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Top 10 Best Arborist Chainsaws (Reviewed by Professionals)
Looking for the best top handle chainsaw for your wood cutting needs? Look no further my friends! Today we’re going to be reviewing the best arborist chainsaws available on the market!
Whether you know it or not, chainsaws are made differently for different tasks. Everything from weight, size, and power all play a role in the chainsaw required for the task at hand.
Today we’re going to reviewing what’s generally called a top handle chainsaw – or, sometimes referred to as an arborist chainsaw. The arborist chainsaw is generally lightweight, easy to maneuver, highly effective in cutting, and of course – cordless. And don’t worry if you’re a gas guzzler – we’re going to be going over both gas and battery powered chainsaws.
In this buyer’s guide, we’re going to be going over everything from noise levels, power, maneuverability, and weight to help you find the best top handle chainsaw out there! Furthermore, we’re going to discuss some of the things to look out for when deciding on the perfect saw for your needs.
So, ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, here’s our detailed list of the 10 best top handle arborist chainsaws available on the market.
1. DEWALT DCCS620P1 20V Compact 12 in. Top Handle Chainsaw
DeWalt is a well-known name in the power tool industry, and for good reason. Let me tell you, the DeWalt DCCS620P1 12” Guide Bar Arborist Saw is no exception to the amazing line of tools that DeWalt has produced. Despite being relatively small and very lightweight, this battery-powered arborist chainsaw is an absolute beast of a saw! If you had one of these in each hand, you could basically be a chainsaw ninja!
On a more serious note, this 20V top handle chainsaw has amazing motor life and run time. At only 8.8 lbs., the DeWalt DCCS620P1 Brushless Chainsaw is both lightweight and quiet. You definitely won’t be needing any ear plugs with this guy! And don’t worry about the battery life – one 5 AHr battery runs about the same time your gas chainsaw would on an entire tank. Furthermore, the 90-day money-back guarantee, fair price point, and extremely positive reviews among the arborist community puts this chainsaw at the top of our list!
- Lightweight and easy to handle
- Auto-oiling system keeps the guide bar lubricated at all times
- Long battery life
- Very quiet
- Small – yet packs a powerful punch
- Honestly, we couldn’t find any issues with this arborist chainsaw. It exceeded our expectations on every level.
2. Makita XCU02PT 18V X2 (36V) Cordless 12" Arborist Chain Saw
Commonly considered to be the BEST top handle chainsaw on the market, the Makita XCU02P arborist chainsaw is all around an amazing saw. Delivering 1,650 FPM, this motor is definitely as good as it gets when it comes to battery powered chainsaws. The entire kit comes with two quick-charge 18V LXT lithium-ion batteries and chargers totaling 36V in power.
Additionally, the Makita XCU02PT top handle 12” chainsaw is much quieter than any gas-powered saw out there, requires no engine oil to change, no spark plugs to replace, and no filters to clean. These are some of the many advantages to an arborist chainsaw like this one. All you have to do is load up your batteries and you’re ready to roll! If you’re looking for the entire package – batteries, chargers, and a powerful chainsaw with perfect balance, maneuverability, and precision – look no further!
- Comes with the full package – long-lasting batteries and fast chargers included.
- Super quiet at only 89 dB (compared to 112 dB on an average gas chainsaw)
- “Tool-less” chain – adjusting the chain is easy and convenient
- 1,650 FPM for extreme power and increased cutting speeds.
- Very lightweight at only 12 lbs. with the batteries installed.
- Increased durability with Makita’s standard XPT protective seals to protect internal parts from debris, water, and dust.
- Instantly stops when you remove your finger from the trigger.
- The oil cap may leak if you leave the saw resting vertically with the bar facing upwards. Be sure to sit this chainsaw horizontally on the ground. Not much of a con, but worth mentioning.
3. Tanaka TCS33EDTP/12 32.2cc 12-Inch Top Handle Chain Saw
Another fantastic chainsaw we have here – the Tanaka TCS33EDTP Top Handle Chain Saw with Pure Fire Engine. We have no idea what pure fire engine means – but boy, does it sound intimidating. And don’t you worry, Tanaka’s impeccable marketing tactics are just as great as their chainsaws. This bad boy has a standard 12-inch handle and is extremely light weight at only 11.9 lbs. Overall, it cuts extremely well, handles nicely, and has automatic gear-driven oiler. Additionally, this chainsaw contains a half throttle choke with a purge primer bulb for soft startups and anti-vibration technology.
