Skip to Content

Are Chainsaw Blades Universal?

A chainsaw blade is the cutting part of your chainsaw, and contains the chain and the bar. If you are looking to to replace the blade after a few years, you want to know if the chain and bar will fit your machine. Can I use each chain on each machine, can I use each bar on my chainsaw, or are they brand and type specific?

Are Chainsaw Blades Universal?

No, chainsaw blades are not universal, not every bar and chain will fit on your machine. Chainsaw chains need to have the correct specification to fit on your bar. If you have a chain that is too long or too narrow it will not fit. Mixing brands of chains is no problem as long as they are compatible. Chainsaw bars are designed for a specific brand and model, you need to make sure that they will fit your model before bying them.

Sometimes you will get lucky finding a bar or chain from an other brand that matches your specifications for a home-grade chainsaw you are currently using. However, it is always imperative to factor in manufacturer specifications before buying a replacement chainsaw blade. If you are looking to buy a spare chainsaw blade for your machine, or you are a chainsaw repair technician, read on as we explore the nattiest and grittiest of chainsaw blades.


What Are The Different Types Of Chainsaw Chains?

To further help you answer the question if chainsaw blades universal, we must narrow down to various types of chains available in the market. If you are a seasoned woodworker-always using different models of chains you would agree that choosing or replacing a chain often depends on the purpose for which you need one. Learning about variants of chainsaw chains will make your work easier.

We will look at the three main chain types:

● Full Chisel Cutters

Full chisel cutters are chains with squared teeth and usually rip wood at very high speed. The cornered-teeth make these chains ideal for felling big trees, chopping tree limbs, cutting firewood, and ripping hardwood.

However, while these types of blades realize high-speed cutting and make cutting hardwood look easy, they have some notable drawbacks. First off, the risk of kickback is often high when cutting speed is high, hence the need to take necessary precautions when your chainsaw is fitted with full chisel cutters. These chainsaws are also less durable and wear and tear out faster compared to other variants. This is partly because of the square design, something that also makes it quite challenging to sharpen. You will also not realize clean cuts with full chisel cutters, something that explains why you should not use them to rip softwood. 

● Low Profile Cutter

The next type of chainsaw chain is the low profile cutter variant. They have round-teeth and are usually very safe, thanks to a chain design that prevents kickback. But while you can use these types of chains on any type of wood, you would not realize high cutting speeds as is the case with full chisel cutters. Low profile cutters are recommended to inexperienced woodworkers because apart from the low of risk kickback, you have to sharpen them less frequently. These chains will last longer compared to other variants on the market.

● Semi-Chisel Cutters

The third type of chainsaw chains are the semi-chisel cutters that have round corners and cut wood at a relatively slow speed compared to full chisel cutters. If you are looking for something that would suit your softwood sawing needs, go for semi-chisel cutters. These blade types are also ideal for all seasons. Whether you want to cut frozen, dry, or dirty wood, they are the go-to options for most commercial woodworkers. Moreover, compared to low profile and full profile chainsaws, semi-chisel cutters are relatively safe, thanks to the minimized kickback risk.

Chainsaw Numbers: Find a Suitable Replacement Chainsaw Chain?

If you check the specifications for a chainsaw chain or check your chainsaw bar, you will see that they mention all kinds of numbers. What do the numbers mean? Well, chainsaw blades vary in style/design, size, and teeth combination. If you want to buy a new chain that will fit your chainsaw you have to carefully look at them to make sure that the chain will fit your bar. You can also locate these numbers on the chainsaw bar or if you didn’t change your bar yet find them in the user manual.

If you found them you will see that there are three mina ones: drive links, gauge, and pitch.

● The chainsaw chain pitch  

Pitch is the distance between chainsaw chain links. While it would be wrong to assume pitch has a significant impact on the chainsaw length of the chain, it is ostensibly a measurement between links.  If you are looking to buy a new chainsaw chain, look for this number on the user manual of the machine. However, in cases where the number is not indicated anywhere, a chainsaw user must know how to calculate or measure the pitch on a chainsaw chain. We will comeback to that later.

● Chainsaw chain drive links

Apart from the pitch, drive links are equally important if you are looking to purchase a chainsaw chain replacement. The most important consideration woodworkers should make about drive links is the number available on a given chainsaw.  Apart from placing a purchase order based on the size of a guide bar, drive links have always played significance in helping chainsaw users buy the perfect replacement blade.

And, like the pitch, you can locate the number of drive links available on a chain on the user manual. Alternatively, you can manually count the number of drive links. To get the total length of a chainsaw chain, you should always factor in the number drive links and pitch.  We will shortly explore how to measure pitch on a chainsaw to help you find a perfect blade replacement.

