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Are Chainsaw Blades Universal? What pros say. Helpful Tips

The universality of chainsaw blades is a topic that often comes up. We encounter this question frequently and have the comprehensive knowledge to provide a definitive answer. You can count on us to guide you through this.

Chainsaw blades are not universal. The replacement chain must match the chainsaw model’s pitch, gauge, drive link count, and bar length to ensure compatibility. Measuring chains and checking manuals are crucial to finding a suitable replacement.

Explore further as we demystify chainsaw blades. We’ll provide a definitive answer to a frequently asked question and guide you through finding a suitable replacement. Learn why the pitch, gauge, drive link count, and bar length matter. There’s more to this than meets the eye, so keep going!


What Are The Different Types Of Chainsaw Chains?

To further help you answer whether chainsaw blades are universal, we must narrow down to various types of chains available in the market if you are a seasoned woodworker who always uses different chain models.

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

Total chisel cutters are chains with squared teeth and usually rip wood at a 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 blades realize high-speed cutting and make cutting hardwood look easy, they have some notable drawbacks. First, 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 total chisel cutters.

These chainsaws are less durable and wear and tear out faster than other variants. This is partly because of the square design, which makes it quite challenging to sharpen. You will also not realize clean cuts with total chisel cutters, which explains why you should not use them to rip softwood. 

● Low Profile Cutter

One of the risks I’ve observed is that using an incompatible blade can lead to inefficient cutting and potentially dangerous situations, like kickback.

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 chains on any wood, you would not realize high cutting speeds, as with total chisel cutters.

Low-profile cutters are recommended to inexperienced woodworkers because you have to sharpen them less frequently, apart from the low-risk kickback. 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 with round corners and cutting wood at a relatively slow speed compared to total chisel cutters. If you want something that suits your softwood sawing needs, I recommend using 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, semi-chisel cutters are relatively safe compared to low-profile and full-profile chainsaws, thanks to the minimized kickback risk.

Chainsaw Numbers: Find a Suitable Replacement Chainsaw Chain.

If you check the specifications for a chainsaw chain or 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 must look at it carefully to ensure it will fit your bar. You can also locate these numbers on the chainsaw bar, or if you haven’t changed your bar yet, find them in the user manual.

If you find them, you will see three main 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 significantly impacts the chainsaw length of the chain, it is ostensibly a measurement between links.  If you want to buy a new chainsaw chain, look for this number on the machine’s user manual.

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 come back to that later.

● Chainsaw chain drive links

Besides the pitch, drive links are equally important if you want to purchase a chainsaw chain replacement. The most crucial 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 a significant role 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 of 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 defining a chainsaw chain/blade gauge, the most straightforward expression refers to the thickness of the drive links. The catch with the chainsaw chain/blade gauge is that it is essential 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, the most common size being .050 inches. You should check the guide bar if you do not find this number on the product’s packaging or manual.

Can You Install A Chainsaw Blade Backwards?

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

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, can you install a chainsaw chain backward to answer the question?

The answer is yes. When it is not fitted correctly, the chain will not cut wood, often indicating 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 meet the user’s needs.

Measuring the Pitch of a Chainsaw Blades

Let’s emphasize that pitch is the measurement between chainsaw blade links. However, 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?

Measuring a chainsaw blade pitch is 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.

In my two decades of experience, I’ve found that the type of work, chainsaw power, and wood size are key factors when choosing a chainsaw blade.


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 are essential when looking for a spare chain.

Chainsaw Chain Compatibility Across Brands

Many chainsaw users, 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, pitch, gauge, and link count are 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.

Understanding the Importance of Chainsaw Blade Pitch

In context, if you have a chainsaw from Brand X and wish to fit it with a chain from Brand Y, you can do so quickly 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. For further reference, note the current chain’s pitch, gauge, and link count.

Another helpful 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 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 popular cutter types, where the former suits softwood and the latter applies 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.

Features for Reduced Vibration: A Closer Look

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

We cannot stress enough the value-added benefits of these features regarding safety, comfort, and efficiency. Even though this might sound 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 unique additions that profoundly impact the chainsaw’s performance and the user’s safety.

Having the proper chain can make a 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 inhibits cutting efficiency and may 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

Remember 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

Total 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 than other types of chainsaw cutters.

• Low Profile Cutters: Safety and Maintenance

On the other hand, low-profile cutters 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 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 ensures 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 offer unique benefits and downsides, from full to low profile to semi-chisel types. 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 with safety features like 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 chainsaw’s pitch, gauge, and drive link count in mind. Proper adherence to these specifications can allow safe and efficient operation.

A common misconception I’ve encountered is that a dull chainsaw blade is not dangerous when it can increase the risk of kickback.

• 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 critical to ensuring the best performance and longevity of your chainsaw.

• Specifications for Chainsaw Chains

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

It’s similar to how the right-sized tire correctly fits a car’s wheel. Checking your chainsaw’s manual or contacting 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 finding a bar or chain from another brand that matches your specifications for a home-grade chainsaw is possible, always consider manufacturer specifications before buying a replacement blade. Check your user manual or consult 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 knives for other foods, there are chainsaw chains, like whole, low profile, 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 various numbers indicate your tire’s specifications, 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 and 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 essential to consider when purchasing a chainsaw chain replacement. 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 is crucial in choosing a replacement blade as it determines how the chain fits into the chainsaw bar.

