What Size Chainsaw Do I Need? – Ultimate Guide (Dec 2023)

James Lawson
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Every homeowner has dreamt of splitting their firewood in snowy winters and relaxing with no one around. You can achieve this dream using a simple chainsaw. However, working with the tool is a very delicate process. You need to conduct thorough research regarding it, from the type of the chainsaw to its size. People use the device for various reasons, whether to prune their plants or cut through concrete. Hence, every job requires a different type of chainsaw. 

So, if you’re asking yourself, ‘what size chainsaw do I need?’, you’re at just the right place. This article describes everything you need to know about chainsaws to select a size. You will also learn about the various benefits and features of different chainsaws. 

About Chainsaws

If you are a beginner, it is helpful to familiarize yourself with the tool before looking at its technical aspects. You must also learn about the working of any device before using it to avoid causing damage. A chainsaw could cause great harm if you do not use it properly. So, this section discusses some basic facts about chainsaws. Here, you will learn more about its history, design, and build, which will help you determine your chainsaw needs. 


A chainsaw is essentially a saw that uses mobility. While its origin is quite unclear, some believe it was created to aid surgeries. Many early saws were to help cut through bones during an operation. However, over time people designed it for other purposes like cutting wood, limbing, bucking, and more. 

Structure and Design

The design for every blade differs depending on its use. However, most chainsaws share the same base structure.

Every chainsaw has a blade that rotates when you power the tool and cuts through the target. Many factors can affect the structure of a blade. Here are some of the most common ones:

  • Size: It is likely the most important factor to differentiate between chainsaws and their uses. An average man usually owns chainsaws with 14-inch to 20-inch long blades. This range of blades covers most tasks a regular homeowner would use a saw for.
  • Teeth: every chainsaw blade has a row of teeth surrounding it. Depending on the purpose, these teeth usually vary in toughness, size, and quantity. While the difference between the teeth of different chainsaws is not usually noticeable, it is an important factor. The teeth are often sharper and offer more power to cut through more dense objects like bricks and concrete.
  • Engine: Apart from the parts we mentioned above, every chainsaw has an engine. The engine powers the device to rotate the blades. Further, this element varies depending on the machine’s power source. 

How to Measure Chainsaw Blades?

Man slicing open a log with a chainsaw

Usually, people measure the cutter in inches. However, there are exceptions in regions that use the metric system. 

You can find out the size of a chainsaw with the length of its blade. While buying chainsaws, check their packing thoroughly. The makers generally mention the size of the cover. If you own a chainsaw and have lost its cover, search for the product size near the handle or engine. You can also use an inch-tape to measure the blade directly instead of searching for print on the machine’s body. Once you gauge it, if it is an odd number, you can round it off to the nearest even digit. For example, if it’s 15 inches long, take it as a 16-inch chainsaw. 

Which Size Is Ideal for You?

We listed various types of chainsaws in different sizes further in the article. While every machine has a unique use, people often make the mistake of selecting a random blade for their task. Here are some parameters to keep in mind while selecting your saw size. 


You must consider its purpose before buying a chainsaw to be exact. A manual saw may not be your top choice if you want to cut through dense branches for land clearing. 

You must also assess your requirements and frequency of use. Most homeowners with small gardens select 14-inch chainsaws for maintenance and pruning. Moreover, they can be a helpful addition to your toolbox and come in handy around the house. On the other hand, if you want to perform some heavy-duty tasks, a 20-inch chainsaw is ideal. 

It would be helpful to measure the girth of your target object before buying the machine. If the trunk diameter is eight inches, opt for a 10-inch saw. Similarly, if the base is six inches wide, go for an 8-inch saw. 


The second factor for size selection is your experience and comfort using a chainsaw. As we mentioned earlier, these are dangerous devices. So, if you are new to using a chainsaw, we suggest starting small. Do not try to drop large trees in your backyard using a large chainsaw on your own. First-time users can start with tasks like trimming and pruning with blades from six to ten inches long. 

Types of Chainsaw Blades

You can find a wide range of chainsaws in the market. This variety gives the user plenty of options to select from. There are five main types of chainsaws, and they all differ in size and power sources. You can further divide these types into sub-categories based on size and precise uses.

