Owning a chainsaw, either for business or personal use, can save both time and money if a lot of specific work is to be done. A chainsaw is one of those specialist tools that are used when nothing else will do for the job. But with ownership of a chainsaw, there also comes a need to have a great deal of knowledge into how to maintain one so that it remains in top condition, for both reasons of longevity and of safety. The chainsaw chain is one of the most vital (if not the most vital) parts of kit with a chainsaw. Without it, the saw would not have any cutting ability. A cutting chain is made from riveted metal sections not dissimilar to a bicycle chain (except without rollers), with small cutting teeth on one edge. Each tooth, made of steel, has a sharp curved corner and two cutting edges in different directions (one facing left, one top), with alternative teeth cutting to the left and the right. Cutting chains do not all look alike, however, and most have features specific to their manufacturer. However, they all do the same job, although it is always recommended that the right manufacturer of the chain be used with the saw, to ensure there is compatibility. Finding the right cutting chain for the saw is essential as this lessens the chance of kickback occurring during use. Kickback is an extremely dangerous event that happens when a chain tooth near the nose of the guide bar catches on wood without being able to cut it. This violently throws the bar either upwards and backwards towards the operator in a loss of control. This can potentially be fatal for the chainsaw operator. Buying individual chain links is not recommended unless there is access to a professional who can safely replace the link. It is far easier and safer to purchase a whole new cutting chain should the need arise.
When to Replace the Chainsaw chain
Always pay close attention to the cutting ability of the chainsaw. If the cutting chain is starting to look dull and not perform as well as it should, it could well mean that it is time to replace the chain. For a short period sharpening the chain will prevent the need to replace it, but after a while only a new chain will do. Knowing when to replace the chain require experience and careful attention. For the best life in a bar, it is recommended that it be flipped every time the chain is changed (to even out the wear). Always perform a visual inspection of the chain, both before and after it has been used, to check that there is no damage, and perform sufficient maintenance as and when needed.
Broken cutting teeth
When sharpening the chain, pay close attention to the damage to the teeth. They do become worn down, particularly after hitting non-wooden objects such as dirt or rock. When several teeth are missing, it’s time to replace the whole chain.
Teeth become too small
It is often suggested (depending on the operator’s manual), that the chainsaw be sharpened after each use using a sharpening kit. After a lot of usage and sharpening, the teeth of the chain will become too small, which means the chain will need replacing. Allowing the teeth to become too small can potentially cause an injury – if the teeth hit a hard surface, they can break off and hit the operator.
Cutters become too small
In a similar way to the teeth becoming too small, the cutter section of the tooth (a rectangular piece of metal in front of it) will become worn down. The chain will be unable to cut properly, which is when the chain should be replaced.
Chains are tensioned against the bar via a screw and are held there by tie straps that connect the teeth. It is the tension on the chain that enables the cutting force to be distributed across the straps. When the chain is unable to stay tight against the bar, it means these straps are unable to keep the teeth connected and thus cut the wood. These straps are absolutely essential to proper cutting operations, so if the chain is sagging during cutting or can’t be tightened; it must be replaced immediately. This is because if the straps rip apart, the chain can be snapped in half, which can send it flying outwards at full speed and into the operator.
What Chain is the Chainsaw Running?
In order to establish what chain is being run by the chainsaw, there needs to be some measurements taken. Three key measurements are required here:
1. Count the number of drive links
In order to do this, firstly the chain should be fully removed from the saw, and laid on a flat and even surface. Drive links are the part of the chain that runs along the groove of the bar. Links carry lubricating oil around the bar of the chainsaw, and fit with the engine’s drive sprocket inside the main body of the saw itself. The number of drive link ‘teeth’ is the length of the chain. Some chains will also have the manufacturer’s brand name on it, which can help when trying to find the correct one.
2. Measure the Pitch
The pitch of a chainsaw chain is taken from between the rivets, which helps to establish the size of the chain. As when counting the number of drive links, remove the chain from the saw and lay it on a flat and even surface. The pitch is the distance in inches between the centre of any three rivets (the bolts holding the links of the chain together), divided by two. The easiest way to find the pitch of the chain is to consult the product manual. If this is not possible, it is usually a good idea to ask a professional to measure the pitch. The difference between pitches is very small and it is all too easy to make a mistake, particularly when trying to measure a used chain. The pitch measurement on some chainsaws can be found on the casing of the saw itself, which eliminates the need to measure. The most common pitch is 3/8 of an inch.
3. Measure the gauge
The chain gauge is the thickness of the chain and can be seen as the width of the notch in the drive link where it fits into the groove of the bar guide of the saw. This number will be very small, for example 0.43” or 0.50”, and must match the gauge of the gauge bar exactly. As with the pitch, the gauge number can be found in the product’s manual. If this is not available, sometimes the number can be found on the chainsaw itself, in the same place as the pitch on the product’s casing. Again, as the difference between the gauge sizes is so minute, if unsure always take the saw to a professional to measure. In addition to those three crucial chain measurements, it is also worth knowing the length of the chainsaw blade itself. This measurement is easier than those above, as it simply requires measuring the blade from where the saw comes out from the casing to the end of the bar. Chainsaw blade lengths are standardized into two-inch gaps. The most common are 14 inch, 16 inch, 18 inch or 20 inch although it should be noted that the full range goes from 10-42 inches. The larger the size of the bar length, the greater increase in weight and available power. When measuring the blade, round up to the nearest 2-inch measurement if required.
Where to find Chainsaw chain links on eBay
In order to make a purchase of chain links on the eBay page, first head to the homepage. From there, go to the links on the left hand side and select Home & Garden, and Home & Garden again from the drop down options. This will then open the Home & Garden page of eBay. From here, go to the left hand side of the page again and select Garden and then Power Tools & Equipment from the option list. Chainsaws is the first option in the list. This page will then show all the listings in the chainsaw category. From here, further selections can be made.
Buying chainsaw links and chains should be done with the utmost care, with sufficient research done beforehand to ensure correct one is bought. Always use a reputable seller on eBay, and be sure to garner as much information about the product being purchased before buying. When done correctly following the advice above, finding the right product for the task through eBay is simple, clear and can save a lot of money.