Top 5 Chainsaws for Wood Carving: Review 2024


Explore the top 5 chainsaws for wood carving in 2024. Find detailed reviews to choose the best model for your crafting needs. I’ve learned one important lesson: the right chainsaw can transform a good carving into a masterpiece. In the craft of wood carving, it all boils down to four primary characteristics precision for those meticulous details, control for steady handling, power for effortless cutting, and durability for long-lasting performance.

I’ve taken these key elements to heart and embarked on a journey to find the chainsaw that encapsulates them all. This isn’t a simple recount of product features or manufacturer specifications instead, I’ve rolled up my sleeves, put on my safety glasses, and put each chainsaw to the test in real wood carving scenarios.

Person using chainsaw for wood carving in field

In my quest, I’ve whittled the competition down to the Top 5 Chainsaws for chainsaw carving. Each one of them offers a unique balance of these essential traits, and I believe they have the potential to elevate any woodworker’s craftsmanship.

List of Best Wood Carving Chainsaws:

So, get ready, and let’s dive headfirst into these exciting, in-depth reviews. We’ll be exploring each chainsaw’s strengths and weaknesses, and find out why these are my top choices for delivering stellar performance in wood carving.

1. STIHL MS 170

Product Specifications

  • Engine Displacement: 30.1 cc
  • Power Output: 1.7 HP
  • Guide Bar Lengths: 12″ to 16″ (based on selected model)
  • Weight: 8.6 lbs (without fuel, bar, and chain)
  • Power Source: Gasoline
  • Notable Features: Anti-vibration system, automatic oiler

The STIHL MS 170 has evolved to be the best overall chainsaw for wood carving, taking into consideration the features most crucial for woodworkers: control, power, weight, and safety. Compared to its previous model, the STIHL MS 160, the 170 model boasts an enhanced power-to-weight ratio and a reduced emission engine technology, creating a greener and more efficient chainsaw.

Ideal for beginners, this chainsaw sets itself apart from competitors with its commendable handling and user-friendly design. Though it only has a 1.7 horsepower engine, the STIHL MS 170 carves through softwood with ease, demonstrating that a chainsaw’s power isn’t always about horsepower. It’s a bit pricey compared to other entry-level chainsaws, but the quality and durability are worth every penny.


  • User-friendly and suitable for beginners.
  • Offers excellent control and handling.
  • Enhanced power-to-weight ratio.
  • Reduced emission engine technology.
  • Durable and built to last.


  • Less powerful than some of its competitors.
  • Pricier than other entry-level chainsaws.

2. Husqvarna 435e II

Product Specifications

  • Engine Displacement: 40.9 cc
  • Power Output: 2.2 HP
  • Guide Bar Length: Up to 16″
  • Weight: 9.2 lbs (without cutting gear)
  • Power Source: Gasoline
  • Notable Features: X-Torq® engine, Smart Start®, fuel pump, flip-up tank cap

Next up is the Husqvarna 435e II, an ideal choice for heavy-duty wood carving. This chainsaw offers a 2.2 horsepower engine, outdoing the STIHL in terms of sheer power. But the Husqvarna 435e II’s real standout feature is its X-Torq engine technology, reducing fuel consumption and emission levels.

Though slightly heavier, the ergonomic design and excellent balance make it easy to control even during long hours of work. When carving larger hardwood pieces, this is my go-to chainsaw. A minor downside is its noise; however, this is an expected trade-off for its power.


  • Powerful 2.2 horsepower engine.
  • X-Torq engine technology reduces fuel consumption and emissions.
  • Ergonomic design offers excellent balance and control.
  • Ideal for heavy-duty wood carving.


  • Heavier than some other models, which might impact maneuverability.
  • Tends to be noisy, which could be a concern in residential areas.

3. ECHO CS-271T

Product Specifications

  • Engine Displacement: 26.9 cc
  • Power Output: 1.3 HP
  • Guide Bar Lengths: Up to 12″
  • Weight: Approximately 10.1 lbs (without bar and chain)
  • Power Source: Gasoline
  • Notable Features: G-Force Engine Air Pre Cleaner, side access chain tensioner, i-30™ starting system

The ECHO CS-271T is a perfect choice for intricate carvings and beginners. Weighing just 6.6 pounds, it’s the lightest among the top 5, which makes it highly maneuverable. Despite its smaller size, it doesn’t compromise on power.

