How To Choose A Chain For A Chainsaw

Choosing a chain for a chainsaw: which is better?

The chainsaw chain is critical. It depends on its quality how well the work with wood will be. It is necessary to understand what types are, how they differ and which one to choose for performing certain works. over, everyone who works with chainsaws should remember that chains gradually wear out. Regardless of how carefully to treat them, over time it is necessary to replace.


How To Choose A Chain For A Chainsaw

It is interesting that even with intensive use of the chain of this brand, the carved element will not stretch. This effect was achieved due to the fact that the saw chains are riveted on a heated metal. Patented oil groove system ensures even distribution of the lubricant over the entire surface, so the chain can last longer.

The most popular Stihl chains are:

  • Picco micro mini.


This company is not a global manufacturer of chainsaw chains, but supplies several samples to the market. They usually come with branded saws. Interestingly, the chains are being developed at the Oregon factory, but under a different brand. The technology, accordingly, is also used differently: only other people’s production facilities are used. Husqvarna now offers chains for household and semi-professional tools.


Popularity rating

Now it is worth considering the main models of chainsaw chains that are on sale. This will allow you to choose the best option for performing a particular job.

Types of chains

You can choose a budget chain and guide bar or a more expensive kit that is durable.

These are the types of chains that exist today:

  1. Wear resistant general purpose. They are made of carbide to cope with most tasks.
  2. With different pitch of the cutting element. It is necessary that the chain matches the length of the bar and repeats the features of its design. The most popular pitches are 3/8 “or 0.325”. If you choose 0.404, then such a chain can be used to work using professional equipment.
  3. Shank parameters (thickness) also need to be considered. It ranges from 1.1 mm to 2 mm. Medium and high grade chains have two shanks, which increases the efficiency of the chainsaw.
  4. Length. This parameter must be known in order for the chain to come to the bus and be normally installed on it.

These are the main parameters that you need to pay attention to when choosing a chain for a chainsaw.

Depth of cut selection

The depth of cut (depth of cut) is an important characteristic of a chainsaw that determines its performance. The cutting depth is determined by the parameters of the cutting tool, i.E. The height of the chain tooth profile. Increasing the tooth height increases the depth of cut in one pass, which increases the cutting speed. It should be noted that an increase in the height of the tooth reduces its strength characteristics and requires an increase in effort when sawing wood.

Saw chain structure.

In a conventional chainsaw chain, a characteristic such as the tooth height is determined by the profile and parameters of the cutting depth limiter, which is installed on any working tooth. In a new circuit, this parameter is set by the manufacturer. The consumer can change the height of the tooth by grinding the stopper, but this operation should be treated with caution.

The chains are serially produced with two tooth profile heights. 0.635 mm and 0.762 mm. The chain with a lower tooth height is called low-profile, the second is called high-profile. For household chainsaws, low-profile ones are mainly used. Chainsaws with high-profile chains require increased effort and vibration during operation. To reduce the impact of negative factors, you can use an alternative approach. For high-profile links, the pitch of the links decreases, and for low-profile links, vice versa.

How to choose a chain step by step: basic rules

The chain pitch is the distance between the centers of adjacent links. It is one of the main parameters of the chainsaw chain. In practice, the pitch is measured as the distance between the centers of the first and third rivets in a row. The pitch determines the dimensions of the link: the larger the pitch, the greater the length and width of the link. As the pitch increases, the distance between the cutting teeth increases. These circumstances lead to the fact that with an increase in the step, the productivity increases, but also the effort required when cutting increases. Thus, this parameter is directly related to the power of the chainsaw itself.

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The main parameters of the chainsaw chain.

Chainsaw chains are available in five different pitch options. This parameter is usually expressed in inches, and its value is indicated on the side of any product. The following steps are used:

  • 0.25 (1/4);
  • 0.325;
  • 0.375 (3/8);
  • 0.404;
  • 0.75 (3/4) inch.

