How to Measure a Chainsaw Bar in 3 Simple Steps

Last Updated on January 6, 2023 by Sarker C. Weber

Knowing the right steps on How to Measure Chainsaw Bar units is the way to go if you’re to get the best off your machine.

Chainsaw bars come in varying sizes, and there are different bars for different engines.

Chainsaws cut through wood based on the power the engine can provide to its bars.Some engines provide a lot of power to the bars, but without the right dimensions, issues could arise easily.

There are reasons why you should use the right measurements when fitting chainsaw bars.

The most essential of these reasons is your safety. Using the wrong chainsaw bar on your engine may cause your blades to be imbalanced.

This imbalance could easily lead to injuries or worse.

So to save yourself all the trouble, look closely at the best way to measure these bars on your chainsaw to promote your safety while enjoying splitting through the wood.

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Where to Look When Searching for the Measurements of Your Chainsaw Bar

When you need to replace a chainsaw bar, this information is likely displayed in the packaging of your chainsaw or in the manual.

Also, some makers place the information you need on the chainsaw bar.

For example, you’ll find every measurement you need to measure your bar stamped or engraved on the bar.

If you don’t locate this info on either of the places mentioned above, then the internet is your next port of call.

On the internet, you’d get access to a range of chainsaw bars and the machines they fit onto.

Lengths of the Chainsaw Bar

The chainsaw bar on any machine has two different lengths. Let’s see the differences between the two;

1. Total Chain Bar Length (True length)

As the name implies, the total chain bar length is the complete measurement around the bar. It is referred to also as the overall size of the bar. This measurement includes the visible part of the chainsaw bar along with the part hidden within the machine.

2. Cutting Bar Length (Effective length)

The cutting bar length is the measurement of the part of the bar sitting that can be used for cutting. The cutting bar length of your machine could vary, but it’s essential to know the exact measurement. That’ll help you get the right chain links on the bar.

Steps on How to Measure a Chainsaw Bar the Right Way

Here’s what you need to be done to get that chainsaw bar that’ll give you full service.

Step 1: Measure the Bar with a Tape

The cutting bar on your machine is the first part you should measure on your saw. The length of the chain you’ll put on the bar is determined by the amount of space visible on your bar.

  • Use a tape measure to get the length of the bar.
  • Start from the tip of the bar that sits just in front of the head of the machine.
  • Run the tape round the bar to the other side for a complete measurement.

Step 2: Round the Observed Measure to the Nearest Inch

The measure you observe on your chain is for the cutting bar only. To provide an accurate measure for your chain when you intend to get a new one, rounding is what you should do.

Rounding up your chain could follow this pattern;

  • For instance, you measured a 12.6” on your cutting bar.
  • Round this figure to 13” for a more general measure value.

Rounding is vital because you’ll need this info when you intend to get a replacement from a store.

Step 3: Measure the Total Length of the Bar

The total length of the bar can be measured using the following steps;

  • Remove the guide that protects the chainsaw bar.
  • Loosen the links that run around the bar and take it off.
  • Measure with a tape around the chainsaw bar and record your figure.

Note that the figure you observe here will be much greater than the cutting bar length.

Why Should You Measure a Chainsaw Bar?


Measuring a chainsaw bar has to do with making sure your machine lasts longer.

Using the same chainsaw bar for an extended period may cause your machine to function wrongly.

Regardless of the type of chainsaw you use, the exact length of your desired chainsaw bar will keep your machine hacking off trees for many years to come.


Just as humans need to maintain their bodies, machines also need frequent maintenance.

When it comes to chainsaws, keeping the bars at optimum quality is one of the major ways to ensure optimum performance from your machine.


If the bar sizes your chainsaw can use vary, it’s possible to use measurement as an upgrade opportunity.

For example, some chainsaws can accommodate chain bars with larger links, and some could use much smaller links on the bars.

The type of bar you select determines the type of tree your saw can cut through.

Also, the speed with which you cut through wood is influenced by the size of the bar you use.

For Your Safety

To be totally safe, you must look at the measurement of your chainsaw bar closely.

This is because chainsaw bars tend to be of varying lengths and are easy to measure.

Ensure you don’t make use of a chain that’s obviously too long for your machine. If the chain on your machine is too long, the chances of a serious injury get higher.

Using a chain that’s too short for your machine could also lead to issues.

A chain that was forcibly fitted on your bar may cause you to have difficulty using the machine. If you’re not careful, you could get injured easily.

Situations Where You Need to Measure Your Bar for a Replacement

When You Have Warped Bars

When your bar has done too much work than it can handle, you should measure to effect a change.

It is very dangerous to make use of a warped chainsaw bar, as you’d find it difficult to exert control over the machine.

Bent Bars

A bent bar mostly occurs from being put under intense pressure during operation.

A bent bar can easily be detected when you look straight down at the top of the bar when you place it vertically.

If your bar is bent, your saw may cut through wood wrongly. Also, the chances of your bar getting you injured are much higher when they’re obviously bent.

Roughened Bar Edges

When the bar edges aren’t smoothened out, there’s a higher chance that the chain could fly out during operation.

A roughened bar edge restricts the fluid movement of your chain links, and it could easily lead to a mishap.

Roughened bar edges normally occur due to using a chain that’s too tight on the bar.

The chain erodes the smooth finish off the bar during operation, leaving a rather rough edge about the cutting area.

How to Measure a Chain for Your Chainsaw

If you intend to change the chain on your bar, then you have some measurements to do.

Measuring your chain is more complex than the bar, as there are a few things to consider.

  • The gauge
  • The pitch


The pitch of your chain is the size of the chain. It is measured with the spaces between two points on the links of the chain.

To measure the chain’s pitch, you have to measure the space between three rivets (chain pegs) and record half of the value.

You can get chain pitch measures in fractional or decimal values. For a better choice, consult a pro on the best links for your machine, or use the internet.


The gauge of the chain is the measure of the space between the grooves of the bar. The gauge of the chainsaw bar is measured with the aid of a thin piece of metal.

If you intend to get the chain gauge, insert a coin within the bar grooves of the chain and find out the value of the perfect-fitting metal.


Do I Need Extra Tools to Measure My Chainsaw Bar?

All you need to measure your chainsaw bar is a screwdriver, a tape measure, and a piece of cloth to hold the bar.

Is There Anything Else I Need to Know About Changing My Chainsaw Bar?

Don’t measure your chainsaw bar with the power source still connected.

For example, if you own a gas/battery-powered chainsaw, ensure there’s no fuel/battery in the chainsaw before beginning measurement.

Final Word

Safety first should be your watchword when measuring your chainsaw.

The unit should be docile to keep you totally safe. Don’t be in a hurry to avoid any injuries.

Measuring your chainsaw bar has never been so easy with the steps in this read.

Follow the steps closely and guarantee the safety and maximum functionality of your chainsaw.

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