How to tension the chain on a chainsaw. Instructions for sharpening a chain saw with a file

How to tension the chain on a chainsaw

The chainsaw chain may need to be tensioned and adjusted for the following possible reasons:

  • Putting a new chain saw into operation. When you buy a new tool, it usually comes with a missing chainring. Accordingly, you must adjust the chain tension after reassembly.
  • Changing the saw chain. Although chains of a certain size go with a particular guide bar, they vary in length. It is also convenient to have several sharpened chains with you when you work long hours, which can be changed in the process, and they, too, are usually of different lengths. Correspondingly, tensioning must be readjusted after each replacement.
  • Chain sharpening. Can be made in two ways. directly on the bar or on a special machine. In the second case, the chain is removed from the chainsaw, and may have to be tensioned after it is put back in.
  • Mechanical loads. When sawing, the chain links are resisted by the wood. This causes it to stretch over time and causes the chain to begin to slacken.
  • Natural stretching. A chainsaw chain is made up of many links connected to each other. There is a natural process of wear and tear over long periods of use that causes the chain to be stretched.
  • Improper adjustment. If the chain is not tensioned correctly to begin with, there will be slack in the chain immediately after the first saw and this will have to be corrected.
  • Careless or improper operation. While sawing wood sometimes hard objects (nails, wire, other metal inclusions) get caught in the cut, or the tool may get jammed in the cut, or be used inappropriately. In all these cases, the chain is subjected to loads that cause it to stretch and begin to sag.
  • Poor chain quality. The lower the quality of the chain, the faster it is stretched and the more often the tensioning needs to be adjusted.

Sharpening with improvised means

To properly sharpen the chain of a chainsaw with a file it is necessary to prepare tools to restore its functionality:

A round file is needed for edged saw teeth with a rounded configuration. Usually choose a tool with a diameter of 4 to 5.5 mm. A flat file is needed for sharpening the depth stops that affect how far the chain cuts into the wood structure.

How to check tension?

If the chain is not tensioned sufficiently, the chain slackens at the bottom of the bar and drifts to one side at the top.

In the process of eliminating the defect, it is important not to overtighten the blade, otherwise during the work on the engine will be performed an increased load, which will lead to premature failure of the motor.

The following parameters should be considered when checking the degree of tension:

  • the saw plunges well into the sawing material, does not stop or bind in the wood;
  • The width does not heat up during cutting and the tool runs smoothly;
  • During sawing small and coarse chips fly out from under the teeth.

You can check if the tension is correct by twisting the blade. If the chain is hard to turn, tension must be loosened. To reduce friction, heat and wear, chain lubrication with special chain oil for gardening equipment must be done in good time.

If the lubrication system does not work properly, the links become dry and pale; they gradually become stretched. This affects slicing efficiency.


The classic chain tensioner of a budget class chainsaw, as a rule, is a threaded bolt with an adjusting component, standard or laterally located. Adjust the chain tension with the wrench or screwdriver that comes with the machine.

The more expensive models are equipped with easy-to-operate devices that allow the chain to be tensioned with a single movement of the lever or by turning the adjusting wheel.


In the first case, the tension is locked in position by a lock nut; in the second, the bar and the chain tensioner are locked in a given position by adjusting the cap. Both ensure that the chain is held securely in position and that it can be tensioned with minimal loss of operating time.

The following are some examples of how to check the tightening torque?

Figure 1. How to check chain tension

To check the quality of tensioning, it is necessary to pull it gently back in the middle of the bar.

The allowable release height of the cutter bar tails should be no more than 2/3 of the cutter bar length.

The following signs can also be used to determine whether the tensioning is necessary:

  • Creaking and rattling in the area where the main drive sprocket is located;
  • loosening of chain guard, guide bar fasteners;
  • jamming when sawing, increased vibration and noise.

The chainsaw has reduced productivity and increased operating time. Even when sawing soft types of wood the chain starts to jam in the groove, speed is reduced and smooth operation is smooth.

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Tensioning mechanisms

Before finding out how to properly tighten a chainsaw chain, you need to understand the mechanisms of this task. Adjustment of tensioning is performed with the help of a classic variant, represented in the form of a bolt connection.

Professional chainsaws have adjustment mechanisms that can be adjusted by moving the lever or turning the blades. If tensioners are used for tensioning, the degree of tightening is fixed with special locknuts.

