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How-To Tension Chainsaw Chain

Overview


Proper chainsaw chain tension is critical for the performance of your chainsaw. Chain tension should be evaluated before beginning work and checked regularly throughout the job. A loose chainsaw chain increases the risk of kickback as well as the chances of the saw chain being thrown off the guide bar. Saw chain that is too tight can prevent the chainsaw from turning the saw chain or cause the chainsaw to heat up. In addition to being a potential fire hazard, an overheated saw chain and guide bar can significantly reduce the useful life of these components.

  

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Step by Step: How to Tension a Chainsaw Chain

Step by Step: How to Tension a Chainsaw Chain on Oregon Intenz Guide Bar

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Video: Oregon's Technical Tips - Chain Tension

Oregon urges you to become familiar with proper saw chain maintenance techniques, and be aware of the possible dangers which can result if saw chain is not properly maintained. Always wear proper protective apparel when operating or maintaining a chainsaw. Check your chainsaw's chain tension frequently during operation.  

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Step by Step: How to Tension a Chainsaw Chain

Important: Always make sure the engine is turned off before you begin tensioning the chainsaw chain. Also, saw chain should only be tensioned while it is cool, not hot.

This article is meant to be a starting point for learning how to tension your chainsaw chain. For more information, refer to the operators manual for your saw, the instructions included with your saw chain and/or guide bar, and Oregon support videos.

 

Step 1

Locate the chain tension adjustment points on your chainsaw.

Common locations for adjustment points include the side cover and the front of the chainsaw. For some chainsaw models, like the Oregon CS300, the adjustment points are housed within a side cover release knob.

 

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Step 2

Turn the adjustment screw "clockwise" to tighten, "counterclockwise" to loosen.

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Step 3

Adjust the chainsaw chain tension.

Use a chainsaw scrench to loosen your tensioning pin. This pin moves the bar for tensioning purposes and is attached to a screw. 

Hold the nose of the bar up as you adjust the tension (do not let go of the bar nose until after you've tightened the mounting nut in).

powercut guide bar

For a sprocket-nose guide barfollow the solid-nose guide bar instructions, then give the tensioner another quarter to half turn. The bottoms of the lowest tie straps and cutters will come up and solidly contact the bottom of the guide bar rail. The tension for a sprocket-nose guide bar must be tighter than for the solid-nose guide bar.

duracut guide bar

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Step 4

As you increase the chain tension, monitor the gap between the under-side of the guide bar and the slack chain. Continue tensioning the saw chain to remove this gap. The saw chain is properly tensioned when the drive links are fully seated into the groove of the guide bar and all chain tie-straps make light contact with the guide bar. 

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Step 5

With a gloved hand, pull the chainsaw chain along the top of the guide bar guide bar away from the engine towards the guide bar nose several times. The chainsaw chain should feel snug but still pull freely.

 

Step 6

Finally, perform a "snap" test to ensure proper saw chain tension. Simply pull the chain on the underside of the guide bar down so one or two drive links are out of the guide bar rails and release it. The chain should snap directly into position.



Continue to check the saw chain tension regularly, especially during the first half hour of use. If the chain becomes loose, stop cutting and let the saw cool before readjusting the tension.

 

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Step by Step: How to Tension a Chainsaw Chain on an Oregon Intenz Guide Bar

Oregon’s Intenz guide bars have their own built-in tensioning mechanism which allow you to tension chain quickly and easily. With Intenz, you don’t need to hold the bar tip up during the tensioning process.

 

Step 1

Loosen the bar nuts on the side of the chainsaw guide bar.

 

Step 2

Insert a screwdriver or chainsaw scrench into the Intenz slot of the guide bar.

 

Step 3

Turn the screwdriver or scrench clockwise to move the guide bar forward to proper chain tension. Perform a "snap" test to ensure proper saw chain tension.

 

Step 4

Tighten the chainsaw's guide bar mounting nuts - starting with the back nut before tightening the front.

With a gloved hand, pull the chainsaw chain along the top of the guide bar from the engine to the guide bar nose several times. The chainsaw chain should feel snug but still pull freely.

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Oregon strongly encourages safe work practices and always recommends the use of appropriate safety apparel. Persons demonstrating technical product information in videos or photography do not necessarily represent proper safety habits for any given task.