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Chainsaw Bar Upside Down: Tips From A Professional

When watching loggers and professional home renovators work,  you might have noticed some of them use their chainsaws with their bar upside down. Seems quite odd, right? After all, why would anyone use a chainsaw with something mounted upside down?

Chainsaw Bar Upside Down

Using a chainsaw upside down evenly distributes the wear across the bar, making your chainsaw bar last longer and work more efficiently. When sawing, the bottom of the bar experiences more wear. Regularly turning it upside down ensures that both the top and bottom of the bar experience similar wear.

In this article, I will explain how often you should flip the bar upside down and how to do this. I will also show how to know when the chainsaw bar is bad and if the chain is on backward.

How often should you flip the bar on your chainsaw 

All chainsaw bars are designed to be used interchangeably, either right side up or upside down. Standard chainsaw Bars have two oil holes that lubricate the chain no matter how the bar is attached. Removing your chain for sharpening presents an excellent opportunity to flip your bar.

There is not a fixed time after you should flip the bar on your chainsaw, as long as you do it regularly. Some owners flip it after each day they use the chainsaw. Others do it when they sharpen the chain. Either way, ensure that both sides are equally used to get an equal amount of wear. I do not recommend flipping it only when you see that a particular side has experienced too much wear.

● How to flip a chainsaw bar

  • Step 1:  Make sure your chain is free.
  • Step 2:  Loosen the two nuts that hold the sprocket cover in place using a 0.75 inches  / 19 mm spanner.
  • Step 3:  Use a screwdriver to loosen the chain tensioning screw. You will observe the chain beginning to loosen and wobble between the bar and guard rail. 
  • Step 4:  Next, loosen the nuts and free the sprocket cover completely.
  • Step 5:  Remove your chainsaw bar.
  • Step 6:  Flip it over and align it back.
  • Step 7:  Hand screw back the two nuts after placing the sprocket cover back on.
  • Step 8:  Tighten the tensioning screw between the bar machine and guard rail.
  • Step 9:  Tighten the two nuts on your sprocket cover.
  • Step 10: The chainsaw bar is flipped and ready for use.

Are Chainsaw Blades Directional?

All chainsaw blades are directional, regardless of make and model. They move in the same direction, with the blade’s edges facing clockwise. If your chainsaw blade moves in the opposite direction, it won’t cut wood well and might even cause an accident.

Here’s why you should always use your chainsaw blade running clockwise:

  • Reason 1. Wastage of bar oil: While it is essential to use up bar oil when cutting, an improperly mounted chainsaw will result in wasted bar oil.
  • Reason2. Mangled chain-link: A chain-link should always be set at the base to ensure enough propelling room for the blade. If you put it on backward, you put the chain at risk of being damaged due to a lack of space for the chain to run through.
  • Reason 3. Shortened motor lifespan: Having the chain running backward puts the dull edges in a position to cut; hence you have to increase pressure on the chainsaw in order to cut. This greatly stresses the motor, thus reducing its lifespan.

If you want your chainsaw to run safely and efficiently, you have to understand the direction in which it is running. Failure to do so might put you at significant risk of injury.

How To Get the Chainsaw Blade Direction Right When Fixing It

Observe your chain saw from above; you will notice two different blades on the chain. The blades have two tips, a sharp one and a blunt one.

The sharp one should always rotate away from you if you hold the chainsaw in your hand with the bar in front of you. Always make sure the sharp edges on the top of the bar face away from you and the blunt edges face you.

How Do You Know When a Chainsaw Bar Is Bad? 

A chainsaw bar experiences a lot of pressure and friction from the constant spinning of the chain. In time, the bar wears out, which is not always easy to see. So, how exactly do you know if your bar is worn out?

Your know your chainsaw bar is worn out if:

  • The bar is bent or damaged
  • The sprocket is jammed or damaged
  • The edges of the blades are tilted
  • The Chain does not move well around the bar
  • The chains run hot quickly with a sharp chain

● Damaged or Bent Bar

A damaged bar is one of the most common signs of a deteriorating bar. To conduct a proper checkup, you have to remove the bar and chain. If the chainsaw bar is bent or a part of the rail edge is broken. It is a clear sign you have to change the bar as soon as possible.

● A Jammed or Damaged Sprocket 

A nose sprocket is a gear found at the front side of the chainsaw bar near the engine. It allows the chain to rotate freely while being fixed between its teeth. The sprocket gets its oil from the bar oil pump near the chainsaw’s motor. If the sprocket does not receive enough lubrication, your chain might get caught up or even break from friction.

Another incidence might occur when the sprocket’s nose jams due to its edge being pinched by the weight of the tree or log you are cutting. In such a scenario, the sprocket might break a tooth, which means you won’t be able to operate the chainsaw at all.

