How to Tighten a Chainsaw Chain

A chainsaw is a very handy tool to have around your home. It can really save time in performing tasks that can help to reduce down the time you need to get a job done. Whether cutting down tree branches or evening out some fence posts, a chainsaw is the ideal tool to use to assist you.

While a great tool to use, there are issues that can arise with the chainsaw itself. One of these is that the chain on the chainsaw can become loose at times. This not only reduces the efficiency of chainsaw, but can also be a very serious risk to the user. An un-tightened chain and break free, cut materials in an odd way, or simply break down risking the health of the person using the device.

You may find at some point that the chain is loose, but have no idea on how to tighten a chainsaw chain. If this is the case, here are some quick instructions on how to get your tool back up and running properly.

The first thing you want to do is to ensure that your chainsaw has the correct amount of tension. The chain has good tension when it should still be a little loose on the chainsaw and guide bar. However, it should be tight enough so that you are not able to pull the drive links out of the bar nose.


You know you have bad tension on your chain when you are easily able to pull a link away from the guide bar. This is what is referred to as disengaged, and can be very dangerous to the user. Clearly you need to tighten your chain if this is the case, but you don’t want to do it so that it is over tightened. This can lead to breaking of the chain during operation.


So let’s get our chain tightened now. This should take you no more than a few minutes to accomplish. So do not worry that this is going to be some kind of prolonged task.

The first thing you want to do is to loosen the knots on the guide bar side panel. You should find that there was a tool that came with your chainsaw that easily helps you to accomplish this. If not a simple crescent wrench with the appropriate head on it will help you to accomplish this task. Make sure you lock the break before removing the side panel.

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Inside, once you have removed the outer case, you will find a screw that allows you to adjust the tension. As you tighten the screw you will notice that the chain itself will also get tighter. Conversely, as you loosen the screw the chain will get looser. Again, tighten the chain but not to the extent that it is over tightened. This can lead to your chain breaking during use of the chainsaw.


Once you have successfully turned the screw to the appropriate tension, check your chain to make sure that it meets the standard described above. You want the chain to be close and tight against the guide bar, but there should be some leeway that allows you to pull the chain slightly away from the guide bar itself, while not allowing it to pull off.


Now that you are sure that the tension is appropriate, the next step is to replace the guide bar side panel back onto your chainsaw. Put this back in place, and tighten the knots back onto the chainsaw to hold the panel in place. Amazingly, you are all done, and this probably took you no more than three or four minutes at most.

It is a good idea to make sure that you check the tension on your chainsaw before each use of it. This may seem like a tedious task, especially if you just used the chainsaw the day before, but your safety should always be your primary concern. You also want to make sure that you check the chainsaw tension on the chain if you’ve had prolonged use of the chainsaw during the day. You do not want to take the risk of being injured, and now that you know that it takes just a few minutes to fix the tension you really have no excuse now.