When To Replace Chainsaw Bar?

Resawing wood log with a new chain bar.

Common sense will tell you that your chainsaw is not designed to last forever. There will surely come a time when components like the chainsaw bar will wear out, and eventually, your chainsaw will stop delivering the efficiency level it used to provide. The chainsaw bar handles too much friction and heat, and you can only wonder how long the chainsaw bar could bear such constant exposure to friction and heat.

As a chainsaw user, you need to engage in daily, weekly, and monthly maintenance of your chainsaw to keep it in top-notch condition and extend its life. You will intuitively know when to replace your chainsaw bar if you assiduously do the scheduled maintenance of your chainsaw. 

Typical Signs Indicative of the Need to Replace Your Chainsaw Bar

As you do the works in maintaining your chainsaw, you will notice the signs that indicate your chainsaw bar needs replacement. Below are the significant telltale signs that you should do the replacement quickly:

1) Failure of the Guide Bar Sprocket

As you inspect your chainsaw, you will notice that it is either equipped with a hardnose bar or a sprocket tip chainsaw bar. The sprocket allows for less friction because it helps carry the chain around the bar’s tip. With the sprocket, the chainsaw can maximize its speed and power. Hence, many prefer the sprocket tip bars over the hardnose bars. 

Nevertheless, the sprocket tip bars are fraught likewise with weakness. It is more prone to wear and tear than the hardnose bar. The sprocket is the primary component that exhibits wear and tear. The reason is that debris and dirt usually lodge around the sprocket bearing, causing more friction that leads to heating up and seizing. 

If you’re using a chainsaw with this type of bar, you might as well be wary of the sprocket failure. You can replace the tip of the sprocket bar if it shows signs of wear and tear. In most instances, I would suggest you replace the whole bar. Replacement, of course, might be more cost-effective.  

2) Guide Bar Channel Wear

Another type of wear is channel wear. This type of wear can happen over time. It is due to the friction between the bar and the chain. You can slow down the onset of this wear by ensuring that you lubricate your chainsaw regularly or that the oiler is working correctly. 

Make sure that the oiler hole of the bar is not clogged and that the channel is always clean. For if the oil fails to lubricate the chain, chances are, the channel will widen, leading to the flopping from one side to another of the chain. 

You can narrow down this gap, but if you don’t have the skill to do it and don’t have the necessary tools, you might as well buy a new bar.

3) Rail Cracks

Another possible issue with the chainsaw bar is the crack in the bar’s rails. As a chainsaw user, you should also be wary of the onset of these cracks. Inspect the bar’s middle thoroughly when searching for cracks. 

If you find any crack, you should buy a new bar. Besides, if you notice some pointy edges in the bar, you should file them down. In this way, the chain will not get caught in those tapered edges.

4) Bent Bar

Another possible sign that you need to replace your chainsaw bar is a bent bar. Chainsaw bars, of course, are solid and robust. They don’t easily bend. But if you’re not sure whether the chainsaw bar is bent or not, you can perform a simple test. 

Inspect the chain by removing the chain from the bar. Then, raise your chainsaw at eye level and inspect the bar’s grooves. Check for any bent part on both sides. 

If ever you find a minor bend in the bar, you can remedy it by hitting the bent part using a rubber mallet. But if the bending is too much, you need to replace the bar.

5) Pinched Rails or Grooves

Another revealing sign that you need to replace your chainsaw bar is when you see pinched grooves or rails. A pinched groove is a part of the rail that goes narrower than the other parts of the bar. If there is a pinched groove, you can expect more friction between the pinched spot and the chain. 

It can also cause the bar to heat much. Besides, the chain might get stuck at that part. You can, however, fix a pinched groove using a flathead screwdriver. Open the pinch using the flathead screwdriver to match the bar rail’s thickness.

6) Nose Sprocket Issues

If your chainsaw bar features a nose sprocket, this nose sprocket might start to wobble and ends up loose. The nose sprocket, of course, is similar to a nut. It fits nicely into a tapped hole of the chainsaw bar’s end. 

You can tighten it, but it will become loose quickly. If this happens, the nose sprocket or the tapped hole gets damaged. Moreover, if the nut is the problem, you can replace it. But if the issue lies in the bar, you need to replace it.

