Chainsaw Maintenance: How to Take Care of Your Chainsaw

chainsaw maintenance

There are several deliberate steps you need to take to prolong the life of your chainsaw and keep it working in perfect condition for many years to come.

Apart from following the maintenance schedule recommended by the manufacturer, there are some other general care and maintenance tips you can adhere to such as:

  • Cleaning dirt and debris from the saw after each use.
  • Keeping the chain sharp as often as you can. This makes cutting easier and also minimizes kick backs which are the number one cause of injury during cutting.
  • Checking the chain oil level and bar often. You should do this preferably after each use.

What Should I Know About the Chainsaw’s Engine?

First, you should always use the correct fuel (this can be plain gasoline or an oil/gas mix) as directed by the manufacturer. For oil/gas mixes, you should follow the manufacturer’s mixing guidelines to the letter. This is because adding too much oil to the mix can make the saw run ‘dirty’, while adding too little oil can damage your saw’s engine.

Keep the air intake filter and muffler clear. Also ensure the spark arrestor stays in place at all times.

How Do I Sharpen My Chainsaw Chain?

If you have ever worked with a chainsaw that has a dull chain, you know how hard it can be to cut through even small pieces of wood. A sharp chain is really important and sharpening your chainsaw chain is a meticulous process that requires a lot of skill and experience. If you have neither, it’s best that you visit a professional.

sharpening chainsaw

Sharpening The Cutting Teeth

  1. Secure the chainsaw in a vise so that it stays firmly held in place during the sharpening process.
  2. Engage the chain brake.
  3. Begin by sharpening the cutting teeth. Place the file depth gauge on the chain in such a way that they arrows are directed towards the saw’s bar nose.
  4. File at a right angle to the saw’s rollers.
  5. File the remaining teeth with an even and smooth pushing stroke.
  6. Turn the chainsaw around.
  7. Repeat the same process using the same motions in order to sharpen all angles of the chain.

Filing The Depth Gauges

It’s recommended that you file the depth gauges of your saw after three instances of sharpening the cutting teeth. The gauges are situated right in between the teeth. Here is how to go about this process:

  1. Position the file gauge over the depth gauge.
  2. Select ‘soft’ or ‘hard’ depending on the kind of wood you normally work with.
  3. File the depth gauges until the file touches the file gauge.

What Should I know About the Guide Bar and Chain?

chainsaw bar

A loose chain promotes wear and tear on the drive links and bar, as well as the drive sprockets. A loose chain also puts the operator at risk in case it gets out of track. On the other hand an overly tight chain promotes wear and tear of internal components.

Follow the below tips when changing the tension of the chain:

  1. Switch off the chainsaw.
  2. Put on gloves to avoid injury.
  3. Loosen bar nuts.
  4. Rest the bar tip on a piece of wood and face the tip upwards.
  5. Tighten chain by turning the screws until the chain is hard but can move easily.
  6. Tighten nuts for the right chain tension by pulling the bar up using your hand and supporting it firmly with your elbow.
  7. Check tension as often as you can and adjust where necessary.
  8. Ensure the chain can move easily after tension.
  9. Sawdust can prevent oil from getting to the chain. Clean out the oil-chain hole.

How To Change The Bar and Chain

Once the chain’s cutting teeth have become worn less than 4mm, you should immediately look to replace the chain. Here’s how to go about it.

  1. Remove the bar and insert the new chain.
  2. Adjust the chain tension. The chain should not be too tight as this can damage the chainsaw’s internal components. The chain should also not be too loose as this can put the operator at risk of injury.
  3. You should be able to move the chain around the bar with ease. There should be a margin of at least a 1 cm at the mid-way point of the chain where you can pull the chain up or down.

Breaking in a New Chain

You should break in the chain by soaking it in chain and bar oil for several hours. This ensures that all pivot points are properly lubricated. Next, hang the chainsaw from a raised point and let the oil drip down onto newspaper.

Install the chain, check tension and run until the engine gets hot. The chain will become loose as the saw get hot. Switch the saw off and check the tension again. Next, try and do some light cutting like cutting some branches for about an hour. Adjust the tension one last time before proceeding to do some heavy-duty cutting.

How to Clean a Chainsaw

It’s very important to clean your chainsaw as often as you can. This is a crucial part of its maintenance routine and schedule. Here are some of the things you should do.

  1. Find the clutch cover and remove it.
  2. Clean the bar with a tiny piece of metal or wood. Remove any debris inside the track.
  3. Find the cylinder cover and remove it.
  4. Clean the air filter.
  5. Clear out the air intake and cooling fans to eliminate any debris that may be stuck in the slots.
  6. Check the flywheel fins to make sure nothing is preventing air from getting into the engine.

What Should I Know About Chain Lubrication?

  • Many chainsaws are designed to be refueled and re-oiled at the same time. Always check oil level when checking fuel level and refill as required.
  • Use the correct type and grade of chainsaw oil.
  • Ensure the lubricating oil is getting to the chain.
  • Always adhere to manufacturer’s recommendations.

Use Fresh Gasoline

Most people keep their chainsaws idle often as opposed to using them to cut wood. This can create problems especially if you leave oil or gasoline in the engine of your chainsaw for too long. Gasoline is known to breakdown, creating viscous goo that block the carburetor causing rough running and hard starts.

Other Checkpoints

For maximum safety, you should make sure that your saw doesn’t have any mechanical problems before using it. You can check the following areas to be sure:

  1. Make sure the chain break is working properly:
    – Secure the chainsaw firmly in place
    – Release the brake and press the throttle
    – Turn on the brake by pushing the kickback protection without letting go of the handle. This should stop the chain immediately.
  2. Tighten nuts, bolts and screws.
  3. Chain lubrication
  4. Chain catcher
  5. Throttle control

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