HomePallet TutorialsDIY Pallet TutorialsHow to Maintain Your Chainsaw

How to Maintain Your Chainsaw

If you're working with wood pallets, their chances that you have a chainsaw or that you already used a chainsaw for various pallet works & cuttings. A chainsaw cuts with a set of teeth attached to a rotating chain that runs along a guide bar. To operate safely and extend its life, maintain the saw regularly; after every use, weekly and monthly. Overworking your chainsaw causes the equipment to experience excessive heat build-up thus shortening the lifespan of your chainsaw. Practice using your chainsaw again to ensure that it works to its full potential when you fail to apply for a long time.

The sharpness of your machine is impaired after time, making it blunt, even if you have not been cutting into objects that reduce its sharpness. After using the chainsaw for almost the whole day, it is appropriate to sharpen the chain with a file each time you refuel. Frequent sharpening enhances precision, and the saw works more effectively.

Some of the common problems associated with the chainsaw include:

The unit does not start

It is a common occurrence and could be because of old fuel in your oil tank, cold weather, a malfunction on the spark plug, clogged carburetor, the starter acting up or issues with the air filter. To troubleshoot, you should check the spark plug, clean your air filter, or deactivating the choke.

The saw cuts slow and stalls easily

If your equipment cuts slowly, file your chains to enhance the cutting potential of your saw since its purpose is to ensure that you can speedily finish your work. Read more about the different types of chainsaw sharpeners on the market to determine the most appropriate one for your equipment. Check your power supply to ensure that you have a high amount of voltage as it can affect the optimum performance of your chainsaw.

The saw produces smoke

Do not attempt to solve this, call your chainsaw’s manufacturer and have them fix it for you. For quality inspection and servicing, have a periodic check on your equipment with a service center. Over-lubrication or a blunt chain could cause your saw to produce smoke while in use.

The following are some of the routines you can use to maintain your chainsaw:

Maintenance steps to do before daily tasks

Check if your chainsaw beforehand, especially the major components, is working smoothly. For a gasoline operated chainsaw, prepare your fuel mixture in advance as per your engine specifications, if not provided while pre-mixed; to avoid incurring costs and warranty loss by damaging your equipment. Avoid using ethanol-based gas since it can quickly destroy the metal of your engine. Ensure that all your switches are working, the on/off button, the throttle, and the dead man’s switch, since it’s hard to work with a troublesome chainsaw that is difficult to turn on and shut off.

Confirm that all the safety functions are working

Ascertain that the screws and nuts are tight enough. Check the bar and oil level, along with the chain drive wheel’s condition. Sharpen the chains to can cut wood thoroughly and smoothly without binding the chain bar into a log. Ensure that the chain tension is, not too tight or too loose, by the manufacturer’s instructions. Lubricate the cable sufficiently, and check the chain oil level now and then. The chain should always rotate smoothly to avoid causing damage to the machine and the user when running.

Maintenance steps to do after daily tasks

Wipe any dust stuck to the exterior of your chainsaw, especially in the heat sink fins and remove any remaining debris found on the inside track of your chainsaw.

Weekly maintenance routine

Remove any accumulated grime or fuel and check if any socket has turned soft and is starting to wear out.

Frequently clean your air filter and carburetor for maximum effectiveness of the chainsaw. Other components such as the spark plug and the spark arrester, the engine block, cylinder head, your starter, the recoil spring, the muffler, and the cooling fins also need regular cleaning. Your chainsaw might not work if any of these components are damaged and if the saw remains unused for an extended period.

Monthly maintenance routine

Take your time and check all the components of your chainsaw, one by one preferably using a checklist, every month. Pay more attention in reviewing the fuel and oil tank, and the cables attached to it as this is always tedious and might require more time than the other upkeep routine.

Check, clean and empty the fuel and oil tank to prevent the damage of stale fuel on your engine. Ensure the electrode gap of the spark plug is at 0.02 inch. Check and change the fuel filter if necessary, inspect the brake band of the chain brake and the fuel hose for damages, and verify if the clutch center, clutch drum, and clutch spring is still suitable for use and not worn out. If the fuel filter is clogged, it is advisable to change it and ensure the cap clicks into place to avoid fuel spills when using your machine.

Clean the exterior of your carburetor and check the cables and connections for damages. Ascertain that the spare part is compatible with the unit if any significant component needs replacing.

Maintenance needed

Read the owner’s manual; to ensure you establish the right maintenance routine as instructed by the manufacturer. Although most are very similar, there are some critical differences between machines.

Before performing maintenance, checks or adjustments, disconnect the spark plug on a gas-powered saw and unplug an electric saw from the power source to avoid bodily injury. However, the saw must be running to test the chain brake and chain lubrication.

