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Main Content

Sustain Your Saw | Summer 2013 Out Here Magazine

Man with a safety helmet using a chain saw to cut down a tree - Tractor Supply Co.

Part of chain saw safety is keeping it maintained

By Cary Shepherd

Photography courtesy of Jonsered

Operating a chain saw properly means more than wearing protective gear and using safe cutting techniques.

Good maintenance of your chain saw is key to operating it properly. The risk of accidents can increase if timely maintenance is not performed properly, and if service and repairs are not carried out professionally.

Preventive maintenance will help lessen user fatigue — which can reduce reaction time and increase the odds of injury — ensure that the saw’s features, designed to minimize exposure to potential hazards, continue to work properly, and increase your safety.

Become familiar with your chain saw so you can tell when something is amiss. Here’s what to check:

EXTERNAL

Look for cracks, leaks, loose hardware, and modifications to the saw. Check the chain tension such that it does not sag from the underside of the bar, but that it can still be rotated by a gloved hand.

Make sure the muffler is securely attached, and check for a broken or worn starter cord.

FLUIDS

Fill the gas tank with fresh, correctly mixed fuel, and fill the oil reservoir with chain oil. Fuel with an ethanol rating higher than E-10 should not be used.

I recommend vegetable-based chain oil, which minimizes the impact to the environment and still has good adhesion characteristics.

AIR

Check and clean the air filter regularly by blowing lightly inside to outside, or by brushing or tapping lightly. The best way is by soaking it in a mixture of water and mild detergent, rinsing, and letting it dry for 24 hours.

Having an extra new filter on hand is always a good rule. Something as common as a dirty air filter can decrease engine power, engine life, and increase user fatigue, which affects your safety.

Good maintenance of your chain saw is key to operating it properly. The risk of accidents can increase if timely maintenance is not performed properly, and if service and repairs are not carried out professionally.

COOLING SYSTEM

Blow or brush the flywheel fins, cylinder head fins, and air intake on the starter cover.

SAFETY FEATURES

Check to see that the chain brake, throttle lock control, and stop switch are all working and free of damage.
Make sure the chain catcher is in place and the anti-vibration system is working properly.

CHAIN, BAR SPROCKETS

Make sure the chain’s cutting teeth are properly sharpened and the depth gauge setting is correct. Inspect for visible cracks and wear in rivets and links.

Remove the bar and check for a flat top rail. File down burred side-rail edges of the bar, which if left alone can create drag while cutting. Clean out the bar groove and the chain oil hole that allows movement of oil from the saw to the bar groove. Flip the bar regularly for equal wear.

Check that the bar tip sprocket turns freely and that the teeth are rounded and not pointed. Check the wear on the chain drive sprocket and replace it whenever you replace the chain.

Cary Shepherd is senior product specialist for Jonsered and is an expert in chain saw safety.