How big a chainsaw do I need

How big a chainsaw do I need

Finding the right chainsaw size for your needs can be tricky. Knowing which is best suited for you and your task is complex, with many choices. That’s why we created How Big A Chainsaw Do I Need.  

Choosing the right chainsaw size depends on several factors, including your experience level and the job you need it for. Generally, a chainsaw with a motor size of around 40 to 50 cc is sufficient for basic work like tree pruning and light cutting.

We make choosing the perfect size easy with simple guides that remove all the guesswork. You’ll feel confident you’ve made the right purchase decision, knowing exactly how big a chainsaw you need for whatever task.  

Factors to Consider Before Purchasing a Chainsaw

1. Type Of Work You Need It For

The tasks you intend to perform with your chainsaw will influence your desired size. Here are three common categories of use for a gas chainsaw:

  • Occasional and Light Use:

    Small chainsaws are ideal for trimming trees, cutting branches, and other light duties. These electric chainsaws are perfect for residential use and can usually be held with one hand.
  • Moderate Use:

    A medium-sized chainsaw is best for average tasks such as felling small trees and cutting firewood. These are more powerful than the light-duty models and are commonly used by homeowners and hobbyist woodworkers.
  • Heavy-Duty Use:

    A heavy-duty chainsaw with a powerful motor is necessary for professional purposes or jobs that involve cutting through large logs or trees. These chainsaws are larger and packed with features that make tough jobs more manageable.

2. Diameter of Wood You Need To Cut

The wood you plan to cut directly affects the size o the chainsaw cutting bar you need. The chainsaw bar should be longer than the diameter of the wood to ensure an efficient and safe cutting process.

3. Your Chainsaw Experience

Starting with a smaller model is important if you’re new to using cha saws. They are easier to control and maneuver, allow ng you to build confidence and skill. As you gain experience, you may consider upgrading to a more robust model.

4. Your Physical Strength

Operating a chainsaw can be physically demanding, s choosing a model you can handle comfortably is crucial. Larger chainsaws may provide more power, but they can also be more challenging to control and maneuver for extended periods.

5. Type of Saw

There are various chainsaw types available, with each catering to specific needs. These include gas-powered, electric, and battery-operated models. Consider which of these options will suit your needs and location before deciding.

The Basics of Chainsaw Sizing

  • 8 to 18-Inch Bar Length:

    Smaller chainsaws with 8-18 inches bar lengths are ideal for light use, such as tree pruning and cutting small branches and logs. These chainsaws are more comfortable to handle and are suitable for occasional use.
  • 20-Inch Long Cutting Bar:

    Chainsaws with 20-inch bars are designed for moderate to heavy-duty use. They can tackle larger-diameter wood and are more suited for experienced users or professional work.

Why Do Chainsaw Sizes, Matter?

Chainsaw sizes matter for several reasons:

  • Safety: 

    Using a too-small chainsaw for the job increases the risk of kickback when the chainsaw is pushed back toward the user. This can lead to severe injuries or even death. On the contrary, a too-large chainsaw can be tough to handle, increasing the likelihood of accidents.
  • Productivity: 

    A large chainsaw the right size for the job allows you to work efficiently and promptly complete the tasks.
  • Tool Longevity:

    Using a chainsaw that’s too small for the job can put unnecessary stress on the motor, decreasing its lifespan.

What Happens If Your Chainsaw Bar Is Too Short?

A chainsaw bar that’s too short for the task increases the risk of kickback, as the chainsaw chain might get pinched between the wood being cut. Additionally, you may have to make multiple cuts to achieve the desired result, decreasing efficiency and putting extra strain on the motor.

What Happens If Your Chainsaw Model Is Too Long?

When your electric chainsaw bar is too long for the task at hand, you may face the following issues:

  • Increased fatigue: 

    A bigger chainsaw and a longer bar are typically heavier, leading to increased fatigue and a higher likelihood of accidents due to user fatigue.
  • Limited maneuverability: 

    A long chainsaw can be cumbersome and difficult to handle in tight spaces or when cutting smaller branches and limbs.
  • Uneven wear: 

    Overusing a chainsaw with a longer bar than needed can lead to uneven wear on the chain, which may require more frequent replacements.

When To Use a Larger Chainsaw Bar

A larger chainsaw bar is ideal for the following situations:

  • Big timber cutting: 

    When you need to cut through large trees or logs, a longer bar enables you to cut through the entire width of the tree trunk in one pass, saving time and effort.
  • Professional logging and arborist work: 

    Professionals frequently require larger chainsaws to tackle challenging tasks, such as felling large trees or handling storm-damaged trees with a dense canopy.
  • Milling lumber: 

    A longer bar is necessary to make full-length cuts when using a chainsaw to mill lumber using an attachment like an Alaskan mill.

When to Use Chainsaws with Bar Lengths That Are Shorter

Shorter chainsaw bar lengths typically range from 16 to 20 inches, making them suitable for various tasks around the home or farm. Here are some situations when a chainsaw with a shorter bar length would be advantageous:

  • Pruning and trimming branches:

    For pruning limbs or trimming branches of trees and shrubs, a shorter bar-length chainsaw is easier to maneuver, allowing for greater precision and less fatigue during extended use.
  • Yard maintenance:

    If you need to clear or trim small trees and bushes in your yard, a smaller chainsaw with a shorter bar length provides better control, allowing for a clean and efficient cut.
  • Reduced weight and better balance:

    With their compact design, shorter bar-length chainsaws provide lower overall weight and better balance, making them more comfortable, especially for those with less experience or strength.


In conclusion, choosing the right size chainsaw ensures safety, productivity, and tool longevity. It’s essential to consider factors such as the type of work you need it for, the diameter of wood you need to cut, your chainsaw experience, your physical strength, and the type of saw before making a decision.

A chainsaw that is too short or too long can lead to increased risks of accidents, reduced efficiency, and unnecessary strain on the motor. Understanding the basics of chainsaw sizing and when to use larger chainsaw bars or shorter bar lengths can help you make an informed decision and ensure the successful completion of your tasks.

By carefully considering these factors, you can select the perfect chainsaw for your needs, making your work easier, safer, and more efficient.


How Big A Tree Can A 20-inch Chainsaw Cut?

A 20-inch chainsaw can cut through thick branches of trees with a diameter of up to 18 inches, depending on the user’s skill and the chainsaw’s power.

What Size Chainsaw For A Beginner?

For a beginner, a small chainsaw with a bar length of 8-14 inches is recommended, as it is easier to control and maneuver.

What Is The Best Size Chainsaw For Cutting Trees?

The best size chainsaw for cutting trees depends on the tree’s diameter. For trees with a 12-18 inches diameter, a 16-20 inch bar length chainsaw is recommended, while larger trees may require a longer bar length chainsaw.

Can A 10-Inch Chainsaw Cut Down A Tree?

A 10-inch chainsaw can cut down small trees with a diameter of up to 8 inches, but it may not be suitable for larger trees or mo e heavy-duty tasks.

What Is A Good CC For A Chainsaw?

A good CC (cubic centimeters) for a chainsaw depends on the intended use. For occasional light-duty use, a chainsaw with a 30-40cc engine is suitable. A chainsaw with a 40-60cc engine is recommended for moderate use, while heavy-duty professional use may require a chainsaw with a 60cc or higher engine.

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