When it comes to finding the best small chainsaw for any project, the Husqvarna 120 Mark II has what it takes. This saw’s 1.8 horsepower 38cc gasoline engine has enough power for the included 16-inch bar, but it can also handle an 18-inch bar swap with ease. It features an automatic oiler to keep the bar and chain from overheating. Coupled with the anti-kickback chain and chain brake, it’s almost as lightweight as most of the electric options, making it an excellent choice for the average homeowner. Also, Husqvarna’s X-Torq fuel management system increases fuel efficiency and lowers gasoline emissions, making this saw as environmentally-friendly as a gas-powered tree-cutting machine can be.
Buyer’s Guide: The Best Small Chainsaws
Learn which woodcutting tools made the cut for the list of the best small chainsaw recommendations.
BobVila.com and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.
- BEST OVERALLHusqvarna 120 Mark II 16 in. Gas ChainsawCheck Latest Price
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCKWORX WG303.1 Powered Chain SawCheck Latest Price
- ALSO CONSIDERWorx 20V Cordless ChainsawCheck Latest Price
If you’ve got a few trees on your property, chances are you’re going to need a chainsaw at some point. Whether it’s because a storm knocked some branches down or you want to cut back tree growth to allow a little more sunlight in your garden, having a chainsaw on hand can be a big help. Most homeowners don’t need a mid- to heavy-duty model, but that doesn’t mean you should choose just any saw. Since you’re sacrificing size, look for the best small chainsaw to fit your needs. That might mean buying a gas or battery-powered saw, or even a corded model. Ahead, see some of the top-rated recommendations that can get the job done.
- BEST OVERALL: Husqvarna 120 Mark II 16 in. Gas Chainsaw
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: WORX WG303.1 Powered Chain Saw
- ALSO CONSIDER: Worx 20V Cordless Chainsaw
- ALSO CONSIDER: Makita XCU03PT1 18V X2 (36V) LXT
- ALSO CONSIDER: Oregon CS1500 18 in. 15 Amp Corded Chainsaw
Before You Buy a Small Chainsaw
Whether or not a small chainsaw will work for you and your yard depends on how you intend to use it and your property’s size. If your goal is to cut firewood, a larger, more powerful chainsaw will be better suited for the job. If you’ve got a large yard with mature trees, you may find a windfall is challenging to cut with a chainsaw bar smaller than 20 inches.
If your lawn is small and your plan is just essential maintenance, then a small chainsaw will suffice. It will cut fallen branches easily, or clear some stubborn bushes without an issue. There are some other things worth considering as well.
Types of Small Chainsaws
Before deciding on a small chainsaw for your needs, you should know the differences between a few standard styles. They include gas-powered, battery-powered, and corded models. Each has benefits and drawbacks, but you’ll find some of the best small chainsaws for your needs within these three categories.
Battery-powered chainsaws offer quite a bit of flexibility. They’re low-maintenance like a typical electric chainsaw, but they provide the portability of a gas-powered saw. Today’s options are also pretty powerful while also being less noisy than a comparable gas-powered model. The downside is that batteries for these saws tend to be pricey, so keeping a few on hand can cost as much as the saw itself.
Battery-powered saws are best suited for homeowners with a little more property who only plan to use their saw occasionally. Their low-maintenance needs and portability make them among the best small chainsaw for these scenarios.
Corded electric chainsaws have been around for a long time, which means there are many great options on the market. They have very few maintenance needs other than a quick cleaning and maintaining the bar-lube levels. Many corded electric saws rival the power offered by gas-powered saws.
The issue with a corded electric chainsaw is that you’re limited to where you can take it. You’ll always need an extension cord on hand, making these models best-suited for small yards that don’t require a lot of frequent chainsaw use. However, they can handle most of the same jobs a gas-powered saw can, as long as you have a power source.
Gas-powered saws are what most people think of when they picture a chainsaw. These loud, sometimes smoky machines rip through wood without an issue, if they’re correctly maintained.
Gas-powered chainsaws require far more upkeep than electric-powered chainsaws. Users need to maintain a clean air filter, use the proper mix of gasoline and oil, and replace the spark plugs. They’re also carbureted, and require adjustments to fuel and air mixtures, so gas-powered chainsaws can be finicky.
