Last updated: August 10, 2021

Welcome to our big saw chain test 2021. Here we present all the saw chains we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the web. We would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best saw chain for you.

You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should definitely pay attention to if you want to buy a saw chain.




Summary

  • Saw chains should be replaced at regular intervals when they can no longer be sharpened. This can prevent accidents that can occur when chains break.
  • When buying a saw chain, you have a choice of different models. Depending on the tooth shape, a distinction is made between a full-chisel, half-chisel and multi-cut saw chain.
  • When buying a saw chain, you should take into account the most important criteria, such as the pitch, the number and thickness of the drive links and the tooth shape of the saw chain.

The Best Saw Chain in the United Kingdom: Our Choices

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a saw chain

Are you thinking about buying a saw chain, but are a bit overwhelmed by the choice and the different offers? Then you've come to the right place, because we explain what you should look out for when buying saw chains.

Sägekette

To buy the right saw chain, you first have to count the number of links. (Photo: Hans / pixabay.com)

What do saw chains cost?

The price range for saw chains is not nearly as wide as for chainsaws, and you can get even high-quality products from well-known manufacturers for as little as 20 euros. Most of the time you will find what you are looking for below that.

In any case, you should calculate a price between 10 and 25 euros. The price depends on the length of the saw chain and special multi-cut chains are often more expensive than normal full-chisel or half-chisel chains.

What is the difference between full chisel, half chisel and multi cut?

When buying saw chains, you have the choice between different tooth shapes. Each one has its own advantages, which we will list briefly: Full-chisel chains are used more by professionals because they tend to kick back much more than half-chisel chains.

The reason for this is their rectangular tooth geometry, which allows for a better cutting performance and a more aggressive cut, but is more recommended for experienced users. Half-chisel chains have a rounded tooth geometry, which makes them less susceptible to dirt or kickback. In most cases, a half-chisel chain should meet your needs. Multi-cut chains are a special type of chain with a reinforced chrome layer that cuts through dirty wood.

How do you determine the pitch of the saw chain?

To determine which saw chain fits your chainsaw, you need to determine the pitch of your saw chain. To do this, measure the distance between three rivets. Here we have a table with the distance in mm and the pitch for you:

distance pitch
12.7 mm 1/4 inch
16.5 mm 325 inch
19.1 mm 3/8 inch or 3/8 inch hobby
20.5 mm 404 inch

Please note that used chains stretch after some time and therefore the distance may vary slightly.

How do you determine the drive link thickness of the saw chain?

If you want to buy a new chain for your saw, you need to determine not only the pitch but also the right drive link thickness for your bar. The best way is to read the thickness from the bar itself. Since the clearance angle of a chainsaw is relatively small, you must pay attention to the correct chain tension.

If the chain tension is too low, the saw chain will bulge, develop high friction and high temperatures, which will have a very negative effect on the cutting ability of the usual tooth made of cold-work steel. Too much chain tension, on the other hand, leads to high friction in the chain bar, with an analogous side effect.

If the sticker is no longer legible or you cannot find it, you can use a caliper gauge. To do this, measure the part of the drive link that runs through the groove of the guidebar. There are 1.1 mm, 1.3 mm, 1.5 mm and 1.6 mm thick driving links.

How do you determine the number of drive links?

The third size you need to buy the right saw chain is the number of drive links. Counting is the only way to determine this. To make sure you don't get confused, it is advisable to mark the drive link where you started counting with a permanent marker.

Decision: What types of saw chains are there and which is the right one for you?

Basically, you can distinguish between three types of saw chains:

  • Full-chisel saw chains
  • Half-chisel saw chains
  • Multi-cut chain

Basically, you can distinguish between half-chisel and full-chisel saw chains. The standard material of these types of chains is high-alloy chrome-nickel steel, which provides corrosion protection and high wear resistance. When choosing a saw chain, particular attention should be paid to the tooth shape and tooth geometry.

Special attention should also be paid to the drive links. These have a great influence on the cutting quality and the general performance of the chains. The following section briefly explains the differences between the various types so that you can decide for yourself which saw chains are right for you. The advantages and disadvantages of each type of chain are also described.

What are the characteristics of a full-chisel chain and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

The full-chisel chain has the particular advantage that it has a high cutting quality and long service life due to a high-performance coating. In this way, the chain withstands even heavy loads and enables cutting without strong resistance. However, this only happens with a rather rough cut.

Advantages
  • High cutting performance
  • Long service life
  • Little resistance
  • Suitable for hardwood and softwood
Disadvantages
  • Coarse cut
  • High wear

In solid chisel chains, the transition from the tooth top to the cutting edge is angular, which has a great influence on the cutting performance. These chains have a sharp and angular arrangement of roof and breast cutting edges. The full chisel tooth is a typical professional tooth. This cutting shape reduces cutting resistance and enables clean and fast sawing.

