How Tight Should A Chainsaw Chain Be: Useful Tips And Advice

How Tight Should A Chainsaw Chain Be: 17+ Helpful Tips

The chainsaw will perform most efficiently only if the chain is properly tensioned. If the tension is incorrect, it can cause the earlier wearing out of some parts of a chainsaw, including the guide bar, clutch, sprocket, crankshaft and the chain. Therefore, many beginners in chainsaws ask the question: “How tight should a chainsaw chain be?”

We decided to gather all the needed information concerning this question so that any chainsaw user can learn everything about the chain tensioning.

How You Can Check The Tension Of Your Chain

There are two main ways how you can test the tension of the chainsaw chain. They are the pull test and the snap test. We have decided to tell you more about each kind of the test.chainsaw Husqvarna

The Pull Test

To do this test you will need to pull the chain away from the chainsaw bar. Just partially lift the chain away from the bar. When you see that the drive links are fully clear of the bar groove, you can be sure that the chain is loose.

But if the drive links remain engaged and pull out just a little bit and the ends are still within the bar groove, you can see that the tension is correct.chainsaw Stihl

The Snap Test

To to do this test you should slightly pull the chain loop away from the chainsaw bar. First of all, you pull it as far as possible and then release the chain. If you don’t manage to pull it, you can understand that you over tighten your chain.
chainsaw chain

In addition to this, when you have already pulled the chain away from the bar, there are two things which can happen. If the chain snap tight back in place then it is correctly tensioned. But if the chain goes limp, it happens to need you to correctly tension it.

What You Should Know About Tightening Your Chainsaw Chain

Below we have decided to cover several main features concerning the proper tension of chainsaw chains so that you can make your chainsaw use easier and more prolonged.chainsaw Stihl

How The Correct Tension Looks Like

If you want to set the correct chain tension, you should make sure that your chain is a bit loose when it rests on the chainsaw guide bar. At the same time the chain has to be tight enough so that you can’t pull the drive links off the bar nose when the chainsaw doesn’t work.chainsaw Husqvarna

To make sure that the tension is right, you can implement one of the ways described above.

When you have already decided that the tension is set properly, you can start using your chainsaw without any doubt.

If Your Chain Is Incorrectly Tensioned

If you are not sure whether the tension is proper, you can try some tests to find a loose chain.chainsaw Stihl

When the tension is incorrect, the drive links will go off the bar when pulling the chain away from it. Therefore, you can see that you need to adjust the tension.

But another option is that you over tighten your chain. You can understand that it’s so when the chain links don’t leave the bar when you pull the chain away. From this situation you can understand that you need to reduce this tension, otherwise your chainsaw can be damaged.

The Benefits Of Your Chainsaw Chain Being Regularly Tensioned

In fact, the correctly adjusting chainsaw chain can lead to a notable amount of benefits for you. We would like to cover the most widely known ones:

  • The improvement of the instrument performance – first of all, the chainsaw will operate much better in the whole. When the chain is tightened correctly, the saw cuts any friction surfaces without any obstacles, so the chainsaw will perform tremendously while the chain will stay in its best condition and will be stable;
  • Time decrease – since the chainsaw chain will have the needed tension, it will operate fast and cut wood almost a half more quickly than usual. In other words, you will reduce the time you spend on your cutting tasks;
  • The increase of durability – if you maintain your chainsaw regularly, you will be able to use your instrument for a much longer period of time. The process of regular maintenance includes checking whether the chain is tightened correctly and if not doing the needed chain adjustment. This procedure actually allows you to use your sawing machine much longer without the chain replacement.

man with a chainsaw

How We Should Tighten A Chainsaw Chain

Below we would like to cover the steps how you should operate in order to properly tighten your chainsaw chain. If you follow them, you will be able to use your chainsaw efficiently and for a long time.Tension Of Chain

The First Step: To Find The Tension Screw

Since chainsaws are produced in various models, there are several spots where the tension screw is located on a chainsaw model.Tension Of Chain

There are three common places where it can be placed, and we would like to mention and describe each one of them:

  • The front panel – some models are produced with the tension screw on the front panel, which is at the left side inside bucking teeth and at the right side of the bar guide;
  • The side panel – in this situation the screw is situated between the bolts holding the chainsaw guide bar in its place;
  • The integrated tension system – most chainsaw models acquire the simple built-in tension system. These chainsaws don’t obtain a tension screw but an integrated handle which is applied to adjust the tension of the chain.