For household chainsaws, chains with a pitch of 0.325 (for chainsaws with a power of 3 HP) and 0.375 (power of chainsaws. 4 HP) inches are common. The 0.404 inch pitch is used on professional chainsaws with at least 5.5 hp. Pitch 0.25 and 0.75 inches are currently used extremely rarely.

The choice of chain step by step is determined by the purpose of the chainsaw. If you plan on sawing small pieces of wood (cant, thin logs, etc.) or trimming branches and limbs, a 0.325 inch cutting element is recommended.

Selection by link type

Chainsaws for professionals use many specific forms of chain working elements. The main ones that have found wide application are the chisel and chippel types. Each of them has its own advantages and disadvantages, but can be successfully used in chainsaws and most often in household.

The cross-section of a chisel-type link is shaped like a number 7. Experience with such chains shows that they provide high productivity and high-quality sawing of wood. With such a profile, the working section of the link has a straight surface, which allows it to evenly penetrate into the material being cut. The disadvantages of chisel options include the complexity of sharpening. Even small deviations from the specified profile angles will significantly reduce the cutting performance. In addition, during operation, closed areas arise, which become a reservoir of dust and dirt.

Chainsaw Performance Comparison Chart.

The cross section of a chip-type link is shaped like a sickle. The working area of ​​the link has no pronounced corners. They are rounded. Due to this, the total area of ​​the working area increases, which leads to an increase in loads during sawing and somewhat reduces the functional capabilities of the cutting element. At the same time, the chipset type gets advantages when sharpening teeth, since it does not require strict adherence to dimensions and angles, and also does not have the disadvantage associated with the accumulation of dirt and dust, which is important when working with wood.

Selection by type of sawing

For the final solution to the issue, the type of sawing should be considered. In general, wood can be cut transversely or along the grain, and the mechanism of these cuts is different from each other. In this regard, for different types of sawing, it is advisable to use a cutting element of different shapes. Accordingly, it is customary to distinguish between two types. Longitudinal and transverse.

Chain types differ in the angle of the cutting link. For the transverse type, the sharpening angle is smaller than for the longitudinal type. So, the sharpening angle for cross-cut is 25-35 °, and for longitudinal. 5-15 °. The value of this parameter is applied (marked) to the surface of the cutting teeth. In addition, it should be noted that the angle depends on the type of wood and its density.

Taking into account the thickness of the tail

The next important parameter in order to choose a chain for a chainsaw is the thickness of the tail, which determines the thickness of the elements and the width of the entire drive link. This characteristic is directly related to the dimensions of the groove on the chain saw bar for pulling the chain. Naturally, when choosing a new copy according to the size of the tail, you need to check whether it fits into the groove of the tire.

Saw chain design.

This parameter itself determines the strength of the chain, its quality, reliability and ability to ensure the cutting process under heavy loads. Variants with five tail sizes are available. 1.1; 1.3; 1.5; 1.6 and 2 mm. The narrowest chain for a chainsaw with a tail thickness of 1.1 mm is used for miniature household chainsaws of low power. Small-sized specimens with such links are not able to withstand significant loads when sawing.

The most common tool for household purposes is a tool that uses links with a 1.3 mm ponytail. Their capabilities are expanding and they can be used at a semi-professional level. In terms of quality and reliability, they fully meet the basic requirements for household chainsaws. Chains with a tail thickness of 1.5-1.6 mm are widely used in professional chainsaws with their frequent and prolonged use. The 2mm ponytail chain is only suitable for powerful high performance tools.

How to choose the right chain for a chainsaw?

The chain is the most important part of any chainsaw. It is she who perceives most of the loads, and therefore wears out faster. Very often, the question of how long a chainsaw will last is how to choose a chain for a chainsaw.

Chainsaw diagram.

Many people believe that the performance of a chainsaw depends entirely on its power. But this is far from the case. Performance depends more on which chain is chosen for the chainsaw. It is she who can determine both the quality and the cutting speed. Inconsistency of the parameters of the leading elements of the saw can make the tool practically inoperative.