The pronounced and sharp-edged tooth tip requires precise sharpening. This does not mean that the teeth need to be sharpened frequently, but that the teeth must be as sharp as possible for good cutting quality.

This type of chain is particularly well suited for professional cutting of hard and frozen wood such as hardwood and softwood. On the other hand, it is less suitable for dirty wood, which could result in high wear and tear.

What are the characteristics of a half-chisel chain and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Half-chisel chains are the most common type of teeth used in saw chains. The teeth of this saw chain have rounded edges, which makes them cut less effectively but all the finer than full-chisel chains. They are primarily suitable for chainsaws in the hobby sector.

Advantages
  • Very fine cut
  • Cuts the material quickly
  • Shows constant performance
  • Well suited for dirty wood
Disadvantages
  • Lower cutting performance
  • High wear
  • Sensitive cutting tooth tip

These chains are particularly recommended for dirty wood, as the rounded shape offers less surface for damage by stones or dirt. Another special feature of the half-chisel chain is the curved arrangement of the roof and breast cutting edges. This has the advantage that the chain is less susceptible to damage and dirt.

The tip of the cutting tooth is more sensitive to foreign impact and has a higher wear rate. It is mainly suitable for simple to semi-professional use. Dirty wood can be cut well with the half-chisel chain due to the characteristics mentioned above.

The cut is very fine and allows you to cut through the material quickly. The cutting performance is lower than with the full-chisel chain, but does not decrease during longer work, but maintains this performance constantly.

What distinguishes Multi-Cut saw chains and what are their advantages and disadvantages?

The Multi-Cut saw chain is mainly suitable for universal use with demanding materials. For example, it is used for processing laminate and thin-walled plastic, aluminium, copper or brass profiles.

Advantages
  • High cutting quality
  • Cuts hard materials
  • Well suited for cross cuts
Disadvantages
  • Slow saw progress
  • Saw must have high power

For this reason, this saw chain is particularly well suited for many interior applications and works extra fine. It convinces many consumers with its perfect cutting results even with cross cuts in solid wood, raw, coated or veneered chipboard and also MDF (medium density fibreboard).

However, the prerequisite for these results is a very high power of the chainsaw and, in addition, patience. Compared to other chain types, sawing progress is achieved only relatively slowly.

Buying criteria: You can use these factors to compare and evaluate saw chains

In the following we would like to show you which factors you can use to compare and evaluate saw chains. This will make it easier for you to decide whether a particular product is suitable for you or not. In summary, these are:

  • Pitch
  • Drive link thickness
  • Number of drive links
  • Tooth shapes

In the following paragraphs you can read about the individual purchase criteria and how you can classify them.

Pitch

The pitch is the distance between the drive links. You should always make sure that you buy the right pitch for your saw. To find out what the correct pitch is, you should look at the old chain and determine it as we mentioned above.

Drive link thickness

You should also never use a chain that is too thin. A chain that is too thin will cause more wear on the bar, give poor cutting results and can be extremely dangerous. We have explained how to determine the number of links in your old chain in the guide at the top of this page.

Number of drive links

When it comes to the number of drive links, you don't really have a choice but to use your worn chain as a guide. The number of drive links indicates the length of the saw chain and to determine how long your old chain is, simply follow the instructions in the guidebook section.

Tooth shape

The tooth geometry is basically the only choice you can make on your own. If you already have some experience with chainsaws, you can confidently use full-chisel chains. They save you time because of their high cutting performance. However, if you only need the chainsaw occasionally or are not yet completely confident in using the tool, a half-chisel chain is a good choice.

They are usually cheaper than full chisel chains and cut almost as well. For sharpening the saw chain, there is a wide choice between chain saw sharpening sets with individual files, manual sharpeners or electrically operated and angle-adjustable chain sharpeners.

Facts worth knowing about saw chains

Finally, we would like to briefly explain how a saw chain works and how it is constructed.

How does a saw chain work and how is it constructed?

A saw chain consists of drive links, connecting links and cutting links, which are riveted in the order cutting link right, connecting link, drive link, connecting link, cutting link left, drive link. The driving link transmits the rotation from the drive wheel to the chain and the connecting link connects the driving and cutting links.

As the name suggests, the cutting link is responsible for the actual cut. It only rests on the guidebar, and the cutting tooth is located on the top. The tooth top lifts the wood fibre and the tooth side separates the lifted piece from the wood.

(Image source: Pixabay.com / Hans)

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