Chainsaws are a marvelous thing to behold – watching one as it tears into even the hardest oak with relish makes one shudder to think what things were like for the lumberjacks of old who didn’t have such gas-powered tools to rely on.
Although some of us could watch them cut massive timber into manageable pieces of wood all day long, the saw itself will soon give out if not properly maintained.
Taking care of the chainsaw regularly will ensure that a crucial component doesn’t give out on you in the middle of the forest, keep the tool’s performance at an impressive level, and also decrease the chance of injury.
There are many areas of the saw which you can scrutinize and do something about on a regular level to that effect.
Here we’ve laid out some of the most common chainsaw maintenance practices you should follow. Doing so and investing a little time and effort each time you use the saw will only lead to less hassle in the long run, not to mention a well-performing power tool you can be proud of.
Visual Inspection and Frequent Maintenance
Each time you use a chainsaw, you’re subjecting it to a lot of mechanical and thermal stress.
As parts of the saw contract and expand or come into contact with the wood you’re cutting, they can lose some of their integrity or get excessively dirty, so it’s always a good idea to begin by visually inspecting the saw after you’re done using it to determine what needs your immediate attention.
Al the vibration from the saw’s continued operation can cause various screws and bolts to become loose. Each time you’re finished using the saw, go over them with a wrench/screwdriver and tighten if necessary.
Most saws come with their own maintenance kit, so you should have the appropriate tools at hand.
The state of the sparkplug can tell you a lot about the chainsaw’s state. Take it out using a socket wrench, brush dirt off from it, and look at its electrodes.
If they’re an even grayish-brown color you’re good to go. Unevenness and char suggests trouble with air leaks or the use of a poor fuel mixture.
Check the state of your chain. If it’s been making unusual sounds and more sawdust than usual, the chain’s blades need sharpening. You can do this with an appropriately sized file by going over each blade in the angle appropriate for your chain type.
When the chain is beyond repair, it will need a replacement. Brand new chains will need to be tensioned to fit tightly onto the bar by tightening the tension screw. A chain should also be both clean and lubricated. Cleaning will involve soaking the chain in solvent and brushing its links.
To lubricate it, take a pan of machine oil, let the chain soak inside for a good 12 hours and dry off the excess. The bar should be flipped regularly so that it remain evenly lubricated and wears equally on both sides.
Sawdust and oil will clog up your air filter and guide bar groove. Check if there’s dust and debris in the filter. If there is, remove the filter and either scrub it in solvent or soapy water if it’s made from plastic. Use a compressor if needed to get rid of stubborn gunk and dry thoroughly before reinserting.
The guide bar groove is a bit harder to reach as you have to remove the chain and bar, but cleaning the sawdust out of it is easily done with a bit of wire. While you’re at it, you can poke another bit of wire through the oil ports to ensure they’re open.
Long-term Chainsaw Maintenance
Some chainsaw parts are less prone to acting up and don’t need to be inspected with each use. Make sure to give your saw a once-over after a while though and address the issues which take time to develop.
The engine is liable to heat up much more if its cooling fins are caked with dirt. Once you’ve removed all the parts surrounding the engine case, you can take some kerosene or solvent and clean each blade. Remember to use a wooden blade for the parts that are tricky to reach.
The fuel filter needs less maintenance than the air filter and fins for example. Even so, it can clog up. Remove the filter along with its housing and scrub both in some solvent. Check the vent as well. While you’re at it, check the state of the saw’s fuel tank.
If you’ve been using it for a while, heavier particles inside the fuel can settle down onto the tank’s floor and form gunk which will take its toll on the engine. Remove that from the tank and wipe it clean.
Fuel should be replaced every couple of months or so to prevent gunk buildup. If there’s still fuel left in the tank, drain it out first and replace it with a fresh mix.
Consult your saw’s manufacturer to find out what kind of fuel to oil ratio should be used and stick to their recommendations.
If the chain starts to stall or is too fast while idling, your carburetor needles and engine screw will need adjusting. Turn the engine screw all the way first followed by the low and high-speed mixture screws. Loosen the mixture screws a bit.
If the engine doesn’t start fast enough, loosen the low-speed screw. The high-speed one should be loosened when the engine is racing in idle.
The clutch’s drive sprocket is another item that doesn’t require frequent checkups since it usually takes more than one chain replacement for it to develop any problems.
Remember to give it a look when examining the chainsaw thoroughly and lubricate or replace as needed.
The recoil starter can fray with use, or the rope may refuse to fully recoil. Slowly extend the rope as far as it will go and check its integrity. As it retracts, look out for binding or snagging.
Either can be solved by cleaning the inside of the starting mechanism. If the rope is too frayed to be used anymore, replace it.