A chainsaw is a handy and versatile tool, It doesn’t matter how big your garden or yard is. If you have some mature trees, then it’s more likely you have to cut or prune its branches to shape it or make it safe from fall.
No two chainsaws are the same as it depends on the brand type and different product specifications. Sooner or later, you have to replace the chain. It may be either due to teeth getting dull or due to wearing and tearing.
By knowing the best chainsaw chain available in the market, you can replace it with another high-performing chain. However, finding the right chain can be intimidating for a new user or even for semi-professionals.
I have included an in-depth chainsaw buying guide to provide you with all the information you need to get started and recommended chain saws that you can buy with confidence, depending on your needs.
10 Best Saw Chains for Hardwoods and Firewoods
Our Top Pick
Husqvarna 18 inch is our top pick as it’s a high-performance, anti-kickback chain suitable for occasional users and semi-professionals.
The build quality of the chain is superb, and it provides a smooth cutting experience even on a more robust surface. The installation is quite easy and fits a wide range of chainsaw models.
What are the chainsaw chains?
For any heavy-duty cutting needs such as cutting branches, small trees, and bush in your garden, you need a chainsaw. The chainsaw motor can be powered by either electricity or gas.
The chainsaw chain or saw chain is the primary cutting tool that has sharp teeth at its edge. When blades move at a very high speed, it does the cutting.
In saw chains, there are three main components:
- Cutting teeth: The cutting teeth are attached to the upper side of the chain that performs the main cutting action.
- Tie straps: Tie straps attaches the drive links to the cutting teeth of the chain.
- Drive link: Drive link determines the overall length of the chain.
The chainsaw chain is made through high-grade steel. Hardness and durability are the prime requirements for chainsaw chains to cut hard materials.
What to consider when buying Chainsaw Chain
It’s vital that you choose the right chain length based on bar length. You can look at the bar to find what chain size fits to it.
Chainsaw chains made from hard alloys are durable and long-lasting without needing frequent sharpening.
Choose anti-kickback as a safety feature in the chainsaw chain for a cleaner and precise cut with less vibration.
Have a question about buying chainsaw chain? Contact us
Best Chainsaw Chain Review
The following 10 chainsaw chains are some of the best options available in the market, and you should be able to find one that fits in your chainsaw and works well.
1. Oregon Chain 18 Inch Cutting Systems Loop
Best Chainsaw Chain For Firewood
Oregon 18 inch cutting system loop chain is a well-designed chainsaw chain that contains strong and super sharp teeth. You can cut through most types of hardwoods and firewood with ease.
The chain has very low kickbacks and meets the kickback performance requirements. Oregon’s “LubriTec” technology distributes chain lubricants uniformly to each link, which means lower friction and heat generation. This improves cutting performance and increases the life of the chain.
Vibration is the biggest complaint when cutting woods as it creates fatigue for the operator and is prone to make a less precise cut.
To reduce vibration, the Oregon chainsaw has designed a small space between the saw chain and guide bar. This helps dissipate the energy on cutting. It reduces vibration by as much as 25% and acts as a shock absorber.
The chrome plating on the teeth keeps teeth remain sharp for multiple cutting sessions. The chrome plating increases the hardness on the surface and reduces the wear on the teeth. This means more time cutting and less time sharpening the chain.
The chain is designed for the control cut for precision cutting. It has a 0.325-inch pitch, 0.063-inch gauge, and has a 68 drive link count.
See More information on Oregon Chains 18 Inch Cutting Systems Loop
2. Husqvarna 18 Inch Pixel Saw Chain
Best Chainsaw Chain For Hardwood
Husqvarna chainsaw is an 18-inch high-performance anti-kickback chain that’s suitable for homeowners and semi-professionals.
The high-grade steel material used in the construction of chain and blade provides a smooth cutting experience even on a more hardened surface.
The chain has a 0.325-inch pitch, 0.050-inch gauge, and an overall 18-inch length. This high-performance, low vibration chain gives you the cleaner cut every time.
