How Do Chainsaws Cut? A Guide

James Lawson
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The chainsaw is an intimidating piece of machinery, with its loud engine and sharp blades. It is a symbol of strength and power, capable of taking down trees in a single swoop.

However, many people don’t actually understand how chainsaws cut. This guide will break down the science behind chainsaw cutting, from the anatomy of the chainsaw to the principles of chainsaw cutting.

We will also cover proper maintenance and safety tips to ensure that you can use your chainsaw safely and effectively. By the end of this guide, you will have a full understanding of how chainsaws cut.

Anatomy of a Chainsaw

You’ll gain a better understanding of how they operate if you familiarize yourself with the components that make up a chainsaw.

The most important components are the engine, which provides the power, and the guide bar, which is the metal bar that the cutting chain runs along.

Chainsaw guide bars range in length from 8 to 40 inches, and the size of the bar will determine the size of the cutting area and the engine power needed to make the saw work.

Generally, the more powerful the engine, the longer the bar can be.

The chain is also a key part of a chainsaw, as it does the actual work of cutting.

Understanding the Cutting Chain

To understand the cutting chain, you’ll need to know its components and how they work together.

The Chain:

The teeth are composed of individual links, each of which is equipped with a pair of razor-sharp teeth.

The depth gauges control the depth of the teeth and prevent them from cutting too deeply into the material.

The drive links are the parts of the chain that fit into the sprockets of the chainsaw bar and drive the chain around.

Sharpening Techniques:

Hand-Sharpening involves using a chain-sharpening file to sharpen the teeth of the chain.

Power-Sharpening involves the use of a power grinder to sharpen the teeth of the chain.

Automatic Sharpening is a more modern method that uses a motorized sharpening wheel to sharpen the teeth of the chain.

The cutting chain of a chainsaw is made up of all these components and, when sharpened correctly, can provide the necessary power to cut through thick materials.

Knowing the different chain types and sharpening techniques can go a long way in ensuring your chainsaw is always performing at its best.

With that in mind, let’s move on to understanding the principles behind chainsaw cutting.

Principles Behind Chainsaw Cutting

Gaining insight into the principles behind chainsaw cutting is essential for utilizing the tool to its fullest potential. The chain geometry and cutting angles of a chainsaw are the two primary principles that affect the cutting performance of a chainsaw.

The chain geometry includes the chain shape, the size of the drive links, the size of the cutter links, and the number of cutters on the chain. The cutting angle is the angle between the cutting edge of the cutter link and the bar of the chainsaw. This angle has a direct effect on the cutting performance, as a higher cutting angle will result in more aggressive cutting.

Proper chain geometry and cutting angle can be adjusted to achieve the desired cutting performance of a chainsaw. The number and type of cutters on the chain also affect the cutting performance. The number of cutters is determined by the size of the drive link and the size of the cutter link. The type of cutters used also affects the cutting performance, as different types of cutters have different cutting angles.

Different types of cutters are suitable for different types of material, so it is important to select the right type of cutter for the job. With the right combination of chain geometry, cutting angles, and cutters, a chainsaw can be used to cut a variety of materials.

Knowing these principles will help ensure that you get the most out of your chainsaw. With the right maintenance, a chainsaw can be used for many years.

Proper Chainsaw Maintenance

Regularly maintaining your chainsaw will keep it running smoothly and ensure you get the most out of it. Sharpening the chain is one of the most important parts of maintaining a chainsaw. A dull chain not only makes cutting more difficult, but it can also be dangerous.

To sharpen the chain, use a round file and a depth gauge. You should also fill the bar oil tank and check the fuel storage before each use. Use a fuel mix of 50% gasoline and 50% 2-cycle oil. If you store the chainsaw for an extended period, drain the fuel tank and dispose of the fuel safely.

Chainsaw maintenance also includes checking the chain tension, spark plug, air filter, and other parts. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for inspecting and servicing the chainsaw for optimal performance.

With proper maintenance, your chainsaw will last for many years. For a closer look at chainsaw safety tips, read on.

Chainsaw Safety Tips

You’ve taken the first step in keeping your chainsaw in good shape – now it’s time to make sure you’re staying safe while using it!

First and foremost, always wear appropriate protective gear when using a chainsaw. This includes safety glasses, heavy duty gloves, hearing protection, and any other gear that will protect you from the dangers of a chainsaw. Make sure to wear tight-fitting clothing, too, since loose clothing can get caught in the chain.

Always make sure to store your chainsaw securely when it’s not in use. Keep it in a dry, well-ventilated area, away from any flammable materials. If you use a gas powered chainsaw, never store it with fuel still in the tank since this can create a fire hazard.

Finally, make sure to always read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions when handling your chainsaw, as they’ll provide important safety information.

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of wood is best for cutting with a chainsaw?

When you’re using a chainsaw to cut wood, safety is always the first priority. Make sure you have the right gear, like eye and hearing protection, and read the manual for your particular saw before you begin.

As for what type of wood is best for cutting with a chainsaw, softwood is generally the easiest to work with, as hardwood is more dense and therefore more difficult to cut. Different cutting techniques can also help you get the job done efficiently and safely, such as making multiple cuts to reduce the strain on the saw and using the right blade for the right material.

What is the recommended blade size for a specific chainsaw?

When selecting the right size blade for your chainsaw, it’s important to consider the type of wood you will be cutting and the maintenance and safety practices associated with that blade size.

Generally, a chainsaw blade should be between 6 to 10 inches, but the exact size will depend on the type of wood you are cutting and the power of your chainsaw.

For example, if you are cutting softwoods, a 6 to 8 inch blade may be best; while if you are cutting hardwoods, a 10 inch blade may be more suitable.

Additionally, when changing your blade, it’s important to follow safety practices and make sure the blade is firmly and securely connected to the chainsaw.

How often should a chainsaw chain be replaced?

You may not want to hear it, but regular maintenance is key to keeping your chainsaw in top condition and ensuring your safety.

To keep everything running smoothly, you should replace your chainsaw chain every two to three tanks of fuel.

Taking this precaution is essential to following safety protocols and quickly and efficiently cutting through whatever it is you need to cut.

So, while it may be a bit of a hassle, don’t forget to replace your chainsaw chain on a regular basis for a smoother, safer experience.

What type of fuel should I use in my chainsaw?

When using a chainsaw, it’s important to use the correct type of fuel to ensure proper operation and preventative maintenance.

Most chainsaws require a two-stroke oil and gasoline mixture, typically in a 50/1 ratio. This mixture should be stored in a clean, sealed container and should never be used past its expiration date.

Ensure you take all the necessary safety precautions when handling and operating your chainsaw, and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

What is the best way to sharpen a chainsaw blade?

Sharpening a chainsaw blade is important to ensure that it cuts efficiently and safely. The best way to do this is to use a sharpening stone or file to properly sharpen the blade.

When doing this, make sure to wear proper safety wear such as goggles, gloves, and hearing protection. Additionally, use a steady and consistent technique, making sure to sharpen the blade evenly on both sides.

This will help the blade stay sharp for a longer period of time and make cutting easier.


You now know the basics of how chainsaws work and the importance of proper maintenance and safety.

But you may be wondering, is it really worth all the effort? Absolutely!

With the proper care and maintenance, a chainsaw can last for years and provide you with a safe and efficient way to cut wood.

Plus, using a chainsaw can help you save time, money, and energy, allowing you to tackle larger projects and get more done.

So don’t hesitate—start using a chainsaw and you’ll be amazed by the results!

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