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Craftsman Chainsaw Chain Won’t Move, Rotate or Spin (FIXED)

You find the chain is moving slowly or not at all on your chainsaw. When this happens to you, you must find the cause to avoid causing significant damage.

A Craftsman chainsaw chain won’t move, rotate or spin when the chain brake is activated, the chain tension is too tight, the clutch pads are worn, or the bar and chain are not sufficiently lubricated.

Before checking your bar and chain, turn the chainsaw off, remove the spark plug wire, and wait for all parts to stop moving. Wear heavy work gloves for safety and follow all safety precautions listed in the operator’s manual.

Craftsman chainsaw

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Follow all safety instructions provided in your equipment operator’s manual before diagnosing, repairing, or operating. Consult a professional if you don’t have the skills, or knowledge or are not in the condition to perform the repair safely.

Reasons a Craftsman Chain Won’t Turn, Move or Rotate

Chain Brake Activated

Check the chain brake. This is the plastic hand guard placed in from of the handle that stops the chain from moving.

Its purpose is to protect the user from injury in the event the saw kicks back while using it. It is also used when transporting the saw for safety.

Check to make sure the brake is not engaged keeping the chain from moving. You make have accidentally pushed the guard forward causing it to stop.

Pull the guard to the rear of the saw toward the user to disengage the brake.

Lack of Bar and Chain Oil

You have a tank on the saw for bar and chain oil. This is to keep the bar and chain lubricated so the chain continues to move around the bar without restriction.

There will be a buildup of friction and heat when there isn’t proper lubrication. The chain will begin to move slowly or maybe not move at all.

To check for sufficient oil on the bar, run your chainsaw at about 1/2 – 3/4 throttle while holding it about a foot off the ground. Look for a line of oil coming off the bar and appearing on the ground after about 30 seconds. This will indicate proper lubrication.

If you aren’t getting good lubrication, make sure the bar is in good condition and the oil channel isn’t blocked. Replace a worn or damaged guide bar.

Make sure the bar and chain are well lubricated with a good oil designed for this application like this oil from Oregon or this oil from Husqvarna. Refill the bar and chain oil every time you fill up with fuel so you don’t run out.

Adjust the automatic oiler flow for the bar and chain oil:

  • To increase flow: Turn the oiler adjustment screw clockwise.
  • To decrease flow: Turn the oiler adjustment screw clockwise.

Note: If you are running too thin of oil, you may run out of chain oil before refilling the fuel tank.

Change Craftsman bar and chain oil with the ambient temperature:

  • Thinner oil for cold temperatures: Oil will thicken and become tackier in cold temperatures.
  • Standard weight for warmer temperatures

Chain Tension is Too Tight

The chain should be adjusted regularly as it will stretch the more you use it. When the chain is adjusted too tight, it will not rotate around the bar.

Adjust the Craftsman chain tension so it easily moves around the chainsaw bar:

  • Remove the spark plug wire.
  • Unlock the chain brake.
  • Loosen the bar retaining nuts that hold on the cover over the clutch and chain brake. Don’t remove the cover.
  • Hold the nose of the bar up.
  • Turn the tensioning screw counter-clockwise to loosen the chain and clockwise to tighten the chain.
  • Once you achieve the correct tension, tighten the bar retaining nuts while continuing to hold the bar nose up.

You want the chain to sit securely around the bar, but still able to move easily. You don’t want it to be loose and hanging from the guide bar.

Worn Clutch Pads

The clutch pads can wear with time. When this happens, they won’t engage the clutch drum to turn the chain. The clutch assembly on a Craftsman chainsaw will need to be replaced.

Reasons a Craftsman Chain Moves at Idle Speed

Carburetor Needs Adjustment

A Craftsman chain should not move when the chainsaw is idling. If yours does, you need to adjust the saw to stop the chain from moving.

There are adjustment screws on the carburetor that adjust the mixture of fuel to air. One of the adjustments screws, the “T Screw” adjusts the idle speed affecting chain movement.

Adjust idle speed so the chain doesn’t move while idling begins by turning the screw counter-clockwise 1/8 of a turn at a time until the chain stops moving.

Worn Clutch Springs

On a Craftsman chainsaw centrifugal clutch, there are springs that retract the clutch weights.

When the engine speeds up, the centrifugal force pushes the weights outward making contact with the drum. The drum spins making the chain move on the bar.

When the engine slows down, the spring retracts the clutch weights and the chain is supposed to stop moving. If your chain continues to move, you may have a worn spring that needs to be replaced.