How to Buy a Chainsaw Guide Bar or Chain

My chainsaw wouldn’t cut very well. It was driving me nuts!

  • I checked the sharpness of the chain.
  • I sharpened it again, just in case!
  • Checked the raker clearance.
  • Checked the chain tension.
  • etc, etc.

In the end, it turned out, I had the wrong chain fitted! I had gone to a supplier and asked for a chain, for a Jonsered (Husqvarna) xyz chainsaw with a 15″ bar. They handed over a chain, I paid for it, went off home and fitted it… Wrong!

I discovered the chain gauge size was wrong. I had a suspicion, as the chainsaw was trying to curve round on a deep cut. Plus, I wasn’t getting a very efficient cut, the chain would get very hot and the guide bar was wearing unevenly!

Don’t always rely that the person behind the counter giving you the right part. To ensure your chainsaw performs at it’s best (and for your safety), go armed with knowledge so you can check you have the right part…

Topics:


Safety:

Please read the manufacturers safety advice.
Protective gloves are advisable when working on the chain…


What Info do I Need,
to Buy a Chainsaw Guide Bar or Chain?

Chainsaw Chain & Guide Bar (Exposing the Drive Links)

You don’t actually need to measure anything, as long as the details (part numbers, etc) are stamped on the chainsaw guide bar and chain. However, you do need to know what the measurements mean?

I’m grouping the chainsaw guide bar and chain together, as they interact. If you’re buying a chain, you need to know what bar you have, and vice versa. Unless you’re buying a matching chainsaw bar and chain as a set, (then you just have to check the bar fits your chainsaw)!

There are basically 4 things you need to know, when buying a guide bar and 3 for a chain:

For a chainsaw guide bar:

  1. The gauge (this matches the chain):
  2. The pitch (this matches the chain):
  3. The length of the guide bar (this matches the number of chain drive links):

For a chainsaw chain:

  1. The gauge (this matches the guide bar):
  2. The pitch (this matches the guide bar):
  3. The number of drive links in the chain (this matches the guide bar length):
  4. The guide bar mount:

Measurements needed when buying a chainsaw guide bar or chain:

What Info do I Need,
to Buy a Chainsaw Guide Bar or Chain?
Items: The Guide Bar The Chain
1 The Gauge
The guide bar and chain must match.
2 The Pitch
The guide bar and chain must match.
3 The length of the Guide bar
This matches the length of the chain (the number of drive links).
The number of drive links in the chain
This matches the guide bar length, (the nose sprocket & tail sprocket size).
4 The Guide bar mount (or tail mount)
This matches the chainsaw body.
This is only a guide, please refer to the manufacturers data sheets & part numbers on the guide bar & chain.

The three measurements look very similar (and they are). But they can have a slightly different meaning dependent on whether it’s for the bar or chain.

The measurements for the chainsaw Guide bar and chain must match.

1. The Gauge:

The gauge is the size of the gully (or groove) that runs around the chainsaw guide bar. The chain sits in this gully and the size of the chain (the width of the drive links) and gully must match.

The gauge is:

  • The width of the chainsaw bar gully (or groove).
  • The thickness of the chain drive links (that fit in the groove).
  • Both measurements must match.
Chainsaw Guide Bar & Chain – Where do you Measure the Gauge

The gauge is measured from the width of the chain drive link (the drive links are the teeth on the underside of the chain). This must match the chainsaw guide bar gully (or groove). The guide bar gully will be slightly wider to allow for the movement of the chain (but the measurement will be quoted as the same value as the chain)

Notes:

  • The gauge measurement can often be found via:
    • A reference number that is stamped on the chain. This number is then cross referenced against a table to find the chain measurements.
    • Or, the chainsaw guide bar has a series of part numbers stamped on it.

For more info, see: The Chainsaw Chain & Guide Bar Markings:‘.

2. The Pitch:

Chainsaw Chain Pitch – Measure between any 3 consecutive rivets & then divide by 2.

