Learn which plants thrive in your Hardiness Zone with our new interactive map!

How to Tighten the Chain on an Electric Chain Saw

By Eric Blankenburg
Keep the chain on your chain saw properly tightened for optimal performance.
Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images

Whether you're cutting brush, logs or trees, the chain on your chainsaw should be properly tightened to meet your cutting job. The proper tightness on your chain will ensure that your cutting will be safe and fast. Every model and saw will vary slightly. To maximize your saw's cutting potential, you will need to get a feel for the proper chain tightness while using the chainsaw.

Turn off the saw, and unplug it. Release the chain brake by pulling back on the chain brake lever. The chain brake is the plastic bar located on the topside of the body and is in between the bar and the throttle. With a gloved hand, spin the chain to ensure the chain brake is off.

Locate the bar's tensioner screw. On some models it will be located in between the bar's two metal faceplate posts. Look on the bar and chain's faceplate cover. If you see a small round hole in the cover's center, the tensioner screw will be through this hole, and you do not need to take off the faceplate. On other models it may be located inside the faceplate's cover. If it is located inside the faceplate, you must remove it. Use the wrench to loosen the faceplate's bolts, and remove the faceplate cover.

Tighten the tensioner screw by turning the screw clockwise until the chain is tight around the bar. Check the chain's tightness by pulling down on the chain. A properly tightened chain will be slightly difficult to pull off the bar. There should be about a finger's width gap between the bar and chain when the chain is pulled down.

If you removed the faceplate cover, re-attach it, and twist the bolts in place with your fingers. Use the wrench to make sure the bolts are tight. With a gloved hand, spin the chain to make sure it slides easily around the bar.


Things You Will Need

  • Screwdriver
  • Wrench


  • Depending on the project, you will want a tighter or looser chain.
  • For cutting brush and shrubs, a tighter chain is preferred to keep the chain from getting pinched or thrown from the bar.
  • For cutting logs or trees, a looser chain is preferred to keep the chain cutting through the thicker wood.
  • Always wear the proper personal protective equipment when using chain saws.


  • Do not over tighten the chain. Over tightening may cause the chain to break and fly back into your legs.

About the Author


Currently based in Minneapolis, Minn., Eric Blankenburg has been a freelance journalist since 2000. His articles have appeared in "Outside Missoula, Outside Bozeman," "Hello Chengdu" and online at GoNomad.com and various other websites. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from the University of Montana.