How Long Should A Pole Saw Chain Last: Know More About Chains In Pole Saws

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Do you own a pole saw, and you’re wondering how long a pole saw chain can last? If so, then you’re in the right place, as you’ll know all about it here.

A pole saw chain lasts around 5-6 years, but you won’t have any problem running it longer if you use it properly and take care of it. Remember, the lifetime of a chainsaw chain doesn’t have a fixed limit, and it depends on your usage and maintenance.

In this article, you’ll get to know all about different types of chainsaw chains, how long should a pole saw chain last, factors that negatively affect the chain, how to tell if your chainsaw chain has worn out and needs to be replaced, how to sharpen the chain, and more. Continue reading to get all the answers that you’re looking for.

Different types of pole saw chain

There are different types of pole saw chains that are generally available in the market. Although the classification of pole saw chains can be based on different things, there are three things on which the main classification is done. These are – cutter type, chain arrangement or chain sequence, and specialized add-ons.

The cutter type and chain sequence create the most difference among the chains. To properly understand the classification chains, you’ll know to know different types of chains based on the cutter type. 

Full-chisel cutters

These types of cutters are the ones that come with square corners. Their quality makes them highly efficient for cutting at a higher speed than most cutting chains. This type of chain is best-suited for cutting hardwoods when the smoothness of the cut is not paramount. Although it’s an efficient chain, like other tools, it still has its drawbacks. This type of chain isn’t very durable for rough use and doesn’t always work for long in case of cutting dirty wood.

Semi-chisel cutter

The semi-chisel cutters come with rounded teeth, which means that the chain has blades with beveled corners. For that reason, they’ve got maximum efficiency in the case of cutting softwood. This chain can be used easily in a rough environment cutting dry, dirty, and frozen wood. Although the semi-chisel cutter is efficient in numerous instances, it still has a major drawback – its speed. Although it is slow, it makes up for it by its cutting efficiency. The kickback risk in semi-chisel cutter will be lower compared to most other types.

Low profile cutter

The low-profile cutters or also referred to as chipper cutters are a prevalent chain type found in pole saws. These kinds of chains are used all over the world. It features rounded teeth and is specially designed to offer a high level of safety. Additionally, this chain also has the feature of preventing kickback as much as possible for the user to feel safe when working. For users who are new to using pole saws, this chain type will be an excellent choice.

Full skip chain

This type of chain is the most efficient type of chain, and it is amazingly good at what it does. The full skip chain has comparatively fewer teeth compared to other chains. However, the guide bar will be larger and have almost 24-inch or more. Having fewer teeth could give you the impression that this chain is less efficient compared to others. However, it’s the other way around. The speed and arrangement of the blades make up a wonderful combination, which increases the chain’s efficiency rapidly. Although the cutting speed and amount are rather large, the final cuts won’t be that smooth, which is a huge drawback for the chain. This type of chain is still efficient for cutting firewood, limbs, and other tasks that don’t require much smoothness.

How long should a pole saw chain last?

A pole saw is a mechanical tool that comes powered by an electric or gas engine. This portable machine will allow the users to cut through most materials, especially wood. The pole saw is traditionally used for cutting trees, felling snags, cutting firebreaks, harvesting firewood, and more. 

The pole saw has different parts and components, among which the pole saw chain is one of the most vital parts. The chain is what makes the cutting happen. The chain is a rotating component that’ll hold everything together, including the blades and the teeth. The teeth are attached, which maintains a specific distance in the chain. The chain holds on to the tenth pretty strongly and continues rotating to cut the desired material. The chain is traditionally made using steel and other similar materials. The lifetime of the pole saw chain will depend entirely upon how you handle the chain.

The lifetime of the pole saw chain actually has no fixed limit, and it’ll depend on the usage and maintenance. The chain can last many years, as 5-6 years wouldn’t be a problem. However, if the pole saw chain is used properly and taken care of, it can easily last longer.

how long should a pole saw chain last - cutting branches using pole saw

The pole saw can concede unexpected damage out of nowhere. This can greatly lower the possibility to work efficiently. Whatever might be the case, an ideal pole saw chain, regardless of any unexpected events, can work efficiently for years. The exact lifespan cannot be predicted accurately, as it’ll depend on how it’s used and what sort of damage it is receiving.

Unsafe practices that can reduce the lifespan of your pole saw chain

Pole saw chain hitting rocks or dirt

This is arguably the biggest cause of damaged pole saw chains. When you’re cutting throw a wooden log on the ground, it’s easy for the blade to slip through and hit the dirt underneath. You should look to avoid hitting the ground with your chainsaw blade at all costs.

Pole saw chain hitting nails

Sometimes, the wood will have unexpected nails and other metal objects embedded inside. Some common examples include nails, fence staples, and even bullets. It’ll be good to check the outside of the tree before you start cutting. Look for any warning signs and only start once you’re in the clear.

Pole saw chain cutting through ice

If you use your pole saw in the winter, you must be wary of frozen wood and ice. A chainsaw will be able to cut through it, but ice can easily chip and wear down the chain. Frozen wood can get tricky because it looks normal, but it’s actually as hard as a rock.

