As an avid DIYer and weekend warrior, I often find myself reaching for my trusty chainsaw to take on yardwork and home improvement projects. However, despite using this powerful tool for years, I still sometimes second-guess myself when installing a new chain – which way should it go on? Choosing the wrong direction can lead to frustration, inefficiency, and even pose safety hazards.
Through trial and error, research, and advice from more experienced chainsaw users, I’ve come to understand the importance of proper chain orientation. In this guide, I’ll walk through the key steps for determining the right direction for your chainsaw chain as well as techniques for safe and effective operation. Let’s cut through the confusion and learn the chainsaw chain basics!
Which Way Does the Chain Go on a Chainsaw?
The key to remembering the proper chain direction is understanding the purpose and movement of each component. The cutting edges of the chain should face forward on the top side of the guide bar. This allows them to efficiently cut into the wood as the chain rotates around the bar. The chain should move in a clockwise direction when looking at the saw from the right side. This drives the chain toward the sprocket at the tip of the bar, which powers the motion. If the chain runs backward, the cutting edges face the wrong way and can’t cut properly. Getting this rotation correct is crucial!
How to Check Chain Direction?
Checking a few key points on the chain itself will allow you to quickly assess if it’s facing the proper direction before installing it. Look closely at the drive links which fit into the sprocket, the cutter links with the sharp edges, and the guide links that run along the bar. The cutter links should lead the chain, followed by the drive links which power the motion. Trailing behind should be the guide links that stabilize the chain as it rotates. Ensure this sequence is correct – cutters, drivers, guides – when placing the chain along the top of the bar.
Steps to Install the Chain Correctly
Installing a new chain is easiest with the saw fully disassembled. Follow these key steps to ensure proper direction and tension:
Step 1: Remove the Chainsaw Casing
Taking off the casing gives open access to the bar and chain mounting system. Consult your saw’s manual for model-specific steps. Typically, removing a few housing screws allows the casing to separate, exposing the internal assembly.
Step 2: Reattach the Chain Bar
With the casing removed, you can detach the cutting bar to get a clear, unobstructed view. Reattach the bar to the arm which connects to the motor’s drive shaft. Be sure the bar lines up with the bolts and grooves on the body precisely.
Step 3: Place the Chain on the Bar
Now comes the critical part – setting the chain onto the guide bar in the proper direction. Remember, the cutters should lead, followed by the drivers and guides trailing behind. Double check that the sharp edges face forward on the top of the bar.
Step 4: Tighten the Chain
Use the chain tensioning system to pull the chain snug around the guide bar. Consult your manual for tightening direction. Leave only a little bit of play – too loose and the chain can derail or fly off. Too tight and it strains the motor. Adjust tension carefully.
Common Mistakes and Troubleshooting
Even experienced chainsaw users sometimes get the chain direction wrong. Here are some of the most common mistakes and how to fix them:
Installing the Chain Backwards
We’ve all been there – excited to try out a new chain only to have it run backwards! Look for the cutters trailing instead of leading the links. Simply flip the chain over to reverse the direction.
Chain Tension Issues
An overly tight or loose chain can lead to slow cutting, chain jumps, or increased wear. Regularly check tension and adjust as needed. Most chains should have only about 1/4 inch of play vertically.
Failing to lubricate and sharpen a dull chain in a timely manner can impact cutting performance or lead to hazards. Stick to manufacturer’s sharpening guidelines and oil the chain every time you fuel up the saw.
Should I Adjust the Tightness of the Chainsaw Chain Depending on its Direction?
Should I adjust the tightness of the chainsaw chain depending on its direction? Yes, it is important to follow chainsaw chain tightening guidelines regardless of the direction. Whether cutting forward or backward, improper chain tension can lead to performance issues and potential safety hazards. Maintaining the correct tightness ensures smooth operation, extends chain life, and reduces the likelihood of accidents during use.
Understanding which way your particular chainsaw model requires the chain to be installed is a must for any owner. Pay close attention to the orientation of the cutters, drive links, and guide links. Double check that the chain moves clockwise from the right side so that the cutters lead the chain around the tip sprocket. Taking time to properly tension the chain reduces risk of issues down the line. Be aware of potential maintenance needs around bar lubrication. And above all, prioritize safety by wearing protection, maintaining your saw properly, and ensuring correct chain direction. Master these fundamentals of chainsaw chain orientation and operation and you’ll be ready to take on any woodcutting task!
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know if my chainsaw chain is dull?
Signs of a dull chain include increased effort to cut, burn marks on the wood, and sawdust instead of wood chips. Many experts recommend sharpening after just 30 minutes of use.
What are the different types of chainsaw chains?
Common options include standard, semi-chisel, chisel, and skip chains. Chisel chains cut the fastest while skip chains are ideal for dirty or frozen settings. Match the chain type to your typical tasks.
How often should I sharpen my chainsaw chain?
In general, sharpen every 3-4 fill-ups or after significant use. More frequent sharpening maintains the tooth’s optimal 30 degree cutting angle. Letting it go too long increases wear.
How do I adjust the tension on my chainsaw chain?
Use the side tensioning screw to pull the bar forward and remove slack. Leave only a slight 1/4 inch of vertical play when properly tensioned. Don’t overtighten.
Can I use any chain on my chainsaw?
Chains must match the saw’s power and bar size. Confirm the gauge, pitch, drive link count, and bar mounting match the manufacturer’s specifications.
How do I clean my chainsaw chain?
Regularly use a wire brush to remove debris from the cutter, drive, and guide links. For heavy buildup, soak the chain in solvent instead of scrubbing.
What type of oil should I use for my chainsaw bar?
Look for quality bar and chain oils that are “tacky” and designed to stick to components at high speeds and temperatures. Vegetable-based organic oils are also an option.
Michael Boyle is the founder and main author of Chainsaws Finder, boasting over 20 years of experience in the chainsaw industry. Hailing from Texas, Michael combines his extensive knowledge and hands-on expertise to provide reliable advice and top-notch service. His vision is to empower chainsaw users to tackle any project with confidence, making Chainsaws Finder a trusted resource in the field.