Can I put a smaller bar on my chainsaw? Exploring Pros and cons

can i put a smaller bar on my chainsaw

Want to put a small bar on your chainsaw? Stick to slicing through wood, not stirring drinks!

If you are wondering whether can i put a smaller bar on my chainsaw, the answer is yes, but with some limitations. A smaller bar will reduce the weight and increase maneuverability of your saw, making it easier to handle in tight spaces. However, using too small of a bar may cause the engine to overwork and damage the chain or other parts. It’s crucial to consult your manufacturer’s guidelines before changing out your chainsaw bar size.

In this article, we will delve into modifying chainsaw bars. We’ll explore why it’s generally not advisable to put a smaller bar on your chainsaw and the potential consequences it can have on performance and safety. 

So Let’s Get Started!

Why Do Chainsaws Have Different-Sized Bars?

Chainsaws are designed to have different-sized bars to accommodate different types of jobs. The size of the guide bar determines how much cutting power the saw has.

A smaller or short bar will give the saw less power, while a larger or long bar will give it more power.

The most common chainsaw bar length are 16 inches, 18 inches, and 20 inches. Each size has its advantages and disadvantages. 

For example, a 16 inch bar is perfect for general-purpose cutting, while an 18-inch bar is better for large cuts. A 20-inch bar is best for very large cuts.

When choosing a chainsaw, it’s important to consider what type of work you’ll be doing with it.

A smaller bar will be fine if you only need occasional light cutting. But if you plan heavy-duty cutting, you’ll need a larger bar to finish the job.

What are the Benefits of Smaller Bars?

There are a few benefits to using smaller bars on chainsaws:


Smaller bars make the chainsaw lighter and more maneuverable. This can be advantageous when working in tight spaces or navigating obstacles, allowing for better control and precision.

Reduced Fatigue

The lighter weight of a chainsaw with a smaller bar can help reduce operator fatigue during extended use. This can be particularly beneficial for tasks requiring prolonged cutting or working at challenging angles.

Increased Safety

Smaller bars generally have a lower risk of kickback, which is the chainsaw’s sudden and uncontrolled upward movement. The reduced length of the chainsaw bar decreases the chances of kickback, enhancing operator safety.


While smaller bars may have limitations in terms of cutting capacity, they can still be versatile for certain tasks. They are suitable for pruning, trimming, and light-cutting jobs, especially in areas where precision and control are essential.

Lower Cost

Smaller bars tend to be less expensive than larger ones. If you primarily undertake smaller cutting tasks, opting for a smaller bar can be a cost-effective choice without compromising performance.

How to Choose the Right Size for a Smaller Bar?

The size of the bar on your chainsaw is important for two main reasons: cutting efficiency and safety. If the bar is too small, it will be less efficient at cutting and more likely to kick back. If the bar is too big, it can be not easy to control and may cause you to lose control of the saw.

There are a few things to keep in mind when choosing the right size of bar for your chainsaw:

When choosing the right chainsaw bar for your needs, consider a few key factors. Here are just a few things to keep in mind when making your selection:

The size of the bar

The length of the bar will determine how much cutting power you have. You’ll want a longer bar if you want a powerful saw for big jobs. For smaller tasks, a shorter bar will do the trick.

The type of chain

There are two types of chains available – standard and low-kickback. Standard chains are more powerful but can be dangerous if they kick back. Low-kickback chains are safer to use but aren’t as powerful. Choose the type of chainsaw chain that best suits your needs.

The pitch of the chain

The pitch is the distance between the teeth on the chain. A higher pitch means more cutting power, while a lower pitch is better for precision work. Choose the pitch that best suits your needs.

The gauge of the chain

The gauge is the thickness of the link between the teeth on the chain. A thicker gauge means more durability, while a thinner gauge is better for cutting speed. Choose the gauge that best suits your needs.

Maintenance and Care for Chainsaws with Smaller Bars

Chainsaws with smaller bars require less maintenance and care than larger ones. However, there are still some important things to remember when caring for your chainsaw.

