Diamond chainsaws offer several advantages over the circular-blade cut-off machines, Bray says. “The chainsaw is designed to actually plunge nose first into the material and has the ability to cut more than twice as deep as a 14-inch circular blade. The smallest ICS gas saw allows a full 10-inch deep cut, and depending on the saw model, there are gas saws that can cut a full 16-inch depth,” he explains.
A gas saw with a 12-inch depth of cut is the most common on jobsites. There are hydraulic diamond chainsaws that can cut to a 25-inch depth. A 14-inch circular blade on a cut-off saw is designed for a maximum depth of slightly less than 5 inches.
“Because a diamond chainsaw uses a guidebar with a long, narrow, flat surface, the saw can provide a deeper cut with no overcut, allowing the operator to make square corners. This is not possible with a circular blade,” Bray says. “Diamond chainsaws not only cut deeper with no overcuts, but they can be used to make openings as small as 4 inches by 4 inches [the width of the bar] times the cutting depth of the bar. They are also useful in creating odd-shaped cuts in material.”
When selecting a diamond chainsaw, the most important thing is to consider whether you need to cut openings deeper than 5 inches. “If the answer is yes, then a diamond chainsaw is the right tool,” says Bray. “Most begin with a gas-driven, two-cycle engine, as it offers portability and a lower initial investment.” ICS recommends at least an 80cc engine which can use either a 12- or 14-inch cutting-depth guidebar.
If you have significant cutting needs, you might want to consider a hydraulic or pneumatic diamond chainsaw, which have more power and can utilize guidebars for openings up to 25 inches.
“There’s a higher power to weight ratio with hydraulic and pneumatic diamond chainsaws,” explains Carroll at CS Unitec. “If you’re cutting hard concrete with steel reinforcement, you’ll get much higher performance from pneumatic or hydraulic saws.”
Jenny Lescohier is part of the Cygnus Construction Network and is the editor of Rental magazine, Construction Zone Safety and IPAF Elevating Safety.