How to Choose the Right Chain for a Chainsaw

A chainsaw and its analogue with an electric drive for more than 100 years faithfully serve builders and lumberjacks, manufacturers of wooden structures and sculptors. The efficiency of the device is determined not only by engine power. It is equally important to choose the right chain, based on the features of the upcoming operations. The chain should correspond to the chainsaw tire in length and width, be combined with the drive sprocket, be suitable for the material being processed and the direction of the cut. The chain must be selected according to a number of parameters indicated on its labeling. Proper selection, sharpening, timely care of the main working body of the chainsaw will allow you to operate it for a long time and with the expected performance.

How to Choose the Right Chain for a Chainsaw

Criterias of choice

How to choose the right chain for a chainsaw? First of all, it makes sense to pay attention to the manufacturer. Even an inexpensive household-grade chainsaw can show the wonders of longevity and performance with quality chains from world industry leaders. Such an instrument will cost several times more than anonymous crafts, but it will last so much that it will pay off many times over this time.

The main parameters of the chain are the length, width, step of the link. The next parameter is the bus length. Most household models are equipped with 35-45 cm tires. For working with this length, motor power of 2-2.5 liters is enough. From.

Professional models with a capacity of up to 12 liters. S., are able to work with headsets up to 1 meter long.

The chain pitch should be selected based on the planned operations, their volume, requirements for tool productivity, as well as to the accuracy of the cut. In this case, it is necessary to take into account the power of the engine so as not to overload it, causing increased wear.

Other parameters of the tool should not be overlooked, such as the type of cutting tooth, its elevation, sharpening angles and depth of cut. The sharpness of the restrictive tooth affects the quality and speed of cutting. A sharper tooth allows you to cut faster, but reduces the accuracy of the cut.

Properties of wear-resistant chains of general and special purpose

For productive work, you need to choose the right purpose of the tool.

A chain made of ordinary tool steel is sufficient for cutting soft wood. If you have to cut hard wood or foam concrete, it is better to choose a special tool. For cutting particularly durable materials, a tool with teeth from special high-alloy alloys is used. Foam concrete has strong abrasive properties, leading to accelerated wear of cutting surfaces. The resource of chains of even the most famous manufacturers, despite timely sharpening, is reduced several times. It is also important to make sure that the performance of the chainsaw is enough to work with such a chain.

When disassembling debris in areas of natural disasters or man-made disasters, emergency rescue units use links coated with artificial diamonds. They are able to saw reinforced concrete and brick. Such chains are very expensive, they have a small resource, but the price of human life is undoubtedly much higher. The working life of the headset is proportionally reduced.

Step characteristics of a saw chain

To choose the right chain, it must coincide with the tire along its length, width and other structural elements.

Home appliances are most often equipped with chains in increments of 3/8 “. They are characterized by a smooth ride and a sufficient degree of reliability and safety.

Professional-class models with high cutting speeds and increased power use a larger pitch link. 0, 404 “.

An attempt to select such a tire for a household chainsaw is likely to lead to its overload, increased wear and rapid failure of engine and transmission parts.

How to find out

To determine the chain pitch used on your chainsaw, usually use one of the following methods:

  • Remove the tire and read the marking on the shank. In addition to the desired parameter, there necessarily indicate the length of the headset, the width of the groove between the cheeks, as well as the sprocket module.
  • If the packaging remains, then you can look at it. Leading manufacturers print on it not only a step, but also the type of tooth, width, file number for sharpening.
  • Using a vernier caliper, measure the distance between two adjacent parts of the links. It can be the base of the teeth, their tail parts, the centers of the rollers. Fors, you need to take THREE neighboring ones.

The performance of the tool directly depends on the step, so professional models have more. It is strongly discouraged to adapt tires with small steps to powerful chainsaws. Underloading the engine will also lead to accelerated wear of its parts and a reduction in the resource of a high-quality productive chainsaw.

If you plan to use a tool for curly carving on wood or ice, then you need, on the contrary, pick up a chain with a minimum pitch. The teeth located at a short distance from each other provide excellent cutting accuracy and create less vibration.

For each class of operations, it is better to choose a separate chainsaw that best matches its characteristics.

