A chainsaw is not only a tool for woodworkers, it also comes in handy for homeowners that have a yard to look after. Chainsaws have a wide range of uses including; trimming tree branches, cutting wood for your fire pit, cutting back overgrown bushes and removing excess sapling. Homeowners with excessively wooded lots have even more reasons to own a chainsaw. In addition to their numerous uses, chainsaws need a certain degree of maintenance to keep them in peak condition. We encourage people to own a chainsaw but we always emphasize that you should be careful with this tool.
Every tool and every machine needs regular maintenance in order to work perfectly and chainsaw isn’t exception. Chainsaw maintenance is essential if you want your chainsaw to last for years to come. Regular chainsaw maintenance also prevents critical failures that can lead to injuries. In the following text we will explain you a few maintenance tips that every chainsaw owner should know.
Keep the air filter clean
Maintaining the air filter in crisp condition is among the most vital things the chainsaw owner can do to extend the saw’s useful life and enhance performance. Cleaning the air filter is the only deterrent against the engine downing dirt and sawdust which can cork the carburetor and result in the saw starting hard and running poorly. Contaminants also damage the piston rings resulting in loss of compression, consequently reducing power. Most saws come with a screen instead of a paper filter or foam. In such cases, employ an air compressor to guide air through the strainer backward to curb wedging debris into the media. For those without an air compressor, drain the filter on the margins of a workbench. For saws with paper filter or foam, replace it regularly.
Proper chain tensioning
Ensure your saw’s chain is tensioned correctly. A loose chain may veer off the guide bar and may injure you and ruin the machine. Also, an unduly tightened chain may cause an untimely corrosion of the guide bar. Tension is okay when the chain is touching the bottom of the guide bar while still allowing you to pull it easily by hand. Don’t forget to let the chain cool before adjusting the chain tension. When the chain cools off, it will shrink.
Conditioning a new chain
When it is time to change the chain, prepare the new chain by drenching it in bar and chain oil to ensure that all pivot points are perfectly lubricated. After a couple of hours, hang the chain, preferably from a nail to let the surplus oil drip away. Lodge and tension the chain. Run it until it warms up. As the chain heats it loosens, consequently, stop the chain and tension it once more. Run a few light-duty chores like cutting small branches and limbs for about half an hour. Tighten the chain again, and you are ready for the heavy-duty tasks.
Keep the chain sharp
Anyone who has ever tried forcing a blunt chain through wood understands the significance of maintaining a sharp chain. Sharpening is an art, and we recommend consulting a professional, failure to which you risk having a collection of unusable chains hanging in your garage.
However, for DIY users who enjoy a challenge, they can do the following while sharpening.
- File size: Use the recommended file size. Check your user’s manual for guidance.
- Get the right angle: Get the right angle. You can buy a file at your nearest home center, but you must hold the file at the right angle.
- Strokes: Each tooth should be filed with the same number strokes, usually 3-6.
- Depth gauges: Be extra careful with depth gauges. Filing them too much will make your saw bit deeply into wood, stall or make you lose your balance.
Chain lubrication is one of the most important things in chainsaw maintenance. You may not know this, but poor lubrication is a major cause of premature wear. You should check and refill the chain oil every time you refuel. Always use original chain oil because it has been developed to provide good lubrication for your chainsaw no matter how hard the wood is or how cold it is. You can check if your lubrication system is operating properly simply by starting a chainsaw, hold it over a stump and rev up the engine. If there is a line of oil on the stump you lubrication system is running properly. If there isn’t a line on the stump, you should check up the oil level and check the nozzle which can be clogged with sawdust.
Chainsaw bar problems are mostly related to incorrect chain tensioning, poor lubrication or faulty working techniques. The area of the bar most exposed to wear is the underside of the bar, where most of the cutting is done. To keep your bar in top shape you should turn the guide bar every time the chain is changed so that it will wear evenly. Also, you should clean the guide bar groove and oil inlet regularly and file away burrs from the bar rails.
No matter how well you maintain it, at certain time it will be necessary to change the bar. You should buy a new bar if the bar groove is not deep enough to hold the drive link. You must check that at the most worn part on the rail. Also, you should change the bar if the chain is not kept straight up in the groove.
Use non-ethanol gasoline
You may not know this but most gasoline these days contains ethanol, and ethanol is the bane of small engines. If you use gasoline with ethanol in your chainsaw, over time the ethanol in the gas absorbs moisture from the atmosphere, and this ethanol-water mix separates and sinks in your gas tank. This ethanol-water mix corrodes metal and gums up small engine carburetors. You should find and use all-petroleum-based gasoline. Most of the pumps have non-ethanol gasoline so it shouldn’t be a problem to acquire. But if you can’t find non ethanol gasoline, then use the gas which contains ethanol but add a stabilizing additive. No matter what option you choose, the most important thing is to only use fresh gas. Buy it in small quantities, no more than you’ll use in a month if you can.
If all this talk about chainsaw maintenance inspired you to get yourself a new chainsaw then we recommend that you check out our Chainsaw buying guide.