Table of Contents
- Best Small Chainsaw Reviews 2019
- BLACK+DECKER LCS1020 20V Max Lithium Ion Small Chainsaw – Best Seller
- Husqvarna 440 Rancher, 16 in. 40.9cc 2-Cycle Small Gas Chainsaw – Top Pick
- Remington RM1425 Limb N Trim 8 Amp 14-Inch Small Corded Electric Chainsaw – Best Value
- Makita XCU02Z 18V X2 (36V) LXT Lithium-Ion Cordless 12″ Small Chain Saw – Runner Up
- Oregon CS1500 Self-Sharpening Small Electric Chainsaw – Also Consider
- Best Small Chainsaw Buying Guide 2019
Best Small Chainsaw Reviews 2019
Though the first thought that might come to most people’s minds when they think of a chainsaw are the large models used by foresters and horror movie icons alike. Of course, most cutting jobs that the average person needs to do will not require such a large and cumbersome chainsaw. That is why we have put together a list of the 5 best small, lightweight chainsaw reviews along with a helpful buyer’s guide. The BLACK+DECKER and Husqvarna are our best picks, but not necessarily our best value. Keep reading to find out more.
BLACK+DECKER LCS1020 20V Max Lithium Ion Small Chainsaw – Best Seller
BLACK+DECKER is by far the most well-known company on our list which is a big part of why it was able to achieve the best seller spot. However, throughout the company’s evolution, BLACK+DECKER is more name than game at this point. Still, it is important to note that BLACK+DECKER is squarely a consumer-grade power tool manufacturer. As such, this chainsaw is definitely not designed to tackle professional-grade jobs and will wear out pretty quickly if used all day for even a week. Still, the combination of features combined with the price does make this a solid option for the average homeowner.
Considering the BLACK+DECKER is designed for the DIYer, it only makes sense that the company a fair bit of time and effort into making their chainsaw one of the more convenient to use. This is not to suggest that every feature of convenience is just as good as any other, because the automatic oiler has a tendency not to work requiring you to manually oil the chain instead. On the other hand, as a corded electric chainsaw, the BLACK+DECKER uses a push-start system so you do not have to worry about wasting time, patience, and energy just getting the thing started. On top of that, this is one of a few chainsaws that provide a side-access tool-less chain tensioning system.
In terms of the BLACK+DECKER’s performance, it is important to remember that the chainsaw was designed for light use around the home–not felling giant oaks. As such, the fact that this chainsaw has one of the slower chain speeds with a single battery 20V motor does not stack up terribly well compared to many of the alternatives on our list. On top of that, the BLACK+DECKER has the smallest maximum diameter of cut thickness due in a large part because of the fairly short 10” bar. On a positive note, the bar is at least a high-quality anti-kickback Oregon which, combined with the wrap around bailing handle and sighted chain brake makes this one of the safer chainsaws.
- Is a cordless electric chainsaw
- Is a less expensive chainsaw
- Has an anti-kickback Oregon bar
- Is a lightweight chainsaw
- Is easy to use
- Is a safer chainsaw
- Not the best oiler
- Has less cutting power than most
Husqvarna 440 Rancher, 16 in. 40.9cc 2-Cycle Small Gas Chainsaw – Top Pick
Of the different companies on our list, Husqvarna is the only one that specializes in the manufacturing of professional-grade landscaping equipment. On top of that, this is also one of the more respected and trusted companies in the landscaping equipment market with a history that stretches back hundreds of years. Though it is not easy to find a product suitable for our niche list’s narrow requirements–especially since Husqvarna focuses far more on gas-powered models than electric which have a tendency to be a bit on the large and heavy side. This is still somewhat true for the 440 Rancher, though it offers the best solution in this regard.
Power to Spare
One thing that you will not have to worry about in regards to the Husqvarna 440 Rancher is the cutting power, of which this chainsaw provides more than any other we reviewed. To be fair, this has about as much to do with the fact that the 440 Rancher is a gas-powered chainsaw as any other feature. The 40.9cc engine definitely provides both the fastest chain speeds as well as the most torque providing more than enough cutting power for even light commercial jobs. Granted, this does mean that you will have to use a fuel and oil mixture to power the Husqvarna 440 Rancher which increases the overhead costs on what is already the most expensive product on our list.
