How to Shorten a Chainsaw Chain?

To shorten a chainsaw chain, you will need to remove links using a chain breaker tool. Once the desired length is achieved, reattach the chain and ensure proper tension.

Maintaining a chainsaw is crucial to ensure its optimal performance and longevity. One of the common tasks that diyers and professionals alike perform is shortening a chainsaw chain. Whether it’s due to damage, wear and tear, or simply trimming a smaller branch, shortening a chainsaw chain is necessary at times.

However, it’s important to do it correctly to prevent any accidents or damage to the equipment. In this article, we’ll guide you on how to safely and accurately shorten your chainsaw chain.

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Understanding Chainsaw Chains: Types And Sizes

Chainsaws are powerful cutting machines with a chain fitted around a guide bar. The chain’s teeth are specially designed to cut through wood, and as a result, chainsaw chains come in different types and sizes to cater to specific applications.

Regardless of your experience level, it’s crucial to understand the different chainsaw chains available and their applications to ensure you select the right one for your needs.

Introduction To Chainsaw Chains And Their Composition

Chainsaw chains are made up of several components, including cutters, drive links, and tie straps. The teeth on the chain are formed by the cutters on one side and the depth gauges on the opposite side. Chainsaw chains can also contain different cutter types, including full-chisel, semi-chisel, and chipper chains.

Understanding The Different Types Of Chainsaw Chains Available

Chainsaw chains come in different types, including full-chisel, semi-chisel, and chipper chains.

  • Full-chisel chains: These chains have square-cornered teeth that offer the most efficient cutting performance, making them ideal for professional use in logging and other heavy-duty applications. However, they require regular sharpening and demand high maintenance due to their brittle nature.
  • Semi-chisel chains: These chains have rounded corners that provide a smoother cut and require less maintenance than full-chisel chains. They are ideal for homeowners, landscapers, and other occasional-use applications.
  • Chipper chains: These chains feature special teeth that help remove debris while cutting, making them ideal for cutting through dirty wood or frozen logs.

Understanding The Different Sizes Of Chainsaw Chains And Their Applications

Chainsaw chains come in different sizes to cater to the application’s needs. The chain size is determined by the pitch, gauge, and length of the chainsaw.

  • Pitch: This is the distance between the chain’s links and determines the chain’s size. The most common pitch sizes are ¼ inch, 0.325 inches, 3/8 inch, and 0.404 inches.
  • Gauge: This determines the thickness of the drive link, the part that fits into the chainsaw’s guide bar groove. The most common gauge sizes are 0.050 inches, 0.058 inches, and 0.063 inches.
  • Length: This is the total length of the chainsaw chain, and it’s essential to select the correct length depending on your chainsaw’s bar length and your cutting requirements.

Importance Of Selecting The Right Type And Size Of Chainsaw Chain For Your Needs

Selecting the right type and size of chainsaw chain is essential for safe and efficient cutting. Choosing the wrong chain can lead to several issues, including overheating, wear and tear, and improper cutting. The following are some important considerations to keep in mind when selecting the right chainsaw chain:

  • Application: Choose the chain based on the cutting task, whether you’re cutting softwood or hardwood, pruning branches, or felling trees.
  • Bar size: Ensure that the chain pitch, gauge, and length are compatible with your chainsaw’s bar size.
  • Maintenance: Consider the chain’s maintenance needs, such as sharpening and cleaning, before making your purchase.

Understanding chainsaw chains’ types and sizes is crucial to selecting the right chainsaw chain for your needs. Choosing the right chain can help ensure efficient and safe cutting while minimizing wear and tear on your chainsaw.

Preparing Your Chainsaw: Safety First

Checking For Any Damages Or Wear And Tear In Your Chainsaw Chain And Other Components

Before attempting to shorten your chainsaw chain, you need to make sure it’s in good working condition. Here’s what you should check before proceeding:

  • Check the chainsaw chain for any visible signs of damage or wear and tear such as missing or damaged teeth, cracks or bends, and excessive stretching.
  • Inspect the chainsaw bar, chain adjuster, and other components for wear or damage.
  • Make sure all bolts, nuts, and screws are tightened securely.
  • Always check for leaks of fuel or oil from your chainsaw before each use.

Understanding The Safety Precautions When Working With A Chainsaw Chain

Safety is critical when working with a chainsaw chain. Here are some safety precautions you should keep in mind:

  • Always wear gloves and protective gear including eye and ear protection.
  • Make sure you have a secure footing and maintain a safe distance from others while operating your chainsaw.
  • Don’t use your chainsaw if you’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Avoid operating your chainsaw chain if you’re excessively fatigued.
  • Keep your chainsaw chain away from electrical wires and other hazards.

Steps To Follow For Proper Chainsaw Maintenance For Safe Operation

Proper chainsaw maintenance is key to ensuring your safety and the longevity of your tool. Here are some steps to follow:

  • Clean your chainsaw regularly, removing any debris and dirt that may have accumulated.
  • Sharpen your chainsaw
  • chain teeth regularly using a chainsaw file for optimal cutting performance.
  • Lubricate your chainsaw chain regularly with bar and chain oil to reduce wear and tear.
  • Check the tension of your chainsaw chain regularly and adjust it if necessary.
  • Store your chainsaw in a cool and dry place when not in use to prevent wear and rust.

