What Size Chainsaw Do I Need? (A Detailed Guide!)

A chainsaw is a fantastic tool to have around the yard. It can be used for everything from cutting down small trees to trimming shrubs or cleaning up debris after storms.

When it comes time to purchase one, you may wonder what size chainsaw do I need? Since the size of a chainsaw determines how much power it has and how long the blade is, it is one of the most important factors to consider.

There are different sizes available in chainsaws, depending on the bar length attached to them. Make sure you know what each size means so that you’re able to choose the right one for your specific job! To help you find the right chainsaw for your task, we’ve prepared a guide to help you pick the perfect size.

What are the Chainsaw Types and Their Sizes?

There are many different types of chainsaws available on the market today, each with its own unique set of benefits and drawbacks. In this section, we will review the three main types of chainsaw: electric, cordless and gas-powered models. We’ll discuss their pros & cons and sizes so you can decide which one is best suited for your needs.

Electric chainsaws

Electric chainsaws are the most common type of chainsaw, and they’re easy to use. They can be used for light-duty jobs like cutting branches from trees, trimming bushes and shrubs, and more.

Electric corded saws use an electric motor to power their blades—the same way that your car’s engine powers your wheels when you drive it down the road.

The downside? Corded chainsaws aren’t very powerful overall; they’re best suited for small-scale applications where you don’t need a lot of power or precision cutting ability (think: pruning).

For larger projects or heavy duty work on trees or hardwood limbs (like felling large trees), an electric chain saw may not be able to cut through all materials effectively enough.

They need more than one pass over them at a time since there isn’t enough torque coming out of these motors alone – especially if there are any obstacles around them like dirt underfoot!

Weight and sizes are crucial factors to consider when choosing a chainsaw for your yard. Most electric-powered chainsaws will weigh between 6-20 pounds.

Most often you’ll find corded chainsaws with an 8-inch bar length, although they can come in as long as 18 inches sometimes. Their engine size tends to run between 9 and 15 amps.

A corded saw will use a 20- to 60-volt battery pack depending on the length of charge it provides.

Cordless chainsaws

Cordless chainsaws are great for small jobs and when you don’t have access to an electrical outlet. They’re battery-powered, so they can be used in tight spaces where the corded model might get stuck or stuck on something else.

Cordless chainsaws are also excellent for cutting firewood because they don’t require a gas tank and therefore won’t run out of fuel during use (though this does make them less powerful than their gas counterparts).

If you’re looking for an easy way to cut roots without having to dig in the dirt with your hands, these tools may be just what you need!

Due to power demands, battery-powered chainsaws have their blades no longer than 18 inches. Rechargeable cordless chainsaws are only right for small jobs like yard cleanup or felling small trees because their batteries tend to run out quickly when used on larger tasks. They normally weigh around 11 to 16 pounds.

Gas-powered chainsaws

Gas-powered chainsaws are the most powerful type of saw. They’re also the most expensive, heaviest, and noisiest.

Gas-powered saws use a small amount of gas to operate, so they have a longer lifespan than electric models (although this may vary depending on your usage).

Because there’s no need to store gasoline in an external tank or battery pack like with electric motors, gas chainsaws are also user-friendlier than their electric counterparts.

Most gas-powered chainsaws come with an 16-inch bar and chain length, although they can come in as long as 24 inches sometimes. They are mostly supported by 32 to 62cc engine displacements.

Comparison Chart – Chainsaw Types, Average Sizes, and Weights

Chainsaw TypesAverage SizesAverage weight
Electric/ corded chainsaws8 to 18 inches6 to 15  pounds
Gas powered chainsaws16 to 24 inches20 to 28 pounds
Battery/cordless chainsaws8 to 18 inches11 to 16 pounds

How to Measure Chainsaw Size?

Whenever you want to measure a guide bar, there are two simple steps. A lot of times, the length will be listed on both the bottom of the blade, in the product manual, or the online specifications but if you own a chainsaw and are unsure of its length, here’s how you can go about accurately measuring it:

  • Using a tape measure, carefully measure the distance from the tip to the nearest point on the bar.
  • Try to round up the measurement to the nearest even number if it happens to be an odd length, like 13, 15, 17, etc.

