Cutting Guide

What Causes My Chainsaw To Cut Crooked – Expert Tips

You’re in the middle of some important yard work, and suddenly you notice that your chainsaw is cutting at an odd angle. 

You pause and think, “Why is my chainsaw cutting crooked?” The issue could stem from uneven wear on the guide bar, incorrect mounting, or even a worn-out sprocket.

If you’re a DIY enthusiast, a professional woodcutter, or just someone trying to manage their backyard, a chainsaw is a tool you likely rely on. When it starts acting up, it not only disrupts your work but can also pose serious safety risks. We get it, it’s frustrating. 

So, stick around to find out what’s causing this issue and how you can fix it!

Why Straight Cuts Are Important with Chainsaw


Achieving a clean, cut straight is essential for multiple reasons. Firstly, a straight cut ensures the safety of the operator. A chainsaw curved cut can lead to unpredictable movements, increasing the risk of accidents and injuries.

Many wonder: why would a chainsaw cut crooked? Well, when a chainsaw doesn’t cut straight, there’s a higher chance of it binding or getting stuck, a situation termed as chainsaw binding in the cut.

Moreover, for professionals, the quality of the cut reflects on their craftsmanship. A chainsaw that cuts crookedly can lead to uneven lumber, affecting the structural integrity and appearance of any woodwork project. Uneven cutting can also waste valuable timber, leading to higher costs and inefficiencies.

Lastly, straight cuts ensure that the chainsaw operates at its optimal efficiency. A dull chain or a chainsaw bar cutting crooked can strain the motor, reducing the lifespan of the tool and requiring more frequent maintenance.

What Causes My Chainsaw to Cut Crooked?

The most common reasons a chainsaw may cut crooked are incorrect chain tension, dull or damaged chain, wrong chain for the job, improper filing angles, or a bent guide bar.

Incorrect Chain Tension

Having the wrong chain tension on your chainsaw isn’t just a minor nuisance. No sir, it’s a ticket to a whole array of problems that can turn a simple wood-cutting chore into a literal nightmare.

Whether it’s a loose chain flapping around like a flag in a hurricane, or a tight chain stretched tighter than a fiddle string, the result is a chainsaw that doesn’t cut right. Let’s break it down and dive into the gritty details.

  • Loose Chain

Picture this: You’re all set for an afternoon of yard work. The sun is shining, the chainsaw is primed and you’re ready to make some sawdust. But instead of slicing through that log like butter, your chainsaw is acting more like a blunt knife on a tough steak. A loose chain could be the culprit.


When your chainsaw chain has too much slack, it’s not going to cut effectively. It’s like trying to run a marathon with your shoelaces untied. The chain can’t get a good grip on the wood, leading to uneven and inefficient cutting.

But it’s not just about the lack of efficiency. A loose chain can also be a safety hazard. Imagine the chain slipping off the guide bar, or worse, snapping off during operation. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize the kind of harm that can cause.

  • Tight Chain

Now, on the other end of the spectrum, I’ve got the overly tight chain. You might think that tighter is better, right? Well, not in this case. An overly tight chain is like wearing pants two sizes too small – uncomfortable and restricting.

A tight chain might not seem like a big deal, but it can have serious consequences. It can make the chainsaw work harder than it needs to, reducing the lifespan of the engine.

Plus, it puts a lot of stress on the chain and the bar. Over time, it can cause unnecessary wear and tear on your equipment, resulting in costly repairs or replacements.

The chain may not rotate smoothly, causing the saw to jerk or stall during cutting. This can lead to a crooked cut, or even worse, a complete failure of the chainsaw.

Dull or Damaged Chain

When your chainsaw starts feeling more like a blunt battering ram rather than a slicing samurai sword, you can bet your bottom dollar that you’re dealing with a dull or damaged chain. Chainsaw chains, much like a good joke, thrive on sharpness.


Without a sharp set of teeth, your chainsaw won’t cut straight and will make your task a struggle rather than a swift and simple chore. In fact, a dull chain might force the saw to drift off course, turning a potential masterpiece into a mess. The remedy?

Regular chain maintenance is your best friend. From routine sharpening to timely replacement when the wear and tear become too much, keeping your chain in top-notch condition is a non-negotiable part of chainsaw ownership.

