When you think of a chainsaw, the first thing that might pop into your head are scenes of tall pine trees and a lumberjack wielding saws with 36-inch bars.
While it’s fun to think of, the reality is those jacks are professionals and need a large chainsaw for their everyday work. But for someone who needs cut trees only occasionally, a small chainsaw will get the job done and more.
To help you find the best small chainsaw for your needs, we’ve reviewed and rated 11 small chainsaws that are light weight and easy to use. We’ll cover the small chainsaws from popular manufacturers as well as weigh out their pros and cons.
TL;DR – Our Top 3 Picks
Why Small Chainsaws can be Better than Large Chainsaws
Big chainsaws look cool, but for nearly all homeowners and DIYers, they’re simply overkill.
Small saws benefit from being lightweight and easily managed. Their engines tend to be more fuel-efficient and easier to dampen their vibration, which makes them both affordable and easy to use for all-day work.
If you factor in that most small saws are a fraction of the cost of larger saws, it’s easy to see their appeal for casual woodcutters.
Now, what’s the best small chainsaw? Let’s dig into some makes and models.
Black and Decker needs no introduction. From kitchen appliances to power tools, they’ve got everything. The Black+Decker 20V MAX LCS 1020 includes a 20 volt MAX lithium ion battery.
From our tests, it had the best run time as much as 6 times longer than some that didn’t make this list.
This lightweight chainsaw has a tool free blade tension system allowing quick adjustments while you’re cutting down trees or sawing through wood.
It includes a 10 inch Oregon low kickback bar and chain and is perfect for beginners and seasoned experts.
Weighing in at just 7.2 pounds, having a tremendous amount of power (although weaker than petrol chainsaws), we rated the Black + Decker LCS1020 as overall, the best small chainsaw.
- Lightest chainsaw on our list making it easy to use for extended periods of time.
- Insanely long battery life.
- Oil system did not feed properly when testing.
Greenworks Tools is an outdoor power equipment company geared toward DIYers and homeowners. The company was founded in 2007 and since then they’ve produced corded and battery-operated tools with some degree of success.
The 20262 is a 40v cordless battery-operated chainsaw that comes with a 2ah lithium-ion battery and has a 12-inch bar length. It weighs just over 11 pounds and it features a tool-less chain tensioning system, chain brake, and a variable speed trigger.
The Greenworks also has an automatic oiler with a translucent oil tank so you won’t run the bar dry. And if you’re environmentally conscious, it’s obviously better than a typical gas chainsaw.
With its affordable price tag, efficient engineering, and well thought out features, we consider this to be the runner up in our journey to find the best small chainsaw.
- Lighter than most battery-powered saws
- Variable speed trigger allows you to conserve battery power source
- Chain tensioning system may fail due to low-quality hardware
When it comes to quality chainsaw bars and chains, Oregon has been at the top of the heap for years. The company has been around since 1947 and calls Portland, Oregon home. The CS1400 is their electric offering, and it’s worth taking a look at.
This corded chainsaw comes with a 16-inch bar and 15 amp electric motor. Its no-load speed is around 2888 FPM. With the bar and chain attached, it weighs about 14 pounds.
The Oregon CS1400 has a 15 amp motor while most other saws use 12 amps. You’ll get more power and torque and bog down less when cutting through large logs. Also, the tightening system is tool-less and the automatic oiler does a pretty good job of lubricating the bar and chain.
One of the main issues people have with the CS1400 is not being able to assemble it out of the box. This saw is marketed towards homeowners but it appears it’s too challenging for some of those homeowners to assemble.
- Plenty of power for around the house
- Tool-less chain tightener makes adjustments quick and easy
- Difficult for non-experienced users to assemble
Dewalt was founded in 1923 in a small Pennsylvania town. The well-known tool company has taken an interest in chainsaws in recent years, however. The DSS690 is their 16-inch, brushless, battery-operated offering and at 13.5 pounds, it packs a punch.
The DCCS690 works on a four or six amp battery. It has a 16-inch bar and chain, both made by Oregon.
Chain tension can be adjusted without tools and there’s an oil-view window in front of the saw to make it easy to track your bar oil. It has an automatic chain brake that also cuts power to the saw, ensuring the safety of the user during kickback.
Your runtime will depend on which battery you have but they’ll both provide a lot of cuts. Also, this saw is powerful enough to do just about anything a 16-inch saw can do.
