How to Shorten a Chainsaw Chain

You can always take your chainsaw to a saw shop and have it shortened there, but if you don’t have the time to wait, or simply don’t want to, this simple step-by-step guide will help you to shorten your chainsaw chain on your own.

  • Necessary Tools
  • A rivet tool
  • A chain breaking tool
  • Pliers
  • Wrench

Before Beginning

  • Always wear safety gloves and goggles when working on or with a chainsaw.
  • Be sure that your chainsaw blade and motor are not hot from use. If you have just used your chainsaw, you should allow it to cool down before doing any work on it.
  • Remove the spark plug in order to make sure there is no power running to the chainsaw.

Removing the Chain

  1. Locate the side cover, and use a wrench to remove the nuts or bolts holding it in place. Generally, the side cover is held in place with 2 nuts or bolts.
  2. Unlock your chainsaw’s brake if it is attached to the side cover, or else you will not be able to put it back on.
  3. Pull the chainsaw blade or bar away from the chainsaw slightly (you will hear it click), this will release the tension on the chain.
  4. Once the tension has been released, you can simply lift the chain up and off the saw.

Removing a Link to Shorten the Chain

  1. Inspect your chain and locate the master link. If there is no master link present, proceed to step a.) Open the master link, this may take some force, and pop the link attached to it out by applying force with the pliers. b.)Attach the master link to the link next to the one you just removed and close it. c.) Proceed to step 5.
  2. Choose which link you want to remove, and align the chain breaking tool up with that link, and line up the push arm with the pin on one side of the link.
  3. Turn the handle on the tool until the pin pops out of the link.
  4. Repeat steps 1-2 on the opposite side, and remove the link from the chain by giving it a slight pull.
  5. Place the link that you just reconnected, or the master link, into the rivet tool.
  6. Twist the left handle while applying counter pressure to the right handle, until the rivet is smashed flat.
  7. Twist the right handle slightly to move to the next rivet, and repeat step 6.

Reassembling the Saw

Here are the steps on how to put back the chain on your chainsaw:

  1. Loosen the tension screw to make reassembly a bit easier. The tension screw is located on the side of the blade, between the blade and the chainsaw itself.
  2. Thread the shortened chain around the blade, making sure to engage the drive links in the sprocket.
  3. Pull the chainsaw blade slightly away from the chainsaw to give it a bit of tension.
  4. Seat the blade on the chainsaw’s adjustment pin.
  5. Replace the side cover and tighten the nuts or bolts by hand.
  6. Tighten the tension screw.
  7. Finish tightening the nuts or bolts on the side cover with a wrench.

Testing Chain Length

  1. Pull the chain up and away from the blade, and then quickly release.
  2. If the chain is able to be pulled away slightly, without disengaging the drive links, and then snaps back into place without sagging or dropping, it has proper tension and is the right length.
  3. If the chain sags or droops away from the blade, you can repeat the whole process until you have removed enough links to make the chain the proper length.

Also read: How to Oil a Chainsaw

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