How to Measure Chainsaw Chain: A 5-step Guide

Have you ever wondered how to measure chainsaw chain? It’s not as easy as it sounds, but with the help of this guide you’ll be able to read your chain in just a few minutes. We’ll also go over how to change chains on your saw and what size chain is best for which type of cutting. This blog post will answer any questions that you may have about measuring chainsaw chain!

The three key chain measurements

You may purchase the ideal chain for your chainsaw using the information provided by these three measures.


You will need a tape measure to calculate the pitch measurement. Simply count three rivets on the chain and measure the space between them starting from their center points to get the exact size. For your size, divide this by half. For instance, multiplying three rivets that are each 12 inch wide by two results in a pitch of 14 inch. Verify the dimensions in both the instruction manual and on the guide bar of your chainsaw, since they are usually found in one of these two locations.


The drive links’ thickness is indicated here (the tooth-like underside of the chain that fits in the guide bar). The chain gauge, which is sized in inches, is often found in the chainsaw’s handbook or on the tool itself. You might use a vernier caliper to obtain this measurement because it is challenging to measure correctly using a tape measure. There are four distinct gauge sizes, with the lower gauges being the most popular:.043, 0.50,.058, and.063. If you choose the incorrect size, it could be either too loose to provide good traction or too thick to accommodate your chainsaw.

Drive Links

This is the most uninteresting yet crucial step in the measuring procedure. You must count the drive links to produce a chain that is the right size (those little teeth on the underside of the chain). One suggestion is to start by taping a strip to the first connection, then counting your way around. To acquire the proper chain size for your chainsaw, you need to know precisely how many there are. Now that you have those three digits, you can start looking for the chain you require. We’ll then examine the chain aggression.

How to Measure Chainsaw Chain

1. Decide on the length of chainsaw chain you need.

This is the number one question that I get asked. When you buy a chainsaw chain, it’s sold by its pitch (which is the distance between two rivets) and not by an actual length measurement. So, if you know how long your bar needs to be, decide what pitch size of saw chain will work best for you. This will depend on the type of saw you have and what you want to use it for.

2. Determine if your saw is a two-stroke or four-stroke model.

This is a big one. Did you know that the way you use your chainsaw and the fuel it uses affects what size saw chain you need? If you’re not sure, check out this blog post here  to see what type of model your saw is. If you can’t find any information on your specific saw, we recommend using a 20-inch, .325 pitch saw chain on all two-stroke models.

3. Determine the width of the chainsaw chain you need (in millimeters).

This is an easy step if you have any metric tools at your disposal. To determine the width of your chainsaw chain, measure the distance between two outer links that are directly across from each other. Your chainsaw’s owner’s manual should list this measurement for you.

4. Find out what pitch your saw uses – this will be stamped on the side of your saw’s sprocket housing.

You can also measure the pitch of your saw if you don’t want to find out the old-fashioned way. The pitch is simply half of the chainsaw chain’s width measurement. For example, if your chainsaw has a .325″ (8.25mm) wide saw chain on it, then that specific model uses a .160″ (4.0625mm) pitch chain (this is the most common chainsaw chain pitch size).

5. Measure and cut your new chainsaw chain to size according to steps 1 through 4, then install it onto your saw for optimal performance!

If you find yourself in the position where your chainsaw chain breaks and you’re not sure what size saw chain you need, we recommend that you use a 20-inch, .325 pitch (8.25mm), 45 drive links (3/8 inch pitch) chainsaw chain on all two-stroke models.

Now that you know how to measure chainsaw chains, you may be wondering what size chainsaw chain is best for certain cutting applications. Chainsaw chain comes in different pitches and widths (the distance between the outer link plates), and each cut requires a different type of saw chain. Some people like to keep their bar oiled before cutting, while others prefer dry cuts. Here’s a list of the different types of cuts and what size chainsaw chain will work best in each scenario.

How to Determine the Length of Chain for a Chainsaw

Chainsaw chains are compared to saw bars in terms of length. On the basis of the bar measurement alone, some manufacturers even sell replacement chains. However, two more measures that determine how well the chain fits on your saw are part of a more precise method of calculating the chain’s length.

  1. Calculate the distance between the chainsaw bar’s tip and the place where it first protrudes from the saw’s case. That information will be available through a tape measure. If the measurement was uneven or fractional, round it up to the next even number. The bar measurement is the resultant number. 16, 18, and 20 inches in length are the most typical bar dimensions.
  2. On a level area, stretch the chain. Search for the driving links, also known as lugs, of the chain. These links stick out from the chain’s bottom and grip the driving gear, causing the chain to turn. The chain’s drive links should be counted.
  3. Establish the chain’s pitch. The chain assembly’s three successive rivets that hold it together may be measured in distance. Measure the distance between the centers of the first and third rivets. Between the driving links and the cutters, the chain’s top-most cutting teeth, are visible rivets. The pitch is calculated by dividing the measurement by two.
  4. Look at the drive linkages and pitch numbers that brought you there. The length you need to find while changing the chain on the chainsaw is the sum of these two values.

Types of Cuts:

Dry Cut– This is when your saw chain has no bar oil on it – dry chainsaw cutting is not covered in this blog post, but you can learn how to do a dry cut here .

Initial Cut – This is the first cut of a dry cut, where your chain will have bar oil on it. This type of cut should be done on an initial sharpening with new chainsaw chain so that you get the perfect cut for subsequent cuts.

Wet Cut – After you’ve made your initial cut, this type of cut is when you have a thin coat of bar oil on your chainsaw’s bar and chain.

Final Cut – This is the last cut in a wet or dry cut sequence – if you want to learn more about chainsaw cutting, check out this blog post here.

Light Cutting – This type of cutting involves sawing through materials that are not dense. Examples of these materials are balsa wood, plastic or lighter pieces of wood (i.e., 2″ x 4″).

Medium Cutting – This type of cutting involves sawing through denser materials like 1-1/2″ to 3 1/4″ trees.

Heavy Cutting – This is the most demanding type of cutting you will do with your chainsaw. It involves heavy, dense wood like 3 1/4″ to 6″ trees or 4″ to 8″ logs.

Note that chainsaw cutting technique varies depending on the type of material being cut – you can read more about sawing techniques here.

As mentioned before, there are different lengths and types of saw chains available for different applications, so you will need to refer to your owner’s manual or local authorized dealer for chainsaw chain information that pertains specifically to your saw.

Now that you know how to measure chainsaw chain, check out this blog post here  to determine the right size of bar oil for your specific chainsaw.

If you’re looking to find out how to sharpen your chainsaw chain , we’ve got the information that you need right here.

Finally, if your saw is new and can’t be registered with a manufacturer’s number or serial number , be sure to read our last blog post on this topic for more information.

We hope you find this blog post useful and that it helps you to determine the chainsaw chain you need for your specific applications.

If you have any questions about measuring chainsaw chain after reading this blog post, feel free to comment below or send us a message on Facebook  or Twitter . We’d be more than happy to help!

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