Cutting Guide

Why Does The Chainsaw Not Cutting Just Burning Wood?

The joys of woodworking—until your chainsaw decides to act like a fire starter rather than a cutting tool!

 If your chainsaw is burning the wood instead of slicing through it, you’re most likely dealing with a dull chain. But don’t rush to the hardware store just yet; other factors like messed-up rakers or a faulty oiler system could also be the culprits.

you must be wondering, “How do I fix this?” We’re going to dig deep into this chainsaw dilemma and give you the practical solutions you need. Trust me, by the end of this article, you’ll be back to making wood chips fly in no time!

10 Reasons Your Chainsaw Is Not Cutting, Just Burning Wood


1. Dull Chainsaw Blade

One of the most common reasons for a chainsaw to burn wood rather than cut is a dull blade. You’d know this if you’ve ever tried slicing a tomato with a blunt kitchen knife – it’s more crushing than cutting.


Similarly, a dull chainsaw blade will struggle to cut efficiently and instead generate excessive friction, which can lead to burning. Always keep your chainsaw blade sharp for optimal performance.

If the chainsaw is bouncing or “chattering” during operation, that’s a telltale sign of a dull blade.

2. High Rakers

Rakers, or depth gauges, control how deep the cutters dig into the wood. If they’re too high, they limit the cutter’s bite, making the chain rub instead of cut, leading to unwanted burning. So, it might be time to file those rakers down a bit.

Raker height should be properly set according to your chain’s specifications.

3. Incorrect Chain Tension

If your chainsaw’s chain is too loose or too tight, it may fail to cut wood properly. An overly tight chain generates excess friction, which may cause the wood to burn. Conversely, a loose chain can slip or fail to engage the wood correctly. Make sure your chain has the proper tension – not too tight, not too loose.

4. Worn-Out Chain

Just like an old pair of shoes, chainsaw chains get worn out too. A chain that’s past its prime won’t bite into the wood as it should. It’ll rub more than cut, leading to a burning effect. If sharpening doesn’t help, it might be time for a new chain.

5. Wrong Chain Type or Size

Different types of chains are designed for different types of cutting. Using a ripping chain for cross-cutting, for example, can cause inefficient cutting and wood burning.

Similarly, a chain that’s too big or too small for your chainsaw won’t do the job right. Always use the correct type and size chain for the task at hand.

6. Lack of Lubrication

Imagine sliding down a metal slide on a hot summer day without any water. Ouch, right? That’s how a chainsaw feels when cutting wood without proper lubrication.


A poorly lubricated chainsaw generates a lot of heat and friction, which can cause the wood to burn. Make sure your chainsaw’s oil reservoir is adequately filled before each use.

Note: Using the wrong type of oil for lubrication can also cause problems, so be sure to use a recommended chainsaw oil.

7. Incorrect Cutting Technique

If you’re new to using a chainsaw, you may not be applying the right cutting technique. Too much pressure or an incorrect angle can lead to inefficient cutting and burning.

Practice the right technique, and remember, let the chainsaw do the work, not your arms.

8. Inadequate Power

If your chainsaw lacks the necessary power to perform the task, it’ll struggle and may end up burning the wood. Always match your chainsaw’s power to the job. A small electric model won’t cut it for large hardwood trees.

9. Dirty Air Filter


Your chainsaw needs to breathe. A clogged air filter can affect engine performance, leading to subpar cutting and potentially burning the wood. Regularly check and clean the air filter to maintain optimum performance.

10. Old or Inadequate Fuel

Chainsaws with two-stroke engines require a specific fuel-oil mix. If the fuel is old or the mix is incorrect, it can affect the engine’s performance and lead to problems like burning wood. Always use fresh fuel and the right mix ratio.

11. Chainsaw Not Tuned Correctly

Just like a fine-tuned musical instrument, your chainsaw needs to be in tune to perform its best. If it’s not correctly tuned, it can struggle to cut and may end up burning wood instead. Regular servicing and tuning by a professional can help ensure optimal performance.

How to Fix a Chainsaw Not Cutting Just Burning Wood? Here’s What You Need To Know!