The blade is quite sharp, and even after repeated use of cutting hard materials such as teak wood, it held the sharpness.
The chain is compatible with a significant model of Husqvarna tools, and installation does not take long. Soak the chain overnight in gear oil to reduce the stiffness of the chain before installation.
The sharpening of teeth is quite easy and doesn’t take too long. Although this chain is listed to fit a wide range of models, including 55 ranchers, some users have reported that it does not fit despite listing it as compatible.
See More information on Husqvarna Chainsaw 18 Inch Pixel Saw Chain
3. Stihl 20 Inch Rapid Super Chainsaw Chain
Best Chainsaw Chain For Stihl
Stihl 20-inch rapid super chain saw fits chainsaw of Farm boss series and Stihl chainsaws. It has 0.325 pitch, 0.063 gauge, and a 20-inch bar length.
The chain is well made with hardened steel, and the blades are sharp for a smoother cut. The low kickback design allows ease of use, convenience, and safety when cutting any wood-type material. The sturdy chain links improve the life of the chain even after heavy use.
The high-performance design allows the chain to be used in harsher conditions. It’s engineered to be reliable while providing high performance and safety.
It’s an excellent replacement for the Stihl chainsaw chain and fits perfectly without needing any additional adjustments to the chain.
This is an aggressive cutting chain and cuts faster than other chain types. It’s primarily geared toward semi-professionals or commercial loggers.
The chain generates a bit more vibration than other chains, but that’s expected due to its faster cutting rate. This is possible because of its razor-edged, square-cornered design.
The low friction design provides smooth and clean-cut to all types of woods.
See More information on Stihl 20-inch Rapid Super Chainsaw Chain
4. Sungator 18 Inch Chainsaw Chain
Best For Cutting Firewoods And Logs
This 18-inch chainsaw chain is a high-grade chain with a durable and sharp blade. It fits a broad range of models, such as Craftsman, Husqvarna, Ryobi, Homelite, and Poulan.
The rivets of the chains are heat treated and quenched, which improves the reliability, strength, and durability of the chain. The chain itself is made from high-grade steel that provides excellent performance in cutting trees and woods.
The semi-chisel design of the teeth makes them more tolerant of dirt and dust. This makes the teeth remain sharp even after extended use, reduces the kickbacks to provide smoother cutting.
The blade surface is treated with a premium-grade hard chrome that provides better wear resistance. This allows the blade to remain sharp and doesn’t need frequent sharpening, which means lower downtime.
Rust is a widespread nuisance for most chainsaw blades. It makes the chain stiff and increases the chance to break. The anti-rust oil coating on the surface of the chain prevents rusting even in humid conditions.
The advanced technology vibration reduction design of the chain and the teeth reduces vibration by more than 20%. This has a 0.050-inch gauge, 3/8-inch pitch, and 62 drive link saw chain.
See More information on Sungator 18 Inch Chainsaw Chain
5. Forester 24 Inch Chainsaw Chain Loop
BBest Chainsaw Chain For Ripping
Forester chainsaw chain loop is a full chisel no-safety chain made with high-quality steel. It fits medium to large Stihl, Husqvarna chainsaw as well as other standard chainsaw brands.
It has a 3/8-inch pitch and a 0.050-inch gauge. The manufacturer claims it to fit most standard 24-inch chainsaw brands. But it’s advisable that you refer to the technical specification of your chainsaw to confirm its compatibility.
The sharp and durable teeth of the chainsaw can cut hardwoods and firewood. The full chisel teeth give you a more aggressive cut, so you have to be careful in cutting. The chain also has kickbacks that require you to hold the chainsaw firmly for precision cutting.
The main benefit of this chain is that it’s fast in cutting and doesn’t require much maintenance. The blade holds the sharpness for a longer duration even after trimming several trees and logs.
The good cutter design provides a durable and swift cut that reduces the cutting time.
