Small chainsaws are a relatively new thing on the market…
Up until not so long ago, the only choice when it came to buying a chainsaw was to get a full-size gas guzzling beast. These are great for professionals or for really tough jobs, but they’re total overkill for someone who wants to small trees around their home or property.
Thankfully, these days there’s a wide selection of small versions of the best chainsaws – In this article we’ll discuss what you’ll want to consider before choosing the best small chainsaw for you, and then we’ll dive into specific product recommendations.
Let’s get started…
The 3 Best Small Chainsaw
Considerations when choosing a small chainsaw
Aside from the general considerations when choosing any sort of chainsaw (which you can read about in our chainsaw features article), there’s two main things to think about when it comes to small chainsaws specifically:
- Ease of use
When we consider the performance of a chainsaw, especially when choosing a lightweight chainsaw, we’re thinking about what can this thing actually do…
Can it handle big jobs like felling large trees, or is it only useful for smaller jobs like managing small trees and branches around your home?
A small chainsaw isn’t going to perform as well as a larger professional chainsaw – It’ll have a small bar and low cutting capacity, which means it just doesn’t have the size to tackle really thick and large trees.
But so long as it’s big enough for your specific needs, that’s all that really matters, right?
As well as size, the other element of performance is power output.
Power is obviously crucially important in a chainsaw – Without sufficient power, it may simply not be capable of doing what you need.
Even if a chainsaw is capable of a certain cut, a low cutting speed can also be a big drawback.
Small chainsaws, being small, will often not have great power output.
The best options for small versions of these saws are generally electric and battery powered – And as you may know, these have much less power than a gas option.
In general, the performance of these small saws isn’t great. The combination of low power output and a short bar makes them perfectly useful for small manageable tasks, but not great for tough jobs.
If you’ll be infrequently managing small trees on your property and need an easy to use chainsaw, a small one will be a great option.
If on the other hand you’re trekking into the woods to fell 50 foot high trees, you might want to consider a different type.
Ease of use
Ease of use is where the small chainsaw really starts to shine.
They might not have the power or general functionality of their bigger brothers, but they’re so much easier to use.
You’ll find that these small saws are very lightweight. This is obviously because the tool itself is small – The components are smaller, and so weigh less than on a larger saw.
This makes for great comfort when using the chainsaw, and also makes it very easy to control.
As mentioned, most of the best small chainsaw options will be electric or cordless, and these bright further ease of use benefits.
Most of them have tool-less chain adjustments, easy start button, and automatic chain oilers.
On top of that, with a cordless chainsaw you get great freedom of movement – No more worrying about that pesky cord when making your cuts.
Another huge benefit of electric or cordless options is there’s no dealing with gas refills, or the fumes that a beastly gas chainsaw throws out constantly. Electric versions are also much quieter!
Top 5: Best Lightweight Chainsaws
In our top position you’ll see the magnificent Makita UC3551A – For the small and compact size, it’s got great power and functionality, while also nailing the ease of use features.
It’s also the most expensive option on our list, but that’s the price of choosing the “best” of something.
The Makita comes with a 14 inch bar, which is on the upper limit of what we’d consider a “small” chainsaw.
This size is a good mix of compactness, and functionality.
As well as this, the UC3551A has great power output. Combined with the nicely sized 14 inch bar, this chainsaw is quite capable.
It should tackle trees and branches up to 10 or 12 inches thick with ease… You can probably make it handle more than that if you’re an experienced user, but don’t push it too hard.
Ease of use
This is a corded chainsaw, meaning it’s nice and lightweight.
Being a lightweight chainsaw goes a long way in terms of making any chainsaw easy to use, so this is a great start in this department.
You’ll find that it’s well balanced and the light weight makes for not only great comfort during use, but also makes the saw very easy to control.
On top of this, Makita are known for their great handles.
They generally are quite large and sit nicely in your hand, being rubberized and ergonomic.
This also improves your comfort and control – but most importantly, having high quality hands like this reduces user fatigue during use. This is something you’ll find missing on the cheaper options… They tend to skimp on the handle quality.
It’s not so much an issue of other chainsaws having poor handles, as it is Makita having amazingly comfortable ones.
