The Best Small Chainsaw — Buyers Guide, Review, and Comparison
Small Chain Saw Product Comparisons
|Check Price at Amazon Milwaukee MW100008 Review Milwaukee MW100008 Review|
|Check Price at Amazon Sun Joe SWJ806E Review Sun Joe SWJ806E Review|
|Check Price at Amazon CRAFTSMAN CMCCSL621D1 Review CRAFTSMAN CMCCSL621D1 Review|
|Check Price at Amazon Worx Power Share JawSaw WG320 Review Worx Power Share JawSaw WG320 Review|
|Check Price at Amazon Ryobi One+ 18 Volt P5453 Review Ryobi One+ 18 Volt P5453 Review|
The Best Small Chainsaw Buying Guide
You don’t have to opt for the mother-of-all cutting machines to have a seriously grunty tool in your DIY armory — instead, consider one of the surprisingly brawny small chainsaw units.
Sure, if you’re aiming to fell a 70-foot, 100-year-old oak, you should opt for a beastly 60-inch gas-powered monster. But, if your needs are somewhat more reserved and involve general pruning, lopping, limbing, and firewood chopping — a mini chainsaw could be the perfect solution.
Toxic fume free, relatively quiet, and featuring a plethora of safety features — they’re ideal for novice or inexperienced operators. And, at typically lower price points than their full-sized counterparts — these machines may appeal to the more budget minded.
When selecting your perfect company mini chainsaw, consider:
- Weight of the machine.
- Inclusion of bar jaws.
- Corded or cordless model.
- Power voltage and mAh.
- Chain length.
- Brushed or brushless motor.
- Inclusion of additional accessories.
What Are Small and Mini Chainsaws?
Without wanting to state the blatantly obvious, a small chainsaw — also known as a micro chain saw, mini chain saw, or tiny chain saw — is a powered cutting tool that, unsurprisingly, isn’t as sizable as a ‘typical’ machine.
However, there are no agreed precise dimensions that automatically denote a chainsaw as being small. As many guys will agree, when it comes to the trouser department — one man’s tiny is another man’s huge. Semantics, I guess.
That said, trade pros and experienced DIYers tend to agree that a miniature chainsaw has a bar length of 10-inches or smaller. Admittedly, some size-obsessed chainsaw aficionados consider anything less than a 40-inch bar as being tiny — but they also live with their moms, consider Hawaiian pizza the pinnacle of luxury cuisine, and use the mass of the chainsaw as compensation for being smaller in other departments.
So, in this best small chain saw article, I’ve gone with the sensible industry consensus approach — only including units that have a bar length of 10-inches or less.
The Benefits of a Small Chain Saw
Because, as many men have repeatedly assured their partners and wives, bigger isn’t always better.
Inarguably, the chainsaw is the ultimate power tool — it’s loud, heavy, looks mean, and is capable of slicing through anything, including you. But just because it’s the pinnacle of masculine sawing, that doesn’t mean you need a machine capable of felling General Sherman (the tree that is, not the 19th Century Unionist).
The best small chainsaws allow you to wield a seriously hardcore and powerful tool, but without the weight, awkwardness, and frankly, the fatality danger of their larger siblings.
The advantages of using the best small chainsaws include:
- Electric — no fire hazard of gasoline.
- Lightweight — making them easier to wield.
- Compact — take up little space in your garage or workshop.
- Allow one-handed operation — model dependent.
- Newbie-friendly — aren’t as scary as a full-sized machine.
- Safety — often include double jaw guards unseen on large chainsaws.
- Low noise — quieter than large gas guzzlers.
- No emissions — unlike fuel-powered large machines.
A small, lightweight chainsaw fulfills all the functions of its more sizeable cousin — ideal for chopping logs and firewood, and for trimming, lopping, pruning, and felling trees. Hence, despite its more modest dimensions, you still need to wield it with as much care as a behemoth model — unless you want to lose fingers or limbs.
The Downsides of a Little Chainsaw
There are three main downsides to micro chain saw machines — capacity, output, and speed.