For complaints, the main issues are a lack of bucking spikes and the durability of the chain tension adjustment screw.
- Tool-less chain tensioning
- Plenty of power and run time
- No bucking spikes for grabbing onto logs
- Chain tensioning screw is prone to stripping or breaking
The Swedish brand Husqvarna has been in the manufacturing game since the 1600s, however it started building chainsaws in the 1950s.
While they have a full lineup of models, the 120 Mark II is a 14 or 16-inch model perfect for homeowners and light farm use.
The Mark II is powered by a 38.2cc, two-horsepower motor and weighs only 10.2 pounds. It tops out at 9,000 RPMs and has plenty of cutting power for small jobs around the house.
It features anti-vibration technology to decrease the user’s fatigue and Husqvarna’s X-Torq system to decrease emissions and reduce fuel consumption.
Most of the complaints have been about issues with getting the 120 started and running, which may be due to the X-Torq system needing an adjustment.
- Lightweight and powerful
- Environmentally friendlier than other comparable saws
- Some users have reported having a difficult time getting their saw to start
Remington chainsaws have been a staple in the shops of homeowners for years, with their first model being produced in 1954. They were one of the first in the electric chainsaw game and they’ve always produced a quality saw.
This saw comes with a 14-inch bar length and an 8 amp electric motor, and tips the scales at only 6 pounds. There’s not much else included with the RM1425 however, as it lacks an automatic oiler or any chain brake whatsoever.
The only safety features the Remington has is a wrap-around handguard to keep you from grabbing the chain. You’ll have to oil the bar manually as well which is a pain.
You can accept those shortcomings when you’re spending $50 on a saw with enough power to cut thick limbs with dense growth rings, though. It’s not perfect but it’s a good deal.
- 8 amp motor has plenty of power for casual yardwork
- Only costs $50 at most retailers
- You’ll be responsible for your own safety
- No automatic oiler
Obviously, we’re fans of Dewalt’s cordless chainsaws. They’re powerful, light, and easy to maintain. The DCCS620 is their 20v FlexVolt option which makes it a useful tool to add to the 20v lineup that you’ve most likely already been curating.
The DCCS620 features a brushless motor, just like the larger DCCS690. It comes with a 12-inch Oregon bar, a 5.0ah battery, along with a tool-less chain tensioner system, an automatic oiler, and a fully-functioning chain brake.
You should know that the oiler system is finicky. If the saw is too clean or the reservoir is topped off, you’ll probably have a leak to contend with. Also, while the tool-less adjustment and breakdown are nice for maintenance purposes, the plastic material feels cheap and unreliable.
- Fitted with an Oregon bar
- Tool-less chain tensioner
- Oiler tends to leak if the saw is too clean or the reservoir is full
- Plastic panels and knobs feel cheap and unreliable
You can read our full Dewalt 20v electric chainsaw review here.
If you’re looking for a small saw with some pro-level ability, the T435 might be a good fit. This top-handle saw is ideal for homeowners that just need to cut some firewood from time to time, or for pros that need a lightweight saw that they can pull up a tree with ease.
The T435 has a 12-inch bar length and a 35.2cc motor that makes 2.01 horsepower. It comes with loops for easy rope attachment as well as a chain brake. The powerhead weighs only 7.5 pounds so it’s fairly easy to manipulate while climbing, but it’s also easy on your back if you’re cutting firewood on the ground.
This is a professional level saw, so keep that in mind when you see the price tag.
It’s an expensive little saw, which is probably its least appealing feature. Also, despite its size, it might be too much saw for the average user, even with the included low-kickback chain.
- Power-to-weight ratio is excellent
- Easy to manipulate
- Expensive saw for homeowner use
- Might be too much saw for a casual user
9. WEN 4017
The Illinois-based WEN company has been in the power tool market since the early 1950s. While they’re a less well-known brand than most of the saws on this list, they do produce a decent quality product at an affordable price.
The 4017 is WEN’s 16-inch electric chainsaw. It features a 12 amp motor that cranks the chain around at a speed of 44 feet per second. WEN’s focus was on making the 4017 light and easy to use, and they did just that with this saw weighing about 10 pounds.
It comes with a fully functioning chain brake to keep the user safe from kickback. It also features an automatic oiler and a tool-less chain tensioning system, all at a price comparable to the Remington.
The automatic oiler is known to fail, so you’ll have to keep an eye on that to preserve your bar life. Also, some users have stated that the motor and cord burned on their saws, but this could be due to misuse.
