It isn’t as straightforward as changing the chain on your kids’ bike when fitting a chainsaw chain. There are many measurements you need to understand for a replacement. It isn’t just a matter of determining chain size, but the chain is also suitable for the timber you’ll be cutting.
In our guide, you’ll see how you can determine your chain size, what the numbers mean on your chain, and how you can measure a chainsaw for any chain. By the end, you’ll understand pitch and gauge and how to measure chainsaw bar for your saw or any other. (Read our Chainsaw Buyers Guide)
What Do the Numbers Mean on a Chainsaw Chain?
Suppose you want to know what the three numbers mean on chainsaw chains. You’ll find different chains bear different numbers for every chain. You’ll typically find three measurements on chainsaw chains, include the pitch, gauge, and drive links.
Pitch is the size of the chain and is calculated by the rivets used. If you measure the pitch distance between three rivets and divide by two, you’ll have the resulting pitch length. The pitch length doesn’t relate to chain length or drive links. You can find three common pitch lengths, like the small 1/4 inch, and the largest is 3/4 inch.
However, the larger the chain pitch, the faster the cutting speed. The 3/8-inch pitch length is the most popular for homeowners, and the pros often use the 3/4 pitch chain. Pitch also has to match the sprocket, nose, and drive links. (Learn How to Measure a Chainsaw Chain)
Chainsaw Gauge Number
Chain gauge is important as it’s the thickness of the drive links, which secures the chain to your chainsaw. The drive links slide inside the guide bar groove. A gauge number is vital when replacing an old chain with a new one. Make sure to check the gauge matches or the chain won’t fit the bar groove.
You find chain gauge numbers on the bottom of the chain opposite the cutting teeth. You can find various gauge sizes, but common ones are .050”. Other gauge sizes are .043”, .058”, and .063”, and you find these stamped on the guide bar. Chain packaging will also have this.
Chainsaw Drive Links
Drive links are the heart of a chainsaw as they influence the cutting. The links should have effective rotation and movement of the teeth. All chainsaw chains have this drive links number and on the guide bar of a chain. If you can’t find the measurements, you can count the number of drive links on your chain. Count the drive links on the chain by removing them. (Find the Best Saw Chain Sharpeners)
How Do You Determine Chainsaw Chain Size?
If you need a replacement chain and you don’t know the numbers. You can quickly determine any measurement manually.
- To determine pitch, measure the distance between any three consecutive rivets.
- Divide the results by 2.
- Measure from the first to the third, and divide them in half
- To determine chain gauge, use this easy trick:
- Grab a quarter, dime, and penny
- Clean as much dirt as you can from the bar groove as possible
- Slide each coin one by one into the bar groove
- Find out which one fits the bar groove best without force
- Penny: .058” gauge
- Dime: .050” gauge
- Quarter: .063” gauge
How is Chain Sized Measured?
Here’s how you can find how to measure chainsaw chains to derive your chain measurements. Measure distance from chainsaw bar tip to where the bar emerges from the casing of your saw.
Use a good tape measure for measuring chainsaw bar length. Round your measurement up to the nearest even number. This number is the bar length measurement, and the common ones are 16, 18, and 20 inches. Stretch your chain on a flat surface and search for the drive links called lugs. These links stick out from the underside of your chain and grab the drive cog.
Count the number of drive links on the chain. Determine the pitch of the chain by measuring between any three consecutive rivets. To come up with your pitch, divide the measurement by 2.
Your pitch increased the number of drive links in your chain’s length when seeking a replacement chain. Look at your answers to the number of drive links and pitch numbers. The sum is the correct chain length you search for when shopping for a replacement chain for your chainsaw.
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