What Size Chainsaw Do I Need in 2024? Answered by Patrick

Patrick McMann

Knowledge Based

Whether you’re a seasoned DIY enthusiast or a novice looking to tackle your first project, choosing the right size chainsaw can be a real headache. With countless models and sizes to choose from, it’s okay to feel lost in a sea of chainsaws.

But take heart, relax, and let me address the age-old question, “What size chainsaw do I need?” And I promise that by the end of this article, you’ll know which chainsaw size to buy and save time, effort, and money.

Let’s cut right to the chase as under:

the right size chainsaw for your needs

What Size Chainsaw do I Need – Detailed Answer

When we ask for the right size of chainsaw, we are usually referring to the length of the cutting bar. Cutting bars come in various sizes, ranging from 6 to 20 inches, with larger sizes typically reserved for commercial-grade chainsaws. The larger the bar, the bigger the chainsaw, and the more powerful. Typically most home maintenance tasks such as yard trimming and pruning need a chainsaw with an 8-14 inch bar. However, tasks like cutting down small trees and thick shrubs and post-storm cleaning will require a longer bar, typically ranging from 16-20 inches.

Key Considerations While Choosing the Right Chainsaw Size

In case you’re anything like me and tend to go for the shiniest, biggest option on the shelf — well, the bigger one will not always work the best. You need to consider multiple factors such as goals, efficiency, ease of use, etc.

Here are some suggestions to help you find the best chainsaw for your needs before you spend your hard-earned money.

1- Your Ultimate Goal

Your ultimate goal is important when choosing the right size chainsaw because it will determine the potential and features you need.

For example, a smaller and less powerful chainsaw with a shorter bar may be sufficient if you are a home DIY enthusiast who only needs to trim trees and do occasional pruning.

On the other hand, if you are a miller or arborist who needs to fall large trees, cut through thick logs, or work regularly, you will need a larger, more powerful chainsaw with a longer bar.

Moreover, different types of chainsaws are best for different tasks. For example, gas-powered chainsaws are more powerful and better suited for heavy-duty tasks. Electric chainsaws are lighter and easier to handle, making them a good choice for smaller tasks.

Considering your ultimate goal will also help you determine the safety features you need. For instance, if you plan to work on tall trees, a chainsaw with an anti-vibration feature may be necessary to prevent fatigue and accidents.

So, choose a chainsaw that meets your needs, ensuring you get the most out of your investment.

2- Personal Familiarity With Handling Chainsaw

Knowing that chainsaws are one of the most dangerous cutting tools. Directly jumping on one with a larger bar and heavyweight might increase the likelihood of accidents.

Opting for a lightweight electric chainsaw is a good idea if you are a beginner with less to no prior experience with chainsaws.

3- Wood/Tree Diameter and Chainsaw Bar Length Power

The diameter of the wood often being cut is a crucial factor to consider when choosing the right chainsaw size.

For instance, cutting a tree with a 12-inch diameter requires a chainsaw with a bar length of at least 14 inches. However, by making double-sided cuts, you can cut trees with a diameter double the bar length.

However, this method can be time-consuming and exhausting. Opting for a larger chainsaw bar than the typical tree diameter in your area would be a more efficient approach for a single-pass cut-through.

 4- Displacement/Efficiency

If you want to save time and finish all the cutting jobs quickly, you must also consider the chainsaw’s power. Displacement (cubic inches or centimeters) determines how powerful the chainsaw is. So, It wouldn’t be wrong if I said the higher the cc value, the more powerful and robust the chainsaw is.

For instance, you’ll need a saw with a displacement of between 45 and 55 cubic centimeters (cc) if you harvest and use up several cords of firewood each year. However, if you only occasionally trim limbs and don’t do any firewood or tree felling, a 42cc chainsaw would do the job.

4- Level of Your Physical Fitness and Capabilities

Your physical fitness and strength are utterly important considerations. The larger the chainsaw bars, the heavier and more robust they will be.

A logger who spends all day in the woods has the back muscles needed to carry a 15-pound saw for extended periods of time. If you don’t have these muscles, working with a big saw for even a few hours can cause you pain. So, If you can’t hold or handle the bigger one, opt for the lightweight option.

Your back and wallet will thank you for investing in a saw that is powered for the type of work you’ll be doing.

