March 29

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How To Set The Right Direction of Chainsaw Chain

Chainsaws are about its chains. The chains must be of good quality and should be functioning properly.

If it doesn’t happen, you won’t be able to make good cuts. At many occasions, non-functioning chainsaws can cause serious injuries while running the machine. 

For this reason, the owners should be very careful to set the right direction of chainsaw chain before using it. Many of such owners face problems in terms of the chain running backwards, if that happens, a lot of work is needed to be done to fix the problem. 

A backward running chain is something you don’t want; as this may cause bad damages to both the chainsaw and your work.

Getting the chainsaw chain direction in the correct way maybe frustrating to many owners. Especially if you are facing this problem for the first time and has no prior experience or knowledge on how to work with it.

However, if the work is done properly, this may not seem difficult at all. At first this may seem scary as the chain direction is facing backwards towards you.

However, by applying some simple steps, you may be able to fix it very easily within a short period of time. In the process, you will be comfortably able to run the chainsaw safely and effectively with good cuts in a flexible way.

First of all, whenever you are working with a machine like a chainsaw, always be sure to put on the necessary safety gears that you have. Also check your owner’s manual for the instructions, they usually show proper guidelines on what safety gears to wear for which specific purpose.

There is a tool that comes with the chainsaw that are used to loosen the nuts and adjust the chain tension on the screws that are there on the clutch cover. 

The tool may not look like a normal screwdriver but something which is made specifically to open the chainsaw chain casing.

The chainsaw casings are usually called clutch cover and in the manual it would be mentioned as clutch cover removal tool or something similar.

Before removing the clutch cover, make sure you disengage the chain break. This is located near the handle of the chainsaw on top of the machine. The disengagement is done by pulling the handle back.

When the chain break is disengaged, try moving the bar forward. See you freely it moves forward or if moves forward at all. Don’t be nervous it doesn’t, you are here to fix the problem and so you will.

If the chain break is not disengaged, you will not be able to put the clutch cover back on the machine. It won’t fit and probably may cause more trouble to the machine. So once you are done, slowly loosen the bigger nuts with the tool and gradually the clutch cover is off.

Removing the chain

When the clutch cover is removed, it will expose the clutch and the bar. Hold the bar tight in front with your right hand and with your left hand hold the handle.

With a good firm hold while making sure your hands are safe, move the bar slightly to the right from the clutch cover you just removed. When you do that, you will notice the chain starts loose itself on its when as you are moving the bar.

Just hold the chain now and slow remove it completely from the bar. This is very simple. When you remove the chain, make sure you clean the bar and other areas such as the clutch and so. Also clean the chain in the process, using whatever products you have got.

Chain Examination

When you are done cleaning, it is time for you to check the chain properly. There are three different ways of doing it, if you want to be completely thorough, go through all to help you with proper satisfaction.

First check the drive link for which way it is pointed. The drive link should be pointing forward. The drive links are usually pointy and wave shaped points, located at one side of the chain.

Check where the little wave is pointing towards. If it is pointing towards the end of the bar, then then chain is pointing towards the right direction. If not, you must correct it.

However, there is also another method for you to try. The cutter is a very important part of the chain, because it cuts the woods. So, be very careful because the cutter is very sharp and may cut your finger if you touch it.

This cutter should be facing or pointing forward and a very non safe but good way of checking is by touching the cutter on the top. If you don’t feel right to do this, you can always tell by checking the shape of the metal.

The cutter that is made of metal is designed to cut through from the front direction and so the front is typically taller. The front part of also pointy and should be facing towards the bar while the back end is not as open as the taller front part. Observing carefully may help you in this aspect.

Last but not the least, there is another good method as well. There is another small piece of metal that is situation in front of the cutter. It is not a cutting blade and its function is not to cut but guide the way for the cutter to cut.

This is why it is actually called a guide. The main purpose of the guide is to control the amount of wood sliced by the cutter. In good machines, such guides help the overall function of the chain to control the aggressiveness of the cut.

So, if the guide is immediately in front of the cutter, facing towards the bar, the chain is pointing at the correct direction.

Putting the chain on properly

Without setting the chain direction properly on your chainsaw, you cannot expect to cut like butter; no matter how powerful or expensive chainsaw you use.

When everything is checked to find out that the chain is not pointing the forward direction, it is done to put it back together in the right and correct way. Many old customers would like to open the bar completely.

