How to Change a Chainsaw Chain in 6 Easy Steps


As one can easily guess, the chain is one of the most crucial parts of a chainsaw. It has sharp tiny blades and cuts quickly through objects thanks to its rapid spins. However, chainsaw chains wear out pretty quickly because of that heavy-duty work and lose their effectiveness. Therefore, it’s essential for a chainsaw owner to know how to change the chain. Although you can get a professional to change the chainsaw chain, learning how to do it yourself can save you a significant amount of time and money. 

chainsaw with a chain that needs to be changed
Image by sandid on Pixabay

Specifics of how you change a chainsaw chain may differ among brands and models. However, there are fundamental steps you’ll have to follow regardless of the type of chainsaw that you own, and we will explain those steps in this article. Besides knowing how to change your chainsaw’s chain, you must know when to do it and other tips and tricks to increase its efficiency and lifespan. You can find all that beneficial information in this article.

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Change a Chainsaw Chain

step-by-step guide on how to change a chainsaw chain
Image by Hans on Pixabay

Even though changing a chainsaw chain is not a complicated process and you can do it at home, you should always be careful. You should take the necessary safety precautions, such as wearing safety gloves and steel-toe safety boots. Additionally, read the steps carefully before starting and ask a professional if there are any points you’re not sure about. Thus you can keep away from breaking your chainsaw or, even worse, injuring yourself. 

Get your materials and tools ready

You don’t need too many tools and materials to change a chainsaw chain. All you need is a socket wrench and a flat head screwdriver or, if your chainsaw came with a scrench, as most do, it’s possible to use it instead. Also, of course, you need to get your new chain ready. The first thing you need to pay attention to while getting a chain is the size of it. Your new chainsaw chain must be the same size as your current one. Otherwise, it won’t fit the guide bar accurately.

Remove the side plate

The first step to reaching the bar and the chain is to detach the side plate. To remove the plate, look for nuts that hold the side of your chainsaw. Depending on the model, there can be two or more nuts. After detecting the nuts, unscrew them using a wrench or scrench. When you disconnect the side plate, you’ll be able to take out the bar and chain with ease. Additionally, if your chainsaw has a break that’s fixed to the side plate, unlock it before attempting to remove the side plate. Otherwise, you will struggle while reinstalling the side plate.

Loosen the old chain

Next, you need to loosen and pull the old chain away from your chainsaw. Start by yanking the nose of the chainsaw bar off your chainsaw to free the chainsaw chain from the tensioner. Once you’ve successfully released it from the tensioner, you can pull the chain away from the chainsaw.

At this point, it would be better if you checked for build-up of sawdust. If your chainsaw has any dust built up in there, make sure to clean it before you place the new chainsaw chain.

Loosen the tension screw

After removing the chain, find the tension screw inside your machine’s guide bar. Again, you may need to clean it up if there’s dirt or sawdust. Loosening the tension screw allows you to place the chainsaw chain comfortably. If you miss this step, you’ll have difficulty inserting the new chain.

Insert the new chain

Now, you can get your new or newly sharpened chainsaw chain and start threading it on. To do so in the most comfortable way, you should position the new chain encircling the clutch drum. You should ensure that the drive links engage with the sprocket. Then, thread the remaining drive links up into the guide bar and throughout its nose.

Another essential point to pay attention to is ensuring your chainsaw chain is lined up correctly. Afterward, you can start increasing the tension again by yanking the front end of the guide bar away from the chainsaw. However, be careful while setting the tension. If you make the chain too tight, it might snap while using the chainsaw. It should be a bit lose on the guide bar but tight enough to yank the drive links effortlessly.

Put the plate back

Now that you’ve successfully threaded your chainsaw chain, it’s time to put the side plate back. Pay attention not to screw the nuts too tight otherwise, they may block the guide bar movement. Next, keep the tension balanced on your chainsaw chain utilizing the tensioning screw. Now, you have successfully changed your chainsaw chain.

Signs That a Chainsaw Chain Needs to Be Changed

chainsaw chain with missing teeth
Image by martaposemuckel on Pixabay

There’s no certain period when you should change your chainsaw chain. How long it will last depends on a variety of factors, such as what you’re cutting, the brand of your chainsaw, and the quality of the chainsaw chain. For example, if you use your chainsaw to cut charcoal, sand, or rocks, even a new chain can get damaged immediately. Although the replacement time differs, some basic signs can tell you to change the chain.

  • Tension Issues

You should replace your chainsaw chain instantly if you spend more time adjusting your chainsaw than cutting. Excessive tension makes it difficult to cut. Eventually, you’ll be required to use too much force to finish simple tasks. The straps get loose, and the teeth hardly stay attached to the guide bar. Most importantly, an unattached chain can cause you serious injury.

  • Blunt Chainsaw Chain  

You can understand a blunt chain if you’re spending too much time and force while cutting a tree. Another way to know that your chainsaw chain is blunt is when you see sawdust on the chain instead of shaggy strands. It doesn’t matter if you’ve recently sharpened it. If you cut rigid materials harder than timber, it may cause the chainsaw chain to wear out rather quickly. Using a dull chainsaw chain not only requires too much effort but also may be dangerous. Hence, it would be best to replace the chain as soon as you realize the dull blades.

  • Missing Teeth

You should substitute your chainsaw chain if it’s missing or has unequal teeth. The chainsaw chain typically loses teeth when it hits a rock or nail. You can notice missing or unequal teeth when your cuts are uneven.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why is my chainsaw throwing the chain?

The chainsaw throws the chain when the drive sprocket wears out. The sprocket is the part that drives the blades on your chain that encircles the guide bar. Therefore, as the sprocket wears out over time, you’ll notice that you can’t pull the chain correctly, and your chainsaw throws the chain.

How can I extend the life of my chainsaw chain?

In order to extend the periods between each chainsaw chain replacement, you can service your chainsaw regularly. The great news is that you can do most of the servicing from home. For example, you can change the spark plug and flush the debris from the oil tanks and fuel after you’re done using it for the season. Also, you can sharpen your chainsaw chain more frequently than that. Experienced chainsaw users hone their chains after refueling. Yet, you can also understand that it’s time to sharpen when you need to apply too much force to chop through the clean timber. 

Additionally, being careful about the materials you cut can significantly extend the life of your chainsaw. Chainsaw chains are designed to cut clean timber. As a result, cutting through rocks, sand, nails, etc., can abrase your chain before long.

What are the benefits of having my chainsaw sharpened by professionals?

The most important point of sharpening the chainsaw blades is being consistent. You need to ensure both sides of the blades are equally sharp. However, it may be a difficult balance for non-professionals, or you can lose track after several honing. As a result, you may cause your chainsaw to lose its caliber and cut unequally. Taking your chainsaw to a professional for sharpening can ensure consistency.

Wrap Up

Depending on the frequency and how you use your chainsaw, you need to change the chainsaw chain. Although the chainsaw designs differ depending on brands and models, the fundamental similarities are enough to allow you to change your chainsaw chain using the above steps. In a few easy steps and just a few tools like the scrench that came with your chainsaw or a socket wrench and flat head screwdriver, you can change your chainsaw chain. 

Changing the chainsaw chain can save you some valuable time in addition to money. Just be careful and take the required safety measures before starting the task. However, if you don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself, you can always get help from professionals. Additionally, using your chainsaw with proper materials and regularly sharpening the teeth can extend the lifespan of our chainsaw chain and postpone the replacement time.

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