Home » Best Small Chainsaw [2020 Review]

Best Small Chainsaw [2020 Review]

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Chainsaws are efficient power tools that will help you trim branches and prune trees at your home. However, you need a small chainsaw to do the job efficiently since its applications are endless. A good one should be powerful and convenient to work with.

So, what should you look for in a quality small chainsaw? We have compiled a list of the best small chainsaw available on the market and highlighted the features that distinguish each of them to help you choose the right one.

Our Top Small Chainsaw Reviews

Brand
Best Overall
Makita XCU03Z
Best for the Money
GreenWorks 20262
Best Cheap Pick
Worx WG304
Product
Makita XCU03Z 18V X2 (36V) LXT Lithium-Ion...
Greenworks 12-Inch 40V Cordless Chainsaw, 2.0 AH...
WORX WG304.1 Chain Saw 18-Inch 4 15.0 Amp
Length
14 inches
12 inches
18 inches
Power Source
battery-powered
battery-powered
corded-electric
Rating
-
-
Best Overall
Brand
Makita XCU03Z
Product
Makita XCU03Z 18V X2 (36V) LXT Lithium-Ion...
Length
14 inches
Power Source
battery-powered
Rating
-
Best for the Money
Brand
GreenWorks 20262
Product
Greenworks 12-Inch 40V Cordless Chainsaw, 2.0 AH...
Length
12 inches
Power Source
battery-powered
Rating
-
Best Cheap Pick
Brand
Worx WG304
Product
WORX WG304.1 Chain Saw 18-Inch 4 15.0 Amp
Length
18 inches
Power Source
corded-electric
Rating

Best Small Chainsaw: Makita XCU03Z

Makita XCU03Z 18V X2 (36V) LXT Lithium-Ion...

The Makita XCU03Z is one of the most efficient and powerful battery-powered chainsaws on the market. This one comes with two 18 voltage rechargeable batteries that enable it to deliver impressive performances that you can expect to get from a small chainsaw.

The two batteries will give you up to 3,940 FPM for easy and quick operation while cutting wood. The tool features 14 inch guide bar, which is sufficient to cut trees and branches in your garden or backyard.

The Makita small chainsaw is designed for use in various environments as it is equipped with built-in LED lights. You can continue working in dimly-lit places. Additionally, the auto power-off function will allow you to work on your projects for an extended period since it increases the battery runtime.

This model also boasts of a dual-port charger to allow you to charge the two batteries simultaneously. It also has the variable speed trigger and an inbuilt outer rotor that makes starting and controlling it easier.

The integrated lock-off lever ensures your safety as it prevents the XCU03Z chainsaw from engaging accidentally. One incredible thing worth mentioning is the tool-less chain adjustment feature that makes adjusting the chain tension a breeze.

The Extreme Protection Technology is another notable feature that ensures your chainsaw is not affected by water and dust. This makes it suitable for use in harsh working conditions without experiencing any issues.

When it comes to maintenance, you do not need to worry about air filters, spark plugs, or mess with engine oil as with their gas counterparts. Consider getting this model if you are looking for a high-power cordless chainsaw.

What We Like

  • Auto power-off feature for extending battery’s runtime
  • LED lights for working in poorly lit areas
  • Lock-off lever feature for safety
  • Two 18 voltages batteries
  • Built-in LED power switch
  • Easy to use

What We Don’t Like

  • Difficult to find spare chains
  • Batteries not included
  • Expensive
Makita XCU03Z 18V X2 (36V) LXT Lithium-Ion...
  • Makita-built outer rotor BL Brushless motor direct-drive system provides high power efficiency...
  • Variable speed trigger (0-3, 940 FPM) For easy operation
  • Built-in L.E.D. On/off switch with auto power-off function; automatically shuts the saw off when...

Best Small Chainsaw for the Money: GreenWorks 20262

Greenworks 12-Inch 40V Cordless Chainsaw, 2.0 AH...

Ideal for occasional woodcutting, the GreenWorks 20262 is equipped with a no loss memory and a reliable 40 voltage battery that delivers high power. The chainsaw can handle your woodworking needs comfortably as it has all the features of an efficient chainsaw. The tool can also allow you to make up to 75 cuts per charge.

