You may wonder why your chainsaw is cutting crooked. If this has happened to you, don’t worry — you’re not alone. A lot of people have trouble cutting wood perfectly every time. But with a little practice and some helpful tips, you can learn how to cut like a pro. So read on for tips and tricks on cutting wood perfectly every time.
Why Should You Care About Crooked Cuts?
A crooked cut is a problem that can plague even the most experienced chainsaw users. It’s not just an aesthetic problem but also an issue that can affect the functionality of your project. A crooked cut can cause the piece to fit poorly or not at all. It can also cause splits and crack along the grain. So, when you process and handle the lumber, it is more likely to break along the cut. Products made with crooked-cut wood will be weaker and more susceptible to breakage.
Crooked cuts don’t just happen to woodworking novices who aren’t sure how to use a chainsaw. It’s a frustrating problem that all chainsaw users have faced at one time or another because it can be tough to figure out what is causing the crookedness. Is it the saw itself? The blade? The guide? In most cases, it’s a combination of all three. Here are some chainsaw problems that frequently contribute to a crooked cut.
Common Saw Bar Problems That Contribute to Crooked Cuts
The chainsaw bar is the metal bar that extends from the front of the chainsaw on which the chain runs. If the bar is bent, it can cause the chain to cut crookedly. A bent bar is usually caused by hitting a hard object like a nail or a stone while cutting. It can also be caused by dropping the chainsaw or running it into something. If you think your saw bar might be bent, take it to a professional to have it checked out.
Common Blade Problems That Contribute to Crooked Cuts
The chainsaw blade is the part of the saw that does the actual cutting. When you end up with a crooked cut, the blade is the usual culprit.
The Chain Tension Is Off
If the chain is too loose, it can cause the saw to kick back when you start the cut, resulting in a loss of control and a crooked cut. Conversely, if the chain is too tight, it can cause the saw to bind up, causing an uneven cut. The perfect chain tension should be tight enough that you can barely fit a finger between the links. It can be tricky to fine-tune the adjustment screws to get the right tension, but it’s worth taking the time to get it right.
The Chain Saw Blade Is Worn or Damaged
If the chain saw blade is damaged or worn, it can cause the saw to cut at an angle. This problem is usually caused by hitting a rock or other object while cutting, so be careful when using your saw. Inspect the blade regularly and sharpen or replace it if necessary.
Saw Teeth Have Uneven Sharpness
Another common cause of a crooked cut is unevenly sharpened saw teeth. When the teeth are not all the same size, they will catch on the wood and cause the blade to veer off course.
The best way to avoid this problem is to use a chainsaw file to sharpen your saw teeth and ensure they are the same size and sharpness.
- This portable universal chainsaw sharpening kit by Oregon makes it easy to keep your chainsaws, pole saws, and other tools sharp and ready to go
- This versatile kit includes 1 x 5/32 Inch round saw chain file, 1 x 3/16 Inch round saw chain file, 1 x 7/32 Inch round saw chain file, 1 x 6 Inch flat file, 1 x file guide, 1 x universal file handle, and travel pouch
- With the handy file guide, you can ensure easy depth gauge setting and accurate, consistent results when sharpening your chains
- This field kit comes with a detailed instruction sheet, including a filing chart to help you align the right filing tool and technique to your chain
- This chainsaw blade sharpening kit comes in a compact rolled canvas pouch with inner pockets for each tool and a secure loop closure, perfect for taking from job to job
The Chainsaw Blade Is Dull
A dull chain will cause the saw to ride up on the wood, making it more likely to veer off course and lean to one side or the other, resulting in a crooked cut. If your blade is dull, sharpen it before using it again.
Common Guide Problems That Contribute to Crooked Cuts
A chainsaw guide is an important safety device that helps to keep the sawyer’s hands from slipping onto the blade while cutting. It also helps to keep the chainsaw in a consistent position during use. When the parts of the guide are not working properly, it can cause the saw to cut at an angle, resulting in a crooked cut.
The Guide Rail Is Crooked
A chainsaw guide rail is a long, metal bar that is attached to the chainsaw. The guide rail helps to keep the chainsaw on track while cutting through wood. It also helps to protect the user from the chainsaw’s blade. If the guide isn’t positioned correctly, the saw will follow its lead and cut crookedly. Other times the guide rails may be out of alignment due to wear and tear on the saw itself. This problem can be easily fixed by a qualified technician who will be able to realign the guide rails.
The Guide Plate Level Is Off
The chainsaw guide plate is a protective cover for the chain and bar. It’s there to prevent damage to the chain and bar, kickback, and other potential injuries. If the guide plate is not level, it can cause the saw to cut at an angle. This problem is usually caused by damage to the guide plate itself. Normally, it should be level with the ground. You can easily fix this problem by using a wrench to readjust the plate until it is balanced. The plate can also suffer from regular wear and tear. Inspect the guide plate regularly and replace it if necessary.
Picking the Wrong Chainsaw Blade for Your Project
Unknown to many people, many different chainsaw blades are designed for specific tasks. The most common chains you see at hardware stores are standard chains. They are used to cut in the same direction as the wood grain. If you’re trying to cut with a standard chain in the wrong direction, it will cause the saw to bind up and veer off course, resulting in a crooked cut. And if you try to cut dense wood, the standard chain will struggle and cause the same problem.
Ripping chains are similar to standard chains, as they are cut in the same direction as the wood grain to create a smoother cut by not splitting the wood fiber. However, they have bigger teeth specialized for cutting denser wood material. If you cut wood that is too soft, you’ll easily lose control of the saw, causing the saw to ride up and produce a crooked cut. And if you try to cut across the wood grain, the blade may pull the wood fibers apart, causing the wood to split. If you’re not careful with softer wood material, the split can go through the piece of wood and ruin it.
