The Chainsaw Chains for Cutting Firewood & Hardwood

Your chainsaw is the power tool of choice when it comes to tackling heavy duty home improvement projects like trimming branches, pruning limbs, or even cutting down a tree. You are going to need the best chainsaw chain to keep it spick and span. Whether you are a homeowner tackling home improvement landscaping projects in your yard or professional users such as an arborist or landscaper, if you’re cutting heavy wood (use a metal cutting saw for metal instead), your chainsaw is one of the most important tools in your arsenal. For electric chainsaws click here.

But if you’re sawing away with the wrong chain, not only is the job going to be tough and take forever, you also run the risk of the chain binding or experiencing a dangerous kickback. That’s why choosing the right cutting chain for your tool is so essential.

But with how many options out there, how do you know which product is the top chainsaw chain for you? Several brands claim that their chainsaw chains are the best around. And with options like chisel, semi-chisel, and skip chisel chains available, figuring out which chain to buy for your chainsaw can be a pretty intimidating task. Luckily, we took a look at the top chainsaw chains on the market.

We evaluated them based on their performance, design, construction, reviews, and check price and came up with our list of the top 10 chainsaw chains for cutting firewood on the market today. After reading through our list, and chains buyers guide; we’re pretty sure that you’ll be able to find the chainsaw chain that’s perfect for your needs.

View the Best Chainsaw Chain on the Market, Below.

What to Look For When Buying a Chainsaw Chain?

Your chainsaw is a versatile power tool, allowing you to tackle a variety of projects like pruning trees, cutting through branches, toppling trees, and removing stumps. But you’re not going to get the results you want without the right cutting chain. But choosing the right chain can be confusing because there are a lot of different things to consider.

Before you choose a chain, it’s helpful to look at the different things that make up a chainsaw chain so you know what to look for. We’re going to explain everything you need to consider right here.

About the Chainsaw Chain

The chain of your chainsaw is the component that actually performs the cutting action. While it’s important that the cutting chain cuts as deeply and quickly as possible, it’s important that it doesn’t cut too deeply into the wood. When a tooth cuts too deeply into the wood, it can get stuck and cause the tool to kickback and possibly injure the user. This is why smooth, controlled performance is an attribute that is just as important as speed when it comes to choosing the right chain.

Bar Length

Chainsaw ChainChainsaws come in a variety of lengths. You can find models that are as short as 10″ and as long as 24″ online and at most hardware stores.

It’s important to take this measurement into account since chains are not “one-size-fits-all” accessories and a chain that is too snug or too loose won’t perform properly and can present a major safety hazard as this study suggests.

If you’re unsure of the guide bar length of your tool, the best thing to do is measure your chainsaw. Simply run a tape measure from the tip of the guide bar to the point when the bar protrudes from the tool casing.

Whatever number you arrive at, simply round up to the next even number and that’s your measurement. Some of the most common guide bar lengths today are 16″, 18″ and 20″.

  • Bar Length ( inch )


The gauge of your chain is a term used to describe the thickness of the chain’s drive links. If you want your chain to perform safely and efficiently, the chain’s gauge must be an exact match to the gauge of the chainsaw’s guide bar. If the chain is too thin, it will slip and cut poorly. And a chain that is too thick won’t even fit your tool. A pair of good chainsaw chaps is also a good idea!

Most chains today are designed from .050″ to .063″ but there are some other sizes available. This number is usually printed on the guide bar of your tool but if you are having trouble finding it, you can consult the instruction manual.

Drive Links

Drive links are the bottom parts of the chainsaw chain that fit into the guide bar of your chainsaw. These segments are used to get a more accurate measurement when it comes to choosing a proper-fitting replacement chain for your tool. While some chainsaws might have the number of drive links required printed somewhere on the guide bar, most will not.

If you’re unsure of this measurement, the easiest thing to do is take the chain off and simply count the drive links. By having the gauge, bar length, and drive link measurements required for your chainsaw, you now have all the information you need to find a replacement chain that will fit your tool perfectly.

