Chainsaw Not Cutting Straight What Should You Do?
Do you have a chainsaw but sometimes your chainsaw is not cutting straight or not cutting at all? Well, we can tell you why this happens. We will also discuss what you should do when these problems occur. If you have a chainsaw with problems, then you’ve come to the right place.
Chainsaws are undoubtedly the best portable cutting tools for cutting up trees and logs. We can also use them to produce lumber from logs using chainsaw mills. Being portable machines, they are made up mostly of heavy-duty steel parts from their engines up to the chain bars and chains. Unfortunately, there will be times that your chainsaw may have trouble and you may ask yourself why is my chainsaw smoking or why is my chainsaw not cutting straight.
When these issues happen, we normally do troubleshooting. But when these persist, we may think about buying a new unit for hassle-free use. Now, before thinking about replacing your old chainsaw, why not learn about the reasons why your chainsaw is not cutting or why it produces so much smoke and shows other problems? So why don’t we figure it out first and see where the problems come from, then we’ll consider some solutions and hopefully our DIY tips will work. If they work, you can save yourself a lot of money from buying a new unit.
Why we want to share with you our knowledge and tips about troubleshooting chainsaws is ,we have seen and gathered so many chainsaws among our trash just getting dumped and checking them out, they generally have the same issues as we have mentioned, re: smoking and not cutting and these expensive machines were dumped just for these simple issues. But with our DIY solutions, we have succeeded in getting them running again like new.
Common Reasons Why Chainsaws don't Cut
The chainsaws’ best asset is their power and cutting capacities. So if it’s not cutting properly or not cutting at all, there are several reasons behind this. Let’s see now why these problems occur then check our solutions and see if these will work.
The chain could be dull and need sharpening or replacement
This is the common reason why a chainsaw is not cutting even at a high throttle speed. Check the cutting teeth if these are blunt or are worn out. Obviously, the only way to solve a blunt chainsaw is by sharpening the chain’s individual cutting teeth using chainsaw files. Start by clamping the chainsaw’s bar while the chain is in position then sharpen each tooth using the round and flat files. If you are in the logging area, you can also bring along your portable chainsaw sharpening tool which you can buy from hardware or online stores. These are very useful when quick sharpening is necessary when logging. Worn out chain, however, clearly indicates the need for chain replacement.
Improper tensioning of the chain
Loose chains caused by improper tensioning can be one of the causes of why the chainsaw not cutting or the chainsaw not cutting straight. Too loose, the chain will not make a perfect contact against the wood and there would be the risk of a kickback or the chain getting thrown from the bar. Too tight, the chain will not rotate at the right speed and sometimes may even labor or stop. This can also cause the engine to overheat.
Do the necessary adjustment with the screw that controls the tension before and after using the chainsaw. If your chainsaw does not have a tension adjustment knob, you can use a flat-head screwdriver in adjusting the tension screw. Turning the screw clockwise the chain will tighten and counter-clockwise, it will loosen.
As you are tightening the tension screw, check the underside of the chain and you should not see any gap between the chain and the edge of the bar but the chain can be lifted a little using your fingers. Check also the drive links of the chain and they must be completely seated into the grooves of the bar while the chain’s tie-straps are only making light contact with the guide bar.
Issue with the lubrication system or improper oiling
All chainsaws have an oiler system that provides oil to the saw blade. What causes the oil not to reach the blade can be caused by dirt or sawdust clogging the oiler’s nozzle. When this happens, the chain will have difficulty rotating and can eventually get worn out due to the friction with the bar guide. Try to access the oiler by removing the sprocket cover and also the chain and the bar and clean out the clog from the nozzle. If the nozzle is already damaged or has some deposits that are difficult to remove, better replace it. Check also your manual about chainsaw oil maintenance.
Dirt stuck between the teeth of the blade
One possible cause of why chainsaws are not cutting smoothly is because of the dirt that gets trapped between the teeth of the chain or between the chain and the bar guide. When these happen, the dirt will prevent the teeth from scraping the wood or the chain may abruptly rotate around the bar then stop. How does the chain get dirty? It can be that you hit the ground while the chainsaw is running which messes up the chain. Or it could also be that you cut a tree with dirty bark .
Another cause could be that you have cut a tree with metal inside like a nail and the teeth went dull. So if you see that the chain is contaminated with dirt, get a hard brush and brush the dirt out vigorously. If there’s sticky sap that is dry, take out the chain from the bar and brush and wash it with soap and water as well as the bar guide. Then dry and lubricate them again before installing. For the blunt chain, there’s no other way but to sharpen its teeth again.
Chain bar is bent or worn out
When the chain bar gets to be worn out or it gets bent, the chain would not be sliding easily and freely around it and these could be two of the reasons why the chainsaw not cutting straight or the chainsaw not cutting at all. If you want to know when to replace a chainsaw bar, read more below.
All chainsaws have clutch pads and clutch drums. The clutch pads engage the clutch drum which in turn rotates the chain. But if the clutch pads are worn out, it will not provide enough pressure to the clutch drum and this won’t be able to rotate the chain. When this happens, the chainsaw won’t be cutting smoothly or sometimes the chain just stops rotating. In this scenario, replacing the clutch pads is the only solution.
Clutch band Chain brake accidentally engaged
Since the clutch drum’s job is to rotate the chain, there is also a steel band wrapped around it called a “clutch band” that serves as a stop lever to prevent the chain from accidental turning. So acting like a hand brake in a car, if this clutch band is engaged on the clutch drum, there’s no way that the chain will rotate. So always check the clutch first if the chain doesn’t move.
