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How to Install a Chain on a Craftsman Chainsaw

Craftsman chainsaws have long been a choice for homeowner's and woodsmen alike because of their durability and the ease of performing maintenance on them. Periodically, you will need to replace the chain on your chainsaw. A dull chain can bind, increasing the chances of kickback and injury and it will also generate more dust, which will clog your filter and diminish the performance of the engine. Whether you own an electric Craftsman chainsaw or a gas powered one, the process to install a chain is the same.

Disconnect your chainsaw from its power source. For a Craftsman electric chainsaw simply unplug the saw. For gasoline versions, pull the electric wire off the top of the sparkplug. Grab the wire by the rubber hood that covers the top of the plug and pull it off. Never pull by the wire itself or you could damage the connection.

Move your chain brake lever to the “Off” position. The chain brake lever is the plastic lever located directly behind the bar/handle. If it is properly moved into the “Off” position you should be able to turn the chain by hand.

Turn your chainsaw on its side so the bar/handle is towards the ground and your chainsaw sprocket guard is on the top side of the saw. The sprocket guard looks like a raised "dial" on the front of the body of the engine centered over the chain. The opposite side of the chainsaw only has vents, so you can't go wrong.

Remove the chain shroud by removing the attaching bolts with a box wrench or the Craftsman multipurpose tool included with your chainsaw. Once the bolts are removed, pull the shroud from place.

Turn the knob on the dial (electric models only) closet to the engine case counter clockwise a 1/4 turn. Release the chain tension by turning the ring on top of the knob clockwise a 1/2 turn. For gasoline models, remove the two nuts in front of the chain brake lever. Pull the chain guide plate (a flat, silver-in-color plate with a tab protruding from in front of the dial) off by sliding it forward and out of the casing. Remove the two bolts you loosened.

Wearing gloves, grab the top and bottom of the chain and pull it away from the groove track of the chain guide (what the chain runs around). Slide the chain out from around the sprocket and pull it out from the saw.

Install your replacement chain by reversing these instructions. Make sure when wrapping the chain around the sprocket that it seats well in the groove of the sprocket. You should be able to rock the sprocket back and forth with the chain if it is placed correctly.


If you do not know what size chainsaw chain to buy, remove the old chain and count the links. Do this by pinching one link between you thumb and forefinger (this will count as link "1") and count all the way around the chain until you come back to where you are still pinching the link. This way you will not lose track of where you began and miscount. Find a replacement chain with the same number of links and you will have a proper fit.


Always replace your chainsaw chain with one that is sized exactly to your saw. A chain that is too small, even by a link, will break the saw. One that is too loose will fly off and can cause severe injury.

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