Why Does Dirt Dull a Chainsaw – How to Avoid It?

For years, I have been using different chainsaws of varied features and specifications – I am a strong supporter of the statement that dirt hugely reduces the life of your chainsaw. The reason is quite obvious, dirt is a mixture of different particles that massively include abrasive material as well, when these abrasive materials come in contact with the chain of the chainsaw, they cause wear and tear of the chain leaving the chain dull and vulnerable against hardwoods.

Chainsaws offer an impressive and satisfactory service when they are taken care of; a sharpened chain is better to penetrate deeper into the wood and shear it in no time – however, the situation does not remain the same when the chain is not sharp enough; and the most obvious cause for the dull chainsaw is dirt. In short, you can continue working efficiently with your chainsaw if you keep it safe from the dirt.

Why Does Dirt Dull a Chainsaw

To get rid of this problem, it is unavoidable to know about the effects of a chainsaw being dull due to the dirt. If you keep using your chainsaw without taking care of dirt, you may shortly need to replace the chain of your chainsaw with a new one.

4 Reasons Why Chainsaws Become Dull

There can be multiple reasons which might add to the malfunctioning of your chainsaw, but the dullness of the chain chainsaw due to the dirt massively affects its cutting performance, and you may end up with crooked or ill-patterned cutting of wood.

Followings are some of the most glaring reasons for chainsaws becoming dull.

1. Cutting Trees Full of Dirt

Barks of trees are usually full of dirt. When air passes by the trees, barks trap a considerable amount of dirt in them, and later on, this dirt becomes problematic for ranchers and loggers. When your chainsaw comes in contact with the bark of the tree which is full of dirt, it will certainly lose some of its sharpness after interacting with abrasive particles in dirt.

The most effective solution to this problem is to remove the bark from the tree before you start cutting tree with a chainsaw. You can remove the bark using an axe; you have no need to remove the bark from the whole tree, instead, you can remove it from the area where you intend to cut it. This is how you can significantly reduce the chances of the dullness of the chain of your chainsaw.

2. Chainsaw Comes in Contact with Ground

It is highly recommended by all chainsaw experts to avoid cutting using a kickback zone. If the kickback zone comes in contact with the wood, you are sure to experience an unexpected jerk that may be injurious to you. Kickbacks are not only dangerous, but they are equally damaging to the sharpness of the chain of your chainsaw. Although, this is the least relevant precaution to discuss under this heading, yet very important to tell.

Secondly, when you are using your chainsaw, you place it on the ground before the chain stops its rotation on the bar; this is truly damaging. Chain directly comes in contact with abrasive particles present in the dirt, as a result, it can lose its sharpness up to a huge extent.

Therefore, it is recommended to hold your chainsaw unless it stops completely. Using this precaution, you can add to the safety of your chainsaw.

3. Surrounding is Highly Polluted

Most of the time, you will not come across this alarming situation, however, sometimes you may need to face this anguish when the surrounding will be highly polluted. In this situation, the dirt will keep on sitting on the bark of a tree, and it will be difficult for you to keep the chain of your chainsaw safe from the hazardous effect of dirt.

To avoid this situation, you should cut the bark of the tree from the point where you want to cut it, then you should cut the bark again from the second point from where you want to cut it. This is how you can avoid the interaction of your chainsaw with dirt.

4. Contact with Strong Object

This is not only the dirt that fades the sharpness of the chain of your chainsaw; instead, a metal object nailed to the wood can be even more damaging. Meanwhile, if the wood is hard enough to cut through, it will also reduce the sharpness of the chain on your chainsaw.

While cutting a tree, your chainsaw may come in contact with some metal objects such as nails or hooks. In this scenario, the edges of the chain on your chainsaw will certainly get dull. To avoid this situation, you can should carefully check if there is any nail or hook in the wood, if there is, get that out using a plier.

How Do You Know that Your Chainsaw is Getting Dull?

If you are unable to measure the extent of dullness in your chainsaw, you will shortly need to change the chain. So, it is very important to keep checking the damage inflicted on the chain of your chainsaw. Considering this portion important to cover under the heading of why does dirt dull a chainsaw, the followings are some important indications that will help you know that your chainsaw is getting dull;

If you are experiencing any of the following, you should check the sharpness of your chainsaw;

  • If the sawdust is very fine, it means that the sharpness of the chain is getting dull.
  • If you need to exert additional pressure for holding the chainsaw while working, it can be the indication of a dull chain.
  • Smoke is evident while working with chainsaw.
  • Ill-patterned cutting is another clear indication of dull chain.

If you are able to notice these factors, you can take better care of your chainsaw by taking timely precautions.

What Happens When You Use Chainsaw on Dirt?

Whenever your chainsaw comes across the dirt, it is considerably damaged which you can clearly observe in terms of its efficiency. Following things happen when you use your chainsaw on dirt;

1. Worn out Chain Cutters

Dirt particles include abrasive materials as well. When the chain comes in contact with these abrasive particles in the dirt, there occurs excessive friction which causes the wearing out of the chainsaw chain. To avoid this, you should sharpen the chain of your chainsaw after every 7 to 10 minutes of use.

2. Damage for the Sprocket

Sprocket is responsible for providing the chain with the power to rotate on the bar. Dirt keeps on accumulating in the sprocket which results in the form of halted chainsaw efficiency or sometimes the whole chainsaw operation.

So, I hope that I have put a detailed answer to the question that why dirt dulls a chainsaw. Abiding by the precautions I have put in the aforementioned paragraphs; you can easily add life to the chain of your chainsaw. Meanwhile, it will also add value to the overall life of your chainsaw.


This is a very common problem faced by chainsaw users. If you are experiencing any of the aforementioned symptoms, you should immediately look into the options to save the chain of your chainsaw. What I have told you in the above-paragraphs will be enough to retain the credibility of your chainsaw.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. Does hitting dirt dull a chainsaw?

Yes, hitting dirt significantly dulls the chainsaw. When abrasive particles present in dirt come in contact with chainsaw, there creates friction which dulls the chain of chainsaw.

Q2. Why does my chainsaw chain get dull so fast?

If your chainsaw chain gets dull fast, there can be following reasons to this problem;

  • There can be dirt on the wood which is being cut
  • Hard woods usually tend to damage the chain faster than normal wood
  • If chain is not sharpened in time, the dullness will be even severer

These are the common reasons that add in the chances of the faster dullness of the chain.

Q3. Does dry wood dull the chainsaw?

Yes, dry wood dulls the chainsaw faster. Due to absence of moisture content, there generates an excessive amount of friction. This excessive amount of friction enhances the chances of faster dullness of chainsaw.

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