chain bar

Measuring a chainsaw bar is an essential skill for anyone who uses a chainsaw regularly. Whether you’re a professional logger or a homeowner who needs to cut firewood, understanding how to measure your chainsaw bar can ensure that you maintain your equipment properly and operate it safely. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about measuring a chainsaw bar, including the tools you’ll need, the steps to take, and some tips to help you get the most accurate measurement.

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Why Measure Your Chainsaw Bar?

Before we dive into the how-to, let’s discuss why it’s important to measure your chainsaw bar. The length of the chainsaw bar determines the size of the wood you can cut. If you’re using a bar that’s too short for the job, you may struggle to cut through larger logs, and if it’s too long, it can make the chainsaw unwieldy and dangerous to use. Additionally, knowing the exact length of your bar is crucial when it comes time to replace the chain or the bar itself.

Tools You’ll Need

To measure your chainsaw bar, you’ll need a few simple tools:

  • A tape measure or a ruler
  • A flat surface
  • A marker or a piece of chalk (optional)
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Step-by-Step Guide to Measuring Your Chainsaw Bar

  1. Ensure Safety: Before you begin, make sure the chainsaw is turned off and the chain brake is engaged. Remove the spark plug cap to prevent accidental starts.
  2. Clean the Bar: Remove any debris or sawdust from the bar with a brush or cloth to ensure an accurate measurement.
  3. Locate the Cutting Length: The cutting length is the part of the bar that actually cuts the wood. It’s different from the overall length of the bar. To find the cutting length, measure from the front of the saw to the furthest tip of the bar.
  4. Measure the Overall Length: For the overall length, lay the chainsaw bar on a flat surface and measure from one end to the other.
  5. Mark the Length: Use a marker or piece of chalk to mark the cutting length on the bar if you need to remember it for future reference.
  6. Record the Measurement: Write down both the cutting length and the overall length for your records.

Tips for Accurate Measurement

  • Use a Rigid Tape Measure: A flexible tape measure can bend and give you an inaccurate measurement. Use a rigid ruler or tape measure for the best results.
  • Measure Twice: To ensure accuracy, measure the bar at least twice.
  • Check the Manufacturer’s Specifications: Compare your measurements with the manufacturer’s specifications to ensure they match up.

Step 1: Remove the Chain and Blade

The most accurate way to measure your chainsaw’s bar is by removing the chain and blade. This allows you to get precise measurements without any obstructions. Here’s how:

  1. Remove the Chainsaw Housing: Unscrew the two nuts near the handle that secure the housing covering the blade. Once removed, you’ll see the drive bush, chain, and saw bar.
  2. Release Chain Tension: Locate the tension wheel inside the chainsaw bar. Use a flathead screwdriver to turn the screw counterclockwise, releasing some tension. Pull the chain away from the grooves on the bar until you reach the drive sprocket.
  3. Remove the Chain: Pull the chain on the drive sprocket to completely remove it. The drive gear is a wheel located under the handle.
  4. Inspect the Blade: While you’re at it, check if the chainsaw bar needs replacement or repair.

Step 2: Measure the Bar

Now that you have the blade free, let’s measure the chainsaw bar:

  1. Place the blade on a flat work surface.
  2. Measure the length of the bar from the start (where it enters the chainsaw body) to the finish (the tip of the bar).
  3. Round up the measurement to the nearest even number. Chainsaws are typically sold in even lengths, so if you have an odd number, round up.

For example:

  • If your measurement is 16 1/3 inches (41 cm), the true length of the bar is 16 inches (41 cm).
  • Standard chainsaw bar lengths range from 8 to 24 inches (20 to 61 cm).

Remember, the actual length of the chainsaw bar (tail-tip distance) isn’t a valid parameter. It’s the cutting length—the useful part of the bar that extends from the chainsaw body—that matters. Different bars suit various tasks, from pruning to cutting large trunks.


Measuring your chainsaw bar is a simple but vital maintenance task that can help you work more efficiently and safely. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can easily measure your chainsaw bar and keep your chainsaw in top working condition. Remember to always prioritize safety when handling chainsaw equipment and consult your chainsaw’s manual for specific maintenance instructions related to your model.

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