Best Chainsaw Chains for Hardwood – 2020 Review

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​Chainsaws should make cutting a breeze. But only if you have the right tool and chain! While one can handle softwood with just about any chain, the story is different with hardwood.

So, for the latter, you should do a little research. Let us walk you through the nitty-gritty of chainsaw chains for cutting hardwood.

Comparison Chart of the ​Best Chainsaw Chains for Hardwood

Product

Our Rating

​Price

Oregon S62 AdvanceCut

Best Overall

8Ten 52DL Chainsaw Chain

Runner-up

Sungator SG-S62

Best for the Money

Husqvarna 18" Chain

Honorable Mention

Oregon L68 ControlCut

Editor's Pick

What Makes a Chainsaw Chain Great for Hardwood? 

When the chain hits rough wood, it can stretch or compress unexpectedly and snap. To handle this job better, it would have to be a strong and reliable chain. To cut aggressively, with low vibrations, for your comfort, and with maximum safety. 

Yet aggressive chains have a higher kickback. So, you might want to compromise between aggressiveness and safe operation. From this perspective, choose the tooth style wisely, without ignoring the following aspects either: 

Tooth Style 

Full chisel chains are the best for cutting hardwood. Their round grind profile requires a bit more maintenance, though professional woodworkers would choose it anytime. That’s because it cuts with high speed and accuracy. Plus, it can cut deeply on the toughest wood. 

Material 

The best option is a chain with chrome-plated cutters. This design detail makes the drive links sturdier. Consequently, the chain will maintain its sharpness for longer. It won’t turn dull after a few uses. And it is less likely it will break its teeth that easily. 

Strength 

Hardened rivets make a chain solid because their load-bearing surface is sturdier. It’s less likely it will deteriorate or rust. What’s more, the chain won’t require frequent tension adjustments, as regular chains do.

What Should I Look For When Buying a Chainsaw Chain? 

First, make sure that the chain will fit the chainsaw you’ll use. Then, it should boast a couple of dedicated features to make your work easier. Think of what you’ll use it for, and check if it has the right design for the job. And don’t forget about safety, either!

Chainsaw Compatibility

The chain must always fit the chainsaw! Check the user manual or what’s stamped on the chainsaw bar. The pitch, the gauge, and the number of drive links must be identical. If it’s not an OEM chain, contact the manufacturer for the confirmation that it will fit your specific chainsaw.

Versatility

Look at the product details. Is it an OEM part designed for just one chainsaw brand? Is there any compatibility with other chainsaws? Can you swap it from one chainsaw to another? Usually, the chains with low-profile cutters are more likely to fit more than one chainsaw.

Safety

While most chains for hardwood come with a low vibration design, the kickback isn’t that low. In fact, full chisel chains have a higher kickback, compared to semi-chisel models. Therefore, the compromise here would be to go for the latter, as it is much safer.

Quick Take: Best ​Chainsaw Chains for Hardwood

Hoping to cut right to the chase? Below are the best ​chainsaw chains for hardwood:

  1. Oregon S62 AdvanceCut
  2. 8Ten 52DL Chainsaw Chain
  3. Sungator SG-S62

Review of the Best Chainsaw Chains for Hardwood 

Talk won’t do the work. You’ve been through some of the most important general aspects. So now, let’s take a close look at some of the best chains for cutting hardwood. Time to match theory with practice, and see what you can get from the market!

​Best Overall:
​Oregon S62 AdvanceCut

PROS

  • Engineered for safety operation
  • Sturdy, with chrome-plated cutters, heat-treated
  • Facilitates precision cutting with minimum kickback
  • ​Boasts a unique tooth style for smooth and fast cutting
  • Relies on advanced technology, to keep its cutters sharp
  • Solid chain, designed with quality, for reliable performance

CONS

  • Not all saw brands ​work with this this chain
  • Won’t work well once it catches dirt on the drive links

Our Review

This is an AdvanceCut chainsaw chain from Oregon. It features a semi-chisel, low profile. And measures 5 x 10 x 1 inches at 5.6 ounces. It has a 3/8-inch pitch, .050-inch gauge, with 62 drive links. And will work on 18-inch blades manufactured by Craftsman, Poulan, or Homelite. As expected, it meets the low-kickback ANSI performance requirements.

Oregon invested some of its best technologies in building this chain. You have the LubriTec oiling system and the low vibration design. The rivets are hardened, for extra resistance, and the cutters are chrome-plated. All these indicate it will easily cut through just about any type of hardwood. 

What Makes This Product Stand Out?

Coming from a manufacturer with over 70 years of tradition on the market, it sure catches the eye. The AdvanceCut is a truly outstanding, dependable, and advanced technology implemented by Oregon. So, you can be sure it will rise to the level of expectations. And it will last for quite a while!

