How to Tell If a Chainsaw Bar is Bent? (5 Amazing Methods!)

how to tell if a chainsaw bar is bent

Are you wondering if your chainsaw bar is bent??

Well, you can tell if a chainsaw bar is bent by looking down the length of it. If it’s bent, you will notice a slight bend, usually starting from the center of the bar and working its way out to either end. Also, if your chainsaw isn’t cutting straight or the chain keeps coming off, it’s a sign that your chainsaw bar is bent.

I’ve been using and repairing chainsaws for more than 20 years now. Throughout this article, I’m going to discuss – 👇

  • how can you identify a bent bar,
  • what causes a bar to bend,
  • and at the end, how you can straighten it.

So, are you READY folks??

Let’s get started…

How Do You Know If Your Chainsaw Bar is Bent?

Do you know what?

It’s extremely EASY to check if your chainsaw bar is bent!

Here are 3 of my favorite ways to check for a bent chainsaw bar: 👇

Method 1: Visual Inspection

This one is probably the easiest and should be at the TOP of your list.

Here’s how you do it: 👇

1. Hold your bar right up to your eye.

2. Now, look down the length of it (from the nose to the tail). 

looking down the length of a chainsaw bar

3. If you notice any bends or curves, your chainsaw bar is most likely bent.

However, if it looks perfectly straight, then it’s probably not bent. But I would recommend trying Method 2 and Method 3 to make sure!

Method 2: Flat Table Test

This is another very simple test you can do at home with minimal setup. All you need to have is a table (or workbench) that is completely flat.

Here’s how the test goes: 👇

1. Lay your bar on the table.

2. Make sure that there’s nothing under the bar to influence your results.

3. If you notice that your bar is not perfectly straight and contours to the shape of the table, then it’s likely that your bar is bent.

checking if a chainsaw bar is bent

You can also check for any wobbling by gently moving your bar from one end. If you feel a lot of resistance or it doesn’t move evenly, your bar might be bent.

Method 3: Look Out for the Symptoms of a Bent Bar

Your bar passed the first two tests? Great! ✅

It would be best if you still looked out for symptoms of a bent bar. 

Here are 4 tell-tale signs that your chainsaw bar is bent: 👇

  • Your chainsaw isn’t cutting straight: Probably the most OBVIOUS symptom! If your chainsaw isn’t cutting straight (or you can use FANCY words like “crooked“), it could be because the bar is bent. (Learn More: Why Is My Chainsaw Not Cutting Straight?)
  • Your chainsaw vibrates abnormally: Chainsaws vibrate! That’s NORMAL. But if it’s vibrating more than usual – then your bar might be bent and causing the vibrations.
  • Your chain gets stuck: If your chainsaw is having trouble cutting through, or if you notice that your chain is getting stuck, it’s time to inspect your bar for a bent. (Learn More: Why Does My Chainsaw Chain Keep Getting Stuck?)
  • Your chain comes off easily: If your chainsaw chain keeps popping off the bar while you’re working, that’s a definite sign of a bent bar.
A chain that keeps coming off the guide bar.

So, there you have it, 3 easy ways to tell if your chainsaw bar is bent!

Now GO ahead and INSPECT your bar.

What Causes a Chainsaw Bar to Bend?

There are plenty of reasons that can cause your chainsaw bar to bend. But most commonly, a bar gets bent due to pinching. This can happen when your chain catches on a thick branch, or your bar is stuck between the log that you’re cutting.

Frankly speaking:

When I was a complete newbie, I had NO idea about those PRO cutting techniques, and I used to get my dad’s chainsaws pinched a LOT! 😇

pinched chainsaw

I lost count of how many bars I bent this way, and it was quite COSTLY too 🤑. 

(But now I hardly ever face this problem 😎. Read this article where I’ve described how you can also prevent your chainsaw from getting stuck in the tree!)

However, there are a few other causes that can lead to a bent bar, such as – 👇

  • over-tightening the chain,
  • forcing the chainsaw too hard while cutting,
  • hitting hard materials (i.e. metal, spikes, rocks, etc.),
  • dropping your chainsaw, and
  • even the age & condition of the bar can cause it to bend.

