How to Buy a Chain for Your Chainsaw

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How to Buy a Chain for Your Chainsaw

Chainsaws are built for cutting wood and milling lumber. Every handyman needs a good, strong chainsaw as part of his or her tool collection. When the chainsaw is first purchased, it comes with its own chain supplied by the manufacturer. However, lumber will eventually wear down even the toughest teeth on a chainsaw, forcing you to buy another one. There are several different types of chainsaw chains that come in a variety of different sizes. While this information may seem confusing the first time you step into a hardware store, or search for replacement chain online using eBay. Selecting the right chainsaw can be made easy once you know the basics of chainsaw chain operations. What chain you purchase depends on your needs and the settings on your chainsaw. Therefore, you need buy chainsaw chain depending on the tooth design, chain arrangements, and chain dimensions. For safe operation procedures the chain must always fit with the chainsaw.

Chainsaw Teeth

The teeth on a chainsaw, refer to its cutting blades that rise above the actual chain. While manufacturers use many different terms when referring to chainsaw teeth, there are essentially only two different kinds. The first is the round tooth or chipper tooth. As its name suggests, the rounded tooth has a curved top and rounded backside, making the front part of the tooth look like a fang. The second type is the square tooth, also called chisel tooth and flat top tooth. Its name gives away its style since this tooth had a flat top and a flat back. It is easiest to spot the design differences between the teeth when comparing them side by side.

Selecting Chainsaw Teeth

Choosing the best tooth style depends on what type of work you do with your chainsaw. If you often find yourself cutting softwoods like pine, and you need a chain that goes fast, then the squared chiselled tooth is probably the model for you. Its blunt shape easily splits through the wood fibres of softwoods in record-setting time. If you primarily find yourself working with hardwoods like oak, then you need the rounded chipper tooth. While it cuts through wood at a slower rate than the chiselled tooth, the chipper tooth last longer against the tough wood found in old stumps or dried wood. Simply put, choose the square tooth for efficiency and choose the rounded tooth for durability.

Chainsaw Chain Arrangements

As if adding different teeth styles wasn’t complicated enough, most chainsaw chains feature different chain arrangements. This refers to how many teeth are used along the length of the chain. The type of chain with the most teeth is the standard chain, often called the full house chain, or full-complement chain, depending on the manufacturer. The semi-skip chain keeps most of the original teeth but skips a tooth here and there. For example, a full house chain measured to a certain length would have five teeth, as opposed to a semi-skip chain that would only have four. The type with the least amount of teeth is the full skip chain. In this chain every other tooth is removed when compared to a full house chain. Again, where a part of the full house chain has five teeth, the full skip chain only has three.

Smooth Lumber at Lower Speeds

If your goal is to produce smooth lumber that creates sawdust so fine it blows away in the wind, then you need the chainsaw chain with the most teeth. This is the full house chain, and while it works at slightly lower speeds than the other models and produces an extremely smooth cut. This is also the most common chain arrangement used on smaller chainsaws being that the extra teeth requires less power to operate. On the downside, it takes a lot of time to sharpen this chain since every individual tooth must be filed to a cutting edge.

Rough Lumber at Faster Speeds

For those who are only worried about cutting the most lumber in the shortest amount of time, the full skip chain is the best choice. It produces a rough cut due to the fact that it uses fewer teeth than the full house chain, but it also operates at quicker speeds. Maintenance with this chain isn’t as time consuming as the full house chain either since it takes less time to sharpen. However, because the teeth are spaced so far apart, it takes a larger chainsaw to drive a full skip chain. This arrangement is not ideal for smaller chainsaws since you will not save much time when cutting wood.

The Middle Ground

If you are unsure about which chainsaw arrangement to purchase, then the semi-skip might be a good option for beginners. The semi-skip produces a smoother cut than the full skip, but a rougher cut than the full house. Semi-skip chains are slower than the full skip, but they are faster than the full house. They also work on either small or large chainsaws, including the middleweight chainsaws most homeowners purchase to use for yard work. Maintaining the semi-skip chain takes less time than the full house, but it requires more effort than keeping up with the full skip.