The next step is to consider the performance of the chain. When it comes to performance, you mainly want to consider the design of the chain’s teeth. Each style has a few advantages and disadvantages.

Cutter Design

Chainsaw Chain Cutter DesignThe tooth type is one of the most important things to consider when purchasing a replacement chainsaw chain since it will have the largest influence on your tool’s capabilities and performance.

The three most common styles of teeth available today are chipper, semi chisel, and full chisel teeth. Check out these chipper shredders.

Chipper chains were once the most common style of chain available but today, they are mostly used for dirty tasks and are perfect for quickly pruning thinner branches and limbs.

Semi chisel chains are a great all-around option and feature rounded chisel teeth that cut through both soft and hardwood.

These teeth can take slightly longer to tackle heavy-duty tasks but are known for their superior durability and for retaining a sharper cutting edge longer than the other styles.

Full chisel chains feature square-shaped teeth that can make quick work out of even the hardest wood. They are great for quick, demanding jobs but the square teeth lose their edge faster than semi chisel chains, making them inefficient for prolonged use or for cutting dirty or frozen wood.

By noting the measurement requirements of your chainsaw and taking how you plan on using your tool into consideration, finding the perfect replacement chain for your chainsaw is incredibly easy. With the right chain installed, you can count on your chainsaw to perform quickly, efficiently, and safely.

 What is the Top Chainsaw Chain?

Determining the top chainsaw chain is difficult. Chains are designed with different applications in mind. One that’s designed to tackle softwood might not be a reliable performer when it’s time to do some heavy duty stumpwork. Plus, there is a variety of sizes available, allowing chains to be compatible with chainsaws with bar lengths ranging from around 10 inches up to around 24 inches. But there are some brands that stand above the rest of the pack when it comes to performance, reliability, and versatility.

Looking at these categories, it’s safe to say that Oregon makes some of the best chains available today. Oregon has been making chainsaws, guide bars, chains, and other outdoor equipment since 1947. Produced by Blount, Inc. of Portland, Oregon, the brand has been manufacturing high-performance forestry tools and accessories that are sold in over 100 countries worldwide. Oregon’s chains are designed with hard-chromed, heat-treated cutters that allow for an optimum wood bite, faster sharpening, and impressive durability.

Plus, unlike other comparable brands like Husqvarna, many of the best Oregon chains are designed to fit well on a variety of makes and models. This means that you can use many of their cutters with some of the most popular chainsaw brands on the market. Oregon chains are priced fairly, making them a great deal for anyone interested in value. And when it comes to performance, they are noted for their smooth, reliable cutting power with low vibration and minimum kickback.

Oregon chainsaw chains are known for their ability to retain their sharp cutting edge for long durations and when it’s time to hone their teeth, they’re also incredibly easy to sharpen. With options available for almost any chainsaw make and model on the market, purchasing an Oregon chainsaw chain is one of the best investments that you can make.

What Size Chainsaw Chain Do I Need?

Chainsaw Chain SizesThe length of your chainsaw chain is based on the tool’s guide bar length. You can try and purchase chainsaw replacement chains based solely on the guide bar measurement. But if you want a chain fits perfectly on your chainsaw, it’s best to take two other factors into account.

The first thing that you should do is measure the distance from your guide bar’s tip to the spot where the bar protrudes from the chainsaw’s housing.

Round the number up to the nearest even number and this will give you the chainsaw’s guide bar length. The most popular lengths are 14″, 16″, 18″, and 20″, though you can find models as short as 10″ and as long as 24″ pretty easily. Next, take off your old chain and lay it out on your workbench. Count the drive links that protrude from the underside of the chain. These drive links are the mechanisms used to power the chain and you should make note of how many are present if you want the perfect fit.

Then, note the pitch of your chain. This is normally displayed on the guide bar of your tool. But if you can’t find the number, simply measure the distance between 3 consecutive rivets on your chain and then divide this number by 2.

