How to Put A Chain on A Chainsaw?

Got a chainsaw that needs a new chain? Don’t fret! Putting on a chainsaw chain is easier than you might think. Whether you’re a seasoned lumberjack or just starting out, learning how to install a chainsaw chain is essential for safe and efficient operation.

To get started, you’ll need a few tools handy. Grab your trusty saw, along with the guide rail and guide bar. Don’t forget your tape measure too! DIY chain replacement not only saves you time and money but also gives you the satisfaction of getting the job done yourself.

But wait! Before we dive in, let’s avoid some common mistakes during installation. We’ll show you an example of how it’s done right, so you can steer clear of any hiccups along the way.

So grab your chainsaw and let’s get down to business – installing that fresh new chain like a pro!

Step-by-Step Guide: Replacing a Chainsaw Chain

Removing the old chain safely and efficiently

Before replacing the chain on your chainsaw, it’s important to remove the old one safely and efficiently. Start by ensuring that the chainsaw is turned off and disconnected from any power source. Then, follow these steps:

  1. Locate the chain tensioning screw on the side of the chainsaw bar.
  2. Use a wrench or screwdriver to loosen the tensioning screw and release the tension on the chain.
  3. Carefully remove the guide bar cover by unscrewing or releasing any clips holding it in place.
  4. Once the guide bar cover is removed, you can easily slide off the old chain from around the guide bar and sprocket.

Selecting the right replacement chain for your chainsaw model

Choosing a suitable replacement chain for your chainsaw is crucial to ensure optimal performance and safety. Here’s what you need to consider:

  1. Determine your chainsaw’s make and model: Check your owner’s manual or look for identifying marks on your saw to find out its specific make and model.
  2. Measure your current chain: Use a tape measure to determine both the length (the distance between two rivets) and pitch (the distance between three consecutive rivets divided by two) of your existing chain.
  3. Consult an expert or refer to manufacturer recommendations: Reach out to a professional at a local hardware store or consult online resources provided by reputable manufacturers for guidance on selecting compatible replacement chains.

Step-by-step instructions on attaching the new chain to the chainsaw bar

Now that you have chosen a suitable replacement chain, it’s time to attach it securely to your chainsaw bar using these step-by-step instructions:

  1. Place one end of the new chain around both sides of the drive sprocket located at one end of the guide bar.
  2. Carefully align the chain with the guide bar groove, ensuring that the cutting teeth face in the right direction.
  3. Begin threading the chain around the guide bar, making sure it fits into all of the grooves properly.
  4. Once you have threaded the entire length of the chain around the guide bar, ensure that it is positioned correctly and aligned with both ends of the guide bar.

Ensuring proper tension and alignment after installing the new chain

After attaching the new chain to your chainsaw, it’s crucial to ensure proper tension and alignment for optimal performance and safety. Follow these steps:

  1. Use a wrench or screwdriver to adjust the tensioning screw until there is enough slack in the chain to be lifted slightly off the guide bar but not too loose.
  2. Check for proper alignment by rotating the chain manually around the guide bar. It should move smoothly without binding or coming off track.
  3. Once you have achieved proper tension and alignment, tighten down on the tensioning screw securely.

By following these step-by-step instructions, you can replace a chainsaw chain efficiently and safely. Remember to always consult your owner’s manual or seek professional advice if you encounter any difficulties during this process.

Understanding the Correct Direction for Chain Installation

Chainsaw chains are designed with cutting teeth facing a specific direction, which plays a crucial role in ensuring optimal performance and safety. Installing the chain in the correct direction is essential for efficient cutting and preventing accidents.

Explanation of how chainsaw chains are designed with cutting teeth facing a specific direction

Chainsaw chains consist of sharp cutting teeth that are aligned in a specific pattern to effectively cut through wood. These cutting teeth are angled and shaped to remove material as the chain rotates around the guide bar. The design ensures smooth operation and efficient cutting by directing wood chips away from the operator.

Identifying the correct side of the chainsaw bar for installing the chain

To determine which side of the chainsaw bar is appropriate for installing the chain, it’s important to locate the drive links on both sides. Drive links are small metal tabs that fit into grooves on the guide bar, facilitating movement as they engage with the sprocket inside the chainsaw.

Typically, one side of your chainsaw bar will have these drive links positioned differently than on the other side. This variation indicates which side should face towards you when installing your chain. It’s crucial to identify this correct side before proceeding with installation.

Importance of aligning cutting teeth in relation to saw rotation direction

Aligning your chain’s cutting teeth correctly in relation to your saw’s rotation direction is vital for safe and effective operation. Chainsaws rotate their chains in a clockwise motion when viewed from above. Therefore, when installing your chain, ensure that its cutting teeth point in this same clockwise direction.