Chainsaw Not Cutting Straight - What’s the Problem?
So your chainsaw’s chain is rotating and cutting but not cutting straight so what could be the problem? Three issues may be involved. One, the chainsaw chain may be blunt on one side, two, the edges of the chain bar is worn unevenly, or three, the chain bar is bent. So here are the best solutions:
Chain gets blunt or dull on one side
If you have cut a hard surface or dirt or a nail that has made one side of the chain blunt, this will result in the uneven sharpness of the chain. Remember that chainsaw teeth are a line of curved teeth (left and right cutters) and depth gauges which are few millimeters wide. So if the other side of these blades got the beating and the teeth got dull on this side, the chain will tend to run in misalign directions. This is one of the reasons why the chainsaw is not cutting straight.
Wrong method of sharpening the chain
If you are new to sharpening your chain, you might also cause an uneven sharpened chain as you can miscalculate the proper sharpening process for the edges and undersides of the cutters and depth gauges. Read your chainsaw’s manual first before you sharpen the chain to know how to position your file when sharpening the teeth. You can also watch videos on YouTube to learn from the experts. But to make sure your chain has an even sharpness, take your chain to a professional local saw shop. Yet if there are already breaks or chips on the chain, then you need to replace the chain.
Chain bar’s edges became uneven
This issue usually happens when there is too much friction between the bar and the chain which can result in wearing out of the bar and cause it to warp or misalign. Why this happens, could be how you use your chainsaw. For example, if you are always using your chainsaw with your right hand, that side of the bar gets the most beating and gets to wear out quickly.
To solve this, you sometimes need to flip up your chainsaw so that the other side of the bar will be used. If you can’t do this because you feel you’ll be in an awkward cutting position, you can do some maintenance by removing the chain and scraping the other side of the bar using a chainsaw file. But if your chain bar gets too bent, this can also answer your question about when to replace the chainsaw bar and this is the best time.
When to Replace Chainsaw Bar
The chainsaw bar is one of the most important parts of chainsaws because this is where the chain spins around and handles so much of the friction. However, even though the chainsaw bars are made to be durable metals, there will come a time when they wear out and bend or warp which can render them unusable.
So what are the obvious signs to know when to replace a chainsaw bar?
Bent bar due to damage
A worn-out chainsaw bar is a damaged bar and this can put you at risk while its efficiency is reduced as well as its cutting power. Damage can happen when there’s a lack of lubrication or lack of tensioning of the chain which makes the bar and the chain rub each other vigorously. But to know if the bar needs to be replaced, you have to take a close inspection first by taking the chain from the bar and check for a missing chunks or broken rails which if there are missing, the bar needs to be replaced.
Wiggling of the chain while running on the bar
Check the chain if it’s not worn out or loose because these issues will make the chain wiggle as it runs. If the chain is good and snugly tensioned, move the chain left to right and see if the chain has noticeable wiggles. If it does, the grooves of the bar could have the problem and it can be due to the widening of the gap where the chain traverses. This will also cause the problem of chainsaw not cutting so no need for repair because this is the sign to replace the chainsaw bar.
Worn out grove on the chain bar
Chain on a chainsaw can get tilted due to worn-out grove on the chain bar or the gap on the chain bar has widened. If these happen, the chainsaw blade will normally tilt at an angle and will cause the chainsaw not cutting straight. To test the chain for any tilt, place the chainsaw on a flat surface and take a ruler and press it on the side of the chain and the bar. If you see wide gaps between the ruler and the chain, there is a problem with the chain bar and it may need to be replaced.
Why is My Chainsaw Smoking
Another problem that chainsaws usually encounter is overheating so we usually see questions among chainsaw owners like “why is my chainsaw smoking?” Chainsaws smoke is normal as we use them. However, if you see that there’s excessive smoke and you smell the burning odor, obviously there are the underlying problems such as the following:
Overheating due to insufficient air
Lack of airflow to the engine can make the chainsaw overheat while it will lose much of its power during operation. What can cause this can be due to a dirty air filter. As part of your maintenance, always clean the air filter by removing it and tapping it on the ground to remove the dust and dirt. If the dirt has already accumulated and solidified, immerse the filter in warm water and use a soft brush and detergent and clean it. Then let it air dry before putting it back.
Improper adjustment of idle
Excessive smoking from the exhaust can be the result of too much idling of the engine which you can observe while the engine is running idle. This means that too much gas is getting burned while the chainsaw is not rotating. This can answer the question of why my chainsaw is smoking. To solve this, adjust the idle screw by turning it clockwise and wait for the idle speed to go down. Then increase the throttle and adjust the screw counter-clockwise until you find the right idling level.
Distribution of oil to the chain and guide bar is not sufficient
When you see that smoke comes out of the bar and chain area, this could mean that the guide bar oil reservoir does not provide enough oil to lubricate both the rails of the bar and the chain thus causing them to overheat due to friction. Or sometimes the oil nozzle gets blocked by dirt. To avoid friction issues, always check the oil reservoir for the chain and bar and supply oil if necessary and check the nozzle’s oil for any blockage.
Now that we have identified the most common reasons why your chainsaw is not cutting or your chainsaw not cutting straight as well as why the engine smokes, try these troubleshooting tips first before taking your chainsaw to a repair shop or replacing your unit with a new one. With these DIY suggestions, you may save a lot of money.