However, if you’ve got a larger property or plan to use your chainsaw often, a gas-powered model may be the best small chainsaw for your needs.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Small Chainsaw
Chainsaw pros know these tools inside and out, but that doesn’t mean everyone has that same knowledge. In case you’re not a professional woodcutter, here are some important considerations to ponder before you start shopping. Keeping these points in mind will help you decide on the best small chainsaw for your property.
If you’ve never run a chainsaw before, or if it’s been a while, you should learn about the dangers of kickback.
Kickback can occur when the top half of the saw bar’s end makes contact with a solid piece of wood. If the sawyer doesn’t have experience or isn’t expecting it, the saw bar can kick back towards them, causing a serious injury.
While plunge cutting the bar’s nose into a log is a well-known technique, it’s a skill for experienced woodcutters. Unless you have years of chainsaw experience, you should consider leaving the guard on the end of the bar. You should also run low-kickback chains on your saw. It’s also important to always cut with two hands on a saw at all times.
Motor or Engine Size
The size of your chainsaw’s motor (electrical models) or engine (gas-powered saws) has a lot to do with its capabilities. It may also determine whether you can upgrade to a longer bar or how heavy duty you can consider the saw to be.
For most small gas-powered chainsaws, engine sizes range between 30cc and 40cc—an acceptable size engine for anything from a 10- or 12-inch bar up to 16 inches. An 18-inch bar is a possibility, but that’s as large as you should go with a saw in this range. Matching these bars to this engine size will provide plenty of power and torque without getting in over your head on a large tree.
For electric saws, you should consider amperages. An electric motor’s amp rating describes how much power it can handle before internals may start to break down. Saws with a 14-amp rating are more than suitable for most home uses.
The length of a chainsaw’s bar determines the type of work it’s best suited for, but there are some things to know. Longer bars (24 inches and longer) may seem intimidating, but they’re actually easy to control. Top-handle saws with short bars (usually 10 inches) are small and look more approachable. But, they can be more unpredictable and dangerous for a new sawyer. They’re ideal for tree-climbing arborists.
A 14- to 18-inch long bar saw is an excellent meet-in-the-middle size that can handle most homeowner-type jobs. They can fell small trees, buck large branches, and cut firewood without much issue. These bars are also easy to find if you need to replace them.
Depending on your physical strength, weight can be the most critical consideration of all. If you’re unable to handle a saw safely because it’s too heavy, the fuel source or bar length simply won’t matter.
Corded electric saws and battery-powered saws are often the lightest chainsaws you can purchase. They don’t require a tank full of fuel mix, and their motors are smaller, making them lighter and easier to use in a variety of scenarios.
Keep in mind, though, that a saw can be too light as well. A top-handle saw with a lot of power, a short bar, and a light motor will act unpredictably if it experiences some kickback. The added inertia of a heavier motor will help minimize the effects of kickback.
If you’d like to maintain a happy relationship with your neighbors, you should consider how much noise a chainsaw can create. Gas-powered saws can be near deafening, making woodcutting best as an afternoon activity, when few people are sleeping.
Even some electric and battery-powered options are a little loud. The whine of the electric motor and the noise the chain makes as it rips through the wood combine to create some chatter.
The other thing you need to realize about noise is that you should always wear hearing protection. There are plenty of muff-style protectors at your local home store, and they’ll do a lot to maintain your hearing after you’ve spent a day at the end of a chainsaw.
Chainsaws can be dangerous; there is no denying that. There are some features that many saws now have that help to keep you safe. Most importantly, you should look for a chainsaw with an inertia chain brake. These clutch-style brakes sense the rapid change in inertia caused by kickback and lock the chain to stop it from running. Should you experience kickback, the brake will engage and help to keep you safe.
Also, low-kickback chains are installed on most homeowner chainsaws now, and they do a lot to minimize the effects of kickback. Regardless, you should wear proper protective gear, including chainsaw chaps, sturdy boots, eye and ear protection, as well as a pair of properly fitting work gloves.