Since the ideal chainsaw replacement chains’ length is a combination of the pitch and number of drive links, the sum of these two numbers is what you need to look for if you want to buy the perfect replacement chain for your tool.

What is the Top Rated Chainsaw Chain for Hardwood?

Sawing through hardwood might be a tough task but not if you equip your chainsaw with the right chain. Some cutter chains are designed specifically to rip through hardwood quickly and with minimal effort. If you’re looking for one of the top rated chains for heavy-duty work, you can’t go wrong with a high-quality semi chisel chain like the Oregon S56 16inch Semi Chisel Chainsaw Chain or, depending on the size of your chainsaw, a similar semi chisel chain that’s compatible with your tool.

Some people will swear by full chisel chains when it comes to cutting through hardwood. While these chains are designed to rip through hardwood easily, they can grow dull very quickly. This means that you’ll need multiple chains or you will encounter serious downtime since you’ll have to stop and sharpen your chain during longer periods of operation (read the study).

And if you’re cutting through dirty hardwood, your chain will lose its cutting edge more quickly since the square shape of teeth tend to take big bites out of wood but wear down easily. That’s why many experts recommend a good semi chisel chain for hardwood work.

While the rounded cutting edge of the teeth might take slightly longer to cut through tough materials, these chains offer much more durability since they retain their sharpness very well. This means that most high-quality semi chisel chains can get through heavy-duty tasks without losing their sharpness.

This improved durability means less downtime and smoother operation during long periods of demanding work. While choosing the right semi chisel chain for you will depend on the size of your chainsaw, an excellent example for anyone who owns a 16″ model is the Oregon S56.

These chains are designed to offer exceptional durability thanks to them being heat-treated and hard-chromed. Its semi chisel teeth cut through hardwood with ease while retaining their cutting edge better than a full chisel option. And its twin cutting corners are designed to deliver exceptional performance with low vibration and minimal kickbacks.

For anyone with a smaller chainsaw or larger chainsaw, simply look for a comparable semi chisel chain that meets the measurement requirements of your particular tool. By equipping one of these fast-cutting, durable chains on your tool, tackling even the hardest wood is surprisingly simple.

How Long Does a Chainsaw Chain Last?

Chainsaw ChainsA high-quality chainsaw chain can last you for years as long as it is maintained properly. Most chains are made from durable materials that can resist corrosion and rust. This means that the area of the chain that will see the most wear and tear will be the teeth. Luckily, there are a few things that you can do to ensure that your chain will withstand years of frequent use.

Since there is a high amount of friction placed on the chain when cutting through wood, the first thing to do is ensure that you are feeding enough bar and chain oil to your chain. This will prevent excessive friction and heat buildup, prolonging the life of your chain while allowing it to retain its sharp cutting edge longer. The next thing you need to pay attention to is how you use your tool.

If you are doing stumpwork and causing your chain to hit to ground, debris or rocks, the teeth can wear or even be permanently damaged. But with a little experience, you’ll be able to handle your chainsaw with more control, allowing you to cut through hardwood and tree stumps without accidentally digging your tool’s chain into the ground.

You should also recognize when your chain is growing dull. Proper maintenance and sharpening will ensure that every task will be performed as quickly and safely as possible while also extending the life of your chain. The best way to determine when your chain needs sharpening is to gauge its performance.

A sharp chain makes thin, large chips as it pulls itself through the wood. A dull chain will produce sawdust and require you to force the saw through the wood. If you find that it is taking a considerable amount of effort to cut through wood and the chain is discharging sawdust instead of chips, it’s time to sharpen your chain’s teeth.

By ensuring that your chain is well-oiled with the right chain oils, preventing it from striking solid objects, and keeping it sharp, you can count on using it for years without the need for replacement.

What Do the Numbers on a Chainsaw Chain Mean?

When purchasing a new chainsaw chain, there are three measurements that every user should know if they want to purchase the right size chain for their tool. These three numbers-the pitch, gauge, and a number of drive links can be found on the packaging of every cutter chain on the market.