One reason that so many small chainsaws are electric is that it is generally easier to use an electric chainsaw, whether corded or not than it is to use a gas-powered model. Thankfully, Husqvarna gas chain saw at least did all that they could to make using their lightweight chainsaw as easy as possible. First, this chainsaw comes with a spring-loaded Easy Start system meant to make the pull-start engage with far less effort. On top of that, this chainsaw comes with an automatic chain oiler and side-mounted chain tensioning system. To make maintenance easier, the Air Injection system keeps the filter clean which is positioned at the top of the chainsaw for easier access.
- Is a gas-powered chainsaw
- Has X-TORQ technology
- Has a 40.9cc engine
- Is easy to use
- Has Low-Vib technology
- Has the best cutting power reviewed
- The most expensive chainsaw reviewed
- Is a heavier chainsaw
Remington RM1425 Limb N Trim 8 Amp 14-Inch Small Corded Electric Chainsaw – Best Value
Remington is actually one of the brands we reviewed that specializes exclusively on outdoor landscaping equipment and has done so for the extent of their near 100-year existence. That said, not all things have remained the same at Remington throughout their history as they originated as one of the premier professional-grade chainsaw manufacturers suitable for professional loggers. However, starting around the turn of the last century, Remington began to shift more towards the consumer-grade market, which in turn shifted their design approach. Still, for a chainsaw that is fully half the cost of its next closest competitor and then some, this is by far the best value lightweight chainsaw on our list.
To put in perspective exactly how mind-bogglingly inexpensive this cheap small chainsaw is, there are products which cost seven times as much. While there is some truth that you get what you pay for, there is no way a competitor can provide seven times the performance of the Remington. If nothing else, the fact that this is a corded electric chainsaw with a 14” anti-kickback bar alone is worth the cost of admission for this product. Though the housing is not terribly durable, so do not try to put it through the paces without the warranty handy. Of course, when you consider that this is also the lightest chainsaw that we reviewed, you will not have to worry about fatigue even when cutting thicker timber.
Up and Down
That said, whether or not you can cut thicker timber is definitely called into question with the Remington as this is tied on our list for the lowest maximum cutting thickness at only 10”. You may wonder how such a large bar could afford such a thin maximum cutting thickness, but the issue lies elsewhere. Basically, the Remington provides the least cutting power out of any other product on our list, and this is despite it being a corded electric model. Not only is the 8 amp motor the weakest we reviewed, but it also has the second slowest chain speed too. On the other hand, it does at least check off the standard consumer-grade boxes by being easy to use and ergonomically designed.
- Is a corded electric chainsaw
- The least expensive chainsaw reviewed
- The lightest chainsaw reviewed
- Is easy to use
- Has a 14” anti-kickback bar
- Is ergonomically designed
- Has the least cutting power
- Is not that durable
Makita XCU02Z 18V X2 (36V) LXT Lithium-Ion Cordless 12″ Small Chain Saw – Runner Up
Depending on your familiarity, Makita being this low on our list may seem surprising, regardless of whether you think it should be higher or lower. However, the Makita LXT is exactly where it should be based on some solid features hampered by some difficult flaws. Makita is known far more for their contractor professional-grade power tools, but they also offer plenty of ancillary products that can make use of their powerful electric motors. Still, the general standards on excellence that Makita holds itself to shine through, even if the LXT is not really suitable for professional jobs.
If you are looking for a personal cordless electric chainsaw that can handle more jobs than most consumer-grade models while having a significantly longer lifespan, this is the best fit. While the total cutting power of the Makita LXT is just slightly better than the standard consumer-grade fare, it is manufactured to much better standards. For one, this is the only electric chainsaw we reviewed which uses the durable brushless motor design and combines this with finely machine-ground gears and components. The body is then designed to further prevent any foreign contaminant from being able to get inside, though this does make it a tad less ergonomic.
