What Do The Numbers On A Chainsaw Chain Mean

What Do The Numbers On A Chainsaw Chain Mean
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Chainsaws are built in different sizes and for different applications and intentions. As they are built for different use, so are their chains designed for different purposes. The chains come with different numbers written on them. But what do the numbers on a chainsaw chain mean?

The chainsaw is built for different purposes just as the chainsaw chain is built for different purposes, to match the purpose and design of the chainsaw.

The easiest and sure way to identify and differentiate a chain is by the number written on them.

It is very important for you, a chainsaw owner or user, to know these numbers written on its chain. The reason for this is that the numbers help to identify which chain goes to what machine.

If per chance you make the mistake of buying a different chain for the machine when you want to change it, it can have serious repercussion. It may not fit into the chainsaw, or it may be very loose making the machine to be inefficient or worse fly off while in motion.

This can be dangerous to you the user or the people around you.

When changing your chain, there are other features to consider in making your changes. The considerations include choosing different styles and features designed for a specific application. This step luckily is a lot easier.

We first need to discuss the most important aspects to look out for when you are about to buy the chain.

There are three numbers written on the package of the chain which are for the gauge, the pitch, and the drive link’s number.

It is these numbers that indicate the various dimensions and aspects of the various chain. This is where you must ensure that what you are buying is the fix for your machine.

This is important to ensure the efficiency and safe running of your machine.

what do the numbers on a chainsaw chain mean
photo credit: J.smith, wikimedia.org

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What does the pitch of a chainsaw mean?

The pitch of the chainsaw is the space from one link to another. It does not explain to the buyer the length of the chain neither does it state its number of the links. Rather it indicates the gap between the link. Most chainsaws stamp this number on the body of the chain or it is indicated on the user’s manual. But if you should somehow not find the number, there is a way to calculate it, which will be explained later.

There are various pitch sizes that chainsaws come in. they come in sizes like 325”, ¼”, 3/8”, 404”, and 3/8” low.

The commonest among them in use now is the 3/8” low followed by the regular 3/8”. These ones make short or narrow kerf cut. It removes small quantity of materials at one time. This makes them to perform better when they have small power.

If your chainsaw size is below 18” then there is the likelihood that your chainsaw’s pitch size is this.

But when this is compared to the 404” pitch which has a wider space between its links, you find out why it is preferred for heavier work or cut.

This is the type preferred by first responders and the fire departments. It is more rugged and aggressive and can cut through almost anything. Unlike the 3/8” size, which is more convenient for domestic users, 404” is preferable for industrial and professional users.


What is meant by the gauge of a chainsaw?

The gauge of a chain refers to the thickness of its drive links. It is determined by measuring the portion of the drive link that fits into the groove of the guide bar. It is usually expressed in thousandths of an inch: .050″ or .063″. You should know the appropriate gauge of your replacement chain. If you do not get it right and buy the one that the gauge is over thick, it will not fit in. And if you get the one that is too small, it will slip off from the machine.

How is the chain of the chainsaw secure?

The chain of a chainsaw is secured in place to the chainsaw by what is called drive links. The drive links fit the chain into the guide bar of the tool. Drive links can be found at the bottom side of your chain, just on the opposite side of the teeth. What the gauge number tells you is simply the thickness of your drive links.

How is the gauge of a chainsaw measured?

The gauge is measured by their inch size and it comes in 4 sizes. They include .050”, .043”, .063”, and .058”. The commonest size you can find is the .050”. The numbers are on display on the packaging of the chain and are also printed on the guide bar of the chain.

You should check your user’s instructional manual if this number is not on the tool. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to determine what the measurement is by yourself. The reason is that the difference found between one measurement and another is very small.

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Drive Links

While discussing gauge we talked about drive links. But another number that is important to determine the chain you are to buy is the drive link’s number. It is this number that determines what length the chain is.

Though you may buy your chainsaw by depending on the guide bar’s length, the most accurate way to determine the perfect replacement of your chainsaw is by checking the number the drive link has.

On some chainsaws, the number is stamped on the body of the chain or it may be written on the user’s manual. In any case, should you be in doubt of the actual number that it has, you can do a manual count by removing the chain and going through It yourself.

This step is very important because the combination of the drive link’s number and pitch determines the length of the chainsaw chain. So, if you really want to get the right replacement chain, this must not be overlooked.

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Measuring The Pitch

How do you measure the pitch of a chainsaw?

You can measure the pitch of a chainsaw by measuring the middle point of 3 successive rivets anywhere on your chain. As you get this number have it divided by 2. Whatever answer you get is your chain’s pitch number. Fortunately, it is very easy to measure it yourself. So if you cannot find the number on the tool where it should be printed or you cannot find it in the user’s manual, just do it yourself.

That means a chain that has a pitch of 325” will have a middle point of 650”. When you divide it by 2, you would get a pitch of 325”.

There is another way of choosing the chain you want for your chainsaw. You can go for the chisel chainsaw. This type is built to be aggressive and has a high cutting speed.

There are other types of chain available in the market, but the one that most people prefer is the chisel chain. It is most preferable especially if you do heavy-duty job.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of the chisel chain?

The advantage of the chisel chain is that while it is cutting, it grabs large chunks of wood and reaps them away, making the cutting quite fast. As a matter of fact, its teeth are the sharpest of any chain.

But the disadvantage is that because of how they are made it gets blunt quite easily unlike the semi-chisel. Also, its edge retention is poor therefore it is not meant for cutting woods that are dirty. It is very sensitive to rocks and dirt.

On the other hand, one of its main advantages is also a cause of a big disadvantage to it. Because it cut quite aggressively and very fast, it is very susceptible to kickbacks.

Kickback happens when a tooth of the chain gets bound to the wood, making the machine to jerk and bounce back at the user.

But even with all the disadvantages it has, if you want speed and power with top quality, then you must go for chisel chain.


photo credit: pixabay.com

Can You Make A Mistake When Installing Your Chainsaw Chain?

You can make a mistake when installing your chainsaw chain. The commonest mistake you can make while trying to install your chain is to fix it backward. When you look at it casually, you may not see the difference. However, intuitively, you will know that there is something amiss when you start cutting and it does not cut the wood.

After you have installed the chain, the best way of avoiding such a mistake is to make a visual inspection.

If correctly installed, the teeth’s sharp edges at the top side of the chainsaw guide bar should not be pointing at you, but away. And the bottom bar sharp edges should be pointing towards you.

Once the chain is arranged in this manner, your installation has been perfectly done.

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