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Some people may hear the word ‘chainsaw’ and be scared of the idea of going anywhere near one, and while some industrial chainsaws can be quite dangerous, small chainsaws are very handy around the house and garden. Whether it’s chopping wood, trimming back hedgerows, pruning plants or felling small trees, there are lots of reasons for having the best small chainsaw at home, which most of the time are classed as chainsaws with a bar of 14” or smaller.
We’ve considered not only the size and bar length of a chainsaw but many of the other features including the chain speed and pitch, the weight and ease of use, safety features, power source and warranties of products, to ensure that all of the pros and cons of each model have been evaluated.
Our team have used both first hand experience and a wealth of information available online in order to find the top chainsaw to suit your own needs. We’ve looked into chainsaws of different price ranges and features and evaluated their strengths and weaknesses to recommend the very top products out there via an easy to view table, in-depth reviews and a buying guide to help educate you on the matter.
It makes a lot of sense to have a cordless chainsaw and modern tools are becoming a lot better at this. Makita manufacture many cordless chainsaws.
This motor is truly impressive and not only does it have a variable speed between 0-3940 FPM it can also do so with no emissions and no need to change brushes or oil. The fact there is next to no maintenance means that it is popular among contractors and professionals and people who just need something to use at home. An added bonus is that the noise is less than 100 dB which means less chance of damaging hearing or creating noise pollution.
The chainsaw itself is very well made, with plenty of power, equivalent to a 32CC gas saw. This is perfect for dealing with the more robust and difficult tasks you may encounter such as getting rid of small trees. Many users have reported many hours of use when cutting wood and doing other rigorous tasks. The brushless motor is very efficient. While this can lead to a little more in terms of cost, it can be worth it in the long run.
Safety features include an automatic shutoff. Batteries are included, as it requires a 36V of power via two 18V LXT batteries.
Why did it make our list?
Extremely fast charging lithium ion batteries
Three year warranty on the chainsaw, one year on battery
This is another brushless chainsaw, which is strongly recommended, if you are happy to spend the extra money and get a great value in return. This means less maintenance for the motor and has other benefits including increased efficiency.
The 12” bar and chain is very small but still has a huge amount of power which is why this is our best mini chainsaw. It is great for all sorts of chopping and construction needs because of this, and also is very lightweight at under 9 lbs. This makes it easily portable and means hassle free use even for long periods of use, and it won’t become cumbersome or uncomfortable to hold.
The speed is over 25 feet per second, and the chain can be tightened with no tools and ensure you have the right clamping force with ease thanks to the intelligent design. Though it may have a little bit of trouble with cutting larger trees it is more than large and powerful enough for most needs within the home and garden.
Many users have complimented the fact that this is one of the easiest chainsaws to use, it is perfect for people who aren’t very experienced and just need to do the odd job around the garden for instance. Though it is small, it doesn’t have much of a kick back and the chain is fast enough for most needs.
Dewalt are a well known company and their cordless power tools are internationally renowned. This has a three year limited warranty so you can rest assured that this is very well made.
This is another cordless electric chainsaw, this time designed to provide a huge amount of power. In the words of the manufacturer, it ‘delivers power beyond belief’. It is true that in spite of the 14 inch chain, which isn’t massive, it has a brushless motor which gives this plenty of power in order to give smooth cuts through wood and other stubborn materials.
The battery has been cleverly designed to give over 100 cuts and the manufacturers rightly point out that this has much less noise and emissions than with a gas alternative. The battery can also be used with other EGO Power+ products so it may be worth considering this if you have (or plan to get) other tools in their range.
The EGO power plus saw is impressive at up to a 6800 RPM on the chain, so it can take on tasks even larger chainsaws might struggle with. In spite of the level of power and the fact this is a well made saw, it is also relatively lightweight so can be used easily even for long periods.
As well as a five year warranty on the chainsaw, this also has a three year warranty on battery and charger, something not a huge amount of chainsaws offer.
The Tanaka has an extremely generous 7 year consumer warranty, so makes it into our list as the chainsaw with the best warranty, but this has many of other good features which make it a useful tool to have around. This is available with a 12 inch bar and chain or with a 14 inch option, so you can choose dependent on your needs. It was originally designed for pruning and other commercial gardening uses.
