The Best Small Chainsaw
Chainsaws are an efficient cutting tool. However, most homeowners don’t need a 50-100cc gas powered chainsaw capable of felling a 50-100 ft. tall tree. You’re likely someone who only needs a chainsaw to do some light duty cutting tasks like limbing a tree or cutting up some firewood.
If you find yourself in this category, then you’re likely after a small chainsaw. More often than not, these chainsaws are going to be electric or battery powered due to being more beginner friendly. Let’s take a look at some of the better options.
Makita is a popular brand and is known for making a variety of power tools. This particular chainsaw features a 14″ bar and chain and is powered by a 15 amp motor. This results in a chain speed of 2,900 FPM for fast efficient cutting and trimming.
As we mentioned, small chainsaws are meant to be made for beginners and home owners. This Makita chainsaw features several beginner friendly features. To name a few:
- Built-in current limiter to prevent motor burn-out.
- Rubberized soft grip handles.
- Tool-less blade and chain adjustments.
- Automatic chain oiler.
All of these result in minimal maintenance requirements. Makita also offers a 1 year warranty and a 30 day satisfaction guarantee in case you aren’t happy with your purchase.
- Pros: 15 amp motor and 14″ bar and chain. Lots of beginner friendly features.
- Cons: It’s corded so you’ll need a 12-gauge extension cord and you’re tethered to an outlet. Also somewhat expensive.
Next up is another chainsaw by Makita. If you can’t tell, we like this power tool brand and the chainsaws they produce. The main difference here is that this chainsaw is battery powered as opposed to being corded.
Now while the upfront cost of this chainsaw might be more due to battery cost. You need to factor in the true cost of a corded chainsaw. For instance you’ll need a safe extension cord; A 12 gauge extension cord will suffice for most high ampere saws. You also need to consider where you’ll be working. For instance if you’re in the woods, you’ll need a generator to plug your chainsaw into. All of this is extra costs to consider that most people don’t talk enough about.
Unlike other battery powered saws, this particular Makita chainsaw uses 2 18v LXT batteries to deliver 36V of power. Since this is a battery powered saw, it delivers 1,650 FPM chain speed and features a 12″ guide bar and chain which is still solid for most light-medium duty cutting tasks.
This chainsaw kit also comes with 2 extra batteries that you can charge while you use the other two for cutting.
- Pros: Long lasting batteries producing 36V of power. Portable. 1650 FPM chain speed.
- Cons: Expensive upfront cost. Some customers note the bar oil leaks.
If you’ve been a bit turned off by the cost of the previous two chainsaws, then you’ll be happy to know that this particular corded electric chainsaw is one of the best budget options available.
Remington has been offering electric chainsaws since the 90s. This particular saw is known as the “Limb N Trim” which means that it’s perfect for home owners. This particular saw features a 14 inch guide bar and chain powered by an 8 amp motor.
It’s lightweight at only 6 lbs which makes it perfect for a beginner. It also has a few other beginner friendly features like the push-button oiler and quick tension adjuster. It also comes fully assembled and is backed by a 2-year limited warranty.
If you only plan to use your chainsaw in the backyard, this is an excellent option as it’s designed just for that, and it is very affordable as well.
- Pros: Lightweight. 14 inch bar and chain powered by 8 amp motor. 2 year limited warranty.
- Cons: This chainsaw is only for light duty tasks. Don’t try to push its limits.
Black and Decker has been around a while now, and for good reason too. Their power tools are well known for being high quality, and this quality has served many people well over the years.
This Black+Decker chainsaw is a cordless chainsaw featuring a 12″ guide bar and Oregon chain powered by a 40V MAX Lithium-Ion battery. The 40V MAX 2.0Ah battery provides 60 4×4 pine lumber cuts per charge. A fully depleted battery also takes 4-5 hours to recharge.
This chainsaw also uses a tool-less chain tensioning mechanism. There is also a oiling system for the bar and chain.
If you’re not a huge fan of cords and you only need to do light duty tasks like require minimal cuts then this is a solid option. It’s less expensive than the cordless Makita due to featuring less batteries.
- Pros: Cordless. Perfect for light duty tasks. Powerful and efficient.
- Cons: Some customers note issues with the oil leaking.
GreenWorks is a relative newcomer compared to the other brands listed above. This chainsaw boasts a 16″ guide bar and chain powered by GreenWorks G-MAX 40V 4Ah Li-ion rechargeable battery.
This chainsaw comes outfitted with a unique brushless motor. This design produces less noise and vibration making it easier for beginners to operate. It also only weighs 10.4 lbs which further adds to the usability.
Some of the other notable features are the automatic self-oiler, chain brake, and automatic chain tensioning. It’s also rated at 150 cuts per charge.
- Pros: Lightweight. 16″ Guide bar and chain. Unique brushless motor.
- Cons: Customer’s note that it goes through bar oil quite quickly.
Factors to Consider in a Small Chainsaw
Whether you’re sawing a log for firewood or limbing a tree, different chainsaws are made for specific functions. So, here are some of the factors to keep in mind while looking for a small chainsaw:
What do you plan to use the small chainsaw for? Is it just for light trimming and pruning? If yes, then an electric saw is the perfect option. Although there are gas-powered saws available, electric ones offer more “safety” features and are homeowner friendly.
You may need to cut up light brush in your backyard, but you’re limited by how far your extension cord can reach. In such cases, a small cordless saw will do the trick. Gas saws are usually bigger and used for heavy-duty work, such as cutting down larger trees.
Gas chainsaws motors are two stroke engines and are rated by displacement in CCs. They are able to generate more horsepower and cutting torque. They range from 30 – 120cc.
Electric powered chainsaws are rated in amperes. They are less powerful than gas powered motors and usually range from 8-15 amps. It’s important to note that you will need to use a larger gauge extension cord and a large ampere capacity outlet.
Guide Bar Length
Small chainsaws will have a relatively smaller guide bar size. Most of the smaller chainsaw variants have guide bars ranging from 12 – 16 inches. This length is perfect for home owners who only need to fell smaller trees or for limbing purposes.
The math is pretty simple. If you only need to do light duty tasks, you don’t need a 22 inch guide bar to cut a few branches. If anything this is overkill and can waste bar oil with the automatic oiling systems that smaller saws often have.
Where do you plan to use the chainsaw?
Folks that plan to use the chainsaw around the house have the ability to use an outlet and can readily use a corded electric chainsaw. Where-as people that need to work in the field will likely need to use a battery powered chainsaw. They also have the option of bringing a generator with them.
Gasoline powered chainsaws don’t have this problem and are only limited by the amount of fuel you decide to bring with you.
While no chainsaw is 100% safe to use, there are a number of features that manufactures can offer to make the experience safer. Here is a list of a few:
- Rubber-coated handles that limit vibrations
- Automatic chain tensioning mechanisms
- Automatic bar oil mechanism
- Low Kickback chains
- Chain catchers
- Current limiters
- Automatic chain sharpener
Note: Chainsaw chaps aren’t very effective against electric motors. Ensure that your chainsaw chaps are made specifically for electric/direct drive motors.
Electric chainsaws have risen quickly in the power tool world, and for a good reason. They are quite quiet in operation, and they don’t produce any noxious fumes that gas-powered saws do. This makes them very appealing to homeowners.
It all comes down to what you are looking for with a chainsaw and what you plan to do. As we stated earlier, if you only plan to do pruning and limb cutting, then buy a saw that can handle just that. In short, don’t overbuy on a chainsaw. You don’t need a saw that can fell a pine tree if you never plan to cut one down.
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