How Long Does Chainsaw Chain Last

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Have you purchased a new chainsaw, and you’re wondering how long will the chainsaw chain last in your chainsaw? If yes, then you are definitely in the right place. 

How long does chainsaw chain last is a common question that most new chainsaw owners have. A chainsaw chain can give you an average of around 5 years with frequent use. For occasional users, the chain can potentially last for decades. The life expectancy of the chainsaw chain will be determined by its use and maintenance, not by an expiration date or a pre-determined timeline. Once the chain has eclipsed the 5-year mark, you will start to notice wear and tear and there will be small imperfections in cutting.

In this article, you will get to know all about the life expectancy of chainsaw chain, how long does chainsaw chain last, how many times can you sharpen the chain, when to replace the chainsaw chain, and more. Continue reading to get all the answers that you are looking for.

Life expectancy of a chainsaw chain

Have you been wondering what is the life expectancy of chainsaws? If you’ve got a chainsaw, then at some point, you would have thought about replacing the chain. How long does chainsaw chain last is an important question, as the condition of the chain will have a massive impact on the safety and performance of the chainsaw. 

There are many different factors that affect the lifespan of the chainsaw chain. One such factor is how frequently you use the chainsaw chain. Most of the lifespan of the chain will depend on how often you’re using it. The other factors include how well you treat the chain and the type of material you’re cutting with the chainsaw.

A chainsaw chain can last for as many as 5 years with frequent use. For occasional users, the chainsaw chain can last for decades. The life expectancy of the chainsaw is defined by its use and maintenance and not by a pre-determined timeline.

Under normal circumstances, you will be able to get hundreds of hours of regular use out of your chainsaw chain. This might sound surprising, but if you think about it, you should expect it. The cutters on the chainsaw chain are essentially steel blades, sort of like a knife.  But as you use it, the chainsaw chain will wear down and get small imperfections. This is why you need to sharpen it regularly. 

Having a proper understanding of the chainsaw chain will play a key role in how long the chain lasts in different scenarios. Here are some of the things to know about when it comes to the life expectancy of the chainsaw chain –

Usage of the chainsaw chain

When you’re using a chainsaw for home use, the most consuming part will be the chain. The engine of the chainsaw could last for years if handled properly, but the chain is the part that gets used the most in every use. Chainsaw chains are made of iron or other similar materials, which is why they can last long.

If you’re using your chainsaw regularly, then the chain can easily last for around 5 years. If you’re an occasional user, it could last for decades if it is maintained properly. It is because the chainsaw has got blades that are known as teeth and with each use, they’ll be consumed and get dull after a while.

Sharpen the chainsaw chain

A blunt chainsaw chain isn’t waste, but it can definitely be sharpened. When you feel that the chain isn’t cutting properly, then it is likely time to sharpen the chainsaw chain. Uneven cuts and fine dust of waste are signs to keep an eye on and consider sharpening the chainsaw. 

You should sharpen the teeth and depth gauges of the chainsaw such that it works well. Once you’ve sharpened the teeth and balanced the depth gauge a few times, you will notice that even sharpening the chain isn’t working. At this time, you will need to change the chain.

You must be careful when you’re sharpening the chain, as wrong strokes of sharpening might ruin it. Therefore, you need to follow the precautionary measures and proper safety steps when sharpening it. Remember, the way you sharpen the chainsaw chain can affect its lasting time.

How to maintain the chainsaw chain

The way you take care of your chainsaw and manage the chain also affects the duration of the chainsaw chain. If you want the chain to keep working for a longer period, then you need to be careful about its maintenance. For that, you must service the chain often and take the necessary precautionary measures.

Here are the aspects that are included in the maintenance of the chainsaw chain – 

1. Sharpening the chainsaw

The maintenance should include full sharpening of the chainsaw chain and following all the instructions. You shouldn’t ignore the signs that the chain will give you as an indication of the need to sharpen it.

You need to be careful of the directions while you are giving strokes to the chain teeth. Moreover, sharpen the depth gauges and don’t sharpen them more than they’re desired. Moreover, you shouldn’t forget to remove the burr from the chainsaw bar once you’ve utilized the chainsaw sharpener.

person sharpening a chainsaw chain

2. Oiling

Oiling the chainsaw isn’t as easy as it looks to be. There are many aspects that you need to be careful of while oiling. Moreover, check for the oil filters and see if they’re clean or if they have to be replaced.

Moreover, make use of fresh, high-quality fuel for the chainsaw chain. As it doesn’t just damage the chain, but the chainsaw engine will be affected by this too.

3. Storage

If you only occasionally use the chainsaw, you must store it with proper care. Further, you need to store your chainsaw in a dry and clean place. When you’re using the chainsaw after a long time, you must check the oil and if it has to be changed, you should change it. 