Importance Of Wearing Protective Gear While Working With A Chainsaw Chain

Protective gear can minimize the risk of injuries when working with a chainsaw chain. It is crucial to wear protective gear, including but not limited to:

  • Chainsaw chaps or pants to protect your legs
  • Heavy-duty boots with steel toes to protect your feet
  • Safety helmet with ear and eye protection to protect your head
  • Gloves to protect your hands

Keep in mind that chainsaw chains are sharp and can cause serious injuries, so always prioritize your safety before anything else.

Shortening A Chainsaw Chain: Step-By-Step Guide

Understanding The Importance Of A Proper Chain Length For Chainsaw Performance

The length of a chainsaw chain plays an essential role in determining how your chainsaw will perform. An incorrectly sized chainsaw chain can cause several issues, including reduced cutting efficiency and the possibility of damage to your chainsaw. Therefore, before you start fixing your chainsaw chain, make sure you understand the importance of following the proper chain length.

Steps Involved In Shortening A Chainsaw Chain

Shortening a chainsaw chain may seem like a daunting task, but with the right tools and techniques, it can be done quickly and efficiently. Here are the steps involved in shortening a chainsaw chain:

  • Firstly, ensure that your chainsaw is cleaned and the chain brake is activated, ensuring your safety.
  • Use a chain-breaking tool to determine the links you want to remove from the chain.
  • Place the chain-breaking tool onto the chain, with the pin of the tool fitting through the chain link’s small hole.
  • Apply some force to the chain-breaking tool to make a slight indentation in the link pin to release it from the chain.
  • Use a punch tool to push the link pin until it separates from the chain.
  • Remove the links you want to cut, making sure to count the links on both sides of the chain to maintain balance.
  • Rejoin the shortened chain by inserting the link pins and using the chain-breaking tool to crimp the pins into the links.

Cutting The Necessary Links Using A Chainsaw Chain Breaker And Other Tools

A chainsaw chain breaker is a specialized tool that you can use to cut the links of your chainsaw chain to shorten it. Other important tools you need to carry this task out include:

  • Safety gloves
  • Eye protection goggles
  • Wrenches
  • Punch tools
  • Chain lubricant

To shorten the chainsaw chain, it’s essential to use a chainsaw chain breaker tool. The tool breaks the chain pin, making it possible to remove the chain’s necessary links without damaging the chain.

Once you have cut the link, it is essential to smoothen the chain ends by grinding their edges using a metal file. After the edge is smoothened, you can join the chain links back together using the chain breaker tool.

Measuring And Testing The Shortened Chain Before Reassembling Your Chainsaw

Before reassembling your chainsaw, ensure that you’ve measured and tested the shortened chainsaw chain. This is important to confirm that you’ve cut the exact number of links to get the right chain length.

Additionally, ensure that you reassemble the chainsaw correctly so that all the parts fit together tightly. It’s also crucial that you apply a proper amount of chain lubricant before using the chainsaw to prevent premature wear and tear of the chain.

With the right chain length and proper lubrication, your chainsaw will work efficiently and perform perfectly.

Tips And Tricks: Maintaining Your Chainsaw Chain

Proper Usage And Maintenance Tips For Chainsaw Chains

A chainsaw can be a handy tool both at home and at a job site, but it’s important to make sure it’s working correctly to avoid any accidents. Below are some tips and tricks to maintain your chainsaw chain in good condition:

  • Always wear protective gear, including gloves, eye protection, and a safety helmet with hearing protection.
  • Keep the chainsaw and chain clean by wiping down the chain with a dry cloth after each use.
  • Check the chain tension before each use and adjust it if needed.
  • Lubricate the chain after each use with chainsaw oil.
  • Sharpen the chain regularly to ensure efficient cutting.

Common Mistakes To Avoid While Shortening Your Chainsaw Chain

Shortening your chainsaw chain can be a daunting task, but it’s important to do it correctly to maintain its effectiveness. Here are some common mistakes to avoid while shortening your chainsaw chain:

  • Removing too many links from the chain, which can create an unsafe cutting environment.
  • Not using the proper tools to shorten the chain.
  • Forgetting to adjust the tension of the chain after shortening it, which can cause it to loosen or tighten while in use.
  • Not properly aligning the chain with the chainsaw bar, which can cause wear and tear on both the chain and the chainsaw.

Common Problems Associated With Chainsaw Chains And Tips To Handle Them

Even after proper usage and maintenance, chainsaw chains can develop problems. Here are some common problems associated with chainsaw chains and tips to handle them:

  • Dull chain: Sharpen the chain regularly to maintain its effectiveness.
  • Chain jump: Check the chain tension and make sure it’s properly aligned with the chainsaw bar.
  • Chain break: Replace the chain if it’s broken or damaged.
  • Chain wear and tear: Lubricate the chain regularly to prevent wear and tear.

