4 Steps to Proper Chainsaw Maintenance
Your chainsaw may seem like one of your toughest tools, but it does require some TLC from time to time if you want to keep it in working order. Fortunately, chainsaw maintenance is rather straightforward, so you can spend more time using this tool to cut through wood than cleaning it. If you’re new to chainsaw maintenance, take a quick look at how to keep it in good shape year round.
Keep It Clean
The more you use your chainsaw, the more likely you’ll see debris stuck to it, from sawdust and tree sap to globs of oil. If you want it to continue working as efficiently as possible, you’ll need to clean it. But each part is a little different when it comes to the right cleaning technique, so be prepared to clean each one separately.
For example, if the chain is dirty, take it off and soak it in a mix of ammonia and water for about half an hour. Then use a soft brush to scrub the chain until there is no more debris on it. At that point, you can rinse it with clean water and dry it off thoroughly.
The next step is to check the carburetor to see if there’s residue clogging it up. If there is, it will block the flow of fuel to the engine, causing it to have trouble starting. So clean this part of the chainsaw by spraying compressed air or a fuel additive onto the carburetor. Next, remove the needle valves, diaphragm, and cover plate from the saw and place them all into the cleaning mixture you used for the chain. You should then clean the air filter with soapy water, or even replace it entirely if you can’t seem to get the debris out. All these cleaning steps will keep your chainsaw not only looking nice, but also working well.
Sharpen the Blades
A dull chainsaw just won’t do. That’s why regular chainsaw maintenance involves sharpening the blades. If you’re not sure if your blades need to be sharpened, pay attention to how the chainsaw has been working lately. If it tends to discharge sawdust—rather than saw chips—you might need to sharpen the blades. And if it feels like it jumps when you use it, the blades may be too blunt.
To sharpen them, first clamp the chainsaw to a vice and keep it there with a hard guard. Then take a sharpening file and push it horizontally across the chainsaw’s blade. Once you reach the end of the blade, lift the file and repeat the same motion, making sure to only sharpen in one direction for best results. Also, use the same number of strokes for each tooth on the chain, with three to six being a good amount.
Make Sure Your Chainsaw Is Lubricated
Your chainsaw needs to be well oiled in order to prevent friction between the guide bar and the chain. If there’s not enough oil, the chain won’t turn as fast as it should, and the entire tool could overheat.
If you’re not sure if there is enough oil in the chainsaw, put a piece of cardboard or paper over it and then rev the engine. You should see oil spray onto the surface. If this doesn’t happen, there probably isn’t enough oil in it and you should add more. Check your owner’s manual to find out how to add oil, since the process varies depending on the chainsaw you have.
Use New Gas
Unless you use your chainsaw on a regular basis, there’s a chance the gas inside has been breaking down since the last time you used it. The gas in it can start breaking down in as little as a month during storage, and this can lead to residue plugging the carburetor so it eventually doesn’t work right.
For this reason, you should put in only enough gas to last about 30 days. Your other option is to use a fuel additive, such as STA-BIL Fuel Stabilizer, to keep the gas fresh for months at a time.
When you pay attention to chainsaw maintenance, you can get more years of use out of this power tool. In fact, you should carefully maintain any other power equipment you have at home, even if you’re simply getting ready to store it. So if you’re preparing to store your chainsaw, lawnmower, or other small tools for the season, check out our tips when you read DIY:Prep Your Power Equipment for Winter.