Semi Chisel v Full Chisel
There are two basic cutter types on all chainsaw chains; semi chisel and full chisel.
Semi chisel chain is used by around 90% of wood cutters. It has a round working edge and is designed to last longer in hard, dirty or dry woods than full chisel chain.
Full chisel chain is a faster cutting chain. It has a square working edge and is designed for use in green or soft woods. It will lose its edge quickly in hard or dirty wood.
Sprocket Nose Bars v Hard Nose Bars
Chainsaw bars run two basic noses, sprocket nose or hard nose.
Sprocket nose bars are used by the vast majority of wood cutters.
The sprocket on the nose reduces the power required to drive the chain around the bar.
If the sprocket nose engages the wood too often, or makes contact with particularly dirty wood or the ground itself, it can damage it quickly.
Hard nose bars are ideal if you tend to use the nose of your bar when cutting or you are cutting in particularly abrasive conditions.
They create more friction on the chain so require more oil to run effectively. The friction will also marginally reduce the power of your saw.
Laminated Bars v Professional Bars
Laminated bars consist of three pieces of metal, riveted together. The body of the bar isn’t visibly different to a professional bar.
Professional bars are solid, laser cut bars that usually have a replaceable sprocket nose. On average they should last around 30-40% longer than a laminated bar.
Laminated bars are used by over 90% of woodcutters, including many professionals. As long as they are properly maintained they will last for a very long time.
Skip Tooth Chain v Ripping Chain
10° ripping chain
• Smoother cut than 25-35 degree angle chain
• Cuts slower than 25-35 degree angle chain
• Requires very high CC chainsaws to operate
• Ideally recommended for stationary engine driven milling machines.
• Not to be used for cross cutting, only cutting with the grain (slabbing)
• Not recommended for hand held saws
25° Skip tooth chain
• Use on longer bars to allow for added chip clearance or when a bar longer than ideal for a given power head is used. Fewer teeth require less power to operate
• Use with dirty woods like stringy bark to help clear the cutters more efficiently
• Can result in a lot of “chatter” on shorter bars as there are less teeth to engage the wood
• Doesn’t create as smooth a cut as ripping chain
• Can be used for cross cutting or cutting with the grain
What angle should I sharpen my chain at?
Chain manufacturers recommend different sharpening angles for different brand chains.
Jono & Johno recommends a 25 degree sharpening angle for their Hurricane Chain and 30 degree angle for Carlton chain.
For all other brands please consult your chain manufacturer to establish the appropriate angle for your chain.
Do you sharpen semi chisel chain differently to full chisel chain?
In short, yes. Full chisel chain ideally requires a ten degree downward tilt of your file (not to be confused with your 25-35 degree sharpening angle) when sharpening. This creates an extra sharp point on your cutter.
However if you sharpen full chisel chain at the standard 90 degree angle from the cutter it will still perform as a full chisel chain. It will only have very marginally reduced cutting speed if you don’t use the ten degree tilt.
Click here to view a video on how to sharpen semi chisel chain
Click here to view a video on how to sharpen full chisel chain
What size file do I need?
File size directly corresponds to the ‘pitch’ of your chainsaw chain.
Pitch File size
3/8”LP (low profile): 5/32 file
.325” 3/16 file
3/8” 7/32 or 13/64
What are the rakers and how do I maintain them?
Rakers on a chainsaw chain are used to prevent the entire length of the cutting tooth engaging with the wood. As your cutting tooth wears down you will need to file very small amounts of the raker tooth down. If this is neglected then the chain will eventually stop cutting. It is recommend that you use a depth gauge tool when filing the rakers down.
Is it important to maintain consistent sharpening angles on all teeth?
Absolutely. If there is variability in the angles your cutting teeth are sharpened at then you may find your chain starts to produce uneven cuts, pulling your chainsaw bar to one side.