Best Arborist Chainsaws of 2020 – Complete Review

Arborist work is probably one of the most complicated yard work procedures you will do – which means you need a great chainsaw to help you get the job done.

Read on to see our list of top arborist chainsaws and the best ways to use them to maximize efficiency.

Comparison Chart of the Best Arborist Chainsaws


Makita XCU02Z 12" Chain Saw, Tool Only

  • Our top overall choice for best arborist chainsaw.
  • Power button is easy to see and has an automatic shutoff.
  • Motor has many variable speeds adjusted by a dial system.
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  • Our choice for runner-up for best arborist chainsaw.
  • Bar tensioning and chain adjusting process does not require tools.
  • Heavy enough to absorb torque from the chain, but still lightweight.
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WORX WG304.1 Chain Saw 18-Inch

  • Can cut through wood up to six feet in diameter.
  • Has a low kickback bar and chain brake for safety.
  • Our top choice of best arborist chainsaw for the money.
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Oregon Cordless 16-inch Self-Sharpening Chainsaw

  • Makes an audible noise when running out of oil.
  • Our editor’s top pick for best arborist chainsaw.
  • Has a self-sharpening chain, will make chain last longer.
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Tanaka TCS33EDTP/12 32.2cc 12-Inch

  • Our top choice of best top handle arborist chainsaw.
  • Has an anti-vibration system for increased user comfort.
  • Starts easily with its half throttle choke and primer bulb.
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What is an Arborist Chainsaw and What is it Best Used For?

An arborist chainsaw is a chainsaw that is specifically designed for working on trees. This work could involve chopping up broken branches or felled trees after a storm, or it could get a little bit trickier, such as sawing off split branches that are still partially attached to the tree, or are even fully attached but have the potential to cause damage to your house if they do snap off. And of course, arborist chainsaws are also used to cut trees down entirely.

These saws need to be tough and strong in order to handle the high volume of wood cutting they need to accomplish, but they also need to strike a good balance with being lightweight and easy to maneuver, since it is often a complicated process to get your saw in the right position to make the exact cut you need.

What Makes a Great Arborist Chainsaw?

With an arborist chainsaw, there are several factors you should keep in mind when purchasing. Here are the most important:

Safety Measures

Cutting down trees is one of the most complicated and potentially dangerous sawing projects you will likely ever embark on. There may be moments where you need to use your saw one-handed, or in other convoluted ways. Make sure you invest in a saw with a decent amount of safety precautions, such as automatic shut off, to ensure you do not lose a finger or worse.

Ease of Use

As mentioned above, tree work is some of the most difficult cutting work you can do. The last thing you want is to further complicate that process by getting a saw that is difficult to figure out how to use or even to start. Find yourself a saw that is straightforward and simple to operate.


Tree work is intense! There is nothing more frustrating than being almost done with a tree job and then your saw just curls up and dies on you. Pay attention to how durable users say a saw is and get one that will be able to go the distance for you no matter what you throw at it.

Quick Take | Best Arborist Chainsaws

Before you move to the our full review of the best arborist chainsaws, here is a quick take of the top 3 models:

  1. Makita XCU02Z 12" Chain Saw, Tool Only
  2. CRAFTSMAN CMCCS620M1 Chain Saw
  3. WORX WG304.1 Chain Saw 18-Inch

Review of the Best Arborist Chainsaws

Now that you know what to look out for, let’s check out some actual products:

Makita XCU02Z 18V X2 (36V) LXT Lithium-Ion Cordless 12' Chain Saw, Tool Only


  • On the quieter side.
  • Cordless and unlimited by cord length.
  • Has a lock-off lever as an additional safety measure.
  • Brushless motor ensures engine life will be extended.
  • Packs two batteries instead of one so operate with about 36 volts of power.


  • Will require chain adjusting fairly often.
  • Not super easy to maneuver into tighter spaces.
  • Does not come with included batteries, and batteries are expensive to purchase separately.

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers love that this model has a variable speed motor that they are easily able to control using a dial system. And there are some added safety features on this product option, such as an LED power light for increased visibility and an automatic shut off feature.

Why it Stands Out to Us

We appreciated the auto lubricating system this model has got going for it. It will save you a ton of time that would otherwise have been spent oiling up your chain, and it ensures that the product will not rust.

Who Will Use This Most

Since this saw is much lighter than many of the other brands available on the market today, it is a great choice for female users.

Bottom Line

The Makita XCU02Z 12” Chain Saw is an all-around excellent product and our top choice thanks to its variable-speed motor and auto lubricating system. The oil tank does have a tendency to leak, though, so make sure you empty it after each use.

CRAFTSMAN V20 Cordless Chainsaw, 12-Inch (CMCCS620M1)


  • Easy to use.
  • Extremely powerful.
  • Holds its charge for a long time.
  • Comes with a high-quality Oregon chain.
  • Can easily cut through small trees, even dead hardwood.


  • Does not have a carrying case.
  • Does not come with bar and chain oil.
  • Included blade cover is plastic and does not lock into place.

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers are impressed with the balance this saw is able to strike between being lightweight enough to be able to easily carry around, but also heavy enough to absorb a lot of torque from the chain action.

Why it Stands Out to Us

We like how convenient it is to operate this saw. Both the bar tensioning and chain adjustment process will not require any sort of additional toolset, and the instruction manual is so thorough and detailed that it will be able to answer any and all questions you might have.

Who Will Use This Most

Users report that this model is an excellent choice for cleaning up after a storm or other emergency work, and it works well for cutting down small trees. The best thing about this saw is that it can easily be taken around on the go, so if you have a larger property to maintain, this is the model for you.

