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A Great Saw for Trail Maintenance

The Silky Katanaboy 650 is so big and sharp that trail maintainers call it a “human-powered chainsaw.” Weighing just 2.8 pounds and with a 25.6″ (650mm) blade length, it’s ideal for removing fallen trees from hiking trails or fire roads in wilderness areas where motorized tools are prohibited.

  • Blade Length 25.6″ (650mm)
  • Teeth Per Inch – 3.4 (fast cutting)
  • Open Length Overall – 57.9″
  • Folded Length – 33″
  • Length in Sheath – 35″
  • Weight – 2.8 pounds
  • Pros: Fast cutting, super sharp, lightweight compared to an axe or chain saw
  • Cons: Dangerously sharp, saw blade cannot be sharpened

Silky Saws are notoriously sharp with ferocious teeth that cut on the pull stroke requiring less effort to saw and more control over the blade. I own a few smaller Silky saws already, but nothing would prepare me for the impressive performance of the Katanaboy 650. Over 25″ in length, the blade is great for clearing fallen trees (blow-downs) from hiking trails and cuts through hardwood and softwood like butter. I know of at least one professional trail crew (Appalachian Mountain Club) with a room full of Katanaboys in their equipment depot because they’re so efficient and lightweight to carry in the backcountry.

The Katanaboy 650 in action: Clearing a tree that had blocked a forest service road in a Wilderness Area where power tools are prohibited.

I received a Silky Kataboy 650 a few weeks after receiving an axe certification from the US Forest Service for use in the White Mountain National Forest, and my axe has seen very little action since. The two are quite complementary tools. For example, an axe is more efficient for cutting small branches off a blowdown to get at the main trunk than using the saw and for driving wedges into a big cut to prevent the saw from becoming bound in the wood. But the Katanboy is still my tool of choice for cutting through bigger branches or trunks because it’s so damn fast and a lot easier to carry into the backcountry than a 5-pound axe.

The Katanaboy 650 saw blade has very sharp teeth.
The Katanaboy 650 saw blade has very sharp teeth.

The Katanaboy 650 is a dangerous tool, and you should be careful not to cut yourself on the blade when using it. It has a lock to prevent it from accidentally opening or closing, and the cutting teeth fold into the handle when not used. A canvas carrying case is also provided. Still, extreme caution is warranted, and you might even want to wear some protective gear, like cut-poof gloves, or carry a quick clot bandage when using it.

The Katanaboy 650 folds closed and includes a protective canvas carrying quiver
The Katanaboy 650 folds closed and includes a protective canvas carrying quiver

The Katanaboy 650 saw blade is impulse-hardened, meaning it’s heated instantly and hardened when forged,  so it can’t be sharpened by hand like an axe or a crosscut saw. That’s the downside of using a saw like this. But impulse-hardened blades stay sharp about three times longer than non-hardened teeth. Replacement blades are available, but they are also costly. Despite that, it’s such an efficient tool to use that the cost may be justified depending on your needs. You can get a lot done with it very quickly.

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Disclosure: Silky donated a Katanaboy 650 for trail maintenance use and review.

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