Not everything is meant to last. Especially, when it comes to a tool like a chainsaw, sooner or later it will be worn out. That’s basic logic. Within a few years of use (less if you are a heavy user), the chain in the chainsaw will need replacement. That’s why it is important to know which size of the chain you should be looking for. So, today, we will discuss how to measure a chainsaw bar.

You cannot use a mismatched chain on your chainsaw, period!

Not only it will ruin its effectiveness but also could lead to dangerous accidents. You will always have to select the perfect replacement.

Moreover, you should know what the perfect sized chainsaw for your particular need is. You cannot use a 12″ chainsaw to cut down firewood or a 24″ to prune out the trees in your backyard.

Typically, a guide comes with the chainsaw while buying with the proper replacement part list. But if you have lost it thinking you don’t need some instruction manual to chop down trees, you need to measure the bar length manually.

So, let’s get started.

How to Measure a Chainsaw Bar – A Step-by-step Solution

First things first, the cutting length is not equal to the length of the chainsaw bar. If your friend has told you so, smack him in the face – he is wrong!

In reality, you will have to work a bit more than looking at the readings in your measuring tape.

So, here’s what you need to do –

Step 1

Safety first – turn off your chainsaw! We’ll assume you are smart enough to do so. You should also remove the spark plug. You can find the spark plug behind the carburetor box at the back panel of your chainsaw.

Unscrew the screw attaching the carburetor box with the chainsaw body. Then you can unplug the spark plug.

You are all set now. There is no way the saw can turn on now and start a bloodbath.

Step 2

Now you will measure the cutting length. This an easy-peasy step. Take out your measuring tape and measure the length from the emerging point on the bar to the tip of the chain.

Typically, this length is anywhere between 12″ to 20″. If you find a fraction number, you should round that up to the closest integer number.

Here’s a tip – align the measuring tape in the middle point across the bar. You could repeat the process a couple of time in case you are not sure.

Step 3

So, we have the cutting length of the chainsaw. Now we will measure the actual length of the bar. Start with removing the casing at the back of the chainsaw. You will need a suitable wrench or a socket to loosen up the bolts or nuts.

After the removal of the casing, you can simply take out the chainsaw bar. Now, measure the bar from tip to tip.

That’s how you can measure a chainsaw bar properly.

Step 4

Now, you should assemble all the parts again – the bar, the casing, the carburetor, and the spark plug.

So, that was how you could measure a chainsaw bar.

But choosing the perfect replacement of your chainsaw chain is a bit trickier. You should also know how to measure your chain. If the bar and the chain don’t fit perfectly, all those measurements of the chainsaw bar are useless.

How to Measure the Length of a Chain in a Chainsaw?

To find the perfect chain, you need to understand a few terms –

Rivets – Rivets are mechanical binders that hold the chain segments to construct the chain.

Drive Links – They are the bottom part of the chain of a chainsaw. These links are attached with the cutters through the tie straps. Moreover, the drive links connect the chain with the bar.

Tie Straps – The tie straps connect the drive links together. They have two holes for two rivets that connect with two different drive links.

Pitch – The pitch is a distance. But how do you measure this distance? Determine the distance between three rivets in the chain, then divide the number by 2. The result is called the pitch of a chainsaw.

Gauge – Gauge is the width of the gap in the rail bars (grooves) in a chainsaw.

Tooth Count – the link numbers on the chain is denoted as tooth count.

So, you are ready to dig deeper and measure the chain length properly.

From the descriptions mentioned above, you can easily measure the pitch of the chainsaw. But how can you exactly measure the gauge? Slide calipers can do the trick, but we have a simpler solution to the problem.

You will need some coins (US) – a quarter, a penny, and a dime. Each of these coins has particular width that matches three common gauge sizes. Take a look –

  • The width of the quarter = 0.063 Gauge = 1.588 mm = 1/16 inches
  • The width of the penny = 0.057 Gauge = 1.449 mm
  • The width of the dime = 0.050 Gauge = 1.3 mm

It is a must for you to exactly match the pitch number, gauge number, and link count that is specified by the chainsaw model and the bar.

Number Codes Can Help Too!

Some chainsaw bars have these number specified so that you don’t need to go through the hassle of all the measurements.

Some chainsaws have particular number codes that can help you to choose the proper replacement. Stihl, for example, is one of the brands which provides the number of codes for identifying Stihl chains.

Suppose, you have a Stihl branded chainsaw and the chainsaw has the number code 33 RS3 written on it. Each of the numbers or the letters have a particular meaning. The code represents pitch size, gauge size, cutter type, the shape of the cutter, and special characteristics sequentially.

So, the meaning of 33 RS3 is as follows –

These numbers help a user to identify the specifications of the chain easily. But not all the brands have such numbered codes. If you own a Dayton & Dolmar or a Sachs chainsaw, you will have to measure the specifications manually.

So, we think measuring the bar length is much easier compared measuring chain specification.

Are All Kinds of Bar Lengths Suitable for every Task?

The simple answer would be – NO! You cannot expect a short-barred chainsaw to cut down big trees. Similarly, a long-barred chainsaw is not suitable for pruning trees. You need to pick the right tool for the right task.

Moreover, it’s not only about feasibility, but the matter of safety is also important too. Mainly, due to the safety issue, people seek professional help while choosing the perfect part replacement.

But if you follow the bar and chain changing instruction properly, you have nothing to worry about.

Here is a list of the bar lengths that are suitable for different tasks –

When Should You Change the Bar and the Chain?

Like every other power tool, the chainsaw will wear over time. You cannot keep them razor sharp for eternity.

Except the common wearing, the bar could break, bend, and even crack. Changing the bar or chain is not a cheap solution. In most cases, people seek out professional help, so you will need to pay the service charge too.

Keep in mind that a worn-out bar needs to replaced, but if the chain is just loose or bent, you can repair it easily.

We cannot give you a timeline when the chain or the bar will wear off. It depends on the usage. The more you use, the sooner it will wear off.

Be Cautious – Accidents Can Ruin Your Life!

Handing a chainsaw requires much caution. It’s not a toy so you shouldn’t start working with it without having enough knowledge.

Safety gear is a must while working with a chainsaw as well as while dismantling it. Hand gloves, goggles for eye protection, and helmet should be your primary list.

As we have said before, you must remove the spark plug before you are planning to open the casing. Moreover, you should wait for the engine to cool down. Otherwise, you could have unnecessary burns.

Final Thoughts

If you are a professional woodworker or a casual DIYer, you will have to replace the chain and the bar sooner or later. The measurement process of the bar and the chain is a piece of cake if you follow the instruction properly.

You could always consult professional service providers for this simple task. However, if you do that personally, you can have a better connection with the tool. This will enhance your operational skills too.

So, that was our guide on how to measure a chainsaw bar. Please share your opinion on the comment section below and check out our other blogs.

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