When choosing grooves and cutting internal cuts, you have to work at the very end of the tire. At the same time, there is a high probability of rebound (or rebound) of the saw. This is another argument for the purchase of two saws: a powerful high-performance one for mass operations and cutting thick logs or beams, and a small model with a short headset and a small step for finalizing curly cuts, grooves and other thin details.

Parameters shank

Another significant parameter for choosing a chain is the thickness of the tail. Thicknesses from 1.1 to 2.6 mm are most commonly used.

Thin chains and their corresponding tires are popular in low-power household chainsaw models. They provide good cut accuracy and surface quality. For many types of wood with short fibers, the surface does not even need finishing.

Powerful machines are designed for shanks of 1.3-2 mm. They provide a reasonable balance between performance and accuracy. Such tools usually have a large resource.

A width of 2.6 mm is already more inherent in professional models with high cutting speeds. For chainsaws used in logging and cutting trunks in the cutting area, the width reaches 4 mm.

Design Features

In wide and heavy chains of high quality professional equipment, each link has a pair of shanks. This provides reliable contact with the tire and sprockets and enables the tool to withstand strong lateral loads. In a conventional chain, the proportion of cutting links is half.

To facilitate household-class tools, they produce so-lightweight inexpensive models:

  • Throughputs. The supporting link with the shank is installed immediately after the cutting, their share is reduced to 40%;
  • Half-throughput: the support is inserted after every second cutting, their share is 35%.

A decrease in the number of active links leads to a proportional increase in the load on the rest. This inevitably leads to a reduction in their service life and an increase in the frequency of sharpening.

You can choose such chains if you do not want to spend extra money, with small amounts of work and their episodic nature.


The length is indicated in inches or the number of links. Knowing the step, you can calculate the first parameter from the second. The packaging of leading manufacturers usually indicate both characteristics.

The length of the chain must strictly correspond to the departure of the headset. Some craftsmen manage to choose the length by throwing a few links. This practice is highly discouraged by specialists. In the conditions of a home workshop it is difficult to achieve factory quality of mounting of rollers. Such homemade work can break at any time, leading to the scattering of parts, damage to equipment and even injuries to people working nearby.

Features of the design of professional-level chains

The geometric shape of the cutting teeth is distinguished for the most commonly used type of profile:

  • Chipper, or sickle-shaped. Provides high cutting speeds. It is easier to grind, while it does not require very strict observance of sharpening angles. The profile has the ability to self-clean from sawdust and copes well with sawing contaminated and wet materials. The increased area of ​​contact of the tooth with the material additionally loads the engine. For sawing with such a profile, it is good to have a power margin. The disadvantage is the occurrence of overloads when sawing hardwood or knots.
  • Chisel, or “seven.” The cutting edge is straight, in the profile it looks like a stylized number 7. The cut is more accurate, but it’s harder to sharpen, you need to withstand the corners with high precision. In violation of the sharpening angles of several of one or links, all the advantages of the profile in accuracy instantly disappear. Such chains are best sharpened on automatic machines that provide high parameter stability.

Chisel profiles are used in both domestic and professional chainsaws.

Types of materials

Conventional chains are made of tool steel alloyed with chrome and nickel. Such models do a good job with soft wood.

For working with hard rocks, wet or frozen timber, it is better to choose chains with cutting surfaces made of hard alloys. They are also recommended for work on foam concrete and aerated concrete. They cost significantly more than usual, for their editing and sharpening requires specialized equipment with corundum grinding disks. Manually sharpen such a chain will not succeed

Sawing depth and chain profile height

The next group of parameters needed to select a chain is the height of the profile. It is one of the key factors determining tool performance. The deeper the tooth is immersed in the material, the faster (if there is sufficient power on the shaft) the cut will be carried out. At a low profile height, productivity decreases, but the accuracy of the cut and the quality of its surface increase, since the tooth is skewed less.

Two profile sizes are widely used:

  • Low at 0.63 mm (or 0, 025 inches);
  • High at 0.76 mm (0.03 inches).

Almost all household models use low-profile chains. In professional you can choose and use both high and low profile, depending on the type of work. It is necessary to know the height of the profile when sharpening the tool yourself, so as not to cut too much height.

