When sizing a chainsaw there are several factors to consider. First, what
diameter wood will you be cutting. This will determine what size bar you
need. Say for instance that you have a large trunk nearly 40" across. This
will necessitate at least a 20" bar to cut though the entire piece. The
second factor will be time. If you plan on cutting several cords or
firewood, heating a home and maybe having some to sell on the side - then
you'll want a large high displacement model that can tear though logs. If
your goal is just to clean up a few limbs from the last storm your needs
are quite different.
- Power to Weight Ratio : When shopping for a chainsaw try to find a good combination of size and power. Power matters most
if you'll be cutting hardwood (oak, maple, etc.) rather than softwood
(pine, fir, etc.). Remember that with power comes weight. A large saw can get pretty
heavy after a long session of cutting. Cheap saws tend to weigh more
than their more expensive counter parts. Pay attention to the "power to
Bar length is measured from the cutting tip to where the
chain enters the housing. Remember: a saw with a 16" bar can cut
through a 32" log.
Standard bar lengths typically come in 2" increments starting at 12" and
going clear up over 60" on the largest models. While more always seems
like better, a longer bar can be very hard to handle and increases the
likelihood of running the bar into the dirt which quickly dulls the
- Engine displacement is a measurement of the size of the
engines cylinders. Typically a saw with more displacement has more
power. Today this logic is skewed some as many saws will share a common
engine, but by tweaking compression and fuel ratios the manufactured can
change the true power output. The most reputable brands publish both
engine displacement and horsepower so you know what your getting.
- Chain pitch is the spacing of each link on the chain.
There are several common sizes (3/8 .325, .404) Generally larger
links are used on larger saws.