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A Chain Saw Troubleshooting Guide

Walter Hall provides an illustrated guide to predict how to solve basic chain saw problems.

| September/October 1985

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    Occasionally, in one of your periodic examinations of your chain, you might spot a problem with some part, such as a cutter. When you do, use the picture guide here to identify the problem and thus discover its probable cause and remedy.
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    You can take all the precautions and follow all the rules and still have accidents. The risk is minimized, but it's still there.

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Wait! Before you head out to the woods with your chain saw this fall, inspect your chain.

Back in 1978 and '79, MOTHER EARTH NEWS published an extensive two-part excerpt (see MOTHER EARTH NEWS issues 54 and 55) from Barnacle Parp's Chain Saw Guide. This well-illustrated, commonsense handbook quickly became the standard guide to selecting, using, and caring for those dangerous, but well-nigh indispensable, machines. All of our staff woodcutters who had copies of the book used them faithfully.

Then, recently, Parp's Guide went out of print . . . and our staff sawyers had to guard their copies faithfully. Well, we saw a situation that needed correcting, so we decided to republish the book ourselves. Not only that, we persuaded Walter Hall — the guide's author — to expand and update it. The result is Barnacle Parp's new Chain Saw Guide (copyright © Walter Hall, 288 pages, available for $12.95 plus $1.50 shipping and handling from MOTHER's Bookshelf, Hendersonville, NC). As you can see from the selections here, Parp's Guide is an important aid for anyone who ever has need to pick up a chain saw. Check the chain saw troubleshooting illustrated guides in the image gallery.

A Chain Saw Troubleshooting Guide

Occasionally, in one of your periodic examinations of your chain, you might spot a problem with some part, such as a cutter. When you do, use the picture guide here to identify the problem and thus discover its probable cause and remedy.

But not all cutting problems are immediately apparent to the eye, especially if chain saws are new to you. It's impossible here to cover completely all the potential saw chain problems, but if you experience a performance problem, try to identify it from the following chain saw troubleshooting paragraphs.

Chain cuts crooked; cuts at an angle; engine drags: If your bar and sprocket are in good shape, these problems are caused by filing the cutters at different angles or by inconsistent filing pressure from tooth to tooth. A chain that is sharper or longer on one side will pull to that side. Refile to restore uniform cutters, and reset the depth gauges. Check bar rails and tang clearance.

5/22/2018 8:17:40 PM

I use the plans at WWW.EASYWOODWORK.ORG to build my own DIY projects – I highly recommend you visit that website and check their plans out too. They are detailed and super easy to read and understand unlike several others I found online. The amount of plans there is mind-boggling… there’s like 16,000 plans or something like that for tons of different projects. Definitely enough to keep me busy with projects for many more years to come haha Go to WWW.EASYWOODWORK.ORG if you want some additional plans :)

3/13/2014 7:04:53 PM

I have a Poulan chainsaw p-3314. I have installed a new ignition module twice, a new flywheel, new plug and disconnected grounding wire. Still no SPARK!!! Does anyone have any suggestions??

Arnold Hensley
8/4/2012 3:00:44 PM

i have a sthil ms170 it will idle but wont take gas whats wrong?

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