Bottom Line

The CRAFTSMAN CMCCS620M1 Chain Saw is a fantastic product option and our runner-up choice for its ease of use and great balance. The only drawback is you will have to charge the batteries upon arrival, so your saw will not be good to go for about three hours.

Best for the Money:
WORX WG304.1 Chain Saw 18 Inch

WORX WG304.1 Chain Saw 18-Inch 4 15.0 Amp


  • Chain has sixty-three links.
  • Includes chain oil with purchase.
  • Chain tension stays stable after using hundreds of times.
  • Built-in oiler consistently keeps bar and chain lubricated well.
  • Fun to use and easy to use, particularly accessible to new chainsaw users.


  • Needs a lot of oil in order to work.
  • Chain has a tendency to slip off the blade.
  • On the heavier side at eleven pounds in total.

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers are blown away at how tough this saw is. One user says that they were able to use this model to cut through a tree that was six whole feet in diameter! That is pretty wild for a saw of this size.

Why it Stands Out to Us

We could not believe our eyes when we saw how little this saw was selling for. We at first thought that this model was a scam and not a true high quality saw, but we could not be more pleased to be completely wrong in that regard.

Who Will Use This Most

This WORX saw was intended to be able to tackle anything and everything you may encounter when doing yard work. No matter what size of cuts you need to be made, this saw can handle it.

Bottom Line

The WORX WG304.1 Chain Saw is a stunning little product option that will chew through even the toughest wood and save you a ton of money to boot. The one thing to think about is that it uses an electrical cord for power, so its mobility is somewhat limited.

Oregon Cordless 16-inch Self-Sharpening Chainsaw with 4.0 Ah Battery and Charger


  • Oregon provides great customer service.
  • Runs more quietly than competitor saws.
  • Motor is fifteen amps and extremely powerful.
  • Clutch mechanism adds additional safety measures.
  • Does not need a lot of maintenance or work to continue running well.


  • Very heavy.
  • Casing is made of plastic and feels like it is lower quality.
  • The auto oiling system does not work as effectively as described.

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers like that this model is straightforward and easy to use. Unlike many of its competitor chainsaws, it does not require a ton of maintenance to keep working well, and there are multiple features about it that add to the overall convenience level, including the noise it makes when it is running low on oil.

Why it Stands Out to Us

We were quite impressed with the self-sharpening chain mechanism on this product. This mechanism ensures that the chain will last longer, as well as makes your life as a user much easier.

Who Will Use This Most

Because it is heavier than many of the other saws described here, this product is not intended to be used by novices. You should have a certain amount of professional experience before you attempt to use this saw.

Bottom Line

The Oregon Cordless 16 Inch Self Sharpening Chainsaw is an all-around amazing product option that can make your life easier in a number of ways, from its self-sharpening mechanism to its lack of required maintenance. Just keep in mind that its motor is mounted on the saw’s side, which gives it a different and somewhat awkward feel.

Best Top Handle Arborist Chainsaw:
Tanaka TCS33EDTP/12 32.2 cc 12 Inch

Tanaka TCS33EDTP/12 32.2cc 12-Inch Top Handle Chain Saw with Pure Fire Engine


  • Automatic oiler is gear driven.
  • Has a side chain tensioner for easy access.
  • Does not consume a large amount of fuel.
  • Easy to maneuver and comfortable to hold.
  • Comes with a two-year commercial warranty and a seven-year consumer warranty.


  • Does not feel particularly well balanced.
  • Does not have a lot of bottom-end torque.
  • Not good at cutting larger pieces of wood.

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers appreciate how easy it is to get this model up and running. It has a half throttle choke and a purge primer bulb, so it will be a simple process to start no matter what the temperature is.

Why it Stands Out to Us

We were drawn to how straightforward it is to maneuver this product. It is comfortable to hold on to, thanks to its anti-vibration system, and its sprocket nose bar allows for an increased level of control and ability to make more precise cuts.

Who Will Use This Most

This model is purely intended to be used as an arborist saw, and more specifically intended for pruning jobs. It is not the machine you want to use for any larger jobs.

Bottom Line

The Tanaka TCS33EDTP/12 32.2 cc model is a phenomenal little top handle saw that will always reliably startup for you and be straightforward and easy to use. Be aware that for its smaller size, it is still quite heavy though, coming in at around twelve pounds.

​​Types of Arborist Chainsaws

Arborist chainsaws are typically broken out into types based on their power source, with three main options:

Gas Powered    

Gas-powered chainsaws are by far the most powerful option on this list. If you are looking for something that can cut through anything and never tire, you have to go with gas. However, they are heavier, they are louder, they are smellier, they are harder to start, and they are the worst for the environment.

Battery Powered

Battery-powered chainsaws get rid of a lot of the drawbacks of gas chainsaws: they are easy to start and are typically a lot quieter, although they can also be fairly heavy with their batteries on board. The one thing to keep in mind with these saws is that it can take a significant amount of time to charge the battery, time you could be using to get cutting.

Electric Powered

Electrically powered saws are the most lightweight out of all the options because they have neither a gas tank nor a battery attached. However, they are powered by a cord, which significantly limits their mobility. If you are looking for a saw you can take with you on the go, this is not the choice for you.


Arborist chainsaws are a necessary investment for anyone who has trees in their yard. Invest in a good quality saw that will work well for your needs, whatever those may be. We promise you that you will not be able to go wrong with any of the models from our list above.