How to Measure Chainsaw Bar

How to Measure Chainsaw Bar

If you've ever used a chainsaw, you probably know the blade doesn't stretch. If it is long, you can't generate ample tension; if it is too short, it won't stretch. So, how do you measure a chainsaw bar? Further, if the pitch is incorrect, the motor won’t engage, and if the gauge is wider than usual, it won’t fit in the bar. 

Substitute bars and chains need the right size for your particular chainsaw. The one-size-fits-all tactic won’t work here. 

So, how to measure a chainsaw bar? 

The length of a chainsaw bar, also called the tail-tip size, isn't an acceptable measurement parameter. To do it correctly, consider the cutting length, the usable bar length, which is the same as the bar section protruding from the chainsaw itself. 

That is just a summary of how to go about it; here is a multi-step guide so that you can better understand how to measure a chainsaw bar:

Step 1: Locate the True Bar & Cutting Lengths

Disconnect the chainsaw from the power supply outlet.

This is the first step, which is very important because it stops the chainsaw from starting as you measure the bar. Place the chainsaw on an even surface with the handle facing up. Find the screws holding the outer cover on the chainsaw and unscrew them using a wrench or screwdriver. 

Take the black cable connected to a circular port beneath the cover, and detach it from the spark socket by pulling it out. This is vital since you don't want the power tool to start while taking measurements. 

Also, the screws’ location may vary depending on your chainsaw. 

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Measure from the bar's tip to where it accesses the cutting length's body

Take your tape measure and begin measuring from where the bar accesses the chainsaw body. Stretch the tape to the bar's tip and write that measurement somewhere. If it's not a whole number, round it off to the closest inch. This is the bar's cutting length. 

Remove the chainsaw’s clutch cover to take off the bar.

Find the nuts on the right, which hold the clutch cover in position, and use a screwdriver or wrench to remove them. Next, take out the cover to reveal the other section of the bar. Push it forward, allowing it's not linked to the clutch, before removing the previously loosened bolts. 

For those with a chainsaw with a brake, ensure it is locked in place before removing the clutch cover. This will make it more effortless to return it. 

Note: To avoid cutting yourself by mistake, it would be best to do all this while wearing gloves, especially if the chain is still in the saw. 

Measure the True Length 

Take out your tape measure, begin measuring from the bar's end, and stretch it to the tip to measure the true length. Like the cutting lengths, round off the measurement to the closest inch to discover the true chainsaw bar’s length. 

Most chainsaw bars are 8 to 24 inches long. Also, the cutting length usually is shorter than the true length. 

Step 2: Measuring the Chainsaw Bar's Chain

Detach the chain 

This will make measuring it much easier than when it is on the saw. Unscrew the two nuts on the right side, which keep the clutch in position, and use a screwdriver to loosen them. Remove the cover of the clutch to access the remaining part of the chain better. 

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Cautiously pull the bar to allow it to hang loosely. Untie the chain from the clutch. This is where the bar contacts the chainsaw. 

Tip: Wear gloves to avoid getting cut by the chain since its teeth are very sharp. 

Measure the length between the three successive rivets to determine the chain's pitch.

Now that you’ve already detached the chain from the saw, place it on an even surface, which allows you to locate the rivets quickly. These are the circular metallic parts that keep the chain links in place. 

Take your tape measure and start measuring from any of the rivet's edges. Stretch until you reach the third rivet's edge, then record the measurement. Multiply this measurement by half to determine the pitch of the chain. 

You can either record the measurement in inches or centimeters. 

Find the chain's gauge using a caliper.

The chain's gauge is the drive links' thickness. These drive links are found on the groove on the saw's bar. They are the pointy metal parts in the chain's interior. Place one of these drive links between your caliper’s jaws and shut the caliper to hold the drive links firmly. 

Check the reading on the caliper to determine the gauge. However, if you have difficulty determining the gauge measurement, you can find it written on the side of the saw in inches. 

The most common gauge sizes are 1.3mm, 1.5mm, and 1.6mm. All the same, your chain gauge could also be 1.1mm, though this one's rare. 


You can use a penny, quarter, or dime if you don't have a caliper. Slide it inside the bar's groove to determine which fits perfectly without shoving it forcefully. Use the size of the coin that fits to find the gauge size.

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Quarter: 1.6mm

Penny: 1.5mm 

Dime: 1.3mm

Count the drive-links 

As pointed out, the drive links are the pointy metallic parts on the chain’s interior. Place the chain on an even surface and mark one of the links using a marker. Next, begin counting the drive links on the chain, starting with the marked one. 

Count until you return to the one you had marked and record the number somewhere. Also, you can go to the side of the saw’s bar, where you'll find the number of links tagged "DL." 

Measuring the chainsaw bar is a two-step process, and I hope I have kept it as simple as possible. 

What Chainsaw Bar for Your Chainsaw?

There are a few considerations to weigh in when you want to replace your saw's bar. First, you must consider purchasing a bar length compatible with your saw’s horsepower. You'll need more power if you have thicker blades on the gauge or a larger saw bar. However, electric saws feature smaller blades of 12 to 16 inches.

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