The great thing about a corded chainsaw is all the general ease of use features we mentioned near the start of this article…
The Makita comes with tool-less chain adjustments, an easy start button, and a large window to let you check the oil reservoir level at a glance.
All of these things combined with the ergonomic handles and light weight really make the Makita UC3551A shine when it comes to ease of use.
Makita build quality
Even for people who aren’t regular power tool users, almost everyone has heard of Makita.
And rightly so – They’re right up there with Dewalt as one of the largest and most well known manufacturers out there.
There’s a reason they’re so large and respected… They have decades of experience making great tools, and really know what they’re doing.
Although this chainsaw is a little more expensive than the other options on our list, part of what you get with that is the outstanding Makita build quality. When you buy a Makita tool, it’s backed by decades of experience and a manufacturer that’s renowned around the world.
Overall, the Makita UC3551A is a great choice for anyone who wants a chainsaw that’s small, yet also powerful and functional, and very easy and comfortable to use.
Let’s move on to another great option, our runner up…
Runner up: Black + Decker LCS1240
You might consider this our mid tier option, in that it’s cheaper than the Makita above but also isn’t quite as functional.
So although it’s cheaper, there’s a trade-off in functionality.
With that said, this saw might be a better choice for you for some other reasons…
Firstly, it’s cordless. The LCS1240 uses batteries for power, rather than a power cord like the Makita bove.
This is both good and bad – You might prefer it because being cordless lets you move around more freely, improves ease of use, and also arguably keeps you safer as there’s less risk of tripping over a power cord or having it interfere with your cut in some way.
On the other hand, batteries gotta be recharged… So if you plan on prolonged use this may not be the best option for you. It’s really annoying when a battery runs flat before you’ve finished a task.
But if you’ll only be using your chainsaw now and then for quick tasks, this might be just fine for you.
Even for longer tasks, you can always have more than one battery and have one charging as you’re using the other in the chainsaw.
The other thing to mention about the Black + Decker is that it’s actually smaller and more compact than the Makita, with a 12 inch bar. Seeing as this is a guide to small chainsaws, you might find this preferable.
The performance will be lacking, when compared to the Makita.
The shorter bar means a lower cutting capacity of course, and alongside that you can expect power to be lower as this chainsaw is running on batteries.
Overall the LCS1240 is still a really functional saw though, and it’s also cheaper than the Makita… So although the performance is slightly less, you’re making cost savings in return.
In terms of ease of use, this chainsaw is pretty comparable to the Makita. Although this Black + Decker has a leg up thanks to being cordless – All cordless power tools are easier to use than their corded counterparts!
If neither the Makita or Black + Decker are quite right, we’ve also got a budget option for you to consider…
Budget option: ZNP Mini Chainsaw
This is way cheaper than the first two options… And it’s also much less functional, of course.
It’s a corded chainsaw with a 14 inch bar that’ll be perfect for dealing with small trees or branches.
But, you really can’t push this little guy too hard.
The power output is quite poor for a chainsaw, and so really you’ll want to stick to quite small tasks.
Which is probably fine, considering we’re talking about small chainsaws here!
Although this is quite cheap, the trade-offs continue beyond lack of power…
It won’t be as comfortable to use, thanks to basic materials and design. The handles, for example, will feel quite “plasticy” when compared to the ergonomic sweetness of the Makita discussed above.
The other general ease of use features are also lacking.
There’s no tool-less chain adjustments, and no automatic chain oiler. Almost every electric and cordless chainsaw has these nowadays, so their absence in this chainsaw really shows how far ZNP were willing to go to cut price as low as possible.
If you’ll only be dealing with small trees, limbs, and saplings, this small chainsaw can serve you quite well. It’s lightweight, very compact, and the price is astonishingly low when compared to other chainsaws.
Its functionality may not be great overall, but it’ll do small jobs really well, and there’s great value for money to be had with this saw.
Although there are performance trade-offs with a small chainsaw, they really make up for this by being compact and easy to use.
We’ve covered the things you’ll want to consider before making your buying choice, and also talked about specific products from the high end all the way to the budget end of the spectrum, so you could choose the best lightweight chainsaw.
You also need to be careful because even a small chainsaw can hurt you. So, you can also check our guide about chainsaw safety.
This should be everything you need to make a great purchase and ultimately be happy and satisfied with your new small chainsaw!