March 7, 2021

Replacing A Chainsaw Chain: When Is The Right Time?

Replacing A Chainsaw Blade

Chainsaws can be finicky pieces of equipment. If you think about it, this makes some sense. After all, its job revolves around spinning a barbed chain at a high enough velocity to rip and shred apart wood. Between gas, oil, tension, and general wear and tear, your chainsaw is bound to need a fair amount of TLC. Of special importance, in this regard, is the business end of your chainsaw, the chain. It can dull out pretty quickly, and a dull chain is an ineffective and dangerous chain. So, most Pros will sharpen their chains pretty regularly. But, when is it time to give up on sharpening and start thinking about replacing a chainsaw chain?

Replacing A Chainsaw Chain: When Is It Time?

Check For Signs Of A Dull Blade

Replacing A Chainsaw Blade First things first, how dull is your chain? Look for these signs:

  • Does your chain pull itself into the wood, or do you need to force it? A dull chain will won’t eat into what you need to cut as well, which will force you into applying pressure. This can cause undue stress on the engine and bar, as well as further dulling out your chain.
  • Does the chain rattle around or bounce when cutting? Not only does this affect accuracy, but it signals that it might be time for either sharpening or replacing your chainsaw chain.
  • If you happen to see smoke when cutting, despite the fact that you know your oiler is working and your tension is correct, you probably have some sharpness issues.
  • When cutting, if your chainsaw runs in one direction, you might need to think about replacing your chainsaw blade. This is an indication that your cutting teeth have dulled on one side of the chain, or that the cutting teeth lengths are uneven.
  • Check the sawdust. If you’re making cross or split cuts, and the chain creates a fine dust rather than coarse strands, you probably have a dulled-out chain.

Now, if you’ve recently sharpened your chain, and you still notice some or all of these symptoms, you’ve pretty much reached the end of this particular chain’s usefulness. At this point, replacing the chainsaw chain altogether seems like the wisest course of action.Replacing A Chainsaw Blade

Check For Missing Teeth

Another sign that replacing a chainsaw chain makes sense, as opposed to just running a file around it, is when you notice broken, damaged, off-center, or missing teeth on the chain. Admittedly, this bit of common sense should probably go without saying. But, you’d be surprised at how many folks will compromise their safety to just get the job done quickly.  If your chain exhibits any of these signs, go ahead and spring for a new chain. They generally aren’t crazy expensive, and your chainsaw will cut much more effectively.Replacing A Chainsaw Blade

Speaking of the relatively low cost of chainsaw chains, some folks even skip out on sharpening altogether, opting instead for replacing a chainsaw chain as it gets dull. While it’s probably true that a chain never really cuts as quite well as it does when it’s brand new, we still recommend picking up a file and learning how to sharpen a chain. For one thing, you could potentially save yourself a trip to the store when you’re in the middle of a long job. But also, dumping perfectly usable chainsaw chains into the landfill seems like poor stewardship of the earth.

At any rate, if you have any tips for recognizing when it’s time for replacing a chainsaw chain, leave us a comment in the section below!




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Doug Bedell

When the other one is wore out!

Jay Yoo

Thanks for the tips. I have an ego multi blade 10″ chainsaw. There is the accessory for the replacement chain and also the blade. How do i know when to change the blade? Or should i just change it when I need to change the chain at the same time? Also, what is the average time that you should be sharpening your chain. I realize that everyone is different, so a very loose estimate is fine for my purpose (ie. after every use? after 1 hour? after 10 hours? after 100 hours?). The replacement chain is not that expensive, so… Read more »

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