How To Measure Chainsaw Bar Chain

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Are you a chainsaw user looking to measure the chainsaw bar chain on your saw, but you don’t know how to? If yes, then you are certainly in the right place.

Measuring chainsaw bar chain is easy and there are two ways to do that. The most common way is by checking the effective cutting length, which is the distance from the tip of the bar to the front of the saw’s body, where the bar disappears into the saw. The second method for measurement is by measuring the true bar length. To achieve this, you should loosen the bolts holding the bar to the chainsaw body, remove the bar, and measure the bar from end to end. Regardless of the method you go for, remember to wear gloves and other appropriate safety equipment to prevent chainsaw-related injuries.

In this guide, you will get to learn all about how to measure chainsaw bar chain, how to measure the chain pitch, how to measure the chain link gauge, and more. Stick around to get all the answers that you are looking for.

Taking measurements of your chainsaw

Chainsaws are quite versatile tools, and they’re great for cutting firewood, light pruning, and more. If you use your chainsaw regularly, eventually you will have to replace the chainsaw bar or chain. But before you purchase replacement parts, you will need to know the exact size of these components. Using the wrong size bar or chain could end up damaging the chainsaw and even result in injuries. Knowing how to measure chainsaw bar chain isn’t hard, and it will save time at the hardware store.

Not every chainsaw bar or chain will be right for every chain, handsaw. For instance, larger chainsaw bars will work best with more powerful chainsaws, as it takes more energy to drive a chain around a long bar. This is why electric chainsaw bars come at 18 inches or shorter.

Similarly, chainsaw chains must be measured to fit certain bars. If you try and fit a chain onto the bar that is too narrow or too long, you will find that your chainsaw simply won’t work.

How to measure chainsaw bar chain

A chainsaw is an essential tool in the DIY and professional forestry world. However, with time and repeated use, a chainsaw chain can eventually wear out and your chainsaw bar becomes bent or damaged. Overlooking something as simple as keeping the chainsaw’s oil reservoir filled can damage the bar and chain permanently. Replacing both of these items is simple, and so is figuring out the correct replacement sizes.

You will require very few supplies for measuring a chainsaw bar and chain. Before starting, you will need to gather supplies like a chainsaw wrench, tape measure, protective gloves, coins (a quarter, a dime, and a penny), and string. 

Before you start, safety will come first. You must disconnect the chainsaw from the power source. In case the chainsaw is powered using a lithium-ion battery, you must remove the battery. If it is a corded chainsaw, you need to unplug the tool. You should also remember to wear protective gloves. The blade links on a chainsaw chain are sharp and can easily end up leaving scratches or cutting your skin.

person measuring chainsaw bar and chain

How to measure a chainsaw bar

Chainsaws are usually sold by bar length, so most of the time, the saw’s owner will know the bar size when buying a replacement bar. However, you can sometimes forget the bar length or the tool might have a different original owner, which means that the current owner might not know the exact length.

Learning how to measure a chainsaw bar is simple, but it will require disassembling the chainsaw. Here are the instructions that you will need to follow – 

1. Use a scrench to loosen the bolts holding the protective case in place

On the side of your chainsaw, you’ll find 1–3 bolts, depending on the model and make of your chainsaw. These bolts secure a protective case over the point where the chain, bar, and sprocket attach.

A chainsaw scrench (a combination of screwdriver and wrench) is specifically made to carry out this job. You should be using the socket wrench end to loosen and remove the nuts by twisting them counterclockwise. Once all the nuts are off, the case will slip right off. Make sure that you set the bolts somewhere safe where they will not get lost.

2. Remove the chainsaw bar and chain

Once the chainsaw case is off, the chain will go slack, and it’ll be a simple task to lift it up and off the bar and sprocket. Now, you need to pull the bar outward from the saw and remove it. Both the chain and bar will come off easily.

3. Measure the bar from the tip to the center slot

Now, you need to lay the chainsaw bar flat on the table/counter and measure it from the rounded end to the center slot at the other end of the chainsaw bar.

Chainsaw bars are sold in even numbers, such as 12-inch, 14-inch, or 16-inch bars. The trick here would be to round off the measurement to the nearest even number. For instance, if you’ve got a gas-powered chainsaw and the measurement from the tip to the slot comes out as 18.75 inches, so you’ll need to round it up to 20 inches.

How to measure a chainsaw chain

Learning how to measure the chain size properly will be a little trickier, but it isn’t that difficult. To find the correct replacement chain, you will require three numbers – the pitch, the gauge, and the number of links in the chainsaw chain. 

This information might be printed on some chainsaw bars, such as the Echo. For instance, if a chainsaw has a 12-inch bar, this indicates that the bar is 12 inches long, the gauge can be 0.50, and the pitch could be 3/8 inches. Additionally, the number of drive links in the chain could be 45.

Step 1: Count the number of drive links on the chain

Chainsaw chain sizes will depend on the exact number of drive links. This is the step that might be slightly tedious, but it isn’t complicated. If the chainsaw bar doesn’t have the information printed on it, you will need to count the drive links.

While it isn’t essential, you should tie a string between links and start counting after the string, as it’ll make it easier to count the links without losing your place. You need to note down the total number. 

