Replacing a chain on a chainsaw requires considerably more effort than one might expect. The chain is actually comprised of dozens of small blades or teeth that shred wood instantly when they pass through a tree trunk or limb at lightning speed. These blades wear down quickly, their lifespan depending upon the construction material used, how often the saw is operated and lubricated, and storage conditions when the saw is not in use. It is both unproductive and unsafe to operate a chainsaw with a dull chain. For purposes of this guide, the term “blade” will refer to the entire chain.
This guide provides useful information regarding the various uses for chainsaws today. It suggests ways to determine the right time to change a saw blade, and when simply sharpening the existing one is the right course of action. There are specific instructions on how to be certain to order the right replacement blade for a particular model of saw. The guide also provides maintenance tips to minimise chain replacement, and suggestions on where to find the best prices and selection of new blades.
Types of Chainsaws
Chainsaws are specifically designed for the purpose of cutting through the width of tree trunks and limbs. For this objective, there is simply no other tool that effectively substitutes. Most homeowners with a fair number of trees and the desire to perform their own maintenance need to use a chainsaw at some point. There are three primary types of chainsaws, each having unique characteristics for specific uses. All of these require chain replacement from time to time as part of routine maintenance.
Gasoline Powered Chainsaws
Gas chainsaws offer the freedom of operation that is independent of any electrical supply. In addition, they are typically more powerful and more expensive than their electric counterparts; they are built to take down the largest trees in any forest. Lumberjacks and other professional tree experts prefer gasoline-powered chainsaws for their speed and efficiency. However, they require more frequent maintenance as the two cycle engines they employ are less reliable than electric motors.
Electric chainsaws are more appropriate for homeowners that face smaller, local jobs with no more than about a 30-metre separation from electrical power. These saws are also lighter, smaller, and quite a bit less expensive than gasoline models.
As the name suggests, pole chainsaws are miniature tools that attach to a telescopic extension pole. They enable users to extend their reach approximately three metres up into a tree. They are designed to reach into tight areas and to make precision cuts, and are exceptionally useful for pruning branches that would be difficult or impossible to access, even with a ladder. Some styles offer the advantage of disconnecting the pole, thus converting the tool into a mini hand held chainsaw.
Uses for Chainsaws
Besides their applications for the typical pruning and cutting jobs, chainsaws are very effective tools for the demolition of obsolete or rotted wood structures. For example, one worker with a chainsaw can easily turn an old garage into a pile of rubble within 30 minutes.
Many artists and craft designers rely upon chainsaws to create large wooden furniture or display pieces. They use several different sizes of saws depending upon the intricacy of the finished product. Several companies manufacture specialised chains and guide bars for use in creating wood art.
Unfortunately, chainsaws are often used improperly. Improper use is not only dangerous, but also wears down the chain at a faster rate. The only materials that a chainsaw should ever be used to cut are wood and wood byproducts. It is never appropriate to use a chainsaw to cut anything that may shatter, such as glass or ceramic. Cutting metal is liable to permanently damage not only the saw blade, but also the guide bar and drive mechanism as well.
When to Change Your Chainsaw Blade
Most first time buyers don’t realise that the blade must be sharpened or replaced after one to two hours of use. Since an hour of actual cutting may not occur for years for the average homeowner, it is difficult to assess when that time has passed. Suffice it to say, if the chainsaw is not performing as it did when it was brand new, it is probably in need of a new blade.
Conduct a thorough visual inspection of the chain whenever the chainsaw has been left idle for an extended period of time. Saws that have been left in the garage over the winter without lubrication typically show significant rust. If the tips of the cutting edges are no longer sharp to the touch, it is time to either sharpen the chain or look for a replacement.
Sharpening a Dull Chainsaw Blade
If an existing blade is dull, the first course of action is to try to sharpen it. This process is relatively easy, and it is certainly less expensive than buying a new blade. Begin by setting the complete saw on a workbench. Always disconnect the spark plug wire and note that the kill switch is set to “off”. Mark the starting point on the chain with a piece of tape. Approach the saw from the blade end with a gloved hand and hold the chain and guide bar securely while filing each tooth with a small, round metal file. Advancing the chain, work all the way around the length of the blade until the taped tooth shows up again.
