goal is to buy a saw that will last. The three concrete chainsaws featured in this article are excellent and made by ICS, Husqvarna, and STIHL, respectively.
14-Inch / 76.5cc / 28.6 lbs / 5.7 HP
ICS specializes in engineering and manufacturing diamond based tools and equipment for a wide range of industries, including, commercial and residential construction, utility pipe service and maintenance, to name a few. Whether it’s cutting, drilling demolition or finishing hard surfaces, ICS probably has a tool for you. They make a full line of chainsaws, diamond tools and all the necessary accessories.
The ICS 680GC (54099) concrete chainsaw is built to be versatile on the construction site, capable of tackling a variety of tasks with high efficiency. Perfect for making make deep, clean and accurate cuts, in a shorter amount of time allowing you to be more productive in the same amount of time. No need for impact tools with this saw. Can make square cuts without over-cutting.
It comes with TwinMAX-32 diamond chain capable of cutting into the toughest materials. It’s designed to be used on a regular basis and capable of cutting natural stone, medium concrete and concrete with light reinforcement. It’s also capable of plunge-cutting up to 16-inches deep.
This is a powerful and compact concrete cutting tool that can be used on doors, window openings, vents, foundation work, curb cutouts and much more. You’ll be happy to know that the ICS Max diamond chain technology won’t ruin surrounding materials when cutting. This is a highly versatile tool able to confidently handle small tasks such as cutting out a single brick, to cutting out entire doorways or it can be used for more precision tasks such as carving square corners or to create miters without causing damage ordinarily caused by percussive methods.
It’s fairly heavy if you’ve never used a concrete chainsaw before but all heavy-duty equipment is, well, it’s heavy because in order to make durable tools that will withstand the constant pounding from daily usage it has to be made with top notch materials. There’s no way to build a lightweight tool with the same durability, but I’m sure in the future there will be but for now you’ll have to accept the weight.
You can watch a video on how to assemble the ICS 680GC on YouTube.
This ICS 680GC (model: 545099) is a fantastic concrete chainsaw built by a company with a solid reputation for quality. A great option for you to consider.
Download : ICS 680GC manual (model: 545099)
- 14-Inch / 76.5cc / 28.6 lbs / 5.7 HP
- Carburetor is designed to work at any elevation while maintaining maximum power.
- Advanced polyester air filter is specifically suited for wet cutting.
- Dependable starts and improved recoil spring engagement.
- Can cut holes as small as 3x3-inches.
- SMART ignition system syncs engine load with spark advance via a computerized system which leads to better airflow and lowers engine temperature by 100° F (40° C).
- Advanced rear multi-chamber air intake allows for slurry-free airflow.
- Improved fuel mixture screws make tuning easier.
- Easy to adjust fuel mixture system.
- Easy to start by reducing compression in the chamber.
- TwinMAX diamond chain will cut through concrete, stone and masonry.
14-Inch / 93.6cc / 21 lbs / 6.4 HP
Few companies have the reputation of Husqvarna when it comes to power tools. Based in Sweden and founded in 1689. Yes, that’s absolutely true, Husqvarna has been in business for over 325 years. I know it sounds crazy but it’s true. Originally they started manufacturing muskets for the Swedish army, but chainsaws didn’t enter their product line until 1959. Husqvarna is a name you can confidently spend your money on.
The Husqvarna K 970 is a powerful gas powered concrete chainsaw that comes with a diamond chain, and driven by 76.5cc engine. Easy to maneuver in tight areas, with reduced gyroscopic forces thanks to the advanced engineering, and the ability to cut sharp corners without over-cutting. The K970 is able to make up to 15-inch deep cuts from one side.
Based on the Husqvarna K 970 Power Cutter
The Husqvarna K 970 chainsaw is based on the rotary K 970 power cutter. They are very similiar but there are differences that you can see clearly when compared side-by-side at the Husqvarna site. The K 970 power cutter was designed for heavy cutting for applications such as: concrete, asphalt, stone, pipe and metal. All our applications suitable for the K 970 concrete chainsaw.
The main power systems are shared, like the highly efficient and effective X-Torq engine – designed to have significantly reduced emissions, increased fuel economy and more power. This a patented Husqvarna technology and one of their advantages over competitors. Overall, the K 970 is a well-constructed tool to get the job done. It has excellent anti-vibration and sound dampening technology that you’ll grow to appreciate if you plan on using it for extended periods of time. You’ll feel far less stress on your body and hands as you work with it. Although, you should expect anti-vibration for a tool this expensive. Let’s face it, it’s an expensive tool but it’s more of an investment if its part of your livelihood.
If you think you might need a power cutter but don’t need something as heavy-duty as the K 970 then you might want to consider the Husqvarna K3000 – it’s electric and still powerful; requiring less maintenance.
You can view a comparison chart between the Husqvarna K 970 chainsaw, K 970 power cutter and the K300 electric in this comparison chart, giving you a clear overview of the differences between the two models.
Details of the Husqvarna — K970 Chainsaw
Sometimes it’s better to watch a video of the chainsaw in action to get a clearer picture of what this product can do in the real world. Husqvarna does an admirable job of promoting their products, usually offering videos and other quality promotional materials. In the case of the K 970; there are several videos for you to watch.
The K 970 Concrete Chainsaw in Action:
- View or download the MANUAL for the Husqvarna K 970 Chain.
- View or download the PARTS LIST for the Husqvarna K 970 Chain.
Features (Husqvarna K 970):
- 14-Inch / 93.6cc / 21 lbs / 6.4 HP
- Can create deep cuts up to 15″ from one side.
- Maintenance-free air filter.
- DuraStarter : Maintenance free starter.