How to Choose The Right Size Chainsaw?

There are many factors to consider when choosing the right size chainsaw. The five most important factors are the type of wood you will be cutting, the length of the bar, the power of the saw, drive link gauge, and the pitch.

The type of wood

The type of wood you will be cutting is the most important factor to consider when choosing the right size chainsaw. If you will be cutting softwoods, you will need a smaller saw than if you are cutting hardwoods. The reason for this is that softwoods are easier to cut and require less power.

The length of the bar

The length of the bar is the second most important factor to consider when choosing the right size chainsaw. The length of the bar determines how much wood you can cut at one time. If you will be cutting large pieces of wood, you will need a saw with a longer bar. The proper length should be 2 inches less than the overall diameter of your saw’s cutter head.

The power of the saw

The power of the saw is the third most important factor to consider when choosing the right size chainsaw. The power of the saw determines how fast you can cut the wood. If you will be cutting a lot of wood, you will need a saw with more power.

Drive link gauge

The drive link gauge is also a very important stat for considering when choosing between similar chainsaws as it denotes how thick of logs you can cut and how much weight it can carry.

Since the drive link gauge determines the thickness of the drive link, it’s only reasonable to use a .1mm chain in the groove of a 1.1mm guide bar.

The pitch

Finally, chainsaws with a 20 pitch are generally better at cutting faster and a 40 pitch gives more power and durability. Make sure you go for the pitch that’s compatible with the drive sprocket and the guide bar of your chainsaw. An inaccurate pitch won’t fit properly on any guide bar.

What’s the Proper Size for a Chainsaw?

A common mistake among chainsaw operators is to use a chainsaw without taking into account the diameter of the branch or tree that needs to be cut through.

The ideal length of the blade should be equivalent to the width and possibly an inch longer (though this will depend on the power source) of whatever it is going to be used to cut.

Begin by making sure that the chain on your chainsaw is long enough – at least 2 inches longer than whatever tree or branch you intend to cut down. For example, measuring with the measuring tape, if the branch is 8 inches thick, you must ensure that the chain on your preferred chainsaw measures at least 10 inches long.

In this way, once you begin cutting your chosen stick or log in a horizontal direction (perpendicular to the ground), it’ll only take one easy pass to cut through it rather than having to struggle and yank away repeatedly until everything eventually falls apart under its weight!

The power of the engine is another factor to consider when choosing the right size for your chainsaw. Besides, the length of the chain saw determines just how powerful the engine can be.

Typically, a chain saw’s motor power is proportional to its arm’s length because this determines what size guide bar (the pole to which the chain saw’s teeth are connected) can be attached to it. The longer the chain saw’s guide bar, the more powerful its engine needs to be.

Fortunately, most chainsaws come with a guide bar of varying sizes, but you should try to stick with the factory-supplied length for consistency.

Otherwise, you could risk the chain potentially getting caught up between the bar and the saw — which could be a very dangerous situation when the blade is spinning at high speeds.

What is the Recommended Chainsaw Size Based on Different Cutting Tasks?

When choosing a chainsaw blade, remember that no one size fits all tasks. The appropriate length of any chainsaw blade will depend on how much cutting you need to do.  Below are some recommendations for chainsaw size based on tasks.

Pruning tree branches

If you’re a homeowner looking to prune the limbs, saplings, or branches in your backyard, a 6″ to 10” chainsaw is the perfect size to get your job done in no time at all.

But if you need something smaller to get the job done faster and with less of a headache than getting a big chainsaw will leave you with, grab one of the handyman saws instead!

Splitting firewood

If you want to split logs into firewood in your backyard, you should go for a chainsaw with a guide bar that’s about 14″ to 16” long. It will deliver powerful slicing power especially if the logs are not too enormous.

Cutting down small trees

Smaller trees and plants can be cut down with a chainsaw that has a blade of about 12”-14”. However, you need to consider the thickness of the base of the trunk and whether or not it’s hollow.

Cutting down large trees

Felling large trees can be a dangerous job. No one wants to get in over their head when it comes to chainsaws.

If you have experience handling an above-average chainsaw, then a guide bar that is at least 20″ long will cut down most any tree you might find in your yard.

