How to Change a Chainsaw Chain: Quick & Safe Guide



change a chainsaw chain

To change a chainsaw chain, disengage the brake and remove the guide bar side panel. Then, release the tension and swap out the old chain for a new one.

Maintaining a chainsaw involves frequent chain replacement to ensure optimal performance and safety. Understanding the correct procedure for changing a chainsaw chain is crucial for anyone who regularly uses this powerful tool. Whether you’re a professional logger or a DIY enthusiast, knowing how to swap out a dull or damaged chain can save time and prevent accidents.

Proper care extends the lifespan of your equipment and makes cutting tasks more efficient. This introduction lays the groundwork for a step-by-step guide designed to help you confidently navigate the chain replacement process, keeping your chainsaw in top condition.

Understanding Chainsaw Chains

Mastering the process of changing a chainsaw chain ensures both safety and efficiency in your cutting tasks. Discover the simple steps to replace your chainsaw’s chain, keeping your equipment in top working condition.

Components of a Chainsaw Chain

A proper grasp of what makes up your chainsaw chain aids in its care and can prevent untimely wear-out or damage. Key components include:

  • Cutters: Teeth that slice through the wood, coming in various designs such as full-chisel for fast cutting or semi-chisel for durability.
  • Drive Links: The bottom part that fits into the bar, driving the chain around it.
  • Rivets: Pins that hold the chain links together, allowing flexibility and movement.
  • Tie Straps: These connect the cutters and help maintain the chain’s integrity.

Identifying Chain Specifications

To replace or maintain your chainsaw chain, you must first determine the precise specifications of the chain required for your saw:

PitchDistance between three consecutive rivets divided by two, indicating how the chain fits on the bar.Ensures compatibility and affects cutting efficiency.
GaugeThickness of the drive link where it fits into the bar groove, measuring how well the chain will match the bar.Prevents slippage and promotes accurate tracking.
Drive Link CountTotal count of drive links that dictates the chain length.Ensures the chain will seamlessly wrap around the bar.

Identify these specifications typically on the guide bar or within the chainsaw’s user manual to select a compatible new chain. Matching these details with a new chain guarantees smooth operation and minimizes risks of snapping or inaccurate cuts.

Preparing For Chain Replacement

Replacing the chain of your chainsaw is crucial in maintaining its efficiency and safety. Without proper preparation, you could risk damage to your equipment or, worse, personal injury. Before starting the replacement process, there are vital steps to ensure everything goes smoothly.

Safety Precautions and Gear

  • Chainsaw gloves with cut-resistant material
  • Safety glasses to shield eyes from flying debris
  • Hearing protection, such as earmuffs or earplugs, when operating the saw
  • Sturdy footwear, preferably steel-toed boots

Cleaning the Chainsaw

1Release the chain brake and remove the guide bar cover.
2Use a nylon brush or compressed air to remove debris from the chainsaw’s body and around the chain area.
3Wipe down the guide bar with a clean cloth.
4Clean the oil ports to ensure proper lubrication during use.

Once the chainsaw is spotless, you’re ready to move on to the next steps of replacing the chain.

Removing the Old Chain

Before changing a chainsaw chain, safely remove the old one by disengaging the chain brake and loosening the guide bar. Carefully lift the chain away, avoiding the sharp teeth, to prepare for the new chain installation.

Loosening the Tensioning Screw

Before you can remove the chain, it’s important to relieve the tension that’s holding it in place. Start by locating the tensioning screw, which is typically situated on the side of the chainsaw, near the guide bar. With your chainsaw turned off and the engine cool:

  • Locate the tensioning screw – it’s crucial for controlling the chain tension.
  • Use the appropriate tool – Most chainsaws come with a scrench (a combined screwdriver and wrench) designed for this job.
  • Turn the screw counterclockwise – This action loosens the chain, making removal possible.
  • Adjust until the chain is slack enough to be removed easily.

Taking Off the Old Chain

With the tension released, removing the chain is simple. Just follow these steps:

  1. Engage the chainsaw brake to keep the chain from moving.
  2. Lift the guide bar slightly to slacken the chain further.
  3. Carefully slide the chain off the bar, starting from the top and working your way around.
  4. Continue by pulling the chain away from the drive sprocket at the chainsaw’s power head.
  5. Once detached, remove the chain from the bar and sprocket entirely.

During this removal process, ensure that you handle the chain with care, even a dull chain can have sharp edges that can cause injury. Wear gloves to protect your hands, and keep the chain safely for disposal or resharpening. Now that you’ve removed the old chain, it’s time to prepare for the installation of a new one, revitalizing your chainsaw’s cutting prowess.

Installing the New Chain

Changing a chainsaw chain is essential for effective cutting and safety. Begin by disengaging the chain brake, then remove the side plate to access the worn chain. Install the new chain, ensuring it fits snugly around the bar and sprocket.

Adjusting the Tension

  1. Locate the tensioning screw on your chainsaw, which is usually positioned near the guide bar or the side of the chainsaw.
  2. With the new chain in place, turn the tensioning screw clockwise to tighten the chain slightly.
  3. Lift the chain slightly to ensure it’s not hanging away from the bottom of the bar.
  4. Continue to adjust until you can pull the chain snugly against the guide bar but can still rotate it easily by hand.

Ensuring Proper Alignment

  • Examine the placement of the chain around the guide bar.
  • Check that the drive links fit into the bar grooves and that the chain sits flush against the bar.
  • Verify that there are no twists or kinks in the chain that could affect its movement.
  • Run your hand along the chain (with gloves on) to feel for any snags or misalignments.

Checking Chain Tension

Before tightening a new chainsaw chain, ensure proper chain tension to prevent slippage or snapping. Regular checking and adjusting maintain optimal performance and prolong the chain’s lifespan.