Though some are put off by the idea of having a gas powered chainsaw, this is truly one of the best small chainsaws with a gas motor. The design of a 32.2cc 2-stroke engine means it works efficiently and there is less fuel consumed than many of its competitors. The cleverly designed engine also gives low emissions.
Using this saw couldn’t be much simpler. The chain can be easily adjusted and it also has an automatic oiler so you don’t have to mess around with any of the fiddly maintenance tasks you may have once had to worry about with a gas chainsaw.
The features for a gas chainsaw are quite different to electric motors. There is a purge primer bulb within which helps it to start and get warmed up ready for use with ease. The usability and comfort has been considered with a lanyard ring, and though it is heavier it does offer plenty of power. This also offers an anti-vibration system to stop some of the strain.
The Worx WG321 describes itself as the chainsaw reinvented. Naturally, its description of the “JawSaw” comes from the design, which looks like it could be straight out of a science fiction film. The handle is totally different to most chainsaws and this allows for better reach as well as ease of use. A weight of just 7.9 lbs and so many brilliant safety features (including the amazing blade guards which greatly reduce the chance of an accident) make this one of the safest chainsaws you can use.
The pole extends up to 12 feet which is excellent for a lot of pruning and gardening needs such as reaching the higher branches of a tree, for instance. Because of the design, it can only really cope with branches up to four inches in diameter which can be a slight disadvantage, depending on what you need to use your saw for. The fact that this is a ‘scissor’ design with so little chance of an accident means it is perfect for beginners and inexperienced users of chainsaws, as long as you don’t need to do anything too heavy-duty.
The power is electric and rechargeable with a 20V motor which works with the whole worx range of products. The maintenance is also virtually non-existent too as it automatically oils itself as well as regulating tension on the chain.
What do we love it for?
Self-oiling and regulates its own tension
Helps to reach high branches
Next to no maintenance
What were we disappointed with?
Can only cut smaller branches and materials up to 4 inches in diameter
This is another 14 inch electric saw which is perfect for operating quickly with virtually no maintenance. Though it is corded, which some see as a disadvantage and a restriction, this means you don’t have to worry about gas, or about keeping a charged battery and you can just plug in and go.
The speed of 2,900 FPM is more than enough for hedge trimming and most different types of garden cutting you are going to have to do. Because of the design, there is no need to worry about any emissions at all. Many turn to this as a more environmentally friendly and even cost efficient option than many of the gas chainsaws on the market.
The maintenance is once again almost non-existent, which is a feature we’ve started to expect from most high quality chainsaws. It has an auto oiler with a big reservoir so you don’t even have to worry about replacing the oil all the time.
The motor of this chainsaw has an inbuilt limiter which prevents motor burnout, sensing when the saw is overloaded. It also has a chain brake which can increase the efficiency of the product.
Makita is a well known brand in the world of power tools. They offer a one year limited warranty on this specific model and if you are able to opt for a chainsaw which is corded then this could be worth a second look.
There is a reason why Black and Decker is such a household name. Their tools are popular the world over because they tend to be very well made, and the LCS 1240 is no exception.
This smart little chainsaw has a 12” bar and chain so it is quite compact in its design, but it is great for cutting fallen branches and pruning trees or other garden flora. This has all the features you would expect from a modern chainsaw. For instance, it can tense without any tools whatsoever so you can adjust the chain in a matter of seconds and get it ready for use. The comfortable wrap around handles mean that it is easy to use even if you are cutting things in awkward positions, and the oiling is not something you have to worry about as it offers its own automatic system for doing so.
The LCS 1240 has plenty of power for most garden and home uses, and has a system in place to provide low kickback and reduce any risks to the user.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of this is the battery, which is a new and improved lithium ion offering, which can hold charge for up to 18 months and cut over 60 hefty pieces of lumber before having to be recharged. Considering the value for money and the excellent features to go along with this battery means we strongly recommend this offering from black and decker.
What stands out?
Excellent battery life span
Comfortable handles and ergonomic use
Toll-less chain tensioning
What cons did we manage to find?
Slow battery charging
Oil leaks might occur during parallel to ground cutting
There are plenty of features which make up the potential quality of a chainsaw, one of which is the weight. Not many of us are capable of lumbering around a heavy chainsaw to do the job, especially if we’re planning to use it for a long period of time, so Greenworks have made the 20262, possibly the lightest high quality chainsaw you will ever find.
