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What size chainsaw do I need?

Jun 28, 2024 | by N Johansson

what size chainsaw do I need?

What Size Chainsaw Do I Need? A Comprehensive Guide


Choosing the right chainsaw size is crucial for efficiently and safely tackling your outdoor projects. Whether you're a homeowner looking to maintain your property or a professional arborist, understanding chainsaw sizes will help you make an informed decision. In this guide, we'll explore the factors that determine what size chainsaw you need.

Factors to Consider

  • Type of Work: The nature of your projects is the primary factor in determining chainsaw size.
  • Wood Diameter: Measure the diameter of the trees or branches you'll commonly cut and choose a chainsaw bar that is two inches longer.
  • Frequency of Use: Consider how often you'll use the chainsaw and for what purposes.
  • Your Physical Strength: Larger chainsaws are heavier and can cause fatigue more quickly.

Understanding Chainsaw Sizes

Key Terminology

Before diving deeper, let’s familiarize ourselves with some crucial terms:

  • Bar Length: The length of the chainsaw's bar, typically ranging from 10 to 24 inches. Longer bars make larger cuts but can be harder to handle.
  • Engine Displacement: Measured in cubic centimeters (cc), it indicates the engine size. Bigger engines offer more power but are generally heavier.
  • Power-to-Weight Ratio: This balance indicates how efficiently the power generated is utilized in relation to the chainsaw's weight, influencing ease of use and fatigue over time.
What a chainsaw consists of

Essential Factors to Consider When Choosing a Chainsaw Size

Type of Work

Your task type is crucial in determining the chainsaw size:

  • Light Trimming: A bar length of 10-14 inches is perfect for pruning and light trimming.
  • Cutting Firewood: A medium-sized chainsaw with a 15-20 inch bar length is ideal for cutting firewood.
  • Felling Trees: For large trees, consider a chainsaw with a bar length of 20+ inches.

User Experience

  • Beginners: Smaller chainsaws are easier to handle and manage—ideal for learning the basics.
  • Experienced Users: Those accustomed to chainsaws might prefer more powerful models with larger bars, balancing handling with task requirements.

Frequency of Use

  • Occasional Use: For occasional tasks, a small chainsaw is usually sufficient.
  • Regular Use: Medium-sized chainsaws are suitable for regular use, like cutting firewood or small tree felling.
  • Professional Use: Larger chainsaws are engineered for heavy, frequent use, perfect for professionals in extensive outdoor work.

Budget Considerations

Chainsaws vary widely in price:

  • Small Chainsaws: Generally more affordable.
  • Medium Chainsaws: Mid-range prices offer good value for frequent users.
  • Large Chainsaws: More expensive, designed for heavy-duty tasks.

Essential Chainsaw Size Options and Their Best Uses

Small Chainsaws (10-14 inches)

  • Uses: Pruning, trimming, campsite clearing.
  • Pros: Lightweight and beginner-friendly.
  • Cons: Limited to smaller tasks.

Medium Chainsaws (15-20 inches)

  • Uses: Cutting firewood, managing small trees, property maintenance.
  • Pros: Versatile with a good balance between power and weight.
  • Cons: May be heavy for beginners.

Large Chainsaws (20+ inches)

  • Uses: Heavy-duty tasks like felling large trees and managing thick logs.
  • Pros: High power and efficiency for larger tasks.
  • Cons: Heavy, harder to maneuver, and suits more experienced users.

Comparative Essential Guide

Comparison Table:

Size Bar Length (inches) Best Uses Popular Models Pros Cons
Small Chainsaw 10-14 Pruning, trimming, clearing campsites BLACK+DECKER 20V Lightweight, easy to handle Limited to smaller tasks
Medium Chainsaw 15-20 Cutting firewood, minor trail work Husqvarna 130 Gas Powered Versatile, good balance of power and weight May be too heavy for novices
Large Chainsaw 20+ Large trees felling, big projects Husqvarna 450 Rancher Powerful, very efficient for large tasks Heavy, needs experience

Writers Opinions:

For novices, I suggest starting with small chainsaws. Master the basics, then consider larger ones as you gain experience. Prioritize safety and correct handling, particularly in diverse outdoor settings.

Essential Safety Considerations

Proper Handling

  • Wear Protective Gear: Equip yourself with gloves, safety glasses, and protective attire.
  • Proper Stance: Always maintain a stable stance during operation.
  • Follow Manufacturer Guides: Adhere to the chainsaw's specific operating instructions.
  • Mind Weather Conditions: Different weather can affect chainsaw performance.

Maintenance Tips

  • Regular Cleaning: Keep the bar and chain clear of debris for effective cutting.
  • Chain Tension: Regularly adjust chain tension to avoid kickback.
  • Sharpening: Maintain a sharp chain for efficient cutting and reduced engine strain.
  • Troubleshooting: Be aware of common issues like chain gumming due to sap.

Final Essential Recommendations

Key Takeaways:

  • Assess the type of work you plan on doing.
  • Factor in your experience level and physical strength.
  • Consider your usage frequency.
  • Stick to your budget to find the best fit.


Choosing the right chainsaw size is about balancing power, weight, and your own capabilities. For most homeowners, a chainsaw with a bar length between 14" and 20" is ideal. However, always prioritize safety and consider your specific needs when making your decision. Remember, if you're uncertain about your capabilities or the task at hand, it's always best to seek professional help. Safety should always be your top priority when working with chainsaws. By considering these factors and recommendations, you'll be well-equipped to choose the perfect chainsaw size for your needs. Happy cutting!