How to Buy Guide Bars for a Chainsaw

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How to Buy Guide Bars for a Chainsaw

A chainsaw is used to prune foliage, cut firewood and fell trees. Being that they are an invaluable tool for anyone with heavy garden work to do, it certainly pays off to be well informed about their maintenance.

Chainsaw Power Source and Construction

Constructed with a mechanical, toothed chain, chainsaws are powered by either electricity, battery or a petrol engine, details of which are outlined in the table below. No matter the power source, all chainsaws have the same basic construction.


Powered either by a rechargeable battery, an electric motor with a cable or a petrol powered engine.

Drive mechanism

The mechanism that drives the chain is made up of a clutch which links the chain and engine, and a toothed wheel, or sprocket, that turns the chain which, in turn, provides the cutting action.

Guide Bar

This is a notched, elongated, flat panel that guides the chain and ultimately defines the size and cutting power of the chainsaw.


A cutting chain whose links are connected by rivets. Toothed and sectional, the chain has a sinuous, snake-like movement.

The Chainsaw Guide Bars

Chainsaw guide bars are available in a variety of sizes, categorised by length. Calculated by measuring the tip of the cutting edge to the entry point of the chain into the housing, this length dictates not only the chain size, but also the volume of work that can be handled:

Light use

Low hanging branches, small trees, light foliage, and irregular tasks.

Medium use

Small trees, larger branches, logs, and frequent use.

Heavy use

Heavy volume tasks, professional operation, and regular use.

The Guide Bar Length

Guide bar length is also vital to the efficiency and safety of chainsaw operation. Too short and the chainsaw could ‘stick’ in the wood, pinch, and then kickback, causing severe injury; too long and the chainsaw may kickback towards the operator, again causing severe injury. The size and weight of a chainsaw directly correlates to the appropriate guide bar length:

Lightweight Chainsaws

For irregular use, felling small trees, pruning minor foliage and splitting small logs.

Guide bar length of 8 to 14 inches.

Mid-weight Chainsaws

For frequent use, splitting small logs, pruning more dense foliage and felling small trees.

Guide bar lengths of 14 to 20 inches.

Heavyweight Chainsaws

For regular, heavy duty use. Generally recommended for professional operations.

Guide bar lengths greater than 20 inches.

There are three, basic specifications to ensure that a chain corresponds to the guide bar length:


Gauge is defined by the size of the guide bar, and refers to the thickness of the links. The measurements must be exact as too large a chain will slip and too small will not fit.


Pitch is estimated by measuring the distance between three rivets and then dividing it by two. The pitch and sprocket (toothed wheel as mentioned in the table explaining construction) must be compatible or the chain will not fit and will either impede efficiency, or simply not work.


As with gauge, the length is defined by the number of links. The bar, chain, and sprocket must always be of compatible size to ensure a safe and efficient cutting action.

Deciding on a Power Source

Before choosing a chainsaw, it is important to match the size of the tool to the task planned, as well as ensuring that the weight of the engine is suitable. Generally, the larger the task, the heavier the chainsaw required:




Cordless (battery powered)

Relatively lightweight and easy to manipulate.

The length of the task able to be undertaken is limited by the battery power.

Electric (mains powered)

Generally lightweight, easy to manoeuvre and has a continuous power source.

The range from the power source is restricted by the cord or cable.


Suitable for larger areas and more robust foliage.

Weighty, noisy, produces fumes when in operation and requires routine maintenance checks and regular refuelling.

Cordless Chainsaws

Cordless chainsaws are powered by rechargeable batteries. Their use is not bound by power socket location – although the volume of work able to be undertaken will be restricted by battery life. Certain brands offer interchangeable rechargeable batteries, where any tool in the brand range will suit the specific battery. For example, a spare battery could be purchased and be used for, say, a drill as well as providing a back-up source to ensure continuous usage for the chainsaw.

Electric Chainsaws

Electric chainsaws come with a power cable and are mains-powered. They are versatile and relatively easy to manoeuvre, although the length of the power cable will limit the range from the power socket. An extension lead specifically for outdoor use will extend the operator’s reach.

Petrol Chainsaws

Petrol chainsaws are driven by a small internal combustion engine and are most suitable for regular, heavy duty tasks. As there is no cable or battery to restrict usage they are more suitable for dense overgrowth, large volume topiary and tree felling. Petrol chainsaws are weightier than battery or cable powered units, and will, therefore, be more likely to cause operator fatigue. They require regular maintenance, can be significantly louder when in use, and will emit fumes.

Safety Concerns

As with any item of powered equipment, wearing the appropriate protective gear and the observation of some simple safety rules are essential. Before starting any job, be sure to be sufficiently prepared against any accident or injury:

Consider the weather conditions

Do not use a chainsaw outside in wet weather, particularly battery or mains powered versions, as the moisture may affect the power source, and this may make the footing precarious.

Check the manufacturer’s instructions

Each chainsaw will have a list of brand specific recommendations. Ignoring this list will put the safety and efficiency of the machine into question.

Clear the area of obstacles

Ensure that all obstructions are cleared from the area, particularly young children and untethered animals, before beginning the task.

Wear safety goggles

It would be wise to don safety goggles before beginning the job so that any flying off cuts or debris does not hinder vision.

Wear protective footwear

A fumbled or dropped chainsaw could obviously cause injury. Therefore, heavy duty, reinforced toe capped footwear should always be worn.

Ensure safe operation

Ensure that any appliance with cables is used facing away from the power socket and that any excess power line is behind and well away from any cutting edge.

Freeing jams

Make sure that the chainsaw is turned off and the cutting chain has stopped moving before trying to remove any jammed debris.

Chainsaw Maintenance

As well as employing safety precautions, regular visual checks of any petrol powered chainsaw will aid safe operation and tool durability:

Check the guide bar and chain.

Check that the chain groove is clear of debris. Replace the bar if it is nicked or bent as any damage will prevent the chain from moving smoothly.

Check the spark plug.

Remove the spark plug and, if it is fouled, clean it or, if necessary, replace it.

Check the sprocket.

Replace the sprocket if it is grooved or severely worn.

Check all fittings and housing connectors.

Inspect all fasteners to ensure they are in place and tightened securely and that the housing itself is undamaged.

Inspect the air filter.

Remove the cover and check that the filter has no impediment to air flow.

Check the chain oil.

The oil reservoir should be refilled at the same time as the fuel tank. Lack of oil is a common cause of damage and can lead to rapid wear of the guide bar.

Check the fuel reservoir.

Check the fuel tank for leaks and make sure that it is filled to the recommended level.

How to Buy Guide Bars for a Chainsaw on eBay

To buy chainsaw guide bars, open the eBay homepage then click on the All Categories link. Next, choose Home & Garden, click on the Garden tab, and select Power Tools & Equipment from the filter menu on the left. Then choose Chainsaw Parts & Accessories and click on Guide Bars in the filter options. Item listings will then be available for consideration or, alternatively, the search bar at the top of any eBay page can be used. For example, to find 16 inch guide bars, simply type in “chainsaw guide bar 16”.


A chainsaw is used to prune foliage, fell trees and cut firewood and can be powered by electricity, rechargeable batteries or, more commonly, a petrol engine. A guide bar must directly correlate to the chain length which can be calculated by measuring pitch, gauge and length. As well as employing safety precautions, regular visual checks of any petrol powered chainsaw will aid safe operation and tool durability.

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