How to Untangle a Chainsaw Chain

You’re out in the forest, ready to clear some brush when your chainsaw chain tangle. You don’t need to go home and call for help; you can fix it yourself! There’s no need to call in a pro or spend money on new equipment—you just have to know how to do it properly.

Here’s how:

Lay chain on a flat surface

Lay the chain on a flat surface. Use a flat, sturdy surface that is large enough to lay the chain on. This can be an old piece of plywood or even a sheet of cardboard. Make sure this surface is strong enough to support the weight of your chainsaw, especially if you have some sort of safety equipment connected to it (like gloves or goggles).

Next, move on to step 2!

Lubricate the chain

To lubricate the chain, you’ll need bar and chain oil. The best way to apply this is with an attachment that comes with some chainsaw models (such as a spray bottle or squirt gun). If your model doesn’t come with such an attachment, then you can use any type of liquid lubricant: a chain saw chain lubricant, WD40 or motor oil will work just fine.

Do not use oil with a petroleum base because it will gum up the engine and eventually ruin it. Also, avoid vegetable-based oils because they may cause premature wear on key components of your machine.

Make two loops

Now you should have two loops, one on each end of your chain. These loops should be about 1/2 inch in diameter and roughly the same size as your chain links.

Raise chain

To untangle your chainsaw chain, first, raise the chain off the ground. This can be done in a variety of ways:

  • Raise it off a table. If you have a table or bench nearby, carefully lay the chain on top so that it is supported by both ends. You may need to use a vice for this step—it’s okay! We won’t tell anyone if you do it wrong!
  • Raise it off a surface. A workbench and vice are also common items to use when trying to raise something up in order to work on it. If you don’t have these available, try using another vice or clamp instead (again: we won’t tell anyone).

Repeat as needed

If your chainsaw chain is still tangled, repeat the above steps as needed. If you’re having problems making the loops tight enough to fit over each other, try making them looser. If you’re having problems making them tight enough to fit over each other, try making them tighter.

How to prevent a chainsaw chain tangle

Here are five ways you can keep your chainsaw chain from tangling:

  • Keep it lubricated. This may sound obvious, but if you don’t lubricate your blade with bar oil and/or petroleum jelly on a regular basis, the heat created by friction will cause the chain to become stiff, which makes it more likely to tangle.
  • Make sure the chain is sharp. Sharpening a dull blade increases its risk of getting tangled because it causes more friction as it cuts through wood or other materials. Also, consider having your bar ground at least once per year by an authorized dealer in order to ensure that the teeth aren’t starting to bend or break off (which could lead them into becoming dangerous projectiles). If possible, always cut on soft surfaces such as dirt or sand so that any debris doesn’t get caught in between two links—this will also help keep out debris like sap that could otherwise clog up your saw’s engine housing over time as well!

How to unkink a chainsaw chain

  • Cleaning the chain
  • Removing the chain
  • Use a chain breaker to remove the chain
  • Using a vice to remove the chain


If you’re still struggling to get the hang of unkinking a chainsaw chain, that’s okay! All of these methods take practice and patience. It may take some time to perfect your technique, but once you do, you’ll be able to keep your chainsaw in tip-top shape for years to come.

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