Differences between chain saw chains

Written by sonja herbert
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Differences between chain saw chains
Chainsaw chains make a difference in cutting wood. (Forestry worker image by Stana from Fotolia.com)

It is important to know the differences in use and operation for the various styles of chainsaw chains. Whatever type of chainsaw chain you use, the teeth come in one of two basic styles: the round or chipper tooth which has a rounder backside and then curves over the top, or the square or flat-top tooth which is flat on the back and the top.

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Standard Chain

The standard chain is also called the full-house chain because it has the most teeth of any chain saw chain. Its teeth are arranged in a - left tooth, right tooth, drive link - pattern. It produces extremely fine sawdust that will blow away in the wind, and the lumber cut will be very smooth. The standard chain is most often used by professionals who have large chainsaws with powerful motors.

Full-Skip Chain

The teeth of the full-skip chain are usually arranged in a - left tooth, drive link, drive link, right tooth, drive link, drive link - pattern, so that every other tooth on the chain is removed. This chain is most often used on small saws or on full-sized saws with extended bars for cutting large pieces of lumber. It is ideal for cutting beams, posts, planking and other heavy wood. The full-skip chain is not as likely to bog down when cutting large pieces and it has less drag, so the motor can run at a higher RPM. With the full-skip chain, your chainsaw can run at its most efficient for fastest cutting.

Semi-Skip Chain

The semi-skip chainsaw chain is in between the standard chain and the full-skip chain in that it has about a third less teeth than the standard chain, but more teeth than the full-skip chain. It is fast like the full-skip chain but not quite as strong, and it cuts rougher than the standard chain but not as rough as the full-skip chain.

Semi-Chisel Chain

The strong and durable semi-chisel chain is perfect for dirty and dusty work. It is not as fast as a chisel chain, but can handle abrasives like dirt and sand a lot better, and it works well in hardwoods and softwoods. The semi-chisel chain has ripper grinding teeth for cutting planks and boards easily and without much kickback.

Chisel Chain

The chisel chain is a strong and smooth-cutting chain saw chain, perfect for professional loggers. While cutting, saw chips clear rapidly, and the ramped depth gauge of the chain reduces kickback.

Safety Chain

The safety chain, also called the low-kickback chain, is required by law on all chainsaws with engines smaller than 3.8 cubic inches. They can also be purchased for larger saws. When the wood pinches the chainsaw while cutting, or when the top of the guide bar of the chainsaw touches an object, the guide bar can reverse instantly toward the operator and in the process severely injure him. Safety chains minimise this kickback, but don't eliminate it, so it's still important to be very careful when operating a chainsaw.

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