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Step 0.404

Saws with such a pitch are installed only on professional units with a power of at least 5.5 hp. With a saw with a pitch of 0.404 inches, you can cut trees of any thickness, and the units for this cutting element have a large torque, which greatly facilitates the work of a person.

It is important to know that the chain pitch always corresponds to the pitch of the sprockets, both driven and driven. It follows from this that if the documentation for the device indicates that it works with a chain with a pitch of 0.404, then you should not put the chain on the chainsaw with a pitch of 3/8. Before installing a chain with a different pitch, you need to purchase a complete kit that includes both the bar and both sprockets: the master and the follower.

Types of chains for chainsaws

Those who have come across wood sawing know that it can be cut either along the grain or across. Based on this, different types of chains are produced for chainsaws: for transverse or longitudinal cutting of wood. In both cases, the difference in material resistance will be significantly different. For rip sawing, the teeth are sharpened at an angle of 5 to 15 °. Cross cutting requires sharpening the tool at an angle of 25-35 °. The figure below shows how the angle of sharpening of the teeth is determined.

Rip sawing chains are rarely used because it is much easier to dissolve the workpiece on a circular. Due to low demand, manufacturers of this tool are not particularly involved in improving it, and it is quite difficult to find a rip saw chain on the market. Most chainsaw buyers choose a tool with a cross-cut type, and it is the most popular among both professionals and DIYers. But, before choosing a chain for a chainsaw, you should study the main parameters that affect the performance and quality of the tool.

Chain size

This parameter always depends on the size of the tire fitted to the machine. If you accidentally buy a chain that is smaller than your bar, you will not be able to put it on. If this element is larger than the tire, you will not be able to tighten it. Both options prevent the use of inappropriate chain sizes. They are usually indicated in inches and have the following meanings: 10 “, 12”, 13 “, 14”, 15 “, 16”, 18 “and above.

The chain length is determined by the number of links. Links are connecting links that fit into the groove of the bar, not cutting teeth. When buying, you can specify to the seller either the length of the part in inches, or the number of links included in its composition. Some manufacturers, instead of the length, indicate the number of links in the saw unit. As a rule, this number does not depend in any way on the thickness of the tail, step and profile height. For example, a low profile chain with a drive link thickness of 1.3 mm can consist of 72 links, 56 links or other number of links.

0.325 inch pitch

This is the minimum step value, but the most common nonetheless. Saw blades with this step are usually installed on amateur and semi-professional machines with low power. In the range of 3-3.5 hp. This is enough to easily cut branches, fell thin trees, and perform minor construction work. 0.325 inch chain runs smoothly without vibration, tearing wood, overloading the engine or fatiguing the operator.

Tire size

In addition to the thickness of the tire, which was mentioned above, when choosing a chainsaw, one more parameter should be taken into account. The length of the tire. It is measured in millimeters or inches. Tires of the following sizes are often used: 11 “, 12”, 13 “, 14”, 15 “, 16”, 18 “, 20”, 21 “, 22”.

For simple jobs such as delimbing, cutting thin boards, you can use smaller tires. 11 or 13 inches. The chain on such tires accelerates to high speeds, which has a good effect on performance. Tire sizes between 14-16 inches are considered the most versatile. In addition to using the unit as a delimber, the chainsaw can be used when preparing firewood (sawing thin logs). To cut a thick log, use 18-22 ”tires. They are usually used on semi-professional and more powerful, professional chainsaws.

Drive link (tail) thickness

This parameter is the second most important when choosing a saw blade. You should be aware that the width of the tire will differ on different brands of chainsaws. Drive links are also designed only for a certain type of tire.

Leading links are of the following sizes.