- Lightweight at 10 pounds
- 12 amp motor has plenty of power
- Automatic oiler is prone to failure
- Some users have stated their wire and motors have burned up
10. Stihl MS170
Stihl is the German saw brand that most professionals choose to make their paychecks. They’ve been around since 1926 and are still headquartered in Germany today.
The MS170 comes with a 12, 14, or 16-inch bar length. It’s powered by a 30.1cc gasoline engine that makes 1.7 horsepower. The powerhead weighs in at 8.6 pounds, making it a light option as far as gasoline-powered saws go.
The Stihl benefits from anti-vibration technology, meaning less of the shakes will make it into your hands and arms. This is great for all-day cutting.
Also, the fuel system uses Stihl’s IntelliCarb system which regulates the amount of fuel based on how dirty and clogged the air filter is, preventing it from running too rich.
That being said, the IntelliCarb system has been prone to flooding. Also, for experienced Stihl saw users, this one might seem underpowered.
- Anti-Vibration tech
- IntelliCarb system keeps saw running clean
- Some have been prone to flooding
- Underpowered compared to Stihl’s other offerings
11. Echo CS310
Echo Incorporated began in 1972 in Northbrook, Illinois. The company was originally involved in the importing of 2-stroke engines but began producing power equipment by the late 1970s. Today, they’re a well-respected power equipment company with a huge array of products.
The CS310 from Echo has a 30.5cc engine and comes with a 14-inch bar. It features an automatic bar oiler and tool-less cover removal for easy access to the air filter and carburetor. It also features an easy-start system and vibration-reduction, both designed to minimize fatigue.
The CS310 has plenty of power for work around the house or farm, and between the weight and anti-vibration, it’s easy to use all day without getting wiped out.
While most CS310 owners love their saws, those that have had issues have reported that customer service and the warranty are useless. The CS310 is a great tool but should you run into a problem, it may not be worth the headache you’ll endure getting it fixed.
- Plenty of power for most users
- Light enough for all-day use
- Customer service is lacking
- Getting the saw fixed under warranty can be a headache
12. Makita XCU03Z
There’s no reason to be surprised that Makita made our list of the best small chainsaws.
They’ve been producing high-quality and well-loved electric models for years. Recently, they’ve transitioned to battery-operated saws that work with their already-established 18v battery line.
The XCU03Z has a 16-inch bar and it’s an impressive option in the battery-powered saw market. It has a brushless 36v motor that uses two 18v 5ah batteries to make some pretty serious power, getting the chain’s run speed up to 940 feet per minute.
It features tool-less chain-tensioning, a chain brake, and an automatic bar and chain oiler. Factor in that this saw only weighs 11.35 pounds, and you’ve got a lot to like in a little package.
The most common issues people have with the XCU03Z have to do with the batteries. They claim that the batteries were either defective when they got them or stopped holding a charge after a few uses.
Other issues include poor chain and bar quality, meaning it might be better for light-duty use.
- Tool-less chain tensioning
- Lightweight but powerful motor runs at 940 feet per minute
- Battery life and quality are questionable
- Chain and bar are better suited for light-duty use
Small Chainsaw Safety
All the rules that apply for larger saws also apply to small versions. Some users might think that due to their size, small saws are less intimidating and easier to handle.
It’s worth noting that a powerful little saw will react much faster to a kickback situation than a larger saw with more inertia. These saws deserve as much, if not more respect than their larger siblings.
Small Chainsaw Maintenance
Maintenance needs really depend on the type of saw. Electric and battery chainsaws don’t require much more than sharpening the chain and ensuring that the oiler isn’t clogged. Gas powered chainsaws require their air filters, spark plugs, and fuel system to be checked during their annual tune-up.
One thing to keep an eye on with smaller saws is to make sure the bar isn’t being deformed from regular use. Most bars on smaller saws are meant for light-duty use so it’s easy for them to get pinched or dented.
In our opinion, the Husqvarna 120 Mark II is one of the best saws on this list. It has plenty of power and having it serviced or repaired won’t be an issue.
Once you’ve got the XTorq system dialed in, it’s a racehorse of a saw with lots of power and plenty of features.
But overall, the Black+Decker 20V MAX LCS1020 was by far the clear winner. It’s super lightweight, good for people at all levels, and the battery life was beyond our expectation.
We just can’t argue with how far its battery technology has come and it’s a great example of where the future of chainsaw technology may be heading.