How To Measure Chainsaw Bar

How To Measure Chainsaw Bar

When you are buying a shirt for yourself, you want to ensure it fits, right? This is the same case when you are buying a chain or bar for your chainsaw. Measuring is essential as it will ensure you have the fitting chainsaw bar.

If you have gone through the manufacturer’s chart, the information presented might look quite overwhelming.

However, the process is very simple once you understand about the chainsaw chain and the length of the blade. If you want to know how to measure chainsaw bar, then read along.

How To Measure Your Chainsaw Bar

First of all, understand that in most cases, the effective cutting length is what you need to measure. The size of most replacement bars is typically based on this metric.

Still, there are scenarios whereby retailers sell bars based on their entire length, not just what you can see when the machine is fully assembled. So, we will also look at how to go about measuring the bar length for such usage scenarios.

The last thing you want is to walk into the hardware store with one measurement only to learn that the replacements you need are sold based on a different measure.

And all you need for this task is a tape measure. Unlike the chainsaw where you have to obsess over things like gauge and pitch, only one measurement really matters when determining the size of the bar is the length. So, here is how you go about taking these measurements.

Measuring The Effective Cutting Length

Using a tape measure, take the distance from where the bar disappears into the case up to the tip of the bar. We all know its rounded. You have to measure to the point farthest from the chainsaw, and that should be midway between the two lengths of the bar.

Know that you might not always get a nice round figure. But that is a problem you can solve by rounding off to the nearest inch. But popular chainsaw bar sizes include 10, 16, 18, and 20 inches.

Measuring The Entire Length of The Chain Bar

To get the length of the entire length of the bar, instead of the visible part of the bar, you need to take off some of its parts with a ratchet and a socket to ensure that the entire bar is exposed.

But before that, you should take off the spark plug to ensure that the chainsaw does not start by accident. You can do this by pulling on the boot covering the spark plug.

Once you have taken off the entire bar, you can measure its length, again, to the tip of the saw.

Some Precautions To Take

1. Make Sure The Chainsaw Can’t Turn On

Safety is paramount when you are measuring the chainsaw bar. So, while you take the measurements, even if no tools are required, make sure the chainsaw is turned off completely.

As a matter of fact, in the case of a gas chainsaw, you should go ahead and take off the spark plug. This should keep the machine from powering on while you are working on it. If it’s an electric chainsaw, taking off the battery would be a good idea for the cordless type, and pulling the plug off the socket should help in the case of a corded chainsaw.

Furthermore, if you have been using it, it is imperative to let it cool down. The chain can be quite hot if you start to make the measurements shortly after you have used it.

2. Prepare The Work Area

Make sure to use a clear workbench, so that you can place your chainsaw on a stable surface. In fact, you should ensure you have plenty of space as well – some chainsaws tend to wobble a bit when laid on their side. Chainsaws may be compact, but they can be quite heavy and that can make it easy to lose your grip.

But with enough space and clear working area, you won’t end up dropping the machine while trying to get the length of its bar. If you did, your problem could escalate from being a bar replacement issue to being a chainsaw replacement problem.

3. Don’t Guess The Length Of Your Saw

Looks can be deceiving. The chainsaw bar that looks like the one on your machine might not be a perfect fit or any kind of fit for that matter. Of course, you don’t want to use a chainsaw with poorly fitting bar.


Like most people, you possibly tossed aside the manual containing the replacement bar length as soon as you could start your machine and cut through your first log. But then again, you might just be a bona fide DIY enthusiast who likes a hands-on approach to things.

You can be rest assured that this process becomes easier every time you do it. The good part is that you only have to take the measurement once, and you can use the data when making purchases for replacement in the future.

If you face any difficulties or have questions, the manufacturer or supplier of chains can be of help in assisting you with the information you need to know.

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