Craftsman is a brand that has been around for nearly a century, with a rich and storied history. These guys are experts at making products that everyone loves, at a price that everyone loves. They aren’t competing with Husqvarna or Stihl in terms of features or performance, in fact most Craftsman chainsaws fall into the low or mid-range category.
DIY enthusiasts and homeowners are the target audience for Craftsman, although their 46cc 20 inch gas chainsaw is actually good enough to be used in certain professional environments. Today we shall review 3 of their best chainsaws—the V20 12” cordless chainsaw, the V60 16” cordless chainsaw, and the 46cc 20 inch gas powered chainsaw whose model name we shall not attempt to spell out.
All 3 of these are excellent choices if you are new to chainsaws and want something that is affordable but doesn’t compromise on safety. The V20 is for pruning and trimming jobs, while the V60 is perfect for DIY enthusiasts who also want to cut some firewood every now and then. And the gas chainsaw is what we recommend for people who want to fell small trees and buck 20” maple or oak logs. But before we begin, perhaps you should take a look at the history of Craftsman and how it all began.
History of Craftsman Power Tools
Craftsman and Sears have a rich history but the origin story is quite interesting. The very first Craftsman tools were sold under the ownership of Sears in the year of 1927. Anthony Barrows, the head of hardware department for Sears like the name “Craftsman” and purchased the rights to use it from the Marion Craftsman tool company for $500. Early customers were primarily farmers. Craftsman followed a 3 tier policy in which tools were branded and placed into tiers based on their quality and pricing—Craftsman was the middle tier while Craftsman Professional was the top tier.
Sears branding was used for the cheapest tools, but this particular tool line was discontinued back in 1980. Sears had always outsourced the manufacturing of Craftsman products to companies such as New Britain, Moore Drop Forging, Stanley, etc. and would provide its suppliers with designs and specifications. In March of 2017, Stanley purchased the Craftsman brand from Sears. Currently, Craftsman has multiple manufacturing facilities within the United States in locations such as New Britain, Fort Mill, Cheraw, and Sedalia.
Craftsman Chainsaw Reviews
Craftsman V20 Review / CMCCS620M1
12” Cordless Chainsaw
Quick Summary :
Perfect for light firewood cutting, if you deal with 1 cord or less per year. It is the ideal chainsaw for people who are into DIY projects and have personal workshops in their homes. This little 12 inch chainsaw is extremely maneuverable, and thanks to the top handle design it is shorter than a conventional 12 inch chainsaw while retaining all the performance. It even beats certain gas powered chainsaws in the 30cc to 35cc range. Don’t be discouraged by the 20V battery, this V20 chainsaw draws power from a powerful 4Ah battery which means it essentially performs like a 40V chainsaw equipped with a 2Ah battery. The low kickback Oregon bar and chain combined with a class leading chain brake make this Craftsman one of the safest 12” cordless chainsaws you can buy.
Ideal for: Light cutting jobs in the yard, pruning fruit trees, DIY projects, clearing trails, limbing, etc.
Pros: Easy to start, even easier to maintain. Weight is extremely well-balanced which should reduce operator fatigue over an extended time period. Comes with a heavy duty 4.0Ah lithium ion battery pack for extra runtime.
Cons: The top-handle design of this chainsaw will pose some issues at the start for folks who only have experience with rear handle models. And we believe that positioning the oil cap so close to the front handle is a bad decision, because it pretty much forces you to use a funnel if you want to avoid spilling oil.
OVERVIEW : Craftsman V20
Craftsman is renowned for delivering reasonably high quality products at a price that most of us can afford, and the CMCCS620M1 chainsaw kit is further proof of their continued effort to provide excellent value for money. It does bear a striking resemblance to DeWalt’s 20V cordless chainsaw, the DCCS620B. This could be due to the fact that both Craftsman and DeWalt are owned by the same parent company—Stanley Black & Decker. Which might explain some of the similarities in design that we observe between their tools. But it must be noted that a lot of these similarities are cosmetic, and they are two completely different tools underneath. The DeWalt DCCS620B weighs less, features superior technology, is built from higher quality materials, and is intended for heavy duty work at construction sites.
