Small chainsaws are fairly popular power tools among homeowners, as they help clean up the yard in Autumn and after storms. Commonly used for pruning and getting rid of branches, some prefer cutting firewood, but one thing is sure: homeowners use the best lightweight chainsaws for small to medium tasks around the house.
More often than not, you won’t need a heavy gas chainsaw to do this kind of work, as some would assume.
In this article, we discuss what to look for when choosing the best small chainsaw under $200 and then review some of the most popular lightweight chainsaws on the market these days.
In our ultimate Chainsaw Buying Guide we have established the basic terms and principles when shopping for the right chainsaw for your needs, as well as maintenance and safety concerns.
This time we dig deeper into the world of the best small chainsaws and other clever loppers and saws under the given budget.
But first, what is considered to be a mini chainsaw?
There is no consensus on what is a small chainsaw but we at Gardenlife Pro consider chainsaws with a bar length of 12-Inches and under belong to this category, on top of being lightweight and easy to use.
There’s quite a selection of these on the market and most likely they will be electric, either corded or battery powered chainsaws.
There are a few exceptions though, like the outstanding Tanaka TCS33EDTP, which is a 12-inch 32cc small gas chainsaw.
It might stretch our chainsaw budget of $200 a bit, but still, need to take it into account in order to get the big picture.
Choosing the Best Small Chainsaw
Only a decade or two ago, it was difficult or near impossible to find consumer friendly small saws that can be handled with little or no experience.
In 2022 we are certainly lucky, as manufacturers realized the demand for easy to handle, safe, low maintenance small chainsaws.
When choosing the best small chainsaw it is always a priority to come clear of your fitness and experience level.
Chainsaws are dangerous, regardless of how small they are. Always wear protection, like chainsaw chaps, helmets, and gloves.
Chainsaws are powered by either gas or electricity, and they can be corded or cordless. The latter tend to be supplied with lithium-ion batteries which came a long way in terms of reduced weight and increased longevity.
Gas chainsaws, even small gas chainsaws are more difficult to operate and require constant maintenance (like changing spark plugs, mixing oil, etc). Not to mention their weight.
For absolute beginners or those who are afraid of using a fully fledged chainsaw, there are handheld mini chainsaws and other solutions on the market today. One example is the scissors-like Alligator Loppers made by Black and Decker, an electric cutter with a 6-inch bar length.
Check out our in-depth review of the Alligator lopper.
There’s an even smaller Black & Decker electric handsaw, that we have also reviewed and can be read right below.
These last two are great options for women or the elderly, who do not want to operate big and potentially dangerous chainsaws.
As mentioned earlier, the most problematic type of chainsaws is gas powered, where regular engine maintenance is necessary, just like with cars.
On the other hand, both corded and cordless chainsaws need basic maintenance related to the bar and chain mechanisms.
The chain will lose its sharpness or get loose. It is a safety question to keep the chain well maintained, including sharpening, oiling, and replacing it if necessary.
Check out our chainsaw chain guide if interested in this in more detail.
Best Small Chainsaw | Cordless Battery Powered Chainsaw
DEWALT DCCS620P1 – Overall Best Small Cordless Chainsaw
The brand DEWALT is popular among professionals and homeowners alike. The DEWALT DCCS620P1 is a cordless, battery operated small chainsaw that is powered by a high performance and modern brushless motor.
Compact and lightweight, certainly a small battery powered chainsaw that requires moderate effort to operate. We have reviewed its big brother, the DEWALT DCCS670X1 in our cordless chainsaw roundup review, and what can we say, it was a real beast!
Not this 12-inch chainsaw though. Weighting only 8.8 lbs including the battery, this compact chainsaw can be handled easily, although need some practice for beginners.
Its battery is part of the DEWALT 20V MAX system that includes over 100 power tools.
This means that a single battery pack can be used with all those other DEWALT tools, anything from a leaf blower to a power drill, as long as they operate with the 20V voltage and support the 20V MAX system.
The DCCS620P1 comes with a high-capacity 5.0Ah battery. With this, the manufacturer claims to cut 70 4×4″ woods with a single charge. Rather impressive.
This mini chainsaw comes with a low kick-back 12-inch Oregon bar and chain. Oregon is a mainstream manufacturer of good quality chains that can be used with most chainsaws of other brands too.
Features tool-free chain tensioning and bar tightening knob, which is a nice touch for those who like comfort and prefer not to use many additional tools.
The chainsaw comes with the 5.0 Ah battery, charger, and a hard chainsaw bar cover.
