How Tight Should a Chainsaw Chain Be? Fix It in 3 Steps

How Tight Should a Chainsaw Chain Be

Chainsaw chains behave like elastic materials. You will notice that they no longer fit tightly into the guide bar after several uses. To fix the chain back into the guide bar, one has to tighten. How tight should a chainsaw chain be? This is one question repeatedly asked by chainsaw users. Since chainsaws require constant tightening, users must know the proper tensioning, as too tight or loose chains create a chance for accidents to occur.

Dangers of Improper Chainsaw Tensioning

Chainsaws must be appropriately tensioned. Working with a properly tensioned chainsaw keeps work going smoothly and saves time. After setting your chain in the right direction, you have to be careful of its tension. There are a couple of technicalities common with poor tensioning.

  • The wood may not be properly cut.
  • It leads to back strain because you may have to increase the force on the guide bar.
  • It could also lead to a bent-guide bar.
  • A chainsaw can heat up unnecessarily.
  • There is the risk of Kickback and the blade could be stuck.

Chainsaw Chain Issues

Chainsaw chain coming loose and tightening on its own. We discovered all issues below according to loose and tightening.

Chainsaw Chain Coming Loose

If your chainsaw always comes loose even after immediate tensioning, several things may be wrong:

  • It could be that the chain is not the correct size for the guide bar or drive sprocket, so change to the size that fits.
  • The chain tensioner, Chain Drive sprocket or bar may be damaged or are in poor working condition.
  • The bar rails may have been stuck with the debris during sawing.
  • Ensure the chain type and oiler is perfect and the chain is properly oiled.
  • Check if the chain tension is Slack.
  • A change in the temperature of the saw could also be the cause.
  • Check if the guide bar is seated correctly on the Adjustment pin.

Chainsaw Tightens on Its Own

It is abnormal for a chainsaw to tighten on its own.  Look into some or all of these if you are experiencing this.

  • Check if there is chainsaw bar oil and the chain is properly oiled.
  • Saw parts like the sprocket, chain, chain bar or oiler pump may be damaged or not in the correct working condition.
  • The saw could be at a high temperature, so let it cool off.
  • The oiler pump maybe has been stuck with debris.

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Steps to Tension a Chainsaw

When your chainsaw starts sagging from the bar or needs to put back the chain in the bar after cleaning, you will always need to tighten the chain. Modern chainsaws are made with side-tightening attachments that make tightening super easy.

All you need to do is adjust the side-tightening attachment to the required tightness after fixing the chain in the bar. For those without this, tightening a chainsaw will require these easy steps.

Chainsaw Chain Adjustment

First Step: Open The Guide Bar Panel- You do this by screwing out nuts that hold the bar panel and guide bar in place so that you can adjust the chain properly.

Second Step: Tighten the Tensioning Adjustment by turning the adjustment knob clockwise to tighten and anti-clockwise to loosen. As you tighten, ensure the chain is perfectly fixed in the guide bar after replacing your chain.

Third Step: Close the Guide Bar Panel- Screw back the nuts in place to secure back the guide bar and side panel.

How Do I Know If My Chainsaw is Tightened Right?

A properly tensioned chainsaw is essential for the sufficient working condition of your chainsaw. Of course, your chainsaw should not be too tight or too loose. So how do you know when your chainsaw is the right tension? There is no laid down formula on the exact tightness needed for chainsaw tightening. Mostly, it depends on how tight the user wants it to be and the job at hand.

These two tests, the snap and pull tests, will guide you on the extent to which you should go when tightening.

Snap Test

Stretch the chain from the bar as much as it can go, then release. If it snaps back intact, know that you are on track. NB: if the chain is tensioned too tight, it will not easily stretch from the guide bar, and if too loose, it will not fit appropriately into the guide bar after releasing it.

Pull Test:

Simply stretch the chain away from the bar to the extent it can take, then release. The chain will be entirely off the bar, but the drive link will not be. You will find it hard to stretch the chain if it is too tight, but know that it is too loose if the drive Link completely exits the bar.

How Often Should You Tighten Your Chainsaw?

You may have to tighten new chainsaws frequently because of “Break-in.” Break-ins result from Frictional force between the chain links. A new chain will need to stretch a bit to function properly. For older and well-used saws, you may not have to tighten often if your saw is in good working condition.

You will only experience loosening all the time if your chainsaw has some issues, as have been discussed earlier.


Chainsaws are assets. There is a need for proper maintenance so they can last longer. Checking the chain’s tightness is a necessary step every user should adopt daily before usage. Tightening your chainsaw rightly is one of the first keys to ensure that they work well for us. If you have been confused about how tight should a chainsaw chain be? I believe the tips given in the article will be valuable as you work with your tool.

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