The next time you need to prune the trees around your house, keep your lopper and 16-inch chainsaw in the shed. There’s a better tool for the job–the mini chainsaw. Mini chainsaws are lighter and easier to start than their gas-powered cousins and don’t tether you to an extension cord like a corded electric chainsaw. Since they’re equipped with blades that measure 4 to 8 inches long, they can cut through much thicker branches than manual loppers. This small but mighty design makes these power tools ideal for pruning shrubs and trees or even making cuts through larger dimensional lumber. Whether you’re doing some light trimming or taking out large branches, we have the best mini chainsaw for the job.
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How We Picked the Best Mini Chainsaws
Before making our picks for the best mini chainsaws, we first had to define what a mini chainsaw is exactly. We consider any chainsaw with a bar length of 8 inches or less to fall into the mini chainsaw category. Our selections include chainsaws with bar lengths ranging from 4 to 8 inches to meet different needs. All of the mini chainsaws we selected are capable of cutting through dense hardwoods without binding. Since safety is key when using any size chainsaw, we chose models equipped with standard safety features, including trigger locks and guards that help prevent injuries. Lastly, we also considered brand reputation, choosing models from some of the most reputable power tool manufacturers in the business.
Best Overall Mini Chainsaw
Given Milwaukee’s reputation for making some of the best quality power tools, it should come as little surprise that its mini chainsaw sits at the top of the list. With a brushless motor, 8-inch bar length, and chain speed of 5 meters per second (m/s), 16.4 feet per second (fps), the Hatchet makes quick work of even denser hardwood. With its ability to reach max chain speed in less than a second, you’ll experience less bogging down when working through larger pieces of wood.
The Hatchet is also one of few mini chainsaws to include actual bucking spikes, a feature that adds stability when cutting thicker branches or logs. With a weight of 5 lbs. (7.4 lbs. With an 8.0Ah battery), the Hatchet is easy to wield, and it comes equipped with a large top guard that protects you from the cutting blade in the event of a kickback.
- Reaches max chain speed in under a second
- Bucking spikes add leverage and stability
- Fast chain speed can cut through dense wood
- Bar size: 8 inches
- Battery: 18 volt 6.0Ah
- Weight: 5 lbs. (tool only)
- Chain speed: 5 m/s (16.4 fps)
- Price: $279
Best Budget Mini Chainsaw
Worx 20V 5-inch Mini Chainsaw
If you’re only using a chainsaw every now and then to do some light to moderate pruning, then you probably don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on a top-of-the-line model. This budget-priced machine from Worx will do the job at about half the price of other mini chainsaws. Yes, the 5-inch blade is on the short side, but that’s okay. That shorter chain means its 20-volt battery can produce a high chain speed of 6.7 m/s (22 fps), plenty of power for slicing through hardwoods. And though it uses a smaller 2 Ah battery, Worx says this chainsaw will get 100 cuts on 2-inch thick pieces of wood.
The Worx’s light 4-pound weight makes it one of the easiest mini chainsaws to wield. A guard that runs the entire length of the cutting edge and another that protects the handle make it one of the safest.
- Reaches high chain speed of 6.7 m/s
- Fast chain speed allows it to cut through dense wood
- Bar and handle guards provide great protection from cuts
- Bar size: 5 inches
- Battery: 20 volt 2.0Ah
- Weight: 4 lbs.
- Chain speed: 22 fps
- Price: $133
Most Powerful Mini Chainsaw
DeWalt Cordless Pruning Chainsaw Kit (DCCS623)
DeWalt manages to pack a lot of power into this mini chainsaw while keeping it surprisingly lightweight. It can chew through large branches and even small trees thanks to its 8-inch bar length and brushless motor. DeWalt says you can get up to 70 cuts through 4×4 treated lumber with its 3.0 Ah battery. And at less than 5 lbs. (not including the battery), it’s one of the lighter 8-inch mini chainsaws out there.