Although I’m sure you’re already convinced, this arborist chain saw comes with a 7-year consumer warranty, 2-year commercial warranty, and 1-year rental warranty. Therefore, you know Tanaka has a durable saw on their hands.
- Commercial-grade engine means powerful performance with minimal fuel consumption.
- Soft start and warm up feature.
- Extended 7-year residential warranty.
- Built in layered ring for ease of climbing.
- Easy access chain tensioning for quick adjustments.
- Gas and oil caps can stick after extended use.
- On the more expensive end.
4. CRAFTSMAN V20 Cordless Arborist Chainsaw, 12-Inch (CMCCS620M1)
If you’re looking for the best bang for your buck, look no further my friends. This arborist chainsaw – the Craftsman V20 12-Inch Top Handle Chainsaw is an amazing little saw that can handle big jobs. It is fueled by 4.0 lithium ion batteries providing long run times and high power. Its size and weight make it perfect for those hard to reach places. Furthermore, it has a unique bubble level for deadly accurate precision.
You thought we were done talking about this one? Think again, sucker! The Craftsman 12-Inch Top Handle Chainsaw is backed by Craftsman’s standard 3-year limited warranty – applicable to all their amazing tools. It has a 90-day money-back guarantee and includes a battery and charger so you’re ready to go right out of the gate!
- Amazing price.
- Auto-oiling system.
- Tool-free tensioning for easy adjustments.
- Compact design for those hard to reach places.
- Bubble level for deadly accurate cuts.
- 3-year limited warranty along with 90-day money back guarantee if you’re not satisfied!
- For bigger jobs, you may find yourself recharging the battery every hour or so.
5. Husqvarna 966997203 T435 Top Handle Saw, Orange
You thought we were done here, didn’t you! Nope, we’re still kicking, and we ain’t letting up anytime soon! You may have not heard of Husqvarna because to be honest, neither had we. However, after reviewing this gas-powered arborist chainsaw, we have to say, it definitely deserves a place on our list! Despite being a bit on the expensive side, the Husqvarna 12” Top Handle Chainsaw is worth every single penny. It basically has every feature you’d want on a top handle chainsaw, plus some. From the anti-vibration system to the side chain tensioning to the rope attachment for launching this guy up into a tree, this saw has it all!
Of course, this guy is gas-powered, so expect to have to do a little more maintenance. However, more responsibility comes with more power and durability. If you’re in need of a saw because it’s part of your profession, you may want to go with this one. It’s extremely lightweight at only 7.5 lbs., it’s balanced and easy to operate, and the x-torque engine delivers power you simply can’t find in any other saw of this size.
- Super lightweight – only 7.5 lbs.
- Side chain tensioning.
- Rope attachment for hoisting up a tree.
- Great for professionals.
- Chain break window for maximum vision of the tip of the bar.
- Honestly, other than the considerably higher price tag, this arborist chainsaw is all-around a great deal.
6. LiTHELi 40V Cordless Chainsaw 14 inches, 2.5AH Battery and Charger
Trees absolutely hate this top handle chainsaw, and I think I might know why. Although LiTHELi isn’t considered a popular name in the wood-chopping business, they definitely know how to make a fierce saw. This powerful chainsaw comes with everything you need to take care of all those annoying branches around your property. First and foremost, it comes with a 14-inch handle, making it the biggest saw we’ve talked about thus far. Additionally, it has the standard features that come with your standard arborist chainsaw. This includes everything from a tool-free tension knob, automatic oiling for the rod and chain, and a reasonable 90-day money back guarantee.
If that’s not enough, the LiTHELi 40V Cordless Chainsaw comes with 1 40V 2.5Ah battery, a charger, and of course, a manual for quick and simple assembly. Furthermore, it’s got two easy grab handles and weighs in at just over 17 lbs., which is still very lightweight for a saw of this capacity. I’d consider this to be the best top handle chainsaw for its weight. If you’re looking for something a little more heavy-duty but still very affordable, look no further!
- Dual-brake system for quick and safe braking
- 90-day money back guarantee.
