Chain Saw Bars – How to Tell When Yours Needs to Be Replaced

If you use your chain saw at all, eventually you’ll need to look into replacement chain saw bars.

Extended use, improper bar oil application, and dropping, bending or other damage to the bar can all necessitate bar replacement.

What do you need to know about bars in order to get the right one? And how can you maintain the current bar that you have now? This article will discuss these points.

How Do You Know When You Need to Look at Replacement Chain Saw Bars?

One way to tell if your bar needs replacement is simply to look at it carefully.

Is the bar visibly bent? Does the chain slip out of its track? Are you having issues with bar oil lubricating well? When you look at the track on the bar, does it look worn, with the track edges clearly chipped or otherwise deteriorated?

These are all signs that your bar needs replacement.

Of course, damage to the bar can occur if the saw is dropped. When cutting through large tree trunks or limbs the bar can become stuck in the saw groove, which can cause the bar to warp or bend. Do you notice your saw cutting or pulling to one side? These can all be signs that you need a new chain saw bar.

Bar oil is extremely important for the proper operation and maintenance of the saw, and if the bar oil reservoir is allowed to run dry, you can expect that you will be needing a new bar very soon.

If your chainsaw gets extended use, you will want to examine your bar closely at regular intervals to watch for track wear. Since most people use a saw to cut through wood with downward motion, the bottom of the saw bar takes the most pressure, and thus show wear first.

Things to Know Before Buying Replacement Chain Saw Bars

It would be nice if one-size-fit all, but unfortunately this doesn’t happen with chain saw bars.

There are many makes and models, and unless you’re a professional logger who is well-versed in the many variations of chainsaws and parts, then you’ll want to keep the same original size bar that your saw came with.

However, there are after-market bar companies providing new and improved bars that can replace your current bar. For example, the Cannon Bar Works company of Canada makes replacement bars for a number of saw models, and advertise that their bars are laser cut and milled with a unique flame hardening process to provide longer bar life.

To find a replacement bar, you’ll need to know your saw make and model number. You’ll also need to know the chain pitch and the chain gauge.

Chain pitch establishes the size of the chain. Common pitch sizes include ¼ inch,.325 inch and 3/8 inch. The drive sprocket also has to be the same pitch as the chain.

Chain gauge is basically the thickness of the drive link where it fits into the bar groove or track. Chain gauge and the groove bar gauge have to match. Common gauge sizes can be.050,.063 (measured in fractions of one inch), and so on.

You’ll need to know these numbers before you look at new bars.

Proper Care and Maintenance for Chain Saw Bars

The single most important thing you need to do to maintain your bar is keep the bar oil reservoir full!

Bar oil lubricates the chain while it is moving within the groove. Always use new bar and chain oil. Do not use motor oil or bar oil that has been “recycled.” Impurities and dirt in used oil can cause damage to your chain and saw.

A good rule of thumb is whenever you fill the gas tank on your saw, fill the bar oil as well.

Also, make sure that your new bar, sprocket and chain are properly installed and tightened, since improper installation can increase kickback potential.

What is Kickback and How Can It Be Prevented?

A new chain saw bar can be a big help in preventing kickback accidents.

Kickback is generally when the chain teeth on the tip of the saw bar “grab” the wood and “kick” the bar back toward the operator. This is often a quick and violent action and can be quite dangerous to the operator. (Imagine a saw in full power pivoting off your hands and coming right at you.)

Most chain saws have a tip guard. Some people will remove it, but it is a great safety feature! Maintain a firm grip on the saw at all times, and make sure your saw has the chain brake intact. Avoid sawing with the tip of your saw – use the blade near the motor as much as possible.

Do not saw between your feet when your standing on a log. Maintain your chain, keep it sharp. Chains that are dull are more prone to kickback.

There are even chains that are called “low-kickback,” which are designed for kickback prevention.

Shop online, or your local chain saw dealer can also provide you with suggestions to find the best replacement chain saw bar for your application.