Chainsaw Chain Direction – Don’t Get Your Chain On Backwards!

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Getting the chainsaw chain direction right is very straightforward.

When viewing the chain at the top of the bar, the cutter must be facing towards the tip of the chainsaw bar. When looking at the chain on the bottom of the bar, the cutter must be facing the powerhead.

See the pictures down below to gain a full understanding of the chainsaw blade direction.

Chainsaw Blade Direction

chainsaw chain direction

Which way does a chain go on a chainsaw?

The cutter, as shown in the illustration above, is what enters the wood to cut it. Keep that in mind when fitting your chainsaw chain and it should be enough to get the direction right.

A chainsaw chain spins around out from the top of the saw around the tip of the bar and back under towards the powerhead. In other words, it runs clockwise!

The depth gauge is shorter than the cutter which can help you to identify which is which if you are still having difficulty.

In the chainsaw chain direction picture below, the Husqvarna 450 powerhead is on the right and the tip on the left. The chain is installed so that the cutting tips are pointing towards the nose of the bar.

chainsaw blade direction

Here are some more images of my Husqvarna 450e to illustrate.

It is easy to distinguish the cutter from the depth gauge, and you can see which way to install a chain onto a chainsaw.

which way does a chain go on a chainsaw

It’s the same direction whatever chainsaw brands you are using. Whether Husky, Stihl, Poulan, Echo, or Ryobi – chains go on the same way. At least, I’ve never come across any that go the opposite direction.

If you think you have a weird chainsaw, best to check the manual. Here’s an easy way to untangle a chainsaw chain if yours is in a mess.

Chainsaw Chain Direction Picture

Here are some more images of the chain on my chainsaw.

chainsaw direction

It doesn’t matter what type of chainsaw chain you have either.

Whether you are using a semi-chisel or a full-chisel, ripping chain, or a chipper chain. They all go on with the cutter facing the same direction.

chainsaw blade direction picture

Here you can see which direction the drive link is facing.

This is what keeps your chain running along the bar.

which way does the chain go on a chainsaw

And lastly, you can see the chainsaw teeth direction close up.

You can also see the chain direction when looking at the bottom of the bar, facing back toward the powerhead.

chain saw chain direction

Hopefully, that makes things clear and you won’t end up with a chainsaw chain on backward!

Chainsaw Direction

What is the correct chainsaw direction?

Cutters pointing towards the tip when looking at the top of the bar – it’s that simple. The chainsaw direction of rotation is out from the top and back in from underneath.

I hope these chainsaw chain diagrams and images have helped you to better understand which way a chain goes onto a bar and that you’re safely underway cutting soon.

If you are ever in doubt, make sure you take your chainsaw to a local dealer and they will be more than happy to help you out. This can be the best idea when changing a chain for the first time.

The fewer chainsaw accidents we have the better!

Here’s another post that might interest you if you’re new to chainsaws: how to measure a chainsaw bar.

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