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Old 10-23-2007, 11:14 AM
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 3,386
Could chainsaw cut through steel?

I guess more to the point, could a chainsaw cut through a shotgun barrel. If you need the specific type of shotgun, I guess I would go with a 12 gauge double barrel Remington with a walnut stock, cobalt blue steel and a hair trigger.

I posted this in GQ, because despite the origin of the question, I do want a serious answer.

I'm guessing that a stock chainsaw right out of the woodshed, would probably come away with a dull chain and the shotgun would come away with a scratched up barrel.

Anyone ever try to cut steel with a chainsaw, or know what would happen if you did?
Old 10-23-2007, 11:18 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Port Orchard, WA
Posts: 11,148
My WAG would be the barrel is probably tougher than the teeth of a chainsaw made to cut wood. You're better off with a Sawzall/reciprocating saw.
Old 10-23-2007, 11:23 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Richmond, VA
Posts: 22,536
And even if it could cut through the metal, as soon as the teeth got through the ID of the barrel, they would catch on the edge and tend to kick it away, or if the weapon was firmly anchored, to kick the chainsaw back at YOU. Not good.
Old 10-23-2007, 11:29 AM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Texas
Posts: 1,436
Yes, and you won't like the results.

A more serious answer: the teeth on a chainsaw chain are designed to act like little chisels and nibble off a sliver of wood with each pass. The same thing is true for steel, as long as it is less hard than the saw tooth cutting edge. However, the friction will heat the tooth edge and soften it.

A chain will cut mild steel, like a nail embedded in a log, but only because it cuts through it before cutting edges of the teeth are completely rolled back and useless for cutting anything.

If you were to try cutting the size and shape of a shotgun barrel, the teeth will bounce off and make it difficult to maintain contact. Mostly because only one tooth at a time is making contact due to the shape and the normal force is trying to force the barrel into the space between the teeth. I don't think the steel in a shotgun barrel is particularly hard, just strong.
Old 10-23-2007, 11:47 AM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 1,870
Fire departments have asked chainsaw manufacturers to develop blades that can cut through just about anything for rescues. I saw it on "How it's Made" or one of those other comparable shows.
Old 10-23-2007, 11:55 AM
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 3,386
For those who haven't seen it, there's a seen in Evil Dead II where the hero uses a chainsaw (attached where his right hand used to be) to cut off most of the barrel of the shotgun that he is holding in his left hand. I'm just wondering what would happen if that were actually tried. It sounds like the concensus is a ruined chainsaw blade, the shotgun knocked out of your hand, and maybe the bar of the chainsaw imbedded in your head.

FTR, I like my shotgun just how it is and have no plans to saw it off.

As for the fire dept saw. I've used what my brother calls a "maniac saw" which has an engine a case very similar to a chainsaw, but instead of a chain, it has a large ( ~ 2' diameter) abrasive disc. It works well to cut through concrete, I don't think much would slow it down.
Old 10-23-2007, 12:07 PM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 1,870
I just went to a site and read about "The Bullet Chain". Maybe you can do a google search for it.

But if you're cutting through a shotgun, why not just use a hacksaw?

Last edited by diggleblop; 10-23-2007 at 12:09 PM.
Old 10-23-2007, 12:11 PM
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Obama Fe, NM
Posts: 7,292
When I'm running a chainsaw, I'll sharpen the blade after every two or three tanks of gas, depending on what type of wood I'm cutting. Even if you could position it just right to have the blade shave off small pieces of metal (and they'd be very small), they would just heat up and quickly dull. The blades would then basically be just thin pieces of metal hitting a thick piece, and the chain would fail far before the shotgun did.
Old 10-23-2007, 12:13 PM
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Join Date: May 2000
Posts: 27,300
It is amazing how fast you can dull a chainsaw chain by hitting the wrong material. Sometimes there will be some dirt on or inside pieces of wood that you try to cut. Once you hit that or even something like a nail, your chain will have a life of seconds before it is completely ruined. It won't even cut wood anymore but instead make it smoke. I am pretty sure it could never cut through a shotgun barrel. I have several hundred chainsaw hours and ruined many a chain by hitting anything other than pure wood.
Old 10-23-2007, 02:43 PM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 5,893
It is not the material the teeth are made of that is the problem. Tool steel, High Speed Steel, and Tungsten Carbide are used to make cutting tools for both wood and metals, including steel.

It is the angles of the cutting edge, and the speed at which they operate that must be changed, not the material. Operating a tool in steel at wood cutting speeds will dull the cutting edges almost instantly.

The drive sprocket on a chainsaw is probably already near the practical minimum size (11 teeth or so) so there is no simple way to adapt one to cutting steel.
Old 10-23-2007, 03:46 PM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Often on the Road
Posts: 369
They make chainsaws for cutting concrete - using diamond teeth. Not jewelry grade diamonds of course - just little itty bitty ones.

Here is one manufacturer . It looks like he is going to cut through a piece of rebar in the concrete.

Encase barrel in concrete. Rent diamond chainsaw. Saw away!
Old 10-23-2007, 07:47 PM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Jacksonville, FL
Posts: 18,089
In cinema this was actually attempted by the character Ash in Evil Dead 2-I probably should post this in the goofs over at IMDB because he just halfheartedly touched the chainsaw to the shotgun for a couple of seconds, then casually knocked off the now miraculously hanging-by-a-thread barrel with his elbow.

Last edited by John DiFool; 10-23-2007 at 07:48 PM.
Old 10-24-2007, 01:00 PM
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 3,386
That's where the question came from. I hinted at it with a line from Army of Darkness:

Originally Posted by brewha
...12 gauge double barrel Remington with a walnut stock, cobalt blue steel and a hair trigger...

Then I came right out and said it:
Originally Posted by brewha
For those who haven't seen it, there's a seen in Evil Dead II where the hero uses a chainsaw (attached where his right hand used to be) to cut off most of the barrel of the shotgun that he is holding in his left hand. I'm just wondering what would happen if that were actually tried.
I guess the concensus is, for a stock chainsaw, it is not possible.
Old 10-24-2007, 01:25 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: San Francisco area
Posts: 16,180
As Shagnasty said, a normal chainsaw chain won't even survive contact with dirt for very long.

About the only chain out there that would have half a chance at surviving contact with metal for very long is Stihl's "RDR" chain (Rapid Duro Rescue) and it apparently costs north of $400, just for the chain. The complete saw goes for more than $1,000 - needless to say, it's not intended for the homeowner to use for trimming trees.

Last edited by gotpasswords; 10-24-2007 at 01:29 PM.
Old 10-24-2007, 03:38 PM
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: USA
Posts: 2,213
In the early days of Robot Wars and similar robot combat competitions a number of competitors tried to use chainsaws as weapons on their robots. This didn't last long. While somewhat useful against wood, plastic, or fiberglass, against metal armor you'd just get scratched paint and a ruined chainsaw.

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