The Importance of Maintaining your Chainsaw

  in  The Garden
They were great movies, but don't copy them in real life. The way they treated those chainsaws in Chainsaw Massacre and The Evil Dead was a disgrace - not once did they check the oil.

In real life chainsaws are something to be proud of. They do a tough job, and as everyone (hopefully) knows, they can be dangerous if you don't know how to handle and maintain them. Tool hire companies and employers are required by law to ensure operators are properly trained.

For your own safety and the longevity of the saw, there are things to check regularly.

At the beginning of a season or major job, chainsaw parts to check include the throttle lockout, chain brake, chain catcher, oiler mechanism and air filter. After every session, clean all chainsaw parts thoroughly. The main things to monitor continuously are the condition of the chain and the supply of oil.

The Chain

Obviously, sharp chains cut better. If you find you're leaning down on the bar and generating fine dust rather than shavings, then not only does the chain need sharpening but you are causing unnecessary wear and chain stretch.

Some manufacturers recommend having chains sharpened by a service centre, but instructions are usually packaged with the saw. Usually it's not hard to do it with a filing kit as long as the chain isn't beginning to stretch.

Replacement chainsaw chains are a quicker solution. The tension of a new chain should be adjusted until it moves about a centimetre in the middle.

Chain Oil

Whether your chain needs manual lubrication or has an automatic feed from a tank, only use manufacturer-approved chainsaw chain oil. The wrong oil can cause more problems than it solves.

Automatic oil feeds have adjustment screws to regulate the rate of supply, so check the tank is full on every use.

It's also important the right amount is applied - neither too much nor too little. Excess oil encourages the saw to pick up dirt and grit so is counter-productive. It's neither safe nor sensible to keep cutting without oil, so always keep a supply of chain oil and other chainsaw replacement parts to hand.

Tools and PPE

As well as oil and fuel supplies, chainsaw kits will typically contain the matching wrenches or screwdrivers, round and flat sharpening files, a depth gauge and protective clothing. Padded leggings, goggles, thick but flexible gloves and ear-muffs are sensible attire for chainsaw operation.