​Runner-up:
​8Ten 52DL Chainsaw Chain

PROS

  • Features the low semi-chisel cutting profile
  • Affordable and with great value for the money
  • Works well even on rough weather conditions
  • Well-made and very sharp straight out of the box
  • Built with extra safety elements in between the teeth
  • ​Excellent alternative to the reputable brands on the market

CONS

  • Not an OEM part
  • May require sharpening more frequently

Our Review

This manufacturer aims to meet, if not exceed, the quality of original parts. And this low profile, semi-chisel design is on the market to prove just that. It weighs 14.1 ounces and measures 6 x 1.8 x 9.2 inches. And will fit 14-inch bars with 52 DL, .050-inch gauge, 3/8-inch pitch, from a wide range of manufacturers.

Given its tooth style, it makes one of the safest options for cutting dry, hard, or even frozen wood. It won’t match the speed of a full chisel, but it certainly has a low kickback. And it comes with the benefit of not deteriorating as quickly either.

What Makes This Product Stand Out?

This model is supposed to work with Carlton, Homelite, Windsor, Oregon, Echo, Husqvarna, Poulan, Sears, and a few other bars. It comes from a manufacturer with a sharp focus on producing high-quality parts. And buyers swear by its great price, packaging, and delivery. Hard to overlook it, without a doubt!

​Best for the Money:
​Sungator SG-S62

PROS

  • Covered in anti-rust oil
  • Meets the ANSI standards and comes with UL approval
  • Features cutters coated in industrial-hard, premium chrome
  • Reliable and safe to use, with semi-chisel, low kickback profile
  • Made of solid German steel, a high-toughness, anti-fracture material
  • ​Benefits from reinforced drive links with quenched, heat-treated rivets

CONS

  • Can get dull somewhat fast
  • May not fit all chainsaws as advertised

Our Review

This 3-pack Sungator chainsaw chain is giving you, by far, the best value for the money. It is sized to fit 18-inch bars at 3/8-inch pitch, .050-inch gauge, and 62 DL. The tooth style is semi-chisel, but there’s a lot more to it than the type of cutters.

The chain promises compatibility with a generous range of bars from different manufacturers. And it features a low vibration design supposed to cut off vibrations with at least 20%. Needless to say, it is cut to fit the hard wood with ease.

What Makes This Product Stand Out?

Made of premium German steel, it benefits from premium surface treatment. It is coated with a special oil that should prevent rust. And its rivets are treated at high heat, so they’re quenched and hardened, hence considerably sturdier. For this money, such features are hard to find and just as hard to beat.

​Honorable Mention:
​Husqvarna 18" Chain

PROS

  • Great for commercial cutters
  • Fairly easy to install and tighten
  • Low vibration and low kickback for extra safety
  • Designed to work well with numerous lightweight tools
  • Bore cut and excellent cutting performance on hardwood
  • ​Durable choice that supports power cutting on smaller chainsaws

CONS

  • A bit on the pricey side
  • Package somewhat tricky to open

Our Review

With many people going for Husqvarna chainsaws, this OEM chain is definitely worth being taken into account. Ideally, you should pair it with 18-inch bars at .050-inch gauge, .325-inch pitch. That’s what it is intended for, and it weighs 10.6 ounces at 18 x 0.2 x 0.5 inches.

The H30 model was specifically designed to suit high-production environments without requiring the heaviest chainsaws. In other words, it matches medium-sized bars. And works with lightweight, medium-sized chainsaws that can still do the heavy work. With low-vibration and low kickback, it makes operation a breeze, even when dealing with the toughest wood.

What Makes This Product Stand Out?

Apart from carrying a popular label, it stands out for the great balance of durability and value for the money. A nice addition is that you can easily install it. And thanks to the narrow kerf pixel chain model, it swiftly cuts through hardwood.

​Editor’s Pick:
​Oregon L68 ControlCut

PROS

  • Made of exclusive OCS-01 steel
  • Effective oiling with LubriTec reservoirs
  • Easy to sharpen with top-plate filing indicators
  • Corrosion-resistant, thanks to the blued cutters
  • Safe to operate, meeting all ANSI kickback performance requirements
  • ​Extra sturdy thanks to the hardened rivets and chrome-plated cutters

CONS

  • May not fit all the listed blades
  • A bit slower & less aggressive, due to the control cut design

Our Review

Yet another great chain from Oregon, this time it features the ControlCut technology. It weighs 11.2 ounces and measures 1 x 5 x 6.6 inches. It meets the low-kickback ANSI requirements. And fits 18-inch blades at .325-inch pitch, .063-inchy gauge, with 68DL. Otherwise said, can work with Stihl saws sized between 38 and 62CC.

