Proper chainsaw oil is essential for preserving the life of your chainsaw. Understanding your chainsaw oil will help you make the right decision when it comes to purchasing the right type of oil and making sure your chainsaw is properly maintained.
Owning a chainsaw is a little like owning a vehicle. Are you treating both your toys the same way at the moment? I’m sure you wouldn’t forget to keep the oil topped up in your car, because if you were unlucky and it ran out it would cause a great deal of damage.
Like it or not, you’ll always have to treat your chainsaw the same way. We’re going to discuss everything you should know about chainsaw oil today, which should help you realize how important it is if you want to keep your chainsaw running properly for years.
Video | Basics of Adding Fuel & Oil to your Chainsaw
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Why You Need Chainsaw Oil In The First Place
The reason you even need to use chainsaw oil in the first place is for maintenance purposes. I know when you think about carrying out any maintenance work on your chainsaw it likely involves doing something manually, but the oil in your chainsaw will keep the power tool in working order automatically while you’re using it. The chainsaw oil will work hard to keep the bar and chain running perfectly, which is the one part of the machine that requires constant attention if you don’t want to run into any problems.
What Is The Typical Composition Of Chainsaw Oil?
Hopefully you’ve never attempted to throw a little motor oil in your chainsaw when you were running low, because they’re completely different and it’s a lot more than the lack of a weight classification setting them apart. Chainsaw oil is not always the same, but you’ll typically be looking at a proprietary blend of refined mineral oils. This will also include inhibitors for oxidation and anti-wear corrosion, plus it will have a high tack additive included to help the oil stick to the bar and chain while it’s in operation.
Husqvarna 585572601 | Pre-Mixed 2-Stroke Fuel and Oil
The Top Reasons Why Chainsaw Oil Is Essential
Now you have a good idea what you’re typically going to get when you buy your oil, but what exactly is it going to help you with? Here is a list of things you will get if you’re smart enough to keep your chainsaw topped up with the correct oil at all times:
- Reduces Friction
- Prevents Clogging
- Keeps Things Clean
- Offers You Safety
- Protects Environment
- Prolongs Chain Life
- Save Lots Of Money
If you use the right chainsaw oil it will be like cutting through butter with a hot knife when you tackle tree branches. If you don’t have the required lubrication it’s going to cause all sorts of problems. The friction will be so bad it will take you much longer to cut through anything and it’s only going to take so long before something breaks. When your oil is topped up your chainsaw will cut through anything at great speed as long as the teeth are sharp.
Please Note: The chainsaw oil doesn’t help with the lubrication between the chainsaw and any wood you’re cutting. It’s the friction between those two things that lets you cut easily in the first place. The oil is simply to reduce the friction of the chain as it spins around the bar at exceptionally high speeds.
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This is one thing people don’t talk about a lot, yet it’s a particularly bad problem during the wetter months because everything has a habit of sticking to your chainsaw. When the sap and debris from whatever you’re cutting eventually clogs up the chainsaw, you’ll need to keep cleaning it away while you’re outside working. If you use the right chainsaw oil some manufacturers offer it will drastically reduce the amount of clogging in the first place.
Keeps Things Clean
Earlier on we talked about a supplemental high tack additive you’ll find in chainsaw oil, which is maybe the biggest reason why you shouldn’t be fooled into using other kinds of oils. This will make sure your oil actually sticks to the bar and chain to do its job properly, and when you don’t have oil flying around everywhere it will keep things nice and clean. This will also help your chainsaw last longer, because once the oil disappears it can’t do anything to reduce friction.
Offers You Safety
When you’re operating a chainsaw you should use the proper safety equipment at all times, which includes a pair of googles to keep wooden chips out of your eyes. I’m positive you’re still not so keen about ending up with an avalanche of oil splattered across your face too, which might happen if it’s not been designed to stick to the chainsaw. If it ends up blocking your vision it could lead to an accident, so at no point while cutting branches do you want chainsaw oil covering your face.
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Your safety is more important than anything, but you still have to take the environment into consideration too. There are some oils you could spill outside and they won’t cause any harm, but petroleum-based oils are still not good for Mother Nature. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use them, but you don’t want to use any that are going to end up everywhere as soon as you turn your chainsaw on. If the oil isn’t going to stick to your power tool it’s going to end up everywhere else you can possibly think of.
