Last updated on April 29, 2022 10:21 am by the writer.
There are many reasons why the chain for your chainsaw may get tangled.
Starting with improper removal of the chain, or the chain breaking loose from the chainsaw during use. Or even having the chain in storage the wrong way can lead the chain to get tangled and loop on itself in a way that you’re unsure how to unloop.
Maintenance like chain tightening between use and careful storage of chains when removed is important can help avoid this.
Luckily you shouldn’t find life overly complex or complicated if all you need to do is fix a tangled chain.
However, you should be careful when handling the chain by using gloves, utilizing the right tools, and following the right method and instructions to end up with a great-looking chain.
Read below for our information on how to untangle a chainsaw chain, and learn how to remove a chainsaw chain that is jammed or tangled.
What do you need to prepare before untangling a chainsaw?
1. A flat and sturdy work table
Ideally, you would want to make use of a workbench, if you have one. In the event that you don’t, any flat and even surface would do.
Working with a flat and sturdy surface is highly recommended because this will help allow you to work more securely and efficiently during the untangling process by reducing the risks of confusion or making further damage to your chain.
2. Chainsaw gloves
Chainsaw gloves are protective equipment known as a type of PPE that offers your hands scratch resistance in case you accidentally scrape your hand against the sharp part of the blade.
Gloves also offer protection from other hazardous environmental elements you might encounter when using a chainsaw like thorns, shrubs, and oil.
Gloves help protect your hands making maintenance safer when you handle a chainsaw chain.
3. Tools for reinstalling the chain
The tools you’ll need depend on the model of your chainsaw for re-installing the chain once the untangling has been done.
Refer to the respective operation manuals as units may vary in assembly and disassembly procedures.
The tools you will usually need are:
- Sprocket Sock
- Lubricating oil
- A bench vise
- Allen Wrenches or socket set
- A good tip I have is to use an old toothbrush with a small container of fuel (to help clean the sprockets).
A note on using a lubricant/ oil
If the chain has become seized and is stiff from mild corrosion, consider soaking the entire chain with bar oil to help loosen all of the moving parts.
Never use WD40 as a chain lubricant as this is not a true lubricant, it’s more likely to act as a solvent and rust dissolved in this case.
Instead, you can use STIHL Platinum Bar and Saw Chain Lubricant, or any other Petroleum-based oils.
You can also use canola oil as a substitute.
Preparing a table or bench
When preparing your serious workstation, clear out the workspace so that you have a clean space and make way for your chainsaw and the tangled chain.
Wear all the necessary protective equipment and make sure that you’ll have all the tools you’ll be needed on hand.
Make sure that there are no visual and physical obstructions, this makes work tidier and faster.
Steps to untangle a loose chainsaw chain
Now that your workbench is ready, here’s how to untangle a chainsaw chain.
Step 1. Lay the chain on a flat clean surface or work table.
Step 2. Loosen up the chain with lubricant if you find part of the chain has seized.
Applying lubricant provides an easy way to untangle a chainsaw chain because of greatly reduced friction.
The metallic chains will also slide against one another, as opposed to locking up and scratching when pulled.
Step 3. Locate the 2 loops of the tangle.
You will commonly find the loops on the exact opposite ends of each other.
You’d want them to be together, so pull on the chain and position until both ‘knots’ are together and next to each other.
Step 4. Raise the chain.
Once together, pull back the chain loop on the top of both loops, thus untangling them.
Step 5. Repeat this until fully untangled.
If there are more than 2 knots, repeat the process until you’ve cleared all of the loops.
Your chain should lie flat and even against the table if you’re successful.
Step 6. Check the chain for any damage.
If there is any damage consider replacing the chain. If the chain is blunt you can sharpen it once re-installed back on the chainsaw.
Steps to untangle a chainsaw chain that is still attached to the sprocket
Step 1. Prep the equipment.
Having everything that you’ll be needing before you actually get to the task will save you loads of time and energy when you get started. Convenience and thoroughness should go hand-in-hand.
Step 2. Secure your chainsaw on a bench vise.
Make sure that your chainsaw is fully powered off and cords and batteries are removed.
A simple trick to remove the jammed chainsaw chain: is to clamp the chainsaw bar onto a bench vise for a secure and easy to work with hold.
Step 3. Remove the chain from the chainsaw.
Make sure to remove your chainsaw break before loosening the bar nuts.
Alter the tensioner and remove covers to help remove the chain from the sprocket.
Fully remove the bar nuts to dislodge the plate. After all that, you should be able to easily remove the chain.
Step 4. Simply repeat the steps from the previous section to untangle the chain fully.
Re-install a chainsaw blade
- Clean everything, using a scrapper and old toothbrush, and a cleaning solvent like fuel to remove any build-up of grime, on the sockets and other areas.
- Wrap the first part of the chain around the sprocket on the chainsaw motor.
- Loosen the bar alignment so that the rest of the chain can easily hock over the bar and fully sit in place.
- Next, tighten the bar adjustment using a screwdriver, this will push the chain out and make everything secure in place.
- Connect again the bar nut that will securely hold the bar into the current alignment.
- Check the chain is not too tight or too loose using the snap method
- If the chain needs adjusting tighten or loosen, by repeating from step. Read our full guide here on tightening your chainsaw blade.
Safe chainsaw untangling tips
Troubleshooting a chainsaw is no different from troubleshooting any other power tool.
You must wear the proper safety equipment.
And check that the power supply is off.
Again, it’s preferred that you work on tangled chains on a flat, horizontal surface.
- First, always keep your chain lubricated during use by topping up the auto-feed drip oil feeder as needed.
- Always, sharpen your chains regularly, since they can get more damaged by overheating when they’re dull.
- Check the condition of the sprocket, if you find the edges to be rounding off and wearing down the chain this can resulting it easily slipping off. If this is the case please replace your sprocket.
- Lastly, check the chain tension between cuts, and every time you use your saw; if it’s too loose, there will be a high probability of the chain getting thrown off. Likewise, too high a tension might cause the chain to snap, which can be rather dangerous.
- If you are also using a chainsaw mill, for home milling your own timber with a chainsaw from a tree trunk! make sure that you also keep things clean, and all fasteners are secure.
How to avoid tangling a chainsaw?
- It may be difficult to avoid your saw chains from getting tangled by going into the past as of yet.
- To avoid your chains from interlacing, in the future keep them stored neatly and properly.
- Maintain your chains with oil even when not in use so that the chains don’t easily lock up and have them stored properly in a dry area.
- Observe proper tensions when operating, nothing too tight or too loose.
Whether you are working for commercial woodcraft or simply creating pieces of furniture like a table, you need to use a properly attached chainsaw chain.
Untangling chainsaw chains is more bothersome than found to be tedious. If your chain gets tangled, this is not that much different from when shoelaces get knotted up.
In fact, shoelaces might even be harder to untangle in certain cases (That’s why I like slip-ons). With enough patience and the right set of tools, you’ll untangle your chain in no time.
The most important thing to remember is that safety should always be your top priority.
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