For the most part, the Makita has great specs with a 36V motor using the transitional 18Vx2 approach which provides far more running time before needing to recharge than most other cordless models can offer. What is unfortunate is that the Makita can only get up to about 8 ½ m/s which is modestly better than the standard consumer-grade standard. This means that the Makita will struggle more when cutting thicker timber, as noted by the marginally improved maximum cutting thickness, and cutting wet wood. This is made all the more difficult to swallow considering that this is the most expensive chainsaw we reviewed and does not even include the batteries.
- Is a cordless electric chainsaw
- Has a dual battery pack
- Is easy to use
- Is a quieter chainsaw
- Has a brushless motor
- Has various protections
- A more expensive chainsaw
- Has a slower chain speed
Oregon CS1500 Self-Sharpening Small Electric Chainsaw – Also Consider
Oregon has a surprisingly complex reputation with professional loggers often swearing by their products while even the average professional landscaper may find them lacking a bit. This is because Oregon has both a professional and a consumer-grade lineup which are markedly different in terms of quality. On top of that, Oregon is far more well-known as a chainsaw and forestry equipment accessory manufacturer. The chains, bars, and transmission sprockets are Oregon’s specialty with complete chainsaws simply filling inexpensive niches.
Depending on which side of the aisle you come from, it may be surprising that the Oregon corded electric chainsaw provides as much cutting power as it does. In fact, outside of a gas-powered model, you would be hard-pressed to find another chainsaw on our list that can compete with the Oregon. The 15 amp motor is able to generate chain speeds of up to 48 ⅘ m/s which well more than the similarly priced competition and even more than models costing nearly twice as much. This is further complemented with an 18” Oregon anti-kickback bar that allows for a maximum cutting thickness of 17”, the second thickest on our list.
The main reason that the Oregon is so far down our list has to do with the fact that it is not known for longevity. As it turns out, Oregon’s accessories can only go so far when trying to account for cheaply made OEM motors, regardless of how powerful they may be. This issue is further exacerbated by the use of a cheap, plastic body which has been known to come apart due to vibrations after extensive use. Basically, by outsourcing everything else to cheap manufacturers, the only things of any real value are the Oregon parts included after assembly. Still, for a DIYer, the self-sharpening design combined with an ergonomic design that is easy to use may be worth the risk.
- Is a corded electric chainsaw
- Is a less expensive chainsaw
- Is a self-sharpening chainsaw
- Has an 18” Oregon bar
- Is easy to use
- Is ergonomically designed
- Not the most durable
- The heaviest chainsaw reviewed
Best Small Chainsaw Buying Guide 2019
This is one of the more important considerations regarding a small, lightweight chainsaw primarily because the powering components will account for the majority of the product’s total weight. To this end, there are two primary methods of powering a chainsaw with one of those further broken down again. Gas-powered chainsaws are the original type with electric chainsaw following, first the corded electric models then the cordless battery-powered models.
Gas-Powered – When it comes to small, lightweight chainsaws, gas-powered models have a bit of difficulty meeting weight as it were. This has to do with the fact that a combustion engine requires a fair amount of metal components to construct. Thankfully, this heavier, durable construction allows gas-powered engines to generate far more energy than either type of electric motor. On the other hand, you do have to worry about fuel and oil mixtures with a gas-powered engine, which is both messy and complicated.
Corded Electric – This was the first type of electric chainsaw developed and is still generally the superior model in terms of cutting power. Of course, the cord of a corded electric chainsaw limits the versatility and maneuverability of a chainsaw. However, the ability to provide a consistent amount of power to the electric motor may be worth being tethered to a power source. It is also worth noting that when looking for a small, lightweight chainsaw, corded electric models are generally the smallest and the lightest. On top of that, corded electric chainsaws are also generally less expensive than either of the other two types.