The Second Step: To Prepare The Needed Tool

Actually, it’s important to know that not all models of chainsaws need a special tool to tighten the screw. If your model acquires the built-in tension system, you don’t need any chainsaw tools. In other situations you will require a wrench to adjust the tension.chainsaw

The Main Step: To Tighten The Chain

When you have already gone through the mentioned above steps, you can start adjusting the chain tension. Don’t forget that you don’t need any power tools if you obtain the built-in tension system.chainsaw

Step-By-Step Guide How Tight Should A Chainsaw Chain Be

We would like to cover all the needed steps to adjust the needed tension. Try to follow them accurately so you can use your chainsaw efficiently:

  • First of all, you should loosen the bolts on the side panel of the chainsaw guide bar. When the bolts are loose, there is more space for easier adjusting the chain.
  • If your chainsaw acquires a chain brake attached to the guide bar side panel and bar rails, you will have to unlock them and only then you can take off the side panel.
  • The next step is to adjust the tension screw. Since you already know where the screw is located, you won’t have any problems. To tighten the chain you should tighten the crew, while to loosen the chain you loosen the crew. When you have tightened it, try to do a test to check if the tension is right.
  • The last step is to tighten the bolts of the bar side panel and bar rails. To do this it’s better to lift the chainsaw nose.

chainsaw bar

Useful Information: How To Properly Adjust The Chain Tension On Your Chainsaw

In this video you will learn how to adjust your chainsaw chain to the correct tension. It is critical to your own personal safety and also to reduce wear and tear on your bar and chain!

How Often It Is Advised To Tighten A Chainsaw Chain

When you buy a brand new chainsaw, you should check the break-in period in your user manual.This period means the time when you need to tighten the chainsaw regularly, while you won’t need to do this too often if you have already used your chainsaw for a while.chainsaw chain

During this period it’s rather convenient to notice some irregularities which smooth out with time while the rivets of the chain links get seated correctly.

This period usually goes until you need to refill your gas tank. But before the end of this period it’s recommended to check the tension of the chain after several cuts non friction surfaces and tighten it if needed. After this period you won’t need frequent tightening.

Another good advice is to loosen the tension each time after using the chainsaw.

It will make the following start of the chainsaw easier. Don’t forget to check regularly your chain and always remember how tight should a chainsaw chain be in order to keep the operation quality of your instrument high.

How To Adjust The Chain Of Craftsman Chainsaw

If you are an owner of a craftsman chainsaw and your chain is too loose, it means that you need to choose the correct tension for the chain.chainsaw

To tighten a chainsaw chain on the craftsman chainsaw you should follow the steps described below:

  • Don’t forget to apply safety gear before tightening your chainsaw chain. Actually, this rule is relevant for any types and during any operations with the chainsaw;
  • First of all, you need to put your chainsaw onto your workbench and take the place in front of the instrument so that you face the chain and the blade;
  • Then you raise the blade tip with your one hand and insert the multi-tool or a wrench into the tension screw at the right side of the chainsaw blade when you are facing it. After that you can adjust until you get a proper chain tension;
  • After all the adjustments it’s highly recommended to check whether the tension is right. To do this you can pull the chain around the blade. If the chain is still loose, you should tighten the chain tension adjustment screw a bit more.

How The Chain Of Electric Chainsaw Can Be Tightened

If you are fond of applying an electric chainsaw, you should know how its chain should be properly adjusted. Just try to do the following:

  • To start with, you loosen the guide bar nuts of the blade arm. With this there is enough space to do everything quickly and easily. We should all remember that if your chainsaw obtains brakes on the side panel, they should be unlocked before starting any procedures;
  • Then you seek the tension screw to adjust tension – you turn the adjustment screw with your tool until you get the proper chain tension;
  • Don’t forget to check whether the set tension is correct. If everything is good, all you need to do is to tighten the bolts to install tightly the side panel and the guide bar.

chainsaw is cutting the log

How To Tighten Poulan Chainsaw Chain

For this model of the chainsaw you do almost the same as you do when you adjust the chain of any electric chainsaw. As for the instruments, a flat screwdriver as well as a half-inch socket wrench will be handy.chainsaw PoulanPro

First of all, you loosen the bolts of the side panel with your wrench so that you get more room for your adjustments. Then applying the flat screwdriver you tighten your chain tension adjustment screw until you get the correct chainsaw chain tension.

