Chainsaws come in a range of sizes and are defined with a certain set of standards and measurements. The following post will help give an idea of which of these are available.
Chainsaw manufacturers have their own set of testing requirements that their products meet before releasing them onto the market. Stihl, for examples has tried-and-tested quality control and high standards, which is why this brand name is highly regarded.
Chainsaw Safety Standards
ASTM International Manufacturing Standards
ASTM has a list of manufacturing standards that chainsaw manufacturers must adhere to. Chainsaws are made of many metal components that must meet corrosion, heat, strength, and rust resistance.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
American National Standards Institute (ANSI)
- ANSI AS 2726.1-2004 – Chainsaws Safety Requirements For General Use
- ANSI/OPEI B175.1-2012 (and A1-2014)– Internal Combustion Engine – Powered Hand-Held Chain Saws -Safety And Environmental Requirements
CSA Group (Canada)
First, the length of the chainsaw is measured from end to end. The size of bar that comes with a chainsaw is based on the length of the chainsaw itself. However, extended bars can be added to the chainsaw.
The size of the engine also determines what kind of cuts can be made with a particular chainsaw.
Chainsaw Size Measurements
- Mini chainsaws – 14 x 8 x 5 inches, 5+ lbs.
- Small / medium chainsaws – 35 x 9 x 10, 9+ lbs.
- Large chainsaws – 35 x 10 x 11, 25+ lbs
Chainsaw Chain Measurements
Chainsaw chains have 3 important numbers that define their size and type. These are:
- Number of drive links
Purchasing the right chainsaw chain that matches these to the chainsaw is necessary for it to fit and work properly.
The following chainsaw pitch sizes are available:
- 3/8″ low-profile
Chainsaw chain gauge is the thickness of the drive links. This is important to know because it determines if the chain will fit the saw’s guide bar.
The following chainsaw chain gauge measurements are available:
- .050″ – the most common gauge
The number of drive links is also important to determine which chain will fit the guide bar. This number needs to be exact, and not in terms of feet of length. The only way to be sure is to count the chain drive links if they are not stated on the package or in the manual.
Chainsaw Bar Length
Chainsaws have a range of bar lengths, chainsaw bar length can vary from chainsaw to chainsaw. Generally speaking the longer the chainsaw bar length, the heavier duty it is designed for. Bar lengths are measured in inches or millimeters. The chainsaw manufacturer uses numbers to designate bar lengths for their specific chainsaws.
The range of chainsaw bar lengths vary, and range from 6 inches to 20+ inches.
Chainsaw Engine Sizes
Chainsaws come in a range of engine sizes, from as small as 14.5 cc all the way up to 51 cc. While chainsaws with smaller engines provide less power and can be heavier, chainsaws with larger engines tend to burn through chains faster and require a large amount of physical strength for full throttle operation.
A chainsaw’s engine size is usually measured in cubic centimeters (cc) or in liters. Gas chainsaws use 2-cycle engines.
What Does CC Mean For Chainsaws?
CC is a measure of the chainsaw’s motor, its carburetor, and the gas tank. It stands for Cubic Centimeters. Usually, this number is within the range of 50-70 CC’s per hour.
The more cc’s a chainsaw has, the more fuel it can get in one pump of its throttle. This generally means that it will produce more cutting power, but not necessarily run for longer.
Chainsaw Fuel Types
Chainsaws use certain types of gasoline that can be purchased at most any hardware or convenience store. The chainsaw will normally come with a guide of recommendations, but some chainsaws can operate on mixtures of chainsaw fuel and car motor oil.
The normal fuel mixture ratio for a gas chainsaw is 40:1 (40 = fuel, 1 = oil) or 50:1. Gas chainsaws require a fuel / oil mixture because they are 2-cycle, and not 4-cycle motors and do not have separate oil and gas compartments.
With chainsaws, the larger the engine size, generally indicated by cc’s (cubic centimeters), typically means it is heavier and uses more fuel.
The type of fuels best for gas chainsaws are 87 and 89 octane. 89 octane fuel may be better because it can prevent engine knocking which could damage the engine.
Many chainsaw manufacturers, such as Husqvarna, provide their own fuel and oil blends. These can run at high octane and allow the user to skip having to mix fuel and oil themselves.
However, always make sure to only use the recommended fuel type by the chainsaw manufacturer.
How Many HP Is A Chainsaw?
Chainsaws come with a range of horsepower output produced by their motors. Horsepower is calculated based on the size and speed of an engine’s revolutions per minute (RPM).
Generally, gas powered chainsaws come in the following horsepower:
- Small / medium – 1-3 HP
- Large – 3+ HP
Can I Use Any 2 Stroke Oil In My Chainsaw?
It is not recommended to use just any 2 stroke oil in your chainsaw. It is always best to use only the recommended chainsaw engine oil by the the manufacturer.
However, general purpose two stroke oil for air cooled engines (not water cooled) can work for a chainsaw fuel mixture. Choose a universal 2 Stroke Oil for all 2 stroke engines if chainsaw oil is not available.
Always use only the recommended oil for the gas mixture that the manufacturer has stated in the user’s manual. Using the wrong oil can cause the chainsaw to become damaged or not work properly.
Can You Use Diesel Fuel In A Chainsaw?
Deisel fuel is a type of fuel that some users have tried to use in their chainsaws. Sometimes the users have a problem starting their chainsaws when they use deisel fuel.
But does deisel fuel work for chainsaws? The answer is maybe, but is not recommended.
Diesel engines produce low rpm and low end power. This does not match what a chainsaw is intended for, which is high speed cutting. Diesel fuel also has a very high flash point, which makes not work well for chainsaws.
Again, adhere to the proper fuel type and mixture that is presented in the chainsaw’s user’s manual.
Chainsaw Horsepower Versus Displacement
Chainsaw displacement and horsepower are not the same thing. Horsepower is an expression of power, but it’s based on the idea that the object being powered has wheels, such as a car or truck. Displacement refers to how much space something takes up in the cylinder of an internal-combustion engine and can indicate both power and efficiency. Displacement is usually measured in cc / cubic inches.
Chainsaw Power To Weight Ratio
The chainsaw power to weight ratio is a good indicator of chainsaw power. This can be found using the following equations:
- engine horse power (hp) / weight of the chainsaw (lbs.) = power to weight ratio
- kw (kilowatt) / kg (kilogram) = power to weight ratio
However, not all manufactures supply the same chainsaw power markings, so the user might have to actually go into the showroom or store and handle the saw to see how big it really is.
Nick Klamecki is a certified Fire and Workplace Safety expert with 15 years experience in product research and testing. He has a degree in Economics from U.C. Davis, is an active outdoorsman and spent years ensuring the safety of special needs children. Nick researches and tests workplace, industrial and safety products and provides advice on their safe use.