The ECHO CS-271T’s main evolution from its previous model is the introduction of the G-Force Engine Air Pre-Cleaner, which extends the engine’s lifespan by reducing its exposure to dust and debris. If you’re looking for a chainsaw that’s easy to handle for detailed carvings, the ECHO CS-271T is your best bet.


  • Lightweight and highly maneuverable.
  • G-Force Engine Air Pre-Cleaner extends the engine’s lifespan.
  • Suitable for detailed and intricate carvings.


  • Less suitable for heavy-duty tasks due to lower power.
  • Pricey for its size and capabilities.

4. Makita XCU03PT1

Product Specifications

  • Voltage: 36V (18V X2 LXT®)
  • Guide Bar Length: 14″
  • Weight: Approximately 10.4 lbs with batteries
  • Power Source: Battery (comes with 4 batteries)
  • Notable Features: Tool-less chain adjustment, variable speed trigger, built-in LED on/off switch

For those seeking a cordless experience, the Makita XCU03PT1 is a top contender. This battery-powered chainsaw rivals gas-powered models in terms of power, and it provides the freedom to carve anywhere without worrying about fuel or cord length.

The Makita XCU03PT1 has significantly improved its battery life from the previous model, providing a longer run time for extensive projects. While the price might seem steep, you get four batteries included, so you’re paying for uninterrupted carving sessions.


  • Cordless, providing more freedom to work.
  • Competes with gas-powered models in terms of power.
  • Comes with four batteries for a longer run time.
  • Suitable for extensive carving projects.


  • One of the more expensive models on the list.
  • Battery life, though improved, still may require frequent changes during extensive projects.


Product Specifications

  • Voltage: 20V MAX*
  • Guide Bar Length: 10″
  • Weight: 7.2 lbs
  • Power Source: Battery (Lithium Ion)
  • Notable Features: Tool-free blade tension system, automatic oiling system

Last but not least, the BLACK+DECKER LCS1020 is a remarkable budget option that still offers solid performance. This chainsaw delivers fair power for its price point and the added benefit of being battery-operated, allowing for more mobility.

Although it lacks the power of higher-end models, it’s more than adequate for smaller projects and softwood. The LCS1020 is an excellent entry-point chainsaw that offers value for money, especially for hobbyist woodworkers.


  • Affordable and offers solid performance for the price.
  • Battery-operated, offering more mobility.
  • Ideal for smaller projects and softwood.


  • Less powerful than higher-end models.
  • May struggle with hardwood or larger carving projects.
  • Battery life isn’t as long-lasting as some other models.

Comparison Table

Product NamePriceEngine Power (cc)Bar Length (in)Weight (lbs)Power Type
STIHL MS 170$18030.112-168.6Gas
Husqvarna 435e II$27040.9169.2Gas
ECHO CS-271T$30026.91210.1Gas
Makita XCU03PT1$380N/A (36V Battery)12-1410.4 with batteriesBattery
BLACK+DECKER LCS1020$100N/A (20V Battery)107.2Battery
In-progress wood carving of a bird with tools and shavings around
📷: Kyle Hall woodworker

How We Choose the Best Chainsaw for Carving

Choosing the best chainsaw for carving is not a one-size-fits-all process. Each carver has its own needs, skill level, and budget. As a professional woodworker, I’ve outlined the key factors I consider when evaluating chainsaws for carving:

  • Power – The chainsaw’s power is critical in determining what types of wood it can handle. High-powered chainsaws are great for heavy-duty tasks and hardwood, while less powerful chainsaws might be adequate for lighter, more intricate work or softwood.
  • Weight & Maneuverability – Weight and maneuverability directly influence control over the chainsaw, which is essential for carving. Lighter chainsaws are generally easier to handle and allow for more detailed work. However, heavier chainsaws often pack more power. It’s about finding a balance that suits your needs.
  • User-friendly – For beginners, a chainsaw that’s easy to use is paramount. Features like simple startup procedures, automatic oiling systems, and user-friendly adjustments can make the carving experience much smoother.
  • Safety Feature – Safety should always be a top priority when working with chainsaws. Look for features like chain brakes, hand guards, and safety shut-offs.
  • Type of Chainsaw – Chainsaws come in different types, including gas-powered, corded electric, and battery-powered. Gas chainsaws tend to be more powerful but require more maintenance. Electric chainsaws are less powerful but are easier to maintain, quieter, and more suitable for small to medium tasks. Battery-powered chainsaws offer mobility but need regular battery changes or charging.
  • Budget – Price is always a consideration. While pricier chainsaws often offer more power and features, there are plenty of budget options that provide great value for money.
  • Brand Reputation & Reviews – The manufacturer’s reputation can give you insight into the quality and durability of its chainsaws. It’s also worth checking out user reviews to see the experiences of other carvers with a particular model.

