How Big of a Tree Can a 20 Inch Chainsaw Cut? Find Out Now



A 20 inch chainsaw cutting a tree with a diameter of up to 40 inches

A 20 inch chainsaw can effectively cut trees with a diameter of up to 40 inches, applying the proper techniques and safety precautions.

When it comes to tackling the great outdoors and the myriad of tasks that come with it, such as tree cutting, having the right tools is crucial. A 20-inch chainsaw is a popular size that strikes a good balance between power and versatility. In this article, we will explore the cutting capacity of a 20 inch chainsaw, the factors that affect its performance, and provide practical tips for using such a chainsaw safely and effectively.

Understanding Chainsaw Bar Length vs. Cutting Capacity

The first step to understanding what a 20-inch chainsaw can do is to comprehend the relationship between the bar length and the cutting capacity. A chainsaw’s bar length is a measure from the tip of the chain to where it enters the housing. It’s an indicator of the maximum length of wood it can cut in a single pass.

Understanding the Capacity of a 20 Inch Chainsaw

20 inch chainsaw is a powerful tool in the hands of a skilled user. It’s designed to tackle a variety of cutting tasks, but what is the maximum size of a tree it can handle efficiently? To answer this question, we must look into several aspects of chainsaw use.

Chainsaw Specifications

The bar length of a chainsaw, which in this case is 20 inches, is a primary indicator of the maximum diameter of wood it can cut in a single pass. Typically, a chainsaw can cut a tree that is twice the length of the bar in a technique called double cutting. Hence, in theory, a 20 inch chainsaw could handle a tree that’s up to 40 inches in diameter.

Chainsaw Capability Reference Table

Bar Length (inches)Single Pass Cut Diameter (inches)Double Cutting Technique Diameter (inches)

Factors Influencing Cutting Capacity

  • Chainsaw Motor Power: The engine’s horsepower or the motor’s amperage is crucial for handling large diameters.
  • Chainsaw Chain Type: Some chains are designed for fast cutting while others are better for a smooth finish.
  • Wood Hardness: Softer woods like pine can be cut through more easily than hardwoods like oak.
  • User Experience: A skilled user can cut larger trees more effectively than a novice.
  • Maintenance: A well-maintained chainsaw with a sharp chain will perform better.

Practical Tips For Using a 20 Inch Chainsaw

  1. Always wear protective gear including gloves, goggles, and hearing protection.
  2. Maintain a sharp chain to improve cutting efficiency and reduce the risk of kickback.
  3. Employ the proper cutting techniques such as plunge cuts and bore cuts when dealing with large tree diameters.
  4. Understand the proper felling techniques to ensure safety and precision when cutting down trees.

Learn more: What Does Brushless Mean on a Chainsaw

Limits and Safety Considerations

Safety should always be your top priority when operating a chainsaw. Cutting a tree that’s too large or too hard can not only push your chainsaw to its limits but also pose a significant risk to your safety. Consider the following table for quick reference on what your 20-inch chainsaw can handle.

Tree DiameterRecommended ActionSafety Considerations
Up to 20 inchesSingle pass cutStandard precautions
20 to 40 inchesMultiple passes, plunge cutsAdvanced techniques required
Over 40 inchesProfessional assistance recommendedHigh risk of kickback and injury

Chainsaw Safety Gear

  • Chainsaw Helmet: Protects your head from falling branches.
  • Safety Goggles: Shields your eyes from wood chips and debris.
  • Chainsaw Gloves: Provides a better grip and protects your hands.
  • Chainsaw Chaps: Protects your legs from accidental cuts.
  • Ear Protection: Reduces the risk of long-term hearing damage.

Operational Techniques

  1. Make sure your chainsaw is sharp and properly maintained.
  2. Start with a top cut to create a notch in larger trees.
  3. Follow with a bottom cut directly beneath the top cut to meet the notch point.
  4. For trees wider than the chainsaw bar, make the plunge cut on the opposite side.


In conclusion, a properly maintained and skillfully operated 20 inch chainsaw can cut through trees with a diameter roughly up to 40 inches using the double cutting technique. However, the actual cutting capacity is influenced by several factors such as motor power, chain type, wood hardness, and user experience. Always prioritize safety, follow best practices, and consult with professionals if you’re unsure about taking on a large tree felling project.

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