How You Can Adjust Husqvarna Chainsaw Chain

Husqvarna models are usually supplied with brakes situated on the side panel, so you should start with disengaging them before any other operations. Then you should follow the steps below:

  • With a combination spanner you have to loosen the bar bolts while holding the clutch cover;
  • The second thing to do is to raise the bar tip and tighten the chainsaw. You should turn the adjustment screw clockwise until it stops slacking under the bar so that a chainsaw chain tightens;
  • After everything is done you need to check whether the tension is right. For that you should gently pull the chain around by hand. If you notice the chain slacking at the bottom of the bar, you need to tighten the adjustment screw more.

chainsaw Husqvarna

How To Set The Needed Tension Of The Chain If You Have Stihl Chainsaw

Stihl chainsaws are also produced with brakes attached to the side panel, so firstly you need to disengage them. Then you should operate according to the following steps:

  • You have to , take the clutch cover off and loosen two bar nuts holding the sprocket cover of the Stihl chainsaw in its place. Loosen the bar nuts until the bar can wiggle freely, but you don’t need to fully remove the two bar nuts;
  • After you loosen the bar nuts, you take up the guide bar and set the needed tensioning screw tightness using the screwdriver on the bar nuts until the chain is set tightly enough. You should remember that the chainsaw chain tensioner and adjustment screw in the models of this brand is usually situated below the bar and a little bit ahead of the bolts of the sprocket cover;
  • The process of adjusting is finished by tightening the cover guide bar nuts and adjustment screws . After you have done the adjustments of the bar nuts, you check whether the tension is right for your chainsaw using. If it’s not correct, you do the same steps once more.

chainsaw Stihl

Chainsaw Chain Difficulties

Below we would like to cover the problems which you can face when you use your chainsaw regularly. We have covered some reasons for their appearance, so that you can understand what is happening with your chainsaw chain. If you already remember how tight should a chainsaw chain be, you should also know what issues can also appear while you implement your sawing machine.chainsaw chain

Your Chainsaw Chain Keeps Coming Loose

If you notice that your chainsaw chain gets loose more often than it is supposed to, you shouldn’t hurry and throw it away and replace it with a brand new one.chainsaw is cutting the log

Why could it happen?

  • First of all, if your chainsaw chain keeps loosening, it’s recommended to take the clutch cover off and check your chainsaw guide bar. If it’s not seated correctly on the adjustment pin, the chain can come loose too quickly;
  • Another thing which you have to check is the threads situated at the bar studs. If the bar studs are damaged, they are able to cause the chain loosening and increasing the amount of the guide bar work;
  • In addition to this, you should take into account the chain tensioner pin. To organise its proper work you should put the chain tension pin away from the powerhead when you adjust the screw clockwise. But when you turn the screw counter-clockwise, the adjustment pin should be turned towards the powerhead. If you can’t do anything with the tensioning pin, you can understand that the chain tension pin is fully damaged and you need to change it for a new one.

If Your Chainsaw Chain Keeps Jamming

What can cause this? The reasons can be the following:

  • If you turn on the chainsaw engine but the chain doesn’t move, you should check whether the brakes are engaged. In this case you should disengage the brakes, take the clutch cover off and start the engine again;
  • The chain that is adjusted too tightly risks breaking. Therefore, you just need to slightly loosen the tension;
  • If you assemble the chain and the guide bar improperly, you just should reassemble these elements;
  • It can be caused by the incorrect placing of the chainsaw, so you just need to remove the chain and put it back correctly;
  • The problem may be in the air filter which need to get cleaned;
  • The drive assembly may appear broken, so you should fix the issue;
  • Another possibility is that you need to change the chain or the guide bar for a new one.

chainsaw chain

If The Chain Comes Off

This issue can be the result of several reasons, but the most widely spread cause of it is that your instrument acquires the loose chain tension.chainsaw chain

However, one more reason is that the drive sprocket happens to be worn out. If this happens, it is not able to hold the chain in its proper position.

Another thing you need to check if you face this problem is the damaged bar heel. This element is located near the drive sprocket, so being worn out it makes the chain travel distance bigger, which can make the chain come off two often.

What Can Be Caused By The Improper Tension Of Your Chainsaw

We all know that if the chainsaw chain is adjusted properly, you will use your chainsaw efficiently and conveniently. Therefore, it’s highly recommended to regularly check the chainsaw chain tension before starting the process of your chainsaw applying.chainsaw

We believe that we should never underestimate what dangers can be caused by the chain if it isn’t tensioned properly. What can happen in this situation?

The first thing which can be caused by a loose chain is a kickback. It can lead to some serious injuries and, actually, a kickback is one of the most hazardous accidents connected with the chainsaw.

In addition to this, if the chain is poorly tensioned, it can decrease the lifespan of various elements of the chainsaw construction.

Aside from the consequences mentioned above, the chain can be also often thrown off the guide bar if the tension is loose because of the chainsaw chain tensioner needing to be replaced.

