Bar & Chain Sizing Guide

Bar & Chain Sizing Guide

How to Measure Your Bar & Chain for Replacement

The body of the saw holds the motor or the engine, but it's impossible to underestimate the importance of the parts that actually do the cutting: the bar and the chain.

Not every bar or chain is right for every saw. For example, larger chainsaw bars work best with more powerful saws because it takes more energy to drive a chain around a long bar. That's why electric saws use bars 18" and shorter.

Similarly, chainsaw chains are measured to fit certain bars. Try to fit a chain onto a bar that's too narrow or too long, and you'll find that your saw simply won't work.

You might be able to find the information you need to choose a replacement bar or chain in a chainsaw's manual, but what if the manual is long gone, or you're outside working and can't look it up?

Don't worry. You can measure both your bar and your chain to determine which replacement parts you should get.


Measuring Your Chainsaw Bar

Measuring Chainsaw BarIf you're looking for a replacement bar for your chainsaw, you'll need to determine the size of your bar.

You'll be measuring the useable length of the bar, also called the cutting length or the called length.

To find the called length of your chainsaw bar, measure it from its front tip all the way back to the cutter closest to the body of the saw.

Round this measurement up to the nearest even number in inches. For example, a bar that measures 18 3/4" will actually have a called length of 20".

You then could look for a new bar with a 20" bar length. 


Measuring Your Chainsaw Chain

We'll let you in on a little secret. There are two ways that you can figure out the size of your replacement chain even without access to a product manual: measure the chain yourself, and look on other parts of the saw for the measurements.


How to Measure Chainsaw Chain Yourself

To find a chain replacement, you'll need to figure out two numbers:

  • Pitch:  the distance between the chain's drive links
  • Gauge: the width of the groove where the chain fits into the bar

Measuring Chain Pitch

To determine the pitch (chain size), you'll need to measure the distance between any three consecutive rivets, then divide the result by 2. The rivets are the small, round pegs/studs that hold the chain segments together. Measure from the first to the third, then divide that number in half to get your chain pitch.

The most common measurements of pitch you'll see on replacement chain are 3/8" and .325".

Measuring Chain Gauge

To determine the chain gauge, you can use this simple trick:

  1. Find a quarter, a dime, and a penny
  2. Use a flat blade screwdriver or bar cleaning tool and clean as much debris out of the bar's groove as you can
  3. Slide each coin into the chainsaw bar groove
  4. Determine which one fits into the bar groove snugly without being forced
  5. Use the image below to determine the gauge
Gauge Coin Trick


Where to Look for Chain Measurements


Your chain saw bar may have the information you are looking for stamped right into it. It can usually be found near the back of the bar, where it mounts to the saw.

For instance, in the example on the right, the chain is 3/8" pitch and .050" gauge with 72 drive links. This should be all the information you will need to get the proper replacement chain for your saw.


The Right Parts for the Job

A quick calculator can be incredibly useful if you need to quickly find a replacement for a bar or chain you've already used and loved.

But what if you'd like to explore other options - say you'd like to look for a laminated bar that's more resistant corrosion, or you want to see if there's a carbide-tipped chain that will stand up to heavier jobs?

When you know how to measure your bar and chain yourself, you'll be able to find different kinds of replacements for the most important parts of your saw, no matter how far from home (or a Wi-Fi connection) you are.


NEXT: Different Types of Chainsaw Chains and Bars

Dale, the Power Equipment Expert
Power Equipment Expert
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