In comparison, the Craftsman V20 12” cordless chainsaw doesn’t have all the extra goodies that the DeWalt comes with. It features a slightly less user-friendly toolless chain tensioning system compared to the DeWalt. And you will notice that the DCCS620B uses a brushless motor which is more efficient and generates less heat than similarly sized brushed DC motors (often used in cheaper cordless models). Basically, the Craftsman V20 is intended for regular homeowners and DIYers who just want something cheap that performs good enough for most tasks around the house.
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But that doesn’t mean the Craftsman V20 12” chainsaw is an inferior product; it just appeals to a different segment of the market. In fact, it’s actually one of the best cordless chainsaws in its weight class. To illustrate this point, let us compare the Craftsman V20 chainsaw with a similarly priced model from Greenworks—the G-Max 40V 12” cordless chainsaw (model 20262). Not only does the Craftsman V20 come with a superior 4.0Ah battery pack, but it also has the Greenworks model beat in terms of safety. You see, most cordless chainsaws at this price point don’t include an inertial chain brake next to the front handle. They only have a simple hand guard to protect your front grip from flying debris. This hand guard won’t do much in the event of a vertical kickback, and you will be left with a nasty scar on your face. Even the Black + DECKER LCS1240 lacks an inertial chain brake.
Another key advantage the Craftsman V20 has over both the aforementioned competitors, is its superior weight balance. The Greenworks chainsaw just feels too top-heavy and is prone to sway sideways, which means you can mess up your 90° cut through a log of wood. The Black + Decker LCS1240 has its battery located to the left side, so the chainsaw has a natural tendency to sway that way which must be compensated for by its user.
Greenworks G-Max 40V / 12”
Unlike these two, the Craftsman chainsaw has its battery located to the rear, underneath the handle which balances out the weight of the electric motor at the front to give you a comfortable grip at all times. And your cuts are guaranteed to be super accurate, thanks to the built-in bubble level which helps you align your saw perfectly against logs.
The Craftsman V20 12” chainsaw is equipped with a high quality Oregon bar + chain combo (low kickback of course).
In addition, it has an oil level view window at the front, which is nothing fancy in the 21st century but believe it or not, some chainsaws don’t enable you to see the oil level.
TIP: We highly recommend purchasing the extra 4.0Ah battery pack which will give you an additional 30 to 40 minutes of runtime. It’s very useful if you intend to operate your V20 chainsaw for longer periods of time, like when cutting a pile of firewood or limbing large trees.
Craftsman V60 Review / CMCCS660E1
16” Cordless Chainsaw
Quick Summary :
Let’s say you want a chainsaw for cutting firewood and DIY projects, but also need it to be capable of handling some light storm cleanup work. Maybe a tree fell across the driveway and you need to chop it up on a single charge of the battery. In that case, grab the Craftsman V60 chainsaw and slap in a 5Ah battery for that extended runtime. It will slice through 16 inch hardwood logs with relative ease, and you won’t notice the difference between this cordless chainsaw and an entry level gas model of similar size. The best part is that it comes with all the cool features such as tool-less chain tensioning, oil level view window, throttle lockoff switch, inertial chain brake, etc. You can even fell small trees with this chainsaw, it has plenty of torque to chew through all types of wood without bogging down.
Ideal for: Cutting firewood, people who own large properties, enthusiasts, DIYers, and tradesmen who need something compact that supports one-handed operation.
Pros: Lots of power in a relatively small package, brushless DC motor, and supports up to a massive 7.5Ah battery (which is rarer than a unicorn, so realistically you are going to run a 5Ah battery pack instead).
Cons: The larger capacity battery packs can be quite expensive, and Craftsman hasn’t engineered any fast chargers so you will have to wait a couple hours for your 5Ah battery pack to fully recharge.