Improper lubrication of the chain

You need to use the bar and chain oil for keeping the chain cool (i.e. not overheated) and running smoothly. Not using proper lubrication is a fast way of overheating your entire pole saw. 

Improper storage and rusting in the pole saw chain

If you don’t clean and oil the chain properly, it can get rusted easily. This is a fast way for the chain to get ruined. To avoid this, you should clean the bar and chain, oil it properly, and cover the bar/chain with a scabbard before you store it.

How to tell if your pole saw chain is worn out?

If you’ve run into any of these issues, you’ll probably want to find out if your pole saw is worn out. You’ll probably be wondering if you need to sharpen it or replace it entirely.

A pole saw chain doesn’t actually have an expiration date, but you still need to sharpen it or replace it when needed. There are many factors to consider before you decide to replace it. You should know the tips that will help you know that the blade is dull. You can then use it to tell if it’s the right time to chain the pole saw chain. So without further ado, let’s find out how to get your chain running to its full potential and cutting sharply.

Look for any dents on the pole saw chain

Hitting rocks or nails can easily leave your chain dented. Depending on the impact that these objects have had on them, sharpening might not always work ideally. This will bring about the need to replace the pole saw chain. However, sharpening the tool with a chain sharpener can be the ideal solution for minor dents.

Check if the pole saw chain is rusty

Failure to store the pole saw well can easily result in rusting. Unfortunately, there’s nothing much you can do for a rusty chain other than replacing it. However, it’ll be important to use oil and clean the chain after use.

Pole saw producing poor cutting performances

The main result of a dull chain blade will be seen through poor performance. Frequent sharpening is often advised to keep the chain performance at the level needed. Sometimes, a worn-out chain doesn’t become effective even after sharpening. This is why you might need to replace it.

Sharpening the pole saw chain to expand its lifespan

The two primary ways of sharpening the pole saw chain is manually (using a file guide) or having a chains professional ground at a chainsaw shop. There’s a time and place for every use, but the file guide sharpening is one that’s used frequently. It’s important to know each one of these methods and when you should use them. Moreover, also consider the impact these methods have on a pole saw chain’s life expectancy.

Using a file guide

A file guide is a tool that has multiple files built in, and it’s specifically designed to help you sharpen your chain’s cutters. It guides consistently and cuts with the right angle.

A good rule of thumb for when to sharpen with a file guide will be to give the chain 1-2 swipes with the file guide each time you fuel up. In case it’s getting noticeably dull, then you’ll need to do a few extra swipes to get it sharp again.

Using a grinder

If you’ve got a grinder and know what you’re doing, technically, you can do this by yourself. For most people, it’ll be better to just pay a professional to do so. At a local saw shop, it’ll be cheaper to get it done, and it’ll cost around $5 to $7.

The downside to using a grinder is that it takes off more material than sharpening with a file guide. It’ll get your cutters nice and sharp while reducing the life of your chain.

When to sharpen the pole saw chain with a grinder?

With normal wear, you’ll be able to do over 40 fuel-ups with your chainsaw. For instance, 40 manual sharpenings using a file guide before you’ll need to sharpen with a grinder. Then, you’ll need to professionally sharpen it to remove any hard-to-fix imperfections. You could think that 40 fuel-ups is a long time to wait before you get a professional grinding. There are two reasons why you’ll not want to do it too frequently –

  1. It’ll reduce the lifespan of your pole saw chain by taking off more material (compared to manual sharpening)
  2. As it costs you around $5, once you’ve got to around 4 grindings, you’re essentially at a cumulative cost of a new chain

After a couple of professional grindings, you should begin to think about buying a new pole saw chain. Moreover, it’s important to know that if you damage your chain or dirt or something, you’ll probably have to go to the grinder earlier.

Avoid over-sharpening and exceeding the safety lines on your pole saw chain

There are certain indicators of how far the pole saw chain can be sharpened. Exceeding these points will put you at risk as the chain could easily fall apart, especially when you’re using it. This is extremely dangerous, and you will have to consider replacing the pole saw chain immediately.

Getting uneven cuts

Even though it can be easily resolved through sharpening, at times, it’s recommended that you should consider replacing the chain. With a new and sharper chain, you’ll be assured of smooth and extremely precise cuts.

Presence of smoke

The presence of smoke as you’re using the pole saw will be a clear indication of dull chain teeth. The tool is made to handle tough jobs and no friction can damage it. When the teeth are dull, the pole saw encounters too much friction, which can lead to it heating up.

Before you change or sharpen the chain’s teeth, check if the other components of the tool are working ideally and if the chain’s tension is adjusted to perfection. If you are noticing smoke, replace your blade as this can cause multiple damages.

How Long Should A Pole Saw Chain Last?


Thank you for reading. Hopefully, now you know a lot more about different types of chainsaw chains, how long should a pole saw chain last, factors that negatively affect the chain, how to tell if your chainsaw chain has worn out and needs to be replaced, how to sharpen the chain, and more. Generally, a pole saw chain can last around 5-6 years. However, if you take proper care of it, you will not have any problem running it longer. Remember, the lifetime of a chainsaw chain doesn’t have a fixed limit, and it depends on your usage and maintenance.

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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.