How to cut a chain

How to cut a chain? Is it easy to cut a chain?


How to cut a chain? Chains can be cut quite easily in fact using either bolt cutters or a circular saw. Using bolt cutters is quite convenient as bolt cutters don’t require the provision of power while circular saws require power in the form of electricity. The use of bolt cutters however requires a strength element as it requires a lot of force to cut through a new steel chain. Older chains, especially rusted chains can be cut easily with a bolt cutter.

If it is not possible to cut a chain using bolt cutters then going for a circular saw is going to be your best bet. Chainsaws and blow torches might look like good alternatives to using a circular saw but in reality, they are even worse than using bolt cutters. Chainsaws have huge saw blades that are inefficient in cutting through dense materials such as a chain. Similarly, blow torches tend to heat up the chain and this can even harden the chain. If you want to cut quickly and efficiently I would recommend getting a bolt cutter such as the one below. It is the right tool for the job and will work almost 98 times out of 100.

cut a chain
Bolt cutters

What is chain strength?

There are various grades of steel chains. They go all the way from grade 30 to grade 100.

  • Grade 30 is a general-purpose chain for use in industrial and agricultural industries. This can’t be used for lifting.
  • Grade 43 is a chain used for logging, towing and marine and trade industry use. It is also not suitable for overhead lifting such as in cranes.
  • Grade 70 is higher strength than grade 43 and is also used for the same purpose as grade 43. But it can’t be used for overhead lifting as well due to the danger of snapping.
  • Grade 80 is an alloy steel chain. It is recommended for overhead lifting as it is light with high strength.
  • Grade 100 has the highest strength and can be used for any application.

So in conclusion chain strength is the amount of weight a chain can handle before it snaps. There are many grades of chains available. Using higher grade chains is recommended for overhead lifting for safety purposes.

Higher grade chains get denser and denser and hence are more and more difficult to cut.

Image courtesy of

Can I cut a chain with bolt cutters?

Yes, you can easily cut a chain using bolt cutters. In fact, using bolt cutters is the most preferred method I would recommend. It is an instrument that is made for doing this job and hence it works 98 times out of 100. So if you require chain cutting frequently in your job then going for a bolt cutter is the best bet.

how to cut a chain
Photo by Joey Kyber

What type of chain cannot be cut with bolt cutters?

A higher grade chain (grade 80-100) is difficult to cut with a bolt cutter. For such applications, a circular chain saw must be used. Hence these are best for anti-theft applications. Similarly, a pegwag chain with non-circular chain links is also very difficult to cut.

As the chain links are made up of bent rectangular steel bars they can only be compressed with pressure but can’t be cut entirely. This is in contrast to chains made up of circular chain links that are made up of steel pipe and hence can be easily cut using a bolt cutter.

Is cable stronger than chain?

No, Cable is not as strong as higher-grade steel chains made up of bent rectangular bars.

This is why chains are used for overhead lifting applications for heavy objects such as for lifting containers for loading onto ships, in cranes used for construction, and in marine applications such as for anchors.

A cable as strong as a chain would have to be three times as thick and heavy as a steel chain and hence they are rarely used for lifting heavyweights.

What type of chain is hardest to cut?

A pegwag chain is the hardest type of chain to cut. This is why it is recommended by the US cargo control to trade goods that are shipped worldwide. This type of chain is also used for hoisting and lifting heavy loads on docks.

This type of chain has non-rounded chain links that make it difficult to cut with a bolt cutter. This type of chain requires a circular saw to be cut, which makes it ideal for theft protection as it can’t be cut silently.

pegwag chain
Pegwag chain

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