How to Measure Chainsaw Size

chainsaw bar and chain

You pick up your chainsaw one day and want to cut through maybe a log of wood or something else, and then you realize that it doesn’t cut as well as before, well the chainsaw is now dull, and it is time to change the chain.

Now that it is finally time to change the chain on your chainsaw, you need to know how to measure a few parts of the chainsaw in order to know the correct replacement parts to purchase.

Measuring the Chainsaw Bar

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If you want to measure the length of your chainsaw bar, there are two ways to do it. You can either choose to measure the effective length or the true length. You will notice there are several inches in the difference of these lengths.

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Effective length

This length, often called the effective cutting length or bar measurement, is actually shorter than the main length of the bar. It is the easiest measurement to take as all you need is just your standard tape measure. Sometimes this length is referred to as the chainsaw length.

Before you begin taking the measurement, you should take a few safety measures as you will be handling the chain. So, these are the steps to take if you want to measure the effective length of the chainsaw bar.

Sit your off chainsaw on a stable flat surface where you have plenty of light. Grab the rubber boot that conceals the spark plug and disconnect the wire from the spark plug by pulling it gently until it finally comes off. These safety steps are to prevent the chainsaw from coming on accidentally.

Next, place the end of your measuring tape against the body of the chainsaw at the point where the bar comes out from the casing. Then, stretch the measuring tape out to the end of the bar and slightly exceed it. This is because you will want to measure the cutter that sticks out the furthest from the tip of the bar. If the chainsaw does not have a chain at the moment,  you can add about half an inch further from the tip of the bar.

Always Count Up

Approximate the measurement taken to the nearest inch. For example, if the measurement you got was 17.7 inches, then you approximate it to 18 inches. So, 18 inches becomes the effective length of your chainsaw bar.

True Length

This length, just as the name implies, is the true length of the bar, starting from one end down to the other. Taking the measurement of this length is tougher than the other as you have to remove the bolts that hold the cover on the chainsaw using a socket driver coupled with a wrench set.

Take the cover off completely; this will leave you with the entire chainsaw bar. The bar will now also be lying loosely across the body of the chainsaw. Pick the chainsaw bar off the interior bolts and set it down.

No need to worry about the chain when taking this measurement, just place the end of the measuring tape at one end of the chainsaw bar. Then stretch the tape down to the other end of the real bar and take your measurement.

For this measurement, there is no need to approximate your figures as it will be the actual length of the chainsaw bar.

Measuring the Chainsaw Pitch

To determine the pitch of the chainsaw, you need to measure the distance between any three consecutive rivets and then divide by two. The result you get is called the pitch; the larger the number, the larger the space between the links which will result in faster and more aggressive cutting.

Also, if it has a smaller space, it is likely that the saw is mostly used for cutting small chunks of wood at a time, and it is more often than not found in chainsaws that are built for household usage.

Measuring the Chainsaw Gauge

Taking the measurement of the gauge is one of the trickiest measurements due to the fact that there are extremely little variations between the different gauge sizes. The easiest and most suitable way to be sure of the gauge size is by checking the bar or the user’s manual. But if you can’t locate the measurement, then there is an alternative which is with the use of coins.

Take any of your coins and slip them into the bar groove. Make sure that the coin is slid in comfortable, don’t add any extra force.

Penny – The size is .058” gauge

Dime – The size is .050” gauge

Quarter – The size is .063” gauge

Counting the Drive Links

After you have successfully taken the above measurement, you can then proceed to count the drive links to make sure that you have the correct replacements. You might have to remove the chain to do this step, but you can just loosen the chain and spin it above the bar to count. Ensure that you mark the point where you started with something so you’ll know where to stop counting so you will get an accurate count.

Tips to Keep Your Chainsaw in Optimal Shape

The following tips will help you maintain your chainsaw and prolong its life span. You eventually need to change the chain of your chainsaw, but you can follow the following steps to prolong its life span.

  1. Ensure that you sharpen the chain of your chainsaw every 2 to 3 hours of usage.
  2. Remember to always oil the bar and chain to ensure smooth movement.
  3. You can get more than one chain and then rotate usage in order to extend the life of each.

You can also check out some of the BEST CHAINSAW CHAINS.


Now, if you think your chainsaw bar or chain is due to be replaced, you can go to a store with all your measurements and pick the right replacements.

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