Learning how to measure a chain saw bar not only can assist you with repairing your tools but also in being able to select the ideal replacement parts.
With a deeper understanding of what your chain saw bar could do, you will know precisely what professional or personal tasks you can take care of with your particular model.
In this guide, we will go over measuring the bar on your power tool and also talk about what to look for in the best chain saws on the market.
The Importance of Knowing the Length
Many people prefer to replace parts when their power tools give out, rather than replace the entire unit.
With simple wear and tear, such as the deterioration of a chain saw blade or bar, you will find that it is far more cost-effective to replace it than to buy a whole new unit.
By being able to determine the length, you will know which size is best for the model you have.
With that said, if you’re one of the lucky homeowners who keep their instruction manuals after every purchase, you won’t have to follow through with the below steps.
Instead, your user manual will give you all of the information you need about the type, quality, and length of your chainsaw bar.
All you will have to do is call the manufacturer for a replacement piece.
If you’re not one of the lucky people who have access to their user guide, you’re going to need to measure the length of the bar yourself.
How to Measure a Chain Saw Bar
There are two main ways to measure a chain saw bar: by measuring the actual length or measuring the effective length. Both measurements are likely to be several inches apart.
What Is the Effective Length?
You will find that the effective length is the more straightforward measurement out of the two, as all you’re going to need is a regular tape measure.
This value should be the effective cutting length of the chain saw, which you’ll find is shorter than the length of the full bar.
Often, you will find that this measurement is referred to as the chain saw length.
When getting these values, you are going to be handling the actual chain of the tool, so you must follow the necessary safety steps.
First, make sure the chain saw is turned off and unplugged.
You will also want to remove the wire from the spark plug to prevent the chain saw from coming on at all, even if it’s an accident.
Once you’ve ensured the chain saw cannot be operated apart from divine intervention, you can follow these steps to get the effective length.
Step 1: Find Placement
First, you’re going to want to put your chainsaw on the grown and take your tape measure.
Place the tape measure straight against the body of the chain saw, starting where the blade comes out of the body or the casing.
Step 2: Measuring
Begin to open the tape measure so that it is slightly past the end of the bar.
Write down the measurements to the very tip of the cutter.
For better accuracy, choose the cutter that is the farthest from the tip of the bar.
If you do not have a chain on your saw, then you can simply add about half an inch from the tip of the bar itself.
Step 3: Rounding
If you find that you have a part number at the end of your measurements, you’re going to want to round it up to the nearest inch.
For example, if you measured 15 7/8”, you can quickly round it up to 16”, as chain saws are typically measured in whole numbers.
Once you’ve finished those two steps, you have the effective measurement of your chain saw bar.
What Is the True Length?
Determining the actual length of your chain saw will require an extra couple of steps, as you will need to remove the cover so that the entire bar is exposed.
It’s not as convenient as figuring out the effective length, but it will help you to know the actual size of your chain saw bar, much like the name suggests.
For this task, you’re going to need a wrench set or a socket driver, depending on the type of bolts used to close the case.
The steps for finding out the exact length of your chainsaw are as follows:
Step 1: Remove the Cover
Before you can get the actual length, you have to be able to remove the cover of your chainsaw.
Using your wrenches or socket driver, you’ll want to undo the bolts so that the entire bar is exposed.
Once this is finished, you can then remove the bar off of the interior bolts and lie it flat on the ground.
Step 2: Measuring the Bar
The next and final step is actually to measure the bar with your tape measure.
With this process, you’re not going to want to pay attention to the chain measurement.
Instead, focus on stretching the tape from one end of the bar to the other, and in most cases, you won’t even need to worry about rounding up to the next inch.
As soon as you’ve completed these two steps, you should have a good idea of the exact length of your chainsaw bar.
Buying a New Chainsaw Bar
With your measurements in hand, you’ll want to visit your favorite hardware store where they will sell replacement parts for the chainsaw brand and model you own.
If you’ve never had to purchase a replacement bar before, it’s relatively simple to do on your own.
Alternatively, you can seek assistance from a sales representative who will find the ideal size for you.
When you begin looking at other bars, you’ll notice that they feature both the chainsaw length (effective length) and the bar length (true length).
All you have to do is make sure that the values you have measured match the measurements of your potential new bar, and you’ll be able to transform an old tool into a brand-new one.
In terms of reassembling your chainsaw, we recommend using the instruction manual that is included with your unit, as the steps may differ.
If you are unable to find your physical user manual, you can typically find them online from the manufacturer’s website.
Tips for Choosing a New Chainsaw Bar
Over time, you’ve likely gotten a handle on how your chainsaw works, and you might be searching for an upgrade.
