Chainsaw bars come in a variety of sizes. It’s pretty intuitive: the longer the bar, the larger the job your chainsaw can handle.
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Knowing how to measure your chainsaw bar is useful for those times you might need to replace the chain. It is possible to switch out your chainsaw bar for a longer one, but your machine has to have enough power to handle the extra effort needed.
In this article, we will answer the question of how to measure your chainsaw bar, and how much length you can add to different sized machines to increase the length of your chainsaw without sacrificing power and functionality. At a certain point, you will have to upgrade to a bigger chainsaw to handle really big jobs.
Chainsaws come in a variety of sizes. For the most part, the majority of home-owned saws have bars that measure between 10 inches and 20 inches in length, although super-sized home chainsaws can go as large as a 24-inch bar.
Professional saws can carry a much longer bar than that, even upwards of 50 inches! Probably more cutting length than you will need for most homeowner jobs.
How do I measure a chainsaw bar?
Measuring a saw to replace the blade is pretty easy. You just measure from the very end of where the blade emerges from the machine to the tip of the blade.
This is known as a called length. It is basically the part of the blade that emerges from the machine, not the overall length of the bar which is partially embedded inside the machine.
Is there more than one type of chainsaw bar?
Yes. There are more or less two types of chainsaw bars: hard-nosed, and sprocket nose bars. In the case of a chainsaw, a sprocket is a kind of a wheel, with teeth, that engages with the chain to pull it around and create the movement for its cutting power.
It is located on the end of the bar which is why it is called a nose sprocket. The other kind has no sprocket, or wheel at its tip, and is basically for less controlled environments where a more delicate sprocket nosed tip could get damaged or jammed.
Sprocket nose bars need regular greasing with an inexpensive grease gun to keep from getting jammed.
What is a narrow-kerf bar?
A narrow kerf bar is a chainsaw bar that is simply more narrow than a regular one, so it carries a more narrow chain. This means that it cuts a more narrow groove, making it suitable for lighter work, which is good for most homeowner chainsaw jobs.
A narrow-kerf bar will not serve you well on large jobs like felling large trees.
Can you switch out your chainsaw bar for a longer one?
Yes…up to a point.
Your chainsaw will need to have enough power to be able to handle a longer bar. If not, and the power is not enough, your chainsaw will not function properly.
Chainsaws need to have sufficient power to handle certain length bars. The bottom line is that without this the saw will be underpowered and won’t cut properly. A battery-powered chainsaw with an 18-24 volt battery can only handle about a 10-inch bar.
But with a battery pack that carries 36-40 volts, the chainsaw bar handled is longer; to the tune of 12-16 inches. And at 56-80 volts, your battery-powered chainsaw could go as long as 16-18 inches.
An electric chainsaw with an 8-10 amp powered motor can handle a 10-14 inch bar, and an electric saw with 12-15 amp motor can go up to 16-18 inches. A gas-powered chainsaw with 32-42 ccs of power can take a 14-16 inch bar.
At 45-50 cc that bar can increase to 18-20 inches, and a 51-60 cc bar can handle a whopping 20-24 inches of cutting length.
Many chainsaws are designed to take different size units. This can go in both directions.
You could theoretically put a smaller bar on a larger chainsaw if you like, or, more likely, enlarge your chainsaw with a longer bar. However, you should know that not all saws can be outfitted with different sized bars, so check the specs for each individual model, by reading an operator’s manual, and/or checking online reviews.
What is a chainsaw bar made of?
Guide bars in our days are made from materials that are both strong and lightweight. Aluminum combines both of these qualities, as well as having endurance and rust-resistant properties.
Chrome-moly steel is another frequent player in the chainsaw design world. It has the disadvantage of being heavier but is also stronger than aluminum.
What size chainsaw bar do I need?
The size of your bar depends upon the kind of work you wish to accomplish with your machine. For the homeowner need to prune trees than a small chainsaw is the best choice.
You don’t want to be carrying around a bunch of extra weight that you don’t need, especially if the work involves reaching up. Even a light chainsaw can get heavy quickly when used for a while, and even more so if the work means you’ve got your arms in the air.
Plus, a smaller size means you can fit into smaller spaces, and be more precise in your pruning. The size of bar required will depend on the type of cutting you are planning to do.
A larger, more powerful saw can, however, save you time and energy by allowing you to cut more quickly and easily through larger branches and other pieces of wood. Here is a basic guide.
- 8-14 inch bladed chainsaws are best for trimming, light cutting, pruning, cutting small trees and removing tree limbs when necessary.
- 16-18 inch blades are good for storm clean up, removing tree limbs, and working with medium-sized trees.
- 20-24 inch blades can handle almost any homeowner task, even in rural settings and on farms. They are also good for cutting firewood and felling large trees.
Keep in mind that large chainsaws mean extra weight, and they can really tire you out after a while.