How to Measure Chainsaw Bars (Complete Step-By-Step Guide)

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By Jake Hill


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Chainsaws are powerful tools used for various tasks, such as cutting down trees, trimming branches, and shaping wood. While these tools are convenient and efficient, it’s important to ensure that you have the right size chainsaw bar for the job.

Different chainsaw models come with different bar lengths and widths, and choosing the right size is crucial for efficient and safe use. A chainsaw bar that is too small or too big can lead to difficulties operating the saw, such as an increased risk of kickback or decreased cutting efficiency.

This comprehensive article will examine the topic of measuring chainsaw bars and why it is essential to get the correct size. We will guide you through the steps on how to measure a chainsaw bar and the factors to consider when choosing the right size. Let’s get started!

Materials Needed 

Measuring a chainsaw bar is a simple task requiring only the following basic tools.

  • Tape measure
  • Ruler
  • Straight edge
  • Calipers (optional)
  • Pen/marker to make a note of the measurement.

With these items, you’ll be able to accurately determine the length, width, and pitch of your chainsaw bar and select the correct replacement bar or guide bar if needed.

Measuring the Length of the Chainsaw Bar

If you’re looking to replace your chainsaw bar or chain, it’s crucial to determine the exact length of your current bar. This will ensure that you obtain a suitable size replacement compatible with your chainsaw and will enable you to enjoy a seamless performance.

The good news is that accurately measuring your chainsaw bar is a simple process that can be done in just 5 easy steps. By following these steps, you can quickly determine the length of your bar and select the ideal size replacement bar or chain for your chainsaw, ensuring that you get the most out of your tool.

Step 1: Prepare the Chainsaw

The first step in measuring a chainsaw bar’s length is to ensure it is turned off and the chain is not moving. This will prevent any accidental injury or damage to the chainsaw.

You also want to unplug the chainsaw if it’s an electric model and remove the battery if it’s a cordless model.

Step 2: Find the Tip of the Bar

Once your chainsaw is prepared for measuring, it’s time to locate the tip of the bar, which is the furthest point from the chainsaw. The tip of the bar is usually located at the opposite end of the chainsaw’s motor.

Step 3: Measure from the Fip

Next, start measuring from the tip of the bar and extend the tape measure, ruler, or straight edge along the length of the bar. Use a straight edge to ensure that you measure along the entire length of the bar without any bends or curves.

Step 4: Measure to the Attachment Point

Keep measuring until you reach the point where the bar attaches to the chainsaw. And make sure you measure to the exact attachment point, as this is where the bar will end and will not be part of the cutting surface.

Step 5: Record the Measurement

After successfully measuring the attachment point, you should now record the length of the bar in your preferred unit of measure, be it inches or centimeters. Write down the measurement in a place where you won’t lose it, and double-check your measurement before ordering a replacement bar or chain.

Measuring the Width of the Chainsaw Bar

Measuring the width of a chainsaw bar is an important step in determining the correct size of the replacement chain. The width of the groove where the chain sits on the bar is referred to as the gauge, and it needs to match the gauge of the chain for the best performance and safety.

Here are the steps to measure the width of the chainsaw bar in more detail, along with some advice to help you get an accurate measurement:

Step 1: Set Up the Chainsaw 

To measure your chainsaw bar width, start by shutting off the machine and stopping the chain movement to prevent any accidents. For electric models, unplug them. For cordless models, remove the battery.

Step 2: Locate the Groove

Next, you will need to find the groove on the bar where the chain sits. The groove is typically located in the center of the bar and is the part of the bar that is in contact with the chain.

Step 3: Measure the Width of the Groove

To measure the width of the groove, you can use a tape measure, ruler, or calipers. Calipers can be more accurate than a tape measure or ruler, especially if you need to measure the width of a smaller groove.

Step 4: Take Note of the Measurement

Record the width of the groove in your preferred unit, either inches or millimeters. Jot it down somewhere secure and verify the measurement before purchasing a replacement chain. The bar and replacement chain must have a matching gauge for top-notch performance and safety.

Measuring the Pitch of the Chainsaw Bar

Measuring the pitch of a chainsaw bar is an important step in determining the correct size of the replacement chain. The pitch of the chainsaw bar is the distance between the rivets on the chain, and it needs to match the pitch of the bar for the best performance and safety.

To accurately measure your chainsaw bar’s pitch, follow these simple steps:

Step 1: Get the Chainsaw Prepared

Just like measuring the chainsaw’s length and width, measuring the pitch requires making sure the chainsaw is turned off, and the chain is not moving, which will prevent any accidental damage to the chainsaw.

Step 2: Locate Three Consecutive Rivets

Find three consecutive rivets on the chain, making sure they are all in a straight line. The rivets should be easy to find and are the small bumps that run along the length of the chain.

Step 3: Measure the Distance Between the Rivets

Use a tape measure or ruler to measure the distance between the first and third rivets. Ensure the tape measure or ruler is straight and not bending in any way, as this could result in an inaccurate measurement.

Step 4: Calculate the Pitch

Divide the measurement by two to find the pitch of the chainsaw bar. Round the pitch to the nearest 1/64th of an inch or the closest 0.5 millimeters if measuring in metric units. The chainsaw bar’s pitch must match the replacement chain’s pitch for the best performance and safety.


To sum up, measuring your chainsaw bar is a crucial step in ensuring efficiency and safety while using your chainsaw. The right size chainsaw bar is vital for proper fit and function, and different chainsaw models come with different bar lengths and widths. Using the information provided to you in this guide will make it easier to measure your chainsaw bar more efficiently and allow you to choose the right size that is more suitable for your needs.

It’s also essential to always consult the manufacturer’s guidelines for specific information about your chainsaw bar and chain size. The top priority should always be safety when using a chainsaw, so be sure to wear proper safety equipment and use caution at all times.


What do chain size numbers mean?

The first numbers in the chain number indicate the pitch in eighths of an inch. A zero at the end means it’s a standard chain, a 1 indicates a lightweight chain, and a 5 represents a bushed chain without rollers.

Is a bigger chainsaw bar better?

Generally, it is better to choose a chainsaw bar length 2 inches longer than the average thickness of the wood you’ll be cutting. It’s more efficient to have a smaller bar for smaller jobs and use it for larger tasks as needed rather than having a larger bar that isn’t suitable for smaller projects.

How long is a 16-inch chainsaw bar?

The cutting length may also be referred to as the effective or usable length. Most chainsaws have average cutting lengths of 14 inches (36 cm), 16 inches (41 cm), 18 inches (46 cm), and 20 inches (51 cm).

Will any chain fit a chainsaw?

No, each chainsaw will require a specific chain fit because the compatibility of chainsaw chains and bars is not standard. Some models allow for interchangeability, but only if certain requirements are met. Each chainsaw model has its own specific chain requirements based on gauge, pitch, links, and bar length.

Do all bars fit all chainsaws?

Not every chainsaw bar or chain is a good match for every saw. For instance, larger chainsaw bars work best with more powerful saws due to the increased energy needed to drive the chain. This is why electric saws tend to use bars 18 inches or shorter. Chainsaw chains are also made to fit specific bars.

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