How to Put a Chain Back on a Chainsaw

Victoria Ries

Operating a chainsaw is a necessary wintertime task in many rural locations around the world; however, would you know how to put a chain back on a chainsaw bar if it came off while you were cutting firewood?

Chainsaw with operator

It happens frequently, especially if the chain gets hot and stretches, or if it becomes jammed in a piece of wood. Knowing how to fix your saw’s problems in the woods is vital if you rely on firewood to heat your family’s home.

    Bar, chain and cover, chainsaw wrench
  1. Set out the chainsaw parts in front of you. Make sure the chain is facing the right way to cut wood; the teeth should be facing away from you when you are holding the chainsaw.

  2. Line the chain-tension nipple with the corresponding hole on the bar.
  3. Secure the chain around the sprocket (a cog-type part found near the chain tension nipple) and align it along the grooves of the bar. You will see a hole for the chain-tension nipple on the end of the bar. Line these up so the nipple fits in the hole on the bar. Pull the chain to tighten it, using the screw to achieve the desired tension.

  4. Replace the cover plate.
  5. Place the cover plate back on top of the bar and line up the cover-plate housing screws with their corresponding screw holes.

  6. Replace the cover-plate housing screws.
  7. Screw the cover-plate housing screws back in and tighten. Test the chain to make sure it spins freely when pulled.

  8. Check the tightness of the chain.
  9. Check the chain to make sure you can lift it about 1/4 inch, so it isn't too tight to spin while cutting wood.

  10. Tip

    Always use a sharp chain to cut wood, to prevent the damage to the bar that can occur from the chain "burning" through wood, instead of cutting it like butter.


    When you have tightened the chain, make sure it spins freely around the bar. (Use your hand or a screwdriver.) If not, loosen the tension screw located beside the bar on the mounting plate. Always wear safety goggles and special gloves. Wear tight pants to prevent the chain from catching on loose clothing and causing an accident. Leather boots are recommended. When cutting wood, do not lean directly over the chainsaw. You could be injured if the chain slips off the bar.