How To Measure A Chainsaw Bar | What You Should Know Before Upgrading

There’ll come a time in your chainsaw’s life where the chain will need to be replaced, even if you’ve been keeping it in perfect condition through regular maintenance and safe use. 

To do so, your product manuals will be able to assist – however if you don’t have these anymore, or they’re lost somewhere in your garage – you’ll need to know how to measure a chainsaw bar manually.

How do you manually measure a chainsaw bar? Well, there are a few methods to go about this, and you’ll need to know a few important aspects, such as effective cutting length, true cutting length – and the gauges and pitch.

Don’t feel overwhelmed, though! We’ve covered this all for you in our guide today. If you don’t have enough time to read the guide in full, we’ve listed the most important aspects of measuring a chainsaw bar in our list below:

  • The bar is the core feature of the chainsaw that allows you to make cuts through wood
  • Length is important, and you’ll need to be able to differentiate true and effective cutting length when measuring
  • Bar lengths can range from 18” to 72” – depending on your model and type of chainsaw
  • Counting the drive links and measuring the pitch will assist you when measuring your chainsaw bar
  • You can use tape measure or even spare coins, (quarters, pennies and dimes) to measure the gauge

Measuring A Chainsaw Bar: What You Need To Know

When measuring a chainsaw bar, you’ll need to know the technical terms so you’re able to follow the instructions effectively. We’ll be covering the chainsaw bar, the cutting lengths, such as effective and true cutting length.

How To Measure A Chainsaw Bar

We’ll then look into measuring the chain length, and discuss the importance of the pitch and gauge. After this, you’ll be ready to measure and replace your chainsaw bar. With that, let’s begin!

The Bar

The bar, (also known as the blade), is the most prominent feature of your chainsaw. This is the metal component of the tool that cuts through wood. The chain moves over the bar, making these cuts possible.

Certain chainsaw models have different length bars, from 18” bars found in electric motors to lengths up to 72” in gas-powered chainsaws. Gas-powered chainsaws have the power to support these longer bars, thanks to their engines which have an impressive power output.

An important aspect to note when it comes to your bar is that chainsaw models can only fit one size chain that is made specifically for that length. 

Cutting Length

When measuring a chainsaw bar, you’ll come across both an effective and true cutting length – which have two separate meanings. Knowing the difference between the two is a very important factor when it comes to measuring your chainsaw bar – and we have this covered for you below.

Effective Cutting Length

The ‘Effective Cutting Length”, is the measurement of length between the tip of the bar, and the base – where the bar is connected to your chainsaw model. So, how are you able to get this measurement for effective cutting length?

It’s simple. You can use measuring tape as a guide – starting at the base of the bar, ending at the tip. Once you’ve measured this length, you can round the number to the closest even number. You should only round off to the closest even number, so forget the closest odd number.

This number is your cutting length. Still unsure? No problem, here are some examples:

  • Measurement is 15 3/4 “ – Length is 16”
  • Measurement is 18 ¼” – Length is 20”

True Cutting Length

True cutting length is the length of the chainsaw bar/blade from its tip to end, without being attached to your chainsaw. 

You can measure this by using a measuring tape and measuring the complete length of the bar. You won’t need to round off to the closest even number when measuring this way. This will give you the ‘true’ cutting length of your bar.

Measuring Chain Length

Measuring the chainsaw bar is the easiest of this process – and it’s measuring the chain length where it can become a little more difficult. We’ve streamlined this for you, so you’ll be able to measure the chain length effectively.

When measuring the chain length, there are three important things to be aware of; the drive links, pitch and the gauge.

Drive Links

The first measurement that you’ll need to take is the counting of the drive links. To do so – you’ll need to do is count the number of links that are on the chain. You can do this, link by link – counting them individually.

Why is this important? Well, this affects the bend of the chain at the base of the bar and the tip. Miscounting or not counting the drive links can severely affect your chainsaw – it’ll be sluggish, becoming jammed, and won’t be able to move across the bar comfortably.


Now that you know what the drive links are, it makes this step a little easier for you. The pitch is the distance between these drive links within the chain. So, how do you measure the pitch? This is where you’ll need to a little bit of maths to help calculate, and we’ve listed these steps below for you:

  1. Find the rivets, which is what holds the drive links together. 
  2. Measure the length between any three rivets on the chain.
  3. After measuring, divide this number by 2.

This number you’ll have is the pitch measurement.  There are many measurements for pitches that you can come across, and the most commonly found pitch measurements are ¼”, ⅜” and .404”, to name some examples.


Alright, so it’s time for the third and final step, now that you’ve counted the drive links and found the pitch value.

What exactly is the gauge? Well, the chain needs to be smooth along the bar as you’re making cuts, and the gauge is the measurement needed of this groove to make sure this is done efficiently.

There are two ways that you can measure the gauge of your chainsaw bar. This involves using measuring tape, or a few spare coins you might have lying around. You’ll need to be aware of your gauge before purchasing anything.

Here are then most common gauges that can be found:

  • .043 gauge. Have a spare penny lying around? If it fits snugly without being jammed, this is the gauge that you’ll need.
  • .058 gauge. Using a dime, if this coin fits without being jammed, you’re looking at a gauge of .058.
  • .063 gauge. Use a quarter for this measurement, and if it fits snugly, you’ll have a .063 gauge. 

Final Thoughts

Do you think that you’re now ready to measure the chainsaw bar by yourself? If you’ve read this guide and soaked it all in, you should definitely be able to measure it manually moving forward.

It’s important to keep these steps in mind, and to never estimate the measurements, as this can cause damage to the chainsaw and even yourself, and put you out of pocket.

If you’ve used this guide to measure your bar, let our fellow readers know how this assisted you by leaving a comment down below.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Is there any other way I’ll be able to find this information about my bar? It sounds like a lot to take in.

It can seem a little overwhelming to remember these things to make sure you have an efficient chainsaw bar while making the correct purchase. There is a little trick, though – you can find the chain measurements on the bar, which is hidden under the cover. Many manufacturers have this printed to make it easier for you.

James Thomas

James Thomas

Tool Enthusiast

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