Chain tightening

Help Support ArboristSite:

sand sock

sand sock

ArboristSite Operative
Joined
Oct 17, 2021
Messages
121
Location
central ohio
How tight or loose do i want my chain on my saw. I see conflicting things in my manual
Loosen your bar nuts. Flip the saw upside down so the bar is in the farthest up position. I tighten the chain till you can pull the chain just taught enough. That you can see the bottom of 1 driver. I do this on a 20 inch bar. Longer bars might need it looser. Then tighten the nuts. Then flip it
 
buzz sawyer

buzz sawyer

Addicted to ArboristSite
Joined
Mar 7, 2006
Messages
6,439
Location
Western border of mid-southern northern WV
Does it get tightened differently if it is a hardnose?

I've only run through one and didn't treat it any different....but didn't even bother researching if I should.
I was always taught to leave the chain slightly loose with hardnose bars - maybe half a drive link below the bar.
 
buzz sawyer

buzz sawyer

Addicted to ArboristSite
Joined
Mar 7, 2006
Messages
6,439
Location
Western border of mid-southern northern WV
Loosen your bar nuts. Flip the saw upside down so the bar is in the farthest up position. I tighten the chain till you can pull the chain just taught enough. That you can see the bottom of 1 driver. I do this on a 20 inch bar. Longer bars might need it looser. Then tighten the nuts. Then flip it
Husqvarna showed this at a Paul Bunyan show. Never tried it but seems to make sense.
 
thill

thill

ArboristSite Lurker
Joined
Aug 13, 2018
Messages
28
Location
Virginia, USA
On my first saw, when I was a teenager, I thought the chain should be tight.
I thought the Sears saw was junk, because the tip sprocket kept seizing up, and the sprocket got a groove in it before I'd even gotten through one season of firewood, ha ha.
 
Cliff R

Cliff R

Addicted to ArboristSite
Joined
Jan 24, 2008
Messages
2,440
Location
Mount Vernon, Ohio
It takes about half a tank of fuel to "set" a chain when first placed in service. Keep a close eye on it between cuts as it's going to stretch out some and get pretty loose. This typically happens in the first minute or so of cutting, then again about ten minutes later. So expect to have to tighten a new chain several times or you risk throwing it off the bar which is never a good thing.

Over the years I've ran into folks who run chains banjo-string tight and others who let them "droop" slightly off the bar. Different schools of thought on which is better. Here I keep them tight enough to so they snap back against the bar but not so tight as they "drag" when you try to pull them around by hand. This has served me well for over 45 years now and I have had next to ZERO issues with bars and chains and it's rare to throw one off the bar. My tightening procedure is simple. Raise the chainsaw up with the lower end of the bar on a workbench, stump or log so it pushes to the full up position on the studs. Tighten the adjustment screw to remove all slack then till it's tight with light hand pressure. Back it off slightly, then gently tight again. Tighten the bar nuts while keeping upward pressure on the bar. Do a quick test to make sure the chain is tight but not "dragging" hard when you pull it thru by hand (wear a glove unless you want to start digging for your first aid kit).

If you get one too tight the saw will protest by having difficulty getting it to turn or it stops instantly and acts like it's binding when you test to see how free it turns before making a cut. Adjust if/as need to it's still tight against the bar but pulls thru easily by hand and the saw doesn't have any difficulty with it.

Pretty simple and common sense stuff here folks like setting belt tension on your older car before all this serpentine stuff came out.........
 
sgbotsford

sgbotsford

ArboristSite Member
Joined
Jun 11, 2008
Messages
62
Location
Alberta
That sounds like a good standard maintenance schedule to go by. I don't do it at the start of everyday because I generally don't use a saw all day. It may take me from a few days to a week to get a full days run time on a saw. I have 3 so I rotate them a bit so they all get some run time.
As for dressing the bar I will if I put on a new chain. My philosophy is that a bar and chain will self seat themselves as the saw is run and you actually have more surface area in contact between the bar and chain once they have seated together. As long as it is still cutting strait that is. Or if the rail starts mushrooming over and gets a bur on the outside groove of the bar that can hang up on the wood as it's cutting through the wood. If it ain't broke don't fix it.
My rule of thumb is to reverse the bar and do general saw maintenance when I have to mix a new gallon of fuel. For me, it takes a pretty solid day to use a gallon
 
HumBurner

HumBurner

ArboristSite Operative
Joined
Dec 23, 2018
Messages
382
Location
SoHum
Another way to check "proper" chain tension is while operating the saw.

Blip the throttle. If the chain stops almost immediately, it's way too tight. There should be a couple seconds of "free-spinning" of the chain as the motor winds down. Again, if the chain stops abruptly after blipping, it's too tight.
 

Latest posts

Top