Professionals such as linesmen, pipelayers, and workshop owners can benefit significantly from the compact yet powerful chainsaw that is the Craftsman model CMCCS660E1. Part of their 60V lithium ion tool lineup (designated “V60”), this chainsaw uses a 2.5Ah battery in its standard configuration, i.e. what you receive in the CMCCS660E1 package. You can choose a larger battery if you wish to take on hardwoods such as oak and maple, there is a 5Ah 60V battery pack which should give over 40 minutes of runtime while cutting large logs (over 12 inches in diameter).
The CMCCS660 (tool only) chainsaw is perfect for arborists and landscaping professionals who often find themselves strapped to the side of a tree, working 50 or 60 feet above the ground. In situations like that space is severely limited, and you only have one hand to operate your chainsaw because the other hand is being used to stabilize yourself on the tree. The top handle design of this Craftsman cordless chainsaw makes it the ideal choice for professionals working in tight spaces.
It’s shorter than conventional 16” chainsaws and can easily be swung around with very short wrist movements. Handling is further improved by the low weight of just 11.2 lbs. when fully assembled. And the best part about all of this? You don’t have to scream at the top of your lungs to the ground crew, since this is an electric chainsaw. No fumes, no irritating noise, and no more pull starts. The last part is pretty important, especially for professionals and enthusiasts who cut large volumes of wood much more frequently than the average homeowner.
Pulling a cord every time you want to start your gas chainsaw may not be a big deal to someone who just wants to saw through a couple logs in the backyard. But for a homesteader collecting firewood every week, it can start to get tiring pretty fast. You see, gas chainsaws vibrate and sputter and creep their chains when they are idling. You shut down the gas chainsaw after cutting some branches. Now you have to start it back up for the next batch literally minutes later, which gets exhausting pretty quickly, especially if it is an old gas chainsaw with a bad air filter or faulty carburetor — too much trouble to go through just for cutting some firewood.
Instead, you could use the Craftsman V60 chainsaw which is almost as powerful as an entry level 40cc gas chainsaw. It starts with the push of a button, has a throttle lock switch for safety so you don’t accidentally hurt yourself, and the large 60V battery provides plenty of runtime. Even if you are far away from home, deep within the woods, you can count on the efficiency of this chainsaws brushless motor and intelligent battery power management system to keep you going for several hours as long as you have a couple of spare battery packs.
Despite its amazing performance and compact design, the Craftsman V60 chainsaw platform does have weaknesses. Not a flaw in the tool itself, but it suffers from a mediocre charger which can take around 75 to 90 minutes to charge just the base 2.5Ah battery pack. And if you have a 5Ah battery pack, it will take literally twice as long. So unless you enjoy waiting hours for the battery to charge, we highly suggest purchasing at least 1 more battery pack if you plan on taking your chainsaw to the jobsite or off-roading in the back of your ATV/ truck. You can buy a single 5Ah battery pack to get more runtime per charge, or two 2.5Ah battery packs so you have less downtime between charges even though each pack runs out faster. And finally, we would have really liked some metal bucking spikes on what can be considered a premium cordless chainsaw model. Yeah, plastic bucking spikes are sufficient for the size of log you’ll be cutting with this 16 inch chainsaw. But the problem isn’t just grip—plastic spikes wear out faster, much faster compared to metal ones. And you can’t replace them, since they are literally carved into the chainsaw case.
Craftsman 46cc Review / CMXGSAMY426S
20” Gas Chainsaw
- High output engine: 42cc 2-cycle full crank gas engine with pro-grade chassis delivers steady power and is engineered to withstand tree limbing, pruning, cutting, and trimming tasks.
- Easy start and comfortable engagement: simple pull starts, cushioned full wrap aluminum handle, and 3-point anti-vibration system makes this chainsaw more balanced, maneuverable, and comfortable to operate.
