how to measure chainsaw bar

How to Measure Chainsaw Bar?

Whether you want to replace an old chainsaw blade or you just want to know the length of your chainsaw bar, here’s a guide to help you learn how to measure the chainsaw bar. Usually, the chainsaw bar specs are stamped on the tool or it’s found in the chainsaw’s user’s manual.  But if you can’t find it, here’s a way to find out how long your bar or blades are. 

Chainsaws come in different bar lengths and those with longer bars need more power. Electric-type chainsaws cannot hold longer bar lengths, only up to 18 inches as they don’t have a lot of power.

Meanwhile, gas chainsaws can work even up to 72 inches bar length as they have a lot of power to spare. Also, take note that chainsaw chains cannot stretch and will only fit a specific bar. Shorter chains on wide blades will never work. 

You need the following for this tutorial

  • Chainsaw
  • Measuring tape

Getting the cutting length 

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Effective cutting length or called length is the measurement from the bar from its tip to the chainsaw blade to its base or the part where the blade is attached to the saw. 

  1. Use a measuring tape and start taking measurements from the base to the tip. 
  2. The results must be rounded off to the nearest even no. when measured in whole inches. 

If you followed the steps to measure the called length and got 18 ½ inches, then you need to round this up to the nearest even no. which is 20 inches. For 17 ½ inches, round it up to 18 inches.

Getting the true length

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Another way to find out the length of a chainsaw bar is the true length. This is the actual length of the bar from its tip to its end when it is not installed on the chainsaw.

  1. Remove the blade by unscrewing the blade fastening bolts. You will find these along the right side of the chainsaw near the base of the chainsaw bar. 
  2. After removing the chainsaw blade, lay this on the ground or a flat surface. 
  3. Take a measuring tape and measure from one end to the other without rounding up the results. You don’t have to adjust the measurement because you’re getting the true length of the chainsaw blade or bar.

Getting the chain length

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When buying a chainsaw chain, you need to determine the chain length. You need to do this as you can’t just get any chain that matches the length of your blade. Lengths 18 inches cannot be used on other chain lengths. 

A chainsaw chain has three types of measurements: the pitch, gauge, and the number of drive links. To measure the chain length, count all the drive links one by one. 

  1. You can measure the pitch or the distance from each drive link. Measure the distance between three rivets and divide this by 2 for the pitch. Traditional pitch sizes are ¼ – inch, .325 – inch, 3/8 – inch, and .404 – inch. 
  2. Another way is to measure the chain gauge. The gauge is the width of the chain groove which sits on the chainsaw bar. Traditional gauges measure .043 – inch, .050 – inch, .058 – inch and .063 – inch. A measuring tape can help you get the exact measurement of the gauge.
  3. One trick to measure the gauge is by using spare change: a penny, dime, and a quarter. Take note that a penny is 0.43-inch, a dime is .058- inch and a quarter is .063-inch.

Important tips to get accurate chainsaw bar and chain measurements

You can’t just go to a shop or hardware store and get any chain or bar that fits your measurement. You need to consider all these factors before you can purchase or order a new chain or chainsaw bar. 

  • It’s best to take your chainsaw to get a replacement chain or bar instead. 

Although it’s heavy and awkward to do, taking your chainsaw to the shop will save you hundreds of dollars if you need to replace an incorrect saw blade or bar. This is a 100% effective way to get the right chainsaw bar replacement. 

  • Look for stamped information on the chainsaw body 

Always check the stamped information on the body of the chainsaw. Other info that you’ll find here is the ID code of the manufacturer, the pitch measurements and the gauge of the chain, and more. All this info will help you figure out if the chain you’re buying is compatible with your chainsaw.  

  • Look for information on the owner’s manual

Another way to find out the information you need to get the correct size chainsaw bar and the blade is from the owner’s manual. Aside from the information on how to operate the chainsaw, you can also find basic chainsaw specs here. Also, keep your manual for information about the product warranty. If you can’t find the paper manual, you may download a copy online. 

  • Don’t buy generic chainsaw chains or bars

You may have seen some generic chainsaw chains and bars sold online. These products claim to be compatible with all brands and all models of chainsaws and are unbelievably cheap. Although there’s nothing wrong with these products, you are taking a huge risk not just on the size of your bars and blades but also on the quality. So, whatever happens, never buy generic parts and accessories for your chainsaw.  Buy only recommended chains or bars or those from the same manufacturer.

  • Take a photo of your chainsaw before you shop

If you find it too heavy to take your chainsaw when you shop, take a photo of it instead. Take a close-up of the blades, chain, and the chainsaw brand and stamped info on the saw body.

Knowing how to measure the chainsaw bar will help you find the right accessories and parts for your power tool. Always consider genuine parts and accessories and buy only from legit suppliers. A chainsaw is a sound investment for any woodworker so make sure you buy durable, good quality parts.



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