5- Determining Your Product Type Preference

When selecting the right size chainsaw, it’s important first to determine your product type preference. The choice of chainsaw type depends on the intended use, frequency of use, and personal preferences of the user. This means deciding whether a gas-powered, battery-powered, or electric chainsaw is the best fit for your needs.

Each type of chainsaw has its advantages and disadvantages, and it’s important to choose the one that is most suitable for the tasks you’ll be performing.

In Market Chainsaw Sizes and Types

Below you have the different types of chainsaws and their relation to the chainsaw bar length.

1- Gas-Powered Chainsaw

Gas-powered chainsaws typically make quick, clean cuts. They are the best choice for heavy-duty work, such as felling large limbs and tall trees. Their fast chain speed means you’ll need less force to make clean cuts, in contrast to some underpowered chainsaws.

They are the best option if you have a lot of material to cut because they can run continuously if you keep adding gas. However, they are heavy and make noise.  Additionally, they produce exhaust fumes and need regular maintenance on the engine’s air filter and spark plug.

2- Electric Or Battery-Powered Chainsaws

Electric chainsaws are lightweight and easy to maneuver, making them a good choice for people with limited physical strength. Electric chainsaws have a standard bar length ranging from 8 to 14 inches.

They are generally more affordable and require less maintenance.

Also, they produce less noise and vibration than gas-powered chainsaws, making them more comfortable.

Electric chainsaws are perfect for simple house maintenance tasks like trimming, pruning, removing the larger limb, and felling small trees. However, It is best to avoid using them for storm damage restoration, large tree removal, or cutting down firewood.

3- Medium Arborist 50 cc Chainsaw

Arborists should use heavy-duty chainsaws with bar lengths of 14-20 inches and engine displacement of 40-50 cc. They are great for heavy yard work, tasks like cutting up post-storm fallen trees, removing 20-30 diameter tree trunks, removing stumps, and chopping large limbs.

If you need a chainsaw for cutting firewood or felling tall trees, you’ll want one with a longer blade length of 18-20 inches. These larger chainsaws are workhorses designed for heavy-duty tasks, but they require experience to handle them safely.

4- Professional-Grade 70 -120 ccs Chainsaws

Professional chainsaws are the best choice for people who make a living using them. These chainsaws have a powerful engine with an engine displacement ranging from 70ccs to 120ccs. This makes them suitable for tasks that require a lot of cutting power.

It’s again important to note that professional chainsaws require experience and skill to handle them safely. If you’re new to using chainsaws, it’s best to start with smaller, lighter saws and work your way up to professional chainsaws.

Chainsaw Sizes for Millers

Industries requiring the milling of large palm trees and other large trees employ advanced professionals. They use larger than 20 inches bar length chainsaws.  These chainsaws can easily handle large trees and are made specifically for milling.

To produce high-quality lumber, milling requires precise cuts, and longer-bladed professional chainsaws are the best choice. The process is more effective because the miller can cut through the entire length of the log with the longer blade in one go.

It’s crucial to remember that milling is a specialized task that calls for particular expertise and knowledge. Qualified individuals should only use professional chainsaws because improper milling can be risky and even fatal.

Preferred Chainsaw Sizes for the Specific Jobs

preferred chainsaw sizes for specific jobs

For Home-oriented purposes/ Yard Maintenance

6-12 inch chainsaws for cutting back overgrowth

If you’re looking to cut back overgrowth, a chainsaw with a bar length of 6-12 inches would be a great choice. With a smaller blade length, you can make precise cuts and control the direction of the cut more easily, making it safer and more efficient.

12-14 inch Chainsaw for Cutting Small trees having DBH of up to 14 inches

A chainsaw with a bar length of 12-14 inches is an excellent choice for cutting small trees with a diameter at breast height (DBH) of up to 14 inches.

When using a chainsaw to cut down trees, it’s important to follow proper safety procedures and wear appropriate safety gear, such as eye and ear protection, gloves, and sturdy boots.

14-16 Inch chainsaw For splitting logs of Firewood

A chainsaw with a bar length of 14-16 inches is a great choice for splitting logs of firewood. These chainsaws are powerful enough to handle larger logs yet still lightweight and easy to maneuver.

You can make wider cuts and split larger logs more efficiently with a longer blade length.

20 Inches or above For Professional Arborists and Farmers

A chainsaw with a bar length of 20 inches or above is ideal for professional arborists, millers, and farmers who need to cut down large trees, clear land, or perform heavy-duty cutting tasks. These larger chainsaws are more powerful and can handle larger trees and logs with ease.