Installing your chain incorrectly can lead to poor performance, increased wear on both your equipment and yourself, and potentially dangerous kickback situations. By aligning your chain properly with respect to saw rotation, you maximize cutting efficiency and minimize the risk of accidents.

Tips on avoiding common mistakes when determining correct chain direction

Determining the correct chain direction might seem straightforward, but it’s not uncommon for chainsaw users to make mistakes. Here are some tips to help you avoid common errors:

  1. Inspect the chain: Before installation, carefully examine your chain and identify any markings or indicators that indicate the proper direction. Manufacturers often engrave arrows or labels on the drive links, indicating which way they should face.
  2. Consult the manual: Refer to your chainsaw’s manual for specific instructions regarding chain installation and direction. The manual will provide valuable insights into your particular chainsaw model’s requirements.
  3. Seek professional guidance: If you’re uncertain about installing your chainsaw chain correctly, don’t hesitate to seek assistance from a professional or experienced user. They can guide you through the process and ensure everything is set up properly.
  4. Double-check before tightening: Once you’ve positioned the chain on the correct side of the guide bar, double-check that all drive links engage with their respective grooves smoothly. Then, tighten the tensioning mechanism gradually while ensuring proper alignment throughout.

By following these tips and understanding how chainsaw chains are designed to fit in a specific direction, you’ll be able to install your chain correctly every time.

Importance of Proper Chain Tension and How to Adjust It

Proper chain tension is crucial. The tension of the chain determines how well it cuts through wood and reduces the risk of accidents. If the chain is too loose, it may slip off or even break during operation, while an overly tight chain can cause excessive wear on the bar and reduce cutting performance.

Why is Chain Tension Important?

Maintaining proper chain tension ensures that the saw operates smoothly, allowing for efficient cutting without unnecessary strain on the engine or components. When a chainsaw’s chain is correctly tensioned, it grips the guide bar firmly, reducing vibrations and minimizing kickback potential. This not only improves safety but also prolongs the lifespan of both the chain and bar.

Different Methods for Adjusting Chain Tension

There are various methods available for adjusting chainsaw chain tension, depending on the model you have. Most modern chainsaws come equipped with built-in adjustment mechanisms or tools that simplify this process. Here are some common methods:

  1. Built-in Tensioner: Many chainsaws feature a built-in tensioner that allows you to adjust the chain quickly and easily. This mechanism typically involves turning a screw or knob to increase or decrease tension until it reaches the desired level.
  2. Manual Adjustment: Some older models require manual adjustment using tools such as a flathead screwdriver or wrench. This method involves loosening nuts or bolts securing the guide bar in order to adjust tension manually before tightening them back up.

Adjusting Chain Tension Step-by-Step

To ensure your chainsaw operates at its best, follow these step-by-step instructions for adjusting chain tension:

  1. Turn off your chainsaw and disconnect it from any power source.
  2. Locate the tensioning mechanism or adjustment points on your chainsaw.
  3. Using the appropriate tool, adjust the tension by turning the screw or knob in the designated direction. Remember to refer to your chainsaw’s manual for specific instructions.
  4. Check the tension by gently pulling the chain away from the guide bar. It should move freely but not sag excessively.
  5. If necessary, make further adjustments until you achieve the correct tension.
  6. Once you are satisfied with the chain tension, tighten any nuts or bolts that were loosened during adjustment.

Signs of Incorrect Chain Tension

It is important to be aware of signs that indicate incorrect chain tension levels. These include:

  • Excessive vibration during operation
  • Difficulty in cutting through wood smoothly
  • Uneven wear on the chain
  • Chainsaw producing a loud noise while cutting

If you notice any of these signs, it is essential to check and adjust your chain tension accordingly.

Ensuring Optimal Chain Aggressiveness for Efficient Cutting

Cutting with a chainsaw requires more than just raw power. To achieve efficient cutting, it is important to understand how different types of cutting tasks require varying levels of aggressiveness from chainsaw chains. By selecting the appropriate drive links, gauge, and pitch based on your intended use, as well as considering factors that affect cutting performance such as tooth design and material hardness, you can ensure optimal chain aggressiveness.

One size does not fit all. Different cutting tasks demand different chain characteristics. For lighter tasks like pruning or limbing, a less aggressive chain may be sufficient. However, when tackling larger logs or felling trees, a more aggressive chain will provide better results.

To determine the appropriate size and aggressiveness of the chain for your specific task, consider the following factors:

Drive Links

The number of drive links on a chainsaw chain determines its length and compatibility with your saw’s guide bar. Longer bars typically require more drive links for proper operation. It is essential to select the correct number of drive links to ensure smooth and safe cutting.


