How to Shorten a Chainsaw Chain: A chainsaw is an ideal tool for landscaping, tree workers, and various cutting tasks. But the problem with these tools is that they need some adjustments for best performance. For instance, you may need to shorten a chainsaw chain to perform different cutting tasks. Whether you are using the best small chainsaw or a chainsaw under 200, there are different techniques for how to shorten a chainsaw chain. Most people ask, can I shorten a chainsaw chain? The answer is yes; you can easily shorten the chainsaw chain.
How a Shorten a Chainsaw Chain
If your chainsaw has a mast link, just remove it and the required amount of other links to adjust the length according to your needs. However, if there is no master link, you need a special rivet tool for shortening the chain. Both types of chains have different techniques for shortening them. Let’s take a look at each one of them.
How to Shorten a Chainsaw Chain with Master Link
Modern chainsaws are equipped with a master link. This master link is specially designed for convenient removal when the chain needs to be shortened. It can be very useful as decreasing the chain length without a master link can be a bit complicated as compared to this one. Here is a procedure to shorten a chainsaw chain with a master link
Remove the Master Link
- Chain cooling is essential.
Whether you are working on a tractor, a car, or a chainsaw, the first thing you need to do is to let all the equipment cool down properly. It is not necessary if you haven’t used the chainsaw recently. However, if you have used it, give the chain some time to sit, and the engine cools down.
- Removing spark plug
Remove the spark plug from your chainsaw. It is necessary to prevent it from being able to fire up when you are working on a chainsaw. Don’t take any risk even if no one is around you.
- Remove the master link.
Now locate the master link you want to remove. Removing the master link is important to remove other links of the chainsaw chain to shorten it. If you are a new user, it is easy to locate the master link for you too. A master link looks distinct from other links in the chain. Also, the color of the master link is different from the others.
Remember, all master links are designed differently, so you need to be careful with removing the master link from your chainsaw. But, most links have some sort of snap or clip to keep them secure, and you need to pop this open with a pair of pliers or your hands to unlock the master link.
When the link is free, disconnect it from other links of the chain. You can use channel locks, pair of pliers, or a needle nose vice grip. No matter which tool you select, gently pry and maneuver the link using some pressure to free it.
When the master link is completely disconnected from the links it is attached to, now fully disconnects the chain, and it is ready to be shortened.
- Shortening the Chainsaw Chain
Now you have a free master link; you just need to remove the additional links to get the chain to the required length. It is straightforward to remove links as they will pop out with a little pressure. Though you can do it with your fingers if you have tools like pliers or needle-nose vice grip, you can do with easily and quickly.
- Reconnecting the Chain
After shortening the chain, now you have to reconnect the chainsaw chain. Simply attach the master link to the link available on the other end of the chain. Now snap it back to its original place and make sure that the chain is completely secured.
- Don’t forget to check the Chain tension.
After reassembling the chain, it is essential to check the tension before using it. You can do it with the following snap test.
Make sure that the spark plug is disconnected while doing this. Hold the chainsaw in one hand and grasp the chain along the topside of the bar with the other hand. Now pull the chain away from the bar and release it quickly. A properly tensioned and sized chain will immediately snap back to its original place.
There will be no slack or sag along the bottom of the bar. If the chainsaw passes the test, it has the right length with proper tension. However, if it didn’t pass the test, make sure to adjust the length by repeating the above-mentioned process.
- Reconnect the spark plug
Now you are done with shortening the chainsaw chain and have checked the tension, too, it’s time to reconnect the spark plug.
How to Shorten a Chainsaw Chain without a Master Link
Not all chains have a master link which means you need a slightly different approach to shorten a chainsaw chain without a master link. You need a specific tool to disconnect the chain and help to shorten it by removing links. You need a special rivet installation tool for shortening the chain. This tool helps to release one of the links to free the chain and give you access to free other links easily. If you don’t have this tool, you can buy it from a local saw shop or any hardware store.
Use the riveting tool to punch out the rivets from the chain links, and when you are done with the process, reconnect them using a reverse procedure. Don’t forget to ensure that all connections are properly secured. The rest of the procedure is the same as mentioned in the above process.
Final Words on How to Shorten a Chainsaw Chain
Shortening the chainsaw chain depends on your needs. However, if you want to shorten the chain as it is too long with many links, it is wise to reduce the length of the chain. But if the chain has stretched due to wear and use, don’t try to shorten it as it can be dangerous. Make sure to replace the entire chainsaw chain.