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Why Does My Chainsaw Cut Crooked – Top 6 Reasons Listed




Why Does My Chainsaw Cut Crooked

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The chainsaw, with its mighty roar and relentless power, has become an indispensable tool for many around the world. Whether you’re an arborist managing towering trees, a homeowner taking care of overgrown branches, or a lumberjack in the timber industry, the effectiveness of your work is heavily dependent on this powerful tool. It is designed to cut through wood swiftly and efficiently, making it an invaluable asset in various fields. However, it’s not uncommon for users to encounter some operational challenges. One of the most common, yet perplexing, issues is the chainsaw cutting crooked.

Why does my chainsaw cut crooked? This question has stumped countless chainsaw users who suddenly find their reliable tool making diagonal or curved cuts instead of straight ones.

The issue not only affects the quality and aesthetics of the cuts but can also pose safety risks, making it crucial to understand and rectify. This article aims to demystify the underlying reasons behind this problem, detailing various potential causes from damaged or worn-out chains, and uneven chain sharpness, to improper lubrication, and more. Let’s delve into the heart of the matter and explore how to ensure your chainsaw cuts straight, enhancing its efficiency, prolonging its lifespan, and securing your safety.

Why Does My Chainsaw Cut Crooked


The Chainsaw: A Basic Understanding

A chainsaw, at its core, is a power tool designed for cutting through wood swiftly and efficiently. It comprises three main components: an engine (or motor in electric models), a guide bar, and a chain. The engine powers the chain, fitted with numerous sharp teeth, around the guide bar at high speeds. When this moving chain comes in contact with wood, the teeth chip away material, resulting in a cut. The cutting efficiency and performance of a chainsaw depend on the interaction of the engine’s power, the sharpness of the chain, and the condition of the guide bar.

Possible Reasons Why a Chainsaw Cuts Crooked

Damaged or Worn-Out Chainsaw Chain

When it comes to why a chainsaw might cut crooked, faulty chainsaw chains is often the primary culprit. Each tooth or cutter teeth on a chainsaw chain is designed to chip away a precise amount of wood during each pass. However, if the chain is damaged, worn out, or missing teeth, it fails to remove wood evenly. Consequently, the chainsaw’s path diverts, leading to crooked cutting. Recognizing a damaged or worn-out chain involves several signs: the chainsaw may require more effort to make a cut, it might produce more sawdust than wood chips, or it might vibrate excessively. Another telltale sign is the chainsaw consistently pulling to one side during the cutting process.

Warped or Bent Chainsaw Bar

The role of the chainsaw bar is essential: it guides the chain in a straight line during operation. If the bar becomes warped or bent, the chain’s path is disrupted, causing it to cut in an undesired direction. This issue often results in crooked cuts. Identifying a bent or warped bar might involve careful observation. Uneven wear on different parts of the bar can signal a problem. You can also place the bar on a flat surface; any visible gaps or deformities would indicate warping or bending. Also, similar to a damaged chain, if your chainsaw consistently cuts to one side, it may be a sign of a warped or bent bar.

Uneven Chain Sharpness

The sharpness of the chain should be uniform for the chainsaw to cut straight. If the teeth are unevenly sharpened, the chain’s cut depth will vary with each tooth, leading the chainsaw off a straight path and resulting in a crooked cut. Determining uneven chain sharpness might involve a close inspection of each tooth’s condition. If the chainsaw cuts fine initially but starts to curve during the cutting process, uneven chain sharpness could be the issue. Additionally, if the chainsaw tends to pull to one side, unevenly sharpened teeth might be causing the problem.

Inadequate Chain Tension

Correct chain tension is crucial for a chainsaw to function properly and cut straight. If the chain is too loose, it can slip or “buck” off the wood, leading to a crooked cut. On the other hand, if the chain is too tight, it could bind up and not rotate smoothly, which also results in a crooked cut. Symptoms of improper chain tension can include the chain sagging from the bar when at rest, the chain not moving when the chainsaw is idling, and the chainsaw creating sawdust instead of wood chips during operation.

Misaligned Chainsaw Rakers

Rakers, also known as depth gauges, play a crucial role in a chainsaw’s operation. They control the depth each tooth on the chain penetrates the wood, ensuring each tooth takes an equal and consistent “bite.” If the rakers are misaligned or set at different heights, the teeth will cut unevenly, causing the chainsaw to cut crooked. Signs of misaligned rakers can include a chainsaw that chatters or bounces during cutting or a chainsaw that cuts more slowly than usual.

Inadequate Lubrication

Regular and proper lubrication is essential for the smooth functioning of a chainsaw. Without adequate lubrication, the chain and guide bar can create excessive friction, causing the chain to heat, expand, and not move smoothly. This can result in a crooked cut. Furthermore, a chain without proper lubrication will wear out faster, increasing the risk of the chainsaw cutting crooked. Signs of inadequate lubrication can include the chainsaw chain appearing dry, the chainsaw producing more smoke than usual during operation, or the guide bar looking discolored from overheating.

