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Chainsaw Making Sparks: Reasons and Solutions

Chainsaw Making Sparks: Reasons and Solutions

Using a chainsaw can be dangerous even under the most ordinary circumstances. So, it is only more so when something goes wrong. And, of all the errors you can experience with a chainsaw, sparking might be one of the most visually alarming. However, there is no need to be concerned. Often, the problem is not as severe as you might expect.

Before you cut, you need knowledge of the reasons and solutions for a chainsaw making sparks. Some issues can be cleared up with slight changes, while other problems require comprehensive repair. Arm yourself with the information necessary to safely and effectively operate your chainsaw without interruption by reading more now.

Where Are The Sparks Coming From?

The most common cause of sparks from a chainsaw is metal-on-metal grinding. Whether it’s cutting through wood that has a nail in it or a grinding of gears in the chainsaw housing, a metal-against-metal grinding is the most likely cause.

There can be other factors and we will delve into those below but first look to where the sparks are coming from? It is from the blades on the chain bar making contact with something or are the sparks originating from within the chainsaw itself?

Check Your Angle to See If That Is Why Your Chainsaw Is Making Sparks

There are a lot of different angles that you can use to cut down a tree. If you are cutting at an angle that is not appropriate for the tree’s makeup, you are essentially fighting against the grain, and the extra pressure causes the sparks to set off.

Consider a leaning tree. If you cut the tree from the direction that it is leaning, then the chainsaw will be squeezed as it attempts to cut inward. If you come at it from a different angle, from the opposite end of the tree, the fact that it is leaning away will actually reduce the pressure on the saw. Remember these tips when cutting:

  • Let the chainsaw do the work
  • Do not muscle or force the chainsaw through the cut
  • An improper angle causes the bar to twist and can lead to sparks

The solution to this problem is actually quite simple. Just look at the tree, then change your angle. If you attack the problem the right way, you should see the sparks dissipate. Of course, that is assuming that this is the reason behind the issue in the first place. Looking at the angle is always a good place to start.

Is the Chainsaw Making Sparks Because of a Dull Chain?

When it comes to problems with a chainsaw, having dull components can be a serious problem. Just like a knife or another cutting implement, if your tool is dull, the job it does is less effective, perhaps even destructive.

A dull chainsaw is, in essence, not operating correctly, and it will cause sparks almost every time. Take a look at the various parts of your chainsaw and check to see whether it is sharp.

Inspection of the bevels on the side plate and top plate cutting edges should reveal whether they are in good condition. If there is a glint in the light of the chainsaw’s edges, it is also a reliable indicator that it is sharp enough. Other ways to know if you are trying to cut with a dull chainsaw are:

  • The chainsaw making uneven cuts
  • Smoke emissions
  • Fine sawdust after cross-cutting
  • If you have to apply pressure to get the chainsaw to dig in

The solution to this is quite simple. All you need to do is sharpen your chain or get a new one. If you are not sure, have a professional check it for you. When in doubt, replacing the chain is the most dependable option.

How Much Slack Is on Your Chainsaw Chain?

The tension not being right is perhaps the most common reason a chainsaw sparks. If the tension is not right, it means that there is too much free moving space between the bar and the chain. When you are running it, the two will collide, and you will notice the sparks spontaneously.

Solutions for a chain with improper tension to consider:

  • Clean the sprocket nose
  • Check the path that guides the chain for the build-up and clean it out
  • Make sure there is enough oil – top it off
  • Ensure parts are lubricated for proper movement

As a chainsaw operator, always make sure your equipment is well taken care of. With proper maintenance, you should never see sparks. Additionally, you can usually adjust the tension of most chainsaws easily. It is a feature commonly seen, so always make sure things are properly tightened before cutting.

Is the Dirty Wood Causing Your Chainsaw to Spark?

You might be thinking, all wood is dirty, so how is the wood making my chainsaw spark? You might visualize a typical tree with a lot more going on in the bark’s crevices that you can not see. When cutting or felling a particularly old tree, you have to keep in mind that it has been hit for years with substances like:

  • Rocks
  • Sand
  • Dirt
  • Plastic
  • Garbage

During strong winds, anything can be lifted off the ground and blasted at the bark of a tree. If it is hit with enough force, it is there to stay. When your chainsaw touches the sand or other materials, a spark is inevitably going to happen. Does it mean that you should shut down the saw and quit? Not necessarily.

Solution for Chainsaw Sparks from Dirty Wood

There is nothing you can do to wash the tree of all the debris and other contaminants aside from ripping all the bark off it. It might stop the chain from sparking, but it is a lot of work, and it will take an enormous amount of time. To get your cutting done, make sure you are prepared with:

  • Knowing your chain will likely dull quicker
  • Having extra chains on hand or the ability to sharpen it

You may want to consider purchasing a higher quality chainsaw if you plan to take down a large area of dirty wood. By investing in something a little bit more robust and sharper, you will be able to get more work done without having to stop to switch out or sharpen chains.

What Kind of Wood Is Making Your Chainsaw Spark?

Different types of trees produce various kinds of wood. Some wood is more rigid than others. The extra strain your bar, chain, pinching, and saw parts are going through creates chainsaw sparks.

Ten of the most common North American trees with the hardest wood with pressure in pounds:

Species of TreeSurface Pressure in Pounds
Soft Maple950
Black Walnut1,010
Red Oak1,290
White Oak1,360
Hard Maple1,450
Pecan, Hickory1.820

The most straightforward solution to avoiding unwanted sparks while felling hard trees is being aware of the type of tree you are cutting. Make sure that the chainsaw you are using is capable of completing the job.

Are Chainsaw Sparks Dangerous?

There is no high risk of being injured by a chainsaw sparking for any of the reasons listed. There is statistically a greater danger associated with setting a hot chainsaw down on dry fuel. That is the scenario experienced operators are careful to avoid because a hot chainsaw can set off a fire fast.

Situations to be aware of when operating a chainsaw that could put you at risk are:

  • Falling from a tree
  • Getting cut by the chainsaw
  • Back injuries
  • Kick-back
  • Eye injuries

Be aware of the sparks and where they are going. Make sure always to have the proper protective gear appropriate for operating a chainsaw. In almost every instance, the spark will self-extinguish before hitting your clothing or any of the nearby surroundings.

Ways to Protect Yourself When Using a Chainsaw

Sparks coming from a chainsaw pose the most threat physically to your eyes. If a spark hits your eyes, you have to rush to an emergency room right away. It can cause irreversible damages if not treated right away. To keep yourself safe while operating a chainsaw, make sure to have:

  • Ear protection
  • Safety gloves
  • Steel-toe boots
  • Visor or goggles

While a sparking chainsaw may be challenging to work with and expensive to replace, as long as you are adequately protected with the safety equipment suggested, there is no threat of physical harm.


The following sources were used when researching this topic:

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