Chainsaws are arguably one of the handiest power tools to have around the yard. But like all tools, their components take a fair amount of wear and inevitably need replacing. The presents a new problem of wading through hundreds of options trying to figure what chain is best for the job. Especially if you’re looking for chains for a specific task such as cutting hardwood.
A couple of question comes up time after time like… can a chainsaw cut through hardwood… and does hardwood dull the chain? So, I thought we could wrap up all of these questions in one article, as well as providing you with my take on the best chainsaw chain for hardwood. So let’s get hold of this little pup and work it out together…
Can a Chainsaw Cut Hardwood?
Yes, you can use a chainsaw to cut any type of wood. But you will definitely see performance differences depending on what type of chain you fit your saw. There is a vast and fairly confusing range of chainsaw chains on the market, some of which are better suited to cutting hardwoods.
It is imperative to know how to choose your right chainsaw chain before you get your wallet out of your back pocket. Factors include the gauge of the chain, tooth style, bar length, and drive link configuration on the chain. I’ll explain in more detail as we go on…
Does Hard Wood Dull a Chainsaw?
Yes, hardwood can dull a chainsaw, certainly more so than a softwood. This is why you should keep your blade are sharp at all times. Try to let the chain do the work and don’t force the chainsaw bar into the cut.
Other factors that will contribute to making your chainsaw dull are dirt on the wood surface, a bent bar causing friction, or just a lack of maintenance. The idea is to keep your chains sharp by touching them up. Not to let it go dull before you bring out the sharpener.
How to Keep Your Chain Sharp
Instead of running to your local hardware store to grab a new one, you can either pay to have it sharpened or invest in a sharpening tool and learn the technique. Technically, there are two methods of sharpening a chainsaw chain.
You can either sharpen it with an electric grinder or a handheld sharpening tool. Everyone has their own preference but I would recommend a handheld chain sharpening tool that gets used after every tank of fuel.
These devices attach to the bar tip and press down a whetstone on the top plate of the cutters while the engine is running slowly. However, to dress the vertical cutting edge of each tooth perpendicular to the top plate, you may still need to become proficient with a round file. On the other hand, a bar-mounted sharpener is an excellent and economical alternative for quick touch-ups in the field.
A simple handheld sharpening tool, on the other hand, might be the ideal option if you want to maintain proper filling angles. As compared to electrical grinders, simple handheld tools remove the guesswork and allow you to cut the correct file size.
Hand sharpening a chainsaw chain’s snaggle-toothed cutters is a bit of an art form. The ability to maintain optimum filing angles and pressure can only be learned through experience and feel.
These gadgets take the guesswork out of hand sharpening by allowing you to cut with the exact file size held at a precise angle every time.
Best Chainsaw Chains for Hardwood
As mentioned previously, there are different chains for different tasks, based on their configuration and cutting profiles. Here is my list of some of the best chains for cutting hardwood, to give you a head start.
Oregon E84 PowerCut 24-Inch Chainsaw Chain
Oregon E84 is designed with a wide range of features such as top-plate filing lubricators, 3/8″ pitch, 84 drive link, longer nose life, and blued cutters to deliver high-quality protection. The lubritec system contributes to prolonging life by keeping your chain and guide bar oiled.
One of the most incredible features in the Oregon E84 is the exclusive OSC-01 hardened steel. It significantly contributes to ensuring you get greater durability from your chain and keeps it sharper for longer. Top-plate filing indicators ensure that your sharpening is as accurate as possible.
The Oregon E84 PowerCut Saw Chain is specially designed to meet the needs of most discerning users, which makes it an excellent choice for professional woodcutters. This low-vibration 3/8″ pitch,.050″ gauge chain has full chisel cutters.
Check out the latest price on Oregon E84 PowerCut on Amazon.com
- OCS-01 steel provides greater durability and sharpness
- Top-plate indicators make sharpening quite easy
- High-quality protection against corrosion
- Nothing to dislike about this chain it works perfect
Oregon S60 AdvanceCut 18-Inch Semi Chisel Chainsaw Chain
The S60 AdvanceCut is arguably the best option if you are looking for a dependable high-performance chain to cut down storm-damaged trees or perform occasional yard work. One of the best features of the S60 is its low kick-back design and low vibration.
The chain’s features include chrome-plated cutters, lubritec oiling system, low vibration, and hardened rivets. The common LubriTec oiling system allows users to work smarter and last longer by delivering the best lubrication to their chainsaws. It delivers lubrication where needed, enabling it to last longer.
The chrome-plated cutters deliver better wear resistance and a harder surface to absorb the friction. Technically, you get to spend less time filling and more time grinding the chain. Besides, thanks to the hardened rivets, you get less wear and a longer chain stretch, which means that you get fewer chain stretch adjustments.