This is interesting! Adjustment of the tension is performed together with the movement of the bar, because it is from this element depends on the degree of tension.

The chain should be tensioned to a defined torque. It must not be overtightened, as this will cause it to break prematurely, and it must not be left loose. Only perform adjustment procedures on the tool when it has cooled down. When the tool is hot, the chain is stretched, so the adjustment process will not be correct.

Negative consequences of improper adjustment include overheating. When overheated, the links wear out faster, the teeth become dull, stretching occurs, which eventually ends with the need to buy a new part.

Step-by-step installation algorithm

Checking the tensioning degree is important because the consequences of improper adjustment can be fatal for the sawyer. The quality of the chain tensioning adjustment can be determined by:

  • When moving the product by hand, it should not jam or show signs of heavy movement.
  • Cutter should be checked for loose fit by grasping the link and attempting to pull it up. This is best achieved by ensuring that the drive sprocket and chain have a tension of no more than 2/3 of the way up the bar.
  • In the process of moving the device should not arise creaks and other extraneous noises.

How to Sharpen Chainsaw Chain. Ozito Tool Tips [PXCCSSS-018]

In conclusion, it should be noted that you should never adjust the chain while it is hot, as this will definitely lead to a number of negative consequences. This may require changing not only the bar and chain, but also the drive sprocket.

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Installation and tensioning

In the standard case, in order to correctly put the chain on the saw, it is required to observe the following algorithm of actions:

  • Prepare a flat, spacious surface on which the tire and chain can freely rest during the assembly procedure.
  • Dismantle protection from sprocket by unscrewing wing nut. On older models, an ordinary nut is used for fixation, which can be tightened with a ring spanner.
  • The idler sprocket at the base of the guide bar is turned all the way to the right.
  • The chain links are slipped sequentially over the fixing groove. It is fitted from above the guide rail and slowly rotated.
  • The bar with the installed chain is mounted on the drive sprocket.
  • The cover plate is fitted, making sure that all the mounting pins are firmly seated in their seats.

When fitting is complete it is important to check that the guide rails are in the fitting groove and that the chain is firmly seated on the bar and saw without play.

Chain tightening

For successful and fast cutting of lumber, it is important to know not only how the chain is mounted on the chainsaw, but also how it is driven to the required degree of tension. The procedure is as follows:

  • When the chain and guide bar are set on the saw, the nuts of the cover-guard are loosened.
  • After that, the correct chain position is set by turning the adjusting screw.
  • Finally, the nuts on the cover plate are tightened.

When correctly tensioned the chain must not be pulled away from the bar edge by more than 3-4 mm. If necessary. after work, when exchanging for a new one, after a long period of non-use. the chain tensioning can be corrected by the above described procedure.

In correctly tensioned condition the chain must not be deflected from the base by more than 3-4 mm Source

over, it must be remembered that during intensive work, the structure gets very hot due to friction. As a result, the metal links expand, the total length increases and the chain relaxes and needs to be readjusted for tensioning.

Please note! When mounting the chain on the chainsaw, it is important to choose the right direction. the teeth must be placed so that the tip of their upper row (over the bar) looks away from the engine block, and the lower ones. vice versa, that is, towards the drive sprocket.

Sergey Abazov, 32, Lipetsk region

tension, chain, chainsaw, sharpening, file

“I work as a construction worker, I use a chainsaw all the time. I have to saw not only wood but also aerated concrete, and sometimes I have to make a slit in concrete (though I wear a carbide blade for that). Chains blunt and stretch quickly. I will not run out every time for a new one. I bought a repair kit, it costs a penny, and I just shorten it when stretching it. Sharpened and back to work. Fast and inexpensive.”

Ruslan Timirbekov, 44, Tatarstan

“In six months of using a chainsaw chain stretched and began to fly off. Wondering. what’s better to take to the shop (they have the right equipment) or make at home. And then did it myself. threw the link, the drive sprocket is already lapped, the pitch has not changed. It seems to work properly, but for some reason now more often need to tighten.”

tension, chain, chainsaw, sharpening, file

Andrei Kazantsev, 27, Volgograd Region

“I had a problem with the sprocket. one day it just wouldn’t turn anymore. I took a closer look. the tire is to blame, or rather the holes are completely littered. As a consequence. wearout on the mower seating groove. That’s the kind of trouble you get if you don’t check to see if the lubrication system is working properly. Now the whole saw set on the chainsaw has to be replaced. Hit the kopeck.”

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