How To Measure Chainsaw Bar – Learn From Experts

The chain on your chainsaw needs to be sharpened to keep it in good condition. However, there comes a time when replacing is inevitable. Replacing a chain saw chain will require you to know how long the chain is as well as the length of the chainsaw bar.

The bar is the part of the chainsaw which the chain wraps around. Getting the length of this part will help you know what size of chain to get. This is especially if your current chain is broken or missing.

With that being said, the topic for this article is how to measure chainsaw bar. Obviously, there are several ways of measuring bar length. Towards this end, we will focus mainly on how to measure chainsaw bar length STIHL.

Stihl is one of the leading chainsaw manufacturers who made top-handle chainsaw to various kinds of chainsaw around, and most chainsaws in use today are Stihl products. Now let us look at how to measure chainsaw bar length.

Cutting Length vs. Actual Bar Length

When it comes to the bar, there are two measurements you need to be aware of, the cutting length and the actual bar length. These two differ by some few inches, with the actual length being the longer of the two.

To get the cutting length take a tape measure and measure from where the bar goes into the motor housing all the way to the bar’s tip. The result you get if it is a fraction or in a decimal round it to the nearest number.

Cutting Length vs. Actual Bar Length​

For example, if you get 15.4 inches, take it as 16 inches. The most common cutting bar lengths are 16, 18, and 20 inches. To get the entire length of the bar, you have to first find the casing holding screws and unscrew them.

This will expose the whole bar. With the bar exposed, measure its entire length with a tape measure from one end to the other. The result you get should be 2 to 3 inches longer than the cutting length.

Chainsaw Bar Length vs. CC

Generally, the term chainsaw bar length refers to the overall length of the bar. This length will be important when getting a replacement chain. Another factor that is equally important is the motor cc.

CC refers to a chainsaw’s engine displacement, which is measured in cubic centimeters or cc for short. So how does chainsaw bar length vs. cc affect the kind of chain you get? Well, a longer and heavier bar length will require more power.

A 20-inch bar will require more power than a 16-inch bar. In this regard, it is essential to match the length of the bar to the engine cc.

Chainsaw Bar Sizes

When shopping for a replacement bar, you will want to know the most common chainsaw bar sizes. The most common bar sizes range between 6 inches and 20 inches.

6-inch bars are standard in small cheap electric chainsaws. Bigger gasoline-powered chainsaws use 20-inch bars. The size of the bar is usually indicated on the bar. New replacement bars typically have these numbers stamped on them.

What Is A Guide Bar On A Chainsaw?

One of the most important parts of a chainsaw is the guide bar. So what is a guide bar on a chainsaw? Different from the bar, the guide bar is the small metallic part that protrudes from the main motor.

The chain rotates around this oval-shaped bar at a steady pace which helps reduce friction. Don’t know how fast your chainsaw chain rotates find the exact number by holding a chainsaw tachometer. Guide bars are constructed from a variety of solid and lightweight materials. The most common materials used include aluminum and chrome-moly steel.

In terms of size, guide bars vary in size from small 10 inch bars to giant 59 inch bars. The latter size of bars is used on professional-grade chainsaws. The primary purpose of guide bars is to reduce the friction of the rotating chain, which improves the life span of the chain.

What Is The Best Chainsaw Bar Length?

So, What is the best chainsaw bar length? This is a question that will pop into your mind when thinking of buying a replacement bar. Generally speaking, there is no one specific bar length that is best for all applications.

A bar length of 8 to 16 inches will be suitable for pruning trees. However, such a bar length will be unideal for felling trees and for harvesting firewood. On the other hand, 16 to 18 inches of bar length will be suitable for felling trees. 

However, the more preferred bar length for a felling tree is between 18 and 20 inches. While the most suitable bar length for firewood harvesting is 20 to 24 inches. 

In essence, there are different chainsaw bar sizes, each suited to different purposes. Thus, it will highly depend on what you use your chainsaw for. 

Are Chainsaw Chains Universal?

Another question that I encounter pretty often is; are chainsaw chains universal? Chainsaw chains come in different lengths and designs. The kind of chain used on an electric chainsaw will differ from that of a gasoline-powered one. This is despite them having an almost similar appearance and parts.

Gasoline-powered chainsaws typically have longer chains as they are predominantly used for cutting bigger tree trunks. Smaller electric-powered chainsaws, on the other hand, have shorter chains.

Other aspects of the chain also differ. This includes the thickness of the blades and the distance between them. Referred to as gauge and pitch respectively, these two aspects vary between chainsaws.

In a nutshell, there are no universal chains that can be used on all chainsaws. When choosing a replacement chain, it is essential to consider this. Different types of chains are suited to various applications.


Chainsaws have a lot of moving parts, and some seem small and insignificant. However, every component has a role to play in the proper functioning of a chainsaw. Replacing a chain or even a bar will require you to understand these parts.

Measuring the length of the bar in particular. The bar is a crucial component, and no chainsaw can work without it. Also, installing a long chain on a short bar can lead to damage or, worse, an accident.

Thus when shopping for a replacement chain, it is crucial to consider the length of the bar. The length will help you know what size chain to get.

Daren Rifen
Daren Rifen
Hi! My name is Daren Rifen and I am a woodworker enthusiast. I love DIY projects, such as furniture that can be used in the home. Throughout my life I have been involved in many forms of woodworking: carpentry, cabinet making, boat building, sign painting to name just a few. I also enjoy doing hand-on tests and reviews about different types of saws for cutting different materials. I grew up in a small town in Wisconsin and I have always been into making things with my hands. As soon as I was old enough to hold a hammer (about 4 years old), I would go around the house looking for things that needed fixing or building new from scratch. My parents often tell me stories of how they’d find me on the couch with all these tools spread out all over me while watching cartoons. My dad taught me how to use power tools when I was 7 years old and he got tired of putting up with all my annoying questions about what each tool does

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