It has a robust 12-inch steel chain and bar that is adequate to cut through small limbs and branches. The tool-less chain tensioning feature allows for quick adjustments before use. It delivers the highest cutting performance while offering you the ease of use.

The GreenWorks small chainsaw also comes with the auto-oiling mechanism that makes keeping the bar and chain oiled easy. This is an important feature that will ensure you keep using your chainsaw for an extended period and also enable you to cut branches effortlessly.

Another thing we like about this one is its portability. It only weighs 6 pounds making it easy to carry to different project sites. Besides, the minimal kickback makes cutting wood and trimming branches hassle-free while limiting user fatigue.

It can also be used as a hedge trimmer, which makes it an incredible addition to a landscaper’s toolkit. However, one important thing you should note is that the chainsaw only works with G-Max batteries. These are not compatible with the 40-voltage lithium-Ion batteries.

Though the G-Max batteries are expensive, they have a longer lifespan and are durable. An issue that most users don’t like about the 20162 small chainsaw is that it leaks oil on storage like most auto-oiling chainsaws. Also, the battery only lasts for one hour on a single charge. 

What We Like

  • Powerful 40 voltage G-Max batteries
  • Robust 12 inches chain and bar
  • Automatic oiling system
  • Doubles as a hedge trimmer
  • 75 cuts per charge
  • Lightweight and portable

What We Don’t Like

  • Battery lasts for one hour
  • Leaks oil
Greenworks 12-Inch 40V Cordless Chainsaw, 2.0 AH...
  • High Performance G-MAX 40V Lithium-Ion Battery delivers fade-free power with no memory loss after...
  • Robust 12-inch steel chain and bar with tool-less chain tensioning offers ease of use while...
  • 3/8-inch chain pitch delivers the right amount of capabilities to get those limbs trimmed and cut...

Best Cheap Small Chainsaw: Worx WG304

WORX WG304.1 Chain Saw 18-Inch 4 15.0 Amp

The WORX WG304 is a corded chainsaw that utilizes a powerful 15 amperage motor to handle branches with larger diameters. It can also cut through different types of wood. The model is equipped with 18 inches bar that is sufficient for trimming and cutting branches.

The chainsaw also has a 200-millimeter oil tank capacity and an automatic oiling system, which ensures the chain and bar are lubricated well before use. The tool also has the window level indicator to enable you to know the amount of fuel remaining.

The patented auto-tension chain system reduces the need to keep adjusting the chain length frequently and also prevents over-tightening. It’s ergonomic. Its nonslip handle will allow you to use it for an extended period without feeling fatigued.

The Worx chainsaw is perfect for lumberjacks if you have a power source nearby. You can plug it into a wall outlet or use it with a power generator if you need mobility. However, we do not recommend using this chainsaw with a shared outlet or plugging it into an extension cord to avoid accidents.

Another exciting feature that you might appreciate is the integrated chain brake and low kickback bar for added safety while working. When it comes to performance, the 63-link long-chain ensures you get precise cuts.

Its compact and lightweight design makes maneuvering the WG304 chainsaw in different positions easy. You will also find it easy to maintain and use this model as it is user-friendly. This tool is ideal for people looking for a chainsaw that can handle a wide range of applications.

What We Like

  • Patented auto-tension chain system
  • Powerful 15 amperage motor
  • Ergonomic and nonslip handle
  • Built-in chain brake for safety
  • 63-link long chain
  • Low maintenance
  • Inexpensive

What We Don’t Like

  • Works with synthetic oil
  • Auto-tightening system should be improved
Sale
WORX WG304.1 Chain Saw 18-Inch 4 15.0 Amp
  • 15.0 Amp motor output delivers a more powerful cutting performance to the extended, 18 inch bar
  • Patented auto tension chain system prevents over tightening; stays at the right tension for hundreds...
  • Low kick back bar and built in chain brake for added safety; Chain Links : 63

Best Small Gas Chainsaw: Tanaka TCS33EDTP

Tanaka TCS33EDTP/12 32.2cc 12-Inch Top Handle...

If you are looking for a small chainsaw that is powered by gas, the Tanaka TCS33EDTP might be an excellent choice for you. The model comes with a 32.2 cubic capacity pure fire engine that delivers impressive cutting performance and doesn’t consume a lot of fuel.