Measuring and Changing Chainsaw Blades
Prior to shopping for a new chainsaw blade, always begin with the owner’s manual to be certain of the specific chainsaw blade to replace. The chain number will be listed under the “specifications” heading in the manual contents. Replacement manuals are available online as well.
How to Measure a Chainsaw Chain
Chainsaw blades are sharp, so always begin by taking a few safety precautions. Also, make sure to wear a good pair of protective gloves when working on the blade. As always, the kill switch should be off and the spark plug wire disconnected.
Begin by measuring the length of the guide bar attached to the saw. The chain length will directly correspond to the measured length of the bar from the nose or tip to the base. If ever in doubt about whether or not a particular replacement blade is suitable for a specific saw, simply count the drive links. The number of drive links on the replacement blade must exactly match the number on the original. Every new blade package will note the number of drive links, as that is a critical specification.
How to Change a Chainsaw Chain
While all chainsaw brands are slightly different in appearance, most of them adhere to a basic design. For instance, chainsaws are invariably manufactured with the chain and blade on the right side of the tool, which can be an inconvenience for left-handed users. They all employ the use of a clutch cover, which must be removed prior to removing the chain bar and chain. It is easy to slide the chain bar toward the saw after loosening the nuts that hold the clutch cover and chain bar, and this creates enough slack to remove the chain.
Next, take some paper towels and thoroughly clean the drive sprocket and surrounding areas which can only be cleaned with the clutch cover removed. This is where the chain brake is also located. Take a few minutes to clean the brake and inspect it for excessive wear, corrosion, and fractures. Confirm that the direction of the chain is such that the cutting edges on top are facing the nose of the saw. Now, lay the new chain over the top of the chain bar and line it up with the drive sprocket while laying the chain over the sprocket. Then, position the bar as far forward so that the chain allows the reposition of the clutch cover. Tighten the bolts, and make sure to check the tension of the chain prior to the final tightening. When finished, there should be no visible slack at bottom of the chain bar.
How to Maintain Chainsaw Chains
There are three areas that require lubrication on all chainsaws. The chain has its own reservoir, and the reservoir level must be properly maintained to keep the chain lubricated during use. Next, the tip of the guide bar has a small slot that must be oiled routinely to keep the end wheel functioning correctly. Finally, it’s a good idea to put a little oil onto the chain itself prior to use. Keep an oilcloth handy near the storage area to use for this purpose.
Common sense is a good maintenance guide. Ideally, store the saw indoors, away from any humidifiers or other devices that produce water vapour. Get into the habit of covering the blade with a chain guard any time the saw is not in use. Also, avoid cutting dirty wood, which is any wood contaminated with sap, tar, or other residue.
Find the Best Chainsaw Blades on eBay
To find a wide inventory and competitive prices, start at the eBay Homepage. There you can find a handy keyword search feature that will take you directly to the chainsaw blades that fit your needs. For example, you can enter the term “Electric Chainsaw Blades” into that field and click Search. You will arrive at a page with all types and sizes of replacement blades from which to choose. From there, you can further refine the search based upon price and shipping duration. It is also helpful to read eBay’s Search Tips for some other pointers.
eBay Shipping Options
Shipping on eBay is simple, fast, and inexpensive. Most sellers offer standard shipping for a nominal fee, and products shipped using this option can take anywhere from several days to a week to arrive. Some sellers also offer an economy option that costs less but may take up to ten days. Depending on the seller location, both of these options can also be offered free of charge. If you need something to arrive quickly, you can opt for expedited or overnight shipping for an additional fee.
Chainsaws are exceptional tools that perform well beyond the capacity of handheld saws and other power tools. The most important element to any chainsaw is the chain or blade, as this is the piece responsible for the cutting action. Depending upon the level of maintenance the owner provides, a good quality chainsaw blade can last through several hours of use, and well-maintained chainsaw blades deteriorate slower than the rest. Owners that get into the habit of inspecting the blade after each use can eliminate the risk of the blade becoming dull prematurely.
Chainsaw blades seldom break apart or separate, but it is still good practice to have a backup chain. For example, professional arbourists and others who constantly use chainsaws keep a backup chain on hand at all times. While most local hardware and larger department stores stock a limited supply of replacement blades, the best place to find virtually any blade is on the Internet. With thousands of competing sellers who have little in the way of overhead expenses, buyers can find every brand and size of chainsaw blade available, and the prices will almost always be lower than those found in brick and mortar stores.