DEWALT offers a generous 3-Year limited warranty, 1-Year free service and 90-day money back guarantee.
What Do Other Customers Say?
Existing customers appreciate the fact that they can use the same battery with their other 20V tools. This is a great advantage and promises huge savings when you consider that one of the most expensive parts of your chainsaw is the battery itself.
Reportedly, some customers use the DCCS620P1 not just for pruning but taking down small trees with a 10-Inch diameter. Impressive stuff.
One particular customer complained that the bar and chain oil cap were very tight and struggled to open it without a tool. This might be an isolated case but was worth mentioning (source).
BLACK+DECKER LCS1020 Mini Chainsaw
We have already reviewed this particular BLACK+DECKER chainsaw model earlier in our cordless chainsaw roundup review. For an in-depth view, check out that guide and full review.
This time we are focusing on the best lightweight chainsaw on the market today and to be fair, in our cordless reviews, this one missed the podium due to its small size.
The winner was its bigger brother, the 12-inch LCS1240, simply because it is a little more for general use.
However, when priorities are small in size, easy to use, and have little to no learning curve, then this LCS1020 could easily be the best small chainsaw that we have reviewed this time.
Its price is half that of the previous DEWALT model and if you can find a mini chainsaw under $100, then just go for it.
What Do Other Customers Say?
The BLACK+DECKER LCS1020 has hundreds and hundreds of reviews online and ratings are over 4 stars on average. It does not just review, but pure selling numbers: this small chainsaw is one of the best sellers online.
Customers highlight the ease of use that this cordless chainsaw offers, like the push of a button start, a great advantage compared to traditional gas models.
When it’s started, it’s running smoothly and makes a good saw for cutting aspen, pine or other firewood.
Some customers praise how easy it was without tools to assemble the chainsaw after delivery and was genuinely impressed by the sturdiness of the saw itself.
The battery is 2.0 Ah, which is not much, especially when compared with the twice-as-expensive DEWALT model. Even then, the battery life is enough for 20 minutes of cutting a pile of logs up with a single charge, according to a customer in Alaska.
Negative reviews mention the failure of the oiler, apparently, a bad batch of battery powered saws might have been delivered in 2016.
As a best practice, always check the chainsaw before, during, and after use and make sure the chain and bar are oiled properly. It’s very unlikely to come across this problem in 2022 but was worth mentioning.
Best Small Gas Chainsaw
Tanaka TCS33EDTP | Best Lightweight Gas Chainsaw
Tanaka, apart from being the fourth most popular surname in Japan, is a company primarily manufacturing gas powered outdoor power equipment. Founded in 1918, now backed by Hitachi, is a family-owned business still currently run by the fourth-generation (source).
As the only small gas chainsaw on our list, the Tanaka TCS33EDTP is a 12-inch top handle chainsaw with a 32.2 cc 1.6HP commercial grade two stroke engine.
Features automatic gear-driven oiler and side access chain tensioning for ease of use and easier maintenance. Might be worth highlighting that gas powered chainsaws, even small ones demand much more maintenance than electric chainsaws. Just think about all the moving parts of an engine, the air filter, spark plugs, oil and gas mixing, and so forth. The gas/oil ratio for this small Tanaka engine is 50:1.
The bar and chain is Oregon Sprocket nose with a 3/8″ low profile chain.
Still, if you need great performance and lots of power in a small format, getting an outstanding power-to-weight ratio, then this Tanaka might be the best small chainsaw for you. Here is a somewhat lengthy review of its bigger brother, the 14-inch TCS33EDTP/14, which is mechanically identical to the 12-inch chainsaw. The 14-inch bar is optional and can be assembled to the TCS33EDTP before or after purchase.
Tanaka offers an unbelievable 7-Year consumer warranty and a 2-Year commercial warranty on the chainsaw.
What Do Other Customers Say?
Some customers use this as a pro-grade climbing chainsaw or tree pruning chainsaw, thanks to the top-handle design. it could be even operated with one hand.
Buyers appreciate the lightweight and mobile nature of this gas chainsaw which makes it ideal for everyday use.
Other customers were at first hesitant towards the Tanaka brand as it’s not as well known as Stihl or Husqvarna, although it turned out to be a great choice, and were happy with their purchase (source).
There are one or two reviews mentioning some oil leaks from the oil tanks but seem to be isolated cases.
Conclusion | Do You Need a Lightweight Chainsaw?
With any chainsaw purchase, the first and most important question to answer is what are you going to use the chainsaw for?
There is no point to buy a massive gas chainsaw that you would need to maintain often and cost the Earth.