A Chainsaw's Best Friend

A Chainsaw's Best Friend

How Keeping Your Bar & Chain Oiled Saves Your Saw

Dale, the Chain Saw Expert
Chain Saw Expert

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. 

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 bar and chain oil - and quick.

The bar and the chain are in constant contact with one another. Without lubricant, the speed at which the chain moves over the chainsaw bar can cause some serious friction.

A slowed-down chain and excessive fuel burning mean 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 and Chain Oil

Choosing the Right Bar & Chain OilAlthough many different sources out there will state that different kinds of oil will work for your bar and chain lubrication, it's best not to mess with success.

One particularly bad idea is the use of motor oil, especially old, used motor oil that has been drained from an engine:

  • Motor oil is not the right viscosity for lubricating chains
  • Debris contained in used motor oil can wear down the bar's groove and damage the chain

Vegetable and plant-based oils like canola oil can be used in place of bar and chain oil, but they will not work well in extremely cold or hot temperatures.

Canola oil is currently recommended by the U.S. Forest Service for use in areas where, for environmental reasons, it's inadvisable or even prohibited to use petroleum-based products. However, don't consider this your go-to for year-round bar and chain oil.

Oregon BarsThe safest suggestion for year-round use is to buy oil specifically made for lubricating bars and chains. Brand-name bar and chain oil contains a substance called a tackifier to provide the amount of lubrication that bars and chains need.

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 because Oregon is a leading manufacturer of bars and chains, the company understands how to make a lubricant to work with them.


Using Thinner Oil During Winter

Using Thinner Oil in WinterIn winter, cutting can be difficult. You have a number of different maintenance tasks to take care of:

Another smart step is to replace your previous bar and chain oil with a lighter oil. Thinner oil doesn't get as tacky and sticky, so it'll lubricate the chain in cold temperatures even more effectively than oil listed as year-round oil.

Look for an oil listed as 10 weight oil, which is some of the thinnest bar and chain oil you'll find. Oregon, Husqvarna, and other major brands make bar and chain oil that's designed to work better in winter. 

Once temperatures rise, switch back to your standard bar and chain oil, which may be anywhere between 20 and 50 weight (30 weight is standard). Using winter oil during summer might leave a lot more oil on the ground because the thinner oil won't adhere as well to the bar and chain.


How to Add Bar and Chain Oil

Adding Bar & Chain OilYour chainsaw has a separate reservoir designed to hold bar and chain oil. In most saws, the bar and chain oil reservoir holds enough oil to last as long as a tank of fuel.

So, whenever you refuel your gas chainsaw, you should add bar and chain oil as well, every time.

The steps are quick and easy:

  1. Set your chainsaw on a level surface, bar side down so that it lays flat
  2. Allow a minute for the oil to settle, then unscrew the cap to the saw's bar and chain oil reservoir
  3. Using a small funnel, slowly pour the bar and chain oil into the reservoir, taking care not to overfill
  4. When it's full, firmly secure the cap and wipe down the surrounding area of any excess oil

It's that simple.

If your bar features a sprocket at the nose, add some grease to that as well. Use a grease gun to give it a couple of shots of grease. Once the grease begins pushing back out, stop and wipe the outside of the sprocket clean.

All it takes are a few quick steps and the right oil for a couple of essential parts, and you can keep your saw running for years to come.


NEXT: How to Maintain Your Chainsaw & Keep It Cutting

Dale, the Chain Saw Expert
Chain Saw Expert
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