  • Check if your air filter is broken or has holes since this means that it already needs changing. Clean the air filter to ensure it is well-preserved, and examine the oil filter.
  • Clean and adjust the carburetor, whenever the engine is running roughly or misfiring. Replace the hoses and the pull-start rope, if heavily worn.
  • Check the idle speed and adjust, if necessary. The chain should not move when the chainsaw is idling. If it runs, turn down the idle speed so that the chain remains stationary.
  • Inspect the operation of throttle lockout, the chain brake, the chain catcher and the oiler. Mix fuel and use an appropriate premixed fuel as per the manufacturer's directions.
  • Replace any damaged component and adequately tighten any loose screws, nuts, or bolts to avoid causing damage to your engine. You need a maintenance kit, with a complete set of tools and compatible spare parts, for proper maintenance and slight repairs of your chainsaw.
  • Double check the oiler, power sprocket, starter, drive links, chains, cooling fins, spark plug, and carburetor since they wear out quickly.

Read: Best Chainsaw for Milling Lumber

Let’s look into some of the things that you can do on your own

Sharp chain

A specific sharpening device is required, and manufacturers often recommend having the chain and depth gauges on their saws sharpened and filed by a professional for some saws. You can grind the chain manually as it is not hard to do with a filing kit.

Some of the tools you need to sharpen your chainsaw include a stump vise, a round file, a file gauge, and a flat file. The angles to file the cutters vary depending on the type of chainsaw. These angles include file down edge, top plate filing angle, depth gauge setting, and side plate cutting angle.

Since in most scenarios the most common problems you experience when handling your chainsaw revolve around the sharpness of the chain, let’s look at some steps to file your saw:

  • First and foremost, when managing the chain ensure you wear heavy work gloves.
  • Find the shortest cutter and finish all to match the length of the shortest cutter.
  • Activate the brake to lock the chain and secure the bar in a vise.
  • To sharpen the cutting teeth, place the gauge with arrows pointing toward the bar nose. File every other tooth at right angles to the rollers with a pushing stroke using a round file. To access the teeth release the brake, and then re-engage it.
  • Turn the saw around and file the other teeth when you've already gone around the chain.
  • File the depth gauges with a flat file when done with the teeth. The specified depth gauge tool of your chain controls how deep the saw cuts. Depending on wood you're cutting, place the guide over the teeth using the hard or soft wood positions and file until the file contacts the depth guide. Every third time you sharpen the chain, you should grind the depth gauges.
  • Replace the chain if ground back to the angled guideline on the teeth whereby the most extended portion of the cutting tooth is less than 4 millimeters or if there are cracks.

Always try to file away as little material as possible.

The setting of the depth gauge determines how much the cutting tooth will cut. If set very low, the plane takes a minimal amount of wood, and if too high it will cut too deeply and more aggressively with high vibrations into the timber. It increases the risk of kickback and exposes the chainsaw to unnecessary stress.

Bar maintenance

Bar problems are related to incorrect chain tensioning, poor lubrication or faulty working techniques. The underside of the bar is the most exposed to wear since it does most of the cutting. Inspect the bar regularly for wear and burrs on the rails; turn the guide bar every time you change the chain so that it will wear evenly and file away burrs from the bar rails. Regularly clean the guide bar groove and oil inlet. If at the most worn part on the rail the bar groove is not deep enough to hold the drive link and the chain is not kept straight up in the groove, replace the bar.

Correct chain tensioning

Ensure the chain is correctly tensioned since a slack chain may jump off the guide bar, injure you and damage the chainsaw. Very tight chain tension can cause premature wear of the guide bar. When the chain is tensioned correctly, it should not hang under the guide bar. When the cable is in contact with the underside of the guide bar, and you can still pull it around comfortably by hand, the chain tension is correct.

Let the chain cool before adjusting the chain tension; cooling shrinks the chain.

Chain lubrication

One of the major causes of premature wear is poor lubrication. Check and refill the chain oil every time you refuel. To check if the greasing is working; start the chainsaw, hold it over a stump and rev up the engine.

It is working if there is a line of oil left on the stump.

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How to store your chainsaw

Buy a storage case to store your chainsaw and the accompanying tools. Store your clean chainsaw in a dry location at all times and ensure that no dust can penetrate your case for maximum protection. Never store your chainsaw outdoors since it will be harder to maintain your unit once it starts leaking oil. Drain the petrol mixture before you stock the chainsaw because the fuel will shorten your chainsaw’s lifespan. Pick a covered container, fill it with oil and stock the chain in it until further use then, clean the rest of the saw thoroughly before storing it. Lock the place where you store the chainsaw, to keep it out of children’s reach.

It is essential that the methods that you use to care for your equipment are well-matched to the instructions of your manufacturer to save yourself from more significant expenses. Check the instruction manual before making any drastic changes to your unit.

Do not delay when it comes to the upkeep of your chainsaw, maximize your use of the machine by taking care of it. You either choose to spend time regularly checking for little issues or save all of it for later and blow your money on more significant repairs.

Neokentin
Bio: Engineer, Co-founding partner of 1001Pallets. I earned my Engineer degree in Aeronautics & spatial t... read more

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Karen Liptrap

Very timely pic!

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