Useful Hacks For Extending The Lifespan Of Your Chainsaw Chain

With proper usage and maintenance, a chainsaw chain can last a long time. Here are some useful hacks for extending the lifespan of your chainsaw chain:

  • Keep the chain clean and lubricated to prevent rust and wear and tear.
  • Use the chainsaw for its intended purpose and avoid using it on materials that can damage the chain.
  • Sharpen the chain regularly to maintain its effectiveness.
  • Invest in a good quality chainsaw chain and regularly inspect it for wear and tear.

Remember, proper usage and maintenance of your chainsaw chain can keep it effective and safe to use. By following these tips and tricks, you can maintain your chainsaw chain in good condition for a long time.

Troubleshooting Chainsaw Chain Problems

Identifying Various Problems That May Occur With A Chainsaw Chain

Chainsaw chains are notorious for encountering problems, which can impede their operation and impact their performance. Here are some of the common issues faced by chainsaw chains:

  • Dull chain
  • Bent or damaged chain
  • Loose or tight chain tension
  • Incorrect filing angles
  • Damaged or broken cutter teeth

Understanding The Causes And Reasons Behind These Problems

It is essential to understand the causes and reasons behind these problems to fix them effectively. Some of the reasons behind chainsaw chain problems are:

  • Lack of proper maintenance
  • Improper usage
  • Overheating
  • Excess wear and tear
  • Incorrect sharpening methods

Solutions For Fixing Common Issues With A Chainsaw Chain

Having appropriate knowledge and tools before attempting to fix these issues can lead to better results. Here are some solutions for fixing common issues with a chainsaw chain:

  • Sharpening the chain regularly
  • Aligning the cutter teeth
  • Replacing broken or damaged teeth
  • Ensuring proper lubrication
  • Adjusting chain tension

When To Seek Professional Help For Addressing Significant Problems

While fixing common chainsaw chain problems can be easy, more severe issues may require professional help. Here are some significant problems to look out for:

  • Deeply embedded chain damage
  • Significant wear and tear
  • Bent or damaged chainsaw bar
  • Professional guidance for unique chainsaw or chain types.

If you encounter any of these issues, it’s best to seek help from a chainsaw specialist or a professional repair service.

Maintaining and fixing chainsaw chains can be a challenging task, but with proper care and knowledge, it can be done efficiently. By identifying and understanding the causes of common chainsaw chain problems, you can take appropriate steps to prevent and fix those issues, ensuring your chainsaw remains in optimal condition.

Frequently Asked Questions On How To Shorten A Chainsaw Chain

What Tools Do I Need To Shorten A Chainsaw Chain?

To shorten a chainsaw chain, you’ll need a few tools, including a vice, chainsaw file, and a file guide. You’ll also need a tape measure to measure the length you’ll be shortening the chain too, and safety gloves to protect your hands.

How Do I Determine How Much To Shorten My Chainsaw Chain?

The easiest way to determine how much to shorten your chainsaw chain is to count the number of drive links on the chain. From there, divide the total number by two, and that is how many links you will remove from each side to shorten the chain to the desired length.

Can I Reuse The Removed Links Of The Chainsaw Chain?

It is generally not recommended to reuse removed links of the chainsaw chain. The integrity of the chain can be compromised by reusing old parts. Worn components may cause the chain to break or come apart during use, which could cause injury or damage to the chainsaw.

What Is The Correct Filing Angle For A Chainsaw Chain?

The correct filing angle typically depends on the type of chainsaw chain you have. A standard round file should be angled to 30 degrees for the cutters on the chain, and 75 degrees for the depth gauges. However, it is important to refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines and recommendations for filing angles.

How Do I Know When My Chainsaw Chain Is Too Worn To Use?

A chainsaw chain can easily be checked for wear by inspecting the depth gauges and cutters. If the depth gauges are worn down or the cutters are chipped and dull, it’s time to replace the chain or have it sharpened by a professional.

Continuing to use a worn chain is dangerous and can lead to potential accidents during use.


Shortening a chainsaw chain can be a bit intimidating if you’re not familiar with how to do it. But with the right tools and some careful attention to detail, it’s a task that can be accomplished with ease. Remember to always wear protective gear and to turn off the chainsaw before attempting any adjustments to the chain.

Use a proper measuring tool and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for adjusting the tension. Regular maintenance and upkeep of your chainsaw chain will ensure optimal performance and safety. By following these steps, you can easily and effectively shorten your chainsaw chain, allowing for precise and efficient cuts every time.

With a little bit of practice and patience, you’ll be able to tackle this task like a pro in no time.

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Johnathan Brewer

Hello, I’m Johnathan Brewer, a professional woodworker and power tools salesperson. I’ve worked with top interior designers and architects of the city. With an experience of 11 years in this field, I can suggest the best tips for bigger DIYers. I help my friends and neighbors with their tools. I specialize in restoring, repairing, designing, and decorating. There are even some great woodworking tactics that I’d love to share with you. With that information and suggestions, you can do really good professional work in a very short time.

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