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Silky Katanaboy 650 Trail Maintenance Saw Review

Silky Saw Katanaboy 650

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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10 comments

  1. I’ve got a couple Corona RS16290 saws and have been pretty pleased with them. They are a bit shorter than the Katana Boy but are also much less expensive. The long handle of the K.B. helps one get their whole body involved in the cut.

  2. Our volunteer organization was using Kanatanboy 650 saws but the price has jumped up so much that the Gov. organization providing the tools won’t purchase the saws (locking pins fall out) or replacement blades. It’s not hard to understand when a 650 saw and 2 replacement blades is the same price as professional chainsaw

    Lee Valley has a GS-600 that’s $100!

    FYI…Kanatanboy saws can be sharpened but it’s not something that is worth trying without special jigs to hold the diamond file at the correct angle.

  3. I love my katanaboy 650 really cuts well. Please do not hold a branch and saw next to your hand as the saw might bounce out of the cut and onto your hand. One stroke will cut off a finger so fast you cannot stop it. Use two handed method with smooth steady pull strokes don’ t apply heavy downward pressure especially on the forward stroke. Might want to upcut on the bottom a bit to make the cut open up when cutting down. Suluk 46 sells Yuka 240 W/ Silky Gomboy Blade weighs 6.1 oz 9.5 inch blade great to carry to do some branch work on trail. I’ve cut 8 inch branches with it. Great for fires if you are so inclined. Love Japanese tools especially saws. The make a file for it but don’t know how well it works. Looks tricky.

  4. I have the slightly smaller katanaboy 500 and have been using it for trail maintenance for going on 6 years. It is fantastic – well worth the cost! I am still on the original blade, but am starting to see some degradation in performance at this point. Not unreasonable I think given the amount of use it has seen. It is light, easy to carry and will handle most anything you run into. Just be sure to have felling wedges available if needed!

  5. An alternative is the Agawa Boreal 24″ is nice at 1.2lbs. An inch and a half shorter blade length, but less than half the weight and only 24.75″ long when folded up for travel. Its a folding bow saw, so when deployed it wont get into the small areas the Silkys will, but I really like them. I bring the Boreal21″ in winter when I need to process larger amounts of firewood for a basecamp. Take a look Philip, you might dig it.

  6. I use a $30 ($35?) Corona pruning saw from Lowes. It’s a non-folding saw with an 18″ blade and will cut a 10″ tree easily. And bigger than that, I’m willing to log it for someone with a chainsaw to come cut. :-) These non-sharpenable teeth do get dull. After a year, (or if someone uses it and cuts rocks while trying to trim a stump flush to the ground) I just buy a new one and loan out the ‘Still cuts, but less quickly’ one to others. It also fits in the side pocket of my day pack, and is easy for someone to grab when we come to a tree. We do trailwork every week at the Blue Hills (south of Boston, MA) and cut a few trees each week. Trailwork – It’s like a hike, but you go home with a warm fuzzy feeling because you left the place better than you found it. :-)

  7. El Diablo Amarillo

    I run Silkys daily as an arborist. The impulse hardening is def not a con. Sharpening any tool is part skill and part science and most people cant dedicate the time and correct repetitions to learn it correctly. Imagine sharpening all those teeth only to find when done it cuts worse than before you sharpened it but you have no idea why. Chuck the blade and replace it with new and consider it time saved and a consumable tool.

  8. I bought this saw in 2020 for trail work after a summer wind storm. It’s great and I have a hand pruner as well. I have hiked and biked it to locations where schlepping a chainsaw wasn’t practical and cleared downed trees. It is worth investing in a Japanese diamond shaped saw file and learning how to properly hone the teeth

  9. Looks nice. [goes and checks the price] $350? Ouch.

    Lee Valley has a similar saw for $100, spare blades about $50 each. Probably not as nice as the Silky, but it’s less than a third as much.

    The Fanno K24 is about the same blade length, but it has a normal saw handle and doesn’t fold. It’s around $50, though, and the blade can be sharpened with a normal file. Corona had a similar saw, about the same price, but it’s induction hardened.

    If you can live with a shorter blade, Jameson has a 13″ folding saw for about $65 (which will also fit into their poles), and their pole saws are pretty nice if you don’t need it to fold or be lightweight.

  10. I have been carrying and using a Katanaboy 500 for about 5 years now.
    They can be sharpened with a low profile diamond file.

    Also carry a Corona 12 inch for limbing and small work in my pack at all times.

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