Numbers on a Chainsaw chainThe pitch refers to how close together the links on your chain are. If you’re having difficulty finding the pitch of your current chain, you can simply measure the distance between 3 rivets on your chain and then divide that number by 2.

Pitch sizes are available in 1/4″, .325″, 3/8″, 3/8″ low profile, and .404″. The most common measurement you’ll find is low profile 3/8″, followed by regular 3/8″ pitch chains. The 3/8″ low profile chain features a narrow cutting width or kerf which reduces the power needed for cutting.

This pitch is commonly found in most chainsaws marketed towards homeowners or semi-professionals – see the top chainsaws for professionals here. On the other side of the spectrum is the .404″ pitch chain.

These chains feature a larger distance between links, allowing them to cut through wood more aggressively. This measurement is normally found in commercial-grade chainsaws as well as in models used by first responders and rescue workers.


The gauge refers to the thickness of the chain’s drive links. These drive links fit into the saw’s guide bar and it is important to match the right chain gauge to your saw so the chain will fit into the guide bar. Chainsaw chains come with a gauge of .043″, .050″, .058″, and .063″ with .050″ being the most common. You can normally find the gauge measurement on the user-end of the chainsaw’s guide bar.

Number of Drive Links

The final number that you need to consider is the number of drive links. Taking an overall length measurement of your chainsaw chain isn’t accurate when shopping for the right chain because the overall length is actually determined by a combination of the number of drive links and the chain’s pitch.

Because of this, chains manufactured now use the drive link method since it is a more accurate way of keeping their chain sizes in order. Unlike pitch and gauge, the number of links isn’t displayed on your tool so, if you don’t know how many drive links your chain has, the smartest thing to do is count them.

Top Chainsaw Chain

Now that you know what to look for in a quality chainsaw chain, let’s take a look at some of the best products out there today. These chains scored high marks based on performance, durability, reviews, versatility, and value. Equipping your chainsaw with any compatible cutting chain featured in our list will turn your tool into a wood-cutting powerhouse.

Finding the Right Chain for Your Chainsaw

Your chainsaw is a versatile power tool capable of handling a number of tasks from pruning branches and limbs to cutting down trees. But to get the best performance, durability, and safety out of your chainsaw, it’s important that you select the right cutter chain. There are a few things to keep in mind when you are buying a new chain.  The first thing to consider is the length of the chain needed. Once you know how the proper length, you should consider the compatibility of the chain.

Some chains can be installed on a variety of makes and models while others can only be safely mounted to a specific brand of tools. The next thing to consider is the type of demands that you’ll be placing on your saw, the the types of chainsaw used. A low profile cutter is great for basic pruning and landscaping work.

Semi chisel chains cut slower than chisel chains but retain their edge longer, making them ideal for cutting through soft woods. And full chisel cutters cut faster than semi chisel products but dull faster, making them the preferred weapon of choice when tackling hard wood.

Expert Tip

Sharpening your chain is relatively simple. But with so many teeth, keeping track of which teeth you’ve already sharpened can be pretty confusing. A great trick is to simply mark each tooth that you sharpen with a marker. This will ensure that you are sharpening your chain as efficiently as possible.

Did You Know?

Determining when it’s time to sharpen your chain is pretty easy. A sharp chain will cut through most wood with very little pressure place on the tool. But a dull chain will ride along in the cut instead of deepening it. If you find yourself trying to force you tool into the wood to cut it, or if your chainsaw is spitting out sawdust instead of wood chips, then it’s time to sharpen your chain.

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Daniel Martínez
Daniel Martínez
Como recién graduado, me encantaría poder entrar a formar parte de una empresa en la que poder aplicar todos mis conocimientos y, al mismo tiempo, que me permita desarrollarme profesionalmente. Gracias a mi formación especializada, considero que puedo aportar valor y seguir desarrollándome profesionalmente en una compañía que coincida con mis valores y expectativas.

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