How to Replace Chainsaw Chain Guide

A lot of people own at least one chainsaw. These machines are incredibly useful both for occasional users and professionals. If you have a couple of trees or bushes in your backyard, there is a good chance that you also have a chainsaw lying around somewhere. However, even though these power tools seem pretty straightforward and simple to use, they are a massive safety hazard when utilized the wrong way.

As you probably know, the chain spins at high RPM which makes it dangerous in wrong hands.

This step-by-step guide is designed to help you go through the steps of replacing a chain without too many issues. While the whole replacing process seems simple, it requires focus, attention, and thoroughness. If you fail to meet any of these three elements, the risk factor rises rapidly.

The process

Before you start changing the chain, please remember that this particular guide might not apply to every existing model on the market. Some units feature different mechanisms and concepts meaning they might not require the same tools or knowledge for the same process.

Step 1

The first thing you should do is remove the side plate. In order to do this, you have to unscrew the two nuts located on the side of the unit. Bear in mind; some models feature only one bigger nut whereas some have two or three. The key is in finding the main guide bar on the side panel and taking it off.

Once you remove the plate, you should have access to the mechanism itself. If you own a model that features a brake attached to the side plate, make sure you unlock it before taking the part off. In case you forget to do it, the reassembly can become quite a nuisance.

Step 2

Once you’ve removed the shroud, the next step is to release the tension. In order to relieve the tension, you have to pull the tip of the saw away from the machine itself. This particular method allows you to release the chain from the tensioner. Make sure not to put too much pressure on the bar because it shouldn’t require much in the first place. If you find it difficult to release the tension, refer to the user manual and check if you missed a hidden bolt.

Step 3

The next step is to remove the old chain. Now, this is a pretty simple process most of the time, but it can also be quite an annoying thing if you own an old or a subpar model. If you run into difficulties with this particular step, make sure everything that’s in the way is loosened and unscrewed. More often than not, people simply oversee a semi-hidden bolt and that can cause a lot of troubles.

However, there really shouldn’t be any problems with this particular step at all. In case you’ve done all previous steps correctly, this one should be a piece of cake.

Step 4

Find and loosen the tensioning screw. This particular screw is usually located on the inside side of the guide bar. Bear in mind, the position of this screw can vary depending on the model you own. However, in most cases, it’s located right next to the guide bar.

This step makes the installation of the new chain much easier and more convenient. Do not take the bolt completely out, just loosen it enough to be able to thread the new chain onto the bar.

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Step 5

Threading shouldn’t cause any major issues unless you’ve bought a wrong chain model. Make sure to carefully thread it around the clutch drum, and make sure that the drive links are engaged in the sprocket and positioned correctly.

Don’t forget to double-check the links because making an error at this point may jeopardize the whole integrity of your tool.

Step 6

Once you’ve threaded the chain, it’s time to make some minor adjustment. The first thing you should do is put some tension on the chain by pulling the tip of the guide bar away from the motor. Once you’ve found the right tension intensity, insert the adjustment pin into the socket. Pay attention to the position of the pin and make sure it goes completely through the guide bar and the socket. In case it gets stuck, relieve the tension and repeat the previous step again until you manage to find the so-called sweet spot.

Step 7

If you’re satisfied with the results so far, it’s time to put the side plate back on. However, don’t tighten the nuts all the way because you’ll need a loose bar for the next step. When putting the shroud back on, make sure you’ve screwed everything in up until that point except the side plate itself.

Step 8

This particular step may be one of the most important ones as it requires precision and patience. Fine-tuning a chainsaw can be a one-minute process, but it can also last for hours, depending on your expectations and overall experience with these machines. Use the tensioning screw to adjust the tension of the chain but make sure you do it gradually instead of screwing it all the way in immediately.

Step 9

This should be the last step in the process. Check the unit out and finish tightening the side plate nuts. Once you finish fine-tuning, turn the unit on and test it out. A few test cuts should be more than enough to indicate whether or not the endeavor was successful. In case you run into issues, try repeating the process until you find a solution.


One cannot say this process is the simplest one out there, but it’s definitely effective. Anyone can do it as long as they keep their safety in mind at all times. We would recommend using gloves during this process, especially if you’re mounting a brand-new chain. It’s not a mandatory thing, but you can rest assured that having a pair of gloves makes things much easier and safer.