Chainsaw Chain Got Stuck in the Bar? Here’s How to FIX It!

Have you EVER found yourself in a situation where your chainsaw chain got STUCK in the bar and wouldn’t move?

chainsaw chain got stuck - featured image

To be honest:

This is a very common issue that can be caused by a variety of reasons!

The main reason a chainsaw chain would get stuck in the bar is that the drive links are bent or rough. This can also happen if the chain is too tight, the bar groove is squeezed, the tip sprocket is stuck, or the chain brake is on.

I’m Sam and I’ve been using chainsaws for more than two decades now. (call me obsessed?)

In this article, I’m going to explain the causes in more detail and show you how you can FIX them🛠️

Are you ready? 

Let’s jump right in…

The Drive Links on Your Chain are Damaged

Drive links are the “pointy” bottom part on your chain that travel inside the groove on your bar.

So, if your chain isn’t moving, it could be because the drive links are bent (or they’ve got “burrs” on the edges).

(Here’s what I’m talking about:)

Example of burred drive links.

While there could be a tons of factors contributing to this issue, it’s highly probable that you’ve either recently encountered a bar pinch or your chain has been coming off the bar frequently.

And in both situations, it’s likely that the drive links have experienced heavy bending or developed burrs, leading to an interruption in the chain’s movement.

How to Fix This?

  1. First, you’ll need to identify the damaged drive links. Take the chain OFF, place it on a flat surface, and use a marker to MARK the damaged drive links.
  2. Put the chain on the vice & file the damaged links with a flat file until they are SMOOTH. Make sure the burrs on the edges are removed.
  3. When you’re done, put the chain back on your bar & check if it is moving freely. 

I found this really helpful video on Youtube that shows the exact same process in detail:

However, if your drive links are damaged beyond repair, you’ll need to replace the chain.

The Chain Might Be Too Tight to Move

Keep your chainsaw chain tight!

I know you’ve heard this a MILLION times, but have you ever considered that if your chain is too tight, it could get jammed in the bar and refuse to budge?

overtightened chainsaw chain

Let’s face it:

Tightening a chainsaw chain is a delicate process.

But sometimes, we get a bit too ambitious and tighten it up TOO much! The chain then ends up becoming so tightly bound against the bar that it just won’t move.

How to Tell If Your Chainsaw is Too Tight?

Use the chain adjustment tool that you’ve got to move the chain around the bar.

Moving chainsaw chain around the bar with a screwdriver.

Image courtesy: Craftop

How Tight Should a Chainsaw Chain Be?

Well, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer here.

However, as per the experts’ advice, the chain should be tight enough that the drive links won’t slip out when you give them a tug, yet loose enough to allow free movement around the bar. (read this article to learn more!)

⚠️ CAUTION: Make sure the chain brake nuts aren’t too tight while tightening your chain (as this can cause DAMAGE to your chainsaw!).

The Groove on Your Bar has Got Pinched

If your chain is stuck in the bar, and you can’t get it out, it might be because the sides of the bar rails have squished together.

Image identifying the differences between a normal and a pinched bar groove.

How to Tell if Your Bar Groove is Pinched?

Well, it’s EASY!

Method 1: Hold the bar close to your head and look along its length. If you see two edges coming closer together, it’s surely pinched.

Method 2: Slide your chain around the bar. If it feels HARD to move, that’s a sign the groove is pinched. (Do this test with a “fresh” chain)

Pulling the chain around the bar with hands.

The Solution?​

I would recommend taking it to a PROFESSIONAL and getting it checked first!

Or, better yet, get a new bar. It’s really not worth it to take the risk with a worn-out bar.

The Bar Tip Sprocket is Probably Jammed

Another thing that could make your chainsaw chain stuck or not move is when the bar nose sprocket gets all jammed up.

Chainsaw bar nose sprocket.

The bar nose sprocket allows your chain to move around the nose of your bar. But it could get jammed due to wear & tear, improper lubrication, dirt or debris, or other use-related factors (obviously!).

And when this happens, your chain just won’t move. 

So, check the nose sprocket of your bar to see if its rotating freely or not!

How to Fix a Jammed Tip Sprocket?

  1. First, clean the sprocket if you notice any dirt or debris build-up. You can use a rag or cotton swab to do this.
  2. Next, use a grease gun and a good quality oil to lubricate the nose sprocket. (Check figure A below)
  3. Now, grab a flathead screwdriver, position the tip at an angle between the sprocket and the bar, and gently nudge it with slow, careful pushes (Refer to Figure B). It should start moving gradually.
A. Greasing bar nose sprocket B. Rotating bar nose sprocket with a screwdriver.

But, what if it still doesn’t move?

In that case, you’ll need to replace the sprocket. But, if you’ve got a hard-nosed bar, you’ll need to get a new bar.

Your Chain Brake is Probably Engaged

The chain brake on your chainsaw is designed to be a safety mechanism that operates in the event of “kickback” and stops the chain immediately to prevent any further damage or injury.

Chainsaw chain brake

It’s a useful feature!

But sometimes operators unknowingly activate the chain brake by pressing it with their thumb or index finger while cutting and the chain get’s stuck!

How to Tell if Your Chain Brake is Engaged?

  • Engaged: If the front hand guard is pushed forward, the chain brake is engaged (means the chain won’t move now).
  • Disengaged: If the front hand guard isn’t leaning forward.
Engaged vs disengaged chainsaw chain brake.

How to Fix this Issue?

If your chain brake is ENGAGED, you just need to release it! 

Grab the front-hand guard and pull it all the way back until you hear the satisfying “click” sound. Now, the chain should be able to move freely. 

💡 PRO-TIP: You can use the chain brake as a TEMPORARY break when you’re not cutting.

Samuel Anali

Hey there! My name is Sam, and I'm the NERD behind this site. I'm an avid chainsaw enthusiast, and I've been tinkering with them since I was 17 (it's almost 20 years now!).

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