Chainsaws come in a variety of sizes, brands and even powering. Their diversity can make it almost to use spare parts interchangeably. That’s why it’s only typical for someone to ask, ‘are chainsaw bars interchangeable?’ Unfortunately, there is no definite answer to this popular question. A chainsaw bar is an essential component of a chainsaw that controls the speed and quality of work. Whether you want to replace a damaged bar or swap for a better model, finding the right choice can be a hassle.
Are Chainsaw Bars Universal?
The short answer is no. Different brands design their chainsaws differently. While some operate on electricity, others are gas-powered. Besides, chainsaw bars mount differently on chainsaws, thus making them incompatible.
With that said, it is almost impossible to use different brands interchangeably. For instance, a Husqvarna bar can never fit on the Stihl saw.
Although there is no universal chainsaw bar in the market, you can find one compatible with your saw, depending on a few factors.
Factors That Determine the Interchangeability of a Chainsaw Bar
Most people think that buying an expensive model translates automatically to interchangeable capacity. This is not the case. Ideally, an interchangeable bar is the one that is compatible with your type of chain and fits the original saw.
Here are a few parameters that determine if a guiding bar is compatible with a chainsaw.
The size of the bar is the first aspect to consider. To use one chainsaw bar in two different chainsaw models, both must have the same bar size.
While you can measure the sizes virtually, you can use a measuring tape to get the exact length and width. Checking the information stamp on the bar is also a straightforward way of finding the measurements.
Check and observe if the sizes of the guiding bars match. Unfortunately, this alone does not make them interchangeable.
This is one part that gets crazy with all the sorting. Usually, most chainsaw bar models contain the same arrangement of holes and slots for mounting. They are known as bar mount.
For a guiding bar to be compatible with a chainsaw, it should have a matching bar mount type.
Components of a bar mount
- The main slot- this houses the bar studs found in the powerhead.
- Chain tensioner holes are symmetrical holes that help adjust a chain onto a chain bar. They also hold the chain tension pin.
- Chain oiler holes allow oil to get to the chain groove situated in the bar. Some models have automatic oiler while others contain manual ones.
All these features are available in any standard guiding bar. However, they come in different shapes, numbers, and sizes that make them mutually incompatible. Even slight differences make the holes not align, thereby making them unfit for one another.
Despite all these limitations, there is good news. You can fit the incompatible mounts together using mount adapters.
This is another factor that should be identical in the powerhead, guiding bar, and chain. It refers to the length of the links in a chain.
The interchangeability of these components comes down to the drive sprocket found in the powerhead and nose sprocket in the chainsaw bar. The sprockets are pitch-specific. This means that the sprocket teeth are spaced according to the number of links existing in a chain. Therefore, they should both match for compatibility.
The pitch size determines the performance of chainsaws. Smaller pitch chains are used in low-powered chainsaws, while larger ones are for bigger and power saws.
Mounting the wrong size may cause injuries and extensive damage to the saw.
Some models, such as the Stihl’s Duromatic series, lack nose sprocket, allowing compatibility with various chain pitches. Furthermore, other models also feature replaceable sprockets.
This refers to the thickness of the drive links in the chain. While this does not affect the powerhead, it should ideally match the gauge of guide the bar grove and chain.
A suitable chain link should not fit too tight in the groove but rather snugly. This helps with having a stable structure, thus preventing kickbacks.
Are Chainsaw Bars Interchangeable Depending on Their Type?
The answer to this question is both yes and no. Let me explain. Any chainsaw bar can fit on different saws, provided they are of the same size. However, the chainsaw type changes the performance of the saw because it affects how it operates.
Other distinctions of chainsaw bars are based on the type of nose and method of construction. They include:
- Solid vs laminated bar
Solid guiding bars are built with a single chunk of steel with the bar track milled in it. Although they are heavy and pricier than the laminated ones, they offer durability and eliminates the need for frequent repairs. Solid bars are worthy investments for intense work.
On the other hand, a laminated type of bar is constructed using several layers of steel joined to form a single layer through welding, rivets, or both. Their lightweight makes them flexible and relatively long-lasting. They are perfect for hobbyists.
- Sprocket nose vs hard nose bar
When working on dirty, abrasive conditions, hard nose bars such as the Stihl Duromatic are the best. You won’t experience any jamming when you hit the dirt. Meanwhile, a sprocket nose offers an accurate and reliable cut by facilitating smooth chain spin.
- There are also removable and solid nose bars.
A Guide to Buying the Right Chainsaw Bar
Generally, manufacturer’s use various mounts and pitches for parallel production within their models and other brands. While it is advisable to install a guiding bar from your manufacturer, this is not mandatory.
Read on to find out how to pick the right replacement bar and a completely different one.
Choosing a replacement chainsaw bar
The process of replacing a bar in your possession is quite simple. You already have the measurements. Visit any local hardware store in your area and take the old bar with you. Ask the employee for a replacement, and just like that, you get a perfect chainsaw bar. If that particular model is out of stock, the supply store can still order one for you.
For online buyers, ensure that you get the exact measurements from the bar information stamp. Remember to include the gauge, bar length, pitch, and even type of mount. More so, it is essential to include the brand and model of your chainsaw. Most manufacturers have a compatibility guide on their websites to help you out.
Always double-check your measurements to get the right-sized bar.
Buying a different guiding bar
But what happens if you want to use a different brand or model of chainsaw bar? You can still achieve this and own the versatile saw that you desire. Although the process is much similar to the one discussed above, you can change some aspects.
For example, you can change the length of your chainsaw bar. Just be sure that the bar size matches your motor or power. Using a longer guiding bar puts excessive strain on the engine, thus affecting the saw performance.
Another component that you can change is the bar gauge. You can swap for the one you wish as long as you have a fitting chain.
You also have to ensure that the chain pitch and drive sprocket remain identical to the powerhead. Once you attain all these specifications, go ahead and order or purchase that particular bar.
How to install interchangeable guiding bar on chainsaw
Replacing a chainsaw bar is not as difficult as you may think. Removing the spark plug wire is the first step during any repair or maintenance process. You access the old bar by removing the bolts holding the clutch cover intact. Proceed to unscrew the screws on the bar to release it.
Next, fit in the new guiding bar in position and ensure that all parts are compatible. Screw the bar and cover back in place. If you are familiar with flipping the bar when sharpening the chain, this process is a piece of cake.
Check and confirm that the new bar fits snuggly on the chainsaw body. A tight- or loose-fitting guiding bar may interfere with the alignment of various parts. This dangerous condition may cause injuries to the user and even affect the chainsaw performance.
Replacing a guiding bar also means changing the chain too. All parts must align and tighten well. Once you finish the process, inspect and recheck to ensure that all parts are working correctly.
Chainsaw bars come in a wide variety, including sizes and shapes. Therefore, in the article “are chainsaw bars interchangeable?”, we find certain aspects that determine the interchangeable capacity of guiding bars.
When choosing a replacement bar, note down all the specifications. Even though guiding bar sizes are interchangeable to an extent, the motor should have enough power to pull the chain all the way through.
For the proper functioning of a chainsaw, all components must fit well. This further translates to the high performance and durability of the saw. A misaligned bar may cause serious bodily harm and permanent damage to the saw. Note that flipping the bar each time you sharpen the chain allows even wear.