How to Shorten a Chainsaw Chain: Easy Tips and Tricks

It’s inevitable. You’re out in the forest, taking care of some business when your chain saw starts to slow down. You take a look at the chain and realize that it’s time for a new one. Here’s how to shorten a chainsaw chain so you can get back to work!

There are a few simple steps to follow in order to safely and effectively shorten a chainsaw chain. Whether you need to remove the length for repair or just want to change the size of your chain, these steps will help you do it properly.

In this blog post, we will provide easy tips and tricks on how to shorten a chainsaw chain and how remove links from a chain. Keep reading for more information!

What should you not do with a chainsaw chain?

Do not touch the chain with your hands. Do not allow the chain to come in contact with any other object except the wood you are cutting.

When you are not using the chainsaw, keep the chain cover on and make sure the chain is oiled. If you do not oil it, the heat and friction will cause it to rust. Also, if you do not keep it clean, sawdust will build up on it and make it difficult to cut properly.

If the chain is too long, it can cause the saw to kick back. This can be dangerous and cause serious injury.

How to shorten a chainsaw chain?

There are two ways to shorten a chainsaw chain. The first way is to remove one or more of the drive links. The second way is to file down the teeth.

How to shorten a chainsaw chain

1. Drive links

Removing a drive link is simple and can be done with a hammer and punch. First, locate the master link. The master link is the link that connects the two ends of the chain together.

Next, use a hammer and punch to drive out the pin that holds the master link in place. Once the pin is removed, you can slide the master link off of the chain. Now, simply reattach the chain without the master link.

If you need to remove more than one link, you can do so by repeating this process. Just be sure to keep track of how many links you remove so you can reattach the chain correctly.

2. File down the teeth

Filing down the teeth is a bit more difficult and requires special tools. First, you will need a depth-gauge file and a flat file. The depth-gauge file is used to file down the depth of the teeth, while the flat file is used to sharpen the teeth.

To start, clamp the chain in a vise so that it is tight and will not move. Next, use the depth-gauge file to file down the depth of each tooth. Be sure to fill each tooth the same amount so that the chain is balanced.

After you have filed down the depth of the teeth, use the flat file to sharpen them. Start at the base of each tooth and file towards the tip. Be sure to hold the file at a consistent angle so that all of the teeth are sharpened evenly.

Once you have sharpened the teeth, reattach the chain and test it out. If it cuts smoothly, you’re all done! If not, repeat the process until the chain is cutting properly.

Alternative methods for Shortening a Chainsaw Chain:

1. Use a chainsaw sharpener

If you don’t feel comfortable removing links or filing down the teeth, you can always use a chainsaw sharpener. Chainsaw sharpeners are designed to quickly and easily sharpen the teeth on your chain.

Use a chainsaw sharpener for shorten a chain

Most chainsaw sharpeners will come with instructions on how to use them. Simply follow the instructions and you’ll have a sharp chain in no time.

There are two types of chainsaw sharpeners: manual and electric. Manual sharpeners are cheaper and easier to use, but they can be tedious to use if you have a lot of teeth to sharpen. Electric sharpeners are more expensive, but they are much faster and easier to use.

2. Take it to a professional

If you don’t feel comfortable sharpening your own chain, you can always take it to a professional. Most hardware stores or home improvement stores will have someone who can sharpen your chain for you.

Be sure to call ahead and make sure they offer this service. It’s also a good idea to ask how much it will cost.

3. Buy a new chain

If your chain is really dull or damaged, you may just need to buy a new one. Chainsaw chains are relatively cheap, so it’s not worth trying to sharpen a damaged or dull one.

Be sure to measure your bar before you buy a new chain so you get the correct size. You should also consult your owner’s manual to be sure you are getting the correct type of chain for your saw.

4. Chain tension:

Another alternative method to shortening your chainsaw chain is by adjusting the tension. This can be done by loosening the bar clamping bolts and sliding the bar forward or backward.

You will know you have the correct tension when the chain is tight, but not too tight. If the chain is too loose, it will come off the bar. If it’s too tight, it can break.

Alternative methods for Shortening a Chainsaw Chain - Chain tension

Once you have the correct tension, tighten the bar clamping bolts and test the saw. If the chain is still too loose or too tight, adjust as needed until it is just right.

5. Use a smaller bar

If your saw is too big for the job, you can always use a smaller bar. This will make the chain shorter and therefore require less frequent sharpening.

Of course, you’ll only be able to use a smaller bar if the saw is powerful enough to handle it. Consult your owner’s manual or the saw manufacturer to be sure.

How to make a chain shorter without cutting it?

Here’s a complete step-by-step guide on how to make a chain shorter without cutting it:

  1. Take the chain out of the necklace or bracelet.
  2. Lay it out so the links are aligned in one long row.
  3. Use pliers to pinch together the two links at one end of the row.
  4. Hold onto those two links with the pliers and use your other hand to twist the rest of the links in that row around them, like you’re unscrewing a lid.
  5. Keep twisting until all of the links have been twisted around those two original ones and they’ve become one shorter link (see picture).
  6. If needed, repeat steps until the chain is the desired length.

Now that you know how to shorten a chainsaw chain, you can keep your saw in top condition and avoid having to buy a new one.

Which way to install a chainsaw chain?

  1. Make sure the saw is turned off and unplugged.
  2. Remove the bar from the chainsaw.
  3. Check the chain for wear and tear, and if necessary replace it with a new one.
  4. Locate the groove in the bar where the chain goes (the groove is generally towards the top of the bar).
  5. Slip the chain over one of the spikes on the upper part of the groove, making sure that all of the teeth are facing downwards (the side with no writing on it should be facing downwards).
  6. Push down on one end of the chain so that it clicks into place.

The chain is now installed! Be sure to check the tension and adjust as necessary before using the saw.

Which way to install a chainsaw chain

Can a chainsaw chain stretch too much?

Yes, a chainsaw chain can stretch too much. When a chain stretches too much, it becomes loose on the bar and can cause the saw to bind up. It can also lead to the chain coming off of the bar.

To prevent a chainsaw chain from stretching too much, you should make sure that you tension it properly and keep it sharpened. You should also avoid overloading the saw by cutting too large of a piece of wood at one time.

If you find that your chainsaw chain is stretching too much, you can take it to a professional to have it shortened. This will reduce the amount of stretch and make it easier to keep the chain tight.

How to Shorten a Chainsaw Chain – FAQs

Is there a master link in a chainsaw chain?
No. Unlike a bicycle chain, there is no master link in a chainsaw chain. A chainsaw chain can be broken and re-joined by using a special tool called a chain breaker.
How many times can a chainsaw chain be sharpened?
Chainsaw chains can be sharpened an average of 12-15 times before they need to be replaced. Factors such as the type of wood you’re cutting and how often you use the saw will affect how often you need to sharpen the chain. A good rule of thumb is to check the sharpness of your chain before each use and sharpen it as needed.



A chainsaw is a powerful tool, but it’s only as good as the chain on it. That’s why it’s important to keep that chain sharp and well-maintained. In this post, we showed you how to shorten a chainsaw chain using three easy tips. We hope you found this information helpful and will put these tips into practice next time you need to shorten your chainsaw chain. Have a safe and productive day in the workshop!

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