Find Oregon S60 AdvanceCut on Amazon.com
- Fast cutting with low vibration
- Greater durability and stays sharp for longer
- Great cross platform compatibility
Stihl Oilomatic Rapid Micro 3 Saw Chain, 16″
Designed with a 0.325-inch pitch, 67 drive length, 0.063-inch gauge, low kick-back taller-profile chain, and semi-chisel cutter, Stihl Oilomatic is ideal for anyone looking for a reliable chainsaw. It is suitable for bucking and felling.
Besides, the chain’s low kick-back significantly contributes to reducing drawbacks. The Oilomatic lubricating chain design provides narrow oil channels to improve performance, durability and reduce friction.
Check the price of Stihl Oilomatic Rapid Micro on Amazon
- Ideal for hardwood felling, very effective
- Low kick-back and easy to sharpen
- It needs sharpening more often than the Oregon chains
How To Choose The Right Chainsaw Chain
There are a number of factors to consider when identifying the right size chain for your chainsaw. But in danger of stating the totally obvious, start off by referring to your manufacturer’s manual, as this is sure to have the answer to the question and potentially save you a bunch of time.
If you don’t have a manual, let’s walk through each step and help you make the right call on what replacement chain size and type you need.
Chainsaw bodies can have different length chain bars fitted to them, allowing for shorter or longer chains. But there are limitations to what makes a good pairing. Your chainsaw needs to have the capability to drive the chain effectively. So it’s no good thinking you can throw a 24” inch chain on your mini electric battery powers saw. It just won’t perform.
Chains are available in a variety of bar lengths ranging from 10” to 24” in general but go much longer for specialist saws. So balance the bar length with your chainsaw capabilities. Check the manufacturer guidelines if you are looking to switch up the size of your chainsaw bar.
Once you have your bar length set, you can match your chain length to the bar. Check out how to measure chainsaw bar for more advice on this subject.
Measuring Your Chainsaw Chain
When selecting a replacement chain you obviously need to choose the right length of chain, but you also need to find the pitch and the gauge of the chain. So let’s cover this in a little bit more detail.
Gauge of the Chain
The gauge refers to the width or thickness of the drive link where it sits in the guide bar rail groove. The best way to ensure you get the correct gauge for your chain is to order the number stamped on the old chain, as long as it’s still legible.
The chain’s guide links must fit perfectly against the guide bar for the chainsaw to work properly. Note that the chain will not fit on the bar if the gauge is too thin, and it will slide when the chainsaw is in operation. Conversely, it won’t also perfectly position on the bar if it’s too thick. It has gauges varying from.050” to.063” and is required by most popular chainsaws.
If you have issues establishing the chain gauge, a simple check is to slide a coin into the groove on the chainsaw bar to find the gauge. Just make sure the groove is free from debris and find the right fit:
- A Dime = 0.050
- A Penny = 0.058
- A Quarter = 0.063
This will give you an accurate measurement of the chain gauge.
The pitch is half the distance between your chain drive links. You can often find them on the original part of your chainsaw. The measurements will look something like 1/4″, .325″, 3/8″ or .404″. If not we can measure them ourselves…
Measure between the two rivets and divide the distance by two as shown below:
Getting to grips with the correct length of your replacement chain is not as simple as buying a chain for an 18″ bar. I recommend you count the number of drive links to get a great fit. To do this you will need to remove the chain from the bar, enabling you to see all of the drive links.
The tooth type is available in three styles which are: Semi-chisel, chirper, and full chisel.
It performs well in small wood cutting tasks. You can use it for clearing overgrowth and pruning trees. The market is flooded with a myriad of low-profile chains. As a result, chirper chains are compatible with a wide range of chainsaw models. This chain also has several advantages, including ease of use and installation and the ability to maintain sharpness for an extended period.
However, there is a drawback to this: low-profile chains are slow. In any case, this chain will provide you with flawless and expected results.
It can cut through both hardwood and softwood. In addition to being very versatile, it lasts long and stays sharp for a long time. This is the perfect option if you want a chain that can cut firewood and hardwood.
Full Chisel Chain
Although this is distinctively designed for cutting hardwood, its square-shaped teeth lose their edge easily. However, this chain is fundamental to expert woodworkers. It is well-known for its ability to maintain a consistent cutting pace. Besides, it is imperative to note that the grind profiles on these chains are spherical and will require regular maintenance.
Experts endorse full chisel or semi-chisel options if you’re looking for a good chain for hardwood or firewood.
Final Thoughts Best Chainsaw Chain For Hardwood
Now that you know the best chainsaw chain for hardwood is Oregon E84 PowerCut 24-Inch Chainsaw Chain, there is no doubt that you can make your purchase with confidence. Be sure to check your user manual for the correct sizing or follow our guidelines on checking the information on your chainsaw bar or use your old chain.
A chainsaw is a powerful tool, and when not used properly with the correct protective clothing, it could result in major injury and even death. If you have not had the proper training, you should leave this type of chainsaw chain to the professionals.