How to Measure a Chainsaw Chain for Replacement?

Measuring a chainsaw chain is the process of determining the gauge and the pitch of a chainsaw chain. In this article, we will discuss the method of measuring a chainsaw chain.

A chainsaw chain or a cutting chain is an important component of any chainsaw. Chains are usually made up of steel links that have been held together using rivets. They have flat drive links on the inner part of the chain loop that help in retaining the chain on the bar and sharp cutting teeth on the outer part. It is important to know that there are different types of chains. Some of them are described below.


Semi-Chisel Chain

This is the best chain for cutting softwood stands.

It has a rounded shoulder that makes it more tolerant to sharpening errors. The period that this chain can remain sharp will depend on the use. When being used by a carpenter to cut brand new timbers into pieces of the desired length, it can stay sharp for many hours of use.

However, it may not remain sharp for long when used to cut old railway sleepers.

Some of the conditions that can result into blunt chain are hitting stones embedded in trees, bullets, shotgun pellets, dirt and dusty conditions, and hitting nails.

Full Chisel Chain

Many people like this type because of its speed.It cuts faster in all kinds of woods compared to many other types of chains.

It is actually best chain for cutting hardwood.

This type of chain excels at cutting trees. To keep it cutting straight, one needs to be careful during the sharpening process. It is also important to note that this type has a square shoulder profile.

It is the best cutting chainsaw chain for general purpose use.

Ripping Chain

Ripping saw chain has shallow angle cutters. It is a special purpose chain and it’s the best cutting chainsaw chain type for chainsaw mills and making planks. Its shallow cutter angles enable it to give a timber a smooth finish.

Skip Chain

This chain requires a chainsaw of either 60cc or more. Otherwise, it may not work well. In other words, the bigger the chainsaw, the better.

So, what makes it different from other types?

It has 2 blank links between the cutters. This is one of the characteristics that differentiate it from the standard chains.

It is a fast cutting chainsaw chain and this makes it one of the most efficient saw chains available.

Measurement Guides

Why You Must to Measure The Chain

In most cases, the length of a chain of a particular chainsaw type is closely related to the measurement of the bar of that chainsaw. This is one of the main reasons why some manufacturers consider the bar measurements alone when selling replacement chains.

However, it is important to take other measurements in order to determine the accurate length of a chain.

Taking accurate measurements is the only sure way to ensure that a chain fits well on a saw. A well-oiled, clean chainsaw chain will run well, but only if most of its parts fit and line up appropriately.

A chainsaw with a bar that does not fit and an oversized chain cannot run. This crystal clearly shows that choosing the right chain is not an easy task. One needs to know which chains fit which bars.


Get The Bar Measurement

In the first step, the distance between the tip of the saw bar and the point where the bar emerges from the casing is measured using a tape measure.

The measurement acquired is then rounded off to the nearest even number, especially if the figure is fractional or uneven. The resulting figure is actually the bar measurement.

Know The Number Of Drive Links

In the next step, the chain is stretched on a flat surface.

This makes it easy for the person taking the measurements to find out where the chain drive links are. In most cases, the links protrude from the lower side of the chain. Their ability to grab the drive cog enables them to power the chain. This step is finalized by counting the number of drive links within the chain.

Acquire The Pitch Numbers

During this stage, the pitch of the chain being measured is determined.

The space between any three consecutive rivets is determined. Rivets play an important role when it comes to holding the chain assembly together. Accurate measurements are acquired by determining the distance between the center of 1 rivet and the center of the 3rd rivet.

Rivets are usually found between the cutters and the drive links. Cutters are actually the cutting teeth which occur at the upper part of a chain. To get the pitch, the measurements acquired are divided by two. The numbers of drive links and the pitch are used to describe the length of a chain.

Sum It Up

The numbers (pitch numbers and drive links) acquired are then determined accurately to make sure that they are within the expected ranges. These values are finally added together.

The result acquired defines the information one needs to have at his or her fingertips when looking for the right chainsaw chain size for a chainsaw chain replacement.

It is also important to look at the bar of the chainsaw whose chain is to be replaced.

Some bars contain information one may need to get the correct replacement chain for his or her saw.

In case a bar has pitch, drive links, and gauge measurements stamped into it, then there is no need of using a tape measure to take measurements. 


A cutting chain that does not fit well on a saw presents a dangerous hazard. If one does know what to look for when buying a chain, he should consider seeking help from a professional. Referring to a chainsaw manual can also help one buy the right type of chain. These are good methods for preventing chainsaw accidents.

One should always go through the safety warnings within a manufacturer’s manual before he starts working on a powerful tool such as a chainsaw. Before starting the process of chainsaw chain replacement, he should remove the battery or unplug the spark plug. This will prevent the chainsaw chain from starting accidentally.

Final Thoughts

As discussed above, it is crystal clear that there are some things you need to know before you can start the process of replacing a chainsaw chain, which type of chainsaw chain is right for you. Most importantly, you need to know that way to measure a chainsaw chain.

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