How to Measure A Chainsaw Bar And Know Your Chainsaw Size

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Measuring a chainsaw bar isn’t complicated and it can be done really quickly.

Obviously, it’s literally a case of getting out the tape measure and measuring from one point to another. That’s really the only question – from where to where do you measure a chainsaw bar?

The answer is that you measure from the powerhead to the tip of the bar. It’s that simple. You do not measure from one end of the bar to the other, but from where the bar exits the casing to the tip.

Measuring A Chainsaw Bar

how to measure a stihl chainsaw bar
This Stihl 011 has a 16″ or 40 cm bar

The first thing to know about chainsaw bar lengths is that it’s almost always given as an even number.

For example, you won’t find 13.5, 17.8, or 16.4-inch bars, only those that are 12, 13, 16, or 20 inches long. That includes long chainsaw bars like 36-inch bars, 41″, 59″, and so on.

The measurement is always rounded up or down. For example, a bar that measures 17.5 inches from body to tip would actually be classed as an 18-inch bar. A 16.5-inch measurement would round down to a 16″ bar.

The ‘chain bar length’ also goes by a few different names:

  • Cutting length
  • Effective cutting length
  • Chainsaw length
  • Chainsaw blade length

When someone says they have a chainsaw with an 18-inch bar, they are talking about this measurement.

How To Measure A Chainsaw Bar

measure for replacement chainsaw bar

This is my Husqvarna 450e and it measures 19.68 inches (or 50 cm) from the powerhead to the tip.

This measurement is taken from the tip of the bar to where the bar meets the chainsaw body. It’s not the entire length of the bar if it were to be removed from the saw and measured end-to-end.

The end-to-end measurement of the chainsaw bar is called the true length. This tends to be a couple of inches longer than the effective length.

If you need to know what size chainsaw bar your machine is running it’s best to check the manual. If you know the model number it’s more than likely the chainsaw manual is available online.

If you got your chainsaw secondhand and need help working out the size, this is what you can do.

When buying a new replacement bar, either:

  • Bring in the old one to the store (still attached to the body if necessary)
  • Find the chainsaw manual online
  • Check the old or current bar itself for the measurements
  • Measure it (the easiest thing to do)
  • Ask for advice in the many good FB groups

The chainsaw bar itself, more often than not, will have the bar length displayed on it, along with other measurements.

The chainsaw chain direction is with the cutter facing the tip when viewed on the top of the bar.

Chainsaw Bar Measurements

how do you measure the length of a chainsaw bar
When selling a chainsaw, buyers will want to know the bar length

Nearly all chain bars will have the size written on them.

This Husqvarna bar, for example, has a number of measurements relating to both the bar and chain measurements.

measure husqvarna bar

From left to right the measurements are:

  • 10-inch/25 cm bar
  • 1/4″ pitch
  • 0.050″ gauge

Often these measurements are etched rather than merely printed into the chain bar.

Even if your chainsaw has seen a bit of use you should be able to distinguish these markings.

Common Chainsaw Bar Lengths

chainsaw bar lengths inches centimeters
A 20-inch bar is sufficient for most home tasks

These are the most common bar sizes:

  1. 10-inch: These are typically used on smaller, lightweight chainsaws. Out DEWALT battery chainsaw has this size, for example. They are ideal for pruning, light cutting, and hobbyist work.
  2. 12-inch to 14-inch: These sizes are still on the smaller end of the spectrum but offer a bit more power and versatility. They are suitable for pruning, limbing, and cutting small trees.
  3. 16-inch: This is a very common size for residential and general-purpose use chainsaws. It strikes a good balance between power and manageability, suitable for cutting medium-sized trees and a variety of other tasks.
  4. 18-inch to 20-inch: These bars are common in both residential and professional chainsaws. They are capable of handling larger trees and tougher cutting jobs while still being manageable for many users.
  5. 24-inch to 30-inch: These sizes are typically used for professional-grade chainsaws. They are designed for cutting large trees and are commonly used in forestry and heavy-duty cutting tasks.
  6. 36-inch and above: These are specialized, large bars used in professional forestry work. They are designed for the largest trees and toughest cutting conditions.

Most chainsaw bars will be one of these typical sizes.

Chainsaw Bar Sizes

how to buy replacement chainsaw blade
That’s all there is to it – get out the tape measure

How do you measure a chainsaw bar?

From the tip to the body – that’s all there is to it. When in doubt, take your saw to a local dealer and get their advice. 

You don’t always have to get the exact same size bar when buying a replacement for your chainsaw. A lot of people will put smaller or larger bars onto their saw than what they came with. Just the check manufacturer’s recommended bar sizes.

Whether you have a Stihl, Husqvarna, or even an EGO battery-powered chainsaw, that’s how to find out the bar size.


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