best chainsaw chain for cutting

Best Chainsaw Chain for Cutting Hard Wood

Ian Mutuli
Updated on
Ian Mutuli

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
Get Smarter On Architecture and Design

Get the 3-minute weekly newsletter keeping 5K+ designers in the loop.

Enter your Email to Sign up


The job of cutting hardwood trees is considerably simplified and made efficient by chainsaws. The key component of a chainsaw is its chain. There is an assortment of chainsaw chain types, thus it's crucial to select one that aligns with your chainsaw and meets your needs.

This article lists some of the best chainsaw chains with their pros and cons and also a detailed buying guide.

It is crucial to get the right types of chainsaw chains for hardwood because the use of the wrong chainsaw chain can cause several problems physically and to your work. For example:

  • Wastage of fuel
  • Difficulty in cutting
  • Increased wear and tear to the consumable parts and bar oil
  • Reducing the chain life and hence costing you money
  • Risk of injury of the chainsaw to the face
  • Damage to the bar

Which chainsaw chain brand is best?

1. Husqvarna Chainsaw Chain 18-Inch .050 Gauge

Husqvarna chainsaw chain 18-Inch .050 gauge .325 pitch...
  • A low kickback, low-vibration chain Developed to meet the...
  • Great cutting performance and bore cut
  • Perfect for arborists and for users who use smaller-size...
  • Well suited for commercial cutters, arborists and occasional...

Husqvarna chainsaw chain brand is the best chain for your 18inch chainsaw available on the market. It is ideal to use for cutting firewood hardwood because the performance it provides is impressive and has long durability.

Husqvarna has a design of 0.325 pitch and 0.050 gauge that works on a variety of different projects. This 18-inch bar length chainsaw comes with 72 drive links and delivers smooth cuts even on rough pieces of wood and the chain will not be stretched.

You can use it for cutting storm-damaged trees and it maintains its sharpness after delivering impressive performance for a long time. This brand also eliminates the risk of kickback in the chain when working and is also a low vibration chain.

Husqvarna is the best chainsaw if you are a homeowner to work outdoors with so long as you are careful when you encounter hard surfaces, ice, or bricks and stones. This is because the chain loses its sharpness when in contact with the hard surfaces. Husqvarna replacement chain comes with a 2pack that is a good option for many users.


  • Perfect chain for both soft and hardwood
  • It has no vibration
  • Great value for your money
  • Easily cuts through wood
  • High performance because of the design
  • It is a low kickback chain


  • This chain cutter might be small for some Husqvarna models
  • Cutting chains cut slower with some hardwood like oak

Other great chainsaw chains

2. Oregon S56 AdvanceCut Chainsaw Chain for 16-Inch Bar

Oregon S56 AdvanceCut Chainsaw Chain for 16-Inch Bar,...
  • Fits several chainsaw models including but not limited to:...
  • Also fits:【Homelite】UT43122, UT43123...
  • Ideal for DIY homeowners – Capable of handling tough jobs;...
  • Automatic oiling for longer lasting chain – LubriTec is...
  • Your chain stays sharper longer. All Oregon chain cutters have an...

Oregon S56 chains are made of a unique design that provides smooth cutting and ensures you only experience a low kickback and vibration if any. This model is compatible with other chainsaws.

Oregon S56 ensures safety as it comes heat treated and therefore can be able to withstand any challenging conditions. The security and safety are also guaranteed by a Lubri-Tec system that provides lubrication to the chainsaw chains.

The lubrication system ensures you can enjoy prolonged use of your chain saw in the best condition. The cutting chain experience is therefore a pleasant and comfortable one.

Some of the compatible brands with Oregon S56 are McCulloch, Echo, Homelite just to name a few. It is ideal for cutting firewood or hardwood regularly.