- Steady control: 16-inch low kickback bar and chain, bucking spikes, and inertia-activated chain brake provide greater control.
- Automatic oiler: adjustable automatic oiler helps keep the bar and chain in quality condition.fuel mix ratio: 40:1
- Simple upkeep: tool-free access to filter and spark plug.
Quick Summary :
Affordable, yet highly feature packed. It has 3 point vibration dampening, easy start, toolless access to the filter and spark plug, and even features a pro grade chassis for enhanced ruggedness. This is one of the few entry level gas chainsaws that we can confidently recommend for homesteaders, ranchers, and landscapers. The 20 inch guide bar is long enough to tackle most medium and even some low end heavy duty tasks. Felling, bucking, limbing—this chainsaw will do it all. Just understand its limits and don’t push it too far, after all it uses a 46cc engine and isn’t mean to be used as a primary tree felling saw in a professional logging environment.
Ideal for: Medium to heavy duty cutting—logging, limbing, and even felling small to medium sized trees. Designed for enthusiasts, homesteaders, ranchers, and landscapers.
Pros: Easy start, tool-free access to filter and spark plug, padded full wrap around handle in the front for maximum maneuverability and stable grip in all positions, metal bucking spikes, great vibration dampening system.
Cons: At 15lbs, it is a bit on the heavier side (even by gas chainsaw standards). For reference the Husqvarna 450 II Rancher which is a 50.2cc gas chainsaw, weighs 11.2 lbs. (without cutting equipment of course).
Overview : 42cc Gas
While Poulan impressed us with the performance and compact design of their cordless chainsaws, this 46cc gas-powered model has something else going for it—features. Yes, it is pretty powerful and can handle pretty much any type of wood you throw at it from pine to oak. And the 20” long guide bar means this chainsaw can theoretically cut through a log that is 40 inches in diameter (although that is a bad idea for anyone with limited experience in chainsaw operation). But there are other gas powered chainsaws in the same price range that are just as powerful, if not more. Like the Remington RM4618 Outlaw which features a 46cc engine (and it’s slightly cheaper too). Or the Poulan Pro PR5020 which is powered by a 50cc engine, as opposed to the 46cc engine on the Craftsman. So why should you choose this over the Poulan Pro when both cost nearly the same and the Poulan Pro is more powerful on paper?
Well, engine displacement isn’t everything. Yeah size matters, but only to a certain extent. We like to examine the whole package : is the engine reliable, how easily does it start, how frequently do you have to maintain it, etc. If you’re getting 90 percent of the performance but with a significant advantage in terms of reliability and usability, it is a no-brainer to choose the slightly smaller engine which will not give up on you in freezing weather and keep starting like new every day for years.
A chainsaw is more than just a 2-stroke engine, just like a car is more than just a horsepower number. The Craftsman CMXGSAMY426S uses a pro-grade chassis which makes it more reliable. Besides, the Poulan Pro doesn’t have a cushioned front wrap handle for added comfort like the Craftsman chainsaw does. So your hands will rest on hard plastic instead of a foam layer, which is especially uncomfortable in colder weather. And we believe the Craftsman chainsaw has a more advanced anti-vibration system compared to the Poulan. Both have easy start, which is implemented by modifying the recoil starter spring. Both also feature tool-free access to the spark plug and air filter for easier maintenance.
While reviewing any cordless tool, we pay attention to two numbers—voltage and amp-hours (Ah). These figures tell us how much energy its battery can deliver, which is directly proportional to the performance of the tool. More power equals higher torque and RPM. Which means you get the job done quicker. This is important when you’re discussing heavy duty tools used on jobsites, industrial environments, etc. If electricity was like water flowing through a pipe, voltage would be electrical “pressure”, and amps would be the “rate of flow”. Ampere-hour or Ah is the “capacity” of a battery. One Ah means the battery can deliver one ampere of current for up to an hour before discharging completely.
