How To Tighten A Pole Saw Chain

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Tighten a pole saw chain is not as complicated as it might seem. Indeed, with the right tools at hand, it’s an easy process you can and should do regularly. In this article, I will show you easy to follow instructions on how to tighten a pole saw chain.

Why it is important to tighten the pole saw chain

If you’ve already used a pole chain saw, you’ll already know this but if you’re a novice, it is important to know that a pole saw comes with a chainsaw attached to the end. The bar and chain will need to have the right tension, otherwise the same work that could be done in minutes would last for hours. In case the pole saw chain is looser than it is supposed to, the performance of your pole saw will drastically suffer, while you’ll risk injury as well.

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Kick back is a common occurrence when you’re using a pole saw chain, as it happens whenever the tip of the pole saw touches the branch. The pole saw will likely fling towards your body and if you’re not careful, it may even result in serious injuries. Having a loose pole saw chain will increase the chances of kickback happening.

The loose chain might even result in the chain flying off the pole saw and injury someone. It is a serious issue as it might end up hitting someone and causing serious injuries. According to a study by Steven A Koehler, there are more than 28,000 chain-saw-related injuries annually, with kickback posing the greatest health hazard.

Having a loose chain on your pole saw will cause slanted cuts, preventing you from smoothly cutting branches. You will have to put extra force when trying to cut the trees, while the pole saw chain will also face extra damage.

man cutting tree branches using ryobi pole saw

Interestingly, having the chain and bar too tight will have its own set of problems. A tight chain will likely prevent the bar from moving effectively, in turn, affecting the performance. It also increases the risk of heating the chain and causing sparks, resulting in a fire hazard. All these issues will reduce the overall life of your pole saw.

How to tighten a pole saw chain within minutes?

Now that you have a better idea of why it is important to tighten your pole saw chain and have the proper tension, now is the time to know how to tighten a pole saw chain easily. So without further ado, let’s begin the guide and discuss all the steps. Remember, all the steps are essential, and the steps shouldn’t be skipped.

1. Find a wrench or a screwdriver in your pole saw kit

In your pole saw kit, you will likely have a screwdriver or a wrench to loosen up the nuts. Look for these tools and begin the process of tightening the pole saw chain.

2. Loosen the nut/screw

Find the nut or pin that is connecting the chainsaw and the guide bar. Once you’ve done that, take your screwdriver and loosen up that nut slowly. Adjusting the tension in the chain will give you better positioning. 

Note: Keep in mind that you only need to loosen a few nuts and not remove them completely.

3. Turn the tensioning screw

Now comes the time to turn the tensioning screw clockwise and tighten the chain. The pole saw kit will already come with the screwdriver, so turn the tensioning screw using that screwdriver. Keep in that turning the screw clockwise will tighten up the screw, while turning it counterclockwise will loosen it.

Turn the screw until you’ve adjusted the pole saw chain tension properly. But how does one know if the screw tension is perfect? The key to knowing if the pole saw chain is perfectly tightened is that the chain won’t be hanging down.  

4. Retighten the nuts

Once you’re done adjusting the chain tension, simply retighten the nuts on the guide bar. Moreover, ensure that the nuts are properly fitted.

5. Check the chain and you’re ready to go

The final step is to see if you’ve adjusted the chain tension properly. To do that, simply pull the chainsaw, and it needs to move flexibly without binding the guide bar.

The gap between the bar and drive links should be minimum. However, the gap needs to be adequate such that you’re able to pull the chain slightly from the bar.

Check by pulling the trigger and see if the chain is going back to the bar again or not. Repeat it a few times and if it’s working, your pole saw will be ready to go.

man doing demo on how to tighten chainsaw chain

Safety tips to keep in mind when adjusting the pole saw chain

When you’re adjusting the chain tightness in a safe manner, it is important to keep a few things in mind –

  • Ensure that you’ve turned off the pole saw and remove any connections to the power source before you start adjusting the tension on the chain. Otherwise, you could potentially receive an electric shock
  • Another key consideration to keep in mind is ensuring that the chain is cold enough. The warm chain might interrupt the adjusting process as it’ll expand 
  • Make sure that you’re wearing safety gloves when adjusting the chain tension as it’ll prevent you from accidentally injuring yourself by the chain
How To Tighten A Pole Saw Chain


Pole saw chains often stretch during normal operation and end up starting to sag after some time. If your pole saw chain is allowed to be too loose, it might end up coming off the equipment, which won’t affect your work, but it’ll also be potentially dangerous.  

Now that you know why it makes perfect sense to know how to tighten a pole saw chain and how to do it, you’ll be able to prune or cut any unwanted branches in your backyard.

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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.