Do Drive Links Matter on Chainsaw: A Guide

do drive links matter on chainsaw

Understanding the importance of drive links on a chainsaw chain is critical for optimal performance and safety when using your chainsaw. This comprehensive guide examines if drive links really matter on a chainsaw and provides key information on chain components, compatibility, maintenance, and replacement.

Do Drive Links Matter on Chainsaw?

do drive links matter on chainsaw

Yes, drive links absolutely matter on a chainsaw chain. They serve several crucial functions that impact the saw’s performance and operation.

Importance of drive links

Drive links provide important counterbalance between the chain and the guide bar. This ensures the chain stays centered and tight as it moves around the bar. Without drive links properly balancing the chain, it could loosen and derail or bind up entirely.

Drive links also prevent issues like chainsaw kickback by keeping the chain stable and tight on the bar. Loose or improperly tensioned chains are more prone to kickback, which is dangerous.

Different saws require different numbers of drive links

The number of drive links needed depends on the length and gauge of the bar on your particular chainsaw model. Saws with more drive links generally have a more balanced feel and a stronger chain that stays tighter. It’s important to use the recommended number of drive links for your saw to maintain proper function.

Chainsaw Chain Components

Do Drive Links Matter on Chainsaw: A  Guide

There are several parts that make up a chainsaw chain. Understanding the role each component plays is helpful when selecting and maintaining chains.


The cutter teeth do the actual cutting work as they grind through wood. Their sharpness and style impact cutting performance.


The guide slides along the groove in the guide bar and helps direct the chain.

Drive link

Drive links are the critical components described above that engage the engine’s drive sprocket and propel the chain around the bar.

Tie strap

Tie straps link together the cutters and drive links to form the loop of the chain.


Rivets hold all the chain components in place securely.

Chainsaw Chain Compatibility

For optimal function, the chain must be properly matched to your guide bar. The primary factor is making sure the chain gauge or width of the drive links matches the groove width in your guide bar.

Cutting teeth

Teeth can have different profiles like chisel or semi-chisel. Teeth style should suit your typical cutting needs.

Drive links

Drive links must slide smoothly but snugly along inside the guide bar groove. Wrong gauge drive links won’t function well.

Tie straps

Tie straps loop around the guide bar and connect the inner components. Proper tie strap length is needed for bar fit.

Chainsaw Chain Maintenance

Keeping your chainsaw chain well-maintained is essential for performance and longevity. Drive links play a key role in proper chain maintenance.


Drive links help pick up and distribute lubricating oil from the saw over the entire chain as they rotate around the bar. This prevents rust and wearing.

Debris removal

Drive links also scrape out wood chips, sawdust, and other debris from the guide bar groove. This keeps the bar clean and prevents clogging.

Chainsaw Chain Replacement

With heavy use over time, chainsaw chains eventually require replacement. Examining the drive links provides key signs that your chain needs swapped out.

Signs of worn drive links

Look for issues like rapid wearing of cutter teeth near the bar tip and uneven, rough cutting. Both can indicate worn out drive links.


What is the function of drive links in a chainsaw chain?

Drive links are responsible for maintaining the position and stability of the chain on the guide bar, distributing lubricating oil, and scraping out debris.

How do drive links affect chainsaw performance?

Drive links impact the balance and strength of the chainsaw, which can affect cutting performance and safety.

How can I determine the correct number of drive links for my chainsaw?

Consult your chainsaw’s manual or measure your existing chain to determine the correct number of drive links.

Can I use a chain with a different number of drive links than recommended?

Using a chain with a different number of drive links than recommended can affect the balance and strength of the chainsaw, potentially impacting performance and safety.

How do I maintain my chainsaw chain?

Regularly lubricate the chain, clean debris from the guide bar, and inspect the drive links for wear.

When should I replace my chainsaw chain?

Replace your chainsaw chain when you notice signs of wear on the drive links, such as rapid wear on blade teeth at the tip of the bar or uneven cutting.

Are chainsaw chains universal?

No, chainsaw chains are not universal and must be matched to the specific chainsaw model and guide bar.

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