This small chainsaw also features an auto-oiling system that you might like as it fuels the tool automatically. You do not have to worry about oiling the model manually before using it. The Tanaka chainsaw is also equipped with an easy to access chain tensioning system that allows you to set the right tension before using it.

The right tension and a well-oiled chain will help your chainsaw to last longer, enable you to cut efficiently, and prevents accidents. The model also has a 12-inch bar and chain. This is sufficient as you will be able to complete working on your regular trimming and cutting jobs around the backyard or garden.

The TCS33EDTP chainsaw is also easy to carry around your job site as it weighs 12 pounds. One advantage of buying this tool is that Tanaka backs it with a 7-year consumer warranty.

This means that as long as you use it for trimming and cutting branches around your home, you will continue enjoying the warranty if anything happens to your chainsaw. The only major issue with this chainsaw is that its engine heats up while in use.

Also, the oil caps and the gas get stuck sometimes. However, you can reach out to the company, and they will sort out the issue for you. Overall, this chainsaw consumes less fuel and provides powerful performance.

What We Like

  • Auto-oiling system
  • Chain tensioning system
  • Powerful engine
  • 12-inch bar and chain
  • Consumes less fuel
  • Easy to start

What We Don’t Like

  • Oil caps and gas get stuck
  • Engine heats up
Tanaka TCS33EDTP/12 32.2cc 12-Inch Top Handle...
  • 12-Inch top handle chain saw with 32.2cc commercial grade pure fire engine to provide a clean,...
  • Half throttle choke with purge primer bulb for easy start and warm up. Fuel Capacity (fl oz) : 9.9....
  • Automatic gear-driven oiler and a side access chain tensioning providing quick and convenient chain...

Best Small Electric Chainsaw: Black+Decker CS1518

BLACK+DECKER Electric Chainsaw, 18-Inch, 15-Amp...

If you want limitless power and do not mind limited mobility, the Black+Decker CS1518 chainsaw is a good option for you. The corded model is equipped with 18 inches Oregon low kickback chain and bar. It promises an unmatched cutting performance even on hardwood. 

The low kickback feature reduces the risk of getting injured while working. Additionally, the chain break feature provides added safety during use. As for power, this chainsaw comes with a reliable 15 amperage motor that is durable and sturdy.

The tool-free tensioning system is another incredible feature. It will allow you to adjust the chain quickly and effortless without the need to tension the chain using a hand tool. Like the other small chainsaws on this list, this Black+Decker model has an automatic oiling system to ensure the chain and bar are lubricated well before use.

Another good thing about this tool is that it has a clear window that allows you to check the level of oil. This prevents tool damage and ensures smooth operation. When it comes to comfort, this model has the full wrap handle to ensure you can maneuver easily while cutting in different positions.

A major issue with the CS1518 chainsaw is that it has a short power cord. You will need to buy a longer cord to extend your operating range. The tool also heats up during use, which causes it to lose tension.

However, when you buy this chainsaw, you can be assured of support. Black+Decker produces high-quality tools and is a reputable company in the power tools industry.

What We Like

  • Tool-free tensioning system
  • Powerful 15 amperage motor
  • Chain break feature for safety
  • Low kickback Oregon chain and bar
  • Robust 12 inch chain and bar
  • Oil level window

What We Don’t Like

  • Can lose tension since it heats up
  • Short power cord
Sale
BLACK+DECKER Electric Chainsaw, 18-Inch, 15-Amp...
  • Powerful 15 Amp motor
  • 18" Oregon low-kickback bar and chain
  • Tool-free chain tensioning

Best Small Stihl Chainsaw: Stihl MS 180

CHAINSAW STIHL MS 180 1.5kw ORIGINAL 35 cm Gas In...

The Stihl MS 180 chainsaw does not disappoint as it packs a lot of high-quality features. If you have a big garden with mature trees, this is the right tool for you.  The tool has an efficient gas engine that provides longer runtimes between refueling to ensure you complete all your cutting projects.

The engine supplies the chainsaw with plenty of power while remaining well-balanced and lightweight. When it comes to maintenance, the easy to access side chain tensioner provides a simple approach to basic maintenance.

