Tighten A Chainsaw Chain: Avoid Over-Tight Or Loose(3 Steps)

Last Updated on September 15, 2021 by Chris Ross

Chain saws are great tools in wood work and in Lumbering.

With the chain saw, you can cut down trees of various sizes and slice them into smaller sections.

The chainsaw has a very high efficiency and you can use it with little or no stress to cut and slice trees. The efficiency of the chainsaw would reduce if the chain of the chain saw is too tight or too loose.

The user will find it more difficult to cut. As a handyman or a wood worker, you need to attach apt safety while maintaining the efficiency of your ​chainsaw. After a prolonged use, the tension in the chains would deteriorate; hence; the chains on your chainsaw will become loose and would sag.

No matter how powerful or easy to handle chainsaw you buy, without proper chain tension, you would not get the best cutting performance from it.

Every user is advised to be alert and to be very watchful about this, because the situation is always very dangerous. A plethora of chainsaw accidents has occurred as a result of this situation due to the chain jumping off the guide bar while in operation and hurting those around.

But it’s also dangerous to over tighten your chain as the force being applied on the chain while in operation could make it snap and hurt people around. This is why it’s important to check your chainsaws regularly and rectify any of these anomalies once spotted.

​In this post, we shall highlight the steps involved in chainsaw safety, how to tighten the chainsaw and how to check the tension.

In this article you will not only learn how to tighten a chainsaw, but our main goal is to give you a better understanding of proper amount of tension required for your tool according to the work you are doing with it.

Are you looking for the safe and injure free running for the Chainsaw Chain?

Chain behaves as the most significant part of the Chainsaw. Different bar oils are used to run the chain. Chainsaw Chain stretches during normal working and if it is ignored then it becomes unsafe to work more with it. So, to tighten the Chainsaw Chain you must have to consider the precaution steps to work. Under normal use the chainsaw starts loosening and sagging.This can lead to a bizarre situation! Therefore, it is always advisable for users to always check the tension for umpteenth time before and during operation.

It is glaring that the main thing here is that it all depends on personal preference and the type of work you are doing.

The first step is checking your chainsaw’s chain tension by pulling the chain from the guide bar a little bit to see if the drive links are still engaged. A good tensioned chainsaw chain should be a little loose on the guide bar but tight enough so that it’s impossible to pull the drive links from the bar nose. However, if the drive links disengage, it’s loose which means the chains have to be tightened up. If there isn’t any looseness on the guide bar, then it’s too tight and need to be loosened up a bit.

Use your scrwench (the screwdriver/wrench that comes with the chainsaw) to loosen the nuts on the guide bar side panel. This will allow the guide bar and chain to be adjusted easily. If your chainsaw’s brakes are attached to the side panel, make sure the brakes are unlocked before starting.

Adjust the tensioning screws at the side of the guide bars. Make sure that it is at the right tension strength and make sure it’s not too tight or too loose. If it’s too tight, free the screws a little. If it’s too loose, then tighten the nuts.

Afterwards, screw the nuts on the guide bar side panel tight. Make sure the chainsaw’s nose is lifted up while you’re doing this. This is very important as failure to do this could affect your chainsaw’s performance.


To check whether is it necessary to change your chainsaw tension or not, all you need to is to just pull away the chain from the guide bar a little.

If the drive link remains engaged, then you don’t need to worry about the tension and you are ready to go. If the reverse is the case, then you should start thinking of how to adjust the tension.

There are basically two types of tension which can occur in Chainsaw Chains:

1. Good tension

2. Bad tension

Good Tension

It happens just because of slight and little loose on the chainsaw guide bar. The point to note is you must have to tighten the chain to properly pull.

Bad Tension

This occurs when drive links of the chainsaw chain get aside from their real working place. In this case, there is a time to tighten the chain properly. Otherwise, you may face a serious risk of getting injured.

So, to prevent the chain from losing tension, the following steps should be kept in mind.

1. There are Nuts on the sidebar Panel, Lose those Nuts

By going out through this step will provide the chain enough room and space to get settled on the right place.

2. Tighten the Tensioning Screw

If the screw becomes tight then it will prove immense assistance in tightening of the chain and vice versa.

3. Screws on Guide Bar Side Panel should be tightened

This will tighten the chain as the screws get tighter. Screws play very pivotal role and are widely regarded as the most important part of the Chainsaw Chain

This all took even less than a minute but it can provide ease and facilitate us with the safe use of Chainsaw Chain while using it. It should be tightened and checked properly while using it.