Cordless Electric – This is the newest type of electric chainsaw and is currently the most innovative type as well. In fact, battery-powered technology has finally advanced far enough to be comparable with a dedicated corded electric chainsaw. Depending on the manufacturer’s dedication to R&D, their particular battery-powered motor might actually split the difference between a traditional corded electric and gas-powered chainsaw’s cutting power. While many cordless electric chainsaws are less expensive than gas-powered models, that difference shrinks precipitously when you include the price of batteries, extra batteries, and a charging station.
When it comes to a chainsaw, regardless of the size, the cutting power is by far one of the most important aspects as this will ultimately determine what size of timber you can cut. Keep in mind, having to take a little bit longer may be annoying, but enough cutting power will allow you to take down medium-sized trees with the proper technique. That said, when we talk about cutting power, we are primarily referring to the amount of torque generated by the motor or engine. The more torque a chainsaw has, the tougher wood it can cut through without bogging down or throwing the chain.
While there is no real standard cutting power, you can generally get a decent idea of how powerful the chainsaw is by comparing its maximum cutting thickness. Granted, this quality is also influenced by the size and choice of the bar used, but a smaller bar with more cutting power can easily out cut a longer bar with less cutting power. One thing to consider is that the more powerful the motor or engine, the more vibrations the chainsaw will generate. This goes hand in hand with choosing a small, lightweight chainsaw as the vibrations are responsible for a significant amount of fatigue generated while using the chainsaw.
Not all power saws need to worry about cutting speed that much, but chainsaws are definitely one of the models where cutting speed matters. Unfortunately, manufacturers use a whole host of measurements to advertise their products since conversion is difficult. That said, it is exceedingly important that your chainsaw has a quick enough chain speed in order to prevent mistakes and keep you safe.
A quick chain speed will allow the chainsaw to cut through thick, dense wood without having to worry about getting stuck in the wood. On top of that, too slow of a chain speed leads to the chainsaw tearing the wood more than actually cutting it. It is also worth noting that if the chainsaw cannot reach the necessary chain speed to cut the wood properly, then the chain is far more likely to come off of the bar. This can range from mildly disconcerting to outright physically dangerous–especially if your chainsaw does have a solid chain brake.
As mentioned a few times prior, the bar is one of the more important components of a chainsaw–so much so that some manufacturers specialize more in the chainsaw bar than they do the chainsaw itself. The bar is the part of the chainsaw that holds the chain steady so that it can be used to effectively cut. However, the bar’s size and design will have a fair amount of influence over the use of the chainsaw as well as its safety. For the latter aspect, many chainsaw bars are made with a nub or toe at the tip which redirects the energy from a caught blade to pull the chainsaw away from you rather than kick it back towards you.
In terms of general use, the size of the bar will influence how thick of branches the chainsaw is designed to cut. Keep in mind, while you can exceed the maximum cut thickness with proper technique, the size of the bar will play an outsized role in setting this standard in the first place. Of course, a larger bar will generally require a larger engine or motor to power the longer chain which will, in turn, increase the overall size and weight of the chainsaw.
Considering the basis for our article, this is actually one of the more important considerations, though that is not always the case. Both the physical dimensions as well as the weight play an important role in determining the ergonomics of a chainsaw, but the design of the machine is important too. While the lightest and smallest chainsaw might seem like the best for our list, it is important to make sure that the chainsaw is powerful enough to accomplish your desired tasks. This can create a situation where you must carefully weigh and balance the size with the cutting power.
Outside of the most basic physical properties of the chainsaw, the tool can be designed in ergonomic ways as well. One of the most common ergonomic features is anti-vibration designs, though these are less common to downright unnecessary among small, lightweight chainsaws. The shape of the handles, as well as the position and engagement of the trigger, can also be made ergonomically. For the former quality, you should look for a padded grip that can wick away or absorb moisture and sweat.
Ease of Use
The ease of use can refer to the actual function of the chainsaw including all of the prerequisite tasks to get the device started as well as all maintenance once you are finished. For engagement, electric chainsaws of either variety are generally easier to use than gas-powered chainsaws. Part of this has to do with the fact that electric chainsaws do not require any type of fuel mixture. However, the electric start for an electric chainsaw is infinitely more convenient and easier to engage than the traditional pull-start method of a gas-powered chainsaw–even the spring-loaded or spring-assisted models.
