Chainsaw Chain Tension: How Tight Should It Be?

James Lawson
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Chainsaw chains require tension in order to work properly.

If the chain is not properly tensioned, it can cause serious safety hazards and reduce the cutting power of the tool.

Knowing how to adjust the tension on your chainsaw chain is an important skill for any chainsaw user.

In this article, we will discuss why proper chain tension is important and how to adjust your chainsaw chain correctly.

We’ll also provide some tips for maintaining proper tension over time.

With these tips, you’ll be able to keep your chainsaw chain running optimally and safely.

What is Chainsaw Chain Tension?

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced woodworker, you know that keeping your saw blade at the right tension is key to a successful cut.

Chainsaw chain tension is the adjustment of the chain to ensure that it is not too tight or too loose when the saw is in use. The tension of the chain is a crucial part of correctly operating a chainsaw and should be checked before each use.

To adjust the tension, you should check the chain length by measuring it with a ruler or bar gauge. The chain should be adjusted to the manufacturer’s recommended length.

It’s also important to make sure that you are wearing the appropriate safety gear, such as safety glasses, gloves, and a hard hat, when adjusting the chain tension. By adjusting the chain tension to the manufacturer’s recommended length, you can ensure maximum safety and efficiency when operating your chainsaw.

This is important for both the safety of the operator and the life of the chainsaw. Furthermore, having the correct tension will help to reduce the risk of kickback, which can be a dangerous consequence of an improperly adjusted chain.

With the right chain tension, your saw will work better and last longer. With that in mind, it’s clear why chain tension is so important.

Why is Chain Tension Important?

Knowing how much tension to apply to the chainsaw bar is crucial for optimal performance. In fact, up to 80% of chain breakage is caused by a lack of proper tension. Proper tension is determined by the chain gauge, chain length, and the type of wood being cut.

The chain gauge is the thickness of the drive links and the chain length is the total length of the chain. The proper tension for a chainsaw chain will vary depending on these two factors. A larger chain gauge and a shorter chain length will require more tension than a smaller chain gauge and a longer chain length.

Additionally, the type of wood being cut will also affect the tension. Harder woods will require more tension than softer woods. Improper tension can lead to inefficient cutting, kickback, and even chain breakage.

It’s important to adjust the tension of the chain so that it’s just tight enough to keep it from coming off the bar, but not so tight that it puts too much strain on the engine.

How to Adjust Chainsaw Chain Tension

Adjusting your chainsaw chain tension correctly is essential for a safe and effective cutting performance, so it’s important to get a handle on how to do it right.

Before making any adjustments to the chain tension, it’s important to take safety precautions such as wearing gloves, eye protection, and ear protection. Additionally, ensure the chain has been lubricated before adjusting the tension.

To start, loosen the bar nuts and adjust the tension by turning the adjusting screws clockwise with a screwdriver. You should be able to lift the chain off the guide bar with your finger, however, the chain should still be snug against the guide bar.

If the chain is too loose, it will sag and cause excessive vibration and wear. If the chain is too tight, it can cause damage to the guide bar and chain links.

Once you have achieved the correct tension, be sure to tighten the bar nuts.

Having the chain tension adjusted properly is key to a safe and successful cutting experience. However, there are a few signs that can indicate an incorrectly adjusted chain.

Signs of an Incorrectly Adjusted Chain

Ensuring you have the proper chain tension is essential for a safe and successful cutting experience, so it’s important to be aware of the signs that indicate it may be off.

These signs can include an oiling chain that is sagging, difficulty in starting the chainsaw, and a chain that is jumping off the bar when cutting.

Incorrectly adjusted chains can also cause poor cutting performance, with the chain not cutting through the wood as you’d expect. The chain may also make a loud, grinding noise as it moves along the bar, and the bar can become deformed or bent due to the extra stress.

To avoid these issues, be sure to check the tension of your chainsaw chain regularly and adjust as necessary.

Tips for Maintaining Proper Chain Tension

Proper chain tension is essential for safe and successful cutting, so it’s important to stay on top of maintenance! To maintain your chain saw chain tension, you’ll need to regularly check the tension and make adjustments as needed.

