Chainsaw Sizing 101 – What Size Chainsaw Do I Need? (Engine cc & Bar Length)

| Last Updated: February 8, 2021

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Being able to size your chainsaw correctly is important, depending on the task.

Sizing isn't just how long the bar is; it's the motor and considering variables like how often it's used and where it'll be used. Below we'll explain to you what sizes you should be looking at for various situations.

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)

There are many questions to answer before you find the ideal size for various situations. Below are a few things to consider. 

What Big of Bar Do I Need? 

To find the ideal bar size, add two inches to the thickness of wood you’re cutting. For example, a 10-inch tree would require a 12-inch bar.

What Size Motor Do I Need? 

If your bar size is 18-inches or below, an engine between 55cc and 67cc is suitable. Any bar between 18 and 36-inches is suited to 65cc and 88cc. 

Gas or Electric Engine? 

Gas engines are heavier but more powerful. Whereas electric engines are lighter and suited to beginners.

What Size is Best For Cutting Trees?

A 12-inches thick tree can be cut with a 14-inch bar, a 16-inch tree and below can be cut with a bar between 16 and 18-inches long. A tree 18-inches or larger can be cut with a 20-inch bar or more.

What's The Best Size For Homeowners?

Most suburban trees are usually small or medium-sized, if you’re pruning or felling this can be done using between a 14 and 16-inch chainsaw.

How Big of a Chainsaw Do I Need?

When you think about size, it can mean the bar or motor size, but there are many other variables to consider when thinking about the size. In the article below, we'll go further into detail on these considerations.

What Size Chainsaw Bar Do I Need?

Bar size is important because if you have the correct length, you'll have less chance of your chainsaw pinching the wood and creating a kickback

Most experts would say that the general rule of thumb is that you should add two inches to the wood thickness you're cutting to get the length of a suitable bar. For example, if you're cutting wood that's 12-inches thick, you should be using a bar 14-inches long. 

What Size Chainsaw Motor Do I Need? Should I Opt For Gas or Electric?

Of course, the more power available, the faster you can cut the wood. Any engine should cut through the wood; the power only determines the speed it can cut. 

Most chainsaw experts recommend anything that any bar up to 18-inches should have between a 55cc and 67cc engine. Anything between 18 and 36-inches will require between 68cc and 85cc. 

Electric chainsaws are a lot lighter and better at maneuvering as there are fewer moving parts, making them great for beginners, in contrast to gas chainsaws, which are more powerful but far heavier due to their two-stroke combustion engines

What Size Chainsaw For Cutting Trees?

There are many different thicknesses of trees, so we've categorized them into three different sizes to help keep things easy. However, please keep in mind it does depend on the particular thickness of that specific tree. 

  • Small Trees - When you think of a small tree, it's something that's sitting in your garden or the local play park. It's nothing too serious, and you could easily wrap your arms around it. 12 to 14-inches should do just fine. 

  • Medium Trees - Medium-sized trees fall under the bracket of between 14 to 16-inches, slightly intimidating and just out of reach of the hug test. It's recommended to use a bar length between 16 to 18-inches. 

  • Large Trees - A large tree should be a maximum for anyone who isn't a professional to cut down. They tend to be 18-inches and larger, so it's recommended 20-inches and over to fall this tree. 

Best Size Chainsaw For Homeowners?

Whether you're a homeowner that wants to remove the dead tree from the front yard or you're collecting firewood for your furnace. There are a few options to consider below. 

  • Pruning a Tree - If you're living in a quiet neighborhood, chances are you'll not need a large, heavy-duty chainsaw; if you're just looking to prune the tree to keep it tidy, a small 12-inch chainsaw will do the trick. 

  • Felling a Tree On The Lawn - Most trees in the land of suburbia aren't that big; when felling a medium tree, it's important to prune as many branches as possible before the final felling. You'd benefit from a 14 to a 16-inch chainsaw to complete both tasks. 


The main point to take away here is that if you want power, go for a gas engine; if you want lightweight, go for electric, and most importantly of all, when determining the bar length, understand the wood thickness.