Chainsaws are powerful beasts. Even a compact model that’s designed for property maintenance rather than cutting large trees has the capacity to chop off your limb like hot knife cuts through butter.
Now unless you are an eighties action hero fending off hordes of monsters in a dark forest somewhere, you are not likely to use your chainsaw as a weapon. But hey – accidents happen. And if your chainsaw chain gets derailed or broken in the middle of work, it can easily bounce back towards you.
Needless to say, you will be on a fast track to the hospital emergency room if that happens. That’s why it’s so important to understand basic safety practices when you are using a chainsaw. But what can you do if the chainsaw chain suddenly snaps? I mean – responding quickly to the situation isn’t exactly easy, right?
Well, yes, but there are ways to prevent injuries due to chain snapping. And perhaps the easiest and most reliable way to do that is to use chainsaw chain catchers. This is a small yet absurdly useful tool that you attach to your chainsaw to catch the chain if it gets derailed all of a sudden.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg, though. In this article, I will talk more about chainsaw chain catchers and help you get a clearer picture of how great they are at preventing accidents. So, let’s get right to it.
What is a Chainsaw Chain Catcher?
A chainsaw chain catcher is a small yet important safety feature that’s available in many chainsaws in the market. As the name suggests, the primary purpose of the chain catcher is to catch the chainsaw chain if it comes off during operation. If the chainsaw chain flies off the bar, it’s the chain catchers’ job to catch it.
By trapping the chain, the chain catcher not only prevents injury to the user but also extends the lifespan of your chainsaw. Chain kickbacks can easily damage the chassis of your chainsaw, and by catching the chain instantly, the chain catcher can save you from costly repair bills.
Reasons for Getting Chain Catcher
Here are a couple of good reasons for getting a chain catcher for your chainsaw if it doesn’t have one already:
- Safety for Yourself
The most obvious reason for installing a chainsaw chain catcher is to keep yourself safe. You see, chainsaws can be dangerous, and even when you try to follow all the basic safety practices and wear all the right safety gear, things might not go your way all the time. If the chain happens to break off when you are using it, it will hurl back at you at breakneck speed.
Now you might be thinking that you can just move out of the way when that happens – but relying on your quick reflexes is not wise. With a chain catcher, you are essentially putting a layer of safety between yourself and your chainsaw chain. So even if you can’t move away, the catcher will protect you.
- Security for Your Chainsaw
If you have a high-end chainsaw, it makes sense that you would want to keep it around as long as you can. And while taking good care of it when you are not using it is essential, making sure it does not get damaged during operation is also important.
That’s another good reason for you to get a chain catcher in your chainsaw if there isn’t one in it. When a chain breaks off, it can also bounce back on the chainsaw chassis and damage it. In rare situations, it can also break clean through the shell and damage the motor. With a chain catcher, though, you don’t need to worry about that happening.
- It’s Affordable
A chainsaw chain catcher, despite the massive improvement they bring to your overall experience with the chainsaw, is extremely cheap. If your chainsaw doesn’t come with a pre-installed chain catcher, you can pick up a compatible one for under 20 dollars – and that’s when you want the most expensive option.
Most chain catchers out there cost you anywhere from 8 to 15 dollars. For most people out there, paying 15 bucks for personal safety and chainsaw security shouldn’t be all that difficult. So, price is no excuse for not getting a chain catcher for your chainsaw.
- Easy Installation
You might be thinking – even if I buy a chain catcher, how on earth am I going to set it all up? Well, that’s a valid concern, especially for the less tech-savvy of us out there, but as it turns out, installing a chain catcher is just as simple as replacing the air filter in your chainsaw.
I will talk more about the installation steps in this article to give you a clearer picture of the process. So, make sure you read the article all the way through!
How Does a Chainsaw Chain Catcher Work?
There are quite a few different types of chain catchers available in the market. But in principle, all of them work pretty much the same way. A chain catcher comes with a metal shell and attaches near the clutch cover of your chainsaw.
So, when the chain comes off the bar by accident, it will strike the chain catcher instead of the clutch cover. The catcher will break the momentum of the chain and traps it immediately. Unfortunately, in most cases, the chain catcher gets damaged in the process.
Don’t worry, though, chain catchers are designed to be replaceable, and that’s why they are priced low. Once a chain catcher does its job, you need to replace it before you use your chainsaw again.
Round Vs Curled Chain Catchers
When shopping for a new chain catcher for your chainsaw, you might come across two shapes – round and curled. While they are functionally the same, there are some small differences between them. There are strengths and weaknesses to both. I’ll talk about both of these shapes, but first – let me give you a quick chart:
|Round Chain Catchers
|Curled Chain Catchers
|Doesn’t last long
|Not as effective as curled chain catchers
|More reliable at catching loose chains
|Slightly more complicated
|Smaller and Lighter
|Larger and Heavier
- Round Chain Catchers
Round chain catchers are relatively smaller than curled ones and are usually made of hard steel. As the name suggests, they have a round form factor. You install them directly under the clutch cover in your chainsaw. That way, when the chain comes loose, it gets caught between the catcher and the chainsaw bar.
Round chain catchers are more common in older-generation chainsaws. Installing them is pretty straightforward, and their ability to withstand extreme force makes them a solid choice if you are getting one for your chainsaw. Compared to curled chain catchers, they tend to be more durable.
