What Chainsaw Size to Buy?

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You’ve reached the decision to buy a new chainsaw but can’t figure out the best bar length for your needs.

To the uninitiated, it can be a daunting task figuring out what is the best guide bar length that will be effective for cutting logs, trimming and pruning trees and a host of other jobs around your property or in the woods.

I’m here to help you learn about the various sizes of chainsaws and which is the perfect one for you.

As you might expect, the larger the bar, the more powerful it will be. Thus, if you’re employed in the forestry industry, I highly recommend going with a professional-grade saw blade greater than twenty inches.

To begin, let’s examine the different guide bar lengths by inches and their pros and cons with regards to common uses.

What type of work are you doing?

For those basic tasks you never seem to have time to get done, you only need a chainsaw with a saw bar that’s capable of cutting through average-sized limbs.

There are other factors to take into consideration, including not only blade length but also the power of the saw’s engine displacement. This, by the way, is measured in cubic inches. Furthermore – and I can’t stress this enough – whatever blade length you need, it will be determined by your chainsaw’s horsepower.

Guide bar length is determined by the type of chainsaw you have

The least powerful member of the chainsaw family is the electric chainsaw. These economically – priced power tools often sell like hotcakes at local hardware stores. The reason for their lack of power as compared to other types of chainsaws is due to the fact that you must either plug them in or power them with a strong battery.

On average, the bar lengths for an electric saw range between 8 and 12 inches, although nowadays models with longer bars are becoming increasingly common. At this size, you’ll be able to do yard work like thinning out those overgrown limbs, pruning trees to make them look nice and slicing off the branches of smaller fallen trees. In case you’re wondering, I’ll tell you now that any blade under 12 inches will be useless when it comes to felling big trees or cutting up your winter firewood.

10 – 14 inches

Bar lengths of 10 – 14 inches tend to be found on light-duty chainsaws, which for all intents and purposes are the standard chainsaw most suburban yuppies and do-it-yourself types prefer. With this length of bar, you’ll be getting an engine displacement of 30-45 ccs.

A guide bar length of 10-14 inches will give you considerably more leeway. You’ll have no difficulty removing and cutting up larger limbs as well as those smaller trees that have become a nuisance around your property.

If you are looking to buy an electric saw from this range, I would recommend the Remington RM1425, or the DEWALT DCCS620P1. Both are reasonably priced, and ideal for the average homeowner.

14 – 18 inches

First off, I personally recommend that medium to heavy-duty saws, which generally contain a guide bar length of 14-18 inches, not be operated by those who have no experience using chainsaws. On the other hand, if you do and are comfortable, by all means, cut away.

With an engine displacement of 40 to 50 cc, you’ll have more than enough power in your hands to get lots of work done. Save your smaller chainsaws for the less menial work and focus on the big stuff.

Bar lengths of between 14 – 18 inches are perfect for cutting that cord of wood those of us in the northern climates need for firewood this winter. They cut through massive tree limbs with ease and are great for getting rid of small to medium – sized tree trunks and evens stumps.

These workhorses are especially effective for cutting up and removing fallen trees and other debris left by storm damage.

Some of the electric chainsaws I would recommend from this range are the Greenworks 20312, and the Oregon CS1500.

20 inches and higher

Many years ago, I worked as a professional forester. I can tell you from experience that guide bar lengths of 20 inches and greater are truly your professional – grade or, to put it another way, the major league of chainsaws. Since these blades are designed for cutting through large diameter trunks such as pine and spruce trees, they generally aren’t necessary for homeowners.

To meet the demands of heavy work done by these powerful blades, the engine displacement is 60 cc up to 120 cc.

Yes, when you get into this category of blade, it’s strictly heavy-duty use only. In addition to forestry professionals, chainsaws with bars greater than 20 inches are commonly used by farmers and folks who live in rural areas that be frequent sawing when performing property maintenance.

One final word about chainsaw bar lengths

I hope you feel more confident now that you’ve been informed about the various lengths of chainsaws.

From here on out, it’s completely up to you what you will ultimately need and purchase for your home, property, or professional needs.

If you’re just puttering around the yard doing trivial tasks, a chainsaw blade of under 12 inches will be the right fit for you. But, if you’ve got a ton of cleanup to do or firewood to get ready, 14 – 18 inches is what you need.

At the end of the day, the general rule is the larger the trees being cut, the bigger the blade should be.

Peter Toth

Hi! I'm Peter, the owner of BackyardGadget. Working around the house has always been a big part of my life. I've created this site to share my experience, and to help people choose the right tools for the job. Thank you for stopping by!