Prolongs Chain Life
Any regular home owner doesn’t want to spend time needlessly replacing or sharpening blunt chains. It comes with the job if you use a chainsaw as part of your profession, but a normal person wants to cut wood when the time comes without worrying their chain isn’t sharp enough to cut properly. Using the correct oil means your chain will last a lot longer until it won’t be able to take care of your needs. It equals less work for you in the long run which is always a good thing, especially when you’re dealing with dangerous tools.
Save Lots Of Money
Chainsaw oil isn’t as cheap as oil you could make yourself at home, but you’ll have to ask yourself if it’s worth the short term gains. Eventually your chainsaw is going to wear down or break and you’ll need to spend a lot of money getting it fixed. When you take into account the fact proper chainsaw oil will last a lot longer, you’ll only be saving a little for a limited amount of time when you use a cheaper alternative. Eventually it’s going to catch up to you, so it’s always better to use the real deal.
Chainsaw Bar & Chain Oil | Oregon 54-026
How To Know Your Chainsaw Oil Is Working?
Thanks to modern chainsaws providing continuous lubrication to the bar and chain, it means you don’t need to think about it while you’re working. Unfortunately, that is only if everything is working smoothly in the first place. If your chainsaw isn’t getting the oil it needs, it’s going to burn out really quick. As easy way to test this is by starting your chainsaw and holding it 6-8 inches away from something. It might have sticky oil, but you should still see a line of it on the wood beneath you.
How Is Chainsaw Oil Classified?
- Summer Oil – Heavier
- Winter Oil – Lightweight
The oil used in summer is thicker to help it stick to your chainsaw, because if it wasn’t thick enough it would fly off your machine very easily.
The oil used in winter is thinner for a couple of different reasons. It will help you pour it into the chainsaw easily, plus it will still circulate in cold temperatures.
Earlier on, we talked about how chainsaw oil doesn’t follow the exact same weight classification you’ll find in other oils, although they’re not all the same weight. Instead, they’re broken down into summer and winter varieties. This is because in summer the heat from the sun will thin the oil, whereas in winter the cold air will thicken it. If you don’t use the right oil at a particular time of year you’ll end up with severe damage to your chain due to a dry saw. There are still other ways it’s broken down even further to help you come to a quick decision on what to buy.
If you’re spending so much time researching chainsaw oil, I’m going to go out on a limb and assume you already own a particular machine. Even if you threw the instruction manual away a long time ago, you’ll still be able to do a little research by looking at your chainsaw brand’s website or phoning up their customer service department. They’ll let you know the exact oil type and blend they recommend for the particular chainsaw you use at the moment.
Do You Need To Use A Specific Brand Of Chainsaw Oil?
All of the big brands will have their own proprietary blends of chainsaw oil, and they’ll usually come at a slightly inflated price. It makes some people wonder if they should use the oil recommended in their instruction manual, or if they can get away with using something more affordable. To be honest, there is no easy answer to this question. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest reasons why you might decide to opt for a brand name chainsaw oil instead of one you’ve never heard of before:
- Brand Loyalty
- Fewer Contaminants
- Longer Lasting
By now you know how important chainsaw oil actually is for a number of different reasons. When you take into account all the things that could possibly go wrong, do you really want to take a chance with oil you don’t know anything about? Your chainsaw might have served you well over the years, so you’ll know the oil the manufacturer sells will likely hit those same standards. If you’re loyal to your chainsaw manufacturer it would be a big risk using something they’ve not actually recommended to you.
As we’ve already mentioned, chainsaw oil is comprised of a mixture of recycled oils with additives. You want the oil you use to be as pure as possible, so ideally there shouldn’t be many contaminants. The extra price you pay for a brand name chainsaw oil is likely the result of the process they use to get rid of as many contaminants as they can. If you buy a generic chainsaw oil it’s going to work okay, but it might not work as well as the oil your manufacturer has asked you to use.
Bar & Chain Oil | Maxpower 337045
It’s been noted that brand name chainsaw oil usually lasts longer than its generic counterparts. This is normally because they’ll contain more additives, which is a good thing if you care about the life span of your chainsaw. A tackifier is the big additive brand name oils are usually filled with, which will do everything it can to keep oil between the groove and chain. So even though knock-off oils are going to be cheaper to buy, it won’t take long until you realize you go through them a lot quicker.
