How to Measure a Chainsaw Chain

Cody
| Last Updated: February 8, 2021

Tool Tango is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Knowing your chain length is important if you want to find the correct bar.

Below we'll discuss different chain terminology and show you how to measure your chain. 

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)

When working with chainsaws it's important to know how to measure a chain:

  • Manually count each link. 
  • Measure the distance between three consecutive rivets to get the pitch. 
  • Measure the thickness of the drive link to get the gauge. 

Chainsaw Chain Terminology

There's often a lot of jargon involved when working with a chainsaw; it can get confusing when you're just a beginner. Here are a few terms you'll come across when working with a chainsaw chain. 

Drive Links - These drive links will allow the chain to attach itself to the bar grooves. You'll know if it's not right because it'll either be too loose or not fit at all

Gauge - The gauge refers to the drive link thickness. You can find it by measuring the part of the drive link that is inserted into the guide bar. 

Pitch - You find the pitch by measuring the distance of any three rivets which are next to each other. You then divide this distance by two in order to get your pitch. The pitch is a way you'll find the chainsaw chains' size. 

Rivet - Rivets are just small nails that hold the chain together. They look like small nails with a circular head. 

How Do You Measure a Chainsaw Chain?

There are a few measurements you have to make if you plan on finding the correct chain for your bar or vice versa. Please take a look below to see how it's done. 

Count The Links - You simply count each link of the chain; there's usually a link with a different color, so that's a decent starting point. 

Measure The Pitch - The pitch is the distance between each drive link; you simply measure the distance between three consecutive rivets and divide that measurement by two. Common pitch sizes are ¼", .325", ⅜," and .404". 

Measure The Gauge - The most common gauge measurements are .043", .050", .058" and .063". This can be measured by using a measuring tape. One neat trick to learn is that, if you have a quarter, this equals .063", a dime equals .058, and a penny is .043, so you can easily use them as guides. 

Chainsaw Chain Types 

The type of chain is between two categories, the cutter type and the chain sequence. Below, we’ll show you some common types of both. 

Cutter Types

  • Full-Chisel - Suited to hardwood and operates at high speeds, they also leave a rough cut. 
  • Semi-Chisel - More suited to softwood, has a rounded edge and the cut is smoother. 
  • Low-Profile - A great beginner cutter type as they’re easier to control. Similar to the semi-chisel but shallower. 

Chain Sequences

  • Standard (aka Full House) - The most common available. Best suited to bars under 24”. 
  • Full-Skip - Known for its energy efficiency, they’re great sequences to use on bars over 32-inches. Although it gives the wood a rough cut. 
  • Semi-Skip - Best suited for bars between 24” and 32”. Both powerful and energy efficient, while also giving a clean cut. 

Conclusion 

Measuring your chain isn't that hard if you have a decent guideline to follow. There are three main measurements you'll need to know, and most chains follow the same sizes. Therefore, it's not that difficult to find the correct bar or chain. 

People Also Ask

The following section answers some of the most commonly asked questions regarding chainsaw chain sizing and measurements. 

What Are The Most Common Chainsaw Chain Sizes?

The pitch size can be ¼", .325", ⅜" or .404". The gauge can be .043", .050", .058" and .063". The number of drive links can be between 33 and 142. 

What Do The Numbers on a Chainsaw Chain Mean?

They'll give you the pitch and gauge of your chain. If your chain doesn't have that, you can use our guide above. 

How To Determine Chainsaw Chain Size?

To get the entire length of your chainsaw chain, most people tend to just lay it out as flat as possible and measure one side of the chain and then double that measurement. Or mark a bit of string, wrap it around the chain and then mark where the string meets and then measure the string. 

How To Count Drive Links on Chainsaw Chain?

You just have to manually count each link by hand. There's usually one with a different color, so it gives you an easy starting point.

Cody

My name is Cody and I've been a writer for Tool Tango for quite some time now. I've always had a knack for building things with my hands and creative writing, so being able to combine the two has been great. I love being able to give back to the DIY-community, while also learning a thing or two along the way. When I'm not writing, I enjoy watching Netflix with my girlfriend, fishing, and working in the shop.