As you become more skilled with a chainsaw, you’ll realize this power tool can be used for many things. But you may wonder: Are chainsaw blades universal? Can one blade simply be swapped out for another, based on the need for a particular job?
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First, a note on chainsaw safety
Anyone who’s actually used a chainsaw knows just how exciting it can be — and they can also be dangerous. Chainsaw blades are extremely sharp, and mishandling one could result in serious injury. Before you proceed with an advanced task like swapping out the blade on your chainsaw, you’ll first want to familiarize yourself with the dangers of using a chainsaw to ensure your safety. Proper maintenance is also vital for ensuring you can get a job done efficiently and without injury (for more on that, see our tips for sharpening chainsaw blades).
Reasons to replace a chainsaw blade
Why would you need to swap out a chainsaw blade in the first place? While chainsaws may seem indestructible, they’re subject to the same type of wear and tear as any other power tool. Depending on how heavily you use it and the hardness of the wood that you cut with it, a chainsaw’s blade will wear down over time. The good news is, instead of buying a whole new chainsaw in most cases, you can simply replace the blade with a fresh one and it’ll be as good as new.
Chainsaw blades are not universal
To answer the initial question: No, chainsaw blades are not universal. Chainsaw blades actually have two different components: the bar (the long broad blade) and the chain, which is the rotating chain with metal teeth that affixes to the bar and is actually responsible for cutting. Chainsaw bars and chains come in all different sizes and lengths, so you can’t just buy any old type at the store and expect them to fit on the chainsaw you have at home.
The most important thing you’ll want to do is to check the manufacturer’s specifications for your particular brand and model of chainsaw. They will specify the size and length of bar and chain that will fit on your chainsaw.
What are the different types of chainsaw blades?
When shopping for a replacement chainsaw chain, you’ll want to narrow down what type of chainsaw chain you’re in the market for. Here we’ll explain the three most common types and why you may want to choose that type of blade.
Full Chisel Chains
A full chisel chain is what many people think of when they think of a chainsaw: aggressive, rough and fast. Full chisel chains have squared edges and tear into wood at a high speed, making them ideal for big jobs where precision isn’t needed, like felling trees.
These type of chains will provide a rougher cut and have more kickback, so extra precaution must be taken when using them. These chains also dull more quickly due to their squared-off design.
A semi-chisel chain is equipped with rounded-off teeth and is the choice of most professional woodcutters. While it’s true that a semi-chisel chain cuts more slowly than a full chisel chain, it’s the best choice in many cases. If you’re cutting wood that’s dry, dirty, frozen, or soft, a semi-chisel chain will be preferred for cleaner cuts. It will also stay sharp for longer, and a chainsaw fitted with a semi-chisel blade has a lower risk of kickback so it’s easier to handle.
Also known as chipper cutters, low-profile chainsaw chains are designed with safety in mind. They have rounded edges like semi-chisel chains so they too have less kickback. If you’re just starting out in the world of chainsaws, investing in a low-profile chain would definitely be a good way to go.
Now you’re ready to buy a new chainsaw blade
Now that you understand that chainsaw blades aren’t universal, you know that you’ll need to keep your chainsaw’s specifications in mind when choosing a new chainsaw chain and bar. With three primary types of chainsaw chains on the market, it’s simply a matter of choosing the one that’s right for your needs.
Which chainsaw should you buy?
Or maybe you’re still in the beginning stages of researching chainsaws, in which case you’ll want to check out our recommendations for the best overall chainsaw brands, or our buyer’s guide to the Best Chainsaw Reviews of 2020.