Proper oiling is critical to the performance and longevity of your chainsaw. Chainsaws have numerous moving parts, but the parts that need the most attention are the bar and chain. This is because the bar and the chain make a lot of contact with one another, and the speed at which the chain moves over the chainsaw bar can cause some serious friction in the absence of lubricant.
If your chainsaw chain is running slowly or your fuel tank runs dry much more quickly than it should, chances are pretty good that you need to add oil - and quick. A slowed-down chain and excessive fuel burning means there's a lot of friction between your bar and chain, which means a lot of heat is being produced that could do major damage to your saw.
Choosing the Right Bar & Chain Oil
While there are many different sources out there that state different kinds of oil will work for your bar and chain lubrication, it's best not to mess with success.
For example, vegetable oil can be used in place of bar & chain oil, but will not work well in very cold or hot temperatures. Vegetable oil is best suited for specialty projects in areas that don't allow the use of petrol oil for environmental reasons, but don't consider this your go-to for year-round bar & chain oil.
Another bad idea is the use of motor oil. Some people use old motor oil, which is even worse. This oil is not the right viscosity, and old motor oil usually contains small pieces of debris that can wear down the groove in your bar and damage your chain.
For a good year-round go-to bar and chain oil, consider Oregon's 54-026. It's designed specifically for bar and chain lubrication; and Oregon is the leading manufacturer of bars and chains, so they know what they're doing.
In addition, there are other brands that will work well, such as Husqvarna Premium and Poulan Pro bar & chain oil. Brand name oils designed specifically for lubricating bars and chains will provide the best performance and protection for your saw's blade.
How to Add Bar & Chain Oil
In most saws, the bar & chain oil reservoir is sized to hold enough oil to last as long as a tank of fuel. So when you need to refuel your gas chainsaw, you should add bar & chain oil as well - every time.
Set your chainsaw on a level surface, bar-side down so that it lays flat. Let it rest a minute, and unscrew the cap to your saw's bar & chain oil reservoir.
Using a small funnel, slowly pour the bar & chain oil into the reservoir. Be careful not to overfill or you'll end up with a real mess. When it's full, firmly secure the cap and wipe down the surrounding area of any excess oil.
It's that simple. However, if your bar features a sprocket at the nose, you'll want to add some grease to that as well. Use a grease gun and give it a couple shots of grease. When it begins pushing back out, stop and wipe the outside of the sprocket clean.
Using Thinner Oil During Winter
In winter, cutting can be difficult. In addition to cleaning your bar, sharpening your chain, and greasing your sprockets prior to cutting, it can also help to use a thinner bar and chain oil. Thinner oil will not gunk up as much, so it'll more effectively lubricate in cold temperatures.
Your best bet is to buy bar & chain oil that's specifically designed to work in cold weather conditions. Oregon, Husqvarna, and other major brands make bar & chain oil that's designed to work better in winter.
However, when temperatures rise, you'll want to switch back to your standard bar & chain oil. Using winter oil during summer may leave a lot more oil on the ground, because the thinner oil won't adhere to the bar and chain as well.