Chainsaw Dimensions

The final part of purchasing the correct chainsaw chain is to understand the different dimensions. Each chain has three measurements, all of which must fit within the chainsaw in order to operate safely. The first measurement is the pitch, which is the average distance between two rivets. The second measurement is the gauge, which is both the width of the teeth, and the groove in the chainsaw bar. The third measurement is the link count, which indicates how many links are used on the chainsaw chain. Understanding each component is crucial to choosing the correct chain.


The pitch is the average distance between two rivets. On a chainsaw chain the rivets are not spaced evenly apart; therefore you must measure for average distance. The easiest way to do this is to measure the length of three rivets and then divide that number by two, thus resulting in the pitch for your chain. Common pitches, in order of increasing size, are: ¼ inch, .325 inch, 3/8 inch, and .404 inch. The smallest size, the ¼ inch is found on electric chainsaws. Both .325 inch and 3/8 inch pitches, are most likely to be used on most standard chainsaws. Only large, professional grade, chainsaws have a .404 inch pitch.


The gauge is the measurement of the width of the teeth, therefore, it is also the measurement of the groove bar. The teeth must fit inside the groove bar for safe operation, otherwise the chain is not properly attached to the chainsaw. Common gauges in order of increasing sizes, are: 0.043 inch (1.1mm), 0.050 inch (1.3mm), 0.058 inch (1.5mm) and 0.063 inch (1.6mm). The 1.1mm size is only used a chain with a ¼- inch pitch. The rest are found on all different types of chainsaws.

Link Count

Each chainsaw chain is comprised of many different links called tangs, which determine its length. Chains must fit securely around the chainsaw bar and sprocket in order to operate correctly. A chain that is too loose will not cut properly, while a chain that is too tight will not fit around the chainsaw bar. The easiest way to determine the length when replacing a chainsaw chain is to simply count the links.

Buying Chainsaw Chain on eBay

eBay is an electronic marketplace that brings together buyers and sellers from all over the world. The selection of chainsaw chains are superior to that found in many hardware shops. Most brick and mortar stores only carry the standard types of chainsaw chains, and this means that if you have a small electric chainsaw, you may have to order your chain from the store. Take out the middleman and buy the chain yourself on eBay. Both professional craftsman, and the "do-it-yourself homeowner", use eBay simply because the availability cannot be surpassed. Furthermore, the prices are typically sold far below retail price, allowing everyone to come away with a great deal.

Finding Chainsaw Chain on eBay

There are several ways to start searching for chainsaw chain on eBay. Probably the most common is to start searching for the pitch size. Enter a search term such as "3/8 chainsaw chain&" to return chains with a 3/8 inch pitch. You can also narrow down the results by adding a gauge size. For example, if you need a chainsaw with a 3/8 pitch, and a 1.5 mm gauge, then search for "3/8 1.5mm chainsaw chain&" to get those exact results. Other ways to narrow down your results include, searching for chain arrangements, and chain teeth types once you have found the correct chain size.


Getting a replacement chainsaw chain does not have to be a difficult task. Once you understand how chainsaw chains are measured, as well as the difference between chain types, selecting the right one becomes much more manageable. Most customers start with measuring out their chainsaw dimensions so that they can be sure to purchase the right size. This involves knowing the pitch, gauge, and link count of the particular chain. Then decide if you want chisel or chipper chainsaw teeth for your chain, since this ultimately affects the cut of the wood. Chain arrangements such as standard, semi-skip and full skip, affect both the cut and the speed of the chainsaw, so choose the one that is right for you. By carefully examining all of your options, you can get the best product for your money. Shopping on eBay also allows you to save extra money, ensuring that you get the chain you want at a price you can afford.

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