Why does my chainsaw cut crooked?

Man using an orange chainsaw to cut a tree stump in half.
(Image credit: Getty)

Struggling to achieve an even finish and wondering "why does my chainsaw cut crooked?" Well, look no further. It can be frustrating when you run into problems with a chainsaw, but with the right advice, you can easily set it straight. 

If you notice your chainsaw isn’t cutting straight, it’s worth stepping away and considering why. An uneven cut is not only disappointing, but it can also be dangerous. It means you have less control over the direction of your chainsaw - it could behave unpredictably.

We consulted an expert and asked for their take on why this might happen. We’ll walk you through how to address this issue so you can build confidence in your troubleshooting skills. It’s worth knowing your limits and when to consult a pro to fix the problem.

In the market for a new device? Head to our guide to the best chainsaws (opens in new tab). You’ll learn what you need to weigh up when selecting the right chainsaw for your needs.

For now, we’ll ask an expert: “why does my chainsaw cut crooked?”

Why does my chainsaw cut crooked? 

Rick Jason Martineau
Rick Jason Martineau

Rick Jason Martineau has 5+ years of experience at Husqvarna Group and is currently the Senior Training Specialist for Tree Professional Products, Safety, and Advocacy for North America. He has had the privilege of being involved in the forest industry for over 40 years.

Ever wondered: “why does my chainsaw cut crooked?” We’ve got you covered. 

“The most common cause of chainsaws cutting unevenly is improper sharpening, usually when free-hand filing instead of using a filing guide,” explains Rick Jason Martineau, Senior Training Specialist for Tree Professional Products at Husqvarna (opens in new tab). When you file by hand, there’s an increased margin for error which can result in unevenly filed chainsaw teeth. 

“In free-hand filing, one hand is dominant over the other, and the filing becomes stronger on one side, which causes uneven cutting and frustration,” adds Rick.

To resolve the problem, examine your chainsaw. Can you spot inconsistencies in the size of the teeth? Sharpen the duller teeth to even them out. If you’re in doubt, take your device to a pro who can correct uneven filing.

Prevention is better than cure, so how do you avoid your chainsaw cutting crooked in the first place? If you’re a beginner, consider investing in a file guide for ultimate precision. “Filing guides reduce this discrepancy in pressure allowing for a much better result,” says Rick. 

If you want to give free-hand filing another chance, a nifty trick is to start with your non-dominant hand. You’ll be tired when you switch to your dominant hand, balancing out the pressure.

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Louise Bond

Louise Bond is a UK-based writer specializing in health and wellbeing. She has over eight years of experience in management within health and care and brings this passion and expertise to her writing. Louise has been published in The Guardian, Live Science, Fit & Well, Tom’s Guide, Planet Mindful, Breathe, and Psychreg. She is at her happiest when she is out in nature, whether that’s on an invigorating hike or pottering in the garden.

With contributions from