This model comes with an air filtration system that prevents the mixture of air and fuel from getting stronger to ensure the filter does not get clogged. The system ensures the right amount of fuel is delivered to the engine depending on the amount of air circulating in the air filter.

The intense vibration of power tools at the handles can affect the blood vessels in your arms and hands. To deal with this problem, Stihl has developed an efficient anti-vibration system that dampens the oscillations produced by the chainsaw’s engine.

This reduces significantly vibrations produced at the handles. The stroke engine features a patented design that cuts fuel emissions by 50 percent, making it more pleasant to use and environmentally friendly. You also won’t have to keep frequently stopping to refill the fuel tank.

The Stihl 180 chainsaw boasts of other remarkable features like winter and summer settings for starting it up. This tool can also cut through pieces of wood with larger diameter making it perfect for people with a tree management plan.

An issue that some users have complained about is not being able to communicate with the dealers. It’s also worth mentioning that the dealers usually charge for repairs even when those repairs are covered under warranty. Keep this in mind when buying this chainsaw.

If you want an impressive and powerful chainsaw that can handle your regular small tasks and occasional big projects, then this model from Stihl is a great buy.

What We Like

  • Air filtration system that extends the life shelf of the filter
  • Cuts wood pieces with larger diameter
  • Effective anti-vibration system
  • Powerful and durable
  • Fuel efficient

What We Don’t Like

  • Expensive
  • Issues with dealers
CHAINSAW STIHL MS 180 1.5kw ORIGINAL 35 cm Gas In...
  • Original! Brand new!
  • Anti-vibration system Intense vibration at the handles of power tools can lead to long-term effects...
  • Compensator This controller in the carburettor prevents the fuel-air mixture getting richer as the...

Small Chainsaw Features and Considerations

There are many types of chainsaws available on the market with different features and sizes. This can make things difficult for you, especially when you do not know the features to pay attention to. Here are some of the essential factors to consider when looking for the best small chainsaw:

Type of Chainsaw

The type of chainsaw you are considering buying should be the first decision to make. It’s also important to note that each type has disadvantages and benefits. Here are the three major types of chainsaws:

Electric

These chainsaws produce no emissions and do not require much maintenance.  Additionally, they produce less noise than their gas-powered counterparts. They also have enough power to suit various needs. Their small size makes them easy to handle and carry around.

Their compact size also contributes to their affordable cost. However, their portability tends to drop because they need to be operated from a stationary power source. Corded chainsaws are also perfect for light-duty tasks like trimming or pruning branches.

These chainsaws are also easy to start and are available in corded and cordless options. When corded chainsaws are plugged in, they usually deliver unlimited power. Though they produce less power compared to the gas-powered chainsaws, they can still tackle light and medium jobs.

Gas-Powered

This type is equipped with a two-stroke engine that is powered by fuel. This makes them the most powerful chainsaws of the three options. Small gas chainsaws can handle comfortably heavy-duty jobs like cutting large trees and hardwoods. Although their sheer strength is impressive, they produce harmful fumes, require high maintenance, and produce a lot of noise during use.

Man using a small chainsaw to cut a tree

These chainsaws are unnecessary if you want to perform basic garden maintenance because of their immense power. It’s also important to mention that while the additional power they provide is useful when working on large tasks, this tends to make gas-powered chainsaws difficult to operate compared to their electric counterparts.

These chainsaws won’t limit you by electrical cord since they are easy to transport. So, they can be used in multiple locations. Gas-powered chainsaws are also cranked using a pull start and use a mixture of gasoline and oil.

Cordless

Cordless chainsaws are portable due to the battery power source and require no maintenance. These chainsaws also do not produce noise and are emission-free, making them pleasant to work with. They also have added safety since the battery eliminates cord tripping hazards you may encounter with corded models.

Battery-powered chainsaws will not limit your movement. They will allow you to move freely without worrying about cords. This makes them easy to carry around and perfect for projects when you can’t access a power outlet.

The only issue with these types of chainsaws is that you will have to keep checking their power levels. The batteries should be charged between uses to ensure smooth operation. These units are also not ideal for heavy-duty tasks because they have less power.

Guide Bar Length

Guide bar length represents the biggest size length of wood pieces that a chainsaw can cut in one pass as well as the active cutting area. Homeowners should also know they can cut large wood using a small chainsaw. However, you will have to do it using two passes instead of a single pass.

