Are Chainsaw Bars Interchangeable? Everything You Must Know

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By Jake Hill

Chainsaws

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Chainsaw guide bars are all different. Different types of bars fulfill numerous cutting requirements. This component is responsible for guiding the chain to the right cutting path. It is often called the chainsaw blade too. If you are in the market for a new bar, you should not be surprised to find solid, laminated, and standard bars.

Such a variety can make you doubt the existence of a universal chainsaw bar. It can also increase your confusion about the right replacement bars. In this blog, we will answer the question: are chainsaw bars interchangeable? Also, we’ll shed more light on their different types. So stay tuned!

Types of Chainsaw Bars

Replacing a chainsaw bar can be daunting when unfamiliar with its different types and sizes. There is a selection of bars in the market, but here is an overview of the most common ones.

1. Solid guide bars

As the name suggests, solid guide bars are made of excellent material. These are nothing but solid steel bars. Using steel to make chainsaw bars makes them very strong and shock-resistant. This type of bar works best for heavy and demanding cutting projects.

So, these bars are the best match if you plan to cut down some oaks or similar hardwood trees. Moreover, they are meant to handle dirty wood efficiently. Such powerful bars require a powerful chainsaw and heavy-duty cutting chains.

These bars are prone to getting hot while in action. So, the engine should be powerful enough to avoid overheating. 

Professional chainsaw operators can efficiently handle a heavy-duty bar. Beginner chainsaw owners may find this bar heavy or challenging to maintain and operate. But in general, these bars are built to last with proper care.

2. Standard guide bars 

This bar type is more commonly known as a replacement sprocket nose bar. This type of replacement chainsaw bar is what you might find easily in all the nearby shops. As the name suggests, this bar contains a nose sprocket.

However, some chainsaw models do not have the sprocket at the bar nose. Instead, you will find the sprocket at the bar tip.

These bars are known for having a solid body except for the sprocket. Moreover, this drive sprocket can be easily removed and replaced in case of wear and tearThis replaceable nose feature is one of the significant differences between standard bars and solid ones.

The latter does not have any removable components. So, the whole bar would be replaced for its components’ casual wear and tear.

Standard bars are connected to the chain through the tip. The tip is attached to the rivets of the chainsaw’s chain. This type of connection guarantees smooth rotation of the chain around the bar.

3. Laminated chainsaw bars 

Laminated bars are different in appearance from solid ones. These bars consist of two rails and a sprocket in the middle. The rails are made of steel and combined with a stainless-steel core.

When you hear the name “laminated” for the first time, you might imagine bars covered with a laminate layer. However, this is far from true. These bars are made of laminate. Laminated bars are easily identified by the tiny spots scattered on the sides of each bar. Steel bars, on the other hand, do not have these spots.

Another point that sets laminated bars apart is their lighter weight. Such a feature makes these bars more suitable for beginners. These can be matched with a similar chain type, and you can have a chainsaw for domestic uses.

In terms of bar sizes, they are typically shorter than solid bars. Laminated bars won’t exceed 60 cm in length. Their average laminated chainsaw bar sizes usually range between 40 and 50 cm.

These bars are not as strong as solid ones but durable and functional. These bars work well as backup bar replacements. Even professional operators might stash these bars if they need an instant and efficient replacement.

Chainsaw Bar Compatibility

Chainsaw bars come in various sizes and types. This variety aims to match the different chain sizes and dimensions. But in general, the size of this metal arm is used to describe the whole machine.

For instance, when you say you have a 14-inch chainsaw, you also express the bar length. In this case, your chainsaw bar is 14 inches in length.

Due to the variety of bars, you will need to consider the following factors before paying for a new one:

1. Bar size

The accurate bar size depends on measuring the bar’s width and length. It may be challenging to measure the bar accurately. But the whole process can get easier if you know what to measure. You will need to measure the distance between the bar’s tip and the front of the machine’s body.

2. Bar groove

The gauge of the guide bar groove is a critical element for buying the right replacement blade. To correctly measure the chainsaw bar grooves, you will need a few coins (a quarter, a dime, and a penny) in hand. You will insert these coins inside the groove, but only some at a time.

Start with the quarter. In the case of fitting the groove, the accurate measure is 0.064“. If the measure fits the dime, then the precise calculation is 0.057″. The penny, however, indicates a measurement of 0.044 inches.

3. Oil holes 

Each chainsaw has a single oil hole, allowing you to pour the oil into the chain. You will need a bar that has similar places for this hole.

4. Tension hole

This is the part enabling the users to control the chain’s tension. This hole contains a chain tensioner pin. It would help to have a bar with a matching hole to the one existing in your chainsaw’s body.

5. Bolt slot 

Bolt slots are essential to attach the bar and the chainsaw’s body properly.

6. Chain Pitch and Gauge 

After checking the bar size and the bar mount, you will need the accurate dimensions of the chain. These also have a saying when buying a new bar. Generally, a chain gauge indicates how thick the drive links are. As for the pitch, it tells the length of the chain.

Chainsaw Bars Interchangeability 

It would be best if you did not count on the concept of chainsaw bar interchangeability. The possibility exists that chainsaw bar interchange does not apply to modern machines. It would have been possible in the past when chainsaws were a new invention.

In the early 19th century, chainsaws did not have specific sizes or characteristics. However, modern chainsaws are different.

Modern chainsaws are designed to fulfill various cutting needs. The same applies to their cutting accessories, including the bar and chain. All chainsaw manufacturers ensure their machines are unique. It is part of the sophistication that labels each piece of machinery. 

In addition to sophistication and uniqueness, companies seek individuality in their bars to ensure customer loyalty. For instance, when you buy a specific chainsaw and need spare parts, you will look in the market for affordable pieces.

However, all the popular brands will ensure you return to them. They have the specific bar you need. So, instead of looking into generic bar models, you will find the right match only at the replacement bar manufacturers.

 You will find the right guide bar at your chosen chainsaw manufacturer. So, there is no point in making chainsaw bars universal.

So, for instance, you won’t find a broken Poulan bar replaced with a Stihl bar. The measurements won’t match at all. Also, the chain pitch and bar gauges won’t get appropriately attached. Hence, there is no such thing as an interchangeable bar. Even if you find an interchangeable bar, you might not find a universal matching chain.

 Safety Precautions

Using the right bar for your chainsaw guarantees three things:

  • Optimum performance
  • Increased lifespan
  • User’s safety.

If you, for any reason, end up with an incompatible bar, you are risking the wrong attachment to the chainsaw. Also, the chain would remain very loose, which is highly risky. A mismatched bar size jeopardizes your safety and can cause severe damage to the chainsaw.

Moreover, picking a too-small or too-long bar will lead to misalignment. Also, critical components like tensioner holes and blind chain oiler holes won’t be able to perform their functions. In this case, the engine would overheat. Other and more serious complications will happen if the wrong bar remains attached to the machine.

Aside from picking the right bar, you must install it properly. Installation is trickier than removing a faulty bar. You can check the product manual for safety instructions to do this accurately.

Also, you can call a professional if you are still deciding whether to choose or install the bar replacement.

Conclusion 

Bars come in countless styles and sizes. The smaller sizes are meant to fulfill domestic cutting purposes, while the longer ones are more suitable for professional users.

The same applies to the highly durable solid bars, while the laminate bars are less powerful. Still, they can be a decent replacement, provided you get the right match for the machine.

Also, you should maintain your safety when you replace an old bar. After all, the risks of cutting a hand or leg are possible if not careful.

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