18 inch Chainsaw – Your Detailed Guide

When it comes to chainsaws there is no one size fits all. Even professional arborists carry a range of chainsaw sizes to suit different tasks. But homeowners often only want one chainsaw, so it’s best to work out upfront what size is best for the trees they want to cut. Someone might have recommended an 18″ Chainsaw, but then you might be asking yourself “what can i cut with an 18 inch chainsaw?”

In this article we are focusing on the 18 inch chainsaw, and what applications it is best suited to.

How Big of a Tree Can an 18 inch Chainsaw Cut?

An 18 inch chainsaw can cut a 16 inch diameter tree in a single pass. This is because your chainsaw bar should be 2 inches longer than the tree’s diameter if you are cutting it in a single pass. But if you cut from both sides, an 18″ chainsaw can cut a 32 inch tree. It just means you’ll need to cut through 16 inches on each side to fell the tree.

Just how versatile is the 18-inch chainsaw?

Read on to learn more about bar length, uses, and how much power your chainsaw needs to run an 18-inch bar.

Is an 18-inch chainsaw too big?

An 18 inch chainsaw may be too big for beginners as it is a powerful machine that is on the larger side of the scale for homeowners. If you are new to cutting with a chainsaw the recommended size is between 8 to 18 inches.

Whether a chainsaw is too big or not depends on what you want to cut with it. If you are new to cutting with a chainsaw, the recommended chainsaw range for homeowners is for bars from 8 to 18 inches.  Since the 18-inch bar is at the upper limit, it can be easy to assume that it’s too big. 

But when you’re working out the size of chainsaw you need, it’s actually better to choose the size based on the kind of work you’re doing, rather than opting for the small, medium, or large end of a scale.

For regular trimming of trees, removing small trees and cutting firewood, an 18-inch chainsaw is an appropriately sized tool.  That is, as long as you are comfortable handling it. 

After considering the size of wood you’ll be cutting, the next thing to think about is your physical fitness and experience with chainsaws.  An 18-inch chainsaw can weigh around 5kgs.  While it may not sound like much, as a tool, it can start to feel quite heavy and cause fatigue if you aren’t used to it.

If you don’t have any experience with chainsaws or your physical condition makes it difficult for you, then you might choose a smaller chainsaw size.  Smaller chainsaws have the advantage of being lightweight and having better manoeuvrability.  If all you need a chainsaw for is pruning something smaller, then a 12 or 14-inch chainsaw could be perfect!

Is an 18-inch chainsaw good for land clearing?

An 18 inches is a great all-rounder bar length for a chainsaw.  Whether it’s your best option for land clearing will depend mainly on the size of the trees you’re removing. 

Generally you want to choose your chainsaw size based on the size of the tree that you will cut most often.

As I mentioned earlier, the 18-inch bar is capable of cutting through trees with a diameter of up to 32 inches.  But it does require two passes to cut through any trees wider than 16 inches. It is slower to cut in two passes compared to a single pass. So if most of your trees are wider than 16 inches, an 18 inch chainsaw is going to slow you down over all.

But if the land you’re clearing is mostly shrubs and younger trees, then the 18-inch chainsaw is the perfect tool for the job.  Even if you do have a few thicker trees, the 18-inch bar should be able to handle it (unless they are really big trees). Just remember it is better to get the chainsaw size that suits the MOST AMOUNT OF TREES. As a bigger one, is heavier and therefore can also slow you down and make your job harder.

If you do have a lot of larger mature trees of greater than 32 inches, then you will need a longer chainsaw bar.  For example, arborists and lumberjacks will use bars in the more professional range of 22 inches and above.  But these are classed as professional tools for a reason.  They are heavier and harder to handle, with a greater risk of a dangerous kickback. So if you don’t have the experience, you’re better off calling a professional to do the really large trees for you. 

How many cc chainsaw do I need for an 18-inch bar?

The longer a chainsaw bar is, the more energy it takes to run the chain around its length.  Which means longer bars require more powerful motors. That’s why you’ll find electric, and battery-powered chainsaws are generally only available in the shorter bar lengths.  While these are easy enough to use for homeowners, they don’t generate enough power to be able to run an 18 inch bar.

Larger chainsaws require petrol motors to power their blades.  The size of these motors is measured by the volume displaced by the piston in cubic centimetres, or “cc.” The bigger the displacement, the more powerful the engine is. 

To power an 18-inch bar, you’ll need a 45-55cc chainsaw.  Matching your bar length to the right powered chainsaw is essential; otherwise, you can end up with the length, but no bite to the cut.  Trying to run a 20-inch bar off a chainsaw that came with a 12-inch bar is like trying to run a truck on a small car engine, a lot of strain and no real power.

That being said, you can swap out the bar that your chainsaw came with for another length one size up.  Always read your manufacturer’s recommended bar length (it’ll be in the manual).  The people who designed the chainsaw know how much it can safely (and efficiently) handle, so it’s best to adhere to their guidelines.

Can I put an 18-inch bar on a 16-inch chainsaw?

You can put an 18-inch bar on a 16-inch chainsaw.  It’s only one bar size up, so the motor will be able to power the slightly longer bar, it just won’t have the same degree of ‘kick’ that it does for the 16-inch. 

Unless you’re cutting something bigger than the 16-inch bar can handle (cutting from both sides), you’re probably better off just using the shorter bar. 

If you are going to go up a bar size, don’t forget to get a matching chain.  As I’m sure you’ve guessed, the chain from the 16-inch bar won’t fit around the 18-inch. If you want to learn about chainsaw chains, we have a detailed guide on chainsaw chains here. Or if you are in need of a new chain, take a look at our selection of saw chains for sale.

Is an 18 inch chainsaw the best size?

An 18 inch chainsaw is one of the best sizes for home owners who will use their chainsaw moderately and on larger pieces of wood. It is an extremely versatile size, able to to be used for pruning, clearing, and firewood.

18 inch chainsaws are powerful machines which are on the larger side of the scale for homeowners. With the power and bar length to cut down larger trees, it is extremely versatile. But they are still dangerous tools, and the larger they are, the more experience you need to use them.  The homeowner’s recommended size range remains within the 8 to 18-inch range bar lengths. 

Remember, if you are new to chainsaws you can always cut through a piece of wood from two sides, so even a 12-inch chainsaw can still be used to cut through something that’s 20 inches in diameter.  If all you need a chainsaw for is pruning something smaller, then a 12 or 14-inch chainsaw could be perfect!

With new safety features and the invention of electric and battery-operated versions, chainsaws are now more user friendly than ever.  Because of this they are becoming more popular as a garden tool, handy for pruning and felling trees, and cutting firewood.  But these usually come in sizes up to 14 inches.

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