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Chainsaw Cuts Crooked? Here’s What to Do

Chainsaw not cutting straight can be caused by a lot of factors. Irrespective of what the factors are bear in mind that it is not difficult to solve in most cases. Generally, a fully functional chainsaw should cut straight and smooth, but if this does not happen, your chainsaw is likely to be faulty.

The most common reasons your chainsaw won’t cut straight are:

  • Uneven sharpness
  • Unequal top plate
  • Bent bar
  • Uneven cutting teeth
  • Improper chain tension

When working perfectly, a chainsaw should cut through woods straightly and smooth but the moment your chainsaw starts curving to the side, then maintenance is imminent.

Before embarking on any maintenance, you must know why your chainsaw wasn’t cut straight, to begin with. Below, we outlined some of these reasons in-depth. So take a second to digest the tips listed, and, believe me, knowing what to do subsequently won’t be a problem for you.

Reasons Your Chainsaw Cuts Crooked and How to Fix it

Your chainsaw can cut crooked for a number of reasons. Some of the common reasons are:

Uneven Sharpness

One major reason a chainsaw curves to either the right or left during a cut is that it was unevenly sharpened. The unequal teeth of the chain cause it to take a different-sized bite into the wood.

The uneven sharpness of the chain is mainly due to manual sharpening, especially with the use of a file. Also, right-handed persons tend to sharpen the left side of the chain more than against the right side.

The added effort and attention paid to the sharpening of the chain is the difference that contributes to your chainsaw not cutting straight.

How to Fix an Uneven Sharpness

While sharpening the chain, pay equal attention to both the left and right sides to ensure both are sharpened evenly. A better way to do this is by not concentrating on your stronger hand alone. Work on the side you feel lacks attention the more until both sides are balanced.

One other alternative to avoid an uneven sharpness of the chain is to use a recommended chainsaw sharpener. In simple terms, consider ditching the manual sharpening of your chainsaw. Using a grinder allows you to preset the angle, depth, and length thus making the duplication of each side easier.

Unequal Top Plate

The majority of the time, when a chainsaw cuts crooked, people tend to think the problem is from the bar. While it is quite logical to assume the problem is from the bar, it is not in most cases. This accounts for why the problem persists even after straightening the bar or even changing it totally. But then, the chainsaw cutting crook can be a result of the unequal top plate. An unequal top plate causes the tooth to take uneven bites that cause the chainsaw to curve to the side that takes up the chunk of the bite.

How to Fix an Unequal Top Plate

What are the sizes of the top plates? To work efficiently, the top plates should be of equal size. If you notice one side is longer than the other side, sharpen the longer side until it matches the shorter one. Also, ensure that the angles match each other as a distortion might lead to a new problem.

Bent Bar

The chainsaw bar can cause the chainsaw not to cut woods straight. Not i=only only is it a major part of the chainsaw, it guides the chain as well. In most cases, a bent bar will lead to curves while the wood is being cut but this might not be the main problem.

How to fix a Bent Bar

No doubt, a worn-out bar will cause a chainsaw to not cut straight. But then, you can fix this with a DIY approach without any form of technicality. If your chainsaw bar comes with a replaceable nose, you can straighten it by hammering it on a flat anvil. Also, ensure the bent peak is facing up. Depending on your financial strength, you might consider changing the entire bar.

Uneven Cutting Teeth

When a chainsaw experience cutting issues, especially crooked cutting, it’s mostly due to some issues. Uneven cutting teeth is one of those reasons that can cause a chainsaw not to cut straight.

 Problems associated with the teeth are always a result of tear and wear. Due to continuous usage, the teeth will eventually become dull and blunt, thus dragging through woods. The dragging leads to uneven teeth, which causes the chainsaw to bend and pull in one direction. 

How to Fix Uneven Cutting Teeth

Worn-out teeth become uneven and this leads to crooked cutting of woods. The simplest solution is to make sure the teeth are of equal size. Anything contrary to this will lead to the cut leaning to the side of the teeth with the biggest bites.

In addition, check the teeth regularly to ensure they are rightly filed at the right angles. Sharpen the teeth using a sharping guide or employ the services of a professional. Particles such as rocks and pebbles can lead to dull teeth. To maintain the sharpness of your chainsaw teeth, dispose of all hard objects such as nails, rocks from your work environment.

Improper chain tension

A chain that is too loose can lead to a crooked cutting of woods. Not only will it cause the chainsaw not to cut woods straight, but it can also pull off and cause injuries.

Also, if the chains are too tightened, they won’t move freely and smoothly around the guide bar, thus causing the wood not to cut properly.

How to Fix Improper chain tension

Fixing this isn’t difficult at all. If the chain is too loose or too tight, loosen the adjustment screw as you desire then re-tighten the nuts.

Some Common Chainsaw Problems and How to Solve Them

Chainsaws are specifically designed for just one function—to cut wood. Just like any other power tool, it comes with unique problems that need to be addressed.

Some of these problems range from minor ones to complex issues that need to be addressed. Through proper care and maintenance, some of the chainsaw problems can be avoided.

The first step to solving any chainsaw problem is to understand the type of chainsaw suitable for your needs and how it operates. As the case may be, we address some of the common problems associated with chainsaws below.

Choosing the Chainsaw to Buy

Your choice of a chainsaw comes with a risk–, the development of a problem in the future. Therefore, before choosing any chainsaw, your first question should be your prior experience using such. Like any other power tool with standard safety precautions, choosing the right chainsaw that equates to your level of experience is the right thing to do.

Also, putting the purpose for which you want to buy a chainsaw into consideration is also important. For a light purpose like cutting shrubs, trimming of ornamental plants, it would be foolhardy to buy heavy and industrial chainsaws.

Buying your Chainsaw

Through proper care and maintenance, some of the chainsaw problems can be avoided.

Value does not equal price, but then, price and value can be so misleading. When it comes to buying gadgets and tools, I will advise you to stick to popular brands. They’ve paid their dues and have become household names and wouldn’t want to ruin their reputation for anything. Also, check other people’s reviews before making your choice.


Your chainsaw engine can get exceedingly overheated, especially when being used outside during summer. The best way to prevent this is to carry out regular cleaning of the saw after every use. First, clean the inside of the exhaust. The exhaust is notorious for being a haven for sawdust and broken wood particles.

Flooded Engine

A flooded engine can pose a serious problem to a chainsaw engine. Due to the flooded engine, getting the chainsaw started can be a serious problem. This happens as a result of gas being applied to the engine before it is brought to life. For the engine to start, the stagnant gas needs to be drained off. Though strenuous a bit, getting the engine to start means you have to constantly pull the starter till the engine revs back to life. To get the engine started faster, it is important to try starting it while the engine is off. This gets the engine warmer quicker. The engine should bounce back to life after a few attempts.

Turnover Issues

Though not a common occurrence, chainsaws can still encounter turnover issues. When this eventually occurs, most times, it is due to engine abuse or that the engine hasn’t been used for a long time. According to experts, the cause of this is improper lubrication of the engine. Improper lubrication of the engine causes the metals to clank and heat up. To prevent this type of problem from occurring, ensure that you lubricate the engine regularly.

Final Remarks

By and large, most cutting problems of a chainsaw can be eliminated by ensuring timely maintenance of its components such as the chain and the bar. The bar needs to be lubricated regularly and the chain should be sharpened when needed. Note that the chain sharpening should be done equally on all cutting teeth so that the chain doesn’t vibrate during operation. Furthermore, always avoid using the chainsaw in dusty or damp conditions.