How to Measure a Chain Saw Bar

Last Updated on June 23, 2022 by Liam Bronson

400mm/16" chainsaw bar size.

Figuring out the measurement of your chainsaw bar will never be a big problem because the chainsaw bar’s dimension is often printed or stamped on the chainsaw. Yet, if you can’t find or can no longer read the printed measurement, you might as well manually measure the chainsaw bar.

Given its design, a chainsaw is undoubtedly a powerful tool, best for felling large trees and other cutting jobs. But like any other components—exposed to constant friction and intense heat—the chainsaw bar might get damaged over time and might necessitate replacement. Buying a replacement for the chainsaw bar isn’t difficult, but you need to know how to measure the chainsaw bar to get a suitable replacement. 

Chainsaw Bar Measurements

At the onset, it will help to note that the lengths of chainsaw bars usually come in even numbers. So, you will not find bar lengths of 13, 17, and 21 inches. You will only find chainsaw bar measurements like 12, 16, and 20 inches. 

Nevertheless, as you move to longer chainsaw bars, you will occasionally find some options with odd number measurements. You will find, for example, a 59”-long chainsaw bar, though the measurement often gets rounded up. For instance, you need to classify a bar with a 13-inch length as 14 inches. 

Besides, you will find different names for the length of the chainsaw bar, like effective cutting length, length, or cutting length. Thus, you don’t need to be surprised when someone tells you that he has an 18-inch cutting length for his bar.

How Do You Measure the Chainsaw Bar’s Blade Length?

It will help know that chainsaws can only handle the appropriate bar length for their engine size. For example, if you got a long bar, it will necessitate a more powerful engine. Hence, if you have an electric saw, you can only use a chainsaw bar that is 18-inch or less in length. The reason is that the electric chainsaw’s motor doesn’t pack enough punch to power longer chainsaw bars. 

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If you want to use longer chainsaw bars and chains, you might as well go for the gas-powered chainsaws, equipped with powerful engines to drive such lengths of bars. Besides, it will be good to note that the chainsaw chains are not stretchable. Each chain is specific for a particular bar size. 

If the chain is long or short for a blade, it will not work with that blade. So, you need to carefully measure the length of the chainsaw bar when shopping around for a bar replacement. 

Besides, before you shop around for a replacement bar, it will be best to know that there are two measurements you need to be familiar with: the true length and the effective length.

Full Bar and Cutting Bar: What is the Difference?

It will be best to know the difference between the cutting bar length and the full bar length as you prepare to measure the bar. Below is a short description of each of these two lengths:

Effective Cutting Length

The most common and easiest measurement for the chainsaw bar is the effective cutting length. It also gets referred to as length. The effective cutting length spans the distance from the base, where it gets attached to your chainsaw to the blade’s tip. 

You can get this measurement by using a tape measure. Begin at the blade’s base and stretch the tape measure up to the blade’s tip. Then, round your measurement up to get an even number. So, if you get a size of 15-3/2,” you can round it up to 16.”

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True Length

The alternative way to measure the chainsaw bar length is to get the actual length of its blade. The true length refers to the actual full length of the chainsaw bar from the tip to the end when you have not yet installed the chainsaw blade. 

To measure the true length, you need to unscrew the bolts that hold the blade in place. Then, remove the chainsaw blade and measure it using the tape measure. You will see the bolts on the right side of the chainsaw’s body, just beyond the bar’s base. 

You can effectively measure the true length by laying the blade on a table and stretching its length. Then, get the distance from one end to the other end. You don’t need to round up the measurement you will get because it is the actual length of the blade.

How to Get the Measurement of the Chain of the Chainsaw?

Experts will often advise you to check the manufacturer’s manual to know the replacement chainsaw chain you must buy. Such succinct advice is excellent because you need to be precise when finding a replacement chain for your chainsaw. 

So, at the onset, it will be best to check the manufacturer’s manual and know the model number of the chain. Ensure that you list down the model before heading outside to buy a replacement. 

The model number will indicate the driver links number and the chain-link gauge. But if you can no longer get the information because you’ve lost the manufacturer’s manual, you can search online or measure the chain to get its actual length. 

Measuring the Chain Pitch

The chain pitch indicates the distance between the links of the chain. You can measure it by using a measuring tape or a ruler. Get the distance between three rivets of your chain. Then, divide whatever result you get by two. The resulting number will be your chain pitch. the usual chain pitches are 1.4,” .325,” or 404.”

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Measuring The Driver Links

It is easy to figure out the driver links. You only need to check the driver chain links, which are tiny bumps on the chain’s inside. You only need to count them to get the driver links measurement. 

Measuring the Chain Link Gauge

It will be best to use a caliper or a multipurpose gauge to get the chain link gauge. The chain link, of course, refers to the drive links’ thickness. If both the chain-link gauge and the chainsaw bar match, you can say that the chain snugly fits. 

To measure the chain-link gauge, you need to position the caliper along the groove wherein the chain fits onto the chainsaw bar. Then, take note of the reading. The drive link gauges you will often get include .043,” 050,” 058,” and 063.”


You will more often think of the measurement of the chainsaw when you need to replace it. But if the chainsaw is working perfectly, you will seldom bother to know the chainsaw bar and chain’s measurement. But if you are a meticulous user of a power tool like the chainsaw, you will surely do the research to understand the different parts of your chainsaw.

You will also get curious about the chainsaw bar and chain’s measurements and understand that such measurements will come in handy when you need to replace the bar and chain. The abovementioned tips and explanations will help you figure out the chainsaw bar’s measurement when the time comes that you need to replace your chainsaw bar and chain.

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