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All About the Chainsaw Bar. Tips from a professional

For professionals and homeowners who deal a lot with cutting or pruning trees, a chainsaw is one of the most used machines. It is a convenient and invaluable tool to use. A chainsaw contains several parts, like the engine, the chain, and the chainsaw bar. This article is about the bar. At first glance, they look alike, but they can differ a lot in reality.

All about the chainsaw bar

Chainsaw bars are mostly brand and model-specific. Expect to replace your chainsaw bar after replacing your chains three times. You can fit a different length bar on most chainsaws, but this means a chain with a different length as well. Most bars can be flipped to extend their life.

There’s so much to know about chainsaw bars, and in this article, I will provide you with a lot of information. And answer some of the frequently asked questions that I get.

What is the Best Chainsaw Bar?

There are so many chainsaws with different chainsaw bars on the market. If your bar is damaged or has seen a lot of wear and tear, you should look for a replacement. Before you purchase one, I recommend checking the following:

1. Your Chainsaw Type

Before buying a chainsaw bar, the first thing to check is to ensure the bar’s compatibility. If the type does not fit your chainsaw, it is of no use. Chainsaw bars are not equal and not compatible with all brands. Some bars are built only for specific chainsaw models or fit a certain model. For example, some bars are only compatible with STIHL chainsaws, while others are only compatible with Husqvarna chainsaws.

I also recommend purchasing a bar length that matches the power of your engine or motor. If your chainsaw has a powerful engine, you use a larger bar. But if your engine is less powerful, you should not go for a longer bar. Check the chainsaw manual for the manufacturer’s recommendations.

2. Type of Chainsaw Bars

All bars belong to one of three main types. The three types are laminated bars with nose wheels, solid bars with replacement tips, and solid bars.

– Laminated bars with nose wheels

Laminated bars are designed to reduce the kickback risk and give a good cutting control. This is possible because of their small nose radius and gentle curve. The bars are laminated to prevent scratching and corrosion.

– Solid bars with replacement tips

Most of the long chainsaw bars you’ll find have replaceable tips, and this is to reduce the load on the tip of the bars. The bars are also coated to minimize scratching and corrosion.

– Solid bars

These bars are best suited for use on thick barks, hard timbers, and in sandy, dusty, and sooty conditions.

3. Chainsaw Bar length

The length of the chainsaw bar determines the type of tree you can cut with it. The length also determines the speed of the chainsaw. Short bars around 12 to 18 inches are better suited for cutting bushes and short trees. If you aim to cut hardwoods and larger trees, you’ll need a bar with a length of 20 inches or more.

4. Safety

Safety is a key point to consider when buying a chainsaw bar. You’ll need to select a bar that can minimize vibration and kickback. Chainsaw kickback is a significant cause of severe injuries. Depending on your use case and experience, getting a chainsaw bar with a lower kickback risk can be a good option.

Another feature that’s important for safety is vibration reduction. To further enhance safety, you should consider a bar that gives less vibration.

5. Weight

The last point we want you to consider is the weight of the chainsaw bar you’re getting. This contributes to the overall weight of the chainsaw. If a lighter chainsaw is important, it’s best to select a shorter and lightweight bar. A shorter bar also means a shorter chain that also has also less weight.

The weight of most of the bars that you’ll find is usually around 1 to 4 pounds. One thing you should note is that some lightweight bars may reduce the weight of your chainsaw, thereby compromising the length. It’s best to find a balance between length and weight when selecting a chainsaw bar, but again, it all depends on what you intend to use it for.

Chainsaw Bar Replacement Guide

If you plan to replace your chainsaw bar, here’s a guide you should follow:

– How do you know when the chainsaw bar is worn out?

Every chainsaw bar will wear and tear, irrespective of the type of bar you use. But you need to know how to tell when your chainsaw bar is worn out. Here’s how you can know if your chainsaw bar needs a replacement:

  • Check the heel area: This is the point that connects the bars to the engine casing, and you’ll need to check if the metal is worn out or not. You’ll know the heel has worn out if it is narrower.
  • Check the bar’s rails: The chain circles through the rails, and it’s the first place you should check to know if it’s worn out. The chain is always in motion, and this is why the rails are more prone to getting worn out. Also, here, check if the metal shows extended signs of wear and tear. If the chain has the correct tension and still gets loose from the bar, it can be a clear sign that it needs to be replaced.
  • Check the depth of the grooves in the rails: As the bar gets older, its groove becomes shallower. Your chainsaw is no longer safe to use if you notice marks or scratches at the bottom of the grooves.

– Determine the Bars that will Fit in

Now that you know how to confirm that your chainsaw bar is worn out, the next thing is to determine the type of bars that will fit. We have provided earlier the key things to consider when buying a chainsaw bar. The most important point is ensuring that the bar fits your chainsaw model. Not every bar will fit your chainsaw.

As mentioned above, the bar made by one manufacturer may not fit those made by a different manufacturer. There are universal bars that can handle many chainsaws, but that doesn’t mean it will fir yours.

– Check the Sprocket and the Chain

Before you replace your chainsaw bars, there are other things you should check as well. The most important is the sprocket and the chain. If the length of the new bar is different from the old one, you may need to get a new chain. It’s best to get a bar that matches your old bar. In some cases, you’ll need to replace the sprocket as well if you plan to change the chain.

– Select the Best Bar

The last thing is to select the best bar for your model. If you have a good dealer, check what he would recommend.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions I get:

– Will any bar fit any chainsaw?

Not every bar will fit any chainsaw. There are what they call ‘universal bars’, but even they do not fit all models. In most cases, a bar from one manufacturer will not fit a chainsaw from a different manufacturer. Chainsaws are designed to work only with suitable bars. To know the bar that will fit your chainsaw, you might want to check the user manual. Another thing you should note is that the length of a chainsaw bar is measured from the heel to the outer tip.

– Can I put a 16-inch bar on a 14-inch chainsaw?

Generally, you can fit a longer bar on a chainsaw. For a 14 in Poulan chainsaw, you can use either a 12-, 14-, 16-, or 18-inches bar. However, it’s important to note that a larger bar may not offer the cutting efficiency you want. Also, ensure that the engine has enough power to drive the longer chain that is needed.

– What size bar can I put on my STIHL chainsaw?

STIHL chainsaws generally come in three different sizes: MSE 140, MSE 180, and MSE 220. The MSE 140 can handle chainsaw bars between 12 and 16 inches, MSE 180 can handle 18 inches bars, while the MSE 200 can only handle between 16 and 20 inches.

– How often should you replace a chainsaw bar?

Generally, you should replace a chainsaw bar after you’ve used three different chains on the same bar. Of course, there are always exceptions to this general rule. Some bars will see more wear and tear and need to be replaced sooner. In other cases, it will last longer. Before you replace your chainsaw bar, you need to be sure that the replacement bar has the same length as the old bar and that it fits your particular brand and model.

– Why are chainsaw bars upside down?

Chainsaw bars are generally designed to be mounted in two ways. So up and upside down or to the right side. This is because it makes it possible for the user to extend the life of the bar by 50%. When you flip the bar, it will relieve the heavily-used side and minimize wear and tear.

– Can I put a shorter bar on my chainsaw?

Most of the chainsaws you’ll find can work with at least three different bar sizes. But understand that a different chainsaw bar length also means a different chain. Ensure that the bar fits your chainsaw brand and model. People generally like using a shorter bar because of its increased power and reduced friction. But it greatly depends on your use case.