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Full Chisel vs Semi-Chisel Chain – Whats the difference?

It’s important to understand the difference between a semi-chisel chain and a full chisel chain before buying. Of course, both chains have their own pro’s and con’s. But what exactly is the difference and does one perform better than the other? We have listed some main points below to help you understand.

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Semi-Chisel Chain

A semi-chisel chain has round cornered teeth with a round grid edge which makes it easy to file. Although this type of chainsaw chain cuts slower than a full chisel chain, a semi-chain will stay sharper longer even in rough sawing conditions.  In most cases, this is the preferred chain for cutting soft wood, dirtier wood, dry wood and frozen wood. Below is a list of some of the pros and cons.


  • Preferred choice for dirtier wood
  • Retains sharpness longer
  • Lower kickback risk
  • Less aggressive
  • Easy to sharpen


  • Cuts Slower

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Full Chisel Chain

A full chisel chain is designed for fast cutting action. In comparison to the semi chisel chain, this chain has square cornered teeth which makes it more aggressive when cutting. Although this is a popular chain, it also important to bear in mind that the full chisel chain is more sensitive to dirt and has a high kickback risk due to missing safety chain elements. Additional pros and cons are listed below.


  • Cuts faster
  • More aggressive
  • Sharp point edges


  • Dulls quicker
  • Harder to sharpen
  • High kick-back risk
  • More sensitive to dirt

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Semi & Full Chisel Chains
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Full Chisel  vs Semi-Chisel Chain – Things Worth Knowing

Full and semi-chisel chains both offer different cutting actions. While one is designed to tear through the wood in a very short space of time, the other cuts slower but maintains sharpness for longer. it’s just as important to carry out research and understand the different the types of wood and working conditions before purchase.

If you are looking to get the job done quick then a full chisel chain is the answer, however, you need to bear in mind regular sharpening is required as they get dull very quickly. On the other hand, a semi-chisel wears better meaning you don’t have to sharpen it as often.

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