See More information on Forester 24-Inch Chain Loop
Best Saw Chain Mini-Review:
Here is a speed review of some of the best chains which you can pick for your chainsaw with confidence.
6. Tallox 16-Inch Chainsaw Chains
Tallox 16-inch chainsaw chain is reasonably priced and comes in a pack of 3. It fits major chainsaw brands such as Oregon, Makita, Husqvarna, and Remington. The chain has a 3/8-inch pitch, a 0.050-inch gauge, and 56 drive links.
This is suitable for casual users to semi-professionals.
7. Trilink 18 Inch Saw Chain
Trilink 18-inch saw chain has a chrome-plated cutter design for fast and smoother cutting.
The low kickback design improves safety and durability. It fits major chainsaw brands such as Craftsman, Homelite, Husqvarna, McCullock, Poulan, and several others.
The rust-resistant coating improves the performance and life of the cutting chain. The “centri-lube” self-lubricating drive links reduce friction to minimize stretch. This allows you to maintain a sharp blade and precise cut.
8. Salem Master Semi-Chisel Chain Saw Chain
For smaller chainsaw models, Salem Master 8-inch semi-chisel chainsaw chain works perfectly. It contains a 3/8-inch pitch, a 0.043-inch gauge, and 34 drive links.
The semi-chisel design makes the saw chain to be more resistant to dirt and dust. This allows the teeth to stay sharp for longer and provides a smoother cut.
The low-kickback design makes it easy for the operator to make a precise cut without getting tired. The chain fits most major brands such as Craftsman, Poulan, Remington, and Oregon.
9. Sungator 14 Inch Chainsaw Chain
Sungator 14-inch chain is designed for small to medium size jobs. It has a 3/8-inch pitch, 0.050 gauge, and 52 drive links. The blade fits major brands.
The teeth are made from high-quality hardened steel and rivets are heat treated and quenched for additional durability and hardness.
The chain cutters are plated with industrial-grade hard chrome material, which makes them sturdy even after a tough job.
10. Yionloe 18 Inch Chainsaw Chain
Yionloe 18-inch chain is a replacement for major chainsaw brands such as Craftsman, Homelite, and Poulan. It has a 3/8-inch pitch, a 0.050-inch gauge, and 62 drive links.
The cutter chain is made of advanced technology high toughness steel material, and heat-treated rivets to improve the sturdiness and durability. The semi-chisel cut design allows it to be more tolerant of dirt and dust and stays sharp longer than other cutters.
The chain generates low vibration that makes it easy on the operator and provides a much smoother and precision cut.
Chainsaw Chains Buyers Guide
Finding the best chainsaw chains should not be confusing. Follow the guide to get all the required information you need to buy it with confidence.
What are the different types of chainsaw chains?
When you need a new saw chain, and you visit your local hardware stores such as Home Depot or Lowes, you will find a wide variety of chains depending on the model compatibility and usage.
There are 4 main types of chains that come in various different sizes and types.
1. Full Chisel Chains
The full chisel chains have very sharp square-cornered teeth and have a large number of cutting teeth in the chain. These are usually made with high-quality steel blades that are durable and long-lasting to provide a smooth cut.
The large number of teeth also means you need less cutting time and get a cleaner cut. This type of chain is best suited for general-purpose cuttings. But it also needs frequent chain teeth sharpening than other types of chainsaw chains.
2. Sem-Chisel Chains
Semi chisel chains have fewer teeth than full chisel chains and have round-cornered teeth. The smaller cutting teeth mean it takes a bit longer to make the same size cut than full chisel chains.
The smaller number of teeth also means the cutting teeth are wholly separated, which helps the chain teeth to retain their sharpness for a longer duration.
3. Skip Chisel Chains
The skip chisel chain has the least number of cutting teeth in the chain. These types of chains are best suited for cutting wood lumbers.
This allows the chain to cut and hold the wood for a longer duration to prevent the chipping of wood. This is essential for smoother cutting and to have less wastage due to wood splitting.