One of the most important things is regularly cleaning the bar and chain. This will help prevent rust and corrosion from building up and keep your chainsaw running smoothly. It’s also important to regularly oil the bar and chain to keep them lubricated and working properly.

Another thing to keep in mind is that chainsaws with smaller bars can be more susceptible to damage from rocks or other debris. Inspect the bar and chain frequently for any damage or wear.

 If you notice any damage, it’s important to have it repaired or replaced as soon as possible to avoid further damage to your chainsaw.

What Are the Drawbacks of Putting a Shorter Bar on a Chainsaw?

Putting a shorter bar on a chainsaw can have several drawbacks:

Reduced Cutting Capacity

A shorter bar limits the maximum cutting capacity of the chainsaw. You won’t be able to make cuts with the same depth or reach as you would with a longer bar.

Limited Versatility

A shorter metal bar may not be suitable for all types of cutting tasks. It may struggle with larger logs or thick branches, limiting the range of applications for the chainsaw.

Increased Work Time

You’ll need to make more cuts with a shorter bar to achieve the same result. This can increase the time and effort required to complete a cutting job.

Potential Safety Issues

Using a shorter bar can increase the chances of kickback, which is the chainsaw’s sudden and uncontrolled upward motion. Kickback can be more pronounced when the chainsaw guide bar is not properly balanced.

Inefficient Fuel Consumption

A shorter bar can lead to inefficient fuel consumption because you’ll need to make more cuts to achieve the desired result. This can result in more frequent refueling and increased operating costs.

Choosing a bar size appropriate for the chainsaw and the intended cutting tasks is important to ensure optimal performance and safety.

Can A Chainsaw Bar Be Replaced With A Shorter Blade

A chainsaw bar is the part of the saw that extends out from the saw’s body. It is attached to the chain, which does the cutting. The length of the bar determines how deep into a log or piece of wood the saw can cut.

Most chainsaw bars can be replaced with a shorter blade if needed. This may be necessary if you are cutting smaller logs or pieces of wood or if you need to make a more precise cut. Replacing the bar is a relatively simple process that does not require special tools or training.

Things to Consider About Bar Chainsaws Before Purchasing One

When it comes to bar chainsaws, there are a few things you need to take into consideration before making a purchase. Here are some things to keep in mind:

The size of the bar:

Bar chainsaws come in various sizes, so you must choose one that can handle the type of wood you’ll be cutting. A smaller bar will suffice if you’re only cutting small branches. But if you plan on cutting larger logs, you’ll need a larger bar chainsaw.

The type of chain:

There are two main chains used on bar chainsaws: standard and carbide-tipped. Standard chains are less expensive but require more frequent sharpening and don’t last as long as carbide-tipped chains. Carbide-tipped chains are more expensive but stay sharp longer and can handle tougher cuts.

The power source:

Bar chainsaws can either be gas-powered or electric. Gas-powered saws are more powerful but louder and require regular maintenance. Electric saws are quieter and easier to maintain but less powerful than gas-powered ones.


In conclusion, the answer to whether you can put a smaller bar on your chainsaw largely depends on the type and size of your chainsaw. 

As long as you have the right tool for removing and attaching bars, it is generally safe to use a smaller bar if it fits properly in the saw’s drive sprocket. 

However, before making any changes or adjustments, it is always important to consult an expert for advice and safety guidelines specific to your particular make and model of chainsaw.


Can I Run A Smaller Bar On A Chainsaw?

Yes, you can run a smaller bar on a chainsaw, but it may limit the size of your cuts.

Can I Put A 16″ Bar On A 20″ Chainsaw?

You cannot put a 16″ bar on a 20″ chainsaw. The bar size should match or be smaller than the recommended size for the chainsaw.

Can I Put A 16″ Bar On A 14″ Chainsaw?

No, you cannot put a 16″ bar on a 14″ chainsaw. The bar size should match or be smaller than the recommended size for the chainsaw.

Can You Put Any Bar On Any Chainsaw?

No, you cannot put any bar on any chainsaw. The bar size and specifications should be compatible with the chainsaw model.

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