As small chainsaws are electrically powered — either corded or cordless — they lack the mighty grunt of gasoline-driven beasts. And unfortunately, under my definition, there’s no such thing as a mini gas chainsaw — since the most compact size on the market for a liquid machine is a 12-inch bar.
In simple terms, a 20-volt battery or 120-volt mains supply cannot compete with a 50 cc gas motor — meaning that while a liquid fuel chainsaw will effortlessly slide through the densest of hardwoods, a mini machine will struggle. If you want more detail on the differences between these two formats, check out my Gas vs Electric Chainsaw Face-Off.
The more substantial bar length and faster-rotating speed of large, gas-driven machines make them more rapid at slicing and chopping wood. Where a mini unit may need to make several passes to completely shear a large log of timber — a more massive saw can do it in a single maneuver.
Admittedly, for many home improvers and amateur gardeners — this may not be an important issue. But, if you’re a time-pressed trade pro, or an experienced DIYer completing lengthy and repetitive arboreal tasks — the steady speed of a tiny chainsaw may be a downer.
Should any of the few disadvantages listed above be a deal breaker, check out my Gasoline Chainsaws Best Picks.
How to Choose the Best Corded and Cordless Mini Chainsaw
Therefore, here are my suggestions of the main factors you should consider when choosing your ultimate best small chainsaw.
One of the greatest advantages the smallest chainsaw machines have over their full-sized cousins is their lower weight — meaning you’re unlikely to suffer hand fatigue and make them more appealing to the strength challenged. Our lightest top pick machine is the Milwaukee MW100008.
Cordless machines are typically heavier than corded — as you’re wielding both the tool and the lithium cell in your hand. Therefore, when reading battery-driven small chainsaw reviews — ensure that the weight listed in the specifications includes the power cell.
Not only are smaller chainsaws less intimidating for the novice power saw user, but they also often include more safety features than their immense siblings. One of their most significant hazard-preventing precautions includes bar jaws — as featured on the Craftsman CMCCSL621D1.
The jaws form a protective barrier around the cutting chain and also permit you to clamp onto the target material — reducing the likelihood of dangerous kickback.
Corded or Cordless
The decision depends on personal preferences and the demands of your projects. Corded models offer greater power, consistent output delivery, and relentless running times. Conversely, battery-driven machines permit the freedom from a power cord, greater portability, and easier maneuverability.
If you opt for a mains-driven machine, the voltage isn’t important — it will be 120 volts, whatever unit you choose.
However, if you prefer a cordless chainsaw, check out the voltage of the lithium cell. In most cases, the larger the voltage the greater the power output, allowing you to tackle denser materials — although admittedly, this can be stepped down by internal gearing.
Bear in mind that voltage has absolutely no bearing on running times, for that you need to examine the cell’s mAh (milliampere/hour) rating — which indicates the power drain vs. time use. Higher ratings indicate elongated operation duration.
The larger the bar, the longer the chain — meaning you can tackle larger wood logs and branches in a single pass.
The basic rule of thumb is to halve the chain length and add an inch, this indicates the maximum diameter of timber the machine can cut without having to make an additional address. The most substantial chainsaw in my rundown is the Sun Joe SWJ806E with an eight-inch chain.
A brushless motor delivers more efficiency than a brushed version due to the lower generation of heat and friction — if you’re interested in how this works, check out my Brushed vs Brushless motor article.
For corded chainsaw seekers, this isn’t important. But if you prefer a cordless machine, it’s crucial, as a brushless motor drains the power cell less dramatically than brushed, meaning longer running times.
The issue is, manufacturers don’t always state in the specifications if their machine houses a brushed or non-brushed format — which often, although not always, indicates that the power unit is a less efficient brushed version.
One of the most significant inclusions is a battery and charger (cordless models only) — as buying these separately can add substantial costs to what initially appeared to be a bargain-priced machine.
Other worthwhile equipment to look out for include a wrench, chain oil, hex key, and scrench (a combined screwdriver and wrench).
The Ultimate Small and Mini Chainsaws — The Top Five
Therefore, I’ve curated below the five machines, which I consider to be the ultimate power slicers currently available — based on my own personal insights, industry opinion, and user testimonials.