● Chainsaw chain gauge

The term ‘gauge’ is popular in the woodworking industry. When it comes to defining a chainsaw chain/blade gauge, the simplest expression is that it refers to the thickness of the drive links. The catch with the chainsaw chain/blade gauge is that it plays significance when choosing a replacement blade. You would have trouble fitting a chain with a thick gauge on a chainsaw that uses a blade with a thin gauge. The converse is also true.  

The gauge is usually expressed in inches with the most common size being .050 inches. If you do not find this number on the product’s packaging or manual, you should check the guide bar.

Can You Install A Chainsaw Blade Backwards?

When replacing your chainsaw blade another popular question woodworkers have is the possibility of installing a chainsaw chain backward. Will it work? Or, are there dangers associated with installing a chainsaw blade backward?

Well, while installing a chainsaw bar and chain is pretty easy, the challenge that often comes with it is that you can hardly notice whether you installed the chain backward or the right way. Thus, to answer the question can you install a chainsaw chain backwards, the answer is yes. When it is not fitted correctly the chain will not cut wood; something that often indicates the wrong installation. 

If it would be your first time installing a chainsaw blade, we recommend manually inspecting a chainsaw with a blade on it. Most importantly, correct installation means sharp edges at the bottom of the chain should face the user. The sharp edges at the top should not face the user.

Measuring the Pitch of a Chainsaw Blade

Let’s emphasize that pitch is the measurement between chainsaw blade links. However, the question of finding the right fit has always been troubling, especially for a woodworking novice. But assuming you have located the pitch value on the user manual or the chainsaw bar, can you take the measurement alone?

Well, measuring a chainsaw blade pitch is pretty easy as it only takes a few simple steps. To do it, note down rivets that follow each other and take a measurement between the middle on the first and the third. Now, divide your measurement by two to get the pitch value.

Final Thoughts

In the end, finding a perfect chain blade replacement is the desire of any woodworker. While you can interchange blades from different chainsaw models, there are minor details you should always consider. For example, gauge, pitch, and the number of drive links on a chainsaw blade often play significance when looking for a spare chain.

Chainsaw Chain Compatibility Across Brands

Many chainsaw users, both professionals and hobbyists, might not realize the chains used in these power-packed tools are generally interchangeable.

When it comes to chainsaw chains, the brand of the tool or chain doesn’t hold much significance. Instead, parameters such as pitch, gauge, and link count become the key focus areas for ensuring compatibility.

For those uninitiated, the pitch of a chainsaw chain is the distance between any three consecutive rivets divided by two, while the gauge refers to the thickness of the drive link where it fits into the guide bar. The link count refers to the number of drive links in the chain.

In context, this means if you have a chainsaw from Brand X and wish to fit it with a chain from Brand Y, you can do so easily as long as Brand Y’s chain matches the pitch, gauge, and link count of the original chain from Brand X.

What’s important here is ensuring the chain fitment statistics align meticulously with the chainsaw’s design.

• Identifying the Correct Chain Size

One of the simple ways to find out the correct chain size for your chainsaw is through an existing chain. Make sure to note down the pitch, gauge, and link count of the existing chain for further reference.

Another useful resource is the stamp on the chainsaw’s guide bar, which usually includes details such as the chain pitch and gauge. Additionally, markings and details on the packaging of chainsaw chains often provide crucial information about these parameters.

Consider visiting manufacturers’ websites or referring to reputable resources like the University of California’s Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources as they often provide comprehensive guides on understanding different types of chainsaw chains.

• Importance of Other Chain Features

While the crux of the discussion is pivoted around chain compatibility concerning pitch, gauge, and link count, let’s not undermine the importance of other distinct features.

Cutter type, for instance, plays a critical role in determining the performance of your chainsaw chain. Tooth-set style, chisel, and semi-chisel are amongst the popular cutter types, where the former suits softwood, and the latter two apply to hardwood.

Then comes the chain sequence, which refers to the configuration of cutters and tie straps on the chainsaw chain. Choices range from Count Profile, Semi Skip, and Full Skip sequences, with each type offering its unique set of benefits in terms of performance and suitability for different applications.

The chainsaw chain may also include some special additions, encompassing features for reduced vibration, kickback guard links, and carbide-tipped cutters that resist dulling.

We cannot stress enough the value-added benefits that these features bring in terms of safety, comfort, and efficiency. Even though this might sound a lot technical, consulting experts from your local hardware store or utilizing online forums would offer much-needed assistance and information.

• The Bottom Line on Chainsaw Chain Compatibility

To reiterate, chainsaw chains are typically interchangeable across brands, given the pitch, gauge, and link count’s conformity with the chainsaw guide’s specification. However, compatibility isn’t just about these three parameters.

It extends to understanding, acknowledging, and reinforcing the significance of other chain features such as cutter type, chain sequence, and special additions that profoundly impact the chainsaw’s performance and the user’s safety.

