The number one (and two) reason your chainsaw wont cut

Chainsaw filler

Today is the day. You’re going to finally take care of that out of place tree or overgrown bush in your yard. You get out your chainsaw, make sure it’s full of gas and oil, put on your ear protection, and get down to business. You rev up your saw, and hit the wood, only instead of starting to see that nice pile of wood shavings, you barely do anything at all. Your chainsaw wont cut. Unless you do something fast, that job isn’t getting done.

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Your chain is on backwards

chainsaw chain
Note the direction of the cutting teeth. The sloped portion is facing foreword.

No, seriously. Chainsaw chains, especially the low-profile “safety chains” seen in many homeowner saws, have Directional Chains and the cutting teeth need to be facing the right direction. This is a mistake every chainsaw owner has made at least once, and the solution is equally simple.

Easy fix: Flip the Chain (Or Bar)

Flipping the bar and chain over is common among foresters so they get more life from their chainsaw bar. This also reverses the direction of the chain however, and chain teeth facing the wrong way is a fast way to a frustrating afternoon. Usually the process is simple, Using the Scrench that came with your saw, remove the bar cover and detach the bar and chain assembly. Flip it over, and reassemble. Simple as that. Some newer types of chainsaw don’t need a scrench, if you have one of these types check your owners manual for the right way to flip the bar. You can also completely remove and reverse the chain as well, but usually flipping them together is the easiest, least hassle method. Now if you do this, and your saw still won’t cut, or is only cutting poorly; you should look at the number two reason:

Still no bueno? The chain is dull, or simply worn out

Often if your chainsaw touches dirt, rocks, or other hard material you can significantly dull the cutting teeth of your chainsaw. This means more time, more gas, and more frustration you spend trying to get work done. You can get a simple chain sharpener like this one on amazon, or simply replace the chain. Mechanical chainsaw sharpeners exist as well; But for the casual homeowner they might not be worth the investment. Sharpening the chain is a simple process, If you don’t have a chainsaw sharpener you can find one on amazon or likely at the same store you bought the chainsaw from. Usually these consist of one or more files and a guide, but other options also exist. If your chain is toast, amazon also has you covered, but you’ll need to look up the model number of your chainsaw to make sure you get the right kind.

The 21st Century Solution: The PowerSharp Chain and Sharpening System

For the casual homeowner with a small chainsaw, Oregon sells special PowerSharp refit kits. The Oregon PowerSharp system uses a specially designed chain, that lets you sharpen the chain with the power of the saw, quickly and easily. Should you accidentally hit dirt or rocks, just mount the sharpener on the bar, push it momentarily against the ground while running the saw, and you’re back in action. Price is about that of a standard bar and chain, you can find one that fits your saw over on amazon.

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