Full Chisel vs Semi Chisel- What’s Their Difference?

You must be wondering about what’s the key differences between full chisel vs semi chisel, right? Well, after roaming around full chisel vs semi chisel forum or blogs, now you came to the right place.

There are three major types of chains – full chisel, semi-chisel, and low profile chains. But, the strongest war always runs between these two chisel chainsaw chains. 

The first difference between these two chains is in their tooth construction. As they’re manufactured for different applications, their tooth shape isn’t similar. They also come with different sharpening conveniences, cutting performance, and pricing. 

Both chainsaw chains have some negative aspects. For example, full chisel chainsaw chains have kickback issues whereas a semi-chisel has low cutting speed. If you’re ready to accept their limitations, both chains are adorable for individual purposes. 

What is a full chisel chainsaw chain?

A full chisel chainsaw chain is a type of chain that’s used for professional purposes. This type of chainsaw chain goes with the chainsaw of multiple models. The measurement of a full chisel chainsaw chain depends on its chain gauge, pitch, and the number of drive links.

This comes with square-cornered teeth to perform the rapid and accurate cutting. It can perform more aggressive cuts than semi-chisel chainsaw chains. Also, they ensure the highest efficient cutting.

What is a semi-chisel chainsaw chain?

Like full chisel chainsaw chains, semi chisels are nothing but another type of chainsaw chain. A semi-chisel chainsaw chain looks something like a round shape. Its round-cornered teeth come with a round grid edge. This chainsaw performs slowly but it’s renowned for holding its sharpness for a long time. It’s widely used by arborists, tree surgeons, and foresters. 

Is full chisel or semi chisel better -Comparison Chart

Here is a short comparison chart of full chisel vs semi-chisel. It’ll surely help you to understand their what’s better full chisel or semi chisel chain. 

Comparison TopicFull Chisel Semi Chisel
Teeth shapeSquare-cornered teethRounded corners teeth
Cutting performanceFast and aggressive cutSlow cutting performance
Ease of sharpeningDifficult to sharpComparatively easier
Kickback issueStrong kickback issueMild kickback issue
CostSlightly expensiveCost-effective
Dirt sensitivityHighly dirt sensitiveEasily deal with the dirty woods
ImplementsCross-cutting green timber such as live pine or ash trees.Limited cross-cutting, ripping,  and bucking

What’s better full chisel or semi chisel chain – Head-to-head comparison

Full Chisel vs Semi Chisel

The full chisel and semi-chisel chainsaw chains exist in the two poles of the chain’s world. They have a lot to compare and here you know about some of them. 

Cutting speed – full chisel wins here

Full chisel chainsaws show faster-cutting speed than semi-chisel chainsaws. It’s because they avoid re-cutting wood pieces. For this reason, they show efficient performance and become the fastest cutting chainsaw chain. 

Generally, saw chains run in the range of 20 to 25 m × s-1 speed. A full chisel or a chisel skip chain works with aggressive cutting if you use the right setup. The chainsaw bars that are 24″ or less are good with full chisel chainsaw chains. Due to slightly round edges, semi-chisel chains can’t show the ultimate cutting speed. 

Sharpness– Semi-chisel wins

One of the most mentionable differences between semi-chisel and full chisel chains is their sharpness. The full chisel chainsaw chain comes with sharp corner teeth. Due to its faster response than the semi-chisel, it does not retain its edge for a long time. The chain of a full chisel gets blunt quickly. That’s why it is also difficult to sharpen. 

Also, the full chisel chainsaw shows aggressiveness when cutting wood pieces. It needs to put extra effort as well as pressure. As a result, it loses its sharpness faster than the semi-chisel. It’s a major drawback of the full chisel chains as it requires sharpening regularly to get the desired effect. Here is why, the full chisel chain sharpening activities will give you a bit of hard time

Kickback – Semi chisel wins here

Kickback is a common issue for a chainsaw chain. It occurs when a dull or weak chain can’t ensure its access through the woods. Therefore, the user needs to put extra effort, and then it causes a sudden force of recoil. The aggressive cutting strategy also works as the prime factor for kickback. Hence, the full chisel shows more kickback issues than the semi-chisel chain. 