- 3-year battery warranty & 5-year tool warranty.
- Automatic oiling system
- Tool-free tension knob.
- Anti-vibration technology.
- LiTHELi isn’t a well-known manufacturer in the industry. Not to say this is a bad thing, but it does initiate a bias towards the company. We’ve heard the customer service is lacking and we can’t confirm or deny these claims as we haven’t dealt with them personally.
- On the heavier side at over 17 lbs – you’re probably not using this saw with one hand.
7. Hitachi CS33EDTP Top Handle Chain Saw with PureFire Engine, 14-Inch (gas)
Not so fast, gas guzzlers! For those of you that hate anything that requires a battery, we have another amazing gas-powered chainsaw for you! The Hitachi CS33EDTP is truly a powerful saw that will likely catch the eye of anyone doing heavy duty work. Having a 14-inch bar and only weighing in at 12.4 lbs., you can’t find a deal much better than that!
This guy has everything you need, from a 1.6-HP low emission two-stroke engine, anti-vibration system, purge primer bulb, and built in lanyard ring for climbing high, this arborist chainsaw was made with professionals in mind. Additionally, it comes with a 7-year warranty and a satisfaction guarantee! This is easily one of the best top handle chainsaws in terms of reliability!
- Built with professionals in mind.
- Can handle larger jobs.
- 7-year consumer warranty.
- Built in lanyard ring.
- Reduced kickback system.
- Half throttle choke.
- Perfect power to weight ratio.
- 9-ounce fuel tank and 6-ounce oil tank.
- Comes in 14”, 16”, or 20” bar.
- Some users complain of oil-leakage.
- Expensive compared to others on our list, but more suited for commercial use, so the price is actually very competitive.
8. Husqvarna 120 Mark II 14 in. Gas Chainsaw
The chainsaw gods have spoken! They told me to tell you, “this is the one, young arborist!” The Husqvarna 120 14” Top Handle Chain Saw is compact, lightweight, and has everything you need to do light-duty work around your property or business. It has built in safety features such as an anti-kickback chain, built-in safety breaks, and easy functionality. If you’re a beginner and you’re just looking to do simple tasks such as tree pruning or cutting firewood, you should definitely put this saw at the top of your list.
Additionally, this arborist saw is easy to assemble and is pretty much ready-to-go right out of the box. It’s super easy to use and promotes low fuel consumption and emissions. Furthermore, it has an x-torque engine and weighs very little at only 10.7 lbs.
- Easy to start up straight from the box.
- Does the job – it cuts well, is easy to handle, and great for beginners.
- 14-Inch handle
- Lightweight at only 10.7 lbs.
- Built in safety features.
- Great for light-work.
- Can’t handle larger tasks.
9. Worx WG322 20V Cordless Chainsaw with Auto-Tension
Next on our list is another excellent saw for those that are looking for a simple battery-powered saw to trim their hedges. And no, we’re not talking about those kinds of hedges! The Worx WG322 20V Arborist Chain Saw is lightweight, easy to use, and overall an excellent value! Additionally, it has an optional extension pole that provides an extra 10ft of length for those hard to access branches!
Keep in mind, this saw only has a 10” handle, making it the smallest on our list. However, if you’re looking for an inexpensive top handle chainsaw for lightwork on your yard, this saw would make an excellent choice. Best of all, the battery and charger are included in this low-cost package deal. All in all, we really like this saw and all of its nifty features!
- Extremely affordable.
- Self-lubricating and auto-tensioning.
- Lightweight at just over 10 lbs.
- Super comfortable to use.
- Batteries and charger included.
- Optional 10ft. extension pole.
10. BLACK+DECKER 40V MAX Cordless Chainsaw, 12-Inch (LCS1240B)
Can I get a drumroll, please? Last on our list is the Black + Decker 40V Cordless Top Handle Chainsaw. Although battery powered, this 12” chainsaw is a monster! It basically comes with your standard features, such as an auto-oiling system for lubricating the bar and chain, easy tensioning knob, and a front-guard to protect from debris.
From the comfortable grip to the long battery life, we like everything about this saw. The batteries are unfortunately sold separately, but you’ll still end up spending very little to have this chainsaw fully functional. However, if you already have batteries from another Black+Decker tool, you’ll be able to save a little money. When it comes down to it, you’re getting a great deal with this top handle chainsaw.
