How Does A Chainsaw Work?

Understanding how a chainsaw works is absolutely crucial when it comes to making sure that you are operating it properly. It will also help you understand the possible issues you might face while using a chainsaw and how you can fix them. Although there are three types of chainsaw - battery powered cordless, electric corded and gas powered - the basic mechanism is the same for all.

Parts of a Chainsaw

Like all mechanical machines, chainsaws also consist of several mechanical parts that work in tandem to help the chainsaw perform its functions. Let’s take a look at all the different parts of the chainsaw and the role they play in how a chainsaw works.


The chainsaw is a machine which relies on the conversion of energy from electrical sources or from fossil fuels to mechanical energy that can be used to cut through wood. The motor or the engine of a chainsaw provides it all the power it needs to be able to perform its job by spinning the crankshaft. The crankshaft turns the gears connected to one of the sprockets that are connected to the chain and the chain spins around.


The engine serves as one of the main parts of the chainsaw but there is more to it, turning the sprockets which spin the chain to provide it the mechanical energy it needs to become useful. The bar on a chainsaw is what houses the chain and the sprocket that the chainsaw’s chain is mounted on. It provides the length and the width of the chainsaw that is usable by the operator once the chainsaw is up and running.


The chain is the part of the chainsaw which consists of a saw blade that is built into it.  This chain on the chainsaw is wrapped around a long and metallic guide bar which is powered by a motor or an engine. Essentially, the chain on the chain saw works in a very similar manner to the chain on a bicycle or a motorcycle. The chain is built in the same way as a bicycle chain which is wrapped around sprockets. The difference is that the chainsaw’s chain has sharp teeth mounted on the chain at the interval of a few chain links.

Safety Measure

​One of the most important things about how a chainsaw works is the safety features the machine has. The engine within the chainsaw will constantly be moving once you fire it up but in order to make sure the chain moves only when you want it to, there is a centrifugal clutch in place within the chainsaw. Other than that, the hand guard is a defensive shield which protects you from any kickback by the chainsaw as you are operating it.

​Final thoughts

​While this is a very simplistic approach to explain how a chainsaw works, these three parts of the chainsaw are essential in the whole process of how this machine works. When the motor or the engine of the chainsaw turns, it provides motion to the crankshaft. As the crankshaft turns, it turns different gears within the chainsaw through a clutch that eventually turns the sprocket that is connected to the chain on the guide bar. The chain starts spinning on the guide bar because of this sprocket and as a result, the chainsaw is able to function as a tool to cut through wood.

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