For instance, a 16-inch guide bar is capable of cutting twice its length. It’s worth mentioning that apart from the guide bar length, there are also other factors used to determine the size of wood that can be cut.

Since size matters a lot when it comes to chainsaws, the engine should be checked if it’s powerful enough to cut through bigger sizes of wood. For the safest cutting, ensure the bar length is 2 inches longer than the pieces of wood you intend to cut.

Therefore, if you are planning to cut a 14-inch tree in a single pass, then a 16-inch guide bar or bigger will be appropriate. If you plan to cut a bigger tree using a small chainsaw, then do so using two passes. For example, to cut trees with 32 inches, a 16-inch bar length will be sufficient.

However, if you intend to cut 32 inches trees regularly, then a 16-inch bar length won’t be the right choice. Instead, opt for a professional heavy-duty chainsaw designed for large trees. If you are a homeowner doing light cutting, a bar length below 14 inches will suffice.

For medium cutting tasks, a bar length between 16 inches and 20 inches will be ideal. If you are a professional doing heavy-duty cutting, go for a bar length between 22 inches and 36 inches. When making the final purchase, consult your local authorized dealer or stick to the manufacturer’s guidelines concerning bar length sizes for every model they sell.

That said, electrical chainsaws range from 14 inches to 20 inches in size. However, you may struggle to handle the chainsaw if the bar length is big. Also, the risk of injury will be greater because the chainsaw will become unbalanced.

Safety Features

A chainsaw is an essential gardening tool. However, it can injure you badly if you are not careful. That is why you should ensure your chainsaw is equipped with the necessary safety features before using it. One common risk of injury is kickback. This occurs accidentally when the tip of the chainsaw blade bounces back at you after touching pieces of wood.

To avoid this, go for chainsaws that have a hand brake system or an anti-kickback system. These systems engage automatically whenever a kickback is detected. If you are a beginner woodworker, you should opt for chainsaws designed for beginners. These types of chainsaws usually have an anti-kickback cover that is attached to the chainsaw tip.

Tension Adjustment

Before using the chainsaw, it’s crucial to ensure the chain has the right tension. This will enhance the life of your chainsaw and also help you achieve the best cutting. Some chainsaws are equipped with a tension adjustment system that requires a hand tool to loosen or tighten the chain.

A small chainsaw placed on the ground

However, modern chainsaws come with a tension system that is easy to use and which can be adjusted by turning the knob. We recommend choosing a chainsaw that has an easy version to save you effort and time before using the chainsaw. Some new models have an auto tension adjustment system. If you can, get this chainsaw since it works with a push of a button.

Automatic Oiler

It’s important to keep the blade and chain of your small chainsaw well lubricated. This will keep your chainsaw in good condition for an extended period and enable you to cut easily. Some chainsaws require you to oil the chain and bar manually by pressing a button after every few seconds. This is tedious and time-consuming.

However, modern chainsaws have an auto-oiling system that will automatically oil the chain and bar during the cutting. Just ensure the oil tank is filled before using the chainsaw.

Auto Chain Sharpener

It’s crucial to ensure that the blade of your small chainsaw is sharpened well. A sharpened blade will help you to cut efficiently, protect you from injury, and extend the shelf life of your chainsaw. After using your chainsaw severally, the chain is likely to dull and will need to be sharpened.

You will either have to seek help from a professional or use a sharpening tool. Some new chainsaws have an auto-sharpener for sharpening it for a few minutes with the push of a button. If you can find such chainsaws, go for them.

Ergonomics

A small chainsaw is comfortable to use compared to a professional one. However, check the weight and ensure you can carry around the chainsaw easily. Also, ensure the chainsaw’s handle is comfortable for your arms and hands. You should also check whether the chainsaw is balanced well both at the back and front.

Additionally, test the tension adjuster and ensure it’s easy to use. You should also be able to start the chainsaw easily without using a lot of effort.

Wrap Up

Before limiting yourself to a certain model or manufacturer, go through all the factors we have listed above because what might be considered as the best chainsaw for someone else may not be the right one for you. Therefore, choose your ideal chainsaw from our list based on your needs.