Everyone in our neighborhood knew that my husband and I meant business this spring as we cleared an acre of overgrown brush and downed branches from our property using chainsaws and our own brute strength. Rawr.
Our chainsaw needs are generally pretty modest — we’re not loggers, or furniture builders like the amazing LogHeads (check out what they can do with a chainsaw!), and I wouldn’t dare to attempt to take down big, rotting trees without expert supervision. We’re just everyday DIYers who need something practical with which to tackle fallen branches and perform general cleanup, so for that, we have a few chainsaws to help.
Like most tools, chainsaws require a certain amount of regular maintenance, and precise maintenance at that. You’ll always want your chainsaw to be in tip-top condition so that it cuts easily, and is safe to use. Here are a few tips to get you started, and if you have more questions about your specific model, I highly encourage you to sit down with a cup of joe and deep-dive into the care and instruction manual that came with your product.
- Know how to prepare the proper gas/oil mixture. This mixing chart will help you calculate the mixture, based on the ratio needed by your tool (it’s a helpful chart for lawnmowers, boats, and other products, too!). If you want to avoid mixing gas and oil, scroll down a bit and I’ll direct you to a great little cordless/battery-powered chainsaw that I really enjoy.
- Always check for chain tension before use. Learn how to check your chainsaw’s tension by performing a snap test and/or adjusting the bar – or watch this short video.
- Keep that chain sharp! With a little know-how and a file, you can maintain the sharpness of your chain cutting teeth at home, but if it’s something you’re not sure you want to tackle, take it to a pro and let them perform this maintenance. Keeping the blade sharp makes your cuts smoother, and also reduces kickback which makes for a distracting and potentially dangerous DIY experience.
- Remember that even if the chain is broken or dull beyond sharpening, chains can be replaced. You don’t have to buy a new chainsaw, just replace the chain yourself (or pay a pro to have it replaced for you).
- Clean your chainsaw. Brush it free of debris after each use using a shop brush. Keep the air intakes clear, wash or replace the air filter regularly, and remove build-up that settles into the the track during prolonged use. (Always unplug your spark plug if you’re meticulously cleaning around the chain.)
- Check all bolts and screws to ensure they are tight. Reverberations from the running chainsaw are enough to loosen pieces of the tool without you realizing it!
If you’re looking for a more low-maintenance chainsaw, I have to recommend these products to you, because I’ve worked with them and really like them:
- This cordless model from Kobalt features a 40v battery pack and roars to a start with just the push of a button. It’s the one that I’m holding in the picture at the top of this post, and great for cutting through branches <6″ in diameter. While you can avoid mixing oil/gas with this model, you’ll still need to maintain the chain to keep it sharp, oiled, and taut while in use.
- This Ryobi pole saw (shown below) is corded (electric), lightweight, and provides enough oomph to slice through branches up to 10′ above your head like a knife through butter. Just be wary of where those branches fall so you don’t get thumped!