How to choose a chainsaw chain

Consisting of links and cutting edges of different profiles, chainsaw chains are chosen according to thickness, pitch and number of links. The chain models vary according to the use: chisel, semi-chisel, multicut, micro-lite, etc. and, for professional use, they can be equipped with anti kickback devices.

Constituent elements of a chainsaw chain

Doesn’t your chainsaw cut anymore or does it cut badly? Do you have to push hard to make cuts? And when you make cuts, does the chain produce fine sawdust instead of shavings? You’ve already sharpened it but it didn’t do any good? It’s time to replace the chain!

The chain is a consumable part, and when you use it and sharpen it, it becomes necessary to replace it. For a conscious choice, it is important to know in detail what a 16 Inch Chainsaw looks like.

A chainsaw chain consists of:

  • drive or drive links;
  • connecting links;
  • rivets;
  • depth limiters;
  • teeth with cutting edges or cutting teeth.

Operating principle

The drive links in the guide bar groove are driven by the chain sprocket of the chainsaw, which generates the chain rotation movement, and the bar sprocket.

The links leave a space that facilitates the evacuation of wood chips produced during cutting. The rivets ensure the assembly of the links allowing axial movement.

Depth limiters control the cutting action. The teeth sink into the wood and the cutting edges or teeth cut through the wood. The cutting edges have different cutting profiles.

Cutting profiles

There are several different cutting profiles. The profile of a cutting edge is identified by its shape and, fortunately for woodcutters and apprentice woodcutters, the profile is indicated on packaging by chainsaw manufacturers. They are designed for a variety of uses, some are multi-purpose, others specific for hardwood or softwood. The most common are the following.

Square profile

Designed for chainsaws with a minimum of 45 cc for cutting hardwoods (acacia, oak…), the square or L-shaped profile is used for cutting trees.
However, it wears out easily and its sharpening is not easy.
Profile called chisel or super chisel from Oregon while from Stihl the square profile is called super.

Round profile

Designed for low power chainsaws, the round profile is ideal for soft woods (birch, fir…) and is easy to sharpen.
The disadvantage is a greater difficulty in cutting harder woods and the need for more frequent sharpening.
Profile called shipper from Oregon and standard from Stihl.

Semi-round profile

It’s the right compromise between the round and square profile. Fits chainsaws of all powers. The semi-round profile is suitable for cutting both soft hardwoods and sharpening is easier and less frequent.
Profile called speed guard from Oregon and micro from Stihl.

Find the chain that matches your chainsaw

The characteristics of the chains

To determine, in terms of compatibility, which chain fits your chainsaw, there are four criteria to take into account and which appear on the packaging or on the data sheet of new chains:

  • the length of the guide bar or blade;
  • the number of links;
  • the pitch of the chain;
  • the thickness.

Please note that the bar length, chain pitch and thickness are expressed in inches, standard units of measurement, however they can also be indicated in millimeters or centimeters.

Finding the chain size on the chain saw bar

A quick and easy way to get information about your chainsaw chain is to look at the lower end of the bar.

In fact, numerous models are written on it:

  • the length of the bar;
  • the number of links;
  • the pitch of the chain;
  • the thickness;
  • a reference (not mandatory) corresponding to the chain recommended by the manufacturer for this chainsaw.

You can of course choose a different brand from the manufacturer. To do so, however, the number of links, chain pitch and thickness must be the same as the chain to be replaced.

Please note that sometimes these instructions are not necessarily written on the guide bar, but can be found on the tool instructions or on the saw chain package.

What to do if you cannot find the chain information

How to determine the chain pitch

If you have lost the instructions, your chain package has long since ended up in the basket or the guide blade of your chainsaw does not contain this information, you must proceed to take measures.

With the help of a simple metre, the first measure refers, of course, to the length of the bar. Afterwards, you will need a gauge to take the dimensions of the chain pitch and thickness.

First of all, it is important to know that the chain pitch is half the distance between two links. In other words, this is equivalent to measuring the distance between three consecutive rivets and dividing the result by two.

Determine the thickness measurement

To know what the thickness is, it is necessary to measure, always with the help of a gauge, the thickness of one of the drive links, that is one of the lower links of the chain in the shape of an inverted triangle.

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