  1. 0.043 “or 1.1 mm. This is the smallest leading link. It is usually installed in miniature chains, which are designed for “weak”, household units that are not designed for heavy loads.
  2. 0.05 “or 1.3 mm. Although the difference with the previous example is slight, the cutting element is designed for more noticeable loads. Chains with a link of 1.3 mm are most common among owners of household and semi-professional chainsaws, are lightweight and quite reliable.
  3. 0.058 “or 1.5 mm. This type of saw is no less popular than the previous one, but it is already used not only in semi-professional tools, but also in professional class machines.
  4. 0.063 “or 1.6 mm. Chains with such a thick ponytail are more durable and are only used on professional tools.
  5. 0.08 ”or 2mm. This size is the final among the types of leading links. The chain is designed for long-term operation and heavy loads. It is not difficult to guess that the element is used only on highly professional chainsaws with high power.
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As a result, the thicker the driving link is, the stronger and better the chain is, and the more loads it can withstand. But, when choosing a cutting element, it is necessary to check the instructions for the device, which indicates what size the tire is allowed to be installed on it.

Carbide chains

Such chains are much more expensive, and they have a special purpose. Work with frozen wood or with contaminated material. In all other situations, the money will be wasted, since for simple wood there is no sense in carbide brazing.

Is the sequence of the cutting links important??

In the usual case, when the saw is manufactured at the factory, it is customary to put two driving links on one cutting link, thus, 50% of the total cutting teeth is obtained. Then the performance of the equipment remains at the level, and the quality of the cut is not lame, but in order to reduce the cost of the chain, the cutting links can not put every step, but after one or even two steps, which will bring the total number of cutting links to 37.5%. The chainsaw will become cheaper, but the cutting quality will deteriorate greatly, so it is better not to pay attention to such devices.

The main types of links

If we consider the most common types of links, then these are chisel links that are most often found on professional equipment, and chipper, which are supplied to simple chainsaws. The first option in the section is a bit like the number 7, and this design allows you to work with the saw as quickly as possible, since the link sticks into the material evenly. The cutting is more accurate, but it is extremely difficult to sharpen such links at home, since the slightest deviation from the permissible angle negates all the advantages of this design. In the case of a chipper, there is no need to maintain strict corners, and such a link is also less afraid of contamination, although there is a higher load on the tool. For home operation, the second option is more suitable, especially if there are no skills in sharpening the saw. As for the material, chromium-nickel steel is mainly used, although if it is necessary, if it is necessary to work with a particularly strong material, carbide brazing can be put on the teeth, as evidenced by the markings on them.

What to look for when choosing a saw chain ?

The key characteristics of a saw chain are its pitch, shank or drive link thickness, depth of cut and profile size, and chain length. The direction of the cut should also be taken into account. It is from these parameters that you need to build on when you buy a chain instead of a worn out one, or when you need to buy a chain for some special needs. In order not to be mistaken, you can look at the device’s passport, where the manufacturer indicates the main parameters of the saw. If we are talking about the initial purchase of a tool, then these parameters themselves must correspond to the purposes of using the chainsaw.

How to determine a chain for ripping or cross cutting?

  • For cross cutting, the chain sharpening angle is 30 degrees.
  • For longitudinal sawing, the angle of sharpening of the saw chain is 10 degrees.

Stihl’s rip saw chain is PMX. For example, STIHL 63 PMX 50.

Oregon will have an R in its chain model index. Example: 73RD100R

Drive link thickness

In this case, a division into several main categories is also used in accordance with this parameter. These are thicknesses such as 1.1; 1.3; 1.5; 1.6; 2 mm (0.043 ”, 0.050 ”, 0.058 ”, 0.063 ”, 0.080 ”). This characteristic, measured in inches, affects how smoothly the cutting blade will move while the saw is running.

  • Chains with a pitch of 1.1 mm are used on low-power household chainsaws, as well as on chainsaws designed for curly cutting (carving).
  • Chains with a pitch of 1.3 mm are more common. For example, the famous chainsaw. Stihl MS 180 is equipped with chains with just such a pitch. Anyway, this is the most popular step.
  • The pitch of 1.5 and 1.6 mm have chains that are intended for professional and “semi-professional” (farm “chainsaws).
  • 2 mm. This step is found exclusively on chains installed on very productive and powerful chainsaws of the professional segment.