Pro Tip: If you own a chainsaw you should look in the instruction manual to see what they say about chainsaw oil. If you don’t follow their instructions it could void your warranty, and although it’s unlikely to happen you should always check with the specific manufacturer to make sure.
Looking Towards The Future: Bio-Oils
Petroleum-based oils are the most popular by far at the moment, but chainsaw oils might look a little different in a few years time. There is currently a lot of hype surrounding bio-oils, which are comprised of cold pressed vegetable oils. The reason we’re shifting towards environmentally-friendly chainsaw oils is thanks to how the machines actually work. In case you didn’t know already, they’re considered a total loss system. This means every last drop of oil is going to end up in the environment or inside your body.
If it’s not landing on your skin when it’s sprayed off the bar or inhaled when it’s misted off, it’s causing a negative impact on the environment. It could even destroy things like outdoor ornaments in your garden, so it was only a matter of time before we tried to come up with an alternative solution. Lots of big companies are starting to manufacture bio-oils with some of them being extremely biodegradable. Up to 90 percent of the oil will degrade in a matter of weeks, plus they’ll work just as well as the alternatives.
How To Fill Up Your Oil Reservoir
A normal gas-powered chainsaw will go through roughly one tank of chainsaw oil for every tank of fuel you put in. This will completely depend on the type of chainsaw you’re using, but it’s good to get into the habit of assuming you’ll need to top up your oil every time you need to fill it with fuel. It will stop anything from going wrong while you’re in the middle of using it, but first you’ll need to know the correct way to fill up your oil reservoir.
- Lay Your Chainsaw Flat On The Ground
- Unscrew Cap And Pour Oil Inside
- Put On Cap And Wipe Away Any Spillages
Lay Your Chainsaw Flat On The Ground
Your chainsaw should obviously be turned off at this point for your own safety. You’ll need to lay it flat on the ground on an even surface. If you don’t have a large garden it might be easier to take it inside to lay on your work bench.
Unscrew Cap And Pour Oil Inside
After you’ve made sure you are using the correct oil, you’ll need to fill up the reservoir after you’ve unscrewed the cap. Try to make sure you fill it as close to the top as possible without going so far it spills out.
Put On Cap And Wipe Away Any Spillages
Even if you’ve not overfilled the reservoir, shaky hands means there could be oil running down the side of your chainsaw. Make sure every last drop is wiped up once you’ve put the cap back on, and when it’s clean you’ll be ready to go.
Working With A 2-Stroke Chainsaw Engine
So far we’ve only talked about working with bar and chain oil, but there is something else you have to take seriously too. If you own a chainsaw with a 2-stroke engine it’s absolutely imperative you absorb this information. First of all, you should know in a 4-stroke engine the lubrication system works separately and you can fill it with gas without any worries. On a 2-stroke engine if you don’t mix oil in with the gas your engine won’t get lubricated.
It will be destroyed within minutes, so it’s crucial you combine your chainsaw oil with gas before it’s poured into your machine. You’ll have to read your instruction manual to find out the exact ratio to use, but to give you a quick example it will usually be around one gallon of gas for every 2.6 ounces of 2-stroke engine oil. There are a few things you’ll need to keep in mind when you’re taking care of this, so we’ll look at things you must not do:
- Don’t Pour Directly Into The Chainsaw
- The Accuracy Of Your Fuel Mixture
- Keep The Chainsaw In A Well-Ventilated Area
- Make Sure You Shake The Mixture
- Never Refuel When It’s Too Hot
- Air Cooled Vs Water Cooled Engines
- Don’t Use Your 2-Stroke Oil In Reservoir
Don’t Pour Directly Into The Chainsaw
You should know by now the exact mixture of oil and gas you have to combine together, but just because you’ve got the right amounts sitting there you can’t pour them directly into the chainsaw. You’ll have to mix them together in a gas can before they’re finally ready to be poured inside. Start by filling a container with half your gas and put your oil over the top of it. The remaining gas can then be added before you give it a good shake for around 15-20 seconds.