This is very similar to the LCS 1240 by Black and Decker in many respects as it offers the same 12 inch bar and chain size and has some of the same features including easy-to-use and tool free tensioning of the chain, automatic oiling and an impressive lithium ion battery. This battery is optional, though, as a G Max battery is also available which doesn’t hold quite as much power or life. The manufacturers claim up to 75 cuts can be achieved from a single charge.
The motor is electric but it is not brushless, which can mean you run into problems or have to spend a little longer on maintenance in the future. However, this is something a lot of people are happy to bypass when they see the price, as this is a great value chainsaw available on the lower to mid range of the market.
Ryobi is another brand that has become very popular in recent years both among tradespeople and contractors and those who wish to improve their range of tools at home. The Ryobi ONE+ P546 has some excellent features and has a decent level of power in spite of being on the smaller end of the market.
This product has just a 6.5 lb weight, which is largely down to the fact it has a 10-inch bar length and compact design. This makes it very comfortable for long term use.
Though this may not be the most powerful product, as it has an 800 FPM whereas some of its competitors have three or four times that, it is a handy tool for plants and trees with medium growth. If you’re planning to cut down a massive tree, you may need to look elsewhere, but for a simple and lightweight tool which is also energy efficient then the One+ P546 could be worth your consideration. Many of Ryobi’s batteries can fit a wide variety of their products and as such the battery is not included as a standard. If you do need to purchase a battery then you should ensure you do this at the time you pick up the chainsaw.
What are our favorite features?
Great for small trees and outdoor growth
Easy to oil and adjust through a side access section
The Remington Rebel RM4214 is a good option for people who are looking to find a budget-friendly chainsaw for home use, which is cordless and easy to use. Though this doesn’t have the five star reviews some of the other options on our list can offer, that doesn’t mean it should be ruled out.
The gas power, combined with a 14-inch bar length and a hefty design means that this can cut with some force, and even some of the larger overgrowth in your garden can be tackled with the Remington Rebel RM4214. This has many different options in terms of engines, but the most popular is the 42cc 2-cycle engine which utilizes gas in a clever way and doesn’t provide a lot of noise or pollution.
Like a lot of the options which are electric, this has an automatic oiling system to take away some of the annoying and fiddly maintenance you may otherwise have to do from time to time.
It has an anti-vibration technology built-in, and this is much safer for those looking to use the chainsaw a lot and can even prevent injuries in the long term. While some gas chainsaws can be awkward and uncomfortable, the Remington does a good job of staying simple to use and relatively ergonomic.
What do we love it for?
Anti-vibration technology included
Almost maintenance-free with the auto oiling system
Numerous engine options
What were we disappointed with?
Some users reported issues with the oil dispenser
Things to Consider
The purchase of a chainsaw can actually be quite a personal decision to have to make. We all have our own individual needs. The home and garden in which you live can dictate what type of chainsaw you require, and the features you’re looking for. Most of us also have to think about things like budget to ensure we are getting good value for money. If your chainsaw is only going to see use occasionally then it may not be wise to spend a fortune on it. There are lots of different types, as well as powering options and even saw designs. It is inevitable that one model will suit you better than the others and the only way to work this out is to gather some information on small chainsaws and their reviews, which is exactly the aim in our buying guide.
Compact and easy. Advantages of a mini chainsaw
It can be tempting to go all out and look for a hugely powerful chainsaw ready to take on anything you throw at it. Mini chainsaws have many advantages though, and to be honest the occasions when you might need a large chainsaw are probably limited, especially around the home and in your garden. Larger chainsaws usually have their merits for commercial uses. What are the benefits of mini chainsaws?
Some big chainsaws can get very difficult to use for extended periods of time, with a mini chainsaw, and anything from a 10 inch to 14-inch bar, you have much less chance of it weighing a lot and therefore causing back issues or discomfort after extended use.
Less chance of injury. Not only due to the lightweight, but these products aren’t quite as powerful as the hefty and large chainsaws out there, and thus can’t cause issues with vibration leading to long-term injuries.
Naturally, a compact chainsaw is easy to store away in a garden shed or somewhere similar without taking up too much room.