Most people who are new to power tools get too fixated on the voltage number when choosing a tool. If you read our review of the Milwaukee M18 FUEL chainsaw, you will understand that volts don’t give the full picture. Current matters too, for example—a 10Ah 10V battery will outperform a 2Ah 20V battery. More Ah means the battery can supply more steady current over an extended period of time, as well as higher “peak” current for when the tool needs a short burst of power. Does this mean we should completely neglect voltage? Not at all. Both voltage and current are required to produce power. Power in watts is obtained by multiplying amps with volts. Multiply voltage of the battery with Ah to get watt-hour, one watt hour is the power consumption of 1W for a period of 1 hour. Watt-hour is an indication of the amount of electrical energy stored within a battery. It is analogous to the gallon/ pint/ quart specification for the tank on a gas powered chainsaw.
Apart from volts and Ah, you also need to look at battery interchangeability between tools from the same brand. For example, Milwaukee lets you use the same 18V LXT battery pack across their entire family of 18V LXT products that includes drills, blowers, hedge trimmers, work lights, etc. Runtime is also something worth considering, especially if you don’t have the luxury of being nearby a power outlet at all times. Maybe you live off-grid, or you venture into the woods to gather firewood. In that case, a battery that lasts 1hr is well worth the extra money over a battery that lasts 30 minutes. And if you do have access to a power outlet, make sure you purchase a fast charger if your chainsaw manufacturer provides one for your specific model. Makita and Milwaukee lead the way in fast charging technology.
This debate has been countless times before, and we have covered this topic in great detail through several other articles on our site. But here’s a quick rundown of what to expect, since both sides have their pros and cons (although electric is rapidly dethroning gas in the consumer market). Basically, you get cordless chainsaws if you prefer convenience, and gas if you want maximum performance.
Thanks to advances in lithium ion battery technology and new brushless motors, premium cordless chainsaws rival entry level gas chainsaws in terms of power. The Milwaukee M18 FUEL and Oregon CS300 cordless chainsaws often match or even beat 40cc gas chainsaws in cutting performance. The only downside to getting such amazing performance with cordless chainsaws is the cost—you can buy a cheap 45cc gas chainsaw for less. But in the long run, the cost of maintaining and fueling your gas saw will take total price of ownership up to the point where you might as well get a cordless model from the start and save on gas + engine oil.
With gas chainsaws you must endure the smelly gasoline fumes, toxic exhaust, and obnoxiously loud noise which will wake up everyone within a half mile radius if you decide to cut some firewood in the morning. But with a cordless chainsaw you can slice away at your chunks of wood in relative harmony, most people won’t even notice that you’re running a chainsaw unless they see you. And since electric motors don’t produce exhaust fumes, you can even operate a cordless chainsaw indoors (something that is NOT recommended with gas chainsaws).
Gas chainsaws require regular checkups and you’ll eventually have to replace parts like the air filter, spark plug, fuel lines, spark arrestor, etc. The only maintenance you’ll ever have to do on an electric/ cordless chainsaw is a bar oil change. Oh, and don’t forget to clean your chainsaw whether it’s gas or electric. We’ve got an entire article that teaches you how to clean your chainsaw to make it look and perform like new.
In conclusion, gas chainsaws are more powerful than most cordless chainsaws but at the expensive of convenience. You have to deal with starter cords, chokes, and primer bulbs just to start your chainsaw. And if you are operating your chainsaw near a hospital or school, noise laws might prevent you from even considering a gas model. Cordless chainsaws have weakness too—they are expensive, and you constantly have to deal with recharging batteries which makes them a poor choice for prolonged outdoor operation in the woods or on job-sites. Yeah, fast charging has mitigated a lot of those issues. But even the fastest of fast chargers can’t beat refueling times on a gas chainsaw (unless you have to mix the gas and oil first).