  • Smooth cutting action
  • A 16-inch bar length
  • Provides a low kickback performance
  • Compatible with the majority of chainsaws in the market
  • Comes with heat treated chain cutters
  • Provides maximum safety


  • According to some customer chainsaw chain reviews, it may have a problem with other chainsaw brands

3. Oregon R34 AdvanceCut 8-Inch Micro Lite Chainsaw Chain

Oregon R34 AdvanceCut 8-Inch Micro Lite Chainsaw Chain...
  • 8" chain fits Poulan and Remington brands pole saws
  • UL classified low-kickback saw chain
  • Made in USA at ISO certified facility
  • Advanced technology ensures tough, sharp cutters
  • 8" chain fits Poulan and Remington brands pole saws

Oregon R34 is among the best chainsaw chains you can find in the market at the moment. It is compatible with popular brands like Remington and Poulan and delivers exceptional performance.

This chain saw is used by both homeowners and professionals because it provides high performance and is highly dependable because of the advanced technology of the saw chain.

This saw chain has a bar length of 8 inches, a narrow kerf chain of 0.043-inch gauge, and a 3/8 inch pitch which boosts efficiency and requires less power in comparison to standard chains.

The small than the normal gauge makes this chainsaw not ideal for heavy duty jobs. The design usually makes the chains for cutting remove less wood fiber during the wood cutting process.

Oregon is a low kickback chainsaw chain that operates with low vibrations which makes the chainsaw easy to use. It has chrome-plated cutters that improve the wear resistance also the coating plays the role of helping the chain to maintain the sharpness.

Oregon has a Lubri-Tec lubrication system that reduces downtime by providing lubrication to the chain and bar.

This saw chain is popular for its little weight and versatility and also its affordability and therefore very accessible to most users. Oregon chainsaw chain is also used to execute a variety of home DIY projects.


  • Lightweight chainsaw chain
  • Has a Lubri-Tec lubrication system
  • Versatile
  • The gauge and guide bar length is optimized chainsaw for pole saws
  • Affordable pricing
  • Oregon comes with very sharp chrome plated cutters that guarantee sharpness
  • Unique design
  • It is a safe chainsaw chain


  • Not the best chainsaw for wide-diameter hardwood
  • Not the saw chain for heavy duty cutting

4. Oregon D70 AdvanceCut Chainsaw Chain for 20-Inch Bar

Oregon D70 AdvanceCut Chainsaw Chain for 20-Inch Bar;...
  • Fits several chainsaw models including but not limited to:...
  • Also fits:【Homelite】Super XL, Super XLAO, XL 12...
  • Ideal for DIY homeowners – Capable of handling tough jobs;...
  • Automatic oiling for longer lasting chain – LubriTec is...
  • Your chain stays sharper longer. All Oregon chain cutters have an...

Oregon D70 is made of a unique cutter design of 20 inches in length with a 0.050-inch gauge that produces superior results. Even in extreme conditions, you can be able to use this chain because the chain teeth have high visible durability.

The sharp chisel cutters assist by cutting every piece of wood with the utmost precision. The design ensures that there is a low kickback.

Oregon has a feature known as Lubri-Tec that helps in lubrication of the guide bar and therefore avoiding heating up or friction. As a result, this product lasts for a long time. It is strong and durable as it is made of OCS-01 steel.


  • Strong and durable as it is made of OCS-01 steel
  • Unique cutter design
  • Hard chromed cutter chain
  • Very little kickback when cutting
  • Comes with a lubri-tec that eases work


  • Not the best with heavy work

5. Husqvarna Chainsaw Chain 20" 0.050 Gauge

Husqvarna Chainsaw Chain 20" .050 Gauge 3/8 Pitch Low...
  • A low kickback, low-vibration chain Developed to meet the...
  • Great cutting performance and bore cut
  • Perfect for arborists and for users who use smaller-size...
  • Well suited for commercial cutters, arborists and occasional...

