Main Steps How To Shorten A Chainsaw Chain [2023]

How To Shorten A Chainsaw Chain: 5 Useful Tips For An Owner

When you are planning to perform some cutting operations, for instance, for tree felling, to lamb, prune, buck trees or to cut firewood, you will need specialized equipment – a chainsaw. To add, you need to know can a chainsaw chain be shortened and how to shorten a chainsaw chain at home. Why is this knowledge necessary?

First of all, we should be aware of the fact that a chainsaw is a special tool which cuts while the chain rotates around the guide bar and performs cutting with its teeth. This movement creates a certain pressure which is responsible for cutting. Since there is some pressure in this specific tool, chainsaw chains and teeth can get spoiled and seek regular maintenance, otherwise you’ll need to get a new chain in a hardware store.

The construction of a chainsaw acquires the teeth attached to the chainsaw chain, therefore, if something goes wrong with the chain, the problem can spread to the teeth. If the chainsaw is applied for a long period or is implemented to do heavy cutting tasks, the chainsaw chain can lose its tension and become loose.

It can happen not so fast – chainsaw chains can stretch over time, for instance, for several years, and only after all these years you can see that it starts influencing the process of cutting. It can also get stretched and cause some problems in adjusting. To cope with the problem you will need to make the chainsaw chain shorter to create the needed tension and adjust the chain, otherwise you can spoil your cutting tasks and create a hazard for yourself.

In order to avoid such situations you can choose one of the possible options. Firstly, you can bring your chainsaw to any saw store and pay for shortening. If you don’t want to pay for it or don’t have enough time to go to a saw store, you can learn how to do it yourself. We would like to cover all the needed steps and we hope that this article covering how to shorten a chainsaw chain will be helpful for you.

Before Starting The Process Of Shortening

First of all, to get ready to shorten a chainsaw chain and removing links, you will need to remember about the following things. You will need several tools such as the rivet gun, the chainsaw chain-breaking tool, needle nose pliers, repair rivets and some others.

Another important feature is connected with the fact that working with the chainsaw and especially with its heavy chainsaw chain and sharp teeth can be rather dangerous. Therefore you shouldn’t forget about specific safety precautions and wear safety gear which you need to follow applying the chainsaw.

chainsaw chain

Can chainsaw chains hurt you? Of course they can! First of all, you need to implement safety goggles and gloves to protect your eyes and hands from any possible incidents. After that you should be sure that the chain blade and the chainsaw engine of the tool aren’t hot, which means that the machine has recently been used, so the instrument needs to cool down in order to be further applied.

You should always take into account that you can’t know in advance what is going to happen, so you should be careful and remember all the rules for your own safety concerning working with the chainsaw and the safety hazards that you may meet.

Starting The Process: To Remove The Chain

Of course, to shorten the chainsaw chain you need to take it off from the instrument. You should remove the side cover with the help of your wrench by taking off the bolts or nuts. Generally most chainsaws have the chainsaw chains inside the cover which is attached by two nuts.

start of a chainsaw

Try to unfold the chainsaw chain carefully so as not to damage it, otherwise you won’t be able to use it again. After this you have to put the chain blade or the bar of the saw away, which will make the tension of the chainsaw chain less and make the chainsaw chain itself looser. After this you are free to lift the chain from the saw.

Useful Tips: How To Shorten A Chainsaw Chain?

This video is about how to shorten a chainsaw chain with a master link if it has too many links. You will learn how to shorten a chainsaw chain properly without breaking anything through removing the master link.

Shortening Itself

  • To shorten a chain’s length to its proper length, you have to find the master link and side cover fasteners on your chain through which the other links will be removed. You open up each master link with an appropriate screwdriver or allen key, which can require some physical force, and then you have to lever till you hear a popping sound in the link attached to the master link.
  • If you can’t find any master link on the chain, don’t worry: not all chainsaw chains obtain a master link (one link or different master links). If you don’t have the master links, you can skip the “master link” step described above. Then according to your needs you have to decide which master link you are going to remove as well as what quantity you are planning to take off by removing the master link.

shorten a chainsaw chain

  • Put the chain breaking tool in one line with this connecting link (master link), and, in addition to this, you have to line the push arm with the pine on one of the master link sides. Then you do the same on the second side and pull and make the master link open and through it the other links.
  • After you have taken away all the needed chain links using the master link, you should put the master link into the rivet tool. Then you twist the left handle by pushing the right one to get the rivet smashed flat by the rivet gun.
  • After all these manipulations with the master link your chain gets an appropriate length and you can continue using it.