- Lightweight at only 8.8 lbs.
- Easy tension adjusting.
- Great value for the price.
- Powerful unit.
- Great safety features: Lock button to prevent accidental starting.
- Guide bar protects from flying debris.
- Battery and charger sold separately.
How to Find the Best Top Handle Chainsaw for Your Needs
When you’re on the search for the best top handle chainsaw for your wood cutting needs, you may want to keep a few things in mind. If you’re tired of reading at this point, I get it! Trust me, I’m tired of writing. However, if you want to go the extra mile and make sure you find the perfect arborist chainsaw of your dreams, here you go!
Are You a Professional or a Hobbyist?
At the end of the day, gas-powered chainsaws are typically more powerful. So, if you’re a professional, you’ll probably want to go for gas. Unfortunately, it is a little more work to maintain a gas-powered device. If you’re using your chainsaw seldomly, you’re going to need to replace the gas or use a fuel additive to prolong the life of your gas. Furthermore, you’ll need to check the spark plugs from time to time and keep your saw clean and lubricated.
That’s not to say you won’t have to do any maintenance on a battery-powered saw. You’ll still need to clean your saw, make sure the chain is sharp, and keep it lubricated. However, if you’re only using your chainsaw for light-duty work, it’s probably going to be more convenient to go ahead and pick up a battery-powered saw. In the end, you’ll end up saving on gas and you’ll have a much cleaner experience with your saw.
Are You Experienced Using Top Handle Chainsaws or Power Tools?
Keep in mind, chainsaw ARE saws – and at the end of the day, a chainsaw can cut your arm off with one wrong move. Therefore, you may want to consider a couple of things based on your level of experience using power tools. First of all, if you’re inexperienced, you may want to look into getting a beginner saw. Generally, beginner saws are going to be easy to operate, assemble, and maneuver. Additionally, you may want to look at the weight of the saw. Typically, a lightweight saw will be easier to handle for a beginner.
Additionally, you may want to look at the features. Make sure there the saw is self-lubricating and easy tensioning. As the operator, this will make your job a little easier. Furthermore, make sure the saw has good safety features such as a guide bar that will protect you from flying debris and a lock-switch that will eliminate the possibility of accidentally starting your saw. If you are a beginner, it’s important to research the proper operation of a top handle chainsaw and purchase the necessary safety equipment such as safety goggles and noise cancelling headphones.
Luckily, most of the saws on our list are easy to operate regardless of your level of experience. However, it’s important to read the reviews, along with all the features before you decide whether it’s the appropriate saw for you.
How Much Are You Looking to Spend on Your Arborist Chainsaw?
Of course, some people are on a tight budget – we get it. Some chainsaws are cheaper than others. If you’re looking to spend as little as possible, make sure you’re not sacrificing quality for affordability. Make sure the saw you choose is highly rated, provides a warranty, and comes with everything you need. If you choose to get a battery-powered saw, make sure your chainsaw comes with batteries and a charger. Otherwise, you’ll end up spending a lot of additional money on these items.
Furthermore, if you end up buying a gas-powered chainsaw, it’s important to keep in mind that you’ll have to spend money on gas every so often. If you let your chainsaw sit for too long, you’ll have to replace the gas or purchase a fuel additive. Additionally, you’ll end up spending money maintaining your saw. These are some of the costs you should keep in mind when making your decision. At the end of the day, if you’re on a tight budget, a battery-powered top handle chainsaw will probably be your best bet.
Check the Reviews!
Just like any big purchase you make; you’re always going to want to check the reviews. Make sure you’re getting a saw that people enjoy. If you buy a saw because the price point is good or the manufacturer is very convincing, you may end up with problems down the line. Although this may seem obvious, some people ignore this very important point!
When searching on Amazon, I typically check the highest-rated reviews and check the lowest-rated reviews. You can easily do this by scrolling down to the bottom of the page and clicking on the individual stars. This will give you a good idea on all the good and bad points to consider.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What is a top handle chainsaw used for?
As the name suggests, top handle chainsaws have a handle located on the top of the saw. They’re generally lightweight and can be maneuvered single-handedly. Furthermore, they have excellent flexibility, balance, and they’re compact in size. They’re great for hobbyists and the best top handle chainsaws are used by professional arborists and chainsaw operators.
