Chainsaws are necessary machines to possess if you would like to do the tree work yourself without hiring tree professionals. Chainsaws are very efficient tools that can cut trees in a matter of minutes. However, like all other machines and tools, chainsaws can have problems if you use them for a long time without servicing them. A chainsaw requires some maintenance actions to remain in good condition and work efficiently. More specifically, chainsaw chains need shortening for various reasons. This article explores ways of how to shorten a chainsaw chain.
There are many reasons why you need to shorten the chainsaw. However, not all situations are safe when it comes to shrinking a chainsaw chain. We will also look at the appropriate circumstance when it is better to buy a new chain than shorten it. In other words, if it is not safe to shorten a chain, you should buy one.
So the question is, can a chainsaw chain be shortened? The answer is yes. Reducing a chainsaw chain is easy if you have the right tool. Most manufacturers have even made your work easier by including a master link. If your equipment has a master link, all you need to do is to remove the chain and choose the appropriate length to cut. Once you have made the correct length, you can return the shortened link to the mast link. If your chainsaw doesn’t have a master link, you will need a rivet tool to do the work.
Some chainsaws are more complex to shorten than others. The complexity depends on whether the chainsaw has a master link. As we have already said before, if your chainsaw doesn’t have a master link, you need to use a specific rivet tool. Not many people will use the tool correctly because it is more challenging than working with a master link. Moreover, if your chainsaw link is old, do not shorten it because it is dangerous.
How to Shorten a Chainsaw chain with a Master Link
Your chainsaw most likely has a master link. Only a handful of them lacks this crucial component. The master link makes it easier to remove the chain if it needs to be shrunk. Chains with no master link are hard to shorten because one has to dismantle the links with a specific tool. If you do not have experience, you might end up destroying the chain.
Follow the steps below to shorten the chain with a master link. It is as easy as ABC.
- Allow the engine to cool down
The first step, allow the chainsaw engine to cool down. If your machine has been working, it is likely to be too hot to handle. So the chain, and that applies to the chain as well. Allow the chain to cool down completely until you can comfortably place your hand on the chain. However, if the chainsaw hasn’t been in use, you may skip this step.
- Remove the spark plug
The second step is to dismantle the spark plug. Of course, this is a deterrent step. Some people may choose to proceed without removing the spark plug, but that is dangerous. It is a crucial step. Removing the spark plug from the chainsaw to prevent the machine from catching fire. Although the chainsaw is less likely to catch fire if you are the only one around, it is better to stay on the safe side.
- Remove the master link The third step is to remove the master link. You will first have to remove the master link to remove the other links of the chain. Ensure that you remove the links to the required size and be careful not to remove excess links as this will make the chain too short. It is easy to locate the master link because it is different from other links. Just look for a link that has a different color different from the rest.
It is difficult to give exact instructions on how to remove a master link because different master links are designed differently depending on the manufacturer. But you can expect a number of them to have a snap or a clip. You have to pop them open using either a pair of pliers or your bare hands. The process of opening the master link should be straightforward.
Once you have opened the master link, disconnect it from the rest of the links. Use channel locks, a pair of pliers, or a needle nose tool to open the links. Choose the tool that will require minimum effort. Just press and turn the link while applying some pressure to remove it. Once the link is free, you can now shorten the chain.
- Remove the required links
After freeing the master link, now dismantle the required amount of links in the chain to get to the desired length. You only need to apply small pressure for the links to pop out of place. It becomes even easier when you use tools like pliers or needle-nose pliers instead of the hands.
Once you are satisfied with the new chain length, it is now time to reconnect the chain. At this point, you only need to reconnect the master link with the end link on the other end of the chain. Make sure that the connecting link is in place. Make sure it snaps firmly in place.
Next, perform a snap test. You have now finally reassembled the chain. How is the tension of the chain? Is it firm enough? You must ensure that the tension is firm before you embark on using the chainsaw. Use one hand to hold the chainsaw to perform a snap test. Use the other hand to pull the chain on the top side of the bar. Quickly release the chain and see whether there is any snag or snag. If there is no snag, it means that you have successfully tightened the chain. If you feel that the chain is still slagging, then the chain has not been tightened properly and you need to repeat the process once more. Remember, all this while the spark plug is still disconnected.
- If you are completely satisfied that the chainsaw chain has been successfully tightened, you can reconnect the spark plug. Your chainsaw is now ready for work.
How to Shorten a Chainsaw chain without a Master Link
We have already mentioned that you will still find a small number of chainsaws whose chains do not have master links. Although they are not many, there are still chances that you could be owning one of them.
If your chainsaw chain has no master link, the next steps will help you shorten the chain. However, you need a specific tool that will help you to dismantle the chain and remove the extra chains. The name of the tool that will assist you to do this is known as the rivet installation tool. The tool works by releasing one chain link to allow you to remove the other links to attain the desired length. That is why it is known as a rivet tool. You can purchase the rivet installation tool from your local hardware or chainsaw shop. Having said that, the following steps will be of help.
- Allow the chainsaw engine to cool down.
The machine that has been working is likely to be too hot. It also applies to the chain. Allow the chain to cool down completely until you can comfortably place your hand on the chain. However, if the chainsaw hasn’t been in use, you may skip this step.
- The second step is to dismantle the spark plug.
As mentioned in the previous step, the purpose of removing the spark plug from the chainsaw is to prevent the machine from catching fire. Although the chainsaw is less likely to catch fire if you are the only one around, it is better to stay on the safe side.
- After removing the links, use the reverse procedure to return the links.
Make sure that the links snap in place. The final stage is the same as the final steps outlined with the chainsaw with a master link. The final step is the snap test to determine whether the chain has been shortened appropriately.
Whether or not you should shorten your chainsaw chain depends on the condition of the chain of your chainsaw. If your chainsaw has become longer than necessary, it is because it has too many links. A sagging chain makes the chainsaw lose its power and efficiency. In this case, you have to tighten/shorten the chainsaw chain. The good news is that it is a straightforward procedure. All you need to do is to follow the steps outlined above. It is a safe thing to do. Anyone can do it without any problems. However, it is not advisable to shorten the chainsaw link if the chain is old. Instead, replace the chain with a new one. Visit your local hardware or chainsaw store to purchase a new chain if the current one is too old to shorten. It is dangerous to use a worn chain.