This Husqvarna chainsaw is designed with a 0.050inch gauge and a 3/8 inch pitch which is perfect to ensure longevity. This chainsaw chain does well with lightweight chainsaws used for commercial purposes. It also does not produce any vibrations while providing impressive performance.

Husqvarna is a low profile 20-inch chainsaw chain that works the best for a professional woodcutter who is looking to achieve the maximum performance from the chain.

It is an excellent choice for people who have large properties to maintain like commercial cutters or arborists. The design is to maximize your chainsaw productivity.

Husqvarna is versatile as it is compatible with 55 Ranchers, 257, 261, 262 XP, 359, 455 Ranchers, 460 and 460 Ranchers. In conclusion, it packs a 90-day warranty.


  • Good value for your money
  • Low vibration
  • Premium reliability
  • It perfectly fits with different ranchers
  • Works great for cutting hardwood trees
  • Great performance
  • Suitable for both homeowners and commercial woodworkers
  • Low vibration and kickback


  • Some users have questioned its compatibility

What to look for when buying a chainsaw chain as a beginner

1. Pitch

Pitch is the distance between the individual drive links on the chain or in other words the distance between the rivets. The larger the pitch, the more aggressive the cutting performance of the chain will be.

The most popular pitches are the 3/8 inch low profile cutters and the other common one is the 3/8 regular profile chain cutter.

In the case the pitch is not stated, you can determine it by carefully measuring from the center of the first rivet to the center of the third rivet in line, then divide the number into two. Other less popular pitches are 1/4 inch, 0.325 inches, and 0.40 inch

2. Drive links

This is the backbone of the chainsaw chain as it holds the entire chain together. For you to successfully replace your replacement chain of the same size, you must know the number of drive links on your current chain.

The majority of chainsaw chains have the number of drive links printed on the bar but if it's not printed you can detach the chain from the saw and count the number of links. Links are held in place on the chain with two rivets.

There are two types of drive links.

Oblong links- These are links that do not have blades

Cutter links - These are links with sharp blades

3. Gauge

The chainsaw chain gauge is the width of the drive links. There are four different gauge sizes which are in decimal form.

They include the 0.043 which is also referred to as narrow kerf chains, the 0.050, 0.058, and 0.063. The gauge is most of the time printed on the chainsaw but If it is not printed, measure the gauge with precision calipers.

For the downward-pointing tips of drive links to fit in the indention of the chainsaw bar, you must match the gauge to the saw.

4. Chain length

Chain lengths range from small models of 6inches to commercial saws of 24 inches that are for downing huge trees.

The best way to get the right chain length is to match the number of drive links but most chains are sold to match the chainsaw's guide bar length.

5. Lubrication

Lubrication ensures the chain lasts longer because it reduces friction and heat which is produced with the constant spinning of the chain and lubrication helps to reduce the chances.

Chainsaws these days have inbuilt lubrication that works by dripping drops of oil when the chain is doing its work and therefore better service from the chainsaw chain.

6. Chain arrangement

This is the configuration of drive links and cutters on the chain. There are three common types of arrangements and they include;

Full complement chain- This is the most popular type and it features a right side cutter, followed by a drive link then a left side cutter and the pattern is like this all around the chain.

When you buy a new chainsaw, this is the arrangement it comes with. A full complement chain is intended for general wood cutting purposes with low kickback risk.

Skip chain-This is where instead of one drive links separating the cutter like in the full complement chain, it is separated by two. It cuts faster because there are few cutter teeth and therefore little resistance when wood cutting.

This is used in saws that have longer bars of around 20-24inches where you need an aggressive cutting experience.

Semi skip chain- This semi skip offers the cutting experience in between the skip and the full complement chain.

The pattern of this chain is one right side cutter, a drive link then a left side cutter, followed by two drive links. This is the best for situations where you need aggressive cutting power but not as much power as offered by a skip chain.

7. Compatibility

Before you purchase a chainsaw chain for hardwood, make sure you check what brands it is compatible with to avoid any problems soon.