So, You’ve run into a sticky situation, huh? Your chainsaw is more of a wood burner than a cutter. Don’t sweat it, buddy! We’ve got some solutions that’ll help you sort it out in a jiffy.

1. Inspect the Chainsaw Chain

Let’s start with the obvious one – the chain.

  • Is It Sharp Enough?

A dull chain won’t cut wood efficiently. Instead, it’ll create friction and generate heat, causing the wood to burn. If your chain is dull, it’s sharpening time. You can do it manually with a file, or you can get a professional to do it for you.

  • Is It Properly Tensioned?

A chain that’s too loose or too tight can cause cutting problems, including burning wood. The chain should be tight enough to not sag from the guide bar, but loose enough to be pulled around by hand.

2. Check the Chainsaw Bar

Next, take a gander at the chainsaw bar.

  • Bar Damage

A warped or damaged bar can also cause friction leading to burning. If the bar is damaged, consider replacing it.

3. Look at the Sprocket

Don’t forget the sprocket! It’s the wheel with teeth that the chain spins around.

  • Sprocket Wear

If the sprocket is excessively worn, the chain won’t move as smoothly, increasing friction and heat. A worn-out sprocket needs to be replaced pronto.

4. Lubrication

Another common culprit is poor lubrication.

  • Lubricate Regularly

Your chainsaw needs good oiling to reduce friction between the chain and the wood. Always ensure there’s enough oil in the reservoir before starting your cutting job.

Why Does the Chainsaw Stop Cutting Halfway Through?


1. Dull or Damaged Chain

First off, check that chain. A dull or damaged chain might seem fine at the start, but as it heats up during use, it could begin to struggle. If it’s not sharp, it ain’t cuttin’. Simple as that.

Regularly inspect your chain. If it’s looking a bit dull or worn out, give it a good sharpening or consider getting a replacement. Chainsaw maintenance is key to keeping it running smoothly.

2. Fuel Issues


Next up: fuel troubles. Your chainsaw might be starting on the initial fuel from the primer, but if the main fuel system isn’t working right, it could stall out. It’s like trying to run a marathon on a single granola bar. Not gonna happen, right?

Note: Ensure the fuel you’re using is fresh and correctly mixed. Old or incorrectly mixed fuel can cause performance issues.

3. Air Filter Problems

A clogged air filter is like a runner trying to sprint with a clothespin on their nose. That chainsaw needs to breathe!

Quick Check: Take a peek at your air filter. If it’s dirty or blocked, it can stop the engine from getting the air it needs, and bam—your chainsaw quits halfway through.

4. Carburetor Complications


The carburetor is the heart of your chainsaw engine. If it ain’t working right, you might see some hiccups. Sometimes, the carburetor might need a good cleaning or adjustment.

If you’re not confident tinkering with the carburetor, it might be time to call in the pros.

5. Overheating Issues

Overheating can be another culprit. A chainsaw is a heavy-duty machine that generates a lot of heat. If your chainsaw isn’t properly ventilated, it can overheat and stop working midway.

Note: Regular cleaning of the chainsaw, especially the cooling fins, can help prevent overheating issues.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my chainsaw not cutting?

Your chainsaw might not be cutting well because the chain could be dull, improperly tensioned, or even installed backward.

Why is my chainsaw burning the wood?

If your chainsaw is burning the wood, it usually means the chain is too dull and needs sharpening or replacement.

Why is my chainsaw not cutting through wood?

A chainsaw that won’t cut through wood likely has a dull or damaged chain. You might also want to check the chain tension and lubrication.

Why is my chainsaw not cutting and smoking?

Smoking while not cutting often points to a lubrication issue. Make sure the chain is well-oiled and not overly tight.

Will charred wood dull a chainsaw?

Yes, cutting through charred or burnt wood can dull your chainsaw’s chain faster than cutting fresh wood.

Key Takeaway

  • Know the common issues: From dull blades to poor lubrication, understanding the problems is the first step to solving them.
  • Easy fixes: Most issues can be resolved with basic tools and a little time.
  • Maintenance is key: Regular checks and adjustments make your chainsaw more efficient and safer to use.
  • Get back to cutting: Armed with this knowledge, you’re ready to tackle your wood-cutting projects with confidence.