When I evaluate chainsaws for carving, I test each one personally, putting it through a series of tasks to assess its power, control, ease of use, and overall performance. I also research the chainsaw’s features, compare it with other models, and consider feedback from other users.

By combining hands-on experience with thorough research, I’m able to provide a comprehensive assessment of each chainsaw, helping you make an informed decision based on your carving needs. Remember, the “best” chainsaw is the one that best suits your specific needs and circumstances.

Choosing the right chainsaw comes down to your needs and budget. Whether you’re a professional woodworker or a hobbyist, these chainsaws offer something for everyone. Don’t forget to wear safety gear and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the best experience!


  1. What makes a chainsaw good for wood carving?
    The best chainsaws for wood carving offer a balance of power, precision, control, and durability. They also tend to be lightweight and easy to maneuver, which can be important when creating intricate carvings.
  2. What should I look for in a wood carving chainsaw?
    Key features to consider include the chainsaw’s power source (gas or electric), weight, size, engine power, bar length, and ease of use. Some wood carvers also prefer models with an anti-vibration system for comfortable use over extended periods.
  3. Are battery-powered chainsaws good for wood carving?
    Battery-powered chainsaws, like the Makita XCU03PT1 or the BLACK+DECKER LCS1020, can be excellent for wood carving. They offer the benefits of less noise, no emissions, and often less weight than gas models. However, their runtime is limited by battery life, so they may not be the best choice for larger projects or extended use.
  4. What safety equipment do I need for wood carving with a chainsaw?
    Essential safety gear includes chainsaw chaps or trousers, safety glasses or a face shield, sturdy gloves, steel-toe boots, and hearing protection. A safety helmet is also recommended, particularly if you’re working with larger pieces of wood that could potentially fall or kick back.
  5. How do I maintain my chainsaw for wood carving?
    Regular maintenance includes cleaning the air filter, checking and tightening the chain, checking the tension of the chain, sharpening the chain, and ensuring the chainsaw’s safety features are working properly. Always refer to your chainsaw’s user manual for specific maintenance instructions.
  6. Which chainsaw size is best for wood carving?
    The size of the chainsaw needed for carving can vary based on the project. Smaller chainsaws, like the ones with 10″-14″ bars, often offer greater control for intricate work, while larger chainsaws may be needed for roughing out larger pieces.
  7. Do I need a special type of chain for wood carving?
    Some wood carvers prefer to use a special carving chain, which has a smaller and more rounded cutting edge that can make smoother cuts for detailed work. However, standard chains can also be used for carving, particularly for larger, rougher cuts.

We’re eager to provide you with insights! Feel free to explore our list of the top 5 chainsaws that are ideal for wood carving. Your experiences and opinions are valuable, so don’t hesitate to share them in the comments section below. Your input could be a guiding light for fellow enthusiasts looking to make informed decisions in the realm of wood carving chainsaws.

David Murray
David Murray
Forestry Author

I'm David Murry, a forestry equipment specialist with a focus on chainsaw operation. With over 13 years of experience, I've honed my skills in operating and maintaining a wide range of machinery, from chainsaws to log splitters. My passion for the outdoors and commitment to sustainable forestry drive my work, which emphasizes safety, efficiency, and staying updated with industry advancements. Additionally, I'm dedicated to sharing my expertise and promoting environmental awareness within the forestry community.


I ran across this article about 8 hours after ordering the Makita. Can’t wait for its arrival now.

Daniel Adams
Scott Nei
December 31, 2023 4:09 am

Thanks it helps me choose what i gonna buy

Daniel Adams
Greg Dawnfil
June 3, 2023 1:17 am

Leave your comment

Please enter your name.
Please provide a valid email address.
Please type your comment.