What Size Chainsaw Do I Need to Cut down a Tree? Find Out



A medium-sized chainsaw perfect for cutting down trees

For cutting down trees, use a chainsaw with a bar length of 14-16 inches for small trees and 20-24 inches for larger trees.

When it comes to cutting down a tree, having the right tool for the job is essential. One important aspect of selecting the right equipment is determining the appropriate chainsaw size. The size of the chainsaw you’ll need depends on several factors including the diameter of the tree, the type of wood, and your personal experience with handling chainsaws. In this guide, we will walk you through how to choose the correct chainsaw size and provide some key considerations and safety tips.

Type of Chainsaws

Before we delve into sizes, it’s important to understand that there are different types of chainsaws:

  • Gas-Powered Chainsaws: Ideal for larger projects and more frequent use. They offer more power and mobility but are also heavier and noisier.
  • Electric Chainsaws: Suitable for small to medium-sized tasks. Quieter and lighter than gas models, but restricted by cord length or battery life.
  • Battery-Powered Chainsaws: Offer the mobility of gas models without the exhaust, and are easier to start. However, they may lack the power needed for larger trees.

Determining the Right Chainsaw Size

It’s not just about the most powerful chainsaw in the market; it’s about the right chainsaw that can handle the job without causing you fatigue or endangering your safety. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you choose:

Chainsaw Bar Length (inches)Recommended Tree Diameter (inches)Type of Work
14-166-12Pruning, trimming, light cutting
18-2012-16Medium cutting, storm clean-up
22-2416-20Heavy cutting, firewood
24+20+Professional logging, large trees

Note: The chainsaw bar length isn’t the sole indicator of its cutting capacity. Factors such as the power of the engine (measured in cc or cubic centimeters) play a significant role.

Engine Power and the Cutting Task

The power of the chainsaw’s engine, measured in cubic centimeters (cc), also plays a crucial role. Generally, the larger the tree, the more powerful the engine needed.

Bar Length
Engine Power
12-1430-40 cc
16-1840-50 cc
20-2450-60 cc
24-3660-70 cc
36+70+ cc

Remember that more power means faster cutting, but it also means a heavier chainsaw which could contribute to user fatigue and reduced safety.

Understanding Chainsaw Bar Length and Engine Power

  • Chainsaw Bar Length: This refers to the length of the cutting area of the chainsaw. Generally, the bar should be 2 inches longer than the tree is thick. However, professional loggers often follow the “one-third” rule, preferring to use a bar that is one-third longer than the diameter of the tree.
  • Engine Power: Measured in cubic centimeters (cc), a higher cc means more power to the chainsaw. For instance, a 50cc engine would be sufficient for a 16-inch bar, but you might want a 70cc engine for a 24-inch bar.

As a rule of thumb, more experienced users can handle larger chainsaws with higher power, as it comes with increased weight and vibration.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Chainsaw

  • Your own physical strength and experience with chainsaws.
  • The condition of the tree (dead, alive, moisture content, etc).
  • Whether you’re cutting down the entire tree or just trimming branches.
  • Safety features and ergonomic design of the chainsaw.
  • Maintenance requirements and ease of part replacement.

Safety Precautions when Using a Chainsaw

Do not underestimate the importance of safety. When using a chainsaw, irrespective of its size, you should always:

  • Wear protective gear like gloves, safety goggles, ear protection, and leg protection.
  • Ensure that the chainsaw has features like a chain brake, vibration damping, and throttle lock.
  • Keep others at a safe distance away from the cutting area.
  • Never cut with the chainsaw above shoulder height.
  • Always read the user manual thoroughly before operating a new chainsaw.

Remember that even with the right size chainsaw, cutting down a tree can be dangerous. If you do not have experience, it’s best to hire a professional.


In conclusion, the size of chainsaw you need for cutting down a tree involves considering the tree’s diameter, the job type, your experience, and safety measures. A chainsaw with a bar that’s too long can be unwieldy, while one that’s too short won’t get through the wood efficiently. Generally, a bar length of 18-20 inches is sufficient for most tasks. However, if you regularly deal with larger trees or heavy-duty cutting, a longer bar with higher engine power might be necessary.

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