The reason why chainsaws have their name is that they operate with a chain which is held in a long loop by the bar.
This chain moves at rapid speeds, enabling it to cut through wood at lightning speeds. This mechanism is much quicker than the traditional manual saw, which is more physically demanding and time-consuming.
But chains are not one-size-fits=all. There are several different types of chain, some of which are better for different purposes than others. In this article, PowerOfTool.com will explore some of the main types of chain and the keywords you’ll need to know.
Purpose of the chain
The chain serves a vital role in ensuring the saw is working safely and efficiently. It works in a similar way to how the chain on your bicycle works. It spins around the bar (the long bit of the chainsaw), moving the teeth at rapid speed to make it easier for you to cut into wood.
If there wasn’t a chain, and just a sharp bar that spun around somehow, this would have several disadvantages. The bar wouldn’t be able to reach the speeds that a regular chainsaw can, and you would need to buy a new bar if the teeth ever became unable to perform their function.
The first type of chain is the full chisel. This kind is the best for when you have big jobs to do. If you’re cutting down a hard tree, or turning a fallen hard tree into logs, then you’ll want something tough.
The teeth on these types of chain have square corners, giving them limited grip, but an effective cut. If you want a clean cut, then this probably isn’t the best type of chain to be using. However, if you just want to get the job done quickly, it is!
The downside of this kind of chain is that it can’t go through soft or dirty wood very well, and there is a high chance of kickback. So only use full chisel chains if you are experienced.
The most popular form of chain is semi-chisel. Its rounded corners gives the chain a much firmer grip on the wood; you can even cut through softer woods without having to worry about kickback.
This is a better type of chainsaw when it comes to safety due to the limited chance of kickback.
However, this chain’s main disadvantage is that it can’t do the job as quickly as full chisel.
Low Profile Chisel
The final type of chain on this list is the Low Profile Chisel. It has been designed with safety in mind, if you want safety, then low profile is the way to go.
In between the teeth you will find safety elements which more or less eliminate any chance of kickback. This makes very easy to use, and very smooth to run. It can withstand rough conditions, so you never need to worry about the weather.
The drawback of this type though is that it does require sharpening more often than the others.
Something else you should consider when you’re buying a new chain is the skip. This refers to the distance between the chains. The lower the skip, the smoother the cut.
A full skip chain will have a lot of distance between the teeth. This will reduce the amount of grip it has on the wood. However, this does not mean it has less power, Due to the length of the skip, each tooth will be able to take out more wood, enabling you to cut what you need to at a quicker speed, although the cut won’t be very neat.
The standard skip is when the teeth are fairly close together. This will mean that it takes longer to cut, however, the result will be a much smoother finish.
The semi-skip is halfway between the two: a compromise of speed and tidiness.
- Pitch: The pitch can be measured by taking the distance between any three of the teeth and dividing that number by two.
- Gage: This is the width of the drive link. The drive link is on the underside of the chain. Its job is to secure the chain into the bar. Without it, your chain could fly off the saw, and that would be a serious safety hazard.
- Length: Pretty self-explanatory: the length of the chain.
How to sharpen
You can sharpen your chainsaw by hand or by using a special machine. Unless you run a business that works with chainsaws, chances are that you don’t have a sharpener yourself.
They’ve bulky and very expensive. For the vast majority of us, the best way forward is to use a small metal rod similar to what chefs use to sharpen knives, only smaller.
As the name suggests, the chain is what separates the chainsaw from the manual saw. Its purpose is to move its teeth around the bar in order to ensure a quick and effective cut into wood.
The three main types are the full chisel, ideal for cutting large pieces of clean and hardwood; the semi-chisel, with rounded corners to give a firmer grip; and the low profile chisel, the easiest and safest to use. You also need to consider the skip, the distance between teeth, as well as the pitch, gage, and length.
Make no mistake, a chainsaw is no toy and always needs to be handled with the utmost care and respect. However, with this in mind, you’ll be in a better position to pick the best chainsaw for you. Are you a beginner who needs something easy to work with? Or are you more advanced and just want to get the job done quickly?
By knowing what you need, and how good you are, you’ll be able to select the chain that’s the easiest for you to be able to use.