How to Clean a Chainsaw and Properly Maintain it

If you own a chainsaw, it’s absolutely essential that you know exactly how to properly clean the machine. In fact, how to maintain a chainsaw is one of the first things you should learn before you even use your new chainsaw. Proper cleaning and maintenance will extend its life and ensure you get many years of use out of it.

How to Clean and Maintain your Chainsaw

Every chainsaw is different, and every manufacturer generally has their own maintenance procedures they recommend in the included instruction manuals. That being said, there’s still several general guidelines that you should follow no matter which type of chainsaw you own.

Here are the top three general tips that we would recommend you follow with each and every use of your chainsaw.

  • Before each use, check the blade, chain and oil level of the chainsaw
  • Clear out any debris from the chainsaw blade following each use
  • It should go without saying that you must keep your chain sharp; this keeps the machine working efficiently while also reducing the chance of kickbacks

Not only is cleaning and performing maintenance on your chainsaw essential to keep it working properly, but it’s also required to do so for your own personal safety as well. Failure to properly maintain your machine could lead to accidents causing serious injury or death.

how to maintain a chainsaw

How to clean a chainsaw

Keeping your chainsaw clean is one of the most vital aspects of chainsaw maintenance. There are several steps that you should be following to properly clean your chainsaw which we’ll describe below.

  • Remove the clutch cover of your chainsaw
  • Properly clean the chain brake band
  • Clean the bar and scoop out any debris caught in it
  • Remove the cylinder cover
  • Thoroughly wash the air filter
  • If there is debris stuck between the air intake and cooling fins, clear that out as well
  • Periodically examine the flywheel pins to ensure nothing is blocking the air and preventing it from cooling the engine

Simply keeping your chainsaw properly cleaned by following the steps above isn’t all that is required to keep it adequately maintained however. Keeping the chain sharpened is essential as well, particularly for safety reasons and preventing kickbacks.

how to keep chainsaw chain sharp

How to keep the chain sharp

It’s recommended to use a simple file to regularly sharpen your chainsaw chain in order to keep it properly sharpened. This is an extremely important aspect of chainsaw maintenance that is not at all difficult to do. For this reason, make sure that you ALWAYS take the time on a regular basis to sharpen the chain. Not only does it reduce the likelihood of accidents occurring, but it also makes your job easier as a sharp blade will cut through wood more efficiently.

Follow these simple steps to sharpen the chain:

  • Secure your chainsaw somehow to prevent it from moving while you work
  • Engage the chain brake
  • Begin with sharpening the cutting teeth; position the file depth gauge arrows so they point at the bar nose
  • File along a right angle to the rollers
  • Use a smooth and even stroke to file all of the cutting teeth
  • Turn the saw completely around and do the same for the remaining cutting teeth

Whenever you file the cutting teeth of your chainsaw, you should also take the time to file the depth gauges. These are found between the cutting teeth and filing them is a simple enough process:

  • Place the file gauge over top of the depth gauge
  • Select “hard” or “soft” based on the type of work you normally perform
  • File down until the file reaches the file gauge

That’s all there is to it. Whenever you are sharpening your chain don’t forget to take a few extra moments to file your depth gauges.

Even with regular sharpening and maintenance, a chainsaw bar and chain won’t last forever. Eventually they become worn down with repeated use. A good benchmark to go by is when the longest cutting tooth has been sharpened to less than 4 mm. When this happens, it doesn’t mean you have to rush out to purchase a brand new chainsaw. You can simply replace the chain and bar and your chainsaw will usually work as good as new.

how to replace chain and bar on chainsaw

How to replace the chain and bar on a chainsaw

Replacing your chainsaw chain and bar isn’t a complicated procedure. Your chainsaw usually comes with detailed instructions on how to do so, but just in case you’ve misplaced the manual or need a refresher, just follow the simple instructions below:

  • First things first, remove the chainsaw bar
  • Put the new chainsaw chain in place and adjust the tension
  • Ensure that the new chain is neither too tight nor too loose to prevent it from wearing down the bar or falling off during use
  • The ideal placement will allow you to pull the chain up about a single centimeter from the track near the midway point
  • It should be easy for you to maneuver the chain around the bar with just your hand

Hopefully after reading this article you can see for yourself that properly cleaning and maintaining your chainsaw really isn’t a difficult thing to do. It’s incredibly straightforward and only requires a minimal amount of time. That being said, it’s absolutely vital to take the time to perform the proper maintenance, even if you’re just a home user.

When it comes to your safety, you can never take too many precautions. There’s plenty of safety measures that you take when actually operating a chainsaw; performing maintenance is no exception.

All of the information listed above in this article represents general guidelines only. Everything listed above is generally applicable to pretty much every chainsaw model, gas, battery or corded. However, if you are looking for more specific information on how to clean your particular chainsaw model, it’s important to consult either your instruction manual or contact the manufacturer.