Chainsaw are high-power saws that help you quickly and efficiently cut through lumber, tree trunks, and tree branches. The saw works by propelling the sharp cutting chain around the wear-resistant metal guide bar.
The chain teeth will then make numerous small cuts in, one after the other and rapidly dig through the wood. And that means that a cutting chain is one of the essential parts of your chainsaw.
Below, we talk you through a comprehensive guide on the cutting chain. Before you even attempt to sharpen, replace, lubricate or do anything to your chainsaw chain, make sure you understand all the information offered below:
The Saw Chain
As we’ve already explained earlier, a saw chain is a component that cuts through the wood. Though the primary role of this component is to help you cut your wood as deep and as quick as possible, it will be better if any of the teeth on the chain do not cut too deep.
If one of the teeth happens to cut too deep, it may get stuck inside the timber and cause your chainsaw to kick back and strike you hard. This incident is known as the kickback- the primary cause of chainsaw accidents.
Minimizing Kickback Risks: A brief history of Saw Chain
Over the past years, chainsaws have been designed with various tooth designs to avoid kickback occurrence.The earliest saws used scratcher teeth which resemble those used in the standard hand saws.
They feature a huge number of tightly packed together teeth. This close arrangement was intended to prevent any tooth from biting deeper than the rest.
Since the teeth worked slowly and required a lot of time to clean or sharpen, they were replaced by more efficient teeth specially designed for the power saws.
Joseph Cox invented chipper chain which significantly improved the chainsaw performance. These chains comprised of curved teeth which alternated between pointing right and left.
Depth gauges were situated in front of every tooth to prevent the teeth from cutting too deep. The teeth spacing is also helpful in reducing the time needed to clear the chain.
Though the chipper tools are still popular among many folks, they’ve been replaced by more advanced styles of teeth…
Parts of the Chainsaw Chain
The modern chain models still employ gauges to manage the depth of cuts. Maintaining these gauges at correct heights is essential for safe and efficient operation.If the gauges depths are too high, the chain might not be able to cut as quickly due to the shallow depth of individual cuts. And if they’re too shallow, the risk of kickbacks increases significantly.
Delivering the real cutting power of your chain are sharp metal teeth that are usually made from chromium-plated steel alloy.Modern chains styles alternate between right and left facing teeth.Drive links are used to join all the teeth together.
Apart from keeping the teeth together, these links also deliver lubricant around the machine guide bar and even engage the sprocket to pass power from the motor to the chain.
Types of Teeth Used
- A good number of modern chains employ one of two teeth models.
- Full chisel teeth have sharply angled corners that you can easily sharpen to unmatched edge and slice wood fibers very fast!
- Semi-chisel teeth feature rounded corners that tend to affect their cutting sharpness. But the rounded teeth are good at maintaining an acceptable sharpness level- even when cutting through hard, frozen, dirty, or dry wood.
- You’ll also find milling chains that are designed for use in the chainsaw mills.
How the Teeth Are Arranged
Standard chains (also referred to as full house or full complement chains) put single drive links between every pair of the cutting teeth. The chains have the highest possible teeth to drive links ratio- making them bear more teeth unlike other chains of similar length.
Full skip chains, on the other hand, put two drive links between each teeth pair, reducing the total number of teeth by around 33%.
Semi-skip chains combine two designs by simply alternating between 1 and two links after every tooth. They’ve around 16% fewer teeth compared to the standard chains.
Although the chains we’ve discussed above are the most commonly used, there are a variety of specialized chains on the market too. For example, there are saw chains engineered from special steel alloys.
They’re meant for use in cold weather conditions.There are also chains featuring tungsten carbide teeth. These are intended for use in the extremely dirty or abrasive situations or rescue jobs.
Ripping chains employ altered blade geometry to form ripping cuts in your wood.
Chain Terminologies You Need to Know
Similar to any other product out there, saw chains also come with their handful of terminologies. These words can be confusing to the inexperienced buyers. So, understanding the following terms is important before you go to buy a new chain:
- Gauge- chain gauge (don’t confuse it with the depth gauge) refers to the thickness of the drive links. For most chains, it ranges from 0.5” to 0.063”. For a safe, efficient operation, you chain gauge MUST correctly match the gauge of the guide bar. Too thick chains fail to fit; too thin chains tend to slip sideways out of edge slot in addition to cutting poorly.
- Pitch- this is the term used to describe the average distance between two rivets. Because no two rivets have the same separation distance, the pitch is usually obtained by taking the measurements between 3 rivets and then dividing by 2. Most chains come with a pitch of around .404, .325, or .375 inches. Some specialized chains come with .75 inches pitch.
- Length- chain length is the number of drive links. A chain must have a correct length for it to function properly.
As we’ve mentioned earlier, saw chain is among the most important parts of your cutting tool. As such, it’s important to know it inside out. Luckily, the above guide takes you through everything you need to know about this particular device. Read it carefully and bookmark it for future references.