Our Rating: 4.7
Impressively pro-grade, this six-inch chain unit is backed by Milwaukee’s comprehensive three-year warranty and built upon 100 years of all-American electrical tool know-how. Not just offering reassuring reliability, but also durability with its tough ABS construction able to withstand the most extreme of knocks and bumps.
Its trademarked Powerstate brushless motor offers welcome long-running times, driven by a Milwaukee 12-volt 4.0 mAh cell (included, as is the charger). This high capacitance battery, combined with the motor efficiency, promises up to 120 individual cuts in two-inch oak from a single charge — making it ideal for the trade landscaper or arborist.
At just 4.1 pounds, including the cell — the MW100008 Milwaukee is a surprisingly lightweight machine and likely to stave off downtime causing fatigue. And with a substantial rubberized handle cover — vibration is significantly reduced while also offering a reliable grip.
It’s pleasing to see that the chainsaw incorporates an auto-oiling feature — taking the worry out of remembering to grease the chain. Furthermore, boasting a translucent reservoir, you don’t need to guess how much oil remains within the unit.
A simple squeeze of the control trigger permits you to effortlessly adjust output speed — ideal if your projects entail rapidly switching from harder to softer timbers. Additionally, for the most stubborn of branches and logs, incorporated solid metal bucking spikes allow you to increase leverage and complete the cut.
Our Rating: 4.5
Our Rating: 4.5
Normally, I wouldn’t include pole saws in a small chainsaw rundown. However, the SWJ806E from Sun Joe is unique — as it’s able to convert from a pole saw into a handheld mini chain machine.
Powered by 120 volts of mains power, there are no concerns about running times, output degradation, or the need to purchase cells and chargers. Offering 8.0 amps of grunt, it will be more than comfortable shearing through dense logs and timbers.
Taking the detachable mini chainsaw on its own — it’s a solid machine. The eight-inch chain of the Sun Joe promises wide diameter capabilities, while an integrated auto-oiler system negates the requirement to constantly re-lubricate — saving valuable time on longer jobs.
That said, as it’s built to be pole mountable, it lacks a little aesthetically and practically. The construction is solid but uninspired, with no reassuring rubberized or vibration-shielding rear grips.
Yet, it’s the novel aspect of the pole that may make the SWJ806E a desirable unit for arborists and keen gardeners — able to extend from 6.3 to 8.6 feet, it permits the easy address of high tree limbs and branches.
Assuming you’re six-foot tall, you’ll easily be able to reach a height of 15 feet without stretching — not just saving the hassle of pulling your ladder from the garage, but also reducing the hazards of high-level work and cord wrapping.
The unmounted chainsaw weighs a modest 5.5 pounds, and when mounted on the extendable shaft, creates a total weight of 8.4 pounds.
Our Rating: 4.5
Incorporating patented chain-surrounding clamping jaws, there’s minimal exposure of the cutting edge — saving you and others from accidental cuts and shears. Furthermore, being able to surround the target material and hold the machine in place, the dangers of hazardous kickbacks are reassuringly reduced.
Additionally, this miniature saw boasts safety-elevating twin start-up triggers. Mounted on both of the scissor-like handles, they require simultaneous depression to both initiate the motor and keep it running. Not only shielding against unintentional start-up, but also automatically cutting out the power should the grip on either handle be lost.
Its 20-volt cell (included with charger) drives an auto-oiled six-inch chain — permitting the unit to make light work of timbers and branches up to four inches in diameter. Although, with a brushed motor, battery efficiency is less than optimal.
Perhaps the most significant downside of this tool is its mass. The inclusion of double scissor grips, a hefty battery, and clamping jaws makes this a weighty unit at 7.6 pounds — meaning that for the strength challenged, or those users completing time-lengthy projects, operational stamina could become an issue.
Our Rating: 4.5
Our Rating: 4.5
Designed for floor operation, its complete and solid head U-guard allows you to perform storm damage clear-ups and create firewood without worrying about shearing into the floor — protecting the chain against damage and breaking. This means you can even operate the tool on concrete sub-surfaces, ideal for use in the garage in the winter months.