Just like the AdvanceCut chains from Oregon, this one, too, features hardened rivets, chrome-plated cutters, and a low-vibration design. The LubriTec reservoirs keep the oil where it is most needed on the chain. And it ensures good maintenance and cutting performances.

What Makes This Product Stand Out?

This Oregon chain for cutting hardwood is specifically designed for Stihl chainsaws. Due to the ControlCut technology, it will cut slower, but also smoother. And it has the advantage that it is somewhat easier to maintain, at least compared to Oregon’s AdvanceCut chains.

Types of Chainsaw Chains Great for Hardwood 

On the same chainsaw, you can use different types of chains. Depending on their design, particularly the shape and the distance between cutters, you’ll work easier or harder. With hardwood, specifically, look for one of the following types:

Semi-Chisel Chains

A semi-chisel chain has rounded-corner teeth and runs at moderate speed. Reliable and durable, it can tackle several types of wood, frozen or dry. It won’t cut hardwood like a hot knife through butter, but it will cut with lower kickback and smoother. It’s the ideal choice if you don’t have much experience working with a chainsaw.

Full Chisel Chains

A full chisel chain has square-corner teeth and runs at high speed. Not as durable as a semi-chisel, it can tackle all types of wood, especially hardwood. Still, it comes with a high kickback and a not-so-smooth cut. If you have some experience and already rely on a chainsaw with lots of safety features, consider it!

Full Skip Chains

The distance between teeth categorizes this type of chain. A full skip chain has fewer teeth, which makes it extremely effective with cutting wood. Plus, it does so at high speed, meaning it excels in power but not really in smoothness.

What Do I Need To Know Before Buying? 

You’d think that choosing a chain that fits your chainsaw and the job is everything you’d have to consider. But there’s more you need to know!

The Chain Must Fit The Chainsaw Bar & Drive Sprocket

Check the chainsaw’s user manual. Or look at the manufacturer’s official website for a list of compatible parts. You must find out exactly what length (number or drive links), pitch, and gauge the chain needs to have. If it fits the bar, it will also fit the drive sprocket.

Great Usability Is Very Important With Cutting Hardwood

A chain with high usability won’t get dull too fast. And won’t lose much of its teeth when sharpening it, either. From this perspective, chrome is an excellent material. Chrome-plated rivets make the chain more robust, more resistant to wear.

Reliable Brands Stand Out But Aren’t Your Only Option

In theory, if you have a chainsaw with an Oregon bar, using Oregon chains is a more reliable call. Still, some manufacturers are coming close from behind. 8TEN Parts, for instance, manufactures such compatible replacement parts that are highly competitive. So, OEM parts aren’t necessarily the only option to go with.

Conclusion 

Hardwood is not easy to cut, as expected. And when you’re looking for the best chainsaw chains for cutting hardwood, there’s more than how fast it cuts. As we’ve seen, the full-chisel models are the most effective. But you’d also have to ask yourself if you have what it takes to operate safely.

So, there will be instances when you might want to go with a safer chain profile, just to benefit from extra protection. When you know your priorities, you can make a better-informed choice. That choice would come down to full or semi-chisel!

People Also Ask

The more you research on the subject, the more questions may pop up. Below are a few of the extra details you might haven’t thought of, until now:

What Do The Numbers On A Chainsaw Chain Mean?

The bar should display the number of drive links, size, and thickness. The first is usually a two-digit number, sometimes followed by the “DL” symbol. The thickness, or gauge, can be .063, .058, .050, or .043 inches. The size, or pitch, can be ¼, 3/8, .325, or .404 inches.

When To Replace Chainsaw Chain?

A chain is functional if all teeth look the same, and it sits tight on the bar. When some cutters are worn more than others, even broken, you might have to replace the chain. The same if it starts to keep getting loose, and you must frequently tension it.

Which Way Does a Chain Go on a Chainsaw?

You can tell that the chain is correctly attached to the bar if it moves clockwise. There is a chance that you put it the other way. It will still move, though, if you see it going counter-clockwise, it’s a clear indicator that you’ve set it the wrong way.

How To Clean A Chainsaw Chain

You can make a mixture of water and household ammonia to give the chain a good soak. Or you can buy special, pre-made chain cleaning solutions. Always soak the chain thoroughly, remove all dirt, let it dry, and make sure it gets adequately lubricated before you use it next.

How Tight Should The Chain Be On A Chainsaw?

This adjustment takes practice to master. Experienced chainsaw operators can quickly feel by hand when the chain is optimally tensioned. Are you not sure how that is supposed to feel? Make sure that the chain is as tight that you cannot pull its drive links out of the blade nose.