Can you Customize Your Chainsaw WRT Needs?

Yes, it is possible to customize your chainsaw to increase its versatility. Most brands offer adjustable bar lengths substitutions, which means you can use the same saw for cutting both large and small trees. However, it’s important to check whether your specific brand allows for bar substitutions before making any changes.

You can find this information in your product’s manual or on the manufacturer’s website. Being a professional, customizing your chainsaw can help you save money and increase the tool’s flexibility. But it’s essential to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and safety precautions when making any modifications.

With that being said, here are some of the prime factors to consider when changing the chainsaw’s bar.

Oiler Nipple and Bar Alignment

When replacing the bar of your chainsaw, it’s important to ensure that the new bar is the correct size and aligns with the oiler nipple. Look for the pitch size and guard slots on the bottom of the new blade to ensure that it will fit properly into your existing housing.

Proper alignment is essential to ensure that the chain receives sufficient lubrication and functions safely and efficiently. If you’re unsure about which bar size to choose or how to properly align the bar, consult the manufacturer’s guidelines or seek the advice of a professional.

Chain Replacement

When you replace the bar of your chainsaw, you’ll also need to replace the chain to ensure a proper fit. It’s crucial to select a chain that fits the diameter of the new bar snugly. It also makes sure the guide links fit properly into the guide slots.

If the guide links are too small, the chain can fall off. And if they’re too large, it can create excessive pressure, potentially causing the chain to snap at high speeds. To avoid hazardous conditions, it’s important to select a chain with the same pitch measurement as your new bar. With the correct measurements, finding a perfectly sized chain is a simple process.


Sprocket, which powers the chain using the engine, should also get close attention. The drive sprocket has grooves where the chain links slide in, and improperly sized chain links can cause problems such as grinding down the sprocket or chain snapping.

Upgrading a chainsaw requires following the precise instructions in the manual to avoid complications. It’s recommended to rely on professionals if you’re uncomfortable making changes to protect other parts.

If you plan to use a saw frequently, I advise purchasing it from a company that specializes in making saws, such as Jonsered, Husqvarna, or Stihl. These businesses are devoted to producing high-quality, secure chainsaws and not much else, so service and parts will be much easier to find. Hence, It’ll be even easier for you to customize your chainsaws according to tasks.


How big of a tree can a 16-inch chainsaw cut?

A 16-inch chainsaw can typically cut trees with a diameter of up to 32 inches, assuming the operator makes double-sided cuts. However, the most comfortable diameter to cut with a 16-inch chainsaw is around 14 inches or less.

How big of a tree can an 18-inch chainsaw cut?

An 18-inch chainsaw can generally cut tree diameters of up to 36 inches. But, a more comfortable diameter to cut would be around 16 inches or less.

How big of a tree can a 20-inch chainsaw cut?

A 20-inch chainsaw can usually cut trees with a diameter of up to 40 inches, assuming double-sided cuts.

How big of a tree can a 24-inch chainsaw cut?

A 24-inch chainsaw can generally cut trees with a diameter up to 48 inches, assuming double-sided cuts. The most comfortable diameter to cut with a 24-inch chainsaw is around 22 inches or less.

How big of a tree can a mini chainsaw cut?

A mini chainsaw can easily do smaller tasks like pruning and trimming and can cut branches and small trees up to a diameter of around 6 inches.

How big of a tree can a 14-inch chainsaw cut?

A 14-inch chainsaw can typically cut a tree diameter up to 28 inches, assuming double-sided cuts. However, the most comfortable diameter would be around 12 inches or less.


In conclusion, selecting the right chainsaw size can be daunting, especially if you need to familiarize yourself with the different types and sizes of chainsaws available in the market.

The first thing to consider is what you intend to use the saw for; a homeowner chopping up overgrowth branches has very different requirements than a logger in the logging business.

So by considering the type of task at hand and the appropriate bar length, you can choose the right size chainsaw that fits your needs.

Following the manufacturer’s guidelines when selecting the correct size is crucial to ensure safety and efficiency. You can save time, effort, and money in the long run by making the right choice.

Moreover, please ensure that you wear appropriate safety gear, such as eye and ear protection, gloves, and sturdy boots, and follow proper safety procedures when using a chainsaw.

Patrick McMann