What is Chain Pitch on a Chainsaw?

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Are you a chainsaw user, and you’re curious about the term chain pitch, but you don’t know what it is? If yes, then you are definitely in the right place at the right time.

What is chain pitch is a question that most chainsaw users have, especially beginner chainsaw users. Chain pitch is a term that is commonly used by bikers, mechanics, workers who use machines with chainsaws, and chainsaw users. There are two definitions for the term Chain Pitch. Some people feel that Chain Pitch is the distance between the two rivet centers in a chain. Meanwhile, others feel that Chain pitch is a term used to define the distance between three consecutive rivets divided by 2. The latter seems to be the more accurate answer but both of these answers make sense. 

In this article, you will get to know all about chain pitch, what is chain pitch, how to calculate chain pitch, different sizes of chainsaw chains and pitches, how to choose the right chainsaw chain, and more. Continue reading to get all the answers that you are looking for.

What is Chain Pitch

Chainsaw is a term commonly used by bikers, mechanics, chainsaw users, and workers who need to use machines with chains. This term is used for measuring the size of the chain and has multiple definitions. 

According to some, the chain pitch is the distance between two rivet centers and two roller pins in the chain. Meanwhile, some feel that chain pitch is actually the distance between three consecutive rivets divided by 2. The latter seems to be the more accurate answer, but each definition answers the question of what is chain pitch.

You can measure the pitch yourself even, although it might not always be simple to get accurate and precise measurements. For measuring the pitch, you need to measure between the middle points of the three rivets of the chain and then divide it by two. A 3/8 pitch will be the most common, and it would have a measurement of 3/4-inch between the middle points of the three rivets. Three-quarters will be divided by two and it’ll be three-eighths. As the difference between the pitches is so small, it’ll often be better to have the chain measured by a professional, such as an authorized chainsaw dealer.

How to Calculate Chain Pitch

Before you calculate the chain pitch, you must be aware of two things. The first one is the roller pin, which is essentially the pin that attaches the entire chain. The other is the sprocket, a part on which the chainsaw chain is fixed. When the sprocket moves, the chain will move and the chainsaw will work.

It is important to know these two things. If you don’t know what these two things are, you won’t be able to find the pitch. Chain pitch is essentially the distance between two consecutive roller pins of the chainsaw chain. So, you should make use of a measuring tape for calculating the distance. To make the results more accurate, you should use a caliper for measuring the distance between the centers of the teeth of the sprocket. You can even try a pitch calculator by providing the relevant details about your chain for calculating the chain pitch.

This is because the chainsaw chain is to be fixed on it and by tallying the result of these measurements, you’ll be able to purchase a chain that fits your sprocket. The pitch can be measured in inches, so if you’re purchasing a chain with a 0.250 pitch, it’ll mean that the distance between the two roller-pin of the chainsaw chain will be 0.250 inches. Meanwhile, the chain pitch in mm, in this case, will be 6.35 mm.

What is the Range of Pitch

The chain gauge is the measurement of the thickness of the drive link. But what is a drive link? Drive links are the parts of a chainsaw chain that fits on a bar gauge of gardening machines like a chainsaw. For your chain to work properly, the thickness must be measured. The range of the chain gauge is between 0.043 inches and 0.063 inches.

The pitch range will start from 0.250 inches or ¼ inches, and it can go above 3 inches in roller chains. If the chain sprocket is large, then you need to buy a chain that has a broader pitch. The purpose here is to find a chain that fits well on the sprocket such that it doesn’t slip or wear off quickly when it is moving. When you’re considering the pitch, another thing that is connected to it will ensure that it is fit for the sprocket. This is the chain gauge.

To make things easier for you to buy chains easily, pitches of all sizes should be measured and charts should be made available. This way, remembering the chain size will be easier as it will be like 40 chains or 60 chains. This will also save people from measuring the chain gauge each time before they purchase a chain for a firewood chainsaw.

Different sizes of chains will be measured with highly accurate instruments for the ease of the users. If you are going to purchase a new chain, you shouldn’t forget to go through it, such as the 60 chain pitch being 0.750 inches.

How to Choose the Right Chainsaw Chain

On the surface, choosing a new chainsaw chain should be quite easy, until you get a wide range of options behind the counter to choose from. The dealers, brick-and-mortar stores, websites, and catalogs have a wide range of options that you can choose from as long as you have the relevant information for selecting the correct chainsaw chain. However, if you do not, then this blog will be helpful to you. Here, you will get to know more about the different steps for choosing the right chainsaw chain. Here is a great introduction to the different types of chains or the sharp end of chainsaw chain identification for your domestic chainsaw – 

Step 1: How to find the chain of the right size

chainsaw chain placed on the floor

There are three crucial parameters that you need to pay close attention to when you are choosing the chainsaw chain. Those factors are the length of the guide bar on the chainsaw, the drive link gauge, and the pitch. All three parameters will be identical to the parameters that are displayed on the guide bar and approved for that particular chainsaw model. 

If you aren’t able to read the information on the chainsaw guide bar, or you want to change the parameters of the chain, you should always consult a licensed dealer first for checking if the combination in question is suitable for your chainsaw.

