How a STIHL saw chain functions

Only those who understand how a chainsaw works can make the best use of it. In this article, you will learn about the construction of STIHL saw chains and how they function.

Construction of a STIHL saw chain

STIHL saw chains are so called three-link chains and always assembled in the same basic pattern. They consist of three elements: the drive links, the tie straps and the left- and right-hand cutting teeth. Particularly, low kickback saw chains have a humped drive link and they are identified by the number 3 in their designation (e.g. PMM3 or RS 3). You will find an overview of all STIHL saw chains on our website.

Detailed view of a STIHL saw chain

Detailed view of a STIHL saw chain

The drive links ensure that the power from the sprocket is transferred to the chain. The tie straps connect the drive links with the cutting tooth. The single saw chain models differ in the dimensions of the individual links and the shape of the cutting teeth.

The cutting teeth are constructed as followed: They consist of the basic tooth body, the depth gauge and the top plate with side-plate cutting edge and top-plate cutting edge.

Construction of a saw chain cutting tooth

Construction of a saw chain cutting tooth

Side-plate and top-plate cutting edges are at a given angle in relation to one another which is critical for optimum cutting performance. STIHL saw chains are sharpened standardly to an angle of 30° − parallel to the service mark of the cutting angle.

The proper cutting angle is 30°

The proper cutting angle is 30°

The functionality of a STIHL saw chain

The saw chain’s cutting teeth work according to the chipper tooth principle by planning off strands from the wood. Thereby the top-plate cutting edge planes the strand off while the side-plate cutting edge split off the strand sidewards.

STIHL saw chain cutting tooth and depth gauge

The cutting tooth planes off the wood. The depth gauge setting determines how deep it enters.

The penetration depth and consequently the strands thickness is determined by the depth gauge setting. The depth gauge setting is the gap between the top of the depth gauge and the leading edge of the top plate.

The depth gauge setting

The depth gauge setting

To ensure that the chain runs evenly and smoothly and delivers an optimum cutting performance, all cutting teeth must be the same length.

In our article “5 signs of a dull saw chain”, you can learn how to recognise that your chain needs to be resharpened.

All mentioned STIHL products are available at your local STIHL dealer.

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