How to Shorten the Chain on a Chainsaw

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If a chainsaw chain has become stretched to the point that it no longer can tense up, the chain will have to be replaced entirely. Find out about specialty tools needed to shorten a chainsaw's chain with help from a certified home inspector in this free video on tools and construction.

Part of the Video Series: Chainsaws & Tools
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Video Transcript

Hello, my name is Mark Blocker, in this segment we're going to cover shortening a chainsaw chain. OK before I begin let me just explain a few things to you that might can save you some trouble. If your chain itself has become stretched and it will no longer tension up, you're out of adjustment on the bar tension that tightens the chain, shortening the chain is not going to solve a problem. What happens the chain stretches, the drive teeth wear and if you attempt to shorten it with worn drive teeth or stretched chain, they're not going to lineup on the sprocket and it's just going to rapidly deteriorate or break or damage the chain. So that's not recommended if that's why you're shortening the chain. And to shorten a chain, you want to make sure that you have the exact same type of chain. If it came off a different chainsaw with a different length bar, that would be acceptable but the chain has to have the same cutting teeth, the same number of drive sprockets and the same number of chain. Once this has been established, to break the chain you're going to need a couple specialty tools. One is a chain break, it's a device used for pushing out the links and breaking the chain. You're going to need some way of swedging the chain back together or a replacement master lock or master link, a replacement master link for the chain which has a locking device on it. To break the chain, first you're going to want to find the master link which is usually a different color link. If you look at both sides and inspect the chain you'll find it, it's relatively easy to find. Once you've found that, that's the link you want to remove first. And you do so by using a chain break, the chain just fits into a grooved slot, get it lined up, and you just crank the handle down and what that does is pushes a pin through breaking the swedging, the swedging being the hammered over or rolled edges on the pin that actually hold the chain together, that keeps the link from coming apart. And you just want to take those one at a time and screw them down through and they'll just push one link and you can just come down and push out the other link. Remember you don't want to get the drive teeth mixed up, you have to keep the correct spacing. This chain pretty much dictates it but a ton of times there's an extra link between the drive tooth spacing them out. You've got to make sure you get that spacing correct, come down to whatever length of chain that you need to cut out, cut it out on a correlating tooth so that your sprocket count will stay the same for the drive teeth. Simply insert the link back through placing a plated edge over it and then swedge it and this can be done by a swedging device or you can use a hammer and punch on a block of steel. And what you're trying to do is just roll the edges of that pin back over again it prevents the master link from coming off. That's how you shorten a chain on a chainsaw.

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