Wrong Chain for the Job

A chainsaw is as versatile as the person wielding it, but its true potential can only be realized when you use the right chain for the job. Imagine trying to dig a hole with a spoon instead of a shovel – sounds ridiculous, right? It’s the same with using a crosscut chain for ripping – it simply won’t do the job right.

Every job demands its unique tool. Use the wrong chain, and you’re going to end up with a wonky cut that’s as crooked as a politician’s promise. Doing your research and knowing the right chain for your specific task will ensure your chainsaw works efficiently, effectively, and precisely.

Improper Filing Angles

Ah, the devil truly is in the details. When it comes to your chainsaw, this age-old adage manifests in the form of filing angles. If the chain’s cutting teeth aren’t sharpened correctly, it can make your chainsaw behave like a rebellious teenager – it’ll veer off in its own direction while cutting.

The problem here isn’t about the sharpness of the teeth but about the precision of the angle at which they are sharpened. Get the angles right, and your chainsaw will behave as well as a choir boy, following your lead with absolute precision.

Bent Guide Bar

For example, trying to drive a car with misaligned wheels – it’s a disaster waiting to happen! A similar scenario occurs with a bent guide bar on your chainsaw. A bent bar will lead to an unpleasantly crooked cut, causing frustrations to mount and your work quality to plummet.

A bent-guide bar can occur from improper usage, accidents, or even due to the quality of the material used. It’s crucial to inspect your chainsaw regularly, ensure proper handling, and replace any faulty parts promptly to maintain your saw’s cutting accuracy.

How to Prevent a Chainsaw from Cutting Crooked


Chain Replacement

If after sharpening, your chainsaw cuts crooked with a new chain, consider replacing the chain entirely. Sometimes, wear and tear can be beyond sharpening.

Regular Maintenance

Regularly sharpen your chain to ensure it doesn’t become dull. A chain sharpness consistently reduces the likelihood of uneven cutting. Clean the guide bar and ensure that the bar rails are free from obstructions or debris.

Address Bar Issues

If your chainsaw bar cutting crooked, it might be time to replace the bar, especially if it’s warped or worn out. Regularly flipping the bar can also ensure even wear and prolong its lifespan.

Tension Adjustment

Ensure the chain has proper tension. A chain that’s too tight or too loose won’t cut in a straight line. Follow your user manual’s guidelines to adjust the tension.

Cutting Technique

If you’re wondering how to stop my chainsaw from cutting crooked, sometimes it’s down to technique. Make sure you’re holding the chainsaw steadily, applying even pressure, and cutting at the right angle. Training sessions or tutorials can help improve your technique.

Store Properly

How you store your chainsaw can impact its performance. Ensure it’s in a dry place, free from dirt or debris, and always cover the chainsaw chain and bar to protect it from damage.

Seek Professional Help

If you’re still unsure why would a chainsaw cut crooked even after all preventive measures, consult a professional or take your chainsaw to a service center for a thorough examination.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I stop my chainsaw from cutting crooked?

Make sure the chain is sharp and evenly tensioned. Also, inspect the guide bar for wear and tear. If problems persist, you might need to adjust the bar or replace parts.

What causes a chainsaw to cut sideways?

A dull chain, uneven chain tension, or a worn-out guide bar can make your chainsaw cut sideways. Check these components and make necessary adjustments or replacements.

What makes your chainsaw cut crooked?

Uneven chain sharpening or an out-of-alignment guide bar can lead to crooked cuts. Regular maintenance is key to ensuring straight cuts.

Why is my chainsaw chain not going round?

This can happen due to a jammed or loose chain, or a malfunctioning clutch. Inspect these areas and make adjustments as needed.

How tight should a chainsaw chain be?

The chain should be snug against the guide bar but still able to move freely by hand. Too loose or too tight can cause problems during operation.

Why is my chainsaw cutting to the left?

This usually happens due to an unevenly sharpened chain or a damaged guide bar. Sharpen the chain properly or replace the guide bar to correct the issue.

Why is my chainsaw not cutting?

A dull or damaged chain is often the culprit. Inspect the chain for wear and tear, and sharpen or replace it as necessary.

Key Takeaways

  • Understand why straight cuts matter for safety and efficiency.
  • Chain tension, dull blades, and wrong chain types are common culprits.
  • Regular maintenance can prevent most issues.
  • When in doubt, seek professional advice.