Guide to Small Chainsaws

In the chainsaw industry, smaller saws are overlooked. Chainsaws that have a bar and chain of 14” or under tend to be useful for trimming, pruning, and small edging projects. There’s a wide market of small chainsaws available to the average consumer, and it’s important to understand how they are best used.

In this article, we’ll teach you the best ways to use small chainsaws, as well as provide a list of advantages and downsides that come with having a smaller machine. Then, we’ll review our top seven favorite smaller chainsaws that offer power, flexibility, and affordability. By seeing what a wide variety of products the small chainsaw industry has to offer, you might be convinced to pick one up for yourself. For the average homeowner, small chainsaws are often perfect for daily tasks and yard chores that can be done quickly and efficiently. We’ll explain what they’re all about and tell you which brands are best to suit your needs.

What are Small Chainsaws?

In the chainsaw industry, a small chainsaw is considered to be a saw with a bar length of 14” or under. Users typically consider this type of chainsaw compact, mobile, and easy to manage. Chainsaws can have bars as short as 12”, which is great for smaller yard and cleanup jobs. They can typically cut fast and require little maintenance.

Best Use of Small Chainsaws

Small chainsaws are typically used for small limbing, cutting, pruning, and other branch work. While they are too small to be used for felling trees or cutting firewood, they are convenient for those times where you don’t feel like using a hand saw to trim a few branches off of your tree. Many small chainsaw users prefer them for their mobility and fast-cutting capabilities. They are often the more practical choice for trimming and pruning especially, as anything larger might become too cumbersome for this easy and lightweight task.

Any light-duty task can be completed by a small chainsaw. When it comes to cutting wood, it depends on the diameter of the wood itself. Small saws can make for great branching and limbing work on a daily basis. Depending on the type of small chainsaw – gas, electric, or battery powered – you will see a wide range of torque and cutting capabilities. When we review our top seven favorite small chainsaws, you’ll be able to see the differences in power and functionality of each one.

Pros and Cons of Small Chainsaws

While small chainsaws are popular on the market, they aren’t great for every kind of job. Depending on what you’re looking for, a small chainsaw can make or break an efficient job. Considering the typical applications of chainsaws, there are several clear advantages that weigh in favor of the smaller models:

  • Small chainsaws are best for trimming, pruning, and limbing. When you’re dealing with small trees and other similar plants, it’s too difficult to take a massive chainsaw to the smaller branches. A saw of 14” or lower can easily and efficiently cut down smaller parts.
  • Small chainsaws are the cheapest. You won’t find a better deal than you would with these small chainsaws. Many can be purchased for under $100. And the ones that typically sell for over $100 are well worth the buy.
  • Little maintenance is required. With a large, gas-guzzling chainsaw, you have to spend a lot of time fixing, adjusting, replacing, and maintaining its parts. Smaller chainsaws are much easier to use and maintain, and have far less requirements.
  • Small chainsaws can help with disaster escape. If you’ve recently experienced a storm or earthquake in your area, your small chainsaw can help cut through wood and other soft materials to provide a path for you to clear.
  • Small chainsaws are not detrimental to your health. Any type of person with any type of body or physical needs can handle a small chainsaw. You don’t have to worry about the machine spilling noxious fumes or becoming too heavy for long-term use.

The advantages of a small chainsaw are plentiful. Homeowners can easily find this item to be of use for many menial tasks and daily yardwork chores. However, if you’re looking for something with a little more meat on its bones, you may want to consider a larger model. There are a few limitations to small chainsaws that you should know about:

  • The amount of cutting power is limited. A small chainsaw cannot cut through wood with a medium to high-sized diameter, making it difficult to cut firewood in some cases.
  • Small chainsaws cannot fell most trees. Unless you are dealing with a sapling or a tree with thin bark, small chainsaws do not possess the capability to cut through thick stumps and fell medium to large-sized trees.
  • Shorter blades have less reach. If you’re looking for more mobility and utility on an elevated platform, or if you need to reach a tough spot while up in a tree, the 14” or 12” blade length of a smaller chainsaw just won’t cut it.

Consider small chainsaws as a convenient tool for smaller and everyday tasks; however, if you need something more heavy-duty, you will want to consider a larger chainsaw to get any kind of forestry or arborist work done.

It’s time to see some of these smaller saws in action. Our next section will review our top seven favorite small chainsaws that offer torque, power, cutting ability, affordability, and ease of use.

Top 7 Small Chainsaws Reviews

Our small chainsaws have been hand-picked to show you the best in several different fields. Whether your biggest concern is money, user friendliness, or cutting ability, these chainsaws cover a wide range of abilities that can help you decide whether or not a small chainsaw is best for your needs.

Tanaka TCS33EDTP

Tanaka is a leading brand in smaller chainsaws. This powerful gas-powered machine sports a 14” guide bar and chain, with over 32cc of commercial-grade engine power. This chainsaw is ergonomically designed to consume less fuel per round, providing a cleaning performance and giving users more longevity without sacrificing power. There is an automatic oiler equipped, to help keep the chains slick while you continue to do your job. There’s no downtime with this Tanaka; you can continue working while it self-maintains itself. There is a side-mounted chain tensioning device, allowing you to quickly adjust and tighten the chain as needed while on the go. It is a lightweight saw, weighing about 12.4 pounds for easy mobility and transportability. Users can enjoy the ergonomic shape of the handle, which allows for longer and more comfortable use. This saw can fell small trees, cut branches, and trim anything in the yard. Priced at $219, this is one of the more expensive chainsaws on our list – however, it packs more power and fuel efficiency for longer and bigger use.