More and more cordless chainsaws are emerging which give entry to mid level gas chainsaws a run for their money in terms of cutting speed. And this trend is only going to get bigger as we make higher capacity batteries and even more efficient motors. And soon there will come a time when only the largest of gas chainsaws (100cc and above) will have a power advantage over electric. But even before that time comes, electric might take over the market since the average consumer is perfectly content as long as performance is “good enough”. Ease of use and maintenance is far more important to the average Joe who isn’t bucking 20 inch maple logs or felling 100 foot tall trees.
How To Select The Right Chainsaw?
This comes down to three main factors :
- What is your previous experience with chainsaws?
- How frequently do you plan to cut wood, and what type of wood are you cutting?
- Which features do you value?
The first one should be pretty easy to answer. Most of our readers are people who are new to chainsaws and want to know the basics of how they work, what size to purchase, etc. For such customers we advise something that is light and maneuverable, with features like toolless chain adjustment and automatic bar oiling for convenience. Unless you are familiar with small two stroke engines and have repaired a few in your lifetime, never go for some cheap preowned gas chainsaw. You will find a lot of those in garage sales and craigslist ads. But trust us—after just a couple weeks of trying to make the old chainsaw start, you will pray to get rid of it. Spend the extra money on a new model, gas or electric. But if you value convenience electric is the obvious choice. Don’t get some giant 24” chainsaw, we suggest a maximum of 16 to 18 inches for the average homeowner or DIY enthusiast since that is all you need for firewood and pruning.
As for the second question, you will need to go out and take a look at the type of trees in your orchard. What kind of firewood do you plan to cut? Are you going to fell trees or size up posts for the fence? Do you plan to tackle 2 x 4 made from pine or giant 16” thick logs of maple? For hard, thick logs you want as much power as you can afford. But don’t overdo it if you aren’t experience with chainsaw operation. More power increases the chances of you losing control over the chainsaw, and the resulting kickback can easily take a sizeable chunk off your limbs or face.
Longer guide bars are harder to monitor, unless you are extremely aware of your surroundings. Because with a guide bar that is 28” long, you can accidentally sweep someone standing next to you with the bar or even shove the tip against a hard object like a rock (which will destroy the chain and bar). For smaller logs and softer wood, you can get away with any decent cordless chainsaw or small 30cc gas model (guide bar no longer than 16”). For bucking thick logs and felling trees we suggest 18 to 20 inches max if you are a non-professional. And if you have professional experience, you already know what to look for.
Finally, what features do you want? Heated handles are super awesome if you live up north and plan on cutting wood in freezing temperatures. Some premium gas chainsaws even have carburetor heating, Stihl does it by taking hot air from the cooling fins on the engine and forcing it through the carburetor to prevent it from freezing. A carbide tipped chain will come in handy if you work with dirty wood or reclaimed lumber which might have nails or wires embedded underneath. Conventional steel chains will dull much faster when exposed to sand, wire, frozen timber, etc.
Tool-free access to the filter and spark plug is very important if you work in dirty environments with a lot of sawdust flying around, which will choke the air filter and cause your chainsaw to bog down or stall. In such scenarios you want to swap out the dirty filter for a fresh one as quickly as possible, since time is money. And trying to remove the engine cover with a screwdriver is really tough with all the dust and heat, and takes a lot of time. Instead of forcing you to remove 3 or 4 screws, pro-sumer and professional grade chainsaws feature simple plastic latches or tabs that you can release to detach the cover.
Another feature you might want if you work in dusty environments is a pre-cleaner system for intake air which removes large debris before the air even enters the filter. This increases air filter lifespan significantly. Husqvarna has a feature like this, they call it “Air Injection” and it’s basically a centrifugal air cleaning system which operates off the engine flywheel next to the intake. You might also want easy start; large displacement gas chainsaws have a feature called decompression which temporarily opens up a valve in the engine cylinder to release air pressure so the piston can turn over without much effort. This means you don’t have to pull really hard on the cord while starting your chainsaw.
Visit the Craftsman site to learn more about their line of products.