Verifying the Correct Tension

  • Turn off the chainsaw and ensure it’s cool to the touch.
  • Put on gloves for protection.
  • Grasp the chain and pull up gently to check for slack.
  • Look for a slight gap between the chain and the guide bar.
  • If the chain sags or hangs away from the bar, it’s too loose.
  • If you can’t move the chain around the bar, it’s too tight.

Testing For Flexibility

A quick test for chain flexibility involves manually moving the chain around the guide bar. The chain should rotate freely without binding, indicating a balance between safety and cutting efficiency.

  1. Wear protective gloves to prevent injury.
  2. Hold the chainsaw with one hand, securing the guide bar.
  3. Use the other hand to rotate the chain around the bar.
  4. The chain should move smoothly; any stiffness implies the need for adjustment.

Know more: How to Test a Chainsaw Coil With a Multimeter

Lubricating the Chain

To ensure your chainsaw operates smoothly and lasts longer, proper lubrication of the chain is absolutely vital. Not only does this step reduce wear and friction, but it also enhances the performance of your chainsaw, providing cleaner cuts and reducing the chances of kickbacks. Let’s guide you through the process of applying chain oil correctly and ensuring an even distribution for optimal lubrication.

Applying Chain Oil

  • Open the oil cap on your chainsaw.
  • Select a high-quality chainsaw bar and chain oil specific to your model and the current weather conditions. For example, use a thinner oil in cold weather and thicker oil for warmer weather.
  • Pour the oil into the reservoir, filling it up but not overfilling it.
  • Replace the cap securely.

Ensuring Even Distribution

An even distribution of chain oil is crucial for the well-being of your chainsaw. After applying the oil, the chain must be adequately coated to provide maximum protection against friction. Implement these steps to verify even oil distribution:

  1. Hold the chainsaw above a clean piece of paper or cardboard.
  2. Start the chainsaw and let it run for a few moments. The oil should fling off the chain, leaving a light oil pattern on the paper.
  3. If the oil distribution is inconsistent, or there’s no oil pattern, turn off the chainsaw and investigate. You may need to adjust the oil flow or clear the oil ports.
  4. Once the oil distribution is confirmed, proceed with your cutting tasks, knowing your chainsaw chain is well-lubricated.

Testing the New Chain

With the replacement of your chainsaw chain complete, it’s time to move into the testing phase to ensure optimum performance and safety. Proper testing involves a few critical steps before you can confidently dive back into your woodcutting tasks. In the following sections, we will look at how to perform a dry run and observe the chain’s smooth operation, each playing a pivotal role in testing your chainsaw’s readiness for action.

Observing Smooth Operation

  • Tension Check: Make sure the chain’s tension is correct. A sagging or overly tight chain poses risks and affects efficiency.
  • Alignment: A properly-aligned chain leads to smooth cuts and reduces wear on your chainsaw.
  • Lubrication: Verify that the chainsaw’s automatic oiling system is functioning, as proper lubrication is key to smooth operation.

Engage with a test log, performing a few cuts. The chainsaw should handle these with ease, and the cuts should be clean and straight. If any hesitance or rough handling is experienced, stop immediately. Reinspect the chain and ensure all settings are correct before continuing.

Maintaining the Chainsaw Chain

Changing a chainsaw chain is vital for optimal performance and safety. Learn the steps to safely replace your chainsaw chain for efficient cutting and prolonged equipment life.

Regular Sharpening and Maintenance

  • Inspect the chain before and after each use for dullness or damage.
  • Use a chainsaw file or sharpener that matches the chain pitch and gauge.
  • Ensure even sharpening across all teeth, maintaining consistent pressure and stroke count.
  • Check and adjust the chain tension regularly to avoid slack that can lead to slips or breaks.
  • Clean the chain and bar to remove debris that could cause premature wear.

Storage Tips For Prolonged Chain Life

Storage TipBenefit
Clean the chain and barPrevents rust and residue build-up
Apply oil to the chainProvides a protective coating to minimize corrosion
Store in a dry environmentReduces moisture exposure which can lead to rust
Hang the chainsawPrevents unnecessary pressure on the chain and bar

FAQns Of How To Change A Chainsaw Chain

How do you Replace a Chain on a Chainsaw?

Begin by disengaging the chainsaw’s brake. Unscrew the side plate, remove it, and release the tension on the chain. Carefully take off the old chain, position the new chain on the bar, aligning the teeth correctly. Reattach the side plate, adjust the chain tension, and tighten securely.

How Do You Put a Chain On a Chainsaw the Right Way?

Ensure the chainsaw is off and cooled down. Release the side cover. Position the chain around the bar and drive sprockets, aligning the cutting teeth properly. Secure the chain tension and replace the side cover. Tighten to the correct tension, allowing slight give.

How Do You Put the Chain Back On an Oregon Chainsaw?

Turn off your Oregon chainsaw and let it cool. Loosen the side cover nuts. Adjust the tensioning screw to slacken the chain. Realign the chain onto the bar, ensuring it fits the grooves correctly. Tighten the tensioning screw and secure the side cover nuts.

How Do You Loosen and Tighten a Chainsaw Chain?

To loosen a chainsaw chain, turn the tensioning screw counterclockwise. To tighten, rotate it clockwise until you achieve the desired tension, ensuring the chain still moves freely. Always engage the chainsaw’s brake before making adjustments for safety.


Changing your chainsaw’s chain may seem daunting, but with the right tools, it’s a manageable task. Remember to always prioritize safety and consult your chainsaw’s manual. With practice, replacing a chain will become a quick, routine part of your chainsaw maintenance, keeping your tool in prime cutting condition for any job ahead.

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