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Over the years I have had many people who want to get into using chainsaws but are overwhelmed by the maintenance they require. One of the most common questions asked is how tight should a chainsaw chain be?. This is something I use to ask when I first started operating chainsaws many years ago.
This is something that I can understand if you’re a first timer. The last thing you want to do with your brand new chainsaw is not put the chain on properly.
This is something that I believe is becoming more important these days. Especially since more people are relying on wood for heating. Not to mention how we seem to be getting more and more storms every year which requires some manual cleanup.
So more and more beginners are turning to a chainsaw to help themselves and their neighbors out. Which is what I want to help with, and unlike others, I have read I don’t want to keep secrets from people. The more people I can pass my knowledge onto the better, being a beginner is already difficult enough so hiding information is even worse in my opinion.
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Just How Tight Should Your Chain Be?
This is something that you will eventually get use to doing and be able to do it easily after you have done it a few times. But sure can be a cause for concern for a beginner. It is very easy to over tighten a chain, or not tighten it enough which is a bit rarer in my opinion.
The perfect amount of tension should allow you to be able to lift it roughly 1/8 off the chainsaws bar. You should do this with your forefinger and thumb, you need to be careful doing this.
Then have it snap back as soon as you let it go, this is the perfect amount of tension it should have. This may take a few tries to get right when you first start out, but you will get it eventually.
One thing I have recommended to the people I have worked with over the years. Is to lift the nose of the bar while keeping the nuts loose. Then tighten the chain just enough that the daylight between the bottom of the bar and the chain goes away. While keeping the tip up with one hand, you should use the other to tighten the nuts. I will go over how to correctly tighten the chainsaw chain below.
If you struggle to lift the chain then you have it to tight, which is a very common occurrence. So I wouldn’t worry if you don’t get it right the first time, just make another attempt and you will get it eventually. I find more people over tighten their chains more then they do under tightening them.
Not tightening them enough stands out a bit more since the chain sags a bit. The same applies if you under tighten it, just have another attempt until you get it perfect.
How Important Is It To Have The Correct Amount Of Tension On A Chainsaw Chain?
Not having the chains tensioned properly can cause you a lot of issues, it is just as important as correctly oiling your chainsaw bar.
So it is highly recommended having the chains tensioned correctly. If you have the chain up too tight you will end up going through way too many chainsaw bars, and make the chainsaw itself work too hard. This will prove a costly en devour, so it pays to get it right.
If it is to lose you will get very poor performance when you go to cut which can also become a safety hazard. Which completely undoes the advantages of a chainsaw in the first place. So you should always make sure your chain is tightened correctly, before operating your chainsaw.
Which Way Does The Chain Go On A Chainsaw
It may surprise you to learn just how many times I have heard and seen this question from people both in-person and online. While more experienced chainsaw users may get a laugh out of this question, I feel it’s unfair for the person that has never picked up a saw before.
This is because the chain itself can go on either way, so you can imagine how many first-timers would get stuck on this step. Who think they have it on the right way since it went on, when in truth it is backwards and they think they have a dull chain.
You will want the chain to be going in the direction of the bar since the cutting happens by having the chain spin around the bar at high speeds. The cutting portion of the chain should be facing away from you, so the drag of the chain should be pointing downwards going away from you.
It does sound a little confusing, but I assure you it is easier then it sounds and visually makes sense when you have it on correctly.
How To Adjust A Chainsaw Chain
I will be going giving a brief guide on how to adjust a chain on a chainsaw which should help you through this process. But I highly recommend checking your guide that came with your chainsaw, and following those steps first.
While most chainsaws are very similar in functionality, there is no be all and end all guide. Since chainsaws come in a variety of styles, there can be minor differences between them. Some chainsaws come with self tightening systems in place that make this almost completely null and void, so I recommended checking your guide first and foremost.
There is one thing that most guides forget to tell you about, and it is something that is extremely important. This is you should never tighten a hot chain, and then leave it in the cold afterwards. Doing this can can cause bending or even break the crankshaft. This is even more true if you have over tightened the chain. This is a big no no, so I highly recommend you don’t do this.
How To Tighten Chainsaw Chain
The first thing you will need is a screw driver and a wrench, tho most chainsaws come with something that is a combination of the two, also known a scrench.
This will help undo the necessary screw and nuts that you need to do. You should also wear gloves when touching the chain. After you get the tool you will want to lay your chainsaw down flat on a work surface. After this you will want to disconnect the spark plug lead, this will prevent the blade from being able to start.
The next step to do is to loosen the nuts on the side face plate that is where the motor and blade connects. Your scrench should come in handy here. You only want to loosen the nuts, since it holds the bar in place.
After this you will need to hold the bar up a bit, with the nose pointing up. This is where you will want to find where the tension screws are located. Most often the screws are either on the front or the side of the chainsaw, if you’re uncertain check your guide.
Once you have located them you will want to turn the screw clockwise, up until the slack has gone. But be careful to not over tighten, remember a chain should be able to move around the bar easily.
After you have got the right tension you will be able to tighten the cover nuts up, and you’re good to go. As I mentioned before, don’t do this while the chain is hot and then store it in a cold place. One thing I would recommend when using your chainsaw is to always take your scrench with you. You will never know when you will need to adjust your chain.
My Overall Thoughts
Most beginners do struggle with learning the basic maintenance of chainsaws, so I hope that this small guide has helped you in some way.
Hopefully after a little bit of time you will learn that it isn’t as complicated has people make it seem. And soon you will be able to tighten a chainsaws chain within a few minutes yourself, without having to rely on a guide. Also be sure to regularly check how tight your chainsaw chain is.