A Comprehensive Guide to Buying Chainsaw Chains

Date Posted: 26 August 2022 

The chainsaw is one of the most valuable and labour-saving tools used by farmers, landscapers and homeowners. As a result, more people are using these highly popular tools than ever, and the chainsaw market is forecast to grow by over 5% in the next five years.

At some stage, every chainsaw owner needs to replace their chainsaw chain. However, with so many different chainsaw chains available, it can be overwhelming to decide on the right one for your application.

Choosing the best chainsaw chain for the cutting you are doing can make a huge difference. The heart of your chainsaw may be the engine, but the chain is just as crucial to cutting wood efficiently and safely. 

Whenever you buy a chainsaw chain, it helps to know how chainsaw chain types differ. In this guide, we'll explain how the different chains for chainsaws work so you can make an informed decision. 

Chainsaw Chains Basics

Before we look at the different chainsaw chain types, let's go over the essential components of a chainsaw chain.

All chainsaw chains have drive links on the underside of the chain. These need to fit snugly into the groove on the guide bar to keep the chain attached. As the engine turns the sprocket, the drive links transfer that force to the chain and make it rotate.

Tie straps are rectangular sections of chain riveted to the drive links. They form gaps in the chain that are vital for removing wood chips during the cutting process. 

On the top side of the chain are a series of depth gauges and cutters. The depth gauges control the action of the cutters. The cutter teeth are the part of the chain that penetrates the wood and come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes.

Chainsaw Chain Cutter Types

Every chainsaw chain can be categorised according to its type of cutter teeth. Knowing how different cutters work is important as they are designed for distinct applications. The cutter type information is always clearly stated on the chainsaw chain packaging.

1. Low-Profile Cutters

This type of chainsaw chain is an excellent choice for beginners or hobbyist chainsaw enthusiasts. They are the safest type of chain cutter to use and also the easiest to sharpen.

Another advantage is that they don't need sharpening as often as the other types of cutter teeth. You can use low-profile cutters on both hardwoods and softwoods equally effectively. They are also suitable for use on any chainsaw.

2. Square (Full-Chisel)

These cutter teeth have a square profile that's often used by professional chainsaw operators. They are designed for large chainsaws with at least a 45 cc engine. You can use full-chisel chains to fell hardwood trees like bluegum and jarrah. However, they tend to dull quickly and require experience to sharpen them properly

3. Round (Semi-Chisel)

Round cutter teeth chains are your best choice if you're mostly cutting softwood trees like pine or fir. You can use them on smaller, less-powerful chainsaws than square teeth.

Round cutter teeth are easy to sharpen, and you'll need to sharpen them regularly, especially if you use them on hardwood. Semi-chisel chains are somewhat safer to use than full-chisel chains.

Chain Arrangement

The size of your chainsaw engine and the length of the cutter bar determines what chain arrangement is most suitable for your chainsaw. The more cutter teeth you have on a chain, the more power is required to keep the chain moving fast.

By reducing the number of cutter teeth on a long bar, you reduce the strain on the engine and keep the chain moving fast. The downside is that the cut will not be as smooth with fewer cutter teeth.

1. Full Complement/Standard Chain

These chains have the most cutter teeth available, with only one tie strap between each cutter chain pitch. They produce the smoothest cuts and are often used for milling timber.

You should only use a full complement chain on a bar of 24 inches or less. This will give you the fastest and smoothest cutting experience with short cuts.

2. Full Skip/Skip Tooth Chain

If you use a long bar - over 32 inches - to cut large diameter trees, then a full skip is the best type of chain to use. It has two tie straps between each cutter to reduce the strain on your engine and keep the chain moving fast.

Full skip chains also have more space for the wood shavings to move along in the cut. The only downside is that the cut is more ragged than a standard chain.

3. Semi Skip

In this configuration, the chain alternates between one and two tie straps between cutter teeth. This makes it suitable for bars between 24 and 32 inches.

The extra space between cutter teeth allows for wood shavings to move out the cut while having more teeth than a full skip chain. This makes it ideal for cutting medium-sized hardwood.

Criteria to Consider When Buying a Chainsaw Chain

1. Guide Bar Length

Chainsaws come in a wide variety of bar lengths, measured in inches. Therefore, it's crucial that you select the right size chain for your bar when you buy a new chainsaw chain. 

2. Drive Link Count

Knowing how many drive links you need on your chain is vitally important in finding the right length chain for your bar. Some bars are wider than others but still have the same length. Each bar has the number of drive links required printed on it.

3. Chain Pitch

The pitch of your new chain needs to match the pitch of your guide bar and drive sprocket. Chain pitch is the distance between drive links and is calculated by measuring the distance between three rivets and dividing by two. This information can also be found on your guide bar or chainsaw handbook.

4. Chain Gauge

This is the thickness of the drive links. It needs to match up precisely with the thickness of the groove on the guide bar. Choosing the correct chain gauge will help reduce vibration. You can also find this information printed on your guide bar.

Get Replacement Chainsaw Chains at Jono & Johno!

If you're looking to buy chainsaw chain to replace your old one, then make sure you check out Jono & Johno. We've got a full range of chainsaw chains, including Stihl chainsaw chains, Husqvarna chainsaw chain, and plenty of chainsaw chain oil to keep your engines revving. 

You can browse through our extensive selection of chainsaw chains to find the exact chain for your chainsaw. We're the largest online supplier of chainsaw chains in Australia and offer unparalleled customer service. Call us on 0353030263, and we'll help you pick the right chain for your chainsaw.