Choosing the best chainsaw chain is an important part of chainsaw ownership. Just as you would not choose a mechanic with little experience for a high tech, high-priced engine, you wouldn’t want to use a chainsaw that is not properly maintained. The chainsaw will be used frequently and, therefore, must be in top condition to perform safely. You also want to choose a chain that is appropriate for your skill level, the type of wood you’ll be cutting, and the time you have available to spend servicing the chainsaw. If you’re new to chainsaws and chainsaw maintenance, this article will help you choose the best one for you.
First, consider what kind of chain you need: new or dull. Dull chains are dangerous because they do not catch or hold onto cuts or nicks, which can lead to injuries. On the other hand, new chains provide safety benefits: sharp teeth stay sharp, the cut is cleaner, and the chainsaw continues to run smoothly. Dull chains require you to sharpen them before use; this task can be done yourself with an electric file or a power tool, or by using specialized equipment. The cost of maintaining a new chain is determined by the number of sharps in the chain needs in order to be as good as new.
Secondly, consider the kind of wood you plan to cut. Harder woods retain sharper teeth longer, although softer woods will sharpen more quickly. Wet wood can deteriorate quickly if stored improperly, so it is important to store chains in a dry location, such as in a box or shed. For lighter woods, such as spruce, a sharpener is less necessary, but remember to clean the teeth on a regular basis in order to maintain the best chainsaw chain.
Thirdly, determine the proper chain arrangement for your job. There are three basic chain arrangements that are commonly used by woodworkers: drop chain, half-moon, and full-moon. Drop chain (or British chain) consists of two metal links that overlap one another at the middle of the link, just past the point where the chain crosses the blade. Half-moon chains have a cross chain arrangement, with one half-moon link placed in the center and the other links placed at either end of the blade. Full-moon chains create a curve in the link, allowing the woodcutter to cut along both sides of the grain for accurate, clean wood cuts.
When selecting the best chainsaw chain, it is important to choose chains that are the correct length and are not too long or too short. Longer replacement chains are best used on felled trees, but shorter replacements may cause the chain to bind in the wood at the point where the blade crosses the teeth. Also, woodworkers often use chains that are too long, creating a lip or “trape” in the wood near the joint. This will prevent the saw from cutting straight when the teeth are aligned.
Another way to select a good chain is to select the appropriate type for the type of cutting you will be doing. For instance, if you plan to cut firewood, you should purchase a sharpen designed for woodworking. Blades designed for cutting soft woods will often come with different sharpening options. Some include hook sharpening, wet/dry saw sharpening, reverse dulling and vibration reduction. If you plan to sharpen the chainsaw regularly, you might want to consider purchasing a vibration reduction feature.
Woodworkers also need to consider the size of the teeth when selecting the right chain. For example, the smaller the gauge, the less amount of tooth is needed to perform the task. If the task calls for scoring wood in difficult shapes, several additional teeth may be needed. The larger the tooth count, the more high-quality pairs of chains will be required for the job. Remember that the higher the number of teeth, the longer the overall tooth life will last.
Selecting the best chainsaw chain can be a tedious task, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. All it takes is some time and patience to evaluate the various options and choose the best one suited for the woodcutting project you will be working on. Keep in mind that the quality of the metal, the number of teeth, the hook and loop rivets and the pitch for woodshapers all play a role in the overall quality of the chain. If you plan to work on wood mostly in the outdoor setting, the highest grade of metal and the best rivets are critical to your success.