4. Safety Chisel Chains
The safety chisel chains are also known as low kickback chains. It’s typically used in chainsaws, which has smaller than a 3.8 cubic inch engine. The safety chisel chain minimizes the rebounds on the chainsaw during cutting.
The kickback reducing feature on the safety chisel chains works by limiting the amount of material that can be swooped by the upper half of the chain. This is an important safety feature and it’s achieved by adding extra metal on the cutting straps between the cutting teeth.
What do the numbers on the chainsaw chain mean?
When you look at the product specification of the cutter chain, it contains some numbers which tell the user the pitch, gauge, and the number of drive links in the chain.
Here is a brief description of each specification:
The pitch specification in the chain tells the distance between the links. Since the chain is made up of several links, the gap between the link and the total number of links determines the length of the chain.
If you don’t know the pitch of your chainsaw, then you can measure it yourself. You can do this by taking a measuring tool and measuring the total distance between the 3 rivets on the chain and then half the length. It will give you the pitch of your current saw chain.
There is different chain pitch size available in the market. For most low-profile chains, the pitch is usually 3/8 inch, which has a narrow cutting width.
The regular profile chainsaw also has a pitch length of 3/8 inch but has a wider cutting width. This type of pitch size is geared toward homeowners for residential uses.
The other typical pitch length is 0.325 inch and .404 inch. These are geared toward more professional-grade blades.
The thickness of chain drive links is denoted in gauge. The thicker the gauge means, the stronger the blade strength.
The guiding path width on the chainsaw determines the maximum chainsaw gauge of the blade. Usually, the gauge is 0.43 inches to 0.063 inches in most chainsaws.
The total chain length depends on the pitch and number of drive links in the chain. You should not buy the chain based on the overall length.
For the correct fitting of the chain and to prevent any looseness, which may be a safety issue, you should always use the right chain size.
The manufacturers use the number of drive links to specify the length of the chain to provide a more accurate description of the chain length.
How to choose saw chains: 7 things to consider
Finding the best cutting chains for your tool depends on several factors. The most critical factor is the type of chainsaw you currently have as it determines which kind of chainsaw will it fit.
Here are some of the factors you should consider when you are comparing the cutter chains.
1. Chain Length
Finding the correct chain length is vital for the right fitting. The total length depends on the chainsaw bar length. The bar length of the chain saw can be as small as 8 inches to as long as 24 inches.
A shorter length will not fit appropriately on the chainsaw, or the longer chain length may make it too loose to function correctly. You can find the required chain length either imprinted in the chainsaw or in its product manual.
If you don’t have that information, then you can measure it yourself with a measuring tape by running the tape from the tip of the guide bar to the end of the tool casing.
Then round the number to the next even number. The most common chain length is usually 16 inches, 18 inches, and 20 inches in length.
The most common chain length is usually 16 inches, 18 inches, and 20 inches in length.
2. Pitch, Gauge, and Drive Links
These are the technical specifications of the chainsaw that you should know when looking at the chainsaw chain. There is not much research involved as most of the specifications come with the chainsaw.
For the safe operation of the chainsaw, you must find the right size chain that fits appropriately to the chain saw.
3. Cutting Tooth Type
The chainsaw cutting tooth allows you to cut a wide variety of materials. If you are a casual gardener, then more likely you will be cutting dead trees or wood branches.
For those use types, I recommend that you use full chisel chains as it provides faster and smoother cutting.
But keep in mind that the teeth get dull quite quickly, so either you sharpen the teeth before you get back into cutting or move to the semi-chisel chains for cutting hardwoods.
4. Safety Feature
Chainsaw, if not handled correctly, may cause severe injury or damage to the property. When you cut a thick material such as hardwood, it creates a lot of vibration and kickbacks.
Significant vibration requires more effort to keep the chainsaw steady. This makes you get tired quickly.
For any precise and cleaner cut, the chainsaw must produce less vibration. The chainsaw chain that produces less vibration makes you work faster without getting tired. This increases the safety of handling the chainsaw.