Putting The Chain Back On The Chainsaw

As a final step, you have to make a reverse procedure: put the chain back onto it in the same space with the ideal chain’s tension and high quality adjustment through a tension screw. Most chainsaws are constructed with the special tension screw, chainsaw brake and channel locks which will make the process easier. All you have to do is to put the chain around the chain blade along the chain length so that the drive chain links get into the chain’s sprocket. Then you can slightly pull the chain blade from the tool in order to create some chain’s tension in the chain link along the chain length.

shorten a chainsaw chain

Then you have to do the same procedure: put the chain blade onto the alteration pin of your instrument. You should return to the side cover and stiffen the drive links by your hands. Don’t forget to tighten the stiffness screw. To end the process of shortening the chainsaw chain you just have to tighten both the drive links on the side cover using a wrench.

Don’t forget that it’s highly essential to put the chain in the right direction. If everything is correct, your rotating chain with correct length will perform chain related work effectively, but if you make a mistake, you won’t be able to use your chainsaw for cutting wood and in addition to this it can create a hazard for yourself.

First of all, you should check the position of the chain from all the parts.

When you watch from the top view, you should see that the sharp edge of the chainsaw blade has to face the clockwise direction, or the chainsaw main body.

If you watch from the side when the chain blade is on the right side and the engine is on the left one, you should make sure that the direction of the blade needs to be from left to right. And when you see your handy tool from its front, you can be assured that the chain goes in the right direction, if it goes from the upper part down.

To add, from the bottom you can see that the sharp edge of the chainsaw blade looks towards the motor or the body.

When you put the chain with the correct length with no additional links onto the chainsaw, you have to make sure that you follow the tips mentioned above. After putting the chain and fixing the bar try to check the position of the chainsaw again. Make a snap test if you feel like you need it. If you do everything right, you will be able to use the chainsaw efficiently.

So now you can reconnect your spark plug, and get back to work!

Why The Chain Keeps Stretching

If you have done shortening several times but your chain keeps stretching, there are a few reasons for this situation.

First of all, many chainsaw chains that are factory pressed stretch because of heat. If it gets hot too often or too much, make sure that your chainsaw is often and regularly oiled. If it’s not, it can lead to chain tension or even a chain break. So you need to check whether your automatic oiler works correctly or use the manual oiler more efficiently.

chainsaw Stihl

Can chainsaw chains wear out? Of course they can! The chain also stretches again and again if the other links are rather worn out and get an incorrect chain length and the chain needs a replacement for a new chain already.

In other words, just take care of all parts of a chainsaw regularly and precisely, so it will be maintained with a correct tension and can serve you for years, even with a worn chain.

In Closing

To sum up, there are two main ways how you can shorten chainsaw chain. If you have the opportunity and time and don’t want to do it yourself, you can bring your chainsaw to any chainsaw store and pay for chain shortening.

chainsaw chain

But if you choose to do it yourself, make sure that you acquire all the needed instruments, like the chain breaking tool and others, and know how to perform all the steps mentioned above and shorten the chain. Just try to do everything carefully and accurately, so you will be able to use your chainsaw in the most efficient way.

We again would like to point out that if you see your chainsaw chains stretch again and again, you should think of the reason why it happens in order to solve this issue and to prevent the chain from regular stretching.

We sincerely hope that this article will be your useful guide how to shorten a chainsaw chain to your desired length and you will manage to perform this task without any obstacles.

Serg Cooper
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Comments: 3
  1. Donald Cain

    I always shorten my chainsaw myself. Bought and use pocket chainsaw chain punch breaker.

  2. Brian Farrell

    You can’t shorten out a stretched out chain. It won’t align with the sprocket. Different manufacturers different link qty’s for the size bars they run.

    1. Serg Cooper (author)

      I remove one link like that and my cutting links are on same direction.

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