Having the right chain can make a world of difference in your chainsaw performance. Therefore, before you purchase a new chain, I recommend taking the time to research and understand these features thoroughly.

• Selecting the Right Chainsaw Chain: Considering the Length

When purchasing a new chainsaw chain, it’s critical to note its length. An improperly sized chain not only inhibits cutting efficiency but may also risk breaking or jamming the device. Reference the owner’s manual or measure the chainsaw bar to ascertain the precise length.

• Chainsaw Brand Specific Requirements

Keep in mind that different chainsaw brands may have distinct chain and bar requirements. For this reason, it’s best to adhere to the specifications of your specific chainsaw brand and model whenever possible.

• Understanding the Value of Full Chisel Cutters

Full chisel cutters are perfect for large tree felling and hardwood cutting tasks. However, they tend to wear down faster and are slightly more challenging to sharpen in comparison to other types of chainsaw cutters.

• Low Profile Cutters: Safety and Maintenance

Low-profile cutters, on the other hand, offer enhanced safety due to their small size. Their compact design minimizes the possibility of kickback, an issue with larger chainsaw cutters.

They have a longer lifespan, needing fewer sharpening sessions. However, they tend to have a slower cutting speed as a trade-off.

• Semi-Chisel Cutters for Softwood

For softwood cutting, semi-chisel cutters are standouts. They are safe and minimize kickback risk making the cutting process smoother and more efficient.

• Importance of Pitch in Chainsaw Chains

When considering a chainsaw chain, don’t ignore the pitch. The pitch, found on the chainsaw manual or bar, represents the distance between the chain’s drive links. Understanding the pitch is essential in selecting a chain that fits your chainsaw perfectly.

• Gauge of Chainsaw Chain

Next to consider is the chainsaw chain’s gauge, which is the thickness of the drive links. The gauge is crucial in ensuring the chain fits onto the guide bar correctly. This specification can be found on the chainsaw guide bar or in the user manual.

• Understanding the Drive Link Count

The drive link count on a chainsaw chain contributes to defining the chain’s length. This count can either be manually calculated or checked in the chainsaw’s user manual or on the bar.

• Pros and Cons of Chainsaw Chain Cutter Types

Chainsaw chain cutter types, from full to low profile to semi-chisel types, each offer unique benefits and downsides. These often revolve around variations in cutting speed, sharpness retention, and safety factors, such as kickback risk.

• Level of Chainsaw Chain Aggressiveness

The aggressiveness of a chainsaw chain can drastically affect its cutting capabilities and chip clearance. A more aggressive chain typically yields faster cutting speed but may require more frequent maintenance.

• Safety Features in Chainsaw Chains

Safety should be a top consideration when purchasing chainsaw chains. Look for chains that boast safety features such as bumper drive links or ramped depth gauges. These features help prevent kickback, a common issue with chainsaw chains.

• Compatibility of Different Chainsaw Chain Brands

If you’re considering using a different brand chain on your chainsaw, keep the chainsaws pitch, gauge, and drive link count in mind. Proper adherence to these specifications can allow safe and efficient operation.

• Verifying the Chain Size

To confirm if a chainsaw chain is the correct size for your chainsaw, measure the chain against the bar size required by your chainsaw. This helps assure optimal performance and longevity.

The University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources provides additional safety tips and best practices for chainsaw usage. Their guidelines ensure not only efficient work but also your safety when operating a chainsaw.

Compatibility When Replacing Chainsaw Blade

When you decide to replace a chainsaw blade, the foremost factor to consider is the compatibility of the chain and bar with your machine. A chainsaw blade is not a one-size-fits-all component. Compatibility is key to ensuring the best performance and longevity of your chainsaw.

• Specifications for Chainsaw Chains

Chainsaw chains must meet precise specifications in terms of length and width to fit the chainsaw bar. The specifications are crucial to providing the right tension and grip.

It’s similar to how the right-sized tire fits a car’s wheel correctly. Checking your chainsaw’s manual or reaching out to the manufacturer can provide reliable details on these specifications.

• Brand Compatibility and Chainsaw Chains

Are you considering mixing brands of chains? It is generally not a problem, provided they are compatible with your chainsaw. Just like you can put a third-party ink cartridge into a printer, different brands’ chains can fit your chainsaw. However, it’s always essential to double-check the specifications.

• Importance of Chainsaw Bars

Do not neglect the importance of chainsaw bars. They are designed for specific brands and models, making it essential to ensure a bar fits your model before purchasing. Imagine trying to install a Chevy engine in a Ford car. It just does not work unless it is designed to be compatible.

• Getting a Perfect Replacement Blade

While it is possible to find a bar or chain from another brand that matches your specifications for a home-grade chainsaw, always consider manufacturer specifications before buying a replacement blade. Check your user manual or consult with the chainsaw company for the best match.

