Chain saws are wonderful tools when they are cutting properly. Most people know that when a chain saw gets dull it does not cut very easily, and in fact can become quite dangerous. But, there are a number of other problems that can cause your chain saw to cut poorly. Most of these issues can be traced back to improper sharpening procedures or poor maintenance.
When you’re cutting with your chain saw, if it cuts crooked or at an angle this is generally an indication that the teeth have been improperly filed. Either they were filed at the wrong angle, or every tooth was not filed the same amount and with the same pressure. If filing is not the cause of a chainsaw pulling to one side or the other, then it could be the bar or the sprocket at the far end of the bar are in poor condition and need maintenance or straightening.
If you have a newly sharpened chain saw and it dulls quickly, usually this is caused by thin cutting edges resulting from too much file pressure or low angle when sharpening your chain saw. Your chainsaw will need to be refiled using less pressure, as well as lowering the angle of attack and checking the height of the depth gauges.
If the chain grabs and cuts rough the saw sharpener probably induced a forward hook on the teeth as a result of too much pressure from the top of the file. A good indication that the depth gauges are set incorrectly is when the chain digs too far into the wood. You will need to lower the height of the depth gauges in most cases. If you detect overheating of the chain you may not have enough bar oil, or the saw sharpener created a backslope on the teeth during the last sharpening.
Drive link problems on the chain can result in severe problems like the chain jumping off the bar. Incorrect chain tension can cause this, and you may have to replace bent drive links on your chain. Also, excessive chain chatter can be caused by improper sprocket fit, and result in front or back peened drive links.
Whenever you identify these kinds of cutting problems with your chain saw you should immediately remove the bar and chain from the saw and inspect carefully. There are usually only a couple of nuts to remove the chain and separate the bar from the saw. This will allow you to inspect the parts for dangerous defects and keep your saw in good condition.