Some of the options on our list have long pole designs which mean you can reach awkward areas. A large chainsaw would not necessarily be able to do this with such ease.
Most smaller chainsaws use less power or less gas than the other options out there, meaning you don’t waste energy and money powering a hefty chainsaw when it is not necessary.
Types of chainsaws
Electric – Corded
These are relatively common types of a chainsaw for any uses around the home and in the garden, especially if you have a small garden. They are great for just picking up and using as you don’t have to worry about gas or charging them up, but have their disadvantages too, for instance, you have to make sure you are relatively close to the power supply as they don’t always have long cords. There is also the risk of the cord developing issues or becoming tangled or broken in the future.
Electric – Battery
This is by far the most popular type of small chainsaw, and many of the products we’ve reviewed in this article fit the bill. Batteries have improved no end in recent years, we have them in our cell phones, powering our laptops and even used in items around the home. Because of this, they’ve become very popular among all sorts of tools, and chainsaws are no exception. The battery allows you to take the saw wherever you need to, keep emissions low and avoid having to use any sort of fuel.
Gas powered products are generally becoming less popular as the world moves towards more sustainable energy sources, but if you are looking for a fair amount of power and a different cordless option then gas chainsaws can be very good at what they do. The downsides are that they can be noisy, vibrate a lot and need to be maintained more than electric models, not to mention the emissions.
What can you use your mini chainsaw for?
A mini chainsaw is very useful for all sorts of gardening and wood cutting needs. If you have small to medium trees in your garden which grow quickly and can get out of control, or need more tools to chop away at hedges and other overgrowing plants then a smaller chainsaw can be a great way to do so. Mini chainsaws are also a wonderful option for chopping firewood, and can even have DIY uses or help you to take things apart should you need to. Just ensure the correct precautions are taken.
Tips on maintaining a small chainsaw
As technology has continued to advance and improve, maintenance has become slightly easier and more automated, and many of the models we’ve mentioned in this article make life very easy for you. However, it is worth considering that there are some aspects of maintenance you will need to keep an eye on. You will need to check your model’s specific instructions and even manual to know exactly what to do but generally, the maintenance needed is as follows.
Ensuring the right gas is used if you are utilizing a gasoline chainsaw. Some engines such as two-stroke engines can need you to mix oil in with the fuel or buy premixed two stroke oils.
Oiling the chain. This is something that a lot of chainsaws can now do automatically, however, they will still have an oil reservoir which you will need to ensure doesn’t run empty and also uses the correct type of oil.
The chain may also need to be tightened from time to time, and many of the top chainsaws have easy features to make this an almost automatic process.
There are a lot of safety precautions built into modern chainsaws such as auto turn offs and even blade protectors, but these alone are not enough. Amazingly, there are tens of thousands of chainsaw injuries in the US each and every year, so there is always going to be some risk attached. You need to make the right purchase but also to wear the right safety equipment.
Goggles, gloves, safety pants, safety boots, hearing protectors and more are all essential when it comes time to use your chainsaw, and even the smaller options pose some risk.
Features to consider while choosing
As we’ve already alluded to, what is best for one person may not necessarily be best for another. The best way to work this out is to discover which of the features is most important for you.
Most of the options on our list are relatively compact, as it is a list of good quality small chainsaws, after all. Some people opt for something really mini, such as the Worx WG321, which can only chip up to four inches at a time but is great for safety features.
If you’re doing a lot of work in the yard or doing an annual clean up of overgrown trees, for instance, then you might end up holding a chainsaw for a long period of time and having to use it in a variety of positions and elevated. This can become a strain, which in turn can cause you an increased risk of injury. Some of the products on the list weigh as little as six pounds which is easy to use for long periods of time for most people.
The bar length is measured from the far end of the chain back to the area where it joins the housing. The handy graph below can help a huge amount of working out how long the bar on your chainsaw should be. The bar can actually cut roughly twice its length, if you think of it like a knife through a cake, you can cut from either side through to the middle so even smaller trees can be chopped with a relatively small chainsaw.
Avoid the kickback
A kickback is absolutely something to be avoided. The kickback is caused when the chain changes direction at the tip and the circular movement of the chain can cause it to slightly reverse back towards your body, which can be really problematic and can cause you to lose control of the saw. Keeping your chainsaw maintained and at high power while cutting, as well as not cutting more wood than can be handled, are great ways to try and avoid kickback, but many products also have anti-kickback functions built in, which are well worth looking out for.