Black and Decker LCS1240

One of our favorite battery-powered chainsaws, this reliable Black and Decker brand saw is a favorite amongst consumers. It comes equipped with a 40V MAX lithium-ion battery, which is the best for runtime and fast recharge ability. This is one of the smallest chainsaws on the market, with an Oregon bar and chain of just 12”. This is a great saw for cutting small branches, trimming trees, pruning, and storm cleanup. The battery provides 2.0Ah of power, making it great for most daily jobs. It can provide over 60 cuts per charge, guaranteeing you more time on the job without needing to take a break. There is an automatic oiling system, which allows you to keep it lubricated without having to do any of the maintenance work yourself. The tool-free tensioning system allows you to keep everything adjusted while on the go. One of the most convenient perks of this battery-powered saw is with its mobility; you won’t be bogged down by a cumbersome cord or forced to breathe the heavy fumes of a gas engine. Instead, you can enjoy a completely battery-charged saw that acts as a power tool for any of your yardwork needs. This Black and Decker chainsaw sells just shy of $160, making it one of the more affordable smaller saws on the market.

Makita SCU02Z

The Makita SCU02Z is an excellent midrange product on the consumer’s market. This cordless, battery-powered chainsaw is built for speed and power. It is powered by two 18V LXT lithium-ion batteries, giving it the ultimate runtime and recharge speed. One thing that homeowners love about this machine is that it is quite silent; the Makita saw is less noisy than its electric or gas-powered counterparts. It also has zero emissions, making it environmentally safe and easy to breathe around. It is a small saw, with a 12” guide bar and chain for light-duty cutting projects. It has a chain adjustment system that allows you to maintain the chainsaw while on the go. The motor itself is quite advanced, delivering 1650 FPM for quick-cutting action. You’ll be able to watch as the saw glides through wood like butter, making clean cuts for your satisfaction. The fact that it is cordless makes it great for mobility, allowing you further reach in tough-to-cut locations. This low-maintenance, high-speed machine is priced just over $160, making it an affordable and reliable buy for a variety of different jobs.

Makita UC3551A

Our first electric chainsaw on the list, the Makita UC3551A is a great purchase that offers more power with an ergonomic focus. If you are concerned that handling a chainsaw may be too physically straining or stressful, you’ll enjoy this corded Makita chainsaw. It is a small saw, with a guide bar and chain of 14”, which allows for decent reach while still offering speed and precision for light-duty jobs. It has a large switch on the side, giving you the ability to start and stop the chainsaw at ease. There is a burnout prevention mechanism that helps reduce the saw’s power if it becomes overloaded, making it much safer for use. It comes with a large, rubberized grip handle, giving you full control and comfort over the machine. Plus, it helps with vibration prevention, making it far less damaging for your hands and wrists while handling it for an extended period of time. It is priced at $217, making it slightly less affordable than our previous two products, but well worth it in terms of power and safety.

Black and Decker LCS1020

Black and Decker is one of the most trusted brands in the power tool industry, and this chainsaw is no different. It is almost the smallest chainsaw on the entire market, with a bar and chain of just 10”. This battery-powered saw is great for small tasks, and stays charged for a long period of time so you can complete all of your trimming and pruning in one go. It is equipped with a 20V MAX lithium-ion battery, which grants longer charge time and faster recharge ability. The 10” bar and chain is provided by Oregon, making it reliable and long-lasting. There is a tool-free tension system, helping you to quickly adjust and tighten the chain as needed. You don’t have to stop what you’re doing to perform maintenance on this machine. This small saw is the master of small jobs. Sold for just $116, it is one of the most affordable on the market.

Black and Decker Alligator Lopper LP1000

But wait, this isn’t a chainsaw! We know, which is why we wanted to include it on our list. This alligator lopper is no traditional chainsaw, and yet it provides the same quick-cutting abilities and power as a small saw. It is also safer for those who are nervous about handling a traditional chainsaw. This corded machine is powered by 4.5 Amps, and the front comes with clamping alligator jaws that can both grab and cut in a single, swift, and efficient motion. It only weighs 8.3 pounds, making it easy to use for an extended period of time. And for just $89, it’s quite a steal! This is a great alternative to traditional chainsaws that can still exact just as much power and cutting capability.

Remington Limb N Trim RM1425

This is another non-traditional chainsaw for ease of use and convenience! This fun Limb N Trim is a 14” electric chainsaw that can tackle any small limbing or trimming job. It is corded, which allows you to use 8 Amps of power per job. It has an automatic oiler, which can be activated at the press of a button. That way, you’ll never have to stop what you’re doing to perform maintenance. It is extremely user friendly, and a great tool for beginners who may be concerned about the safety of handling a traditional chainsaw. It is the cheapest item on our list, priced at just under $50 for a complete steal!

Final Thoughts

Small chainsaws can work wonders for a variety of small jobs. Whether you’re a homeowner with some branches that need pruning and trimming, or you’re a farmer in need of something small to chop up some soft firewood, you’ll find that a small chainsaw can get the job done right.