4. Oil-gasoline mixture

You might be thinking that this is a trivial aspect, and who cares about this? However, if you really want the chainsaw chain to last, then you should pay close attention to all the big and small factors.

The oil-gasoline mixture that you are using as fuel for the chainsaw must be done according to the calculations. If you aren’t aware of this ratio, then you can check it from the user guide manual. Further, you can also get this information online. Once you know the exact ratio, then you can move on to the next step. The next step would be to make the mixture. Do this properly by making use of a measuring beaker. Lastly, you should measure the ratio in the beaker and once the mixture is ready, you should insert it into the chainsaw.

5. Air filters

Always check for the air filters to see whether they’re clean or not. A dirty air filter will prevent the flow of air in the chainsaw, hence affecting the engine, and your chainsaw won’t work properly.

Consequently, it will also affect the chain as it’ll cause difficulty in cutting and hence damage the chain too.

How many times can a chainsaw chain be sharpened

The number of times that you can sharpen the chainsaw chain isn’t a specific number or a rating from the manufacturer. Whether you can sharpen the chain again or not will depend on two factors – 

  1. The amount of wear and tear the chain incurs
  2. The amount of metal removed each time you sharpen the chain

For instance, if you hit a rock and it either chips or breaks the chain, even a professional might struggle to repair the chain by sharpening it. Secondly, if you sharpen the chain and remove 50% of the metal that you do when sharpening it, then it would mean you can sharpen your chain 50% more time before having to replace it.

These examples illustrate that time number of times you can replace the chain will be a case-by-case situation. With that in mind, there’s a clear method that you can use for telling if the chain has life left in it.

How to know if the chain can be sharpened again

First, you will need to check for any significant damage, such as breaks or visible chips. After that, you should check the lines stamped into the chain’s cutter and guide pieces. 

If there’s no significant damage and there is space between the tip of the chain’s cutter and guide pieces, then the chain still has life left in it. In that case, you can sharpen it again. There will be stamped “safety lines” on the chain.

The small lines will indicate the maximum amount of metal that can be removed. Once you reach that line on the chain links, it will be unsafe to sharpen and use the chain again. 

When to replace the chainsaw chain

1. If you have reached the safety lines on the chainsaw chain

As mentioned above, there will be small lines stamped into the chainsaw cutter and guides. These lines indicate how far it can get sharpened. If you sharpen the chain past these lines, you will risk the chain falling apart or flying off the chain while you are using it.

This can be quite dangerous, so you must replace the chainsaw chain if you’ve reached the safety lines on the chainsaw chain.

2. If the chain gets dented, chipped, or broken

If you hit rocks, dirt, etc., your chainsaw chain may need to be replaced. You can sometimes repair small chips in the blade edge by sharpening. If it looks like something that you cannot fix by removing the metal with a file, then you will probably need to replace the chain.  

3. If the chain is rusty

You will not be able to use a rusty chainsaw chain. If you get the chainsaw out of storage only to realize that the chainsaw chain has rusted, you will need to replace it.

There are different factors that you will need to consider when deciding if your chainsaw’s chain has to be replaced. Normally, you can expect the chainsaw chain to give hundreds of hours of use. Depending on how often you use the chainsaw, it means that the chain could last for 5 years or even many decades, as long as you’re taking good care of the machine.

How Long Does a CHAINSAW CHAIN Last - When To REPLACE Chain


How long can the chainsaw chain last without sharpening?

It will depend on the quantity of time that you’ve been using the chainsaw and the material that you’re cutting. If you’re cutting hard material with the chainsaw chain, then it might dull quickly as compared to cutting soft wood.

Moreover, it will vary from chain to chain and your way of using it and maintaining it. A professional user will be able to get the most out of the chain as they’ll know how to handle it, and it can last for a longer period without needing to sharpen it. Once the chainsaw starts making uneven cuts and begins to produce fine dust of wood, it needs to be sharpened.

Should you sharpen a new chain?

New chains come well-sharpened, and they don’t need sharpening for the first few uses. However, after a while, the chain gets dull, and you will have to sharpen it to get better performance.

How often can you change the chain on a chainsaw?

You can use a chain for a period of up to 5–6 years by sharpening it whenever needed. If you notice that the chainsaw isn’t giving a good performance even after sharpening it and doesn’t have any issues, then it’ll be time for a replacement. At this stage, you will need to buy a new chain for the chainsaw.

Why do some chains get dull so quickly?

If you’re using the chain over hard material or the chainsaw accidentally comes in contact with stone or something hard, then it can cause the teeth to dull. Moreover, you should use the chain on wood in the appropriate way.

The wrong cuts might also be the reason for the chain to get dull. The other reason could be a mistake in sharpening the chain. If you don’t sharpen the chain perfectly, it could get dull quickly.

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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.