Chainsaw chain shortening 101 needed

I need some chainsaw chain 101 for shortening my chainsaw chains. I have 4 Stihl chains that need shortening and would like to buy some tools and do it by myself. I was thinking of picking up the vise grip type chain breaker mender tool to do it. What else do I need? What must I do/know to learn this skill. Thanks Greyhound
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Are you certain they need shortening?
If they were originally used on that saw, then they don't need shortening, you need to adjust the blade.
If they weren't, then you need to find the master link (it will look different than all the others), separate the chain there, use your tool to take out the links you don't want, then reinstall the master link.
--
Mark

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There is not a master link in saw chains. You punch the rivits out of a link, remove a drive tag, or two, and reconnect with a new link. I have repaired chains at home with common shop tools, no need for a rivit punch or rivit seting tools. You will need new links to reconnect no mater what methods you use. I grind the heads off of the old rivits, and peen the new rivit with a small ball peen hammer. All chains are differant, you need to find a source for links that match your chain. The manufacturer of the chainsaw or a small engine shop that deals in your brand of saw, or brand of chain should be able to help. Better yet, just have them do it! Greg
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says...

Wrong. Chains commonly stretch beyond adjustment range due to poor oiling, poor maintenance, cutting with a dull chain and other reasons. Even run properly it is not unusual to need to remove one link.
Harry K
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On Sat, 05 Jun 2004 14:21:40 GMT, "Grey-hound"

First of all, you didn't mention whether or not the chains are too long because they are beyond the range of adjustment for the bar. Normally, this only happens because you run them dry - without sufficient bar & chain oil to lubricate them. You do know how to adjust the length of the bar, correct? And you are using bar & chain oil, right?
Some chains have a master link, some do not - it usually depends upon who made them. Most small shops buy chain on a spool, cut them to length and then fasten them together. Actually, they don't cut them - they count the links and then punch out the rivet. The tool they use is normally the tool you're thinking of buying - it looks like a pair of modified vise grips. That's the simplest and cheapest tool you can use to remove links.
The easiest way to put it back together, though, is using a master link. They are made for that purpose.
Again, however, what bothers me is that you even need to do this. I've got a couple of Stihls and a Husqvarna, used them for 30 years and have never had to shorten a chain. While not claiming any expertise, it does make me think you are doing something wrong.
Also, while on the subject, most of the pros around here (who are pretty cheap!) never use a chain when there is less material on the short side of the sharpened tooth than about 1/8". If your chains are that short, it would be safer to throw them away.
Hope that helps,
--
Larry
Email to rapp at lmr dot com
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I have been using a chain saw for the last 4 1/2 years off and on. I use Stihl chains and have never run them dry. The wood that I am cutting though is some of the toughest and dirtiest wood around. Florida Oak. So tough that toward the stump I have actually seen a spark occasionally spit out. I have never seen a cutter wear out and I typically have to resharpen about every 2 tank fulls of fuel (12V sharpener). When I do trash a chain it is usually worn up to the side of the rivet (as viewed from the side). Before I put on one of the chains that I get shortened at the shop I usually let it sit in a coffee can full of oil for a couple weeks or more. Also after resharpening with my 12 volt sharpener I'll pour a capful of oil around the chain where it contacts the bar. Also when tightening it is usually 2 nickel widths loose or enough so that there is minimal friction. At the end of the cutting day I loosen up the chain due to heat expansion/cold contraction. For a bar I am using the Stihl Duromatic 18" bar which is their higher end bar (lasts a good long time). If there is anything else I can do let me know as my time is cheaper than dishing out wasted cash. Also I like to play it safe as I cannot afford to gamble with unsafe equipment ie;loose chain adjusted to the max and barely hanging on. Shortening chains seems to be a logical step if I can do it myself. Thanks Greyhound
wrote (with possible editing):

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chain way too tight, and/or your automatic oiler isn't working and you're not pumping the manual chain oiler often enough.
Here's a good test. After using the saw for a bit, 10 minutes or so of cutting, kill the engine, and with your (gloved!) hand, try to move the chain along the bar. If it moves freely but has minimal sag at the bottom, the bar is perfectly adjusted. If not, you've got some work to do.
Once you find the proper adjustment point, let the bar and chain cool completely (hour or better) and look closely at how sloppy the chain is. Now you know how much to tighten the bar in the future.
On most saws, the sag at the bottom of the bar will be enough that the points of the guide links are just barely in the track of the bar.
--
Mark

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Excellent 101. I'll adjust them just like you said. One interesting thing I found after my last post was that one of the sprocket teeth cracked or sheered off. Never happened before and it was on a new chain. Both chain and sprocket were Stihl. Got two on order. Greyhound
says...

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I think you might be over-tightening the chain, as Mark said. Also, you want to be sure to use bar & chain oil, not just used oil as some do. Bar & chain oil has some kind of sticky stuff added to it so that it goes further around the bar. I use bars with sprocket tips but I didn't always do that, and I've never had to shorten a chain.
Bear in mind, I'm not trying to start a flame, it's just that I've never seen chains need lengthening and I live in logging country and what little I know, I've learned from guys who make their living doing this.
I've cut dead elm - just like stone! The chains get dull very fast, but it seems like the teeth get too short long before the chain becomes too long.
I sharpen about the same, sometimes a little more often. I take the rakers down a little more than normal. I was shown that doing so makes the saw more aggressive - you can use it upside down if you want - but you better not stop in the middle of a cut.
Mark's method of determining proper length is similar to what I use. It's a bit of an art - too loose and the saw throws the chain, but too tight and you might end up with your problem.
Hope that helps.
--
Larry
Email to rapp at lmr dot com
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On Sat, 05 Jun 2004 14:21:40 GMT, "Grey-hound"

worn or lengthened enough to need shortening, the pitch has changed.The chain will no longer fit the sprocket. It will ride up onto the tips of the sprocket teeth and you'll soon need a sprocket. Get a new chain.
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Andy Asberry wrote:

Good Point! And a sprocket can make a new chain cost look small.
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somewhere in there you said you run a duromatic bar, that's a hard nose bar, no sprocket. then you said they chains wear up to the rivets,. what you need is new chains sprocket and bar. the other clue was dirts and sparks flying. there is never a good reason to remove one link. it's just a aband-aid on the real problem. I went to Stihl school for 3 years in a row, and several oregon chain seminars. I also used to run a stihl 028 with a duro bar. if the indentions in the sprocket are deeper than .030. the sprocket is shot, i've actually seen people who shorten chains run them long enough to cut through the sprocket and snap the end off the crankshaft. just my experience. Chip
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