DeWalt also equips this mini chainsaw with the ergonomic cushioned non-slip grips that we come to expect from this brand’s power tools. Safety features include a tip guard that helps to prevent kickback and a large handle guard that protects your hand from cuts.
- Can cut through larger diameter wood
- Tip guard and handle guard protect from kickback
- Weighs less than 5 lbs.
- Bar size: 8 inches
- Battery: 20 volt 3.0Ah
- Weight: 4.6 lbs. (tool only)
- Chain speed: N/A
- Price: $219
Best Lightweight Mini Chainsaw
Saker 20V Mini Chainsaw
There are compact and lightweight mini chainsaws, then there is the 4-inch Saker mini chainsaw. It measures just 14 inches long and weighs a scant 2.5 lbs., lightweight enough that you’ll feel comfortable stretching your arm out to prune harder-to-reach branches. It’s also one of the safer mini chainsaws you can buy, thanks to a guard that runs along the entire top of the bar and a second that covers the handle. Despite its feather-like weight, it packs a punch thanks to a 20-volt battery that allows it to chew through branches at a speed of 6 m/s (19.7 fps).
We love the fact that the Saker mini chainsaw comes with two batteries (something we didn’t find with other mini chainsaws), which allows you to extend the run time by rotating batteries. There’s also a replacement chain, lube, and a wrench for adjusting the chain tension, all of which fit neatly into a handy carrying case with the chainsaw, charger, and batteries.
- Weighs just 2.5 lbs.
- Two guards provide comprehensive kickback protection
- Comes with two batteries, an extra chain, and a carrying case
- Bar size: 4 inches
- Battery: 20 volt 1.5Ah
- Weight: 2.5 lbs.
- Chain speed: 6 m/s (19.7 fps)
- Price: $99
Best 6-Inch Mini Chainsaw
Kobalt 24V 6-in Brushless Battery Chainsaw (KMCS 1024A-03)
We love the power and battery life you get out of Kobalt’s 6-inch chainsaw. It comes equipped with a 24-volt 2.0 Ah battery, so you can slice through denser wood with ease while getting a whopping 120 cuts per charge. There are also useful features like a tool-less chain tension adjuster and an automatic chain oiler. Kobalt also equips this mini chainsaw with a guard that extends over the entire length of the chain, which provides ample protection from kickbacks.
With a weight of 5 lbs., not including the battery, this chainsaw is a little heavier than other mini chainsaws. It’s also a bit pricey for a 6-inch model. However, if you’re looking for max power for your pruning efforts, you can’t beat it.
- Powerful 24-volt battery
- Chain guard extends over the length of the bar
- Gets up to 120 cuts per charge
- Bar size: 6 inches
- Battery: 24 volt 2.0Ah
- Weight: 5 lbs. (tool only)
- Chain speed: N/A
- Price: $149
Best 4-inch Mini Chainsaw
Renowned chainsaw manufacturer Stihl’s take on the mini chainsaw is an impressive pruning tool. This tiny but mighty chainsaw’s 4-inch bar is powered by Stihl’s compact 10.8-volt AS 2 battery. It delivers a lightning-fast 8 m/s (26.3 fps) chain speed and a run time of up to 25 minutes. The smaller battery also keeps this chainsaw very light at just a hair over three lbs. with the battery.
A hood runs along the top and sides of the bar, providing comprehensive kickback protection. In our opinion, this feels like one of the safest mini chainsaws we’ve used. Other notable features include tool-free chain replacement, an LED display that shows the battery charge status, and a tool bag that holds the chainsaw, battery, and charger.
- Fast chain speed cuts through dense wood very quickly
- Large chain guard provides good protection from cuts
- Light overall weight of just 3.1 lbs.
- Bar size: 4 inches
- Battery: 10.8 volt AS 2 2.1Ah
- Weight: 3.1 lbs.
