Can You Put a Chainsaw Chain on Wrong? – Expert’s Answer

A chainsaw can be in optimal running condition but if the chain is not installed correctly it does not matter how good the chainsaw runs.

The chain of a chainsaw rotates forward in relation to the top of the chainsaw guide bar.

If your look at the chainsaw from the side that the chain and bar are located you can see that the chain rotates in a clockwise fashion. The cutter teeth need to be facing in this forward clockwise direction in order to be able to cut into the wood.

A chainsaw chain must be installed in the correct orientation for wood cutting. The cutter teeth must be facing forward along the top of the chainsaw guide bar. This allows the chain’s cutter teeth to make contact with the wood in the proper orientation to cut wood.

If a chainsaw chain is installed backward the chain will not cut. The chain may throw some light sawdust but will not cut properly.

A backward chain usually just bounces and glides off the wood due to the cutter’s sharp edges facing the wrong direction. If you have installed your chainsaw’s chain backward you will notice within a few seconds.

How Do I know If My Chainsaw Chain is Backwards?

A chainsaw chain is backward if the cutter teeth are not facing forward along the top of the chainsaw’s guide bar. The chain of a chainsaw rotates in a clockwise direction which means the chain must be installed so the cutter teeth face this direction.

If you attempt to use your chainsaw with a chain installed backward you will notice that the chain is not cutting.

When a chain is installed correctly on a chainsaw it produces wood chips as it makes its way through the wood. If a chain is orientated backward it may produce light dust and bump along the wood instead of cutting into the wood.

Does it matter which way you put a chain on a chainsaw?

Yes, it does matter which direction a chain is installed on a chainsaw.

A chainsaw chain must be installed in the correct direction in order for the chainsaw to cut properly. The sharp edge of the cutter teeth must be pointed to the front of the chainsaw when looking at the top edge of the chainsaw’s guide bar.

Can You Ruin a Chainsaw Chain?

The chain of a chainsaw is designed to cut wood quickly and efficiently. Chains can last for a considerable time if proper care is taken in what is being cut and if the chain is installed correctly.

Yes, a chainsaw chain can be ruined. A chainsaw chain can be damaged in the following ways:

Chainsaw Chain Tension Is Not Set Correctly

The chain of a chainsaw must have the proper tension on the guide bar in order to function correctly. The chain must not be too loose or too tight.

If a chain is overly loose on the chainsaw’s guide bar the chain can be damaged very quickly. When a chain is loose the drags of the chain tend to get burred and miss-shaped. If this happens the chain will more than likely not rotate on the guide bar and will need to be replaced.

On the flip side, the tightness of the chain must be correct as well. The tightness of the chain needs to be tight enough to be snug on the guide bar but not too tight.

I like to do the snap test on the chain. When installing a new chain on a chainsaw and the chain has been tightened to the point of fitting firmly around the guide bar simply pinch the chain with your index finger and thumb and pull upward of the guide bar.

If you can pull the chain off the guide bar relatively easily and it snaps back to the guide bar the tension is correct. If you pull on the chain and it’s difficult to pull it away from the guide bar then you know it’s too tight and needs to be loosened a bit.

An overly tight chain can possibly damage a chainsaw by putting excess stress on the chain, guide bar, and chainsaw engine.

Chainsaw Chain Impacts Non-Wood Object

A chainsaw chain can be damaged if it comes into contact with a non-wood object when cutting.

This usually happens when cutting into a tree or branch that has a nail or metal object that cannot be seen. Before you know it your chain is damaged and must be replaced.

In some cases, the chain can be re-sharpened to repair the damaged cutter teeth, but in most cases, it’s better to replace the chain.

Chainsaw Chain Contacts Dirt or Dirty Wood

Chainsaw chains are designed to cut clean wood. If a running chainsaw chain comes into contact with dirt the chain will quickly dull and need to be resharpened or replaced.

This typically happens when a tree branch laying on the ground is being cut with a chainsaw and the guide bar cuts through the branch and touches the ground.

Wrapping Up

Chainsaws are amazing pieces of power equipment that make our lives infinitely easier. One of the most important parts of a chainsaw is the chainsaw chain.

The chain must be installed correctly in the proper direction in order for the chainsaw to function properly.

A correctly installed chain has its cutter teeth facing forward along the top of the chainsaw’s guide bar. This will allow the cutter teeth to cut the wood efficiently. A properly installed chain will produce wood chips when cutting and not sawdust.

If you have installed your chain backward you will know pretty quickly. A backward chain will bump across the wood and produce sawdust, not wood chips. Also, the chain will not make efficient progress through the wood as you cut.

If you suspect you installed your chain backward simply check it out. It only takes about 2 minutes to remove and install the chain in the proper direction.

Have a great day and be safe out there.

Find out if you can put a chainsaw chain on backward and how to avoid it. Learn how to …

Steven R

I have been part of the chainsaw and outdoor power equipment business in one way or the other for over 35 years. There are not many things that I have not seen in the business. From repairs, sales, equipment operation, and safety I can help you with your questions.

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