- Curled Chain Catchers
The design of a curled chain catcher is a bit more elaborate compared to its round counterpart. As the name suggests, they have a curved shape which allows them to grip the chainsaw chain more effectively if it comes loose. This shape is considered more reliable than round chain catchers.
However, there’s a catch – because of the shape, a curled chain catcher is larger and bulkier. Though they are effective at catching loose chains, getting them set up is a bit harder.
Which Chainsaw Chain Catcher Should You Buy?
These days, most chainsaws come with a pre-installed chain catcher. But if you happen to have a saw that does not include one, you can easily install an aftermarket chain catcher. There are plenty of great options out there, but make sure you consider a couple of key factors before you commit to a specific model.
While some catchers are universally compatible, most are designed for a specific model of chainsaw. So, make sure you buy a chain catcher that’s suitable for the chainsaw you have at home.
The main thing that dictates the durability of a chain catcher is its construction material. Chain catchers are made of some type of metal, but some metals are stronger than others. Personally, I like to go with chain catchers that are made of hard steel as they tend to survive the longest.
Sometimes, manufacturers include specific features to make the chain catcher more efficient at its job. Design improvements such as a larger surface area can boost the efficiency of a chain catcher. So, it’s always worth looking for small design enhancements when you are buying a new chain catcher.
Make sure you are getting a chain catcher that’s readily available. That way, you don’t have to switch between different ones when your chain catcher needs a replacement.
As long as you make sure to check the things I talked about above, you should be pretty happy with your new chain catcher. There are thousands of great options out there, but if you still can’t find one you like, let me give you two options that are worth looking into.
What Chainsaw Chain Catchers Do I Recommend?
- Adefol Chain Catcher for Husqvarna 435 440 445 450 346 351 353 357 359
The Adefol Chain Catcher is an affordable choice and is great if you are using a Husqvarna Chainsaw. It’s compatible with a wide range of Husqvarna models and comes as a pack of two. Since it’s cheap, you will be able to replace one easily if it gets damaged or bent.
- Husqvarna Craftsman Poulan 5 Pack
If you want something a bit more expensive, then the Husqvarna Craftsman Poulan might be more up your alley. It comes as a pack of five, though, so you will be getting your money’s worth with this investment. Similar to the Adefol chain catcher, this one is made for Husqvarna chainsaws only.
How to Install a Chain Catcher on a Chainsaw?
Whether you have an expensive chainsaw or a chainsaw under 300, you will inevitably need to replace the chain catcher on it. So, you must know how to install a chain catcher when the time comes. Thankfully, it’s a relatively simple process as long as you have a couple of basic tools in your workshop.
Here are the steps to installing a chain catcher on your chainsaw:
- Make sure your chainsaw is completely powered down. You don’t want to start installing the chain catcher before the chain has stopped moving.
- Locate the clutch cover in your chainsaw. Typically, it’s located on the side that’s opposite the chain guide bar. You should see a few nuts or screws holding it in place.
- Remove the screws or nuts from the clutch cover, and it should come off pretty easily. Set the cover aside for now.
- Next, you need to locate the mounting hole for the chain catcher on your chainsaw. Every chainsaw has one, and you should typically find it around the clutch cover area.
- Insert the chain catcher into the mounting hole. Consult the owner’s manual in the chain catcher to make sure it’s oriented correctly. Once you put it in, it should feel stable and secure.
- Reset the clutch cover and reinstall the nuts or screws. Make sure you do not overtighten them, or you might thread the screws.
Once you have put the clutch cover back in place, your chain catcher should be activated. So, if the chain comes off during operation, your chain catcher will trap the chain before it does any serious damage.
Do chain catchers affect the drivers?
No, chain catchers do not affect the drivers. They are designed to prevent injury in case of a chainsaw chain break or snap.
What is the Stihl chain catcher clip size?
The Stihl chain catcher clip size is 8mm.
Why does the chain slip off a saw?
The chain may slip off a saw due to improper tensioning, worn or damaged chain components, or an improperly installed guide bar.
What is the frequency of a chain falling?
The frequency of a chain falling can vary depending on several factors such as the condition of the chain, the type of wood being cut, and the technique of the user. However, with proper maintenance and safe operating practices, chain falls can be minimized.
What saw chain size goes with what power?
The saw chain size that goes with a particular power depends on the make and model of the chainsaw. It is important to consult the chainsaw manual or a professional to determine the appropriate saw chain size for the chainsaw.
Are all chainsaws equipped with chain catchers?
No, not all chainsaws are equipped with chain catchers. Nonetheless, all brand-new chainsaws sold in the US are obliged by law to have a chain catcher. It’s possible that some older chainsaws don’t have a chain catcher, but it’s strongly advised to add one if you can.
The Bottom Line
Chain catchers in a chainsaw serve as the first line of defense when the chain suddenly gets derailed. And oftentimes, they are the only thing standing in the way of you simply replacing the chain and getting back to work or you land in the emergency room.
So, if your chainsaw doesn’t come with a chain catcher, make sure you install an aftermarket one right away. I hope my in-depth discussion on chainsaw chain catchers could help you understand their importance. Cheers!