Are Chainsaw Chains Universal?

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Are you a chainsaw user, and you are wondering if all chainsaw chains are universal? If yes, then you are definitely in the right place at the right time.

Are chainsaw chains universal is a common question that every chainsaw user has, and the simple answer to this question is no, all chainsaw chains are not universal. In fact, chainsaws come in different bar length and different sizes, and the chain will vary according to that. There are many factors that must be considered when you are replacing the chainsaw chain. Pitch, link count, gauge, and types of the chain are factors that provide the size of the chain. Remember, a chain will only be able to fit once these requirements are fulfilled.

In this article, you will get to learn all about different types of chainsaw chains, are chainsaw chains universal, how to find a suitable replacement chainsaw chain, and more. Stick around to get all the answers that you are looking for.

Get the Right Chain For Your Chainsaw

A chainsaw chain’s blade is the cutting part of a chainsaw, and it contains the bar and the chain. If you are looking to replace the chainsaw blade after a few years, you will want to know if the bar and chain fit the machine properly. Can you use each chain on every machine? Can you use each bar on the chainsaw? Are chainsaw chains brand-specific? Are chainsaw chains universal? Everything will be answered here.

With time, some parts of the tool are supposed to wear out, and often, people learn to do this themselves. A perfectly capable chainsaw will require a perfect chain that cannot be replaced with any other chain. There are many factors that need to be considered when replacing the chainsaw chain.

Different Types of Chainsaw Chain

Size is an important factor to consider when, but before considering the size, you must first understand the type of chain your chainsaw needs. You cannot just put a chain made for a gas-powered chainsaw on an electric chainsaw. If you are a seasoned chainsaw user who is always using different models of chains, you’d agree that choosing a chainsaw chain will depend on the purpose for which you need a chainsaw chain. Learning about different variants of chainsaw chains will make your work much easier. Here are the three different types of chainsaw chains –

Full-chisel cutter

Full-chisel cutters are chainsaw chains with squared teeth and usually cut wood at incredibly high speeds. Their cornered teeth make these chainsaw chains ideal for felling big trees, cutting firewood, chopping tree limbs, and ripping hardwood.

Square-shaped teeth of full-chisel cutters are capable of ripping through trees. These are made for professional-level chainsaws and will be perfect for heavy-duty tasks. Due to heavy tasks, the blades occasionally go bad and require little maintenance.

While these types of chain blades result in high-speed cutting and make cutting hardwood look really easy, they do have notable drawbacks. Firstly, the risk of kickback is quite high when cutting speed is so high. Hence, you will need to take extra precautions when your machine is fitted with full-chisel cutters. They are also less durable and go through wear and tear quicker compared to other variants. This is largely due to the square design, something that makes it quite challenging to sharpen.  Further, you might also not get clean cuts with full-chisel cutters, which explains why you shouldn’t use them to rip softwood.

Low-profile cutter

The second type of chainsaw chain will be the low-profile cutter. This type of chain has round teeth and is usually very safe thanks to the chain design, which helps prevent kickback. While you can use these types of chainsaws on any kind of wood, you might not be able to get high cutting speeds, which is the case with full-chisel cutters. Usually, low-profile cutters are recommended for inexperienced woodworkers as aside from a low risk of kickback, the need to sharpen them frequently is also low. This type of chain will last longer in comparison to other variants on the market. These chains are perfect for beginners and can be used for small, casual tasks in your backyard.

Semi-chisel cutters

The next type of chainsaw chain is the semi-chisel cutter. This one has round corners and can cut wood at a relatively slower speed compared to full-chisel cutters. If you’re looking for something that will suit your softwood sawing needs, you must go for semi-chisel cutters. This type of blade is ideal for all seasons. Whether you’re looking to cut frozen, dry, or dirty wood, this should be your go-to option for most commercial woodworkers. Compared to full-profile cutters and low-profile cutters, semi-chisel cutters are relatively safe due to the minimized risk of kickback. It can be used for garden maintenance and yard work, as it won’t break down as quickly as full-chisel cutters.