Anti-kickback is another safety feature required in the chains. Kickback happens when the cutter chain gets suddenly stuck while cutting an object. This can be dangerous as it means an increased chance of chainsaw getting out of your hand while in motion.
The anti-kickback system prevents these instances from occurring.
5. Low Maintenance
A low-maintenance chainsaw chain means less disruption in work and less expense in upkeeping the tool. A simply designed chain with all the required feature means less wear and tear on the chain.
Chainsaw chain teeth have to be regularly sharpened to keep them at optimal cutting efficiency. Good quality blades don’t require frequent sharpening and need less effort to maintain.
6. Chainsaw Chain Material
The chainsaw chains are usually made from hard alloys, which are durable and long-lasting. The teeth of the chains are where most wears happen. The use of high-quality, durable teeth material is essential for lasting blades and less sharpening needs.
A chainsaw chain tooth made from chromium-plated alloy provides reliable cutting power while needing less maintenance.
7. Price and Warranty
The chainsaw chain comes at various price ranges. You can buy the cheapest chainsaw chain for as little as $10, but higher quality chains are usually over $25 to $35. When considering a chain, consider the price vs. value of the chain.
If you are a casual gardener and have minimal occasions when you need a chainsaw, then you may get away with a lower-priced chainsaw chain. But if you have lots of matured dry trees with thick woods, then I recommend spending the extra money and getting a better-quality chain.
The manufacturer warranty indicates the confidence manufacturer has in their product. A more extended warranty means the product is going to last longer, and if anything goes wrong, then you will get it fixed.
What are the top chainsaw chains?
The top chainsaw chains get the job done faster and efficiently. The chainsaw chain performance is mostly dependent on the chain length, construction material, and design of the chain.
Having a chainsaw chain that fits correctly to the chainsaw is essential before you look for the other parameters.
What is the best chainsaw chain sharpener?
The chainsaw chain sharpener allows the teeth sharpening of the chain. The chainsaw sharpener has to be lightweight, durable, and easy to use.
If you are looking for a good quality chain sharpener, then I recommend using a Timberline Sharpener, which allows precise tooth sharpening at a uniform length and angle.
This is a well-designed chain sharpener and made of high-quality material which ensures it lasts longer.
What’s the best chainsaw chain for hardwood?
For cutting hardwood, you need a chainsaw chain that has enough sharp teeth to chew through the hardwood material.
For a smoother finishing, I recommend semi-chisel cutters teeth chain as it lasts longer before you need teeth sharpening.
Some professionals recommend using full chisel chains for greater precision and clean cutting, but then it needs more frequent teeth sharpening. This may not be worth the extra effort to get the job done.
Another factor to consider when cutting hardwood is the shape of the teeth themselves. Generally, square-shaped teeth make a faster cut, but again, it gets dull quickly.
The rounded cutting edge of semi-chisel cutters’ teeth takes a bit longer to cut the hardwood, but it retains the sharpness far longer.
For cutting hardwoods, I recommend that you use the Oregon S56T Chainsaw chain. It’s a 16-inch chain with a 3/8-inch low profile pitch and a 0.050-inch gauge with 56 drive link length.
It fits most chainsaws made by Craftsman, Echo, Homelite, Poulan, and Remington.
What’s the best chainsaw chain for cutting firewood?
For cutting firewood, you need a chainsaw that gets the job done faster and require smaller maintenance. Plus, having a uniform cutting length of wood is essential for its storage and use.
For the best saw chain for cutting firewood, I recommend using a Cut-Rite chainsaw from ARC manufacturing. The chain is made of high-quality material and can cut 18-inch length depending on the chainsaw type.
The installation is quick and comes with a firewood measuring tool accessory, which allows you to cut uniform size firewood for your cabin or camping needs.
When to replace your chainsaw chains?