A critical point to remember is that chainsaw parts are formulated for maximum performance and safety, so deviating from spec may affect these factors.

• Types of Chainsaw Chains

Just as there are different types of knives for different foods, there are different types of chainsaw chains, like full chisel cutters, low profile cutters, and semi-chisel cutters. Each type is designed for specific tasks.

Full chisel chains are great for professional use, while low-profile and semi-chisel chains are aptly suited for lighter, infrequent usage.

• Understanding Chainsaw Blade Numbers

Just like how your tire’s specifications are indicated by various numbers, chainsaw blades have numbers indicating their size and specifications – pitch, drive links, and gauge.

– Chainsaw Chain Pitch

The chainsaw chain pitch refers to the distance between chain links. You can find the specified pitch in your chainsaw’s user manual.

If that is unavailable, you can measure the distance between the chain’s three rivets – then divide it by two to find the pitch. Refer to this guide from Oregon University for more detailed information.

– Importance of Drive Links

Drive links are considered the engine of a chainsaw chain. The number of links is an essential factor to consider when purchasing a chainsaw chain replacement. Just like the pitch, this detail can be found in your user manual or counted manually on the chain.

– Chainsaw Chain Gauge

The chainsaw chain gauge refers to the thickness of the drive links. The gauge plays a crucial role in choosing a replacement blade as it determines how the chain fits into the chainsaw bar.

If not accurate, the chain may be too loose or tight – hindering the chainsaw’s operation and potentially posing a safety risk.

• Avoiding Common Replacement Mistakes

It’s entirely possible and quite common to install a chainsaw chain backward. However, when this happens, your chainsaw won’t cut wood efficiently. Identifying mistakes when replacing your chainsaw chain demands careful attention.

• Finding The Perfect Chain Blade Replacement

To find your perfect chain blade replacement, you must consider details like gauge, pitch, and the number of drive links. Each specification serves a crucial role in determining how the chain fits, performs, and lasts.

Always refer back to your chainsaw’s manual or the manufacturer’s information for these details. A chainsaw is an investment, so ensuring you replace its parts with the right specifications is essential.

Importance of Chainsaw Bar and Chain Size

When acquiring a replacement bar and chain for your chainsaw, it’s crucial to factor in the size and power of your tool. Greater chainsaw power calls for bigger bars. Generally, these powerful saws are capable of handling tasks requiring a larger cutting radius.

The relationship between the power of the chainsaw and the bar size is reciprocal; the more powerful the chainsaw, the larger its optimal bar size.

• Electric Chainsaws and Bar Length

Electric chainsaws, due to their design and energy capacity, predominantly utilize bars 18 inches or less. These chainsaws lack the raw power of their gas-powered counterparts, but they are perfect for smaller jobs such as trimming and cutting smaller trees.

• Measuring Usable Length

Determining your appropriate replacement bar size requires an accurate measurement of the cutting length or “called” length.

For you to precisely do this, measure from the foremost tip of the bar to the closest cutter to the body of the saw. Round this figure up to an even number, furnishing the desired measurement in inches.

• Pitch and Chain Compatibility

Understanding the pitch of the chain is important for the sake of compatibility with the bar. To measure the pitch, determine the distance between three adjacent rivets on the chain and divide your finding by two.

The pitch denotes the average length of the chains’ drive links. For typical replacement chains, common pitch measurements stand at 3/8 and .325.

• Chain Gauge Measurement

The chain gauge, or the width of the groove where the chain fits onto the bar, also demands your attention to ensure compatibility.

Using a quarter, a dime, or a penny, you can identify which one fits snugly within the groove without any forcible pushing. The coin that fits perfectly gives an indication of your chain gauge.

• Extracting Information from the Chainsaw Bar

A treasure trove of information about the bar and chain can be found stamped somewhere on the chainsaw bar, usually near its rear, where it attaches to the chainsaw.

Here, you can gather the pitch, the gauge, and the number of drive links, all crucial information when searching for a replacement bar and chain.

• Considering Other Replacements

When searching for replacements, it’s worth considering the advantages offered by other options. For instance, laminated bars offer better resistance to corrosion, and carbide-tipped chains infer enhanced performance for heavier tasks.

Elaborating your knowledge on these alternatives can potentiate better tool performance.

• Utilizing a Quick Calculator

There are many available online quick calculators, such as the one provided by Oregon (click here), that can be of immense help while looking for familiar bar or chain replacements. However, it is always a good idea to explore further options and not limit your choices to old preferences.

• Writing from Experience

When finally choosing your replacement bar and chain, remember that size, power, and compatibility are the most crucial considerations. Always measure the chain’s pitch and gauge and the bars called length to avoid any mismatches.

Always refer to the chainsaw bar for information and consult online tools when needed. Finally, never hesitate to experiment with other options that maximize the chainsaw’s performance.