How heavy is a top handle chainsaw?
This is going to vary depending on the length of your chainsaw. However, they are generally much lighter than your average chainsaw. Generally speaking, some of the best top handle chainsaws are less than 9 lbs. Usually these chainsaws are around slightly heavier than the size of the handle. So, if the handle is 14-inches, the chainsaw will probably be around 14 lbs.
Should I get a battery powered or gas-powered top handle chainsaw?
This is a matter of preference. Some people prefer dealing with gas while others enjoy simply charging a set of batteries. Top handle chainsaws that are powered by gas are generally a bit more powerful. However, that doesn’t mean a battery-powered chainsaw won’t serve you well. Keep in mind, anything that is gas-powered will require a bit more maintenance on your end.
What features should I look out for?
Some people look for certain features while others don’t really seem to care. However, some notable features may include an auto-oiling system, a built-in level, compact size, an extended warranty, anti-vibration, rope attachment, extension poles, chain tensioning, safe braking, and various safety features.
However, every chainsaw is going to be different and the best top handle chainsaw for your specific needs may not have any fancy features. A lot of the ‘features’ on these top handle chainsaws are just terms that influence people to buy. Point is, don’t get too caught up with the features.
What are the best top handle chainsaw brands?
There are plenty of different brands that make top handle chainsaws. This includes Makita, Tanaka, Craftsman, Black + Decker, Husqvarna, and many more. Because there’s so many great top handle chainsaws out there, pick something based on your needs, not because it has a big name. Some of the best top handle chainsaws are made by smaller brands that don’t haven’t built a huge name in the industry yet.
Should I go cheap or expensive?
Well, if you’re a professional, I’d definitely go with the best top handle chainsaw you can find. At the end of the day, the more expensive saws typically have better safety features and they’re more reliable.
However, if you’re just someone with a lot of trees in their yard and you want something to maintain your yard, go with something cheaper. But, if you have the money, you won’t regret spending a little extra for a better saw.
How do I choose the right top handle chainsaw?
I’d say there’s three extremely important factors to consider when finding the best top handle chainsaw for your wood-cutting needs. This includes safety, comfort, and maneuverability.
For obvious reasons, safety should be your number one priority. You’re dealing with a saw that can cut through wood. Imagine how easily it would cut through your hand? Yea, not a fun thought. Look for a saw with all the standard safety features.
The next factor to consider is comfort. A comfortable experience is not only a pleasant experience, but a safe experience. Some top handle chainsaws have adjustable palm rests. Look for little things like this to ensure a comfortable experience. Also, weight obviously plays a huge factor as well. A heavier chainsaw will quickly take a toll on your arms and you may end up getting fatigued and making a costly mistake as a result.
Finally, look for an arborist chainsaw that is easy to maneuver. This is why you should find something light and compact. Also, pay attention to the size of your handle. This will also play a role in your ability to move around with your saw.
How do you sharpen the chain?
If you didn’t already know – yes, you will have to sharpen the chain of your top handle chainsaw. You will do this with a file. The size of the file will vary depending on the type of top handle chainsaw you decide to purchase. However, this information should be accessible in the owner’s manual or the manufacturer’s website.
What is the cheapest top handle chainsaw?
Obviously, cheap can be a bad thing. However, the best top handle chainsaw in terms of affordability is the Litheli 40V Cordless Chainsaw 14 inches. Although it’s a bit on the heavier side, this chainsaw has some great features and is highly rated among its users. If you’re looking for something lightweight and affordable, go with the Worx WG322 20V Cordless Chainsaw. It’s extremely affordable and one of the best top handle chainsaws in terms of maneuverability.
At the end of the day, whether you’re a professional or a homeowner, there are plenty of great arborist chainsaws out there. Most importantly, it’s key to consider what types of features you’re seeking, your level of experience, and what kind of tasks you’re going to handling. Once you ask yourself these questions, finding a good chainsaw should become a breeze!
So, that’s a wrap, folks! Hopefully we helped you find the best top handle chainsaw for your wood-cutting needs. If you need any additional help, don’t be afraid to shoot us over a message and we’ll be happy to have a conversation!
As always – stay safe and happy woodworking!