Choosing a Chainsaw Chain

Changing your chainsaw chain is not a difficult task. Choosing a chainsaw chain, however, may be the hardest part of the task. In this article we will help you figure out how to find the correct chain for your type of chainsaw.

You may have to change your chainsaw’s chain once a year or once in ten years, all depending on how much you use your chainsaw and how well you care for it. Chain saw chains stretch with use and will eventually wear out. They also need sharpened regularly and when the teeth have been sharpened many times, they will need to be replaced when they get thin.

If you take good care of a chainsaw’s chain, it should last until it has been sharpened so many times that you have to replace it because the teeth are worn thin. A lot of times they have to be replaced because of unnecessary wear that occurs from improper use.

A chainsaw chain needs to be properly tightened often. A new chain in particular will stretch very easily and requires tightening after every few minutes of use. Letting the chain become too loose, not only harms the chain, it can be dangerous as well. You do not want to get hit in the face by a flying chain!

Getting the Correct Size

It is always helpful if you have the original documentation that came with your chainsaw. If you do, you may look through it and find the chainsaw’s chain size somewhere in the manual. Some, however, contain general manuals that do not give the correct information. Here are the different things to look for regarding your chain’s size and type:

    • Pitch: Common pitches are 3/8”, .325” and ¼”
    • Gauge: Common gauges include, .0.43, .050, .058, and .063.
    • Length: There are all sorts of bar and chain lengths, most common for home use are 12”, 16” and 24”chains and bars.
    • Link count: Not as crucial as knowing the length, but sometimes it helps to know it. A good example would be, a 16” chain normally has 56 links.
    • Type: There are different types of cutting links, such as, semi-chisel, chisel and low profile.
    • Brand of saw: You can usually find the proper chain just by knowing the saw’s brand and bar size, but we recommend knowing the pitch and gauge also to be certain and have more options.

While the brand of saw doesn’t matter much, a lot of companies want to see you buy their chains for their saws and will make it so that you can easily purchase a chain by getting the same brand as the saw. However, you should know that most are universal and can use almost any brand of chain. All you need to do is match the correct pitch, gauge and length for your saw.

You may need to go to a chainsaw specialty store to get a wide selection of chains. A lot of hardware stores only have limited selections unless they carry many brands of saws. If you are not quite sure how to find the size and specs for your chain, just take it to the dealer with you and they will be happy to assist you. Explain to the dealer what you will be mostly cutting with your chainsaw and they should be able to recommend the proper type of chain for your specific needs.

Installing your New Chain

As we mentioned earlier, replacing the chain is relatively easy. Most chainsaws come with a tool called a scrench. A scrench is a combination of a screwdriver and a wrench. It’s a T-handle with a screwdriver bit on the end and the handle is made of two different sized sockets; one for removing the cover bolts and one for removing the spark plug.

You can do almost any maintenance on your chainsaw with this one simple tool. If you don’t have the tool that came with your saw then you will need a socket set and flat head screwdriver to install your chain. Here are a few easy steps to follow:

    1. Loosen the two nuts on the side panel of the chainsaw: This will be the side with the bar extending from it. Just take the nuts loose for now.

    2. Loosen the chain: Take your screwdriver and there will be a screw head facing out the front of the saw where the bar comes out. Turning the screw in a clockwise direction will loosen the chain. Do not go with your instincts and turn it to the left as in’ “lefty loosey…”. That doesn’t apply in this case. You will turn the screw to the right to loosen the chain. Turn it until it is all the way in.

    3. Remove the chain: Remove the chain from the tip of the bar first and then the back will come off the sprocket easily.

    4. Install your new chain: Put the chain around the rear sprocket first. Then work the chain into the bar’s groove and over it’s tip.

    5. Tighten the chain: you want the chain to be taught, but not too tight. Turn the tightening screw counterclockwise until the chain is taught. You should be able to lift the chain about a quarter inch from the bar easily but not much more.

    6. Replace the side cover: replace the side cover and the two nuts. Tighten well.

It is pretty simple really. Once you are done, be sure that you fill up with only the proper type of chain lube oil. When you first use the saw, the new chain is going to stretch very fast at first. You will have to tighten the chain regularly to keep if from stretching and flying off the bar.

You will probably only be able to cut for a couple minutes before it needs tightened for the first time. If the chain easily pulls much more than a quarter inch from the bar, tighten it some. That’s about all you should need to know. Consult your chainsaw’s operational manual for specific information regarding the type of saw you own. Good luck and be careful when operating a chainsaw. You should always wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from flying wood chips.

See Also: Husqvarna Chain Saws