5 Expert Chainsaw Maintenance Tips

Chainsaw maintenance keeps your saws running strong and cutting efficiently.

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AMSOIL SABER® Professional Synthetic 2-Stroke OilAMSOIL Quickshot®
David Hilgendorf
by David Hilgendorf
February 13, 2023

Chainsaws are extremely useful – when they’re working properly. Here are five important maintenance tips to keep your chainsaw operating at peak performance.

1. Keep the chain sharp

Anyone who has tried forcing a dull chain through wood knows the importance of a sharp chain. Properly sharpening a chain is an art form best performed by a professional, which will cost you a little money, but can save you a ton of grief.

However, if you’re up for the challenge of learning to sharpen chains, be sure to…

  • Use the proper file size, which can be identified on the box the chain came in or in your owner’s manual.
  • File at the correct angle. Purchase a file gauge to ensure you hold the file correctly.
  • File each tooth the same, typically three to six strokes.
  • Pay attention to depth gauges, which are the protrusions directly in front of each tooth. If you file too much, the saw can bite too deeply and stall, or even pull you off balance.

Again, using a file gauge will ensure you are sharpening correctly.

2. Properly tension the chain

A chain that’s too tight can bind and stall the saw. On a non-roller-tip bar, an over-tightened chain can overheat. When adjusting the chain, hold the tip of the bar up as far as it goes and tighten the tensioning screw until you’ve taken the slack out of the underside of the bar.

Use AMSOIL Bar & Chain Oil to ensure that the chain stays properly lubricated during operation, which reduces friction and heat.

3. Break in a new chain

When replacing the chain, break it in by performing the following tasks:

  • Soak it in AMSOIL Bar & Chain Oil for a couple of hours. This ensures all the pivot points are well lubricated.
  • Hang the chain from a nail and let the excess oil drip back into the pan.
  • Install and tension the chain and run until warm; the chain will loosen as it heats up.
  • Tension the chain again, while it’s powered off and still warm.
  • Perform light-duty work, like cutting limbs and small branches for 30 minutes.
  • Tension the chain again, and you’re ready to dive into heavy-duty work.

4. Clean the air filter

Keeping the air filter clean is one of the most important parts of chainsaw maintenance to extend saw life and increase performance.

It’s the only line of defense against the engine ingesting sawdust and dirt, which can plug the carburetor and cause the saw to start hard and run poorly. Contaminants can also wreck the piston rings, causing the engine to lose compression, reducing power.

Many saws have a screen as opposed to a foam or paper filter. In these cases, use an air compressor to direct air through the filter backward to prevent lodging debris deeper into the media.

If you don’t have an air compressor, tap the filter on the edge of a workbench. If you have a foam or paper filter, replace it often – it’s far less expensive than replacing the entire saw.

5. Use fresh gasoline

Most homeowners’ chainsaws spend far more time sitting in the garage than cutting wood. Unfortunately, gasoline starts breaking down in as little as 30 days, creating gums and varnish that can plug carburetors and lead to hard starts and rough running.

It is best to mix only enough fuel for the job at hand. If your chainsaw will sit for more than 30 days, be sure to use a two-stoke oil formulated with a gasoline stabilizer, such as AMSOIL SABER® Professional Synthetic 2-Stroke Oil.

Not only is SABER Professional formulated with fuel stabilizer, but it also fights carbon to keep exhaust ports and spark-arrestor screens clean for maximum engine operability and power.

Using a premium two-stroke oil is an overlooked, but vital, part of chainsaw maintenance.

You can also stabilize fuel by adding AMSOIL Quickshot®. Both products keep gas fresh for up to six months!

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by David Hilgendorf

AMSOIL Technical Writer and 20-year veteran of the motorcycle industry. Enjoys tearing things apart to figure out how they work. If it can’t be repaired, it’s not worth owning.

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AMSOIL SABER® Professional Synthetic 2-Stroke OilAMSOIL Quickshot®