How To Oil a Chainsaw

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Are you a chainsaw user and your trusted tool requires oil, but you don’t know how to add it? If yes, then this is definitely the right place for you to be.

Oiling a chainsaw is not only necessary, but it is also quite easy if you know the steps. The right way to oil a chainsaw includes choosing the right bar and chain oil, removing the chain guard, cleaning inside the chainsaw, replacing the chain guard and tightening the chain, mixing the gas, preparing the chain oil, and filling up your chainsaw with fresh oil. To add oil, set the chainsaw on a level surface, unscrew the cap to the oil reservoir, pour the bar and chain oil into the reservoir, and secure the cap once it is full.

In this article, you will get to know all about oiling a chainsaw, how to oil a chainsaw, why your chainsaw needs oil, and more. Continue reading to get all the answers that you are looking for.

Why Does a Chainsaw Need Oil

The bar and chain are two important parts of your chainsaw. Whether you’re using an electric chainsaw or a gas-powered chainsaw, the bar and chain will need regular lubrication. A beginner chainsaw user might be wondering why there is a need to lubricate the saw and what happens if they don’t provide oil regularly.

The bar and chain of a chainsaw will be in constant contact with one another. This is why there needs to be lubrication between them. You need to know that when two metal components are rubbing against each other constantly without lubrication, they will produce high friction.

This friction will not allow the chain to move easily, while also producing a lot of heat due to the rubbing between the components. The lubrication will remove this friction and allow for a smoother flow of chain over the bar. This will provide you with more efficient performance for hours of use.

If you do not oil the chainsaw regularly, it will work slower and consume more fuel. Further, the producing heat could also result in serious damage to the chainsaw parts, rendering the chainsaw useless.

Choose the Right Bar and Chain Oil For Lubricating Your Chainsaw

You might have read that you can use different types of oil options for lubricating the chainsaw, but this isn’t true for every situation. It is recommended that you should use the best bar and chain oil option specifically made for the purpose, as it contains a substance known as a tackifier. Tackifier provides the necessary lubrication for the chainsaw.

It would be best that you don’t mess with the success of tried-and-tested oil options. One particularly bad idea is using motor oil, especially old motor oil. Some people think of putting used motor oil that has been drained from an engine into the chainsaw. Old oil contains debris and its viscosity might not have the right viscosity to lubricate bar and chain components. The debris in the used motor oil can easily wear down the bar’s groove and end up damaging the chain.

However, there are a few chainsaw oil substitutes that you can use if you haven’t got access to the originally recommended bar and chain oil. Vegetable and plant-based oil options like canola oil can be used instead of bar and chain oil. However, it will not work well in extremely hot or cold temperatures. Canola oil is often recommended by the US Forest Service for use in areas where, for environmental purposes, it isn’t advised or prohibited to use petroleum-based oil options. However, you should not consider canola oil as your go-to option as the year-round bar and chain oil option.

The best bet for year-round use would be to buy oil specifically manufactured for lubricating bars and chains. The bar and chain oil for specific chainsaws contain Tackifier, which provides the lubricant needed for the bar and chain.

For a reliable year-round go-to bar and chain oil, you should consider Oregon’s 54-026. It is designed specifically for bar and chain lubrication and since Oregon is a leading manufacturer of bars and chains, it understands how to make the perfect lubricant to work with them. Stihl is another amazing chainsaw brand that provides high-quality bar and chain oil for chainsaws. The Stihl chainsaw bar oil is quite effective, and it will ensure the smooth performance of your chainsaw.

Use thinner oil options during winter

During the winter season, cutting can be slightly difficult. You will have a number of different maintenance tasks that you must take care of –

  • Clean the bar
  • Sharpen the chain
  • Lubricate the sprockets

Another smart step would be to replace the previous bar and chain with a lighter oil option. Thinner oil doesn’t get as sticky and tacky, which means it’ll be able to lubricate the chain in cold temperatures more effectively than oil listed as year-round oil.

You should look for an oil option listed as 10-weight oil, which is among the thinnest bar and chain oil options that you will find. Husqvarna, Oregon, and other major chainsaw brands make bar and chain oil designed to work better in winter.

Once the temperatures rise, you should revert back to the standard bar and chain oil. This could be anywhere between 20 and 50-weight (30-weight is the standard option). Using winter oil during summer could leave a lot more oil on the ground, as the thinner oil will not adhere as well to the bar and chain.

How To Oil a Chainsaw

Chainsaws are amazing tools for a wide variety of backyard, gardening, and other wood-cutting projects. Cutting logs, felling trees, trimming branches, and more are a few things for which you will use a chainsaw. Part of responsible ownership involves taking care of and maintaining your chainsaw, and a lot of this will come down to oil. 

In order to run properly, a chainsaw requires two different types of oil. The first one is engine oil. If you have a two-stroke engine, it’ll require two-stroke engine oil mixed with the fuel to help lubricate and cool the moving parts inside the motor. The second type of oil is bar and chain oil. It is for lubricating the chain as it is cutting. It is important to add oil as it will be crucial to the longevity and performance of your chainsaw. Here are the steps that you will need to follow – 

Step 1: Gather the necessary tools and material

Some of the tools that you will need for oiling a chainsaw involve a chainsaw, a 2-part divided gas can, a slot-head screwdriver, and a socket wrench set. Further, you will also need to get 2-stroke motor oil for oil-cooled engines, premium gasoline, and medium-grade bar and chain oil.

Step 2: Remove the chain guard

  • Determine the size of the socket that you will need for loosening the nuts that secure the chainsaw’s guard over the chain and bar
  • Loosen and remove the nuts and set them aside where you won’t end up losing them
  • Slide the plastic chainsaw chain guard off the bolts and then set it aside 

Step 3: Clean inside the chainsaw

  • Use a slot-head screwdriver for scraping away the oily sawdust and dirt built up around the bar and chain
  • Now, you should turn the plastic chainsaw guard over such that you can see the inside face
  • Use a screwdriver for removing the dirt and gunk from the nooks and crannies of the guard 

Step 4: Replace the chain guard while tightening the chain

  • Slide the chainsaw chain guard back onto the bolts protruding from the chainsaw, ensuring that the chain remains in the narrow slot on the edges of the bar
  • Replace the nuts that you set aside earlier before fastening them to get them finger-tight 
  • With the chainsaw sitting flat on the ground, you should swivel the bar up as high as possible 
  • At the same time, you should use a slot-head screwdriver to tighten the chain slowly by rotating the screw near the bolts holding the guard in place 
  • Tighten the chainsaw chain until there is no slack around the bar, but it should still move freely back and forth if you’re pulling it
  • Tighten the two nuts all the way using a socket wrench 

Step 5: Mix the chainsaw gas

  • You should purchase a reliable two-stroke engine oil specifically meant for air-cooled engines and not liquid-cooled engines
  • Determine the right ratio of oil to gas for your particular chainsaw 
  • First, you need to check the owner’s manual of your chainsaw
  • Many newer chainsaws use a ratio of 40:1 or 50:1 gas to oil while older chainsaws use around 30:1
  • Use a measurement guide on the side of the oil bottle and calculate the precise amount of oil that you will require to make the quantity of fuel that you want at the ideal ratio of oil to gas for the chainsaw
  • After that, you should pour the oil into the larger side of the divided gas can
  • Remember to add the oil first
  • Now, add the corