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Chisel chain / box store chain Diff??

Post in 'The Gear' started by Sean McGillicuddy, Nov 15, 2012.

  1. Sean McGillicuddy

    Sean McGillicuddy Burning Hunk

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    O.K. I've been seeing reference to this Chisel chain all over this site.What is the diff from say a Oregon/ Husk/ Stile you buy in the big box stores??
    Is it worth it??o_O

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  2. Thistle

    Thistle Minister of Fire

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    The most common chains seen in big box stores are the 'safety' chain with folded over depth gauges.Much less risk of kickback for the less-experienced operator.Though it still can occur with improper & careless saw operation. Oregon Vanguard is a well known model.

    IMO the 'full chisel' pro chains are absolutely worth the difference,both in speed of cut & quality of chain.Heavier duty chassis & parts compared to consumer chains.Some stores charge the same price for a consumer chain as others do for a pro chain.


    Never seen any pro chains at local big box stores,but last I checked a few months ago Northern Tool still has a couple models of Oregon pro chains mixed in with the consumer ones on their display rack. My preferred chain is the LGX72 - 0.50 gauge very aggressive & fast cutting,yet smooth,its a decent price too.Same as local saw shops,around $25 for a 20 inch loop.With coupon that can sometimes be knocked down to $20.That's similar in price to several mail order & internet outlets & I dont have to wait a week for it to arrive.
    http://www.oregonproducts.com/pro/products/chain/72_73_75LGX-JGXSuperGuard.htm
    ScotO and Boog like this.
  3. TreePointer

    TreePointer Minister of Fire

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    Chisel refers to the shape of the tooth. There are many tooth shapes, but to keep it simple, there are two main shapes that the average homeowner/firewooder encounters--chisel (sometimes called "full chisel") and semi-chisel.

    Low kickback chain (sometimes called "safety chain") is what often is found on big box store saws and other non-professional saws. It has nothing to do with the shape of the tooth (there are both chisel and semi-chisel low kickback chains). It has to do with the shape of the drive links and often (but not always) the presence of extra depth gauge links (guard links).

    Semi-chisel chain is slower through the cut than chisel chain, but is less "grabby." Less grabby means easier for a novice to control, and that is why you often see it on homeowner saws and as replacement chains in big box stoes.
    Nixon likes this.
  4. shmodaddy

    shmodaddy Burning Hunk

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    I think the semi chisel chain dulls slower also.

    Sent from my rooted and eclipse running X2--thanks nitro-- if im posting on here I'm probably supposed to be working! I can't help im addicted to HEARTH.COM!
    ScotO likes this.
  5. Thistle

    Thistle Minister of Fire

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    Especially when working dirty wood,salvage operations,fence posts,telephone poles etc.Semi chisel dont cut quite as fast but holds an edge longer in those conditions.I have 3-4 old semi chisel chains on wall of shed for yardbirds,old stumps or working around fences.No sense ruining a new or freshly sharpened chain on that junk.
    Nixon and ScotO like this.
  6. Nixon

    Nixon Minister of Fire

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    I pretty much run semi chisel all the time . As was stated, it holds up better in dirty wood . Basically most of the wood I get has been skidded , so it is pretty dirty . It's probably my imagination , but it seems to be a bit easier to sharpen as well .
  7. charly

    charly Guest

    I've noticed over the 38 years I've been cutting that the Stihl chains definitely hold an edge over the Oregon chain. Hit some dirt under the bark the bugs have placed there and the Stihl chain doesn't whimper. Edge is "Stihl" there.
    Nixon likes this.
  8. Nixon

    Nixon Minister of Fire

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    Good point ,Charly . I'm really liking the way that My RM chain is holding up . It seems far and away better than the WP and Oregon semi chisel that I had been using .
  9. MasterMech

    MasterMech Guest

    Important to point out that Chisel/Semi-chisel refers to the shape of the cutter and not the anti-kickback properties of the chain. Semi Chisel is not necessarily "safety" chain and there are full-chisel "safety" chains. Note from here on out I will refer to "safety" chain as "green label" chain.

    Green label chain has one or more of the following to reduce kickback tendencies:
    One example given for each feature.

    A.) Folded over raker/depth gauge (Oregon Vangaurd)
    B.) Single-humped drive links (Stihl RSC3)
    C.) Raised tie-straps (Stihl RM2)

    Obviously, green label chain dominates the box-store shelves. The single humped drive link varieties are not bad at all and if the nose of the bar is not buried in the wood, they cut comparable to a "pro" chain. That said, if I'm plunking down cash for a chain, it's yellow label 99.9% of the time. ;) Thistle is right in that most shops do not charge a premium for yellow-label chain (usually the cost is less to them, chain is simpler and has fewer parts) so no cost disadvantage there.

    The yellow label chain you hear us all yak about on here is sold through most power equipment dealers and saw shops. There are both full and semi-chisel varieties, sometimes they are called "chisel" and "chipper" chains. We talk the most about full chisel chain here as it is the fastest cutting. It also will require more frequent sharpening than semi-chisel and is very intolerant of dirt/rocks/metal. That's because full-chisel has a very sharp leading point on the cutter and the cutting efficiency of the chain is very dependent on those points. Semi on the other hand, has a rounded cutter with a long, knife-like edge that not only holds it's edge longer, but small imperfections do not drastically slow the cutting action down like they do with full-chisel.

    Of course we could talk at you for pages about chain, lots to discuss, carbide, square ground, skip chain, ripping chain, oh yes it gets fun.... ==c
  10. bogydave

    bogydave Minister of Fire

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    Sean
    Go buy a full chisel RS from a Stihl dealer. Or a LPX from an Oregon dealer.
    Here around $20 for a 20" - 72 DL
    Can find them at saw shop & some equipment stores.
    Try one.
    I remember when I did.
    Big improvement in cutting. Have some safety chains, but haven't been on the
    Saw since i put on my first 72LPX72, 20" Oregon, I became a believer

    The one thing that surprised me was they were cheaper than the box stores ;)
    Heard or read somewhere that Husq chains ae made by Oregon. Not sure but Oregon is cheaper.

    Am trying a Stihl RS, next is the Oregon LGX & see how it holds up.
    Almost got it worn out, Roughly 12 cords with it. Not always clean wood.
    Like MMech said, touch it up with a file to kep it sharp, keep it out of dirt.
    You'll be impressed with how much faster they cut compared to the Box store chains

    Are they woth it? No doubt IMO. Might even be cheaper

    You like good tools, put a professional Stihl RS or an Oregon LPX chain on that 350
    You'll smile after your first cut ;)
  11. MasterMech

    MasterMech Guest

    Confirmed truth.
  12. amateur cutter

    amateur cutter Minister of Fire

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    Stihl RS here, best chain I've found locally available. Keep a couple green label chains for stumping, but otherwise consider them useless. Keep a couple semi chisel chains in the box for dirty wood, or working where we're skidding. A C

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