Prevention and Troubleshooting Methods

Regular maintenance and inspection of your chainsaw can prevent many issues, including crooked chainsaw cutting. Regularly check for and replace worn-out or damaged chains, ensure the bar is not bent or warped, and always keep your chainsaw clean. Regular inspections will also allow you to catch potential issues early, which can prevent more serious problems and costly repairs down the line.

Sharpening your chainsaw chain is an essential part of maintenance. Make sure to file all the teeth to the same length and angle, using a guide if necessary. Use a round file that matches the cutter’s diameter, and always file away from your body. Remember, it’s better to sharpen little and often rather than waiting for the chain to become significantly dull.

Proper chainsaw tension ensures safe and efficient cutting. To adjust the tension, first, ensure the chainsaw is off and cool. Then, loosen the nuts on the guide bar and turn the tensioning screw to tighten or loosen the chain. The chain should snap back after being pulled 1/4th to 1/2 an inch from the bar. Remember to re-tighten the bar nuts securely.

Properly aligned rakers ensure that each tooth cuts to the correct depth. To align the rakers, you’ll need a flat file and a depth gauge tool. Place the gauge tool on the chain so that the highest part of the raker fits into the slot, then file down any part of the raker that is above the gauge. Repeat this for all rakers, ensuring they are all at the same height.

Proper lubrication is key to the smooth operation of your chainsaw. Always use the recommended type of oil for your particular chainsaw model and ensure the oil reservoir is filled each time you refill the fuel. Also, make sure the oiler is functioning correctly – the chain should glisten with oil when the saw is running.

Safety Measures When Using a Chainsaw

Importance of Safety Gear Safety gear is a must when operating a chainsaw. This includes sturdy gloves, safety glasses or a face shield, hearing protection, sturdy boots, and chainsaw chaps that can protect your legs from potential cuts. A hard hat is also recommended, especially when cutting overhead branches.

Safe Operating Procedures – Always follow safe operating procedures when using a chainsaw. This includes standing to the side of the chainsaw when cutting, avoiding cuts above shoulder height, and never operating the chainsaw while on a ladder or in a tree unless you are specifically trained to do so. Always keep both hands on the chainsaw handles and maintain a stable footing.

Steps to Take in Case of Equipment Failure – In the case of equipment failure, immediately turn off the chainsaw and disconnect the spark plug (if it’s a gas model). Never attempt to fix a running chainsaw. Inspect the chainsaw for any visible damage and consult the owner’s manual or a professional for further troubleshooting steps. Do not use the chainsaw again until it has been properly repaired.

FAQ’s – Frequently Asked Questions  – why does my chainsaw cut crooked?

1. Why does my chainsaw not cut in a straight line?

A dull chainsaw can mean trouble – if one side of the chain’s teeth is longer than the other, it’ll be impossible to get a straight cut. An uneven sharpening is often caused by running over rocks and debris while in use, so make sure any dangerous items are cleared from your cutting path.

Protect your chainsaw from wear and tear with proper sharpening. Taking the extra time for regular care of your saw will ensure it’s always ready when you need it most.

2. How tight should the tension be on a chainsaw?

To ensure optimal performance from your chainsaw, the chain must be properly tensioned. It should have some slack to allow for flexibility when cutting wood, but it shouldn’t be so loose that you can pull out the drive links at either end of the guide bar.

3. What angle should my chainsaw teeth be?

When sharpening your chainsaw chain, the angle is everything. The ideal range of angles for optimal performance lies between 25° and 35° – but be mindful that harder woods may require a slightly higher angle. To ensure accuracy during the process, it’s best to use either a dedicated sharpening grid or a filing gauge as an aid.


This article explored the common issue faced by chainsaw users – why a chainsaw might cut crooked. We dug into the working mechanism of a chainsaw, pinpointing key components like the chain, bar, and engine that affect the cutting direction. Several potential causes, such as a damaged or worn-out chain, a warped or bent bar, uneven chain sharpness, improper chain tension, misaligned rakers, and inadequate lubrication, were discussed in detail. We also highlighted prevention and troubleshooting methods and underscored essential safety measures to observe while using a chainsaw.

To ensure that your chainsaw is cutting straight and to ensure its optimal performance, regular maintenance is paramount. This includes consistent inspection of the chain, bar, and engine, making sure that you have a sharp chainsaw chain, properly tensioned, and adequately lubricated, as well as ensuring the rakers are correctly aligned. These practices not only preserve the life of your chainsaw but also enhance your work’s efficiency and safety.

Ultimately, the proper functioning of a chainsaw is a mix of regular maintenance, understanding the potential issues, and safe operation. Should your chainsaw start to cut crooked, remember to consult this guide for possible causes and solutions. Never ignore the problem, as it might be indicating a more severe issue. When in doubt, it’s always wise to consult a professional or take your chainsaw to a service center to ensure it’s in the best possible working condition. Happy and safe cutting!


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