How to Measure Chainsaw Bar and Chain Length

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Two crucial components for every chainsaw are the chain and the bar. These are the parts of your saw that actually do the cutting. Having accurate and reliable measurements for these parts is essential when finding the right tool for the job. Not every bar or chain fits with every type of chainsaw, so it’s important to learn the basics.

The last thing you want is to spend your hard earned money on components that don’t fit your machine, or to equip your chainsaw in a way that makes it dangerous.

This page outlines the different measurements you’ll need to understand when owning a chainsaw. We’ll also explain how to measure chainsaw bar and chain length.

How to Measure Chainsaw Bar Length

The power of a chainsaw determines the length of bar required. Lower power saws require smaller bars. The reverse is true for more powerful options. It’s important to learn how to accurately measure your chainsaw’s bar length, especially if you’re looking for a replacement bar.

Measure from the front tip of your bar right to the body of your chainsaw. You should use a tool that measures in inches. Round your measurement up to the closest even number. This is the number you’d use when looking for a replacement bar.

Effective Cutting Length or Called Length

So why measure from the tip of the bar to the body of the saw? This is the length of the saw that actually makes contact with the materials you cut. For this reason, this measurement is called the “effective cutting length” or “called length” and it is the number to look for when determining the length of your chainsaw bar.

True Length

Another way to measure a chainsaw bar is to find the “true length”. As the name suggests, this is the measurement for the actual length of the bar before it’s been installed in a chainsaw.

Determining the true length of your own chainsaw bar is a little more hassle. You’ll have to remove the blade from the body of your saw by loosening any bolts that are holding it in place. You’ll usually find these bolts on the right hand side of your saw. Make sure you check your user manual before attempting this.

Once you’ve removed the bar from the body of your saw, simply measure the length from one end to the other. You don’t need to round up or down when measuring the true length of your chainsaw bar.

How to Measure a Chainsaw Chain

Measuring a chainsaw chain is a little more complicated than measuring a bar. Chains come with three separate measurements that are important to get right. This means that general chain lengths cannot be used interchangeably; you can’t just walk into a store and buy any 18-inch chain because they won’t all have the same three measurements.

The first measurement to figure out is the number of drive links. This is a case of counting the individual links on your chain one by one. It’s not exactly an entertaining process, but you’ll need to do it to get an accurate measurement.

The next two measurements to determine are the chain’s pitch and gauge.

Pitch and Gauge

The pitch of a chain is the distance between each drive link. Measuring the pitch is a little fiddly, but it’s simple enough once you understand how it works. You’ll need to know the distance between any three consecutive rivets on the chain. So what’s a rivet? Rivets are the small round studs that hold the chain together. They’re in between the drive links.

Once you’ve measured the distance between three consecutive rivets, divide this number by two. This new figure is your pitch measurement.

This brings us on to the gauge measurement. How thick are your drive links? This thickness is the measurement you need. To put it another way, the gauge of your chain is the width of the groove portion that fits onto the bar of your saw. It’s not uncommon for gauge measurements to be stamped on the side of a chainsaw’s bar. Look at your bar to double check.

Where to Find Replacements With The Correct Measurements

Knowing the relevant measurements for your chainsaw means you’ll always know you’re buying the right part for your tool. The question is, where should you go if you need replacement parts?

A quick google search for “chainsaw parts” spits back an overwhelming amount of choice. This can make it difficult to know where to start when looking for replacement chainsaw parts online.

In general, you should take stock of where you are in the world. Whatever supplier you go with, make sure to check their delivery and returns policy. There’s nothing worse than finding the perfect replacement, only to learn that it won’t be with you for six months!

Amazon makes it easy to check delivery times and return policies and has plenty of choice from a variety of reputable brands. Make sure you’re specific with your search terms. Now that you know your measurements, you can guarantee you’re searching for the right part. We recommend these links as a great starting point for Husqvarna and Oregon:

If you’re looking for a parts supplier specific to the United Kingdom, then you might want to try Partmaster. This is an online store that stocks over 500 brands. Alternatively, the physical stores B&Q and Homebase have a stock of tool parts and have the benefit of trained employees who can help you find what you’re looking for.

If you’re in the US, HL Supply have excellent parts available online. If brick and mortar is more your speed, you could always try your luck at Ace Hardware or Lowes.

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Conclusion

Getting accurate measurements for your chainsaw is a skill that can be intimidating to learn at first. Once you’ve learnt the basics though, you’ll soon realize that it’s much simpler than it seems.

Make sure to remember your:

  • Effective cutting length
  • Pitch measurement
  • Gauge measurement
  • The number of drive links on your chain

As long as you keep these measurements in mind, you’ll be good to go!

The world of construction and woodworking is an ever-evolving place. Make sure to check back here regularly for our updated recommendations and tips.

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