Measuring:

In engineering, pitch is defined as:

“the distance between regularly spaced objects”

As an example, the peaks (or troughs) of a thread on a bolt.

However, a chainsaw chain is made up of several different parts. Therefore, to obtain ‘the distance between regularly spaced objects’, the Pitch is measured by:

“the distance between the center of any three consecutive rivet’s,
and then divide by 2″

3. The Length of the Guide Bar, or The Number of Drive Links:

The following measurements may look different , but they interact, so you need to be aware of what guide bar you have fitted, or the type (size) of chain you have…

Topics:

When Buying a Chainsaw Guide Bar:

The Length of the Bar (this matches the number of drive links):

The length of the chainsaw bar is measured in two ways:

  • The ‘Effective Cutting Length’ (or ‘called length’). The effective cutting length is the distance from the front of the saw to the tip of the guide bar.
Chainsaw Guide Bar – The Called Length, or Cutting Length (also see the ‘Overall Length’)
  • The ‘Overall length’ (or ‘True length’)’ is the actual length of the guide bar measured from end to end.
A well used Chainsaw Guide Bar – The Overall Length, or ‘True Length’ (also see the ‘Called Length’)

So Which Measurement do I Use?

  • Make a note of both (just in case).
  • The correct measurement is often determined by the part number stamped on the motor end of the chainsaw guide bar.
  • This part number should tell you the size to use when ordering, and give details of the size of chain to match.

For more detail, see the section below… ‘ Another Way of Finding What Parts You Need, The Chainsaw Chain & Guide Bar Markings:

Notes:

  • The guide bar mount must match the type used on the chainsaw body. See the section ‘The Guide Bar Mount’ for more details:
  • If you plan on increasing the size of the guide bar (with a matching chain), you need to ensure the bar length doesn’t exceed the manufacturer’s maximum recommended size for that model of chainsaw.

When Buying a Chainsaw Chain:

The Number of Drive Links in the Chain (this matches the guide bar length):

The number of drive links on a chainsaw, gives you the overall length of the chain. The drive links are the teeth on the underside of the chain. This number needs to match the drive link reference, often stamped on the chainsaw bar, or via the manufacturers reference table.

Chainsaw Chain – Counting the Drive Links

Notes:

  • You may see the Drive Links sometimes being called chain links. Drive links is the correct term as the drive links are driven by the chainsaw engines sprocket, (providing power and motion to the chain).

4. The Guide Bar Mount:

The guide bar mount (or ‘tail mount’) must fit the chainsaw body (head, or engine). The position of the guide bar fixings, oilway, and chain adjuster must line up with the those supplied on the chainsaw body.

There is no standard fitment (‘one size fits all’), so you may have to check any intended purchase via the suppliers fitment tables to ensure you get the correct fit. Many of the suppliers have a tool where you input your chainsaw make and model number to find the right guide bar.

As you can see below, there are numerous different guide bar mounts…

An Illustration of the Chainsaw Guide Bar Mount Differences…

The images below show the chain sprocket cover removed, with the guide bar in position, and with it removed.

When replacing the guide bar, always clean the area to ensure the chain lubrication system and chain adjuster are able to work efficiently. And to ensure a good oil seal is made between the guide bar and its mount.


Ordering Parts:

Don’t forget it’s important to ensure the guide bar and chain match each other. A slight difference in the specification (like the size of the gauge) can mean your chainsaw not working effectively and it’s very likely it will wear prematurely. In the worst case, incorrectly fitted parts can lead to safety issues, like broken chains, or taking risks (from frustration, because the saw won’t cut…).

Ordering Parts – Examples of what you can buy & how much they cost:

Item Location Link
Guide Bar UK https://ebay.us/tFpr0d
USA https://ebay.us/xMGNID
Chain UK https://ebay.us/AUjs1A
USA https://ebay.us/AjAKqE
Chainsaws UK https://ebay.us/lPEnTu
USA https://ebay.us/NKAhYW
Files & Guages UK https://ebay.us/NGHDiH
USA https://ebay.us/GodcmA
Disclosure: The links in this table are “affiliate links” This means we may garner a small commission (at no cost to you) if you choose to make a purchase.
Thank you for your support.