Cross-cut chains are designed to cut across the wood grain. The teeth are smaller and closely spaced, making them a better choice for cutting through tough materials such as metal or concrete. When you use a sharp cross-cut chain to cut the wood in the same direction as the wood grain, the cuts are usually very smooth. However, if the cross-cut chain is not sharp enough, the cuts can be jagged and difficult to sand down. In addition, if the wood is particularly hard, it can be difficult to get a clean cut with a cross-cut chain.
Choosing the Right Chainsaw for Your Project
Now that you know the basics of using a chainsaw and what can go wrong, it’s time to choose the right one for your project. Here are some things to keep in mind when making your decision:
What Type of Wood Are You Cutting?
Different types of wood require different approaches when it comes to cutting. Here are some tips for cutting various types of wood with a chainsaw:
- Hardwoods, such as oak and maple, require a more powerful saw and a sharper blade. You’ll also need to be extra careful when cutting these woods, as they’re more likely to split.
- Softwoods, such as pine and cedar, are easier to cut and require less power. However, these materials tend to kick back more, so be extra careful.
- If you’re cutting lumber, you will want a saw with longer blades and more power, as it will make the job go faster.
- If you’re cutting wood slices, you’ll need a saw with a shorter blade. This type of saw is designed for cutting through thicker pieces of wood.
- You’ll want a saw with a smaller blade if you need to make precise cuts, such as for trim work. These saws are easier to control and will give you more accuracy.
How Thick Is the Wood?
A saw with a small bar and chain is only going to be able to handle smaller pieces of wood. If you try to cut through something too thick, the saw will get jammed and possibly break. On the other hand, a saw with a large bar and chain will be too heavy and unwieldy for smaller pieces of wood.
What Is the Shape of the Wood?
If you’re looking to cut lumber that is already log-shaped, you’ll want a saw with a longer bar to give you more control over the saw and make cleaner cuts. However, if you’re looking to cut lumber that is not log-shaped, you’ll want a saw with a shorter bar for more maneuverability and to make it easier to cut through the lumber. Either way, it’s important to choose a chainsaw that is comfortable for you to use and will make the job as easy as possible.
How Much Power Do You Need?
More powerful doesn’t always mean better, and a saw that’s too powerful can be more dangerous to use. A good rule of thumb is to choose a saw that’s big enough to handle the largest cuts you anticipate making but not so large that it’s difficult to control. Another important consideration is the type of chain. If you’re planning on doing a lot of cutting, you’ll want a chain with more teeth to provide a cleaner cut.
Which Chain Material Should You Choose?
There are three main types of chainsaw chain material: carbide, chrome, and diamond. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, so you’ll need to pick the right one for your needs.
Carbide chains are the most affordable option that provides good cutting performance. However, they’re not as durable as chrome or diamond chains, and they must be replaced more frequently.
- Right‑angle cutter head, more space inside the blade, larger chip outlet and faster sawing speed, saving time and effort, very simple and practical.
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- surface hardening treatment, harder, more wear-resistant, and good anti-collision performance. Using hard alloy material, it is more wear-resistant, more -resistant, durable, and has a long service life.
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Chrome chains are more expensive than carbide chains but are also more durable. They can last up to four times longer than carbide chains, making them a good choice for heavy-duty use.
- Parameters: 3 Pack 16 Inch, .050" Gauge, .325" Pitch, 66 Drive Links
- Features: Germany steel with heating temperature control and punching system make better toughness, Flatness. All saw chain rivets hardened and quenched, resists wear and improves strength, reducing chain tension changes.
- Features: Premium industrial hard chrome outer layer and hardened rivets help reduce wear and chain adjustments. Hardened rivets provide a stronger connection between chain links, adding strength and withstanding loads.
Diamond chains are the most expensive option but also the most durable. They can last up to eight times longer than carbide chains, making them a good choice for professional use.
- Durable, low-kickback, low-vibration chain helps reduce user fatigue for increased periods of work. For all chainsaws brands that run 3/8 inch Pitch, .050 inch (1.3 mm) gauge, 58 drive link chain
- Fits these chainsaw models with a 16" bar: John Deere: 25EV, 28, 28V, 30, 30V, Remington: M15012US, M15014AS, M15014US, Skil: 605, 606 Electric, Wen: 1100, 1200, 1400, 2000, and more
- Precision, heat-treated semi-chisel chain cuts smoothly with a higher tolerance for debris
- This chainsaw chain features a tough, long-lasting chrome outer layer and hardened rivets to help reduce wear and allow for fewer chain adjustments
- Built-in Lubri-Tec automatic oiling system extends the life of your chain by delivering oil to key parts of the chain, so you can work smarter with less downtime and maintenance
Other Important Factors That Affect Your Chainsaw Performance
Like any other power tool, chainsaws require regular maintenance and care to work at their best. To avoid making crooked cuts and wasting lumber, here are some tips that can help you maintain your chainsaw:
- Inspect your chainsaw before each use to ensure it is in good working condition. Check the chain tension, blade, bar, and controls. If you notice your chainsaw is vibrating more than usual, this could be a sign that the blade is dull and needs to be replaced.
- Keep your chainsaw clean and well-oiled. A clean saw will run cooler and last longer than one covered with dirt and grime.
- Use the right type of oil for your saw maintenance.
- Avoid running your chainsaw for an extended amount of time, as the motor can overheat and damage it.
If you follow the tips in this guide, cutting with a chainsaw will no longer be a constantly frustrating experience, and you will make perfect cuts with your chainsaw every time. Remember to always use proper safety gear when operating a chainsaw and to keep your saw well-maintained for optimal performance. With a little practice, you’ll be cutting wood like a pro in no time!