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Chainsaw Rx

Outdoor power equipment, Tool Reviews, Tools June 19, 2008 admin

My sons think I try to use a chainsaw on every project, and I admit it gets used a lot on our jobs. It may be because of my years spent logging in the Oregon rain forests. Of course, it could also be a reaction to all the years I’ve spent making precise cuts doing trim work, so the half-inch-is-close-enough mode of chainsaw work is appealing.  


To me, big wood calls for a chainsaw. Fence posts, deck frames, house beams, wood sheds, boat docks, axle blocks, heavy pruning, brush clearing, trail building and firewood are often made quicker and easier with a chainsaw.  


Even if you show restraint and get out your chainsaw only occasionally, you still want it to run when you pull the starter cord. Proper maintenance greatly increases your odds. Additionally, your saw will be safer to operate and last for many years if it’s properly maintained.  


Chainsaw maintenance comes down to a few basic concepts: clean, inspect, replace, adjust and lubricate.  


As you go through your maintenance checklist, inspect the operating components of the saw. Always keep an eye out for worn, broken or missing parts. Pay particular attention to safety features such as the throttle trigger, shut-off switch and chain brake.  



To clean the saw I use the saw’s multi-tool (screwdriver/wrench) to remove the bulk of sawdust, and then hit it with some compressed air. You can use soap and water as well. Either way, you’ll need to do some additional cleaning when you start removing parts, because sawdust combined with pitch and bar oil tends to get packed into tight spaces.  


Remove the top cover of the engine housing to expose the carburetor and the top of the cylinder head. This gives you access to both the air filter and spark plug. Remove the air filter, clean it (or replace it) and re-install it. You can use compressed air or soap and water to clean most filters, but make sure the filter is thoroughly dry before re-installing.  


Remove the spark plug and inspect it. Replace it or clean off oil buildup and carbon deposits, set the gap and re-install.  


Note the direction of the lettering on the bar. Are the words and logos upright or upside-down? Remove the clutch cover, chain and bar. Clean everything in this area paying particular attention to the chain oil ports and the chain brake.  


Thoroughly inspect the bar for bends, nicks or burrs. Clean the chain groove and re-install the bar turned 180 degrees from the most recent orientation. For most bar designs, periodically flipping the bar helps promote even wear.  


Inspect the chain for damage and replace or re-install. Install the clutch cover/brake/chain adjustment assembly and adjust the chain tension. Sharpen the chain and file the depth gauges.  



The engine oil for a two-stroke goes right into the cylinder with the fuel. Remember to add two-stroke oil to your gas at the proper ratios, and stress this point to anyone who borrows your saw.  


Chain lubrication is also very important. Chainsaws are designed with automatic oilers, which have reservoirs that should be filled each time you fill the saw’s gas tank. Pay attention to the chain to make sure it is getting oiled during use.  


As with your truck, major service items come up less often than those we’ve mentioned. Major service items include checking the fuel filter, cleaning the carburetor, and flushing out the fuel and oil tanks.  


Be sure to drain the gas tank and let the engine consume any residual fuel before storing your saw for the season. Take care of your tools, and they’ll take care of you.


Chainsaw Rx

Most chainsaw maintenance can be done with the saw’s multi-tool, files, an air hose and a rag.  

Remove the top cover of the engine housing to expose the carburetor and the top of the cylinder head. This gives access to the air filter and spark plug. Clean the air filter and carefully inspect it for damage.  

If you are not familiar with how the electrode and ground should look, compare the spark plug with the new spare.  

If the electrode is damaged, install a new or cleaned spark plug.  

Loosen (but do not remove) the nuts that hold the rear sprocket/chain brake assembly in place.  


Turn the chain tension adjustment screw to create slack in the chain. This takes a little tension off the adjustment pin to allow for removal of the cover.  

Remove the cover, which on the Husqvarna includes the chain brake assembly. Note the buildup of sawdust and oil.  

Slide the bar back toward the engine to create maximum slack in the chain. To remove, first take the chain off the front of the bar. Then carefully take it off the drive sprocket and work it around the clutch assembly.  

With the chain set aside, remove the bar, again noting its orientation (up or down).  

Use a stick or screwdriver to scrape the sawdust and oil buildup out of the area near the clutch and sprocket assembly.  

Use an air hose and nozzle to blast out the remainder of the sawdust. As you clean these usually dirty areas of the saw, watch for worn, cracked or bent parts like this chain guard, which obviously took a hit from a thrown chain.  

Clean and inspect the bar. Watch for any bends or nicks in the metal.  

Make sure there are no burrs or obstructions in the bar groove.