To check the tension, grab the chain around the middle of the guide bar and pull it up and down. The chain should move no more than a few millimeters; if it moves more than this, it needs to be tightened. The tension can be adjusted by loosening the bar nuts and turning the tensioning screw until the chain is at the correct tension.

It’s also important to ensure that the chain is correctly sharpened and lubricated. Sharpening techniques should be regularly checked to make sure that the chain teeth are correctly filed.

Additionally, it’s important to use the correct lubrication methods to ensure that the chain is properly lubricated. This can be done using a small amount of chain oil, or a combination of manual and automatic lubrication methods.

Proper maintenance of your chain saw chain tension will ensure that your saw is working correctly and safely.

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of oil should be used to lubricate the chain?

Ah, the age-old question of which oil to use when lubricating your chainsaw chain! You may be tempted to use whatever oil you have lying around, but you’d be making a mistake.

Choosing the right oil is essential for keeping your chain clean, lubricated, and in optimal working condition. When it comes to oil selection, it’s best to use an oil specifically designed for chainsaws, such as bar and chain oil.

This type of oil is designed to minimize build-up of wax and pitch deposits, and it also reduces frictional heat caused by contact between the chain and the guide bar. Additionally, it’s important to remember to clean the chain regularly to ensure it functions properly.

By following these steps, you can ensure your chainsaw chain remains in top condition, no matter how tight it is!

What is the best way to store a chainsaw when not in use?

Proper maintenance and equipment safety are essential when storing a chainsaw when not in use.

It’s important to always make sure the chainsaw is off and the chain brake is engaged.

It’s also important to make sure the chain is properly lubricated with bar and chain oil and the chain is tensioned correctly.

Lastly, store the chainsaw in a clean and dry environment to prevent rust or other damage.

By following these steps, you can ensure that your chainsaw is well-maintained and safe.

How often should the chain tension be checked?

You should check the tension of your chainsaw chain regularly, like a diligent doctor taking your vital signs.

Checking the tension of your chain can help prevent it from becoming too loose or too tight, and help preserve its lifespan. Proper chain tension is essential for safe and effective chain maintenance.

To check the tension, you should use a depth gauge to measure the depth of the chain’s cutting teeth. If the teeth are too deep, it indicates the chain is too loose, and it should be tightened. If the teeth are too shallow, it indicates the chain is too tight and should be loosened.

The chain should also be inspected regularly for signs of wear, such as kinks or loose rivets, as this will help you properly maintain the chain and extend its life.

What are the most common causes of chainsaw chain tension problems?

When it comes to chainsaw chain tension problems, the most common causes are related to chain types and maintenance.

Chainsaw chains are available in different sizes and materials, and using the wrong type of chain can lead to improper tensioning.

Additionally, chains can become loose or break if they’re not regularly oiled, sharpened, and tensioned.

To ensure proper chain tension, it’s important to check and adjust it regularly, as well as to use the correct type of chain for the job.

What safety measures should be taken when adjusting the chain tension?

When adjusting the tension on your chainsaw chain, it’s essential to take the proper safety measures. Always wear protective gear, including safety glasses, gloves, and a face shield.

Be sure to use the right tools for the job and utilize proper technique when adjusting the tension. If you don’t have the proper adjustment tools, you can use a screwdriver or a wrench to loosen the tension.

Make sure to loosen the tension slowly, and double-check it to ensure that it’s not too tight or too loose. With the right safety precautions and proper technique, you can safely adjust the tension on your chainsaw chain.


You’ve learned the importance of properly adjusting your chainsaw chain tension and how to do so. But it’s also important to keep an eye on your chainsaw chain tension.

If your chain is too loose, it won’t cut efficiently, and if it’s too tight, it can cause strain on the engine and lead to further damage. The key is to find that sweet spot, and it’s not always easy.

So make sure to check your chain tension regularly and you’ll be able to keep your saw running like a well-oiled machine. As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

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