Another Way of Finding Parts,

The Chain & Guide Bar Markings:

If you look at the chainsaw guide bar, it will usually have a series of numbers stamped on it. This will give you most details about the bar and chain. The chain also often has a number stamped on the drive link that gives you details about the chain.

Chainsaw Guide Bar – Part Numbers:

A typical paint worn chainsaw guide bar with the part numbers
(for reference, normally found near the engine end of the guide bar).

Typical Chainsaw Guide Bar Part Numbers for Reference

The markings illustrated above, reads as follows:

  • Manufacturer – Oregon.
  • Gauge – 0.58 / 1.5
  • Pitch – .325
  • Drive Links – 64
  • Guide Bar Length – 15
  • Part Number – 158SLBK095

A typical series of chainsaw guide bar part numbers.
Each manufacturer may have a slightly different method:

A Typical Chainsaw Guide Bar Part Number Reference System

Chainsaw Chain – Part Numbers:

Chains often have number(s) stamped on them. Using the manufacturer’s data, you can often use the number to find what chain you have fitted…

The reference code is often stamped on every other drive link…

The Chainsaw Chain Reference Number (Usually Found Stamped on the Drive Link)

Using this reference number, you can often find the exact chain you have, including the pitch, gauge, etc.

Example table of chain sizes and their reference numbers:

Chainsaw – Chain Sizes
Pitch Gauge Chain Drive Link Ref No’s
mm Inches Oregon Others
1/4″   1.3 .050″ 25 The detail can sometimes be inconsistent, or a different method may be used. Therefore please see the different manufacturer’s websites, or use your chainsaw guide bar part & reference numbers to obtain the correct fit.
3/8 Low profile 1.1 .043″ 90
1.3 .050″ 91
.325″

(See variations)
1.3 .050″ 95R
20, 95
1.5 .058″ 21
1.6 .063″ 22
3/8″

(also see
‘Low profile’)
1.3 .050″ 72
1.5 .058″ 73
1.6 .063″ 75
.404″

(See variations)
1.5 .058″ 26, 58
1.6 .063″ 16, 27, 59, 68
2.0 .080″ 18
1.5 .058″ 58L
1.6 .063″ 59L
3/4″ 3.1 .122″ 11
This is only a guide, please refer to the manufacturers data sheets.

Chainsaw Manufacturers:

Here’s a list of the most common chainsaw manufactures and parts suppliers (in no particular order):

Notes:

  • The links open in a new tab.
  • Dependant on where you’re located in the world, you may be asked to select your country of origin when entering the manufacturers websites…

– click or tap any image to view full size –

The Chainsaw Chain Reference Number (Usually Found Stamped on the Drive Link)
A well used Chainsaw Guide Bar – The Overall Length, or ‘True Length’ (also see the ‘Called Length’)
A Typical Chainsaw Guide Bar Part Number Reference System
Chainsaw Guide Bar – The Called Length, or Cutting Length (also see the ‘Overall Length’)
Chainsaw Guide Bar & Chain – Where do you Measure the Gauge
Chainsaw Guide Bar Mount – Guide Bar Not Fitted
Chainsaw Guide Bar Mount – With Guide Bar Fitted
A Table Illustrating the Different Chainsaw Chain Sizes & Their Reference Numbers
What Info do I Need When Buying a Chainsaw Guide Bar or Chain
Chainsaw Chain – Counting the Drive Links
An Illustration of the Chainsaw Guide Bar Mount Differences…
Chainsaw Chain & Guide Bar (Exposing the Drive Links)
Chainsaw Chain Pitch – Measure between any 3 consecutive rivets & then divide by 2.
Typical Chainsaw Guide Bar Part Numbers for Reference
Chainsaw Bar – Where is the Gauge Measured
Chainsaw Chain – Where is the Gauge Measured
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