Important points to note in chain saw adjustment

  • A common problem witnessed by many is the loosening and tightening of chainsaw chain. This is a regular phenomenon, and thus requires chainsaw chain to be regularly checked. However, you can also keep a check and maintain the chainsaw chain properly all by yourself. There are also several Do It Yourself procedures to avoid over-tight or loose of chainsaw chain.
  • Basically a tension in chainsaw chain is a tension screw located near the base of the chainsaw. The tension should never be too loose or too tight. It is significant that you understand bad and good tension.
  • A properly-tensioned chainsaw chain should be just a little loose, so to determine if the chainsaw chain needs to be adjusted, pull the chain away from a guide bar to check if the chain remains engaged or not.
  • Additionally, a chainsaw chain should not be overtight. There should be at least a little play in the chains, enough for drive links to leave the guide bar. Over tightening chainsaw chain could cause it to break.
  • To perfectly adjust the tension on the chainsaw chain, firstly you can try to loosen the nuts on the guide bar side panel. This helps to remove the tension and adjust the guide and bar and the chain.
  • Further, adjust the tensioning screws located on the side of the chainsaw guide bars. Thus, tightening the screw will tighten and loosening would loosen the chain. Thus, it is imperative to check the tightness before you move. It is important to lift the nose of the chainsaw while tightening the nuts that secure the side panel and guide bar.
  • The most important criteria are to ensure that you constantly check the chainsaw chain, to maintain it in all possible good condition.

Tips on tightening chainsaw chain

Here, we shall provide in-depth highlights of how to maintain and preserve your Chainsaw for extended performance.

Operators of Chainsaws should always be watchful of the chains before switching-on the chainsaw. The tension in the string should be checked before every use. If the pressure is not ideal, then you can adjust it using the tension screw.

To increase the tension in the chain, you should turn the screw in a clockwise direction. Ensure that the chain is not too tight, to avoid breakage.

In some cases where the chainsaw is too taut,  the chain of the chainsaw can break, loose, unwrap, and jump out of the chain saw bar. This is always very precarious as it can easily cause severe damage to the operator or other people around.

To reduce the tension in the chain and make it loose, you should turn the tension screw in an anti-clockwise direction.

Cordless chainsaws offer a more easy tightening and loosening approach. They come with the hand dial system for chain tension adjustment. In this case, tension is adjusted by loosening the bar on the side panel of the guide bar. This will give the room they need to be adjusted. Anyway, the main problem with battery powered aka cordless chainsaw is its limited running time. If you want to take a cordless chainsaw, make sure ​to select the chainsaw with long ​battery life and light weight.

A properly tensioned chainsaw chain should be just a little loose on the chainsaw guide bar,but the chain needs to be tight enough that you can’t pull the drive links out of the bar nose.

To adjust the chain tention loosen the bolts that fasten the motor base to mounting angles on both sides. Tighten take up bolts until desired chain tention is reaches. Do not over tighten.

Steps on how to tighten screws

  • Turn off the engine of your chainsaw and check manually how loose the chain is.
  • Loosen the fastening screws. Loosen the bolts located on the side panel of your guidebar so will be easier to adjust the guidebar and it will also create the room for the chain.
  • Adjust the tensioning screw with a screwdriver, and with your hand, move the chain carefully so you can measure the correct adjustment. There are screws situated to the side of your chainsaw guidebar. These screws are called ‘TENSIONING SCREWS’. Adjust tensioning screw. To tight the chain, you just have to tighten these bolts.
  • Double check you chain, to ensure that the tension of the chain is of correct order.
  • Wear gloves, do not use bare hands. Be careful with this.
  • There are screws situated to the side of your chainsaw guidebar. These screws are called ‘TENSIONING SCREWS’. Adjust tensioning screw. To tight the chain, you just have to tighten these bolts.
  • Avoid overtightening of your chain as it could lead to the breakage of the chain.
  • Tighten the fastening screws and the tensioning screw until the chain is properly adjusted and make sure it does not hang under the bar.
  • Try to adjust the chain under a cold temperature, because if you make the adjustment in a hot environment, when the machine cools, the chain may over-tighten and this may damage the bar at the time the engine is working. Now, lift the nose of your chainsaw and tighten the nuts of the guide bar side panel. Lifting of nose of chainsaw is necessary to avoid malfunctioning of the tool.
  • Deeply clean the dirt from the bar slots because this can overheat and damage both the engine and the bar.
  • Apply quality grease on your chain and bar slots and make maintenance gradually.

These are my most important recommendations.

Many of my customers ask me about how to prolong the life of a chainsaw and avoid damaging it, how to avoid accidents, if this is about brands or manufacturers and so on.

The chainsaw should not be too taut. You should ​strive to ensure that the tension is not much by allowing it to sag. The chain saw would work perfectly when the sagging is faint and it would boost the efficiency of the guide bar.

There are several methods of checking whether the tension in the chain saw is ideal or not. You can do so by reducing the level of the contact between the chain and the guide bar. While doing so, you should be checking to see if the engagement in the drive links will still be there.

Lessening of the contact between the chain and the guide bar should be done such that it does not give room for the drive links to be disengaged from the guide bar

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