Are Chainsaw Chains Universal?

No, chainsaw chains aren’t universal, as not every bar and chain can fit on your chainsaw. Chainsaw chains are required to have the correct specification to fit on the chainsaw bar. If you’ve got a chain that is too narrow or too long, it won’t fit. Mixing different brands of chains isn’t a problem as long as they are compatible. There are chainsaw bars designed for specific brands and specific models, so you will have to make sure that they fit your model before you buy them.

chainsaw chain

Chainsaw chains are not interchangeable. Some of them might be universal with a number of things checked, but it isn’t usually the case. Here are some of the factors that must be considered when you are replacing your chainsaw chain – type of chain, pitch, gauge, and link count.

All these factors will help you find out the exact size of the chainsaw chain. A chain will fit only when these requirements are fulfilled. You will be able to find the specifications of these requirements in the owner’s manual. For some models, they are also mentioned on the side of the chainsaw bar as a sticker, engraving, or stamp.

Sometimes, you can get lucky finding a chain or bar from another brand that matches the specifications of the home-grade chainsaw that you are currently using. However, it is important that you factor in manufacturer specifications before purchasing a replacement chainsaw blade. If you’re looking to purchase a spare chainsaw blade for the machine, it is important that you should learn about the different types of chainsaw chains first.

Are All Chainsaw Bar and Chain Universal?

All is a rather broad term. Not all chainsaw chains are universal. Some of them are capable of fitting many models, but it will depend on the pitch, gauge, and link requirement of the chain. Hypothetically, say that you have a Stihl chain that offers the following specifications –

  • Link count – 62
  • Pitch – 0.325-inch
  • Gauge – 0.063-inch

It also turns out to be the exact requirements of a Husqvarna chainsaw. Since the dimensions of the chainsaw are fulfilled, this chain will be the perfect fit. With that said, size is the perfect element to differentiate battery-powered chainsaws from each other. These chains might not be brand-specific, but they tend to be size specific.

Not every chainsaw chain and bar will go with any chainsaw. The whole machine comes with a set of specifications that must be fulfilled to get the chainsaw up and running properly. There are some chains that may fit other chainsaws, but this is only if the requirements are fulfilled for the specific chainsaw.

As for chainsaw bars, there isn’t any “one-size-fits-all option either. To find the perfect replacement bar, you will need to know – the effective cutting length and true length. These will be mentioned in the owner’s manual and can be measured easily using a measuring tape.

Some chainsaws do accept varied lengths of bars. However, you must remember that the performance will not be the same as what would have been with the original length. Say that you’re using a long bar with a small motor or a small bar with a powerful engine that is capable of turning trees into logs.  Here are some of the factors to consider when you are trying to figure it out.

  • Tension hole – It is used to adjust the tension of the bar. The holes on the replacement must align with your old chainsaw.
  • Bolt slots – This will provide attachment points on the chainsaw for the bar.
  • Oil holes – If your chainsaw has an automatic oiler, then you should ensure that the new bar is compatible with that too.

How to Find a Suitable Replacement Chainsaw Chain

If you check the specifications for your chainsaw chain or the chainsaw bar, you will notice that it mentions all sorts of numbers. What do these numbers mean? Basically, chainsaw chain blades vary in size, style, design, and teeth combination. If you want to purchase a new chain that can fit your chainsaw, you must be careful when looking at them to ensure that the chain fits perfectly your bar. You can also locate the numbers on the chainsaw bar, or if you haven’t changed the bar you will find them in the owner’s manual. When you find them, you will find that there are three important ones – pitch, drive links, and gauge.

Chainsaw chain pitch

Pitch is the distance between the chainsaw chain links. Pitch is the distance between two chainsaw chain links. While it’ll be wrong to assume pitch that has a significant impact on the chainsaw length of the chain, it’ll ostensibly be a measurement between links.

