Q/A: What Size Chainsaw Do I Need? Fine Chainsaw

Last Updated on January 6, 2023 by Sarker C. Weber

When you think about buying a chainsaw, many questions may come to your mind.

However, one of the most obvious is what size chainsaw do I need? And, you are right when you try to figure it out because this is one of the most important issues to consider.

Certainly, the size contributes to determining the weight and maneuverability of the chainsaw.

This is to say. This aspect is crucial when you decide what type of trees you can cut.

The good news is that the size of chainsaws is always fully aligned with the engine’s power and the rest of the features.

Thus, when you decide what size of chainsaw you need, you practically decide on the rest of the features.

Here we will answer your question about what size chainsaw do I need? To do so, we will consider the equation of key aspects of a chainsaw and the most important sides of your needs.

In order to make a well informed purchase, read our reviews: Best chainsaw for milling lumber, Best top handle chainsaw for arborist, Best chainsaw for beginners, Best chainsaw for farm and ranches, Best chainsaw for camping, Best 16-inch chainsaw reviews

How To Measure What Size Chainsaw Do I Need?

Due to that, a chainsaw consists of several pieces. Two major factors that determine the size of a chainsaw are as follows:

1. Bar Length

2. Size of the engine/power

Bar length

The bar is the primary criteria to measure the size of a chainsaw. Usually, when people talk about the size of a chainsaw, they refer to the bar length most of the time.

Overall, bar lengths start as little as 6 inches and go all the way up to more than 30 inches for professional versions.

When manufacturers design and manufacture chainsaws, their primary guide is the bar length.

The bar´s measure determines the size of the other parts as they have to ease the handle and maneuverability of the bar length.

Size of the engine/power

The size of the engine/motor is the second factor that determines the size of a chainsaw.

When we talk about engines for gas-powered chainsaws, the most popular are those with a 2-stroke internal combustion engine and cylinder volume that goes from 30 ccs up to 120 ccs.

On the other hand, we talk about the motor for electric chainsaws. They include both models, corded with energy measured in Amperes and cordless with energy measured in Volts.

In any case, they share a similar size of the motor.

When comparing the size of the engine/motor, gas-powered chainsaws are bigger than electric models.

They also need more space for additional parts such as the choke valve, carburetor, oil, fuel tanks, etc. As a consequence, the case must be bigger too.

To sum up, both electric and gas-powered chainsaws are compact devices that try to reduce the size of their parts as much as possible.

They share a similar size when they carry short bars, but gas-powered versions always get bigger due to additional parts.

Also, when the bar size is longer, the overall size of the entire device is bigger and heavier too. Only gas-powered chainsaws can handle the longest bars.

What are your needs?

The other part of the equation is to determine what your needs are to answer what size chainsaw do I need?

You must take into consideration that the final size you select will include several factors. In that sense, these are the main aspects to consider.

What do you need to cut?

Currently, the main use of chainsaws is to cut wood. But in nature, you can find wood in different sizes, diameters, widths, and densities.

Also, some arborist use chainsaws to sculpt wood or ice pieces. 

A rule of thumb states that to cut the diameter of a tree or piece of wood, you should add inches to the bar length to make sure you cut it properly.

So from this point of view, the bar length and engine power are crucial.

Where do you need to cut?

Trees and branches have different shapes and locations. Due to that, you might need more or less capacity to maneuver the chainsaw that might require you to adopt awkward positions.

So, the weight is crucial, and the size of the bar length determines it.

Moreover, it is necessary to consider how far the wood is from the source’s power (outlet). Also, what distance you will have to walk to get to the trees.

So, from this point of view, weight and distance seem to be the key factors to guarantee flexibility and avoid arm fatigue

Frequency of use

The frequency of use determines the skills you develop to use a chainsaw.

Therefore, it would be a mistake to pretend to use a very long bar only once in a while.

If you only use it occasionally, short bars with electric chainsaws are more appropriate.

But, then, longer bars would be the choice for professional cutters.

Physical resistance

Chainsaws are portable devices and you carry them over your body while you cut.

So, the size and weight affect differently to their users according to the physical resistance they have.

Classification of chainsaws according to their size

Now that you know the main factors to consider, it is time to put them all together to evaluate how they combine.

It is possible to classify them and determine the best job and the size you need.Below you will find our Recommended chainsaw sizes along with bar and cc.

Check the comparative chainsaw size chart below.

What Size Chainsaw Do I Need

Advantages of choosing the right size of chainsaw

When you choose the right size of the chainsaw, you will notice that you can cut the wood piece smoother and more efficiently.

Moreover, you won´t suffer too much arm fatigue because you would be applying the appropriate power to the job.

When it comes to safety, the right size of chainsaw makes the job safer because the device works according to its specifications. Also, you can learn to take better advantage of the functions and features of the device.


Q –  Can you change bar size on a chainsaw?

Yes, many chainsaws offer exchangeable bars. But, it doesn’t matter what other bar sizes you install because the original bar length continues to be the chainsaw size.

The engine/motor power and other functionalities were calculated to serve the original bar length.

Therefore, the power and maneuverability might diminish when you install a different size bar.

On the other hand, if you install a shorter bar, the maneuverability can change. 

So, it is important to consider that.

Q – Can I use small electric cordless chainsaws frequently?

Yes, you can use small electric cordless chainsaws as much as you need them.

Although it is initially recommended for occasional users, it doesn’t prevent being used daily.

Q – What is the best chainsaw size to cut hardwood?

It is common that hardwood trees have big diameters that may reach up to 36″ and the best option would be a Heavy Duty/professional gas-powered chainsaw of 20″.

Q – What is the longest bar I can put on an electric chainsaw?

The longest recommended bar for electric chainsaws is 18´´.


In short, the size of the chainsaw you choose is one of the most important issues to consider. 

So, it is logical that you wonder what size chainsaw do I need? But, despite the key factor determining a chainsaw is the bar, you can notice that it is not the only one to consider.

Above all, it is necessary to check your experience with chainsaws and the type o piece you are planning to cut.

With all that information in place, it is possible to make a decision that guarantees the best choice.

Read Our Latest Blog

Gas vs Electric Chainsaws: How to Choose the Right One?

8 Different Types of Chainsaws and Their Uses

Stihl vs Husqvarna Chainsaws | 100% Honest Comparison