Another reason is semi-chisel tolerance to dirty woods. The full chisel can’t properly cut through dirty or softwood. All semi-chisel chains are free from this risk because they’re not like the aggressive chainsaw chain. As the full chisel chains don’t abide by the ANSI B175.1 kickback standard, it’s unsafe for new users. 

Why should you pick a full chisel?

Full Chisel vs Semi Chisel

A full chisel chainsaw is good for its specific purpose. Here are some facts that can convince you to choose a full chisel chainsaw chain. 

Fast performance

Full chisel chains are capable of rotating with the highest speed. No chains can beat its speed and show similar performance. Most importantly, its performance drop is negligible until it’s out of sharpness. 

Convenient teeth shape

The square-cornered teeth shape allows this chain to perform dedicated cuts. Cross-cutting green timbers become much easier due to the convenient tooth shape. 

Dedicated implements

Full chisel chains are widely used to cut large pieces of wood. Its aggressive cutting strategy allows cutting hardwood such as oak. Also, green timbers like pine and ash trees are also good with it. 

Appreciable initial sharpness

Full chisel chains are heavily loaded which makes them selectable for fast wear and dulling. But, its initial sharpness is much more reliable than other chains. That’s why you should accept its fast wear and dulling problem. 

Reduces user fatigue

This chainsaw chain is slightly heavy. But, the user needs to hold it only for a few minutes. It’s because this chainsaw chain can finish its duty before the user becomes exhausted. 


No ripping cut advantage

Despite having top speed and efficiency, it’s not suitable for ripping cuts. Only semi-chisel chains are good for this work. 

Hard to sharpen

The teeth construction of a full chisel chainsaw chain isn’t expedient for sharpening. If it would be round-shaped, then sharpening it would be just a matter of time. 

Why should you pick a semi-chisel? 

Let’s know about both pros and cons before picking a semi-chisel. 

Low kickback issue

A semi-chisel chain shows the minimum kickback issue. That’s why the perfection of work is ensured by this chain more widely. 

Hold sharpness for a long time

Sharpening the chain, again and again, is big trouble. To reduce user hassle, this chainsaw chain’s shape allows it to hold the sharpness very long. 

Easily handle dirty woods

Dirt sensitivity is an ignorable topic for a semi-chisel chainsaw chain. That’s why it’s the right choice for limbing and bucking. 

Ripping cut advantage

Ripping cut is a special type of cut which is different from dedicated cross-cutting. A semi-chisel chain can perform this cut more effectively than other chains. 


Semi chisel chains are cost-effective. They cost a little less money than a full chisel chainsaw chain. 


Slow cutting speed

It can’t reach the speed level of a full chisel chainsaw chain. 

Not suitable for fast cross-cutting

The teeth of this chainsaw chain aren’t square-shaped. That’s why limited cross-cutting is possible with this chain. 


So, is full chisel or semi chisel better? Well, the full chisel vs semi-chisel war is a never-ending war. You can’t replace one chainsaw chain with another. A semi-chisel chainsaw chain can efficiently finish your homework activities. Similarly, a full chisel chainsaw chain is good for professional applications. 

Reaching the endpoint, you must have understood both pros and cons of the two discussing chains. So, it’s time to decide what’s the purpose of getting a chainsaw chain. 

If your budget is the prime issue, then go for a semi-chisel chainsaw chain. In case you’re looking for incredible cutting speed, a full chisel is the best pick. Someone may also look for low-maintenance chains. We recommend them to go for the semi-chisel chains. 

4.5/5 - (2 votes)

Johnathan Brewer

Hello, I’m Johnathan Brewer, a professional woodworker and power tools salesperson. I’ve worked with top interior designers and architects of the city. With an experience of 11 years in this field, I can suggest the best tips for bigger DIYers. I help my friends and neighbors with their tools. I specialize in restoring, repairing, designing, and decorating. There are even some great woodworking tactics that I’d love to share with you. With that information and suggestions, you can do really good professional work in a very short time.

Recent Posts