How to Measure Chainsaw Size

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A chainsaw is a handy tool. It can literally be utilized in multiple ways. From cutting down trees, to sculpting bushes, it’s an all-around tool. It is so popular, there are even competitive sports all around the country dedicated to measuring the skill and speed of using a chainsaw.  

You need to know how to measure the chainsaw bar and chain to determine what replacement size to get once your bar and chain has been worn out. You’ll also need to understand the type of chainsaw bar size you’ll need according to the job you’ll use it for.

This is a guide with everything you need to know when it comes to measuring your chainsaw size. You can refer to this when your chainsaw blade needs a replacement.

How to Measure Chainsaw Size

Chainsaw placed in a wooden table

If there’s one way to get the best results from your chainsaw, it’s measuring the chainsaw size the right way. The maintenance and accuracy of the chainsaw depends entirely on how well you measure both the chain and the bar. 

This quick guide tells you exactly what you need to do to measure the size of your chainsaw’s bar and chain, whether you’re using the best cheap chainsaw or a more expensive counterpart. 

How To Measure a Chainsaw Bar Length

One way of knowing that your chainsaw bar needs changing is that your chainsaw is no longer cutting as accurately as you’re used to. The chainsaw bar is what stabilizes the chainsaw. It is what helps you cut accurately with full control.

Bar Measurement vs Bar Length

The bar measurement is different from the actual bar’s length. The bar measurement refers to the length of the bar that is able to cut. This is different from the entire length of the bar. By default, the bar measurement is shorter than the actual bar’s length.

The bar measurement is also called the chainsaw length. 

For a precise cut, and an ease of use, measuring the bar is important when replacing both the chain and the bar. Follow these instructions to measure a chainsaw bar. 

  1. Turn the chainsaw off. It is absolutely vital to make sure that the chainsaw is completely turned off before proceeding to the next step.
  2. Remove the spark plug wire. Pull the rubber on top of the spark plug, and remove the spark plug wire as slowly and as gently as possible. This is to guarantee there are no chances for the chainsaw to ever turn on while you’re making your measurements.
  3. Lay the chainsaw flat on a stable surface. You can do this on the floor, or a table. For as long as the surface is stable and strong enough to hold the weight of the chainsaw steady, it is okay.
  4. Measure with a measuring tape. Measure from the tip of the bar, to the end of the bar where it meets the motor. Or in other words, measure the visible part of the bar that is capable of cutting.
  5. Round the measurement up to the nearest inch. This is the standard way of determining the measurement of a chainsaw bar. 

You should always round up the measurement, rather than down. It is better to have the bar a little longer than too short for the job. 

One of the more important factors to consider with the care and maintenance of a tool is knowing how to measure the chainsaw size. You need to understand the use of the different blade sizes.

See our reviews on different pricing options for chainsaws:

How to Know the Length of a Bar You Need

Chainsaw placed on tree trunk

It may not seem like a big deal, but it is a common mistake to disregard the length of the bar when replacing it. Different bar lengths are more effective for different jobs.

For example, a bar that is longer than the width of the tree you’re cutting, will not be the best length for the job. A longer bar means a heavier weight to carry and control.

If it is far too long for the wood you’re cutting, it’ll be hard to maneuver the bar and chain. Your cuts will not be accurate. 

The combination of weight and length will definitely affect the overall end result of your project. You will not only make the weight lifting harder on yourself. You will also encourage bigger mistakes and inaccuracies with your finished cutting.

Aim to have a bar that’s at least two inches longer than the piece of wood you are planning to cut.

Use these factors to determine what length bar you should buy. Keep in mind what you’ll use your chainsaw for.

  • Cutting and trimming bushes. For cutting and shaping bushes, you will need more precision and control. This means having a short chainsaw size. Aim to use a 12 to 15 inch bar and chain for better results.
  • Cutting branches. Branches are thick and tough to cut. You’ll need a longer bar to be able to cut through tougher branches. Use a 16 to 22 inch bar for this tougher tasks. Or, instead opt to use a high powered pole saw.
  • Cutting trees and logs. With thicker wood to go through, you will need a bar and chain that’s 22 to 36 inches long. The bigger the bar and chain sizes are, the more capable it is to break through thick layers of wood in one go.

As much as possible, if what you’re planning to work on isn’t on the list, the best way to guarantee that your chainsaw will get the job done is simply adding 2 inches on top of the actual bar measurement. 

In some cases like cutting branches from tall trees, it makes more sense to use a high quality pole saw to get the job done, rather than stretching with a chainsaw.

How to Measure Your Chainsaw Chain

Chainsaw placed on the ground

If you’re starting to see that your chainsaw isn’t performing as well as it usually does, the most common explanation is a dull or a problematic chain. This immediately indicates the need to replace the chain for a better performing chainsaw.

To get your chainsaw chain replacement, you first need to measure the pitch and gauge. Also, count drive link numbers of the chain. These measurements will be what you’ll need to know for the size chain you’ll need to replace your old one.

Measure the Pitch

The pitch is the specific distance between the chain’s drive links. It is how close together each of the chain’s links are. 

To measure this, you need to measure the distance of 3 rivets. Choose 3 consecutive rivets, and measure the distance from the first rivet, to the last, and then divide this by 2. This will give you the measurement of the pitch.

Measure the Gauge

This gauge is how thick the drive links are.

To measure this, you can use a common measuring method. You will need a quarter, a penny, and a dime. 

  1. Clean the debris off and out of the grooves of the bar.
  2. Place each coin into a groove, one at a time. If a coin fits almost perfectly, without the need to be forced, then this will determine the size.

These are the gauge sizes according to the coin that fits inside the groove: 

  1. Quarter is equal to .063 Gauge
  2. Penny is equal to .058 Gauge
  3. Dime is equal to .050 Gauge

Count the Drive Links

You can count the drive links by removing the chain from the bar, and manually counting each drive link. The drive links are the hooks that connect the chain to the bar.

Chainsaw on a workbench

These measurements will help you identify the right length of chain when shopping for a replacement. A big part of what works behind the maintenance of your chainsaw for a longer lifespan, ultimately depends on how well you are able to choose the right chainsaw bar and chains.

The better you are at making the right measurement for each chainsaw part, the less chances you’ll have of damaging your chainsaw. It also helps to eliminate the possibility of breaking it. 

Find Chainsaw Measurements On Your Tool

If your chainsaw is relatively new, and hasn’t been used much. You may just be lucky enough to still have the measurements of your bar and chain visibly printed on the bar’s surface.

This is not the case for most chainsaw users. It is more likely that by the time they have worn out their chainsaw chain and bar, the measurements would have also been rubbed off from the bar.

Check each side of your chainsaw bar to see if you can still read the measurements of both the bar and the chains. 

It’s also a good idea to take note of these measurements when you buy replacements. This saves time of having to measure them again in the future. 


Chainsaws are manufactured differently, depending on the brand that makes them. But overall, these guidelines on how to measure your chainsaw size will be applicable to every type of chainsaw.

You can look into the manual instructions and information of your chainsaw to get a better idea of the size of your chainsaw if you have the chance.

This guide aims to help you eliminate any problems when replacing and using a new chainsaw blade and chain. And it’ll also help to guarantee that your chainsaw took itself will last for a long time.

An expert at home repair, remodel, and DIY projects for nearly 40 years. His first experience came in completely restoring an antique home. Completely redone from the inside out, and restored to its original form, the home is a featured design by renowned Southern California Architect Cliff May, considered to be the father of the California Ranch Home. Now Dennis spends his time on fine woodworking projects and tool comparisons.