Ripping Chain vs Crosscut Chain (The 360 Guidelines)

Whether you’re an amateur or professional arborist, a chainsaw is a significant tool for you. Not only the chainsaw, but the choice of chain in that is also very important as well. It dictates the speed and quality of your work.

The two most common chains on a chainsaw are ripping chains and crosscut chains. They are quite different in their usage and work type.

So, which one should you pick between ripping chain vs crosscut chain?

It actually comes down to the type of work. For a smooth finish, a ripping chain is a perfect choice. But it is less speedy in nature. Meanwhile, a crosscut chain is very fast with less attention to a smooth finish. In terms of durability, the ripping chain is superior to the crosscut chain as well.

Overview of Ripping Chain and Crosscut Chain

Best for a smooth and high-quality finish, the ripping chain is primarily a semi-chisel chainsaw chain. This chain is ideal for milling.

It works very well with shallow angles (around 10°). It is relatively less power-hungry as well.

The drawback of a ripping chain includes it being slow. To provide a smoother finish, it slowly works the surface which takes a hit in terms of productivity.

But for a high-quality finish, a ripping chain is best in business hands down.

On the other hand, the crosscut chain is a quickie. It can cut logs and wood veins at a much faster pace. But it is not designed for a smooth finish. It can work with very steep and harsh angles without any issues.

This chain comes with its own setbacks as well. For instance, it’s not that durable. Its ability to take care of different types of wood makes it more prone to breaking.

Crosscut chains can be found in two teeth configurations, round teeth, and square teeth.

If you are looking to buy good quality crosscut chains, we got you covered too. You can check our recommended chains from this list and pick whichever suits you:

Product Name Unique Feature 1 Unique Feature 2 Husqvarna 531300441 H-80 Chainsaw Chain Low-kickback, low-vibration chain suited for the lightweight chainsaw. Perfect for smaller-size chainsaws in a high-production environment. Oregon V81 PowerCut Chainsaw Chain Full chisel cutters for quicker and more precision cuts. Built-in Lubri-Tec, an automatic oiling system.

Ripping Chain vs Crosscut Chain: Key Differences

Comparison Factor Ripping Chain Crosscut Chain Working Angle Shallow Steep and harsh. Configuration Semi chisel Full or semi-chisel. Speed of Work Slow Fast. Surface Finish Smooth Rough. Durability High Low.

Ripping Chain vs Crosscut Chain: Detailed Comparison

Here we present a comprehensive comparison between the ripping chain and the crosscut chain.

Usage and Versatility

The use case scenarios for both chains are very different. As mentioned earlier, a ripping chain is your best option if you are looking for a smooth finish. But it would require a bit of time and steady hands.

But for quicker cutting, you must go for a crosscut chain. It is the more versatile option between the two chains as well.

A crosscut chain can handle steeper and harsher cutting angles comparatively. A ripping chain can handle as low as around a 10-degree angle.

Due to being more powerful and fast, a crosscut chain can breeze through various types of tough woods. Whereas, ripping chains can be deemed good for milling as it is slow and precise.

So, there’s no clear winner in this category, both the chains offer different functionality and the choice depends on what you are planning to do with the chain.


The longevity of a chainsaw chain highly depends on the task performed. Harder and tougher work makes the chain more prone to breaking.

It also depends on the maintenance level. You can expect a good chain to last easily up to 2-3 years if you take good care of it. Yet the measurements of durability differ for ripping and crosscut chains.

But don’t buy a chain that won’t fit the chainsaw in the name of durability.

The ripping chain is the clear winner when it comes to durability. The drives of a ripping chain are designed in a certain way to be less susceptible to physical damage. Also, the workload is less for these types of chains.

But it’s not like crosscut chains are very bad in terms of durability. As the crosscut chain has higher versatility and diverse working capabilities, it tends to break quicker.

Also, they are used more frequently compared to ripping chains.


Though designed for different tasks, ripping and crosscut chains are a great deal in terms of productivity. They perfectly take care of the jobs that they were designed to accomplish.

But if you compare both the chains, people tend to lead towards crosscut chains for productivity. They are a lot faster than the ripping chain and they can be used in a diverse workload environment.

The ripping chain is more of a precision tool. It is not as frequently used as a crosscut chain but it provides a much smoother finish.

To smoothen the surface after cutting the wood with a crosscut chain, you will need sanding paper and some time.

So, it’s a mixed bag if we take productivity into consideration. Crosscut chains can do a lot of quick work but lack precision. Whereas, the ripping chain is excellent in terms of precision but slow.

If you are interested to get a ripping chain for your automatic saw, you may check out the products from our recommendation list below:

Product Name Unique Feature 1 Unique Feature 2 Oregon S62 AdvanceCut Chainsaw Chain Heat-treated, precision semi-chisel chain with high debris tolerance  Durable and tough chrome upper layer and hardened rivets. OREGON 72RD084G 84 Drive Link 3/8-Inch Vibe-ban chassis design – 25% less vibration LubriLink tie straps for oiling the chain when needed.

Which One Is Better?

There’s no conclusive answer for which one is better between the ripping chain and the crosscut chain.

It all comes down to your intention of use and what works the best for you. Both have different functionality that may be useful to you.

If you want a chain that can give you smooth surface finishes and time isn’t an issue, then the ripping chain is your deal. You can easily use it to make boards or planks from a large timber. It is quite durable as well.

Contrary to that, if you need a chain that can cut steep, harsh, and quick, you would probably be better off with a crosscut chain.

Though durability may strike as an issue, proper maintenance can preserve this chain for long.


Which of the ripping and crosscut chains stay sharper for longer?

Ripping chain. It has better durability than crosscut chains and stays sharper after repeated use.

Can a ripping chain be used to cross-cut?

We don’t recommend it. It can cause unpredictable blade movement and hurt you.

Are ripping chains faster than standard chainsaw blades?

No, it’s not. It is slower than a regular blade, but it cuts smoother and gives the cut a nice finish.

Wrap Up!

Now that you have an understanding of the differences between ripping chain vs crosscut chain, you can make your choice easily.

If you still have confusion, you may consult with a professional arborist and take some help.

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