Here are the different types of chainsaws:

  • Manual Chainsaws

Manual chainsaws are the smallest on the list. They are highly portable, and you can always carry them around. Hence, they are also called “pocket saws.” However, their small size limits their uses to only small-end tasks like pruning and minor cutting. So, a manual chainsaw is not the correct option to cut a big tree. Moreover, the device takes much time to finish more sizable tasks due to its weak cutting skills and small size. o

If you have a small garden, manual chainsaws are your top choice. You can use the device for tasks like pruning and trail-clearing. 

  • Cordless Chainsaws

As the name suggests, these chainsaws are cordless and portable as well. They are essentially electric chainsaws, but they run on a battery. Since there is no cord, you can carry this saw anywhere. This feature makes the device ideal for travel purposes. This saw is also bigger than the previous one. Hence, you can perform heavier tasks with it. The size range for cordless saws usually allows you to do small to mid-sized cutting jobs.

While it is not as powerful as most chainsaws, it is beneficial for touching up after finishing a big task. You can also use it for light-duty jobs like cutting off small branches, shaping trees, and cutting small firewood. Further, the saw can also slice through the plastic. 

There are cordless gasoline-powered saws available in the market. However, when people refer to a “cordless chainsaw,” it generally means battery-powered. Further, most of these saws use a lithium-ion battery. This battery is rechargeable, so you need not worry about purchasing new ones. Additionally, if you have not used your cordless saw in a while, it would be best to charge it before using it.

  • Electric Chainsaws

Electric chainsaws are corded, and as the name suggests, they run on electricity. Since you actively plug them into a power source during use, they offer more power than the previous devices. However, a big issue with using this type of saw is portability. You can only use an electric chainsaw as far as its cord lets you. 

This machine is your best option if you want to perform cutting jobs near only a specific area. You can also use extension cords to give yourself some liberty. Due to its higher amp, you can use this for more powerful jobs like cutting down dying trees. Electric saws are generally powerful enough to slice through entire tree trunks. However, selecting the saw size according to the tree’s girth would be best. 

  • Gas-Powered Chainsaws

A gasoline chainsaw is your best bet when dealing with large trees. This saw is the most powerful one you can buy for personal use. A gas-powered chainsaw uses a fuel tank from which the gas ultimately releases to ignite and produce energy. If you regularly cut down trees from your estate and use them as firewood, this machine is your top choice. A downside to this saw is the fumes it releases, which can often be toxic. 

  • Pneumatic Chainsaws

These chainsaws are huge in size and meant for industrial purposes. You can find this machine on various construction sites and building areas. A pneumatic saw is not easy to find for personal use since they are not for retail. They are unavailable from local vendors and retailers, so you must buy them straight from the makers.

Safety Tips 

Man wearing a protective suit, cutting up logs in the forest

Follow these tips for the best results with a chainsaw:

  • Hold the machine correctly. If it is a rear-handle chainsaw, use both hands and do not get tardy. Similarly, if it is a top-handle saw, hold it straight. 
  • Do not stand directly behind the machine. Kickback is one of the most common chainsaw injuries. Extra force might throw the tool back into you and cause physical harm. So, always stand next to the machine to exercise control over it.
  • Next, make sure to wear proper safety gear, like goggles for eyes and head protection. 
  • Also, ensure that the chainsaw is not touching any part of your body before turning it on. Further, avoid moving around with a working saw in hand.
  • Keep away from the muffler while using the tool to avoid causing burns.
  • Avoid using the machine when alone. It is best to have someone around in case of any accidents or mishaps.

What Size Chainsaw Do I Need? – A Guide to Size, Purpose, and More: Summary

People use chainsaws for various purposes, whether personal or industrial. If you are looking for the tool to cut some firewood or shape the trees in your backyard, be selective. You can assess factors like the tool’s purpose and your experience with it to select the size you should buy. Chainsaws are measured in inches, and most homeowners find 14-20-inch blades most useful. You can also select pocket chainsaws for minor tasks.

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