Using a high profile on chainsaws will increase productivity. At the same time, the vibration and noise generated by the chainsaw will increase. Increased lateral pressure increases tire wear.

High vibration also leads to accelerated wear of the chainsaw. In addition, it leads to rapid fatigue of the worker and excludes operation during a full shift.

Therefore, the engineers of leading manufacturers of chainsaws in order to choose the optimal combination of parameters, at the same time as increasing the height of the profile, reduce the pitch. Conversely, when increasing the step, you have to use a lower profile. Thus, maintaining a balance between these indicators, you can choose their combination, providing an acceptable level of vibration.

In practice, for each type and condition of wood, you can choose a chain that provides maximum performance:

  • High profile and small step;
  • Low profile and a big step.

Nevertheless, they still do not refuse to combine a high profile and a large step, it is used where high productivity is needed and it is possible to use complex vibration isolation systems and active vibration damping. As a rule, these are large mechanized logging complexes in which the operator is located in a vibration-proof cabin. There it is well protected from vibration and noise. In such units, the height of the profile can reach 0.9 inches.

The thickness of the chain saw cut is determined by the width of the chain. With a 1.1 mm tire, a neat thin cut is obtained, a headset of 2.6 mm cuts quickly, with more wood going to sawdust.

Models of chains for cross and longitudinal sawing

Most models are available for conventional cross cut wood. The direction of cut is determined by the angle of sharpening of the cutting surface of the tooth. Transverse chains leave the factory with an angle of 25-25 °. Such teeth will be best cut across the fibers, but they can also perform several longitudinal cuts, for example, when forming an angular attachment of crowns or when cutting grooves under the rafters.

How is the need for sharpening the chain manifested

If the working teeth have lost sharpness or unevenly worn in height. The work of such a chainsaw from pleasure turns into torment.

Characteristic signs of the need for sharpening the chain are:

  • Decrease in productivity;
  • Increased noise and vibration when cutting;
  • Frequent backward shocks when inserting a saw into an existing cut;
  • The formation of small compared with conventional chips;
  • The smell of smoldering wood.

When these signs appear, stop work and sharpen the chain. This can be done in two ways.

Manual sharpening does not require complete removal of the chain from the tire. Just loosen it. A special mandrel is installed on the sharpened link, which sets the sharpening angles of the working surfaces of the teeth. Using a round and flat file moving along the guides, sharpen the tooth. Next, the mandrel is loosened and rearranged to the next link, repeating the operation.

Attention: sharpening can only be performed with the engine stopped. If an electric saw is used, it must be split off from the mains.

The accuracy of sharpening in this way greatly depends on the qualifications and experience of the employee. Its advantage is the low cost of the grinding set and the possibility of dressing the teeth directly at the workplace.

The second method requires expensive equipment that is comparable in cost to the chainsaw itself. Such a machine will pay off if you need to sharpen a large number of chains every day. The undoubted advantages of the method are

  • High performance of mechanized or automated installations;
  • Stability of sharpening angles from link to link;
  • The ability to set the sharpening height for the most sharpened tooth.

The latter feature allows you to automatically align the height of the teeth. This significantly increases the service life of the chain, since the load is evenly distributed between all links.

Another way to save both time and money is to give the chain for sharpening to a service center. It is convenient if there is a spare chain.

Professionals recommendations for operation and maintenance of saw chains

Experienced specialists formulated several factors that do not allow the saw chains to fully develop their design life and lead to their increased wear:

  • Insufficient lubrication causes increased friction and overheating of parts;
  • Deterioration of the driving gear;
  • Chain tension too high;
  • The use of low-quality lubricants not recommended by the manufacturer.

It is recommended that several chains are installed for each saw. This allows you to not interrupt the cut while sharpening a dull tool in the workshop. It also becomes possible to select the most suitable chain for different sawing conditions.

How to eliminate the risks of buying a chain counterfeit

Some unscrupulous manufacturers and sellers are trying to pass off their crafts for high-quality products of famous brands.

They fake the chain itself and the original packaging. Externally, the tool looks exactly the same, but since counterfeiters save on materials, it will not last long.

Packaging is usually made of loose cardboard; printing is often blurry and fuzzy. If you take several of these packages, all will have the same serial number.