The gauge refers to the thickness of the drive links and affects their stability during cutting. Thicker gauges provide increased durability but also require more power from the saw’s powerhead. Consider both your saw’s capabilities and the demands of your cutting task when selecting an appropriate gauge.


Pitch refers to the distance between each rivet hole on the chain’s drive links. Chains with smaller pitches generally offer smoother cuts but are less aggressive compared to those with larger pitches. Evaluate your desired balance between speed and aggressiveness when choosing a pitch size.

To enhance cutting efficiency further, pay attention to tooth design and material hardness:

  • Tooth Design: Chainsaw chains come in various cutter designs optimized for different applications. Some feature chisel-shaped cutters for faster cutting, while others have semi-chisel or low-profile designs for improved durability. Consider the specific demands of your cutting task when selecting the appropriate tooth design.
  • Material Hardness: Chainsaw chains are made from different materials with varying hardness levels. Harder materials tend to hold their sharpness longer but require more maintenance. Softer materials are easier to sharpen but may dull more quickly. Find the right balance between durability and ease of maintenance based on your cutting needs.

Maintaining optimal sharpness is crucial for efficient cutting and overall safety:

  • Regular Sharpening: Blunt chains reduce cutting efficiency and increase the chance of kickback. Keep your chain sharp by regularly filing the cutters using a suitable file guide.
  • Proper Tension: Ensure that your chain is tensioned correctly to prevent it from becoming loose during operation, which can compromise both safety and cutting performance.

Remember to always refer to your chainsaw’s manual or consult a professional if you are unsure about any aspect of the chain selection or maintenance process. By understanding how different factors impact chain aggressiveness and implementing proper maintenance techniques, you can optimize your chainsaw’s cutting efficiency and ensure safer operation in various cutting tasks.

Maintaining Chain Sharpness: Cost and Frequency of Sharpening

Regular sharpening is essential for maintaining the peak performance of your chainsaw. A dull chain not only slows down your cutting speed but also poses safety risks. Understanding the factors that influence how often you need to sharpen your chainsaw chain can help you keep it in optimal condition. Knowing the different sharpening methods available and their associated costs can help you make an informed decision.

Factors Influencing Sharpening Frequency

Several factors come into play when determining how frequently you should sharpen your chainsaw chain. The primary factor is usage frequency. If you use your chainsaw regularly, such as for professional purposes or frequent heavy-duty tasks, the chain will wear out faster and require more frequent sharpening.

The type of wood being cut also affects the sharpness of the chain. Hardwood, like oak or hickory, tends to dull a chain quicker than softwood varieties such as pine or cedar due to its density and toughness. Moreover, if you encounter debris like rocks or nails while cutting, it can damage the teeth and decrease sharpness.

Overview of Different Sharpening Methods

There are various methods available depending on personal preference and skill level:

  1. Manual filing: This traditional method involves using a round file and guide to manually sharpen each tooth individually. It requires practice and precision but offers cost-effectiveness.
  2. Electric sharpeners: Designed specifically for chainsaws, electric sharpeners simplify the process by automating tooth filing with built-in guides.
  3. Professional services: If you prefer to leave it to the experts, professional chainsaw sharpening services are available at hardware stores or specialized shops.

Cost Considerations and Benefits of DIY Sharpening

DIY sharpening provides several advantages over relying on professional services:

  • Cost savings: By learning how to sharpen your chainsaw chain yourself, you can save money in the long run. Professional services can be expensive, especially if you require frequent sharpening.
  • Convenience: Being able to sharpen your chain whenever it’s needed eliminates the need for scheduling appointments or waiting for a service provider.
  • Immediate results: When you have the necessary tools and knowledge, you can quickly restore sharpness to your chainsaw chain without any delays.

While DIY sharpening may seem intimidating at first, with practice, it becomes easier and more efficient. Investing time in learning proper techniques and understanding the correct tooth angles and pitch numbers will ensure optimal performance.

Proper Chain Maintenance: Cleaning and Lubrication Techniques

Cleaning and lubricating your chainsaw chain is essential for its proper operation and longevity. Neglecting this crucial maintenance can lead to decreased performance, increased wear, and potential damage to both the engine and the chain links.

Importance of cleaning chainsaw chains to remove debris and prevent damage

Regularly cleaning your chainsaw chain is vital for its optimal functioning. During operation, the chain comes into contact with various surfaces, including dirt, sawdust, sap, and other debris. Over time, these particles accumulate on the surface of the chain links and within the drive sprocket area. If left uncleaned, they can hinder smooth movement of the chain, increase friction between components, and even cause premature wear.