Several indications give you a clue that it’s time to replace the chainsaw chain. Here are some signs which you should keep an eye on:
- Missing chain teeth: This one is the most obvious as when you see several missing teeth in the chain. Missing teeth makes it ineffective in cutting objects and increases the vibrations while cutting. When you have more than 10% – 15% of chain teeth missing, it’s usually a good indication that you should consider replacing the chain
- Smaller teeth height: As you sharpen the teeth, it chips away from the height of the teeth. When the teeth get too low, it becomes difficult or almost impossible to sharpen anymore. When there are lots of smaller teeth in the chain, then it’s time to replace it.
- Loose chain links: After extended use, the dual chain links start getting loose or come off altogether. In some cases, you may attempt to fix it, but if links fall entirely off, then it becomes a safety issue. You should not use any cracked or loose link chain since it increases the likelihood that the chain will break when in use and may cause severe injury or damage.
Overall, you should replace the chains when you don’t get a job expertly done. In some instances, it may not be the chain but the chainsaw itself, which may require some maintenance or replacement.
Knowing the above usual chain failure signs are a good indicator to know when it’s time to change the chain.
How to change your chainsaw chain
Changing the saw chain is usually a straightforward process. But if you have never changed the chain before, it may become intimidating at first.
The installation of chainsaw chains depends on the design of the chainsaw. There may be some specific instructions depending on the kind of chainsaw model you have.
But here is the general instruction on changing the chainsaw chain:
- You should always turn off the chainsaw before you make any attempt to change the chain.
- Use a screwdriver or some long object to remove the clutch cover of the chainsaw. The outside plate covers the inner gear and mechanism of the chain saw. Then remove the side panel of the guide bars. The side panel may be fastened by nuts or screws. Use a proper tool to remove the plate. Check if the chainsaw brake is attached to the guide chainsaw bar. Remove it if necessary as it makes the installation easy.
- Now, release the chain tension to loosen the chain so it can be replaced
- Pull the drive links of the chain to remove it from the clutch drum. Keep the chain tension loose so you can install the new chain.
- Put the new chain on the clutch drum and roll it around the guide bar. Be careful from the sharp teeth. If you are not careful, you may easily cut yourself with the chain teeth.
- Now align the new chain, so it fits in the straight line. Apply some tension to check if there is any slack in the chain. You don’t want it too tight but leave some slack for fine adjustments.
- Once you are satisfied with the tension, check there is no obstruction in the chain and lock the tension screw.
- Now you can go in the reverse process to close the clutch cover and get ready to use the chainsaw
Here’s a brief installation video on replacing the cutting chain.
How long chainsaw chain last
Chainsaw chains can last for several years when cared for properly. The chains are usually made from high-quality, durable material that prevents corrosion and rust.
It’s usually the teeth that break or wear down after consistent use, which requires a new chain. To ascertain that it lasts longer, you should properly use the tool as per the manufacturer’s recommendation.
Never attempt to cut material that the saw chain is not rated for. The next thing you can do to improve the life of the chain is to use proper cooling.
During cutting, the chain moves between objects such as wood at high speed. This increases friction and raises the temperature of the chain.
To prevent overheating the chain, you should either stop and let the chain cool down before starting to cut again or make a design cut (V- shape cut) that allows for a better airflow at the cutting spot.
When you are making a cut at gravel or hard surface, prevent the chain from hitting the ground. Raise the object with some platform to avoid the chain hitting the ground surface as it may quickly damage the chain teeth.
Maintaining your chainsaw and chain regularly by cleaning it after finishing the job and periodically lubricating it increases the life of the chainsaw chain.
Over to you
There are so many different types of chainsaw chains available in the market. Finding the best chainsaw chain requires some research and understanding of the specification of each chain.
I have picked some of the chainsaw chains with different size lengths to cover different sizes of the chainsaw. You can choose any of those chainsaw chains with confidence.
Have you used any of the above chainsaw chains? How has it worked out for you? Has it proved as effective and as reliable as you’d hoped?
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