Step 2: Measure the distance between the three rivets and divide by 2 for finding the pitch

Drive links are generally held in place by rivets, which keep them attached securely and serve as flexible points, allowing the chain to bend as it travels around the bar. To obtain the chain’s pitch, you must measure the distance between the three rivets, starting at the center of one rivet, passing the second, and then ending at the center of the third.

This measurement needs to be precise. Instead of starting at the end of the tape measure, which has a hook that floats, you need to start at the 1-inch increment on the tape measure.

For instance, say that the exact distance between the rivets is 6/8”. When divided by 2, the final result will be 3/8”. This means that the chain’s pitch is 3/8”.

Step 3: Use common coins for determining the chain’s gauge

The gauge on the chainsaw chain will be the thickness of the tips of the links traveling within the groove of the chainsaw bar. The simplest way of figuring out the chainsaw chain’s gauge would be to use the coins to determine the width of the grooves on the bar. You need to gather a quarter, a penny, and a dime. One at a time, you should try to fit each coin into the groove on the edge of the chainsaw bar. 

The correct coil will slide into the groove easily, but snugly. Say that you’ve got a chainsaw and the quarter is too wide to slide into the groove, the dime is narrow, and the penny is a nice, snug fit, then the correct gauge would be 0.058. Use these values to determine the gauge, depending on which coin fits the best –

  • Dime – 0.050
  • Penny – 0.058
  • Quarter – 0.063
Technical Tips- How To Measure Bar and Chain Using Oregon Measuring Tool: 556418

How to determine the chain pitch

The chainsaw chain pitch generally refers to the distance between the chainsaw chain’s links. Here is how you can measure it –

  • Use a ruler or measuring tape and measure the distance between three rivets of the chain 
  • Divide the measurement by two 
  • The resulting figure will be the chain pitch

Common chainsaw chain pitches include 1/4-inch, 0.325-inch, 0.404-inch, and 3/8-inch.

How to determine the driver links

Determining the number of driver links will be as easy as simply counting the links on your chain. To do so, follow these instructions –

  • Identify the driver chain links (these are the small bumps on the inside of the chainsaw chain 
  • Now, count the number of links on the chainsaw chain

How to determine the chain link gauge

Chain link gauge is essentially the thickness of the chainsaw drive links. When the chain link gauge matches the gauge of the chainsaw bar, the chain will fit snugly. You can make use of a caliper or an inexpensive multipurpose gauge for measuring this.

  • Place your caliper or gauge on the groove where the chain fits into the bar
  • Then, write the reading that comes on the caliper or gauge 

Some of the common drive link gauges are 0.043-inch, 0.050-inch, 0.058-inch, and 0.063-inch.

Chainsaw sizing gauge

Having the right size chainsaw for your job will make cutting not just easier, but safer too.

Size often varies according to the type of chainsaw, each size is good for different types of jobs. The most common chainsaw bar sizes are between 12 and 20 inches, but they also come in sizes as much as 72 inches, typically for professionals. the longer the chainsaw bar, the heavier will be the chainsaw.

When choosing the right chainsaw size, it’ll be best to have a chainsaw bar that is at least two inches longer than the thickness of whatever you’re cutting. Certain chainsaw sizes are suited best for certain types of activities.

Electric chainsaws

Electric chainsaws tend to be comparatively smaller, usually 14 to 16 inches. You can use the 14-inch chainsaws for cutting small trees, while using the 16-inch ones for medium trees.

Gas-powered chainsaws

Gas-powered chainsaws begin at 16 to 18 inches and can go up to as high as 72 inches. The 16 to 18-inch chainsaws are best for cutting medium trees, whereas chainsaws having a 20-inch or larger bar are perfect for cutting large trees or splitting firewood.

Battery-powered chainsaws

Battery-powered chainsaws come in 16 to 18-inch bars, and they’re good for cutting medium-sized trees.

Small battery-operated chainsaws

Small battery-operated chainsaws are 6 to 9-inch chainsaws, and they’re used for pruning small limbs. The Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hatched Six-inch Pruning Saw is a great example.


How to know what size chain to use on the chainsaw?

To get the proper size, you should just count three rivets on the chain and measure the distance between the rivets from the center points. After that, divide it by 2 to get the right size. As an example, the three rivets that measure half an inch across divided by 2 will give you a pitch of 1/4 inch.

Will all chainsaw chains fit all chainsaws?

Many manufacturers produce chainsaw chains, and different brands aren’t interchangeable with all models. If you’re replacing your chain with another brand, you need to know the exact gauge, pitch, and length of the old chain. Installing the wrong chainsaw chain can end up resulting in both damage to your chainsaw and injury to you.

Can you use an 18-inch bar on a 14-inch Poulan chainsaw?

A Poulan chainsaw can easily operate with a bar that is 12, 14, 16, and 18 inches in length. However, a larger bar might not always give the best performance.

What is the most common chainsaw chain size?

Most chainsaws use 0.325-inch, 3/8-inch, or 0.404-inch pitch, with 1/4-inch being less common. Most consumer chainsaws use a kind of 3/8-inch chain known as the “low profile”. Meanwhile, a few older chainsaws use 1.2-inch pitch chains.

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Hi, I'm Mike - but my friends call me Backyard Mike. I'm the founder of this website, and I'm addicted to outdoor power tools. I love to work with wood and share my knowledge here on this website with you. You can find more about me here.