What Else You Can Face If Your Chainsaw Chain Has Incorrect Tension

The issues which can appear because of the improper chainsaw chain tension are the following:

  • If the chain is loose, it can perform slanted cuts since it can’t feed into the wood correctly and therefore will need to be forced in with the help of your own weight. The whole process can lead to the bending of the guide bar;
  • What we have already mentioned is a kickback. You can get struck hard if you use your chainsaw with a loose chainsaw chain at high speeds. You should really be careful since this issue can cause the loss of your fingers on the finger grip or even a serious injury to your face;
  • Another problem can be caused if your chain is adjusted too tightly. In this occasion the chain performs too much pressure to the bar nose and the drive sprocket, which leads to their quicker getting worn out;
  • If the chain obtains too much tension, the chainsaw will require too much bar oil, so you will need to refill the tank much more often;
  • And the last but not least thing which can be caused by a too tight chain is the damage of the clutch and the bearings of your instrument at the moment of starting it.

chainsaw is cutting the log

Therefore, we again would like to recommend every chainsaw user to get to know how tight should a chainsaw chain be so that they can keep themselves safe and use the chainsaw efficiently as well.

The Chainsaw Chain Can Get Tightened Itself

When the chain happens to tighten itself, we can think that the chain and the guide bar are too dry. The main thing which you need to see if your chainsaw chain becomes tightened on its own, you should check whether there are clogged oiler holes, which don’t let bar oil get to the chain and the bar.

If you find any clogged oiler holes, you should clean them as well as the bar oil tank since it can also acquire some debris which prevents the bar oil flow.chainsaw chain

In case you have done everything and still have this problem, you should also check the drive sprocket and the oiler pump. If you see something wrong with the sprocket or the oiler pump, it means that it’s high time you replaced it.

Does Your Chainsaw Chain Stretch

All chainsaw users should always remember that chainsaw chains can stretch and get loose, so you should keep an eye on your chainsaw in order to avoid getting hurt by your chainsaw.start chainsaw

Why does your chainsaw chain stretch?

First of all, it happens when different elements of the chainsaw construction get worn out. In addition to this, if you have already used your chainsaw for a long period of time, your chain also becomes loose. And we have to take into account the fact that brand new chainsaws face the risk of their chains stretching more often than the already used instruments.

It happens since, as we have already described in this article, there is a break-in period for new chainsaws, during which you need to check the tension of your chainsaw chain more frequently before and during applying your tool.

Another thing which causes the chain stretching is the extreme heat appearing during cutting operations. When the chainsaw cools down, however, the chain gets to its normal conditions. If you see that your chainsaw produces too much heat, you should check whether your chainsaw and its chain are properly oiled.

The Important Thing You Have To Always Remember Using Or Maintaining Your Chainsaw

It doesn’t matter what you are going to do with your chainsaw, but at the end of our article we would like to remind everyone that when you apply or maintain any of your instruments, you need to follow safety precautions so that you can be sure that you do everything possible to avoid serious problems and injuries.

What we would like every chainsaw owner to take into account and implement each time they get close to their tools?chainsaw is cutting the tree

  • Safety gloves – it’s highly recommended to use them since the chainsaw chain is made of sharp metal, which being used with bare hands creates too many hazards for your health and safety.Therefore, it’s vital to wear them during applying your chainsaw as well as working with chainsaw chains. Safety gloves are highly essential, but you can also use some other gear. The usual chainsaw operation safety gear can include a special helmet, safety glasses or even a set of these two components. Moreover, there are specially designed safety costumes which can be used while operating a chainsaw. If you don’t want to buy such clothes, you should just keep all parts of your limbs and body covered, and try to do it with several clothes layers;
  • Careful handling – always check all the important elements of your instrument before starting working with it. You should make sure that everything works well and there are no signals of your chain starting getting loose or any other chainsaw issues. And, of course, each time you even touch your chain, do it with care;
  • Try to choose the suitable tool – if you decide to hold the regular maintenance of your chain or the whole chainsaw, always apply the instruments which are suitable exactly for your chainsaw parts. With this you can avoid any damages and the need to replace any broken element immediately.

In Closing

We have covered all the possible issues which can happen because of the improper chain tension. You should always keep in mind that it’s very dangerous to use the chainsaw if the chain is too tight or too loose. Therefore, it’s highly essential for any chainsaw user to be able to understand how tight should a chainsaw chain be, whether the chain is adjusted correctly and what you should do to improve the situation.chainsaw chain

In addition to this, we have mentioned how you can deal with any of possible chainsaw chain problems.

We hope that this review will help you to avoid as many chainsaw problems as possible, and, moreover, you will manage to use your chainsaw extremely efficiently and conveniently as long as you would like to. Just keep in mind that chainsaw chains need regular and proper maintenance, and they can let you use your saw for decades.

Check also How to store chainsaw.

Serg Cooper
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