So, which do you think caused your bar to bend? (Share it in the comments below!)

Can a Bent Chainsaw Bar be Straightened?

bent chainsaw bar

If a chainsaw bar is slightly bent, then it can be straightened. But if the bar is severely bent or twisted, it becomes difficult. In such cases, you may need to replace the bar with a new one.

I know what you’re wondering now! 👇

How Do You Straighten a Bent Chainsaw Bar?

You can straighten a bent chainsaw bar using a hammer, a vice, or a log splitter. I’m going to discuss each of these methods in more detail here. But, if you don’t have any of these tools, then the only option left is to get your bar repaired by a professional.

Method 1: Using a Hammer

For this method, all you need is a mighty HAMMER 🔨.

I highly recommend using a rubber mallet or a brass hammer because these are much softer than steel hammers. Because steel hammers can cause your bar to stretch.

rubber mallet and brass hammer

I personally use a 2lb brass hammer for this kind of staff!

Here’s what you need to do: 👇

1. First, you need to observe the exact point of the bend and mark it with chalk or marker.

2. Now lay the bar on a solid flat surface, like an anvil, while the bend is facing up (I mean, facing away from the surface, like an “n“).

3. Take the hammer and gently hit the bend with it. (DON’T hammer near the rails, only the center portion)

4. Keep looking down the bar’s length and check if it’s getting straightened or not. (Repeat steps 2 & 3 until the bar is back to its original shape).

That’s it!

Method 2: Using a Vice

If your bar is not aggressively bent, you can try fixing it using this “vice” method. I tested this method a couple of times, and it seemed to work FINE.

Obviously, you would need a vice for this (a sturdy one!).

Here’s how to fix it: 👇

1. Securely clamp the chainsaw bar in a vice right where the bend is.

clamping chainsaw bar on a vice

2. Adjust the screws so that the bar is held in place tightly.

3. Now, pull and push the bar in opposite directions. Keep doing it until you feel that it’s straightening up.

4. Once you’re satisfied with its shape, unclamp it from the vice and check how it looks.

checking if chainsaw bar is straight enough

And there you go!

PRO-TIP: Use rubber pads or wooden blocks while clamping the bar in a vice. It will help protect the rails from getting damaged.

Method 3: Using a Log Splitter

It may sound “big gun,” but it’s actually quite simple. All you need is a hydraulic log splitter and some patience.

1. Place the chainsaw bar inside the log splitter and turn ON the machine.

2. Make sure that the bar is held in place securely while the bend is directly in the center.

3. Now, slowly and gradually increase the pressure until you feel that the bar is being straightened up (you won’t need too much pressure).

4. Once done, TURN OFF the machine and check how the bar looks now.

Simple, isn’t it?

Method 4: Take Your Bent Bar to a Repair Shop

This is probably the most efficient method of straightening your chainsaw bar.

Local small engine repair shops are your BEST bet here. They have all the right tools and expertise to straighten a bent chainsaw bar quickly, without causing further damage.

grinding chainsaw bar edges

They have hydraulic presses, hammers and various other tools that will help them get the job done easily.

pressing chainsaw bar rails

But it might get a bit EXPENSIVE 💸! (could cost you $50-60)

To be honest, it doesn’t seem worth it to me unless the bar is 24″ or longer.

However, if you don’t have the time or skills to do it yourself, then this is probably your best option.

When to Replace Your Chainsaw Bar?

Well, it’s a good practice to replace a chainsaw bar once every four chain replacements. However, if your bar is badly twisted or bent beyond repair, and you’re no longer able to straighten it, then it’s BEST to replace your bar with a new one.

twisted chainsaw bar

You might ask –

Can I Keep Using a Bent Chainsaw Bar?

Tbh, it’s NOT a good idea to keep using a bent bar!

A bent bar reduces the cutting performance of your chainsaw and can cause kickback, which is BRUTAL!

The worst part?

You won’t be able to cut STRAIGHT even with a mild bend in the bar.

A chainsaw cutting crooked (not straight).

So, my advice is – if you can’t get your bar straight, replace it with a new one and be safe.

Guess what??

I’ve written an entire article on this topic, discussing when to replace a chainsaw bar in great detail. GO check that out!

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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