- Perfect for small openings as small as 4.3 x 4.3-inches (110 mm).
- SmartCarb: Automatic filter compensation maintains optimal power during its lifetime.
- Maintenance-free starter : Dust sealed starter unit and a durable starter cord.
- Anti-vibration system makes your experience far more comfortable, allowing you to work for longer periods of time.
- X-Torq produces 70% less emissions, 20% lower fuel consumption and greater power.
- EasyStart makes it 50% easier to start by reducing compression in the cylinder.
- Poly-V belt for improved power transmission and reduced tensioning.
16-Inch / 76.5cc / 16.8 lbs (powerhead only) / 5.8 HP
STIHL is in fierce competition with Husqvarna, and currently they are considered the top two chainsaw manufacturers in the world. STIHL is based in Germany and they’ve been in business since 1926, when Andreas Stihl founded the company. Andreas designed an electric saw in 1926 that weighed 140 lbs. Wow! The organization hasn’t looked back since. In 1929 STIHL had 20 employees and today the company has around 15,000 employee’s.
I’d like to add that STIHL does not sell their products online in North America, you have to go to your local STIHL dealer in order to buy this concrete chainsaw. They’ve begun to loosen up this policy as they recently allowed retail sales of their products in the European Union. I’m sure that North America will soon follow.
You can search for the nearest STIHL dealer here: STIHL dealer locator
The STIHL GS 461 is another excellent concrete chainsaw that seems to straddle the line between beautiful design and function. By the look of it you wouldn’t think it’s a powerhouse of a machine, but it is. This tool was built to excel in freehand cutting of hard materials typically found on a construction site, such as: sewage pipes, water supply lines, masonry, stone, building blocks and ductile iron.
It’s capable of cutting a depth up to 16-inches, while allowing the operator to cut precisely, such as when making contour or corner cuts. Very lightweight at only 18.1 lbs means you’ll be far more comfortable handling this concrete chainsaw while on the job and working for long hours. Designed with the user in mind, this saw is ergonomic, easy to manouever and also highly efficient with water usage. A perfect tool to tackle tough jobs with grace, precision and power. At 76.5cc it’s no slouch in the engine department.
You’ll find a plethora of details packed into the GS 461, including the following: rubber bumper to protect the housing, decompression valve for an easier start, 36 GBM diamond chain, heavy-duty air filter system and more. Read the feature list below to learn more and also watch the video. This is an excellent saw for difficult precision tasks on the job or at home.
This is the final concrete chainsaw on my recommendations. Choose the one that makes the most sense for your needs.
See the GS 461 Concrete Chainsaw in Action
Download the manual for the STIHL GS 461.
What STIHL customers say:
The GS Rock Boss concrete chain saw is a great product for intricate work. I use it constantly on construction sites where there are tight tolerances and the cuts have to be almost exact. The light weight and versatility of the Rock Boss definitely make my job easier.
- 16-Inch / 76.5cc / 16.8 lbs (powerhead only) / 5.8 HP
- Rubber bumper in the front of the engine housing protects the chainsaw when cutting.
- Upright Filter Cap protects against dust and allows for upright fueling.
- HD2 Filter System: Heavy-duty two filter system that’s easy to install and remove.
- Decompression valve to make it easier to pull the starter cord.
- Rollomatic G Guide Bar: Strong clamp to mount guide bar and chain.
- Optimal amount of water is distributed to the chain to extend the life of the chain.
- 36 GBM diamond abrasive chains has pre-sharpened sections.
- Water hose valve is built into the chainsaw for easy water connection. Designed to keep out dust and dirt.
- Chain sprocket cover and an efficiently designed water circuit puts water where you need it most.
Additional Images | STIHL GS 461
12″ to 16″ / 94cc / 6.4 HP / 21 lbs (powerhead only)
The ICS 695XL features include an easy to start engine with higher energy ignition system and durable, long-lasting components including a new muffler, carburetor and piston & cylinder. Available with 12-inch (30 cm) – 16-inch (40cm) guide bars and the entire line of MAX, ProForce and PowerGrit series diamond chains. Based on the best-selling 695 saw platform, the 695XL is the highest horsepower ICS gas saw for frequent-use by general construction, utility contractors and concrete professionals.
Documents for the ICS 695GC:
- Use on concrete, stone, masonry, ductile iron pipe, cast iron pipe and more.
- Most versatile gas-powered saw.
- New piston and cylinder lowers engine temperature.
- Longer life muffler with reinforced internal baffle.
- Easy-to-start with higher energy ignition system.
- New easy-to-tune carburetor.
What’s the best concrete chainsaw?
Here we are again. The end of another article and the question remains the same: What’s the best concrete chainsaw for you? First, you have to determine what you’ll be using it for and start from there. Yes, you have to start backwards when purchasing a chainsaw, or any other product. Determine the need first and the best choice will come quickly after that.
My job is to present you with some quality options that you can choose from. Trust me, it’s overwhelming to sift through all the research and try to select the best of the best and then write about them. I’m comfortable recommending any of these concrete cutting tools because I know they’re well-made and manufactured by companies that have a reputation for creating excellent products that stand the test of time.
It’s up to you. You’ll have to decide what makes sense for you. I hope you found this article useful. If you have any comments, questions or recommendations please contact me.
Another Article on Concrete Saws
I recommend you read our recent article entitled: Husqvarna K760 and Other Concrete Saws. It’s an in-depth article on concrete saws and power cutters. I cover a wide range of concrete cutting machines, but more importantly, it’s filled with a lot of useful information that will help you narrow down your buying decision.
Personally, I find it useful to know all my options before making my final buying decision. I do a lot of research for these articles in order to provide readers like you with the most useful (and up-to-date) information that will help you decide on how to best spend your money.