Chainsaw Maintenance

Can You Put A Chainsaw Chain On Backwards? [Is it Possible]

Ever found yourself scratching your head, wondering if you’ve just flipped your chainsaw chain the wrong way?

And yes, it’s entirely possible to put a chainsaw chain on backward. This seemingly small mishap can lead to a big headache, as a backwards chain means your saw won’t do its one job—cutting! When the teeth are facing away from their intended direction, they’ll leave you with nothing but a rough, unproductive day in the woods.

Let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of why this happens and how to ensure your chainsaw is always ready to slice through timber as it should.

Can You Put A Chainsaw Chain On Backwards?


Of course YES, you can physically put a chainsaw chain on backwards. However, it’s not something you want to do intentionally.

The chainsaw chain is designed to cut in one direction, with its cutter blades specifically oriented for optimal performance. If you put it on backwards, the saw won’t cut effectively, making your task more laborious and potentially dangerous. 

It’s essential to ensure correct chain direction when mounting, guaranteeing your chainsaw operates smoothly, safely, and efficiently. In short, while possible, a backward chainsaw chain won’t get your job done right.

Chain Direction

If you’ve ever taken a close look at your chainsaw chain, you’ll notice that the cutting teeth, or cutters, are designed to face a certain direction – that’s the way the chain is meant to travel.

These cutter blades are the workhorses of your chainsaw; they gnaw through the wood as the chain loops around the guide bar.

Imagine it this way. Picture a team of loggers working in unison, each striking their axe at a tree with perfect rhythm. That’s your chainsaw chain when mounted correctly.

Now, imagine the chaos if one logger suddenly starts swinging his axe in the opposite direction. That’s what happens when your chainsaw chain is put on backward.

Consequences of a Backward Chain

If you put the chain on backward, you might still see it moving around the guide bar, and the engine might still roar to life, but you’ll be in for a shock when you try to cut something.

Instead of the smooth-cutting action, you’re used to, the chainsaw will struggle to make a dent. It might seem like you’re trying to cut through a steel beam with a butter knife.

Preventing the Backward Blunder

Avoiding this situation is simple: always check the direction of the chain when you’re reassembling your chainsaw. The chain’s cutters should face forward on the top of the guide bar and backward on the bottom.

Read: How Do I Know If My Chainsaw is Backwards?

Note: If you’re unsure about the chain direction, take a moment to consult your chainsaw’s manual or look up a guide online. It might seem like a hassle, but trust us – a minute of double-checking can save you a world of frustration.

Key Points & Tips

  • You can put a chainsaw chain on backwards, but it will severely hamper the cutting efficiency.
  • Always ensure the cutters are facing the right direction when mounting the chain.
  • If in doubt, consult the manual or seek professional advice.

What happens if you put a chainsaw chain on backwards?


No Wood Cutting for You: The chain’s teeth are like arrows that need to point the right way to dive into the wood. Flip them backwards, and it’s like trying to row a boat with the oars flipped around – you’re not getting anywhere.

Jam Session (But Not the Good Kind): A backwards chain is prone to throwing a tantrum, getting all jammed up against the bar. It’s like when your shoelaces get caught on something – suddenly, you’re stuck.

Breakage Bonanza: Push a backwards chain too hard, and it might just snap. Think of it like snapping a rubber band that’s been stretched too far – it can whip back and nobody wants that.

Always check that your chain is facing the right way, like checking your shoes are on the right feet before a jog. It’s a simple step that keeps things smooth and safe.

How To Put A Chain On A Chainsaw? Explained

You know, back in the day when my grandpa was still knee-high to a grasshopper, he’d tell stories about working on the family farm. It was a time when tasks like sharpening tools and replacing parts were just as common as eating apple pie for dessert.

One of these stories was about installing a chainsaw chain – a vital skill in their wood-chopping, land-clearing adventures.

With this step-by-step guide and a dash of good ol’ American gumption, you’ll be back to slicing through timber in no time. So, let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work!

Pick up Your Tools

Much like a cowboy prepping his saddle before a ride, you need to get your gear in order. Here are the essentials:

  1. A new chainsaw chain
  2. Your chainsaw manual
  3. A wrench or socket that fits your chainsaw’s bolts
  4. A flathead screwdriver

First, Remove the Old Chain

  • Loosen the nuts on the chainsaw’s side cover without removing them completely.
  • Turn the tensioning screw counter-clockwise to slacken the chain.
  • Remove the side cover to expose the drive sprocket and the old chain.
  • Lift the chain off the sprocket and guide bar gently, taking your time and being careful.

Get Ready to Install the New Chain

Next, you’re gonna want to double-check your new chain. Ensure it’s the right size, and that it’s sharp and ready for action, much like a young gun ready for his first rodeo. Also, ensure the drive links fit into your chainsaw’s guide bar.

Read: How to Measure Chainsaw Chain for Replacement?

Install the New Chain

Installing the new chain is a bit like line dancing: it’s all about getting the steps in the right order. Feed the chain onto the drive sprocket, then carefully guide it into the guide bar’s groove, going around the nose and back to the sprocket.

Secure the Chain

Reattach the side cover, but don’t tighten the nuts completely yet. Now, adjust the chain tension. The chain should be snug against the guide bar, but you should still be able to pull it around by hand. Once the tension feels right, tighten those nuts.

Back in Action

And just like that, you’re back in the saddle again! Remember to test your work in a safe environment and make any necessary adjustments. Also, keep an eye on your chain’s tension during the first few uses, as new chains can stretch a bit.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is my chainsaw chain on backwards?

If your chainsaw isn’t cutting properly or the sawdust is very fine, the chain might be on backwards.

How do you know if your chainsaw chain is on backwards?

Check the cutting teeth’s direction; they should face forward on the top of the chain.

What happens if you put a chainsaw chain on backwards?

Putting a chain on backwards makes the chainsaw ineffective at cutting and can be dangerous.

Is it possible to put a chainsaw chain on backwards?

Yes, it’s possible to accidentally put a chainsaw chain on backwards.

Does it matter what chain you put on a chainsaw?

Yes, you must use the correct size and type of chain for your chainsaw model for safe and effective cutting.

Do chainsaw chains have a direction?

Chainsaw chains do have a direction; the teeth must face the right way to cut.


  • Correct Orientation: Ensure the chain’s teeth face forward on the top of the guide bar.
  • Installation Errors: Putting a chain on backwards will lead to ineffective cutting.
  • Safety First: A backward chain not only fails to cut but can also be a safety hazard.
  • Double-check: Always review the chain direction when installing.
  • Proper Tension: After installation, adjust the chain for correct tension before use.
  • Regular Checks: Monitor the chain’s tension and condition regularly, especially when new.