How to Tell if a Chainsaw is Dull? Symptoms and Solutions 2022

chainsaw dullness symptoms and solutionsIsn’t it obvious from the name chainsaw that it requires sharpness to work properly?

Any tool with blades to cut through stuff requires sharpness for optimal working and wears down after some time, and the chainsaw is no exception.

If you have been using your chainsaw for some time, you might be experiencing slight kickbacks. It might not be piercing through wood as it used to.

If yes, then there is a good chance it is going dull. The dullness could most likely be related to its chain, but it can also be something else.

In this article, you will find all there is to know about how to tell if a chainsaw is dull.

How to Tell if a Chainsaw is Dull? Signs and Symptoms

A dull chainsaw is a hassle altogether. It affects performance, consumes more power, and shows fewer results. It can even be dangerous to work with.

Dullness is something you can experience in performance and with a visual inspection. Following are the symptoms of a dull chainsaw:

Visual Symptoms of a Dull Chainsaw:

The chain of the chainsaw plays the most crucial role when it comes to its sharpness and, similarly, dullness. Take a good look at your chain. Inspect its blades. If they appear rough, blunted, or deaden, it indicates that the chain has worn out and needs replacement.

Performance Symptoms of a Dull Chainsaw:

Sometimes a chain might look perfect but has dulled down. This can be experienced in performance. Following are the signs of a dull chainsaw.

  • The most obvious indication of a dull chainsaw is during cutting, especially cross-cutting (vertical); fine sawdust is produced instead of wood chips. And the solution to this is sharpening the teeth.
  • A dull chainsaw won’t get through the wood as it should. You might have to apply extra pressure from your side. This is a clear indication of dull teeth which need sharpening via chainsaw sharpener.
  • The chain might start pulling to one side during cutting. Chain will also feel heavier than usual while cutting. This is a sign that the chain requires sharpening.
  • Excessive smoke is produced by chainsaws even when the chain is oiled, and tension is proper. This indicates a need for chain replacement.
  • When the chainsaw is making uneven cuts. If it is grabbing the wood instead of piercing through, it means the chain is going dull.
  • If your chainsaw is rattling more than usual and creating unusual noises, it is a clear sign of a dull chain that requires replacement.

Why does my Chainsaw Chain Dull so Quickly?

In most scenarios, it is the chain that is the crux of dullness. It could be how it is made, how it is used, and how it is maintained. The following are the reasons why your chainsaw chain dulls so quickly.

  • The obvious is because it is used on rigid material.
  • The blades are made of soft metal. Although this metal helps get chainsaw through wood easily, it also quickly wears it down.
  • You might not be using the right size file to sharpen your chain.
  • You could be applying more pressure than necessary while filing, making the edges of the cutters too thin that go dull quickly.
  • The tool used in fields is constantly exposed to dirt and debris, which can clog the saw and cause it to dull quickly.

The chain can be fixed as quickly as it goes dull. It needs proper maintenance guidelines to be followed, which we are happy to provide

  • Consult your user manual to get the right size file.
  • Use a depth gauge to file the appropriate amount on the blade.
  • Clean the chain after every use with a slightly oiled rag.
  • Make sure to clean out dirt and debris or any stuck piece of wood.

Invest in a good quality chain. A quality chain will last longer and require less sharpening. If a chainsaw is a frequently used tool for you then a quality chain is worth it.

Dull Chainsaw Blade vs Sharp Chainsaw Blade

Dull Blade

  • A dull blade looks worn out.
  • Require extra pressure when cutting wood.
  • You may experience kickbacks.
  • Requires thorough sharpening and sometimes replacement.

Sharp blade

  • Looks brand new and shiny.
  • Easily cut through the wood.
  • You won’t experience any kickbacks.
  • Require basic Maintenance after each use. Like cleaning and oiling.

Here is a video guide by a fellow, Steve’s Small Engine Saloon, who adamantly explains why you should never cut with a dull chainsaw:

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should I sharpen my dull chainsaw?

The need for sharpening is based on the use of the mini chainsaw. It could be every few weeks but if the chainsaw is being used regularly, it should be sharpened once a week.

How quickly does a chainsaw get dull?

A rarely used gas chainsaw can maintain its sharpness for months. But regularly used one can maintain optimal sharpness for 3 straight hours. After that, the performance will slow down gradually. This can easily be avoided with proper maintenance after each use. Steps to that are in the ‘Why does my Chainsaw Chain Dull so quickly?section.

How to know if a chainsaw chain is dull?

It could be one of the two; it is either visually worn out or it is not performing as it is supposed to. Either way, read the article to know a more in-depth answer.

How to know if the chainsaw requires a new chain?

There could be several reasons, but when it comes to dullness, if the chain is worn out to the point that it cannot be home remedied and requires professional sharpening, you should compare the cost of that with a new chain. A new good quality chain is a good investment.

Final Takeaways:

A chainsaw is a cutting tool that has a chain with teeth-like blades to take down trees and cut through wood. The blades could easily be inspected for dullness. And if that doesn’t give away, the performance always will. Proper maintenance guidelines should be followed after every use to avoid irreparable damage.

There is always sharpening, and maintenance but a quality chain is definitely a worthwhile investment for professionals and someone who uses it regularly.


Richard McMann

Richard lives out in the wild with his other half, Diana Richard. He tests chainsaws based on his personal experience and loves to share their nitty gritty details with his audience. Although Richard does focus on other home improvement tools, his focus remains on cutting fallen trees or maintaining his backyard via chainsaw tools. He pledges to come up with new knowledge about chainsaws every once in a while. Explore Details About Richard