For loggers and arborists who tackle demanding, heavy-duty cutting work, having the right chainsaw is critical. When it comes to professional logging applications, smaller chainsaws in the 16-inch bar length range are generally not the best fit. Here’s a look at why larger, more powerful saws are better suited for intensive commercial timber harvesting.
Limitations of 16-Inch Chainsaws for Logging
While a high-quality and the best 16-inch chainsaw can certainly fell trees and cut logs, it’s not ideal as a primary saw for intensive professional use. Here are some key reasons why:
Serious logging requires a muscular saw that can power through very large, dense hardwood trunks efficiently. Most 16-inch consumer models max out around 3 horsepower. Professional 20 to 25 inch saws can generate up to 7 horsepower.
Limited Cutting Capacity
The modest 16-inch bar severely limits cutting capacity. Loggers routinely need to cut timber with diameters larger than what a 16-inch bar can handle in a single pass.
Reduced Torque and Chain Speed
Pro-grade chainsaws have robust torque to muscle through wood. They also have high chain speeds around 45+ feet per second to maximize cutting efficiency. Consumer 16-inch models lag in these areas.
Not Durable Enough
Logging is punishing on chainsaws. With thousands of hours of use over their lifespan, professional models are built for rugged durability. Most consumer 16-inch saws can’t withstand this day-in, day-out punishment.
What Size Chainsaw Do Loggers Really Need?
For professional timber harvesting, most loggers rely on a quiver of different saws tailored to specific cutting roles:
Felling Saws – 20 to 25 Inches
A powerful 25-inch chainsaw with a 20+ inch bar handles the demanding task of dropping large hardwoods efficiently. These saws weigh over 15 pounds but provide the brute force needed.
Bucking Saws – 18 to 22 Inches
Once trees are on the ground, bucking saws limb trees and cut logs to length. Their slightly smaller size makes them more nimble for this precision work.
Smaller Backup Saws
Loggers also pack smaller backup saws like 16-inch models. These are handy for trimming limbs and nasty underbrush but see limited primary use.
So while a consumer-grade 16-inch chainsaw has its occasional uses, it lacks the power, durability, and ruggedness needed for sustained professional logging work. Bigger is definitely better in the logging woods.
Key Features of Professional Logger Chainsaws
Here are some of the key traits that set pro-grade logger chainsaws apart from standard consumer models:
- Over 5 horsepower output, up to 7HP+ on the most powerful felling saws
- Heavy duty durability – metal crankcase, reinforced components
- At least an 18-inch bar, up to 25 inches or more
- Advanced antivibration systems to reduce fatigue
- Quick release chain tensioning for easy adjustments
- Heated hand grips and carburetor for cold weather reliability
- Rapid chain acceleration and 45+ FPS chain speed
- Large fuel and oil tanks to extend runtime
- Optional logger safety features like chain catches and quick-stop inertial chains.
This extreme performance comes at a cost – professional logging chainsaws can sell for $800 and beyond. But in the hands of an experienced logger, these saws pay for themselves through increased productivity and reliability.
What are the main disadvantages of a 16-inch chainsaw for tree service use?
For professional tree removal, the limited power and bar reach of a 16-inch saw reduces efficiency on large diameter trunks and branches.
Could a 16-inch electric chainsaw work for light-duty logging?
No, even the most powerful and electric chainsaw lack the sustained high torque needed for intensive commercial logging.
What’s the smallest chainsaw that a logger could get by with?
Many loggers pack a reliable 20-inch saw as their smallest backup option. Anything smaller sees very limited use.
Are bigger chainsaws significantly more dangerous than 16-inch models?
Yes, extra safety precautions are needed to handle the massive power. Use requires proper training and personal protective equipment.
How often do professional logger chainsaws require maintenance?
With heavy daily use, pro-grade saws need frequent air filter cleanings, chain sharpening, sprocket replacement, etc. Regular upkeep is essential.
For weekend warriors tackling minor cutting jobs, a 16-inch consumer chainsaw is usually more than sufficient. But for anyone who makes their living harvesting timber, far more robust professional-grade saws in the 20 to 25-inch range are essential productivity tools. There’s no substitute for the cutting power and ruggedness that pro loggers require. With the wrong chainsaw, an otherwise straightforward logging job can become an inefficient, dangerous chore. Choose wisely based on your needs and best chainsaw usage level.