However, if you’re an inexperienced chainsaw user, you don’t need a guide bar of over 20″; the average size of 16-18 inches will do fine.

Cutting down medium trees

To fell a medium-sized tree, which has a trunk of about 14 inches to 16 inches in diameter, you should use a chainsaw with a diameter of about 16 inches to 18 inches, to make a clean cut.

Removing branches

If you’re trying to remove the branches from a tree in your front yard, the branches will likely be thinner than those from the back yard. This is because the trees in your backyard are often older than those in your front yard.

As such, it’s always a good idea to make sure that you have a guide bar for your chainsaw that’s 8” to 12” long enough to accommodate either case.

Professional Grade cutting tasks

Chainsaws with a bar between 24-42 inches are not just any chainsaw. They’re heavy, sometimes dangerous, and very expensive as well. These are intended for professional use only such as tree arborists, ranchers, or farmers.

They can be used in a variety of applications including trims on live or dead, overhanging trees, floorboard removal in wetland areas, demolition of hardwood tree stumps, and firefighting as well as clearing of underbrush during forest fire prevention in remote areas (such as national forests).

Comparison Chart – Different Cutting Tasks and their Recommended Chainsaw Sizes

Cutting TasksRecommended Chainsaw SizeRecommended Professions
Pruning tree branches6 to 10 inchesCasual home improvers
Removing branches8 to 12 inchesArborists
Cutting down small trees12 to 14 inchesArborists and gardeners
Splitting firewood14 to 16 inchesHomeowners
Cutting down medium trees16 to 18 inchesExperienced DIYers
Cutting down large trees20 to 24 inchesExperienced DIYers and professionals
Professional-grade cutting jobs24 to 42 inchesProfessionals

What are the Disadvantages of Choosing/Using the Wrong Size Chainsaw?

There are many things that you need to consider when figuring out the right size chainsaw for your needs. It will be most important to pay close attention to the length of the chainsaw. Make sure it isn’t too big or too small, as this can pose some rather nasty physical consequences for you!

If Your Chainsaw Size is Too Long:

While having a larger chainsaw will ensure that you’re prepared for any large-scale tree cutting projects, using one that’s too long might lead to some troubling repercussions: vibration and even weight distribution can be problematic.

So, while it’s important to have a saw that’s appropriately sized for most tasks, overdoing it could put your safety at risk.

Besides, kickback occurs most frequently when the lumber being cut is too small for the length of the chainsaw which means that the diameter of the wood being cut must be in proportion with the size of the blade on your chainsaw.

By preventing kickback the chainsaw users will be safe from injuries and the chain will last longer. Kickback is a situation where the rotation of the chain becomes blocked and then “kicks back” toward the user of the chainsaw.

That being said, it may be necessary to opt for something cheaper which utilizes a shorter blade so as not to break the bank but also ensure your safety (and sanity).

If Your Chainsaw Size Is Not Long Enough:

If a tree is too thick for your chainsaw, you don’t have to give up. To cut the wood down with your chainsaw properly and in less time, just keep on cutting through it over and over again, with each pass going a little deeper into the bark until it cuts all the way through. Two inches may seem like nothing when you’re cutting down trees, but it makes all the difference!

If your chainsaw size is not long enough, it will cause a lot of difficulty in terms of maneuverability and effectiveness, which would be highly problematic.

Besides, you may have to rethink how best to approach the task of cutting if the diameter of the wood is two times longer than your chainsaw’s length.

Using a chainsaw that’s too short may cause you to cut over and over again in opposite directions to get through (which is counter-productive) rather than start on one side where there are more teeth for deeper penetration and get through effectively.

Hence, it may make sense to get a larger chainsaw. Otherwise, it might be a good idea to hire someone to help.


The size of the saw is an important factor to consider when purchasing a chainsaw. The size of the saw is also important for safety reasons. A saw that is too small can be dangerous to use, while a saw that is too large can be difficult to control.

If you aren’t sure which one would best suit your needs, consider what kind of work you plan on doing with it and the size of trees that need cutting down.

There is no right answer when choosing a chainsaw because they all do the same job; however, knowing which size chainsaw I need will save time, money, and energy when cutting down trees at home.

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