How to Replace a Chainsaw Chain – A Step-by-Step Guide

Replacing a chainsaw chain is an important part of regular maintenance.

It will help keep your saw running smoothly and safely and can also increase the saw’s efficiency and improve its performance.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps of replacing your chainsaw chain so you can get back to work quickly!

If you’re interested, you can also check out our guide on untangling a chainsaw chain.

Replacing a chainsaw chain is easy with the right tools and a few simple steps. First, you can unplug the chainsaw from its power source and remove the side plate to access the chain and drive the sprocket.

Secondly, loosen and remove the nuts and bolts that hold the chain in place, then release the chain tension by turning a tensioning screw counterclockwise. Thirdly, attach the new chainsaw chain to the saw, reconnect the side cover, and re-tension it by adjusting the screw on the saw.

Finally, test your chainsaw for proper operation before use.

What to Consider Before Replacing Chainsaw Chains

When replacing a saw, reading the instruction manual and safety guidelines is important.

Equipping yourself with the proper tools, like a wrench and a compatible replacement chain for your exact model is essential.

How to Replace a Chainsaw Chain

There is a variety of chainsaw chain available, so it’s important to choose the one that is best suited for your saw.

To select a chainsaw chain, you must consider the following factors


Choose the correct chain length for your saw.


This refers to the distance between drive links on the chain.


This refers to the thickness of the drive links on the chain.

Once you’ve selected the right saw chain for your saw, you’re ready to begin the chainsaw chain replacement process.

How to Replace Chainsaw Chains in 7 Easy Steps

Step 1: Unplug the Chainsaw Switch Off the Button

The first step is to unplug the chainsaw from its power source.

Take an appropriately-sized socket wrench to loosen and remove the side plate, which will enable you to access the chainsaw chain and drive sprocket.

Place the chainsaw on a flat surface, pressing down on the chain brake lever to ensure its safety while you are performing maintenance on it.

Using this method, you will avoid starting the saw while working.

Step 2: Remove Nuts & Bolts

Remove the nuts and bolts that hold the chain in place using a socket wrench.

Remove the nuts

The chain tensioner screw is located in front of the saw.

Nut in front of chainsaw

Sometimes, it is located inboard the side of the saw, and sometimes on the outboard side of the saw.

Remove the nuts

Sometimes, the chain brake is attached to the side plate. In this case, unlock the brake before removing the plate.

Chain brake removing

Once you have removed the side plate, you can inspect and clean your saw chain. If it has become worn or damaged, it should be replaced with a new one.

Step 3: Release the Chain Tension

Now it’s time to release the tension of the chain. Simply pull the chainsaw bar away from the tensioner to release the tension, and then simply remove the chain. The old chain should come off easily.

Remove the chain

Step 4: Install the New Chain

Once the old chain is removed, it’s time to install the new chain. To begin, loosen the tensioning screw inside the guide bar.

Remove the nuts

Then, wrap the new chain around the chainsaw bar and clutch the drum.

Put the chain

Thread the driving links into the guide bar, ensuring that it is properly aligned with the drive sprocket.

Put the chain

Check the chain’s direction. Make sure the cutter’s face is in an upward direction. In case you install the chain in the backward direction, it won’t cut.

Step 5: Reconnect the Side Cover

The next step is to reconnect the side cover that you removed in the first step. Make sure to securely fasten all bolts and nuts. Slightly loosen the guide bar while tightening the chain to its ideal tension.

Remove the chain

Step 6: Re-Tensioning the Chain By Adjusting the Screw

The next step is tensioning the chain by adjusting the screw on the saw.

To obtain proper tension, pull the chain away from the bar but not the driver’s links completely away from the chainsaw bar.

Ensure that the chain is neither too tight nor too loose. If you see chains hanging from the bar, they are too loose and need to be re-tensioned.

Put the chain

Finally, turn the nuts clockwise while pulling the nose of the guide bar away from its tensioner.

Put the chain in chainsaw

 Now you can comfortably use this saw to cut firewood again.

Step 7: Test the Chainsaw

Put the chain

Once the chainsaw is ready to be used, it’s important to test it. To check the saw, start the saw and let it run slowly for 1-2 min.

How to Replace a Chainsaw Chain FAQs:

What tools do I need to replace a chainsaw chain?

You will need an appropriate-size wrench to remove the side plate and loosen the chain tension.

How often should I replace my chainsaw chain?

It is recommended that you replace your chainsaw chain every 5–6 years of use, depending on the chainsaw size and type of wood you are cutting.

If your chain is becoming worn or damaged, it should be replaced immediately.

Which way does the chain go on a chainsaw?

The chain should always wrap around the bar and clutch drum in a clockwise direction.

Final Thoughts

Armed with the knowledge of how to replace a chainsaw chain, you now have the upper hand in tackling the tough job of keeping your chainsaw running at peak performance.

Once you have completed all these steps, your chainsaw will be ready to use again.

Be sure to always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and safety guidelines when handling a chainsaw.

Hopefully, this guide will help you replace your chainsaw chain without any problems or complications in the future.

Photo of author

Charlie Bass

Charlie has been a mechanic for over 25 years and has worked on everything from small engine gardening equipment to huge diesel-electric mining haul trucks, trains and even aircraft. This broad range of industry experience gives him a unique insight into almost anything mechanical especially with an engine, including gardening and landscaping equipment. He currently owns his own mobile mechanic business and lives with his family in Australia.

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