How to Replace a Chainsaw Chain

Curious how to replace a chainsaw chain? Depending on what brand and model you have will depend on how the process goes. But there are some basic guidelines to following when replacing your chainsaw blade that I will help walk you through! These steps will guide you in replacing a chainsaw chain.

While changing a chainsaw blade can be a five-minute task, you might find that the first few times might be a slower process. Once you learn and create a system replacing a chainsaw chain will be a breeze. If you still need to buy a new chain check out our top chainsaw chain pick

Step 1 Remove Bar and Chain From Chainsaw

The first step is removing the side plate so that you can remove the bar and chain. Generally, chainsaws will have two or more nuts holding your plate in place.

Use a wrench to unscrew the nuts, so that you can easily access the plate to get to the chain.

You will find that some brands of chainsaws have a break that is attached to the side plate if your chainsaw has this, unlock the brake before you try to remove the plate. If you skip this step, you could have a hard to impossible time to reinstall.

 Step 2 Loosen The Chain

Once you get your first step tackled, you will want to loosen your blade so that you can pull it off from your chainsaw. You can do this by pulling the nose of the chainsaw bar away from the chainsaw. This is going to release the blade from the tensioner. Make sure that you are taking safety steps to avoid unnecessary cuts or damage your chainsaw. For additional safety guidelines check out Florida trail associations chainsaw training program.  

If your chainsaw has a buildup of sawdust, make sure to clean this up before you go and put the new blade on your chainsaw.

Step 3 Remove Blade

Once you successfully release from the tensioner, you can pull your chainsaw blade off.

Step 4 Loosening Tension Screw

Look for your tensioning screw, which should be on the inside are of your guide bar. You might have to remove a little sawdust. This is where you want to loosen it up so putting that new chain on can be more comfortable, and it won’t be so tight. If you skip this step, you will struggle to try to place a new blade on your saw.

Step 5 Replace With New Or Sharpened Blade

Now you are ready to thread on a new chain or a freshly sharpened chain. Start by placing your chain around the clutch drum (ensuring the drink links for sure engage with the sprocket). Then work your way up to the nose (front tip) of the chainsaw.

During this step, you want to make sure your chain is aligned correctly, and you work on tightening up the tension as you start to get your chain in place. Use your saw’s adjustment pin when you are pulling on the chain wrapping it around your bar.

Step 6 Place Side Bar In Place

Once you fully get your blade on successfully now is the time to place the side plate again. Screw in the nuts, make sure not to go too tight, so the chain can move while you work on adjusting.

Now you want to work on tightening the chain with the tensioning screw that you loosened earlier. Once you finish, you are ready to go cutting!

Common Questions About Chainsaw Chains

How loose should chainsaw chain be?

You want your chain to be slightly loose on the guide bar, that way there is a little give. You want to ensure that as you use your chainsaw the blade is tight enough that it can easily pull the drive links to move the chain quickly.

 Why does my chainsaw keep throwing the chain?

Most often if your chainsaw keeps throwing the chain, it could be from a worn out drive sprocket. The sprocket is what you will find propels the blades on the chain that goes around your bar. When the sprockets get a lot of wear and tear over time, you will find it can’t pull the chain right, and that is why you see your chain being thrown off.

Can you over tighten a chainsaw chain?

Yes, you can over tighten a chainsaw chain. This can be dangerous as too tight, can cause your chain to break from the chainsaw. You want to tighten your chain, clockwise, and to loosen go counterclockwise, as a good guide.

 Where is the tension screw on a chainsaw?

Depending on the brand of your chainsaw, it will vary slightly. You will find that your tension screws are either on the side of the chainsaw body or in the front. To tighten or loosen, you hold the nose of the bar up a little bit and turn the chain screws clockwise to tighten.

I hope this guide helps you to learn how to easily replace a chainsaw chain when needed for your saw!

For a full review of current chainsaw models including pricing, how to guides and best brands see our ultimate chainsaw guide

About Brandon Potters

Hi, I’m Brandon and I can’t express how excited I am that you chose The Saw Guy as your resource for project ideas, tool reviews, and all-around guide to the world of DIY. I spent years in the construction industry refining my knowledge of various trades and even spent a few years working at a major hardware store. ​If there is anyone who can help you make a well-informed, unbiased, budget-conscious decision, it’s me and my team.

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