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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.