- Chain speed: 8 m/s (26.3 ft/sec)
- Price: $180
Things to Consider When Buying a Mini Chainsaw
Most mini chainsaws, like other cordless power tools, run off an 18-volt or 20-volt rechargeable lithium-ion battery that powers a brushed or brushless motor. The best measure of power for a mini chainsaw is chain speed. Chain speed, which is the speed at which the chain rotates, is given in either meters per second (m/s) or feet per second (fps). The faster the chain speed, the more easily the chainsaw can slice through denser woods without getting bogged down.
Weight and portability
One of the biggest advantages of mini chainsaws is that they weigh far less than full-size models. They weigh as little as 2.5 lbs. for the lightest 4-inch chainsaw up to around 5 lbs. for an 8-inch model. They’re also more compact, measuring between 14 and 20 inches long. This small size and light weight makes them much easier to use than a large chainsaw. Those can weigh 9 to 15 lbs. or more Mini chainsaws are also small enough to fit inside a tool tote bag with your other collection of power tools. This makes them easy to carry from the workshop to the jobsite.
Bar length and cutting capacity
Mini chainsaws have bar lengths that vary from 4 to 8 inches long, which is shorter than the 12 to 36 inches of a full-size chainsaw. The length of a chainsaw’s cutting bar determines the size of the wood it can cut through. Generally speaking, a chainsaw can cut through a branch, tree, or lumber that’s slightly smaller in diameter than the length of the bar. For example, a chainsaw with a 12 inch bar can cut through a tree that’s just under 12 inches in diameter. While it is possible to cut through logs or branches that are larger in diameter than the bar length, it requires more skill to do so safely.
Like full-size chainsaws, mini chainsaws come with safety features designed to prevent the chain from coming into contact with the operator. Mini chainsaws have cut-off buttons on the trigger that prevent the chainsaw from starting unless you’re holding the button down. Smaller 4-inch and 6-inch mini chainsaws come equipped with guards that extend over the top of the chainsaw bar and serve as a barrier to protect you should the chainsaw kickback. Larger mini chainsaws with 8-inch bars have guards that extend above the handle to protect against kickback. Some mini chainsaws also come with chains that reduce the likelihood of kickback.
Ease of use
Part of the appeal of these tools is how much easier they are to use compared to a full-sized chainsaw. Their compact size and light weight make it possible to wield them with one hand. And, unlike gas-powered chainsaws, you don’t need to fill them with fuel, change their oil, or wrestle with a pull starter. A mini chainsaw starts with the pull of a trigger, making it easy to use for quick pruning jobs. Many mini chainsaws even automatically lube their chains, taking that small piece of maintenance out of the equation.
Battery life and charging time
Most chainsaw manufacturers measure battery life by the number of cuts a chainsaw can make on a single charge as opposed to run time. Expect to get somewhere between 70 and 100 cuts out of a single charge. Keep in mind that chainsaws that use larger capacity batteries will allow you to get more cuts out of them before they run out of juice. Most battery-powered chainsaws take about two hours to recharge.
Lubrication and maintenance requirements
One of the biggest advantages of cordless battery-powered chainsaws is that they’re low maintenance. You won’t have to add gas or change the oil with a battery-powered chainsaw. While you do need to keep the chain lubricated, many mini chainsaws automatically lubricate the chain as it operates via a chain lube reservoir.
Mini chainsaws are much larger than their full-size gas-powered brethren. Whereas a gas-powered chainsaw can easily reach 120 decibels, mini chainsaws are much quieter, operating at just 80 decibels. Given that with every 10 decibels, sound becomes twice as loud, electric chainsaws are considerably quieter.
Warranty and customer support
As with any power tool, purchasing a mini chainsaw with a good warranty is key to ensuring you get your money’s worth out of it. DeWalt, Milwaukee, Stihl and other brands that make mini chainsaws and other power tools have service centers around the country that allow you to make warranty claims in the event your chainsaw stops working properly. Be sure to check the warranty before you make your purchase as they can vary from brand to brand. Whereas some may only offer a limited warranty of a few months, others have lifetime warranties.
