How to Tell When Your Chainsaw Chain is Worn Out

| Last Updated: February 8, 2021

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Chainsaw chains will last a long time if properly maintained; some people report chains lasting for up to ten years. However, that isn’t always the case.

In this article, we’ll explain the common signs that indicate your chain needs replacing. 

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read)

Below are a few indications and signs you’ll notice when your chainsaw chain is worn out. 

  • Cutting Takes Longer 
  • The Chainsaw Is Harder To Control
  • The Teeth Have Been Filed Too Much

When is it Time to Replace My Chainsaw Chain?

A chainsaw will begin to show certain common signs to say that the chain needs replacing. Below are a few signs to look out for. 

Projects Begin To Take Longer To Cut 

A sharp chain will be able to cut through a log like a hot knife through butter; there shouldn’t be any doubt in the performance.

If you feel like you’re getting some pushback or an uneven cut, chances are you’ll have a dull chain. If that’s the case, it just requires you to sharpen the edges. 

The Saw Can’t Be Controlled

Most issues with your chain can often be explained as a lack of a sharp edge. The same goes for control issues with your chainsaw; a sharp chain will allow the user to easily control the chainsaw while cutting. A dull chain often rattles and vibrates excessively; this will have to be fixed before further use to remove the chance of serious injury

The Teeth Are Filed Too Low

After years and years of using this chain, proper maintenance can often be its downfall; many times, the user will correctly file the teeth to provide a sharp edge. However, after years they’ll be filed down so much, they can’t be used. You should be inspecting your chain teeth length every day before use. 

How Many Times Can You Sharpen a Chainsaw Chain?

If you maintain the teeth properly over the years without hitting hard material like rock or solid ground, you’ll only need to sharpen them five times over several years. 

Why Does My Chainsaw Chain Dull So Quickly?

A dull chain is often created due to contact with a rock or hard ground. Make sure you’re not going too deep with the chainsaw when cutting. Otherwise, you’ll have this issue. Another reason is that you’ve not filed the chain properly; if you struggle with this, have a professional sharpen it for you. 

Situations That Can Lead to a Dull Chainsaw Chain

There are a few situations that you could easily dull the chainsaw chain; below is an overview of each scenario. 

  • A Bent Bar - A bent bar can often put pressure on just one side of your chainsaw chain, therefore dulling one side and keeping the other sharp.

  • Hitting Solid Rock - Hitting solid rock is a common culprit of a dull chain; if you’re sawing too close to the ground that hasn’t been cleared, this will be inevitable.

  • Embedded Nails or Foreign Objects - Similar to hitting a rock, if you clash with solid metals or other hard materials embedded inside the tree or log, this will cause a dull chain. 


Ideally and realistically, your chain should last for years after purchase; they don’t require much maintenance if properly taken care of. However, the article above will hopefully help those identify a premature chain break.