Other features designed to make a chainsaw easier to use include automatic or easily accessible functions involving the chain’s maintenance. Because the chain is the most dangerous part of a chainsaw, it is generally a better idea if you do not touch it. In order to facilitate this process more easily, many chainsaws feature an automatic oiler as well as a side-mounted chain tensioning system to keep your hands safely away from the blade.
What type of Chainsaw?
By this we mean how should the chainsaw be powered, the answer of which will determine what you can and cannot accomplish with the chainsaw. The three options for power are a corded electric model, a cordless electric model, or a gas-powered approach. Each of these has their advantages and disadvantages, but the electric models are the ones which are most likely to satisfy the need for a small, lightweight profile. Gas-powered chainsaws have a bit more difficulty with either the weight or the reduced size profile, though some ‘mini-block’ 2-strokes skirt the line effectively enough.
The most important thing to consider once you have the size and weight limitations down is the cutting power. In general, the cutting power goes gas to corded electric to cordless electric in descending order, but many manufacturers have been busy innovating their cordless models to compete with corded electric and even smaller gas-powered models. That said, the standard cordless electric motor which uses an 18/20V battery pack is still going to be the weakest cutting more often than not. As such, it may take a bit of a balancing act to find the chainsaw that meets your size and weight requirements while still offering enough cutting power.
What size chainsaw?
This almost begs the question of what we mean when we use the terms ‘small’ and ‘lightweight’ as this can mean different things depending on what type and market of chainsaw you are talking about. For instance, gas-powered chainsaws are almost inherently going to be larger and heavier than their electric counterparts due to the demands of a combustion engine. Counterintuitively, newer cordless electric chainsaws can sometimes rival gas-powered chainsaws in terms of total weight due to the increasing use of dual battery-packs. In fact, corded electric chainsaws are consistently the all-around lightest and smallest chainsaws on the market.
As such, if you think you will need the additional cutting power of a gas-powered chainsaw or the mobility of a cordless electric chainsaw, you may have to simply bite the bullet and pick the best from an unideal bunch. This is not to suggest that that the chosen chainsaw will necessarily be unwieldy, especially if the manufacturer provides various stabilizing features to reduce the effect of the weight and vibrations. That said, a fairly solid standard when looking for a small, lightweight chainsaw is to stick with bars under 20” and preferably under 18” without an otherwise solid design.
Chainsaw Safety 101
We assume you know not to get anywhere near the pointy bits unless performing maintenance, so this will actually cover a couple of other considerations that are central to using a chainsaw safely but may not be immediately obvious. For instance, the type of chain brake you should look for depends on how you hold the chainsaw while cutting. If you naturally use an extended posture while cutting, you can get any chain brake you want. However, the sighted chain brakes are designed for those who have a more compact posture while cutting. Knowing how you cut may be the difference between a necessary feature and an additional expense.
For those who are not terribly experienced with chainsaws, it is better to err on the side of an automatic oiler that may leak as opposed to any system that requires you to manually oil the chain–whether by necessity or design. This is because inexperienced users are rarely aware of how often you must oil the chain to prevent it from getting dull and breaking. Keep in mind that you are far more likely to be injured by a piece of broken chain sent flying than cutting yourself due to the regularity of chain breakage in the first place.
If you are looking for an electric chainsaw that can handle light work around the house, there are a number of options, but the BLACK+DECKER wins on durability alone. Outside of it and the Makita, the small electric chainsaw market is a bit bare in terms of durability, and the Makita has priced itself far outside of the consumer market without having the power for the professional market. If you are willing to deal with the trouble of a gas-powered model, the Husqvarna does provide plenty of cutting power–at a price. Unfortunately for the Husqvarna, that price is both literal and figurative as it is a heavier and the most expensive on our list. If you just need a ‘throwaway’ chainsaw that you do not have to worry about, the Remington comes in at an eye-popping low price.