If inaccurate, 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, consider gauge, pitch, and the number of drive links. Each specification determines how the chain fits, performs, and lasts.

Refer to your chainsaw’s manual or the manufacturer’s information. A chainsaw is an investment, so it is essential to replace its parts with the correct specifications.

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. More excellent chainsaw power calls for more oversized bars. Generally, these powerful saws can handle tasks requiring a larger cutting radius.

The relationship between the chainsaw’s power and bar size is reciprocal; the more influential the chainsaw, the larger its optimal bar size.

• Electric Chainsaws and Bar Length

Due to their design and energy capacity, electric chainsaws 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 more petite trees.

• Measuring Usable Length

Determining your replacement bar size requires accurately measuring the cutting or “called” length.

To precisely do this, measure from the foremost tip of the bar to the closest cutter to the saw’s body. Round this figure up to an even number, and we furnish the desired measurement in inches.

• Pitch and Chain Compatibility

Understanding the pitch of the chain is essential 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, standard 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 fits snugly within the groove without any forcible pushing. The coin that fits perfectly indicates your chain gauge.

• Extracting Information from the Chainsaw Bar

A treasure trove of information about the bar and chain can be 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

Searching for replacements is worth considering the advantages other options offer. For instance, laminated bars offer better corrosion resistance, and carbide-tipped chains enhance 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, exploring further options and not limiting your choices to old preferences is always a good idea.

• Writing from Experience

When 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 mismatches.

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

Frequently Asked Questions:

• What are the main types of chainsaw chains?

The three main chainsaw chains are total, low-profile, and semi-chisel cutters. Each has advantages and disadvantages for different cutting tasks.

• Can you install a chainsaw chain backward?

Yes, it’s possible to accidentally install a chainsaw chain backward. This will prevent the chain from cutting efficiently.

• How do you measure the pitch of a chainsaw chain?

Measure the distance between 3 consecutive rivets on the chain, then divide by 2 for the pitch measurement.

• Why is it essential to use the correct size guide bar?

Carefully check specifications like pitch, gauge, and link count. Refer to manuals. Install the chain in the right direction.

How can I avoid mistakes when replacing my chain?

The three main types of chainsaw chains are full chisel cutters, low profile cutters, and semi-chisel cutters. Each has advantages and disadvantages for different cutting tasks.

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  1. Eva Phillips says:

    Diving into the details of chainsaw blades compatibility was very helpful

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Eva! We’re glad you found our explanation on chainsaw blades compatibility helpful. We’re here to guide you through finding a suitable replacement. Keep exploring for more insights.

  2. Bessie Turner says:

    Can chainsaw chains be repaired if they break or get damaged?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Chainsaw chains must match your chainsaw model’s pitch, gauge, drive link count, and bar length for repairs or replacements. Consult your manual for compatibility.

  3. Melinda Mcdonalid says:

    Great video resources shared in the article for further understanding

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Melinda! We’re glad you found the video resources helpful. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions about chainsaw blade compatibility.

  4. Douglas Anderson says:

    How do I know if my chainsaw chain needs replacing?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Ensure your replacement chain matches your chainsaw’s pitch, gauge, drive link count, and bar length for compatibility. Take precautions when handling total chisel cutters to reduce kickback risks.

  5. Corey Peters says:

    I feel more confident now in selecting the right chainsaw chain thanks to this article

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      I’m glad the article helped you gain confidence in selecting the right chainsaw chain. Remember to consider pitch, gauge, drive link count, and bar length for compatibility. Happy cutting!

  6. Judy Silva says:

    Informative article on chainsaw chain compatibility and replacement

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you for the positive feedback, Judy! Remember to check pitch, gauge, drive link count, and bar length for chainsaw chain compatibility. We’re here to help you find the perfect replacement.

  7. Valerie Carlson says:

    Are there any safety precautions to keep in mind when handling chainsaw chains?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Ensure the replacement chain matches your chainsaw model’s pitch, gauge, drive links, and bar length. Measure chains and check manuals for compatibility to avoid mistakes during installation.

  8. Amy Burton says:

    I didn’t know there were so many factors to consider when replacing a chainsaw blade!

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Amy! Chainsaw blade compatibility is crucial. Make sure to match the pitch, gauge, drive link count, and bar length for a suitable replacement. Feel free to reach out for guidance.

  9. Manuel Edwards says:

    Can you use any type of oil for lubricating a chainsaw chain?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Chainsaw blades are not universal. Match pitch, gauge, drive link count, and bar length for compatibility. Measure chains and check manuals for suitable replacements. Let us help guide you.

  10. Sue Bradley says:

    Learning about the pitch, gauge, and link count is crucial for choosing the right chainsaw chain

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thanks, Sue! Understanding the pitch, gauge, and link count is essential for choosing the right chainsaw chain. Remember to match these specifications to ensure compatibility with your chainsaw model.