Does your saw not cut as well as it used to - figure it'd be easier to use the old bow saw instead? Are you having to apply quite a bit of pressure to get the saw to cut through the wood? Do you find yourself actually performing a cutting motion as if you were using a normal hand-saw? Does the saw no longer cut straight?
All of these things are a sure sign that there's a problem with your chainsaw that needs sorting - and fortunately they are all to do with just one component on the saw. Find out more after the jump...
It's very common for users of a chainsaw to carry on trying to cut through the timber even though it's obvious that something is not quite right; hopefully after this post, you'll have a better idea of what to look for and how to correct the situation.
The saw should self-feed, that is to say that it should cut through the wood with very little pressure as the cutters will pull themselves through the timber - forcing it through the wood just increases wear and effective loses power due to the increase in friction. So if you are having to push down on the saw, or rock it back and forth you're going to have to face the fact that... it's blunt!
There's nothing for it, but to sharpen the chain. Trying to cut with a blunt chain is a lesson in futility - it takes longer, is more tiring to you and it's not good for the saw. Always use a sharp chain. There's one sure-fire way of telling if your chain is blunt and that is the wood-dust that is produced. This dust is just like a fine powder and really does give the game away.
A sharp saw should produce wood chips, but you must remember to ensure that the depth gauges are set correctly to maximise the amount of timber cut by each cutter.
Sometimes a chainsaw just will not cut in a straight line; this is a classic symptom of incorrect sharpening and caused by having the cutter lengths different. Remember, the length of the cutters must be the same for every cutter. You can check the lengths using the nut and bolt method as mentioned in an earlier post, and in the picture on the right.
A saw that suffers from a lot of vibration when cutting is likely to have the cutters incorrectly filed (i.e. set to the wrong angle) or the depth gauges set too low (i.e. filed too heavily). This last scenario is a particular problem as it increases the risk of kickback from the saw.
If your saw is not cutting efficiently then try to work out why; all of the above problems are related to one single chain compenent... the cutter, and that's where you should start your search for the reason behind poor cutting performance.