Chain pitch

 The chain pitch is essentially the distance between every other rivet (in inches) divided by two. The rivets are the circular pins that are holding the chainsaw chain together. It does sound slightly complicated but lucky, you won’t have to memorize anything to pick the right chainsaw chain. There are six different pitches available – ¼”, ¼”P, 3/8”P, 3/8”, 0.325”, and 0.404”. Most homeowner chainsaws come with a chain that has a pitch that is either 3/8”P or ¼”P. You need to ensure that the pitch you’re choosing is the same as the guide bar and drive sprocket of the chainsaw. In case it is different, it won’t fit on your chainsaw’s guide bar properly.

You should note that even though the ¼” and ¼”P as well as 3/8” and 3/8”P might look similar, they need to be treated as entirely different pitches and aren’t actually interchangeable.

Chainsaw guide bar length

The chainsaw guide bar length will impact the size of the loop of the chain that you need. STIHL chainsaws that are designed for domestic use are usually 12, 14, or 16 inches long.

Drive link gauge

The drink link gauge is the thickness of the drive link. A 1.1mm chain will perfectly sit in the groove of a 1.1mm chainsaw guide bar. Making use of a 1.1mm chainsaw chain in a 1.3mm guide bar can cause the chain to lean side to side. Further, it’ll also increase the risk of the chain that is coming out of the guide bar.

Step 2: How to choose the right chainsaw chain

If you are using the chainsaw for firewood or small jobs around your yard or garden, chances are that you will require a Picco chain. A Picco chainsaw chain comes with a lower profile tooth, which means that the cutting teeth are sitting closer to the guide bar and are less aggressive compared to the chains, so they’re usually recommended for professional chainsaws. You need to look for the word “Picco” at the start of the chain description. Any chain that has “Rapid” in the name will feature larger teeth and will be better suited to professional users.

The next thing that you should look for will be the word “Micro” in the name. Comfortable and reliable to be used, STIHL micro chains come with a semi-chisel tooth, which means that they have a rounded shape and are easier to sharpen. The alternative to Micro will be Super. These chains are capable of offering higher performance, but end up losing their edge quickly and require more experience for sharpening effectively.

Finally, it is recommended that unless you are a professional user who has to regularly cut wood, choosing a chain with humped drive links will be a wise idea. Humped drive links are capable of reducing vibration and kickback, and they’re denoted by a “3” in the chain description. When you piece it all together, you will get a Picco Micro 3 chain and a better understanding of what it all means.

Step 3: Check that you have the right chainsaw chain

For instance, say that you are using a STIHL MS181 chainsaw to put the information mentioned above into practice. You can see from the above-mentioned information on the chainsaw’s guide bar that the pitch is 3/8”P, the drive gauge is 1.3mm, and the length is 16”. This is the information that you should look for on the chain box or description.

As the chainsaw is a homeowner chainsaw ideal for firewood, it is recommended that you should go for a Picco Micro 3 chain (low tooth profile for low vibration, humped drive link for a low kickback, and semi-chisel teeth for easier sharpening). It can be shortened to “PM3”, so you must look out for that on the chain packaging. You will be able to see this information on the chain box and know that this will be the perfect chain for the STIHL MS181 chainsaw.

Once you’ve got the right chainsaw chain, it will be simple to change the chainsaw chain. You can find the instructions in all the owners’ manuals and a copy of the right manual for your chainsaw here (for Stihl chainsaw users). Regardless of the chainsaw chain you are going for, you can be sure that you will get exceptional cutting performance. 

How to Measure a Chainsaw Chain


How do I find out what pitch my chainsaw chain is?

You should take a clipper or any other measuring device and then measure the distance between two roller-pin in the chain. This will be the pitch.

What do you mean by a chain drive?

A chain drive is a system of chains and sprockets that transfer energy for the successful operation of the chainsaw. The pitch here is nothing but the pitch of the chainsaw chain used in the system.

What do you mean by chain pitch?

The chain pitch is the distance between the links on the chainsaw chain. It won’t tell you any information regarding the length of the chain or the number of links on the chain. This measurement will determine whether the chainsaw chain will fit on the sprocket. The chain gauge will tell you how thick the drive lugs are. The chain gauge and chain pitch will determine the overall size of the chain.

How can I measure my Husqvarna chainsaw chain?

Husqvarna chainsaws are quite versatile and allow you to take care of regular lawn work like pruning, trimming trees and shrubs, taking care of felled trees, and more quickly and efficiently. Through wear and tear, the chain on your chainsaw might are usually measured by three distinct measurements – chain pitch, chain gauge, and the number of drive links. Measuring all three things is possible, although you might need a bit of assistance in some cases.

How to measure chain pitch on a Husqvarna chainsaw?

Husqvarna homeowner chainsaw chains come with a recommended 3/8-inch or 0.325-inch pitch. Some Husqvarna chainsaws have different chain and bar combinations, which means one chain that fits could be a 3/8-inch pitch while another chainsaw chain might have a 0.325-inch pitch. A 3/8-inch chain pitch is the most common pitch available for most brands of homeowner chainsaws. Most homeowner chainsaws come with a 3/8-inch, low-profile chain that is commonly used for chainsaw bars 18 inches or shorter. The low-profile term is used to refer to the narrowness of the material being removed during cutting. A low-profile chain consumes less power due to this, which makes it more appropriate for regular homeowner use.

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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.