Chainsaw Not Cutting | Reasons With Solutions

A chainsaw is an essential tool for garden owners, foresters, and woodworkers. But after using it frequently, you may notice some problems, such as the chainsaw not cutting correctly as it’s supposed to. You must read this post if this issue occurs with your chainsaw. 

Many factors may cause a chainsaw to stop working correctly, and it might take some time and trial and error to discover the cause.

But don’t worry! 

I’m here to explain the causes with solutions to save your time. 


Let’s move straightforwardly toward the main issue: why is the chainsaw not cutting straight?

Why Is My Chainsaw, Not Cutting?

There are many reasons which cause problems during sawing. If the chainsaw is not cutting, it is usually a problem with chain tension or light chains. But here, I explain other reasons behind chain-cutting problems that will help you determine the real problems so you can repair them and cut them properly. 

You may find this video helpful about knowing the reading behind chainsaws, not cutting issues.

Let’s have a look at the problems with their solution:

Improper Chain Tension

The first reason is that chain tension is inappropriate, which causes the chainsaw not to cut correctly. You can check the chain tension by pulling the chain up from the middle of the bar. You have to do it, like pull the one or two drive links from the chainsaw guide bar. Consequently, when you discharge them, they return to the correct position. 

However, if it does not return to the original position, you must set the chain tension using a tension screw. To cut the wood appropriately, the chain tension must be correct. When you use a chainsaw often, the chain tension might become lost, so you’ve to set it correctly. 

You can fix this problem by simply adjusting the chain tension. But remember that if the tension is too tight, it could restrict the movement of the chain. Accordingly, if the chain tension is too loose, it may not make contact with the wood. So, both scenarios can be hazardous, and you’ve to fix tension correctly.  

Chainsaw Not Cutting Due To Dull Chain

A light chain is the most common reason behind the chainsaw not cutting problem. If you use your chainsaw frequently, the chain will quickly become dull. Also, if you use your saw to cut various things such as heavy wood or trees thus, the saw chain could quickly become dull. While cutting the light chain, cut the wood and leave fine sawdust, which indicates that the depth gauge needs sharpening. 

You have to sharpen the chainsaw often, and you can do it quickly. Wear safety tools like gloves or glasses before sharpening your chainsaw chain. But you can take help from experts if you’re not satisfied with sharpening the chainsaw yourself. I recommend you replace the chain if it is damaged. 

When you fill the fuel, you’ve to sharpen the chain. With a bit of practice, you can easily sharpen the cutting teeth. Also, you should check the depth gauge of the chain, and it needs adjustment periodically. 

Bent or Damage Guide Bar 

After using electric machines frequently, it needs maintenance. In the case of chainsaws, when you slide the chain across the bar, and you can’t do it so effortlessly, then the chain may not be able to cut. The other reason which prevents the chain from sliding across the bar is the chain bar may be bent or damaged.  It happens when the chainsaw is dropped or heavy tools are piled on it. 

The guide bar can wear out after being used continuously. With improper storage, the bar easily bends and can cause issues. Slightly bending makes the chainsaw impossible to work as it does. 

Inappropriate Adjustment Screw

The chainsaw may stop cutting wood if the adjustment screw is loose, and the chain will not be able to retain the tension. If the chainsaw is not stored correctly, it can break the screw, or the chainsaw will smash something, and it will not be able to cut. 

If the chain screw is entirely broken, the chain may hang loose or fall off the guide bar. You can easily replace it with a new adjustment screw. You can find new ones in stores and home improvement shops selling chainsaws. 

If you’re not confident about how to replace the screw of the chainsaw, then you can take help from an expert or replace it with a chainsaw repair company. 

Chain Brake Stuck or Broken

When the chain brake is engaged with the clutch, and you remove the cover, it isn’t easy to replace it. If you disengage the brake after removing the clutch cover, it can make the brake stuck. When removing the clutch, make sure the brake is disengaged. 

The chain brake could damage or break if not properly stored. And, if the chain is dull, the chain brake is stuck during sawing. 

Chainsaw Not Cutting Reason Broken Clutch 

The chain is rotated with the help of a clutch, and if the pad around the clutch is broken, it hinders the chainsaw from cutting. A broken clutch also causes the chainsaw to fail to start. So, in this case, you have to replace the clutch pads with new ones. But if you find the process difficult, you can do it from the chainsaw repair shops or by professionals.

Chainsaw Not Cutting – How To Fix It?

I mentioned the reasons above about why the chainsaw is not cutting straight.

Now you might be wondering how to fix these problems.  

So, no look further. I’m here to give you solutions to these problems. So, let’s dive in.

Sharpening your Chainsaw

The main problem is the light chain, and it needs sharpening. However, it would help to inspect the chain links and cutter teeth before sharpening. The cutter teeth have the same height so that you can compare them easily. 

After verifying all cutters, you can quickly identify whether they have the same height or not. If you see a difference, you must sharpen the higher cutters. For sharpening your chainsaw, you can pursue the protocol below. 

    • Collect the required tools – Before starting the procedure, ensure that you have all essential tools such as file guide, round file, flat file, and safety tools.
    • Adjust chainsaw on a flat surface – Adjust your chainsaw on a flat surface before proceeding, making sharpening productive and more straightforward—secure chainsaw bar longitudinal angle between wise fixtures. Also, ensure that your chain can move quickly after being secure. 
  • File the cutter and depth gauge – Take a round file, position it at a 30-degree angle, and slide it across the cutter teeth. More importantly, remember that filing should be done in one direction because sliding the file back and forth can cause damage. After filing the saw chain, teeth adjust the depth gauge, so the cutting depths are equal. File the depth gauge with a flat file and ensure the top surface is leveled. Repeat this process on every cutter and depth gauge. 

Tighten the chainsaw chain

If your chainsaw cuts crooked after sharpening, you should check the chain tension. In the case of a loose chain, you need to open the saw chain and remove two or more links so that the length is enough to fit on the guide bar. 

Watch this video for proper guidance on how to set the chain tension.

Get the chain with the perfect thickness 

Suppose you feel that your chainsaw chain waggles catercorner in the guide bar. Analyze the thickness of the saw chain according to the guide bar groove. You can check the thickness of the groove from the guide manual, which is usually 5/8th inches. Measure the chain thickness with a steel ruler; if the thickness is low or beyond 5/8th inches, then you should mount the chain with the correct thickness. 

Reverse the groove over

If the chain is of the correct thickness and it still wiggles sideways, the guide bar might be worn or damaged. Usually, the bar is damaged from the lower side because it makes contact with the cutting surface. 

The simple solution is to reverse the bar and remount the saw chain on it. So, the upper side of the guide bar is on the lower side. Afterward, you feel the bar doesn’t wiggle as much as before. 

Grind the ragged rails 

If the flipping doesn’t solve the problem, you must check the bar rails. If you feel that the bar rails are uneven, they need grinding. I suggest using a powered grinding tool for this purpose. Grind until the higher rails are equal to the lower rails. However, you can use a flat file to even out the rails if you don’t have a powered grinding tool. 

Final Words – Why Chainsaw Not Cutting Properly?

Lastly, if your chainsaw chain is spinning and not cutting as it used to be, you need to fix the problem; why is the chain saw not cutting straight? There are innumerable reasons that cause issues during sawing. It could be due to poor handling, improper sharpening procedure of the chain, inadequate chain tension, or uneven depth gauge. To solve these issues, you first need to identify the problem and find a solution. The solution to mentioned above problems is properly sharpening the saw chain, fixing the proper chain tension, and filing the uneven surfaces such as chain thickness and uneven chain teeth

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