What are the different types of chains for Chainsaws

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Shopping for chainsaw chains can be a slightly overwhelming experience, especially if you don’t know what you’re looking for.

Even if you know the correct pitch and gauge numbers on your chainsaw, you’d still have quite a few options to narrow down from, with no clue as to which type of chainsaw chain would work best for you.

That’s where we come in. At ChainsawApe.com, our goal is to educate you on all matters related to chainsaws, from which ones to buy, to how to use them, to even the essential safety equipment you need when operating them.

And in the interest of ensuring you always make the right purchase, we’ve compiled a nifty guide to help you understand all the types of chainsaw chains, and which ones would suit you best.

Take a look:

Types of Chainsaw Chains

How Chainsaw Chains differ

By and large, chainsaw chains all differ on 3 major aspects:

  • The type (shape) of cutter used
  • The sequence in which those cutters are fixed onto the chain
  • The material the tips of the cutters are made from

Each aspect affects how your chainsaw cuts and what jobs it is suitable for, so it is important to make the right choice in each category when selecting your chainsaw chain.

Chainsaw chain types by Cutter types

Each cutter is made of two basic parts, the tooth and the grind, and the shapes of each determine what kind of cutter it is.

The rounder these parts are, the smoother the cuts they give easier they are to sharpen, but at the cost of slowing the cut down.

The height of each individual cutter also affects a chainsaw’s cuts, with larger tooths generally giving more aggressive cuts.

Based on differences in the tooth, grind and height, there are 4 types of cutters you can have on your chainsaw chain:

  • Square chisel cutters
  • Round chisel cutters
  • Semi-chisel cutters
  • Low-profile cutters
Types of Chainsaw Chains

Here are all the differences between each respective cutter, along with what kind of work it would be most useful for:

Cutter typeSquare cutterChisel cutterSemi-chisel cutterLow-profile cutter
Shape of toothSquareSquareRoundedRounded
Shape of grindSquareRoundedRoundedRounded
Height of toothLargestLargeSmallerSmallest
Cutting speedFastestFastMediumSlow
Smoothness of cutVery coarseCoarseSmoothSmoothest
DurabilityLeast durableLowMediumMost durable
SafetyLeast safeLowMediumSafest
Suitable forQuick cuts on hard woodQuick cuts on hard to medium woodSlower cuts on medium to soft woodSlow cuts on soft wood

Chainsaw chain types by Chain Sequence

Besides the size and shape of the cutter, the way those cutters are fixed on the chain also has an effect on how well the chainsaw cuts and how fast each cut is.

The further apart the cutters are from each other, the faster they cut, but at the cost of making the cuts less smooth.

There are three arrangements that are most commonly used:

  • Standard sequencing
  • Semi-skip sequencing
  • Full-skip sequencing
Types of Chainsaw Chains

The main difference between them is the spacing between each consecutive cutter. On a standard chain, each cutter is fixed on every other chain link, meaning there’s only one chain link in between each cutter.

The cutters, therefore, are closely coupled on a standard chain, with little room between them.

A full-skip chain, on the other hand, is exactly what is sounds like; it completely skips every next cutter when compared to the standard sequencing, meaning there are now three chain links in between every cutter.

Now there’s more room in between each cutter, and since cutters have to be more spaced out on the same length of chain, there are fewer cutters on a full-skip chain than a standard chain.

A semi-skip chain is a middle-ground between the two. It has an odd arrangement, where the spacing between consecutive cutters is 2 links and then 1 link, and then 2 links and then 1 link, and so on.

This gives the semi-skip chain more room in between each cutter, but still more teeth than a full-skip chain.

Overall, a standard chain gives you slow but smooth cuts, while a full-skip chain shreds through every job, albeit with very rough cuts.

But if you’d like something with the best of both worlds, you’re best suited with a semi-skip chain.

Chainsaw chain types by Cutter Tips

Chainsaw chains also differ by the material their tips are made from. The harder the material, the longer they retain their sharpness and the more durable they are.

However, harder materials are also more expensive, and depending on your use, you may not even need very hard cutter tips.

Types of chainsaws

The three most common materials cutter tips are made from are:

  • Chrome
  • Carbide
  • Diamond

Here’s a table summarizing everything you need to know about them:

Affected by heatA lotLowLowest
PriceCheapModerateVery expensive
Suitable forStandard jobs, homeownersTougher jobs with hard wood, professional useToughest jobs, can be used to cut rock


And that about wraps up everything you need to know about chainsaw chains.

Just buy the right chain according to what you need, picking the right option out of every category, and you’ll be good to go.

Click here if you’re curious as to what the best chainsaws in 2021 are or what chainsaws would be best for cutting firewood.

Or check out the rest of our website for more useful information on chainsaws and where to buy them.

About Albert P Emmanuel

Hi, It’s the Albert Powell Emmanuel here. You can call me APE. I am the founder of ChainsawAPE. Here, on this website, I aim to teach you all you need to know about chainsaws – yeah, those sharp, scary things that intimidate you. Well, they’re not that hard to use.

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