Different Types of Chainsaw Chains

Aug 20, 2018 | Blog

While there are all types of chainsaws out there, did you know there are also all sorts of chainsaw chains as well? If not, you’ve come to the right place as we are going to tell you about different types of chainsaw chains.

Now, you may be wondering why do you need to know about the different types of chains. Essentially, each type of chain can handle different kinds of projects that require a chainsaw. If you only use a chainsaw now and then, you may not be too concerned with what type of chain you’re using.

However, if you’re using a chainsaw on a regular basis, it is imperative to know about the types of chains you use. Otherwise, you risk damaging your chain and putting yourself in harm’s way, and it’s important to be informed when using a chainsaw.

Full-Chisel Cutters

The full-chisel cutters are square-cornered teeth that are very efficient when it comes to cutting. Mostly dealing with hardwood cutting, this type of chain excels at cutting limbs or trees, but there is a tradeoff with this type of chain.

That tradeoff comes in the form of durability. While this chain is very efficient, it is not durable. In fact, this chain cannot handle rough cutting environments such as dirty wood and has a high chance of a kickback. This is because this type of chain is missing certain safety elements that other chains have.

In short, the full-chisel is excellent at cutting but is a risky choice. Don’t attempt to cut softwood with this chain or you’ll end up having to buy a new chain most likely. Stick to hardwood when using this chain and always be on alert in case a kickback occurs.

Semi-Chisel Cutters

The semi-chisel cutters come with teeth that have rounded corners. This chain is slower at getting the job than a full-chisel, but it still has excellent upside. This chain excels at dealing with softwood and can even handle all types of softwood.

What it lacks in speed, it makes up for in reliability. Unlike the full-chisel, the semi-chisel is much more durable. Also, it can handle things such as dirty wood, frozen wood, and even dry wood. Therefore, this makes it a very desirable chain to have because of its usefulness for nearly anything.

Another good sign about the semi-chisel is that it has a lower kickback risk than a full-chisel cutter. When safety is a big issue when looking at chainsaws and chains, you’ll enjoy having a chain that won’t initiate kick back from your chainsaw.

All in all, this type chain is a well-balanced chain for most people out there. Whether you are tackling a large job or a smaller one, this chain can most likely get the job done for you. We recommend it for its reliability in tough spots and for being safer than a full-chisel in preventing more kickbacks.

Low-Profile Cutters

Low-profile cutters are perhaps the most common type of chain out there. You’ll find these on most commercial chainsaws as they are a good chain while also very safe. This chain is designed with safety elements between the teeth of the chain to help prevent kickbacks from the user’s chainsaw.

This chain is best for those who don’t have much experience dealing with chainsaws. This chain does require sharpening more often than other types of chains so durability can be a bit of an issue here. However, if you’re just starting out, this is a very good chain to get you started.

Types of Chain Arrangements

Full Skip Chain

This type of chain arrangement is extremely efficient for cutting. Essentially, a full skip chain works where there are fewer teeth on the chain, but it is placed on a larger bar. Fewer teeth means less power, right? Not exactly. With a full skip chain, each of the teeth takes out a much bigger out of the wood making for faster cutting instead!

For those of you who are cutting large amounts of wood from fallen trees or huge amounts of timber, this chain is perfect for you. It can get the job with relative ease and do it very quickly as well. However, this chain does come with a bit of a downside.

One, this chain is specifically for larger chainsaws to allow the space between the teeth on this chain. Smaller chainsaws won’t work well with this type of chain. Another small thing to point out is this is a rough chain, so the wood you cut will be exactly that. Don’t expect a smooth finish on your wood when using this, but you can expect an easier job.

Semi-Skip Chain

The semi-skip chain is your middle of the pack type chain arrangement. Unlike the full skip chain, this chain cannot tear through wood as quickly. That’s not to say this chain is not powerful at all. It certainly can get the job done, but this chain arrangement is nothing too special.

This type of arrangement will mostly be used by your professionals who need this chain for certain jobs. It presents a solid balance in between power and efficiency without doing too little or too much. As you would expect, the teeth on this arrangement are closer together than a full skip chain. This makes for quick cutting, but not as quick as the full skip, but also adds a cleaner finish than the full skip as well.


There are much more types of chainsaw chains out there, but we covered a few here in this guide. It’s always to look at how often you use a chainsaw when looking at the type of chain you need. If you use one quite often, you may want to go for a durable chain that can also do the job well.

However, if you only use a chainsaw once a month, then durability is not a big issue for you, and you should look for a chain that is good for smaller projects. Be sure to consider these things before making your purchase so that you get the best deal possible for yourself. We hope this guide has been helpful to you. If so, be sure to let us know!

John McDonald

Chainsaw Expert for Electricchainsawexpert.com

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