If you’re looking for a replacement cutting system for your chain saw, you’ll need to ensure you get the right guide bar and chain sizes that meet the demands of your industrial projects. But how do you measure a chainsaw chain and guide bar properly?
This chainsaw bar and chain sizing guide will walk you through how to get accurate bar and chain measurements for your chainsaw. We’ll also cover some of the top technical specs and features to consider when selecting the right products for your needs.
How to Measure a Chainsaw Bar
A chainsaw guide bar is the first of two components of a chainsaw’s cutting system, the other being the chain. The chainsaw guide bar guides the chain as it moves and cuts material, making it an essential component for safety and precision.
Because the guide bar undergoes heavy wear where the chain makes contact with the working material, it can eventually wear down and need replacing. When the amount of wear has become excessive or the bar has worn unevenly, it may be time to get a replacement.
To know which size you should purchase, measure your current bar using a tape measure. A chainsaw guide bar shouldn’t be measured by its total length from tip to tail. Instead, the best way to accurately measure a chainsaw bar size is to measure its useful length, which is the total area that extends from the body of the saw.
Depending on the model and purpose of the saw, chainsaw guide bars range in length from 10 to 30 inches. While smaller precision chainsaws operate best with shorter cutting lengths of 10 to 13 inches, standard guide bars range from 14 to 30 inches.
Technical Features and Considerations for Chainsaw Guide Bars
When choosing a replacement guide bar for your chainsaw, consider the following features:
- Sprocket nose: A chainsaw guide bar’s sprocket nose is what improves and stabilizes the movement of the chain around the bar. Acting as a fixed gear wheel, the sprocket nose reduces friction and maintains the chain’s tension. How many teeth a sprocket nose has determines the level of kickback it generates versus its cutting performance. This results in a tradeoff where the more teeth, the better the cutting performance, but the higher risk of kickback, too. Having more teeth on a sprocket can also help to extend the chain’s useful life.
- Sprocket pitch: Sprocket teeth or gears have different pitch measurements, depending on the cutting needs. The pitch of the sprocket nose’s gears must match up with the pitch of the chain’s drive links for the saw to run smoothly and without damage.
- Groove width: The guide bar’s groove, also called the track, provides the rails on which the chain runs. The groove offers lateral control of the saw for the chain links to follow. It also provides the channel for the chain oil to lubricate the cutting system. A guide bar’s groove width must match up with the chain’s link thickness for it to properly control chain movement.
How to Measure a Chainsaw Chain
The chain is the second component of the cutting system that must be replaced after it’s undergone excessive wear or damage. It’s important to get the right chain replacement for your chainsaw because it must match up with the guide bar. Chainsaw chains are measured to fit specific sizes of bars, so knowing your bar size first is key to choosing the correct replacement.
Alternatively, refer to your chainsaw bar for the chain size measurements. Manufacturers inscribe the chain size measurements on the bar. These numbers wear off, so you may need to look at your operator’s manual to get the correct measurements instead. If you’ve lost your chainsaw manual or can’t find information from the manufacturer, you can always manually measure your chain size to determine the right chain length.
To measure a chainsaw chain length manually, you’ll need to take three separate measurements:
- Pitch: Measure the distance between any three of the chain’s consecutive rivets and divide that number in half. For example, if the distance between three chain rivets is three-quarters of an inch, then your pitch is three-eights of an inch.
- Gauge: A chainsaw chain’s gauge refers to the thickness of its links. Measure the drive links gauge using a dial caliper.
- Number of drive links: The chain’s drive links are the links on the inside of the chain. To get the proper chain length for your replacement, you must count the number of links your current chain has. Position the chain on a flat surface, lining up the drive links directly across from each other so that you can count two links at a time.
Technical Features and Considerations for Chainsaw Chains
Consider the following chainsaw chain specs when measuring and selecting your chain:
- Pitch width: The level of performance you get from your chainsaw chain is determined by its pitch size. In order for chain drive links to properly mesh with the bar’s sprocket nose teeth, the links need to be the proper distance apart, which is why pitch is an important measurement.
- Gauge size: A chain’s link gauge size should always be matched to the width of the groove of the chainsaw bar. This helps prevent undue wear. Chainsaw chain gauges come in a few common sizes, including 0.043, 0.50, 0.058 and 0.063. The wider the gauge of the drive links, the more surface contact area the chain will have with the guide bar and the more force can be applied.
- Drive links: Standard chainsaw chains contain anywhere from 66 to 72 drive links. The longer the chainsaw guide bar, the more drive links your chain will have. You need enough drive links to sufficiently propel your chain around the guide bar.
Purchase Replacement Chainsaw Guide Bars and Chains From RGC Construction
Having the right cutting system for your chainsaw is vital to getting the performance, safety and longevity you need for every project you take on. To get the right replacement chainsaw guide bar and chain, you need more than the correct measurements — you need the highest quality products that will deliver reliable performance for industrial jobs.
Get help choosing your industrial chainsaw guide bar and chain replacements by contacting RGC Construction. We offer unmatched customer service backed by 75 years of experience in construction tools. Browse our selection of hydraulic chainsaw guide bars and diamond chainsaw chains. Contact us today.