8. Tooth Type

When buying replacement chains, this is one of the most essential things to consider. There are three different types of tooth types when it comes to chainsaw chains.

The cutting methods depend on the type of teeth so it is an important feature to check on. They include:

Full Chisel chains- Full chisel cutters work at high cutting speeds and are the best for cutting hardwood or downing trees. Full chisel chains have a square shape and therefore easily handle any challenging cutting well. However, this full chisel chain is not the best chains for smooth cuts, dry woods, and are less durable than semi chisel cutters. The full chisel chain is the best because it cuts 30-50% faster than the semi chisel chain.

Semi chisel- Semi chisel chainsaw chain is the best for cutting dry or frozen woods with round blades and can be used both personally and professionally. Semi chisel chains cut all types of woods quite well with a slower cutting capability than a full chisel.

Low profile- Low profile is similar to semi chisel chains in the round shape and is ideal for people with little to no experience as the cutting speed is low but cut different kinds of woods. Their durability is lower than of the semi chisel chain and the full chisel.

Understanding Your chainsaw chain

Chainsaw numbers

The saw chain numbers usually stand for the gauge and pitch measurement. The numbers control the chainsaw chains as the pitch measures the length of straight rivulets on the chain while the gauge defines the size of the chain's bar hole.

The lifetime of a chainsaw

The best chainsaw chain lasts for over 5years with regular use but for occasional users, it can last for decades. The maintenance and use of chainsaw chains determine the lifetime of a chainsaw.

Number of times you can sharpen

The number of times you can sharpen your chainsaw depends on the amount of damage or wear your chain experiences and how much metal is removed every time you sharpen your chainsaw.

How to sharpen the chains

You will know your chainsaw is worn out if it has a difficulty in positioning, crooked cuts, missing or damaged teeth, and a lot of smoke even with enough lubrication and the right chain tension. The main ways you can sharpen your best chainsaw chain is through a file manually, use a grinder, or by taking it to a professional.

  • Using a file guide

This is a tool that has several inbuilt files designed to sharpen your cutter chains and guide bar with the right angle. To use it, every time you fuel up, give your chain two swipes. If the chain is still dull do extra swipes till it's sharp.

  • Using a grinder

The grinder is the best to get you smooth clean sharp cuts but this also reduces the lifetime of your chain. Before you sharpen with a grinder, you should have done approximately 40 fuel-ups using your chainsaw which is equivalent to 40 sharpenings using a file guide.

The grinder's main disadvantage is that it takes off more metal than a file guide and that is why the sharpenings are done after 40 fuel-ups.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the most aggressive chainsaw chain?

Stihl chainsaw chain is the most aggressive chain there is in the market as it is made from the hardest steel. Also, the edge holds better in comparison to other chainsaws. The other aggressive chain saw chain are Husqvarna 18 inch and 20 inch

2. Are Oregon chains better than Stihl?

No, Oregon is better than Stihl as it is easier to file than Stihl chainsaw but Stihl 26rs full chisel cutters are better than Oregon because the chrome is thicker they can hold their edge for a longer period and it does not stretch as much.

3. What’s the fastest cutting chainsaw chain?

According to our list, the Oregon brand has the fastest chainsaw chain in the market, and this is as a result of the unique cutter design and the bar length.

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
Related Articles

What Is a Fiber Laser? Everything You Need to Know

Fiber lasers are widely used today since they use optical fibers on active laser mediums to cut materials. These active ...

How Much Weight can Drywall Hold? All You Need to Know

How Much Weight can Drywall Hold? All You Need to Know

Picture frames, wall arts, and shelving units are just some of the many items you might want to hang on ...

Sheetrock vs. Drywall

Sheetrock vs. Drywall: What is the Main Difference?

Sheetrock and drywall are terms often used interchangeably to mean the same thing. So, when referring to a wall, which ...