Our Top Picks
Now that you’ve got some background information on what to look for when shopping for the best small chainsaw for your property, this guide will help point you to some excellent choices. Chosen with the critical considerations and key features in mind, these recommendations make the cut.
If you’ve got a small property with some relatively light chainsawing needs, the WORX WG303.1 electric chainsaw is a great choice for a tight budget. The saw has a 14.5 amp motor and a 16-inch bar, which means its capable of felling small trees and excellent for cutting firewood. It features an automatic oiler and an oil reservoir window, making bar-lubrication a simple process. It comes with a low-kickback chain and a chain brake to help minimize the chance for accidents. It also uses an automatic tensioning system, which means less work for the user, and it extends the life of the bar and chain.
If you’re not a regular chainsaw user, you probably don’t know how sore your back can be after a long day running a saw. The Worx helps to reduce that issue, weighing in at just over six pounds. This 10-inch saw uses a 20V battery to run the chain at speeds up to 12 ½ feet per second, which is plenty for most homeowner projects. The unit uses an automatic oiler to keep the chain and bar cool, as well as Worx’s automatic tensioning system, extending the chain and bar life.
Battery-powered chainsaws have come quite a long way, and the Makita XCU03PT1 is the king of the woodpile. This 14-inch bar chainsaw comes with a double charger and four 5.0AH batteries, as the saw uses two batteries at a time. The brushless motor creates a lot of power while also preserving battery life. Makita states that the XCU03PT1 is as powerful as a 32cc gasoline engine. That would make it capable of taking down small trees and cutting dense firewood like oak and maple. The chain adjustment is tool-less, requiring the user to simply turn the knob on the side of the saw for the desired tension. It also has an automatic oiler and a view window to make sure you’ve got enough oil for the project at hand.
Cutting firewood with a dull saw is no fun. Oregon, one of the top chainsaw bar manufacturers in the world, knows this. They created a self-sharpening electric chainsaw with plenty of power to help. The CS1500 has an 18-inch bar and a self-sharpening lever that grinds a fresh edge onto the chain’s cutting teeth in three to five seconds. It has a 15 amp motor, an automatic oiler, and a reservoir view window for bar lube. It also uses a tool-less chain tensioning system, which allows the user to adjust the chain to the proper tension and lock it back into place with ease. One of the best features of this saw is how quiet it is while running, but still having plenty of power to get the job done.
The Advantages of Owning a Small Chainsaw
There are a lot of advantages to owning a small chainsaw. Secure storage, ease of use, and better affordability are all benefits.
Storing a small chainsaw in your garage or workshop is much easier than a more substantial massive model. The options on this list can sit on a shelf, under a work table, or anywhere you have space. Larger chainsaws are harder to situate and may be too heavy for some shelves.
Smaller chainsaws are generally easier to use, as most are homeowner models. These saws have plenty of power and safety features but are also lighter than larger saws. You can use your saw for basically any project that comes up in the life of a typical homeowner. Plus, you won’t have to call or pay for a professional.
Owning a smaller chainsaw is often more economical than a larger saw because they’re usually less expensive. Since many are electric or battery-powered, they’re less costly to maintain as well. A simple chain-sharpening and a bottle of bar lube will keep your saw in running condition for years.
- Smaller chainsaws are capable but easier to store than larger saws.
- Smaller chainsaws are more comfortable to use than larger saws.
- Smaller chainsaws are more economical than larger saws.
FAQs About Your New Small Chainsaw
You might have a chainsaw in mind now, and that’s great. But you may also have some questions you’d like answered before you put that saw in your shopping cart. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about the best small chainsaws.
Q. How lightweight do chainsaws come?
Small chainsaws can weigh anywhere between six and 20 pounds. It depends on their power source, how many batteries they use, and their construction materials.
Q. Who makes the smallest chainsaws?
Greenworks makes the smallest chainsaws. DEWALT also makes an excellent small battery-powered option that many homeowners prefer.
Q. What can you cut with a small chainsaw?
There are many factors, but you can cut woods like pine, cedar, birch, and oak with a small chainsaw.