Furthermore, this barrier prevents accidental cuts and inhibits wayward fingers from entering the chain area. And, the blade and bar completely retract into the tool body when not in use, thus ensuring if discovered in your garage by inquisitive kids, they cannot hurt themselves on the chain — although they could still switch it on, so disconnect the battery.
The six-inch chain is powered by a brawny 20-volt cell, which is included with the unit, as is the charger. Pleasingly, maintenance is effortless — not only does this machine boast an auto-oiler to keep the running blades lubricated, but also features auto-tensioning, meaning no annoying downtime tightening the chain.
Although its weight of 7.9 pounds makes it one of the more hefty mini saws in this rundown — the novel D-handle combined with stem grip makes operation relatively fatigue-free, even on longer jobs.
Our Rating: 4.3
Focusing on the professional gardener and landscaper, this small-but-mighty unit boasts a significant (for a mini) eight-inch chain — permitting the cutting of four/five-inch logs and branches in a single pass. Furthermore, arriving complete with a proprietary Safe-T-Tip guard, it reduces the likelihood of accidental chain cuts and kickbacks.
Uniquely, the chainsaw boasts oil-free operation — saving you both time and money. However, if you’re using the unit on dense timbers or for elongated periods, I’d still suggest using a little spray-on lubrication to shield against chain/bar deterioration and overheating.
Driven by a brawny 18-volt lithium-cell, this cordless unit delivers welcome power to tackle thick and stubborn hardwoods. But, don’t expect the P5453 to offer extended operational times — with a 2.0 mAh cell and relatively inefficient brushed motor, you’re probably going to require backup pre-charged batteries. Additionally, note that the unit arrives with neither a charger nor a powerpack.
Compact, measuring 21.1 x 8.8 inches, and weighing 6.2 pounds — this Ryobi chainsaw is reassuringly portable for a hardcore machine. Keeping hand and arm fatigue to a minimum, it’s ideal for the most challenging of outdoor projects.
This unit arrives with a scrench, mountable for ease of location on the tool body. And, with side-adjustable chain tensioning, you don’t have to waste valuable time dismantling the saw to change settings.
Small, yet with serious grunt, these mini monsters excel at pruning, trimming, slicing, and limbing. Furthermore, offering greater safety features, quieter operation, and lighter weight than their larger full-size siblings — they’re perfect for the chainsawing newbie or those daunted by a massive machine.
When choosing your ultimate miniature chainsaw, take time to consider whether you’d prefer corded or battery-powered, the size of the bar and chain, and what accessories are included with your purchase. Additionally, think about if you need the enhanced protection of safety jaws, the efficiency of a brushless motor, and whether you need the convenience of a pole-mounted unit.
Prove to your partner that a tiny little tool can be satisfying, by showing her the awesome power of a small chainsaw.
The Best Small Chainsaw FAQs
Q: How Big Is a Mini Chainsaw?
What makes a chainsaw small or large is the length of its chain. Most industry experts and pros agree that any machine with a chain of 10 inches or less is considered a mini-unit.
Q: What Is the Best Small Gas-Powered Chainsaw?
Unfortunately, there are no true, sub-10-inch mini gas chainsaws. However, if your heart is set on a fuel-driven smaller unit, consider the 12-inch Echo machine.
Q: What Do You Use a Mini Chainsaw For?
Smaller chainsaws are ideal for lopping, trimming, and pruning trees and shrubs, together with modest demolishing projects and creating firewood logs. Less imposing and with greater safety features than larger models — they’re excellent units for newbie or nervous users.
Q: What is the Best Small Chainsaw?
Powered by an efficient brushless motor, a trade-grade build, and arriving with battery and charger included — I suggest the ultimate mini chainsaw is the Milwaukee Fuel Hatchet MW100008.
Q: What Is the Smallest Size Chainsaw?
You can purchase a plethora of electric chainsaws with a chain length of six inches. In the gas arena, the most compact units arrive with a 12-inch chain.