The engine of a chainsaw will depend on if it is powered by gas or not. Just like an engine you get in a vehicle, the power is measured in CCs. This is of course much lower for these types of products. The specific engine you are using will probably be two-stroke, and require fuel and oil to suit, but you should always check the manual.
Chain quality and length are the areas to consider. The bar length will likely dictate the chain length, with common sizes of 10”, 12” and 14” being available regularly. Most chains are built with very rugged designs, needing little maintenance once you are up and running. If you do have any issues with your chain, you will need to replace it with a product from the manufacturer which can be a little bit tricky, so ensuring a good chain is in place to start with is helpful.
There is only so much which can be done by the manufacturer to ensure your safety, but it is a big market advantage for them if they make a safe chainsaw. A chain brake should be in place to secure the chain in place and minimize any risk as a result of the chain coming loose. Other common features include a safety throttle to ensure that the chainsaw isn’t accidentally fired up at any point, and a system to reduce the kickback.
Is it easy to start?
Some chainsaws can be a little tricky to get started, and this is often the case with those which have a motor which can be hard to get going. Many now offer a smart start feature which helps you to quickly get started and warmed up, ready to begin the task at hand. This is something we’ve looked out for in the individual product reviews.
The chain brake will stop the engine if the saw should kick back and hit you anywhere. The chain can be stopped in milliseconds, and the best brake type is inertial which can automatically shut it off. A chain can be moving extremely fast and the risk of injury can be catastrophic. Manual brakes can allow you to stop it should the chain come loose and hit anything, but inertial types will do this for you.
Vibration is not just an issue in terms of being an annoyance. It can cause your hands to become numb which can cause lack of control and it can also cause something called HAVS which is Hand-arm vibration syndrome, commonly experienced by operators of machinery. A lot of motor powered chainsaws are known to vibrate so an anti-vibration feature helps to stop this from causing you problems or even injuries in the long run.
As you will know, the handles are where you will come into contact with the chainsaw, and you need these to be both comfortable and functional. The vast majority of all chainsaws have either rear or top handles, which are pretty self explanatory in terms of where on the housing of the chainsaw they are located. Some have slightly different handles or a combination of both top and rear handles so you can choose or use both simultaneously.
Any power tool which doesn’t offer some sort of warranty is perhaps a little bit suspicious. The longer the warranty, the more faith a manufacturer tends to have in their products. The warranties on these chainsaws have quite a lot of variation in terms of length, but most offer at least a couple of years on the chainsaw itself, with some offering up to an amazing seven years. Often, the batteries have a separate warranty which isn’t as long term.
Most of the woods which will grow in the average garden can be cut by the chainsaws in this article, however size is a big consideration. A small 10” saw is not going to chop down an oak tree, and is designed more for branches and small trees rather than felling big trees.
This is not an area to take any risks with. Not being able to hold a chainsaw properly can carry a huge amount of problems, so you should always check that you can hold the weight of a chainsaw comfortably. Many of the small options are 10 lb or less meaning there is very little issue here.
These are both options should your chainsaw lose any of its potency or power but they are also dangerous things to do if you don’t take the right precautions. Follow in-depth guides or get a professional to do the job for you.
Hopefully our guide on the best small chainsaw has been very helpful for your search. What is best for someone with a small garden and some modest pruning needs may not be best for someone looking to clear a lot of medium trees, so evaluating size, power and features is vital.
Out true lieder Makita XCU03PT1 is definitely a keeper. It’s quite, powerful and fast – you will love it from the first cut. This is one of the safest items on the list a definitely the one you should look closely at.
The runner-up is a cordless electric DEWALT DCCS620P1 small chainsaw with an impressive battery life span and quite brushless motor. This compact tool will do its job well every time and will serve you for many years to come.
The Remington Rebel RM4214 takes care of those of you who doesn’t need to spend much on a small chainsaw. This wonderful item suits for occasional work in the yard or home DIY projects – a great purchase for a moderate price.
Whichever chainsaw you opt for, putting safety and convenience at the top of your priorities, as well as ensuring it has enough power for your own needs, will ensure you get the right model for you.