How Does a chainsaw Work? Chainsaw Science Explained

If you’ve ever wondered how a chainsaw works, wonder no more!

A chainsaw is a great tool for all sorts of applications, from cutting firewood to removing large trees.

But how does a chainsaw work? To find the answer to this question, let’s take a look at the brief history of chainsaw

History of Chainsaw

History of Chainsaw

The very first chainsaw was developed in the late 18th century by a German orthopedist, Bernhard Heine.

In order to do surgeries, he had to cut through bone, cartilage, and ligaments quickly and precisely.

He was the first to use a chain of metal links connected with teeth for cutting firewood, which is how modern chainsaws function

Parts of a Chainsaw and How They Work

How Does a chainsaw Work

Hundreds of moving parts work together in a chainsaw to allow for the efficient cutting of wood.

Let’s discuss how the parts of a chainsaw work.

Engine Dynamics

How Does a chainsaw Work

The engine is the fundamental part of chainsaws. When you pull the rope, the chainsaw engine allows it to rotate chains by converting the burning gasoline energy into mechanical energy, which allows the piston to compress a mixture of air and fuel vapor within its cylinder.

And when the mixture reaches its peak pressure, the spark plug ignites the mixture, and combustion begins.

When the piston moves down, it creates a vacuum in the cylinder. This lets fresh fuel vapor from the carburetor flow into the cylinder.

Due to this process, the lightweight piston drives tough crankshafts, which power a three-rope chain that runs at a high speed of 70 miles per hour.

Role of Crankshaft

How Does a chainsaw Work

After you pull the starter rope to start the engine, the drive cup on the flywheel engages with the drive cup on the crankshaft, which turns the crankshaft. The crankshaft is connected to the piston, which moves up and down in the cylinder.

Movement of Chain

How Does a chainsaw Work

The chain of a chainsaw contains many small metal links with sharp teeth that are connected together in a loop.

The chain wraps around a guide bar, which is connected to the sprocket.


How Does a chainsaw Work

The key to the power of the chainsaw isn’t the teeth; it’s the flat piece of metal that the chain runs around, called a guide bar. It has to be strong enough to support a fast-moving chain but light enough to hold at arm’s length all day long.


How Does a chainsaw Work

The clutch inside a chainsaw is the part that drives the chain. It is responsible for transferring power from the engine to the chain and bar. When the chainsaw is activated, the clutch engages and starts to spin the chain.

Hand Guard

How Does a chainsaw Work

The hand guard is a protective cover that surrounds the chain and bar. It keeps things like wood chips and sawdust from flying up into the hands of the operator. Also, it helps to protect the operator from coming into contact with hot parts on the chainsaw.

Chain Brake

How Does a chainsaw Work

When you push the hand guard forward, the chain brake is activated. The chain brake is a safety feature of the chainsaw. It prevents the chain from kicking back.

Fuel and oil tank

How Does a chainsaw Work

The fuel and oil tank of the chainsaw gives the engine the fuel and oil it needs to run.

It needs to be filled with the correct fuel and oil mixture in order to work properly.

The tank should be checked before use, as it can become clogged or damaged if not taken care of properly.

Air filter

How Does a chainsaw Work

The purpose of the air filter is to filter the dirt and debris out of the air that passes through it.

Anti Vibration Handle System

How Does a chainsaw Work

The anti-vibration handle system is designed to reduce the amount of vibration that passes through the handle. This makes it easier and more comfortable to use the chainsaw for extended periods of time.

Starter rope

How Does a chainsaw Work

The starter rope is responsible for starting the engine of the chainsaw. You pull it in order to start the engine and get it running.

Spark Plug

How Does a chainsaw Work

The spark plug of the chainsaw is responsible for providing an electric spark to ignite the fuel and oil mix in the combustion chamber. Without a spark plug, the chainsaw will not start.

The spark plug should be checked and replaced periodically in order to keep your chainsaw running smoothly

Spark Arrestor

How Does a chainsaw Work

The purpose of a spark arrestor is to prevent burning carbon deposits from exiting the saw.


chainsaw Muffler

The muffler on a chainsaw is an important part of the engine exhaust system. It absorbs most of the noise and vibrations from the engine and also helps to reduce air pollution by containing exhaust gases.

Chainsaw Maintenance

chainsaw Muffler

Regular maintenance of your chainsaw will ensure that it runs properly and safely for many years. Basic maintenance should include checking the safety features, spark plug, chain tension, and bar oil.

Always use the correct ratio of oil and gas to avoid piston wear and tear.

When sharpening the chain, use the correct file size for your saw and make sure that both sides of each tooth are equally sharpened.

How does an Electric Chainsaw Work?

The key to how an electric chainsaw works is the motor that uses electricity to turn a shaft.

This rotational motion is then transferred to the sprocket and guide bar, which drives the chain.

Unlike gasoline-powered chainsaws, electric chainsaws do not require fuel or oil and are much quieter to operate.

Why does a chainsaw have a two-cycle engine?

How Does a chainsaw Work

Chainsaws have two-cycle engines because they are lightweight and powerful, which is ideal for cutting materials like wood.

A two-cycle engine does not need a separate oil and gas tank because the lubrication is combined with the fuel. This makes them more efficient than four-cycle engines.

Types of Chainsaws

Gas Powered Chainsaws

How Does a chainsaw Work

These are the most powerful types of chainsaws and require fuel and oil to operate properly.

Electric Powered Chainsaws

How Does a chainsaw Work

Electric chainsaws are great for medium-duty jobs and usually need less maintenance than gas-powered chainsaws.

They are also significantly quieter than gas-powered models.

Battery Powered Chainsaws

How Does a chainsaw Work

Most chainsaws that run on batteries are light and easy to carry, which makes them great for small jobs like pruning and trimming.

They are usually easier to maintain than gas-powered models, but they have less power and may require frequent battery recharging.

Science Channel

How Does a Chainsaw Work FAQs

How does a chainsaw chain cut wood?

The chain of a chainsaw contains many small metal links with sharp teeth that are connected together in a loop. As the chain rotates, these teeth cut into the material that is being cut.

How does chainsaw kickback happen?

Kickback is a dangerous reaction that can occur when using a chainsaw.

It usually happens when the tip of the saw’s chain comes into contact with a tree or a branch.

The saw can suddenly jerk back and cause serious injury if the user is not prepared. To avoid kickback, use a saw with a low kickback and a chain brake for the job, and make sure you use it correctly.

Final Words

In conclusion, a chainsaw is an essential tool for many jobs, such as cutting wood and trimming tree branches.

Understanding how a chainsaw works is important for safe and effective operation. With the right knowledge and maintenance, you can keep your chainsaw running smoothly and safely for many years.

Photo of author

Charlie Bass

Charlie has been a mechanic for over 25 years and has worked on everything from small engine gardening equipment to huge diesel-electric mining haul trucks, trains and even aircraft. This broad range of industry experience gives him a unique insight into almost anything mechanical especially with an engine, including gardening and landscaping equipment. He currently owns his own mobile mechanic business and lives with his family in Australia.

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