If you are looking to purchase a new chainsaw chain, you should look for this number in the owner’s manual. In cases where the number isn’t indicated anywhere, a chainsaw user needs to know how to calculate the pitch on a chainsaw chain.

How Do You Determine Chainsaw Chain Size

Chainsaw chain drive links

Aside from the pitch, drive links are important if you are looking to buy a chainsaw chain replacement. The most important consideration that you must make about drive links is the number available on the given chainsaw. Other than placing the order depending on the size of a guide bar, drive links will play a major role in helping the users find the perfect replacement blade.

Like the pitch, you can also locate the number of drive links available on the chain on the owner’s manual. Alternatively, you will be able to manually count the number of drive links on the chain. To get the total length of the chainsaw chain, you must factor in the number of drive links and pitch.

Chainsaw chain gauge

“Gauge” is a term that is quite popular in the woodworking industry. When it comes to defining the chainsaw chain/blade gauge, the simplest expression will refer to the thickness of the drive links. The catch with a chainsaw chain/blade gauge is that it plays a huge role when choosing the replacement blade. You may also have trouble fitting a chain with a thick gauge on a saw that uses a blade with a thin gauge. The converse will also be true. The gauge is generally expressed in inches, with 0.50 inches being the most common size. If you don’t find this number on the product’s packaging or owner’s manual, you must check the guide bar.

Is It Possible to Install a Chainsaw Blade Backward?

When replacing the chainsaw blade, another popular question that woodworkers have is the possibility of accidentally installing the chainsaw chain backward. Will it work if you install the chain backward? Are there any dangers associated with installing the chainsaw blade backward?

While installing a chainsaw bar and chain is quite easy, the challenge that comes with it is that you will hardly notice whether you have installed the chain the right way or backward. To answer the question, is it possible to install a chainsaw chain backward, the answer will be yes. When it is not fitted correctly, the chain won’t cut wood properly. This will indicate that the installation is wrong.

If it is your first time installing the chainsaw blade, it is recommended that you should manually inspect the chainsaw with a blade on it. Most importantly, the correct installation will mean that the sharp edges at the bottom of the chain need to face the user. The sharp edges at the top should not be facing the user.


How should I measure the pitch of my chainsaw blade?

Pitch is the measurement between the chainsaw blade links. However, it can be tricky to find the right fit as it has always been troubling, especially for a beginner. Assuming that you have located the pitch value on the chainsaw bar or the owner’s manual, is it possible to take the measurement alone? Measuring the chainsaw blade pitch is quite easy as it’ll only take a few steps. For doing that, you’ll need to note down rivets that follow each other. Further, you should take measurements between the middle of the first and the third. After that, divide the measurement by two to get the accurate pitch value.

What size chain should I use on my chainsaw?

Size is a significant factor when it comes to looking for a replacement chain for your home-use chainsaw or any tool that is operated by a chain. The size will vary depending on the model. You should check the following for finding the size of the chain:

– Check the owner’s manual.
– Check the side of the bar for engraving. You may need to remove the bar for finding the engravings.
– Check for the sticker on the bar and casing
– Look for the chain size for the specific mode. You can find it on the internet.

As the last resort, you can always measure the values using a scale and Vernier caliper.

Are replacement chains universal?

Replacement chains generally fit a number of models, but they aren’t universal, either. They are offered by both spare parts-specific outlets and chainsaw-specific brands.

Do all 16-inch chainsaws use the same chain?

Link count will give you the size of the chainsaw chain, and it isn’t the same even if the bar size is the same. Some 16-inch chainsaws might require the same specifications, but this isn’t the case all the time.

Are all 20-inch chains the same?

No, all 20-inch chains aren’t the same. Even with the same bar length, the link count may vary from one model to the other. For instance, a Husqvarna 455 20-inch chainsaw will require a chain with 80 links, while a 20-inch Oregon chain will offer 72 links.

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Hi, I'm Mike - but my friends call me Backyard Mike. I'm the founder of this website, and I'm addicted to outdoor power tools. I love to work with wood and share my knowledge here on this website with you. You can find more about me here.