Last updated on May 3, 2022 11:21 pm by the writer.
When using your chainsaw the blade will start to become loose and slack off from the guide bar over time.
When putting tension on the chain with your fingers when you release the tension you should hear a quick snap, as the chain quickly snaps back down into the bar in place.
If you do not tighten your chainsaw blade, you increase the chances of the blade coming off the chainsaw, or even worse, risk yourself having an accident.
A loose chainsaw blade also doesn’t cut as effectively and may jamb more easily.
A loose chainsaw blade can lead to kickback, damaged chains, and even having your saw blade fly off from the guide bar.
Therefore, this ongoing check is critical to safe chainsaw operation.
You need to periodically check the blade for tightness between cuts as you need to tighten the tensioning screw with a screwdriver as you are working with a chainsaw.
Also take note of the importance of not overtightening the chain, as doing so can reduce the power of the chainsaw and can cause too much friction, possibly leading to the chain breaking under tension and heat.
Information on how to do this safely is below.
Why do you need to keep checking your chainsaw blade for tightness?
Every time I make a cut with my chain saw I quickly check the blade for tightness with my fingers while wearing leather gloves ear muffs, long trousers, and safety goggles.
Tip: Sometimes I also wear earplugs underneath my ear muffs if I am working from a safe position on the ground, and don’t need to hear anything at all.
You need to keep checking on your blade’s tightness because a loose chainsaw blade can permanently damage your chainsaw base or blade.
More importantly, you put yourself at risk by using a chainsaw with a blade too loose.
Checking your blade’s tightness is a safety measure, maintenance measure, and a way for you to check the health of your machine so that your tool is ready to go.
Chainsaws are powerful tools and you need to make sure your bad boy is optimally set up and under your control.
Reasons why your chainsaw keeps getting loose
1. Wear and tear
As you make cuts with your chainsaw understand that stretching is a natural result of normal use and that your chain will slowly loosen over time.
If your chain saw jambs during use this can significantly stretch your chainsaw blade also.
If your chainsaw chain won’t stay tight check that the tensioning screws and components are fastening in place properly.
2. Worn drive socket
At some point in time, your drive sprocket will not be able to support your chain’s tensile strength.
3. Temperature variations
Using your chainsaw creates frictional heat in your chain, causing the metal loops to expand, the expansion can cause your chain to slack as things get hotter.
All chainsaws should have a working drip-feed oil mechanism to keep the blade lubricated and for helping to reduce friction and overheating which can lead to stretching or breaking of the chain.
4. Damaged guide bar
A damaged guide bar can cause your chain to fly off regardless of the current condition of the chain.
When is your chain too tight?
Here’s how to tell if the chainsaw chain seems too tight for the bar.
If you cannot partially lift the chain from the bar with your thumb and index finger so that the bottom edge of the chain is close to coming out of the bar channel your chain is too tight.
When either doing a pull or snap test like this, you should still be able to pull your chain up easily, but it shouldn’t easily be pulled off from the channel.
A good-to-perfect chain tightness should allow you to lift up the chain and still have the drive links connected to the guide bar’s groove.
If you cannot do this, you need to loosen your chain.
When is your chainsaw too loose?
When doing either a pull or snap test, and the chain comes off completely, this means that your chain is far too loose.
A good chainsaw chain tightness should allow you to pull the chain up and while hearing it instantly snap back down into place when you release your fingers.
This process should sound like Lil John’s Snap-yo fingers.
If the drive link goes down too slowly and you cant hear the metal elements cause a snapping sound or the chain comes off the bar completely if you pull, you will know that the chain is too loose.
Can your chainsaw get damaged if too tight or too loose?
Having a chainsaw adjusted too tight or too loose can lead to chainsaw damage.
On the other hand, a chainsaw adjusted too tightly can prevent your chainsaw from turning and cause overheating issues from friction.
In the worst cases, your chain can snap right off the guide bar.
This is why maintaining your chainsaw blades’ with the correct tightness is vital for ensuring your safety and the motor of your machine’s health.
If you have got your chainsaw blade tangled, our untangling guide is here.
How do you tighten a chainsaw?
Step 1. Place the chainsaw on a stable leveled surface.
The first thing you need to do is place your chainsaw on a flat surface.
This way, you will have no problem maneuvering the chainsaw’s chain along the bar and working on loosening or tightening the bolts.
A metal workbench is the best place to work from here, as it won’t soak up any oil like a timber bench would, which could later damage your woodworking projects.
A metal bench vise helps when sharpening the teeth as well as you can secure the bar of your chainsaw on the clamp.
Step 2. Loosen the nuts at the guide bar panel.
Next, locate the nuts at the guide bar panel and loosen them using a wrench. Doing so allows you to move the chain and guide bar.
Use the wrench that should have come with your chainsaw, this will have the required size at one end for loosening the bar and a flat head screwdriver at the other head for tensioning.
Otherwise invest in a high-quality socket set.
Never use an adjustable crescent this type of tool will round and wear out the head of bolts and cause a lot of damage to your chainsaw components.
Step 3. Adjust the tensioning screw.
Next, the tensioning screw is found adjacent to your chain. Adjust your chain’s tightness by screwing the tensioning screw with a flat head screwdriver or alternative head type that is required for your make and model of chainsaw.
Step 4. Tighten the guard bar panel nuts.
Once satisfied, lift the guide bar and tighten the nuts once again, to lock the current position in place.
Step 5. Check the tension of your chain.
Do a snap or pull test to ensure that nothing is too tight or loose.
If not optimal repeat the process again to make needed adjustments until you are satisfied with the chain tension.
How tight should a chainsaw chain be?
Simply put, when you pull up the chain, the drive link should be partially exposed. That’s how tight the chain should be on your chainsaw blade.
To get the proper chainsaw chain tightness, screw the tensioning screw until the chain is lightly hugging the guide bar, then fasten her up to check again.
What else to check?
- Check that your blade is sharp and sharpen every single tooth if necessary.
- Check that your chainsaw lubrication oil reservoir is fully topped up before use.
- Check all of the guards are secure and that everything on the tool is secure as normal.
- Check that you have ear protection, long pants, eye protection, and a face shield on.
- Check that you are working from a stable position
- Check that your job is something you are comfortable doing based on your past experience, toolset, and confidence.
- Going cordless is a safer way for people to do garden maintenance from overgrowing branches.
Conclusion: Tight is good.
In conclusion, I stress that chainsaw blade tightness is an important safety and maintenance measure, without over-tightening.
Proper chainsaw tightness can be determined by doing a pull or snap test. At the same time, the pull and snap tests are reasonable measures to check your chainsaw chain tightness.
Every time you plan on using your chainsaw, and between cuts always check the tightness of your machine and chan oil levels. If found loose or too tight, adjust the chainsaw chain tightness accordingly. If oil is low make sure to top that syrup up to avoid your chain overheating.
Lastly, make your chain snap. Snap your chain “You can do it all by yourself, let me see you do it! Aye Let me see you do it Aye.”
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