7) Unusual and Abnormal Gap Changes

Another telltale sign that you should not ignore is the abnormal gap changes. The bar rails usually create a gap in the groove. The width of this gap matters to keep the movement of the tongue under control. If the gap, for instance, becomes pinched, the bar would fail to move. 

Nevertheless, if it gets too wide or becomes uneven, the chain will behave irregularly. You can see a V-shaped gap or a gap widening in the groove. If you notice that the bar has already lost its typical u-shape, it means you need to replace the chainsaw bar.

8) Splintering

Another revealing sign is the splintering of the bar. A sound chainsaw bar will feel and look smooth. However, heat and friction can cause abrasion and peelings in the bar over time, leading to small splinters near the bar’s edge. The onset of these splinters can be hastened too by the buildup of debris. 

If the bar shows heavy splintering, it can cause heavy grinding, which could further aggravate the condition of the bar. So, if you notice serious splintering near the bar’s edge, I guess it’s high time to replace your chainsaw bar.

9) Burning on the Bar’s Surface

Another issue you might find with your chainsaw bar is burning due to heavy friction. An improperly oiled chain might cause this burning. 

Moreover, it might be due to the stubborn cutting of tough materials. You will see a black smudge on the surface of the bar when burning happens. 

If you happen to see a black smudge on the bar’s surface, it should cause an alarm in you. Check the bar’s surface and feel if there are indentations or dips. If you see that the heat has burned the bar, you should consider replacing the bar.

10) Damaged or Jammed Bar Nose Sprocket

As mentioned above, the nose sprocket is found at the chainsaw bar’s front part. It lets the chain move between its teeth at a fixed place. If there is no proper lubrication for the nose sprocket, it can end up seized because of increased friction. It can also lead to the breaking of the chain. It might also get damaged when you cut a tree whose weight caused the pinching of the bar at its edge. 

This pinching of the bar might jam the sprocket, leading to the breaking of the nose sprocket’s tooth. When this happens, the chainsaw will stop running. You could replace the nose sprocket if you got a replaceable one. However, if it is not replaceable, you will need to replace the bar.

11) Uneven Wearing of the Edge of the Bar

Over time, the edge will wear and may have uneven wear. Uneven wear means one bar side gets worn down more compared to the other. If you got this problem with your bar, the chain would quickly slip off when you use the chainsaw. If such is the case, it will be best to replace your chainsaw bar.

How To Extend the Lifespan of Chainsaw Bar

It is better to perform regular maintenance of your chainsaw bar than to replace it altogether. As mentioned above, you need to engage in daily, weekly, and monthly maintenance of your chainsaw to ensure that it will have an extended life. Below, however, are some succinct tips you can employ to extend the life of your chainsaw bar:

Do not force your cuts

When you use the chainsaw, you might feel very powerful, like a juggernaut, ripping on whatever material you can get your chainsaw through. Yet, experts would tell you to slow down and don’t force any cut. Besides, if you hit something hard when cutting and smoke begins to appear, you should stop cutting; otherwise, you might bend the bar, damaging your chainsaw afterward. 

Proper Oiling

A chainsaw needs regular oiling, and if you fail to lubricate its components, heat will build up due to increased friction. However, Oiling can help check the friction buildup and keep your chain from rusting quickly. Friction and heat, of course, are the main reason behind the onset of burns, burrs, splinters, and warps on your chainsaw bar. 

Always Take a Break When Sawing

You might think that your chainsaw is well-oiled, so you don’t need to take a break. Yet, whether you like it or not, you should take a break when using the chainsaw. Heat will build up if you continuously operate your chainsaw without a halt. 

To avoid the buildup of heat, stagger your sawing by taking breaks at regular intervals. In this way, you can allow your chainsaw to cool down.


Anything subject to friction will be subject to wear and tear. Your chainsaw bar—exposed and subjected to constant friction—won’t escape wear and tear over time. So, you need to inspect it regularly to see if there are telltale signs that you need to replace it. Besides, if your chainsaw bar is damaged, using your chainsaw will be fraught with so much risk. 

You don’t want to be at the receiving end of these risks. So, if you happen to see any of the abovementioned telltale signs, you should not think twice or in taking action. Either you can fix the issue or replace your chainsaw bar with a new one.

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