Is Your Chainsaw Chain Grabbing? 5 Things To Do To Correct It

A chainsaw can be described as a mechanical portable saw used for cutting through large-sized wood in a forest or sawmill. Sometimes you’ll find your chainsaw chain grabbing after using it for a while as it has a set of teeth attached to it’s rotating chain which catches the wood as it runs along the guide bar.

A chainsaw can be used for a variety of activities – activities which includes carving sculptures, art pieces, timber construction, fencing and building. In most cases, however, a chainsaw is mainly used for cutting and trimming trees. Many people also use chainsaws to cut wood up in their gardens so that it fits into the log burner or fireplace.

A chainsaw works best when used with a sharpened chain – which is an important factor in its ability to effectively cut logs. Even a chainsaw at its best will lose its sharpness over time. As a result, it will make it more tedious and strenuous for chainsaw users and also make the chainsaw wear easily.

There are a number of signs you need to pay attention to on your chainsaw to know if there’s a chance of your chainsaw chain grabbing when cutting logs.

  • The chainsaw chain will run in a single direction causing a crooked cut as it catches onto wood and splinters it. This is an indication that the cutting teeth on the side of the chain are dull.
  • Seeing your chainsaw rattle and bounce off the log during a cut. This happening will make it difficult to achieve precise and perfect positioning through the cutting phase.
  • When making a vertical cut or when performing a split or a crosscut, the chainsaw produces fine sawdust with coarse strands.
  • In trying to remove the chainsaw from the wood log, force or pressure needs to be applied to the engine unit.
  • When you have adequate lubrication and the correct chain tension but still can see smoke coming from the chainsaw as you attempt woodcuts.

If you can see any of the above signs happening when using your chainsaw and can see your chainsaw grabbing, then it is time to sharpen or even replace the chain.


5 Tips on How To Correct Your Chainsaw Chain


The truth is, almost anyone will encounter one or two problems when it comes to their chainsaw. Most of the issues you have can be corrected and resolved easily with the right amount of research done. When it comes to repairing, working, maintaining and correcting chainsaw problems that are most common to many users, there are a number of basic ways to resolve them and today I will be sharing that with you.


  1. For a start, you can avoid any major problems with your chainsaw through regular maintenance. This can be done by regularly cleaning out the air filter, bar and chain oil. When adding fuel to your chainsaw, use of fresh fuel in the chainsaw, run a file over the chain and properly clean the entire component.


  1. If you notice that your chain dulls quickly during a job, then it could be as a result of a couple of things. The first thing you should do is to check your user manual and guidelines to ensure that you have the right-sized file for your chain. It is also worth checking if you are just applying just too much pressure when you file the chain. Doing this will lead to cutting edges that are too thin. This will make your chain dull quickly and begin grabbing when cutting wood. So always check your user manual for guidelines on how to fix mistakes or problems.


  1. The problems with how the chain cuts sometimes can also be associated with the high or low quality of sharpening. If the chain cuts crooked at an angle, then you are probably filing in the cutters at different angles or applying inconsistent pressure on one side over the other. You have to make sure that the angle on the top plate and also the size of the cutter are consistent with your chain.


  1. You can loosen the nuts on the guide bar side panel, this will give room to the guide bar and chain so that they can both be adjusted correctly. Some chainsaw brakes are attached directly to the side panel, if this is the same with your chainsaw, then you should make sure to unlock and loosen the brake before removing the side panel.

It is very important to always lift up the nose of the chainsaw while trying to tighten the nuts that secure the side panel and guide bar. Once the guide bar and chain are adjusted, the nuts that secure the side panel and guide bar should be tightened firmly to help ensure the chainsaw chain is firm and tight.


  1. A damaged or loose chainsaw bar or chain can be dangerous while operating the machine. The chain has teeth that run slightly inside the bar which helps to keep the chain moving on a straight line. To inspect your bar on the chainsaw, you will have to remove the chain cover first, then remove the chain and bar.

The rails surrounding the perimeter and angle of the bar should be totally cleared of any debris or dirt. If the bar has worn out to a point where its rails have become shallow, the entire bar may actually need to be replaced. Also, make sure your chain oiler is in proper working condition at all times which can also help lengthen the life of your bar.

The chain needs to be replaced once it has broken teeth or does not fit back into the rails, it will likely need to be replaced with a new one. Some chains can be repaired – depending on the type of damage – with a flat-file. It is also important to always make sure that your chain fits snugly inside the bar and the teeth that keep it from running off from the bar are not worn down too low.

Is Your Chainsaw Chain Grabbing? 5 Things To Do To Correct It

When To Replace A Chainsaw Chain

Even though your chainsaw might not be used on a very regular basis, there would be times when you will feel like you are actually doing more work than you should be doing when putting your chainsaw to use.

The saw may look and feel a bit sluggish. The cuts may also take more time and longer to get done or you may even discover that you constantly have issues with your chainsaw.

Some other things you may notice will include;

  1. Teeth are totally broken or worn out unevenly.
  2. Regular issues with chain Tension.
  3. Presence of smoke when cutting.
  4. An unbalanced feel when using the chainsaw or it cuts unevenly during use.
  5. Coarse chips rather than sawdust is left behind after use.

How To Sharpen A Chainsaw Chain

If you notice your dull chainsaw blade burning and bucking its way through the wood, then here is some guideline on how to sharpen your chainsaw blade and how to avoid messy chain saw accidents,

  1. You need to sharpen your chainsaw while wearing a pair of gloves and using a filing kit made for chainsaws.
  2. You then need to engage the chain brake and slowly clamp the bar in a vice.
  3. You will have to gently place the guide between the rivets on the chain. You also need to place the arrows on the guide pointing it toward the nose of the bar.
  4. Rollers on the guide help to keep you from going too deep into the plate of the cutter and follow the angle on the top plate of the cutter.
  5. Then steadily use the chainsaw file. Stroking 2 to 3 times with the file until the face of the cutter looks like shiny silver.
  6. After sharpening it for a while, you then need to release the chain brake and rotate the chain forward just to expose more cutters to sharpen. You should then reset the brakes.
  7. When you are done sharpening the cutters on one side of the chain,  you should flip the chainsaw around and sharpen the other side of the cutters.
  8. Use the depth gauge tool to adjust the height of the depth gauges on the chain. It is worth noting that if the depth gauges are too high, the cutters would not reach the wood.
  9. Always make sure to re-sharpen your chain if needed prior to doing a major log cutting exercise.
  10. As much as possible, try keeping your chain out of the dirt when cutting, to reduce the chances of your chainsaw chain grabbing soon afterwards.


A chainsaw can look scary but in less than 10 minutes you can get it all sharpened and ready for use. With the help of a chainsaw file and guides, you can transform your slow-cutting chainsaw into a firewood killer. You can sharpen your chain right on the saw and doing it regularly will get you many years of sharp cutting life with your chain.

When Your Chainsaw Should Be Sharpened

The chainsaw chain can actually be sharpened several times, There is no specific or given number of times that it can be done. But chains are sharpened usually based on different people opinions and it varies.

Hand sharpening actually is just a mere touching up process. Depending on how many times the chainsaw was used, a chain can usually be sharpened at least 3 to 5 times max. A lot also depends upon the operating conditions and the maintenance of the chain and the bar.

Other factors to consider are the types of wood and the contents of the materials being cut etc. Dirt is often the main enemy of the chain and bar. Rapid wear also develops when the chain and bar accumulate any type of grit.

The best recommendations would actually be to have an existing chain to be professionally inspected and resharpened. If possible, chain should be completely replaced.