Plenty of people find that one particular bar is ideal for specific tasks, but they’re looking for something better or specialized in order to handle specific tasks.
With this part of the guide, we’ll explore all of the best tips for choosing your new chainsaw bar if you want something different from the stock one you previously bought.
By far, the most important thing to consider when choosing a new bar is the type of bar you’re looking into.
For novice users, it might seem overwhelming at first, as there are full nose bars, solid nose bars, sprocket bars, and more.
Knowing what each type is best rated for can help you to choose the perfect model for your most common tasks.
Sprocket Nose Bars
Sprocket nose bars are typically referred to as the standard when it comes to chainsaws.
You’ll find that these designs will have a sprocket at the very tip of the bar, and they will also feature rivets where your chain will be placed.
By holding the chain securely, the rivets ensure that the chain moves smoothly across the bar.
With this type of blade, you’re likely to have a robust metal design, but unfortunately, the nose is bound to experience the most damage.
Luckily, most sprocket nose bars allow the tip of the blade to be removed and replaced as necessary if it experiences damage.
Another advantage of this particular design is that they are best suited for high-heat and high-pressure tasks.
When using a sprocket nose, the chain moves very quickly, which limits the loss of power and heat with every cut.
Hard Nose Bars
Unlike sprocket noses, hard nose bars do not come with any pieces that can be removed or replaced.
Alternatively, they are a solid piece of hard metal that is thick and durable all the way through.
If you typically work in highly dirty conditions, such as with fence posts, these are one of the best models you can get your hands on.
Hard nose bars are exceptional for boring straight into the wood and making quick and efficient cuts.
As the blades are solid metal, you can also expect them to have the highest durability rating, but they are also going to have a much heftier price tag due to how they are manufactured.
Another disadvantage to this design is that the solid bars can get incredibly hot, which may leach some of the power away from your saw, but not enough that it’s going to be incredibly noticeable.
This type of chainsaw bar will feature a slender yet robust nose and are typically found on smaller chainsaws.
With a lightweight build and a smaller radius than the other styles on this list, they are quite convenient for quick and efficient tasks.
Many professional woodworkers will surely have a carving bar in their shop, as they’re ideal for carving and boring into wood.
What makes carving bars even more unique is that they can go as small as 1/4”, which is perfect for someone interested in doing fine detailing with wood.
Narrow vs. Wide Nose Bars
When you look at all of the different chainsaw blades, you’ll find that some are narrower than others, which begs the question, what’s the difference?
If you’re someone who prefers to have little kickback, a narrow bar is your best bet, as more extensive variations will be a bit more challenging to handle.
With that said, wide nose bars are substantially better for boring and have an overall stronger performance.
Solid vs. Laminated Bars
Another choice you’ll have to make is between solid and laminated bars, with solid being pure metal through and through.
Laminated bars, on the other hand, are two pieces of metal, typically steel, that are joined together with a sprocket in the middle.
Both of the pieces will have a steel core to help improve their strength, but they’re not as strong as solid bars.
Where laminated designs excel is in terms of flexibility and portability, which makes them a favorite of contractors and beginner users alike.
It’s important to note that laminated bars typically aren’t too long, as the longer the pieces are, the less resilient they will be.
On average, the longest you might be able to find is 24 inches.
As with any power tool, individual manufacturers will also have an extensive collection of their products with patented and innovative technologies.
With a basic understanding of the fundamentals of chainsaw bars, you can pick and choose which modern features will suit your needs or be necessary.
For example, Husqvarna has its TechLite and X-Force Pro bars, which may offer better durability, maintenance, and heightened productivity.
A few essential features you may want to keep an eye out for when it comes to specialty designs include:
Although you’re likely to clean your chainsaw after every job, having an anti-corrosion coating on the metal is a fantastic benefit.
This feature helps to prevent rusting over time and also improves the integrity of your chainsaw blades.
Most often, it will be a coating on the outside of the blade to reduce wear and tear.
With advancements in technology, chainsaws are becoming easier to handle, but if you can find a blade that is still durable yet lightweight, you’ll get the best of both worlds.
The lighter the blade is, the more convenient the tool will be to maneuver and use daily, helping to reduce fatigue and lessen the chance of injury.
Similar to the anti-corrosion coating, some chainsaw manufacturers will also offer scratch-resistance on their blades.
This feature is ideal for maintaining the durability of the unit, but it also helps your saw to look better for longer.
Essentially, it’s a fantastic way to protect your investment.
With the help of knowing how to measure a chain saw bar, you’ll be well on your way to finding the perfect replacement bar or blade.
You can guarantee that the process is much more straightforward than you’d expect, mainly as both measurements can be acquired within a matter of minutes and with minimal tools.
In this way, you can go ahead and begin your woodworking project.