Uses of a Small Chainsaw
Mini chainsaws can be used to handle a variety of wood cutting jobs, ranging from pruning to cutting large dimensional lumber.
A mini chainsaw won’t replace a hedge trimmer when it comes to pruning and shaping shrubs. However, it can be helpful if you’re attempting to trim branches larger than 3/4 of an inch in diameter, which is too thick for a hedge trimmer to cut.
While you won’t be felling any large trees with a mini chainsaw, this tool is ideal for pruning large branches or cutting down small trees. Depending on the size of the mini chainsaw, you can trim large branches or young trees measuring up to nearly 8 inches in diameter. Since even the heaviest mini chainsaws only weigh around 5 lbs., you can wield these power tools with one hand, making it easier to trim harder-to-reach branches or prune from a ladder. Along with trimming, mini chainsaws are also useful for breaking down fallen branches after a storm or even for cutting up firewood.
While a mini chainsaw won’t replace your circular saw for carpentry projects, its long blade makes it useful for cutting lumber that’s too large for other saws to handle, including 4×4 posts, landscaping timbers and other large dimensional lumber. Since a mini chainsaw’s compact size and light weight allow you to cut with one hand while placing a steadying hand on the lumber, you can execute more precise cuts than you can with a larger and more cumbersome full-sized chainsaw.
Frequently Asked Questions About Mini Chainsaws
What is a mini chainsaw?
A mini chainsaw looks very similar to a full size chainsaw, only it’s considerably smaller. Whereas full-size chainsaws have bar lengths ranging from 12 to 37 inches, mini chainsaw bars measure 4 to 8 inches long. Rather than using a loud and heavy gas engine, mini chainsaws use an electric motor powered by a rechargeable battery. With their more compact size and lightweight motor, mini chainsaws weigh a fraction of what a full-size chainsaw weighs.
Why do I need a small chainsaw?
Mini chainsaws make pruning jobs easier and faster by replacing manual loppers and handsaws. And since they’re battery-powered and weigh 5 lbs. or less, they’re much easier to start and use than a gas powered chainsaw.
How do I use a mini chainsaw?
Start by checking the tension of the chainsaw to make sure it’s loose enough to move freely around the bar but not so loose that it comes off the bar or pulls debris into it as you cut. Start the chain by squeezing the trigger. Most chainsaws have variable speed triggers, which means the tighter you squeeze it, the faster the chain will turn. Make your cut by allowing the chain to work through the wood rather than by applying pressure to the cutting bar.
How do I decide on the length of my chainsaw’s guide bar?
Remember, the length of the guide bar determines the diameter of the wood you can cut. For example, a mini chainsaw with a 6-inch bar will only be able to cut through wood that’s just under 6 inches in diameter. With that in mind, survey the trees in your yard to see what size chainsaw you’ll need to prune them.
What kind of maintenance does a mini chainsaw require?
Since mini chainsaws use an electric motor powered by a rechargeable battery, they require very little maintenance. To maintain your mini chainsaw, make sure to lube the chain before each use and periodically while you’re using the chainsaw. Some mini chainsaws have an automatic lubrication system that oils the chain as you use it, eliminating the need to do this manually.
What kind of safety precautions should I take when using a mini chainsaw?
While mini chainsaws may not be as dangerous as large full-size models, they still have the potential to cause serious injury. Always check the chain tension before using a mini chainsaw to reduce the risk of kickback. When using the chainsaw, wear protective gear, including work gloves and safety glasses.
How much should I spend on a small chainsaw?
Small chainsaws vary in price based on the size of the cutting bar and the quality of the brand. Smaller 4-inch and 6-inch chainsaws are available for between $80 and $130. Larger 8-inch models can vary from $130 up to $280.
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