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Chainsaw chain basics

Chainsaw chain orientation

On top of the bar, the sharp edge faces forward (i.e. away from the operator).

Chainsaw direction

Chainsaw chain direction of rotation

Gray arrows shown on the picture above indicate the direction of travel.

Chainsaw chain parts

Chainsaw chain parts

Chainsaw chain dimensions:


Gauge is the thickness of the drive link tang, and also the nominal width of the chain groove on the chainsaw bar.

0.043", 0.050", 0.058", and 0.063"

Gauge symbol
Gauge measurement
Gauge symbol
Gauge symbol, one of the markings on the bar


Pitch is a nominal number describing how close together links are on the chain. Modern chainsaw chains come in 1/4", .325", 3/8", and .404" pitches.


Lenght of a chainsaw chain is determined by the number of drive links, "56" or "56DL" for example.

Drive link count symbol
Drive link symbol