6 Popular Types of Chainsaw Chains – In-Depth Guide

Popular Types of Chainsaw Chains
Photo: Echo

The chain is among the most crucial elements of a chainsaw, given it is what does the actual cutting.

When you have to replace the chain due to wear and tear or accidental damages, it is essential to choose the correct one as they differ in various aspects, such as teeth number and shape.

What do Chainsaw Chain Numbers Mean?

When choosing a chainsaw chain, you will typically come across two numbers used to describe them. These numbers indicate the pitch and gauge.

The pitch measures the distance between the drive links, and the most common options are 1/4-inch, pixel 3/8-inch mini, .325-inch and .404-inch pitch.

On the other hand, gauge measures the thickness of the drive links, and like pitch, it determines the compatibility of the chain with a chainsaw.

The most common chain gauges are 1.1mm, 1.3mm, 1.5mm, and 1.6mm.

Besides just looking at the pitch and gauge of a chain, it is also important to note that the types can also be classified according to the shape of the cutting teeth and chain arrangement/sequence.

Based on Cutting Teeth 

Based on Cutting Teeth
Photo: Oregon

1. Full Chisel Chain

Full chisel chains have sharp, square-shaped edges that make them one of the most efficient chainsaw chains for high-speed cutting. These chains are often more ideal for cutting through hardwoods as they can easily chew through the tough wood fibers.

However, these chains tend to leave rough surfaces and are more suitable for situations where you do not require a smooth finish.

Another shortcoming is that the blades on these chains seem to dull relatively faster compared to others. Also, there is a greater risk of kickback given the shape of the blade. But, with routine maintenance and sharpening, they should be okay.

2. Semi-Chisel Chain

The cutting blades on the semi-chisel chain have more rounded edges. Therefore, these chains will operate at a much slower speed than the full-chisel types.

The lower cutting speed makes these chains more ideal for softwoods.

With the rounded edges, the semi-chisel chain is excellent when you want to cut dirty and dry materials as they can do it without getting dull fast.

Additionally, these chains have a lower risk of kickback, which makes them relatively safer to use.

3. Low Profile Chain

Low-profile chains have rounded teeth like the semi-chisel types and are designed to be safer to use. These chains will have some elements between the teeth to minimize the likelihood of kickbacks.

While the low-profile chains can cut through a wide variety of wood types, they run relatively slower than the full-chisel chains. However, these are still some of the most straightforward chains to use, making them the best for beginner chainsaw users.

Based on Chain Arrangement 

Based on Chain Arrangement
Photo: Oregon

1. Standard Chain

The standard chains have the most teeth compared to other types, and this is meant to ensure you always get the smoothest cuts.

These chains are meant for guide bars up to 24 inches long.

Given that these chains deliver the smoothest finish, they are often the most popular option for milling timber.

2. Full Skip Chain

Full skip or skip tooth chains have relatively fewer teeth that are hence wider apart. With this chain arrangement, you get larger but rougher cuts than you would with a standard chain.

These chains require bars longer than 24 inches. Full skip chains work best for cutting tree limbs, firewood, and other tasks where you do not need a smooth cut.

3. Semi Skip Chain

You get a mid-grade sequence with the semi skip chains, but these are not as common as the first two arrangements above.

They are more of a hybrid between the full skip and standard chain. These chains alternate between having a tooth after every drive link and every two links.

Since these are specialty chains, they are often more popular with professional woodcutters.


Chainsaws are powerful and versatile tools that can handle any wood type, but this is only true if you have the right blade.

Choosing a good chain is about picking a number that is compatible with your saw model and deciding the best types to buy.

With a proper chain, you can be sure of safer, faster, and better quality cuts.