To effectively clean your chainsaw chain:

  1. Check for loose nuts: Before beginning any maintenance task on your chainsaw chain, make sure it’s turned off completely. Inspect the nuts that secure the cover over the bar studs; if they are loose or damaged, tighten or replace them accordingly.
  2. Handle with care: Chainsaw chains have sharp edges that can cause injuries if mishandled. Always wear protective gloves while handling a dirty or greasy chain.
  3. Use solvents or specialized cleaners: There are various options available for cleaning your chainsaw chain. You can use a solvent like kerosene or mineral spirits along with a stiff brush to scrub away dirt from each link thoroughly. Alternatively, you may opt for specialized cleaners specifically designed for removing sawdust buildup from cutting chains.
  4. Inspect the surface: After cleaning, examine the chain’s surface for any remaining debris or stubborn residues. Use a small pick or toothbrush to remove any lingering particles from hard-to-reach areas.

Explanation of the role of lubrication in reducing friction and extending chain life

Lubricating your chainsaw chain is crucial for reducing friction between its moving parts. The lubricant forms a protective layer that minimizes wear and tear, allowing smoother operation and extending the life of both the chain and the engine.

To ensure proper lubrication:

  1. Measurements matter: Before applying lubricant, check if your chainsaw has an automatic oiler system. If it does, ensure that it is functioning correctly by inspecting the oil flow rate. If not, manually apply oil to each link using a brush or applicator.
  2. Wear protection: To protect yourself from potential injuries, always wear gloves when handling lubricants or greasy chains.
  3. Apply evenly: Apply lubricant along the top edge of the bar while slowly rotating the chain manually. Ensure even distribution by running the chain through a clean cloth to remove excess oil.

By following these steps and incorporating regular cleaning and lubrication into your chainsaw maintenance routine, you can significantly prolong its lifespan while ensuring optimal performance during operation.

Remember: Properly maintained chainsaw chains not only enhance efficiency but also contribute to safer cutting experiences overall.


In mastering the art of chainsaw chain installation, you have learned valuable insights on replacing a chainsaw chain step-by-step. You now understand the correct direction for chain installation and the importance of proper chain tension, along with techniques to adjust it. Ensuring optimal chain aggressiveness for efficient cutting is crucial, and you know how to maintain sharpness through regular sharpening. You have gained knowledge on proper chain maintenance techniques such as cleaning and lubrication.

To become an expert in putting a chain on a chainsaw, it is essential to follow these guidelines diligently. By doing so, you can enhance your safety and efficiency while operating a chainsaw. Remember to regularly inspect your chainsaw chain for wear and tear, maintaining its sharpness through timely sharpening. Properly tensioned chains will ensure smooth operation and minimize the risk of accidents. Regular cleaning and lubrication will prolong the lifespan of your chainsaw chain.

Now that you possess this valuable knowledge, put it into practice! Take action by applying these techniques every time you need to put a new chain on your chainsaw. With practice, you will become more confident in handling this task efficiently.

Remember that safety should always be your top priority when using any power tool like a chainsaw. Always wear appropriate protective gear such as gloves, goggles, ear protection, and sturdy clothing.

Mastering the art of putting a chain on a chainsaw requires practice and attention to detail. By following the steps outlined in this guide and adopting good maintenance practices, you can ensure that your chainsaw remains in optimal condition for years to come.

Happy sawing!


How often should I replace my chainsaw chain?

Regular inspection is key when determining whether it’s time to replace your chainsaw chain or not. Factors such as excessive wear or damage will influence this decision. As a general guideline, if the teeth are worn down by 1/4 inch or more, it’s time to replace the chain.

Can I install a chainsaw chain in any direction?

No, installing a chainsaw chain in the wrong direction can lead to inefficient cutting and potential accidents. Always ensure that the cutting teeth are facing towards the front of the chainsaw bar for proper operation.

How do I adjust the tension on my chainsaw chain?

To adjust the tension on your chainsaw chain, locate the tensioning screw or knob on your saw. Loosen it slightly, then use a tool to turn it clockwise to increase tension or counterclockwise to decrease tension until you achieve the desired level. Remember to check your manufacturer’s guidelines for specific instructions.

How often should I sharpen my chainsaw chain?

The frequency of sharpening your chainsaw chain depends on how frequently you use it and the type of wood you cut. As a general rule of thumb, sharpening every 3-5 hours of use is recommended. However, keep an eye out for signs such as decreased cutting performance or excessive vibration, which may indicate that sharpening is needed sooner.

What lubricant should I use for my chainsaw chain?

It is essential to use a high-quality bar and chain oil specifically designed for chainsaws. This oil is formulated with additives that reduce friction and provide better lubrication, ensuring smooth operation and prolonging the life of your chainsaw chain.

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