However, many of the new chainsaw brands does not recommend it. If you still want to do so you can do it in order to clean the bar properly and then put it back on. In this scenario, you have to remove the extra two nuts that are there.

You can place the chain on the bar and screw the nuts while fitting the chain on the bar. Or, you can put the bar on first and check if the clutch is working properly, in terms of making smooth cycles forward.

After that you hold the chain and place chain on the forward moving clutch, guiding slowly in the process to the bar. Be sure to check again and again if the chain is faced towards the front direction. You will do this by checking on the drive link, the cutter or the guide again. 

If you follow the above things, you can set the right direction of chainsaw chain.

Replacing the chain

After long time of cutting and slicing, the chains my not be working as efficiently as it used to before. This is the reason why at times it starts moving on the opposite directions, both for over usage and glitches in your maintenance.

Certainly, the speed quality is not good as used to before and this is the reason why you are checking the chain direction. Even if the chain is placed at the right direction, you may not be getting the desired speed at times.

This is because the chain is damaged, you have over used it or haven’t taken proper care of the machine.

If the chain is not cleaned or are run properly for a longer period of time, it becomes dull and functionality becomes not up to the mark. You can always check if the chain is dull or is pointing at the wrong direction.

Dull Chains

So you have taken all the steps by removing the chain to check on the drive link or the cutter. But all you see is that the chain is actually placed at the forward moving direction, which is the correct way and has no abnormalities in this aspect.

The other idea that is coming to your mind is that the chain is probably dull. For example, while you are cutting the woods, you are not supposed to force or push it, if you are doing so, chances are that the chain is dull and it is time for you to replace it or perhaps sharpen it. Some people think it is hard to sharpen a chainsaw. However, today there are many easy to setup chainsaw sharpners in the market which can sharpen your chain within 5-10 minutes.

Some of the other issues that you might have facing with a dull chain are chainsaw shaking or bouncing while cutting, making strange noises, chainsaw pulling in a different direction and so on.

Dull chainsaws also fail to make large wood chips, instead it makes fine sawdust. When it happens many people my try to put extra lubrication to clean and make it run smoothly, but this doesn’t solve the problem. Instead the whole machine start smoking.

Replace or Sharp?

You may be faced with an option of either sharpening it or replacing it. The advantage of sharpening is the only fact that it is cost effective. It is always better to replace your machine with a brand new chain if you have extra cash.

But if you don’t want to waste money, sharpening can be an option too. There are ways of determining whether you need to sharpen or replace the chain. For example, if you examining the chain to see that there are pieces missing or they are damaged, you have no other options other than to replace the chain. 

If on the other hand, the chain appears to be fine with not damages, it is probably just dull and do sharpen it. A good chain lasts long even after being sharpened many times.

The highest number one can give is around ten to twelve sharpens, after that it is good to replace. You can always safely remove the cutters and the driver’s link to clean and sharpen them separately for smooth functions.

Many chainsaw brands provide specific marking on the cutters, indicating up to which point it is good to sharpen and clean. It is usually advised not to go beyond those points. Such suggestions are to keep your chains dull free for a longer period of time, also avoiding chances of being damaged.

How to sharpen

There are several tools that can be found in the market to sharpen the chainsaw chains. They are specifically called chainsaw sharpener. You can use these tools to sharpen the cutter and you don’t even have to separate the chain from the bar. 

You can remove all the parts if you want to, especially if you are working with a normal tool, tools that are usually used for sharpening knives and such. But, the chain sharpener are designed for specific purposes and in this aspect may make your life easier.

Sharpening the chain is probably a long and boring process. It makes a lot of noise and you may not enjoy doing this since you may get tired in the process. You can always take your time and go easily, listen to a music you like perhaps, this may cut down the noise.

Final Words

A chainsaw may look like a complicated machine to many who have been using it for the first time. However, if you gradually find cutting woods to be your passion, you may start falling in love with your machine and every parts that comes with it.

In the process, you will automatically enjoy doing whatever that is required for you to do in order to make your machine run the best ways possible.

About the author

Chris Ross

My name is Chris Ross. I'm an arborist by profession & a blogger by passion.Currently I live in Austin, United States. Being in the cutting services for more than 10 years, I know a thing or two about chainsaw. I love to write about chainsaw for homeowners and professionals. I hope my epic guides will help you to choose,buy and maintain chainsaw.


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