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    Chainsaw Maintenance | Winter 2011 Out Here Magazine

    Take care of your saw so it will be ready when you need it

    sharpening a chainsaw
    When you sharpen your chainsaw, file down the depth guages as well as sharpening the teeth, and take an equal number of strokes on each tooth.
    Out Here

    Courtesy of the Louisiana State University
    Agricultural Center

    Photography by iStock

    Chainsaws tend to require more maintenance than most other lawn and garden equipment. They work in a very dirty environment and tend to get a lot of abuse. Maintenance problems are exacerbated by intermittent use after long storage.

    Proper maintenance will not only prolong the life of the saw and make it easier to start but will also make your work easier. There is a tremendous difference between cutting with a smoothly running saw with a sharp chain and cutting with a poorly running saw that is not sharp enough.

    Chain sharpening — Nothing is more important to the proper operation of a chainsaw than a sharp chain. A dull chain will just sit there and burn the wood rather than cutting. Any contact with soil, rocks, metal, etc., will very quickly dull a chain. You can have your chain professionally sharpened or follow the manufacturer's directions and do it yourself. If you do your own sharpening, you will need to file down the depth gauges as well as sharpening the teeth. Wear gloves or place a rag over the chain to protect your hands. When filing, be sure to take an equal number of strokes on each tooth.

    Chain tension — Saw chains stretch with use, especially if they have been pinched. If the chain is too loose, it can come off while you're cutting. Follow the manufacturer's instructions when tightening a chain. Most manufacturers provide a tool for the job. Recheck tension often during use — with the saw turned off, of course.

    Proper maintenance will not only prolong the life of the saw and make it easier to start but will also make your work easier.

    Lubrication — Most saws now have automatic oiling; if yours does not, follow the manufacturer's directions for oiling. It is best to purchase bar and chain oil for lubrication. This special oil is readily available, and the cost is minimal for a homeowner. Typically, you will need to add bar oil whenever you add fuel. When you start your saw, check the oiling function by holding the saw tip above a light-colored surface and accelerating the engine. Oil should spatter on the surface if the oiler is working correctly. Lack of oil can damage a bar and chain quickly.

    Safety equipment — You should occasionally check the operation of your chain brake (see your manufacturer's instructions). The chain should stop when the engine is idled down; if not, you need to adjust the idle speed and/or service the centrifugal clutch.

    Fuel — Be sure you mix oil and fuel at the correct ratio. Straight gasoline will ruin a two-stroke engine rapidly. Wipe off the filler cap and surrounding area and also the fuel container so that no dirt is introduced into the fuel tank. A fuel stabilizer should be added to your gasoline if you will not use it up within a month or so. If the engine is to be unused for prolonged periods, it is best to drain the fuel tank and then run it to use up any remaining gasoline.

    Engine maintenance — Primary engine maintenance needed will be changing the spark plug, cleaning or replacing the air filter, cleaning the engine cooling fins, and cleaning or replacing the spark arrestor. Carburetor adjustment may be needed occasionally. All of these operations should be described in your operator's manual.

     

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