Most chainsaw bars have replaceable nose sprockets, and you can easily replace them with a new one. If your chainsaw lacks a replaceable nose sprocket, you will have to buy a new bar.

Ultimately, the best way to avoid landing in this predicament is by regularly keeping your chainsaw’s oil reservoirs filled and greasing the sprocket to improve its durability and efficiency.

● The Edges of the Blade Are Tilted

Another sign of a damaged chainsaw bar groove is a tilted blade. This also indicates that the bar’s groves may be worn out on the whole chain, causing the chain to tilt with the blade. To determine if your chain is tilting, use this basic method:

  • Step 1:  Place the chainsaw on a table or a flat exterior.
  • Step 2:  Place a ruler on the bar’s side, then depress the ruler onto the bar and side of the chain.
  • Step 3:  Observe if there is an aperture between the ruler and your bar’s exterior.

If you detect a gap, this is a sign that the bar’s grove is still functional and the chain and blades are not leaning sideways.

However, if your ruler lies flat on top of the bar and beside the chain, this means there is a lot of space amid the guard rails of the bar and chain. Causing the blades to tilt to one side. If your chain tilts, the blade will cut crookedly, causing lopsided cuts or minimal cutting power if the blade is significantly tilted.

● Chain Jiggles On the Bar

When we say the chain moves around, we are not talking about a slacking chain but the side-to-side movement of the chain on the bar. No matter how taut it is. If your chain is wobbling between the groves of your bar, you may find it quite impossible to make a neat cut as the chain doesn’t settle at one point.

Here are simple ways to ascertain if the chain is wobbling on the bar:

  • Checking to see if it’s loose or beat down: A beat-down chain might cause it to wiggle between the groves.
  • Stretching the chain: Straining the chain to see if it fits snugly on the groves 
  • Trying to stretch the chain: If the chain moves probably mean that it’s not tight enough. Shifting the chain side to side

If the chain is moving from left to right, it is a clear indication that the grooves of the bar have significantly widened compared to their standard gap. When using a bar with widened groves, you seldom cut accurately, no matter how sharp the chain is. While some shops offer repair services to fix the groove gaps, it is always advisable to always replace the bar if the chain is wiggling too much.

What Happens If You put Chainsaw Blade on Backwards?

Chainsaws are handy tools. They make your cutting job easier and quicker and require minimal strength to get the job done. That said, when not properly handled, a chainsaw can turn out to be quite dangerous. A tiny mistake can lead to severe injuries. That’s why it’s essential to understand their proper use and maintenance. For starters, you need to know the direction of the blades so that you can protect yourself from any dangers a backward chainsaw might cause. 

A wrongly mounted chainsaw blade can result in wear and tear to the engine, damage to the guide bar due to increased tension, and waste bar oil. Working with a chainsaw with a backward chain can lead to dangerous kickbacks.

If you are not wearing protective gear during your work, kickback from the chain can cause serious bodily injuries. That is why I always recommend wearing proper personal protective equipment (PPE). And exercise caution when handling, servicing and working with a chainsaw.

How Do You Know if the Chain Is on Backwards? 

If your chain no longer cuts as well as before mounting it again, it is a clear sign your chain has been installed backward. In some cases, it doesn’t even cut. The chainsaw might also produce a lot of smoke and fine dust. This is because the chainsaw isn’t cutting the wood and instead, chipping and grazing it.

Check the blade to ensure it’s running clockwise when you see the engine on the left side. The dull edges of the top of the chain should always face you.

How To Reset the Chain

If you find your chain facing the wrong way, then the chances are that you or somebody else replaced it incorrectly after servicing it. If your chain is backward, you can reset it with the following steps.

● Step 1. Take Mandatory Precautions:

The first step is to turn the chainsaw off to avoid the risk of injuring yourself on it. Also, wear safeguarding gloves to ensure you don’t cut yourself.

● Step 2. Replace the chain:

With the help of a  wrench, carefully free the side panel. Free the brake first if the chainsaw uses a brake on the side plate.

● Step 3. Ease The Tensioning Screw:

The tension screw is situated inside a guide bar. Loosen it with a screwdriver to easily remove the chain. Now turn the chains around so it faces the other direction.

● Step 4. Thread the Chain Onto the Saw:

Lead the chain carefully around the sprocket. You can start by weaving the links through the bar’s top, then sliding it to its front, and ultimately passing it underneath. Don’t forget to check if you have indeed placed the chain in the correct direction. 

● Step 5. Put the Side Plate Back:

Replace the side plate, but leave the nuts a bit loose. You can then secure the chain using the tension screw situated inside the chainsaw bar. Confirm the chain’s tautness by tugging the chain against the bar. It is okay if you can haul it a bit, but not too much. You can now wholly tighten the side plate.