The Accuracy Of Your Fuel Mixture
When you’re given a ratio for the amount of oil and gas you have to use in your fuel mixture, it’s far too easy to think you can mix up a formula based loosely on the exact numbers you’ve been given. The numbers themselves are actually very important, so if you don’t stick to them your chainsaw engine will have problems. I know we’ve not talked about it today, but you also have to use the correct gas with your chainsaw oil to avoid unnecessary issues.
Pro Tip: You can draw lines on a gas can with a permanent marker when you first mix your fuel together. This will guarantee when you pour the gas and chainsaw oil in going forwards your mixture is always sitting at the correct ratio.
Keep The Chainsaw In A Well-Ventilated Area
One of the great things about electric chainsaws is the lack of hazardous fumes they release into the air. When you have a gas-powered chainsaw it’s something you’ll have to live with, even if there is protective gear to keep you safe. The part where people normally mess up is when they’re mixing fuel and filling up their chainsaw because they don’t wear protection. Even if you do have it on, everything should be done in a well-ventilated area.
Make Sure You Shake The Mixture
We’ve already mentioned the fact you must shake the mixture together when you’re concocting it in the first place, but you’ll also have to remember it must be shaken on a regular basis. In fact, you’ll have to give the mixture a good shake every single time you want to fill up your tank. The reason it’s so important is because the gas and oil will begin to separate after a certain length of time, which will cause you problems if it’s already inside your chainsaw.
Never Refuel When It’s Too Hot
By now you’ll know you can’t fill up anything while the chainsaw is running, but you’ve also got to make sure it’s not boiling hot too. I know it’s going to be a hassle when you need to refuel half way through cutting logs, but it’s always better to stay on the safe side. You don’t have to let it sit for hours until it’s completely cool. This is also why you should never start your chainsaw when it’s covered in fuel you’ve not wiped up when putting it inside the tank.
Air Cooled Vs Water Cooled Engines
Some chainsaw engines are air cooled, whereas other engines are water cooled. It doesn’t really matter which kind of engine you own, but it will affect the kind of engine chainsaw oil you’ll be able to use. For example, if your engine is air cooled you shouldn’t use oil designed to be used with water cooled engines. This should be made clear to you inside the instruction manual, and once you’ve found oil that suits your needs you can stick with it to prevent any accidents.
Don’t Use Your 2-Stroke Oil In Reservoir
So far we’ve covered a couple of different types of chainsaw oil. You have the kind you’ll put in your oil reservoir to lubricate the bar and chain, but you’ve also got the 2-stroke oil you’ll need to mix with gas in 2-stroke engines. It could be hard to see the difference between the two, so just know you’ll not be able to put your 2-stroke oil inside your reservoir for your bar and chain. We have already talked about the special properties in bar oil you’ll not get in engine oil.
Common Problems Starting Your Engine
There are a lot of reasons why your engine might not start at the first time of asking. Some people forget to turn the switch to the ‘on’ position, but there could be a lot more complicated things going on too. Today, we’re only going to talk about the oil-related problems you might experience. They are still a lot more common than you think, so make sure they’re ingrained in your mind to save yourself lots of time when something does go wrong:
- The Mixture Is Older Than 30 Days
- Your Engine Is A Little Flooded
The Mixture Is Older Than 30 Days
You know it’s important to make sure you shake your fuel mixture well before pouring it into your chainsaw, but you must always ensure you never make more than a month’s worth at the same time. If you have had an oil/gas mixture sitting for over a month and your engine won’t start it could be the problem. After you’ve checked a few different things you’ll have to empty your tank and start again with a fresh batch of mixed fuel.
Your Engine Is A Little Flooded
During the process we talked about above, you might have accidentally poured too much fuel into your engine. If you weren’t careful it’s possible you could have missed the fuel tank too. If the engine is flooded and you try to start it there is a chance it won’t work. There are various things you can do if your engine is flooded badly, but when it’s only a little wet it’s possible to leave it for 30 minutes to let the fuel evaporate into the air.
A Complete Overview Of Chainsaw Oil
Now you should feel confident you know everything there is to know about chainsaw oil. At the very least, it’s going to help you appreciate it a lot more in the future. It will hopefully help you to remember your oil must be topped up all the time. If you’re lucky the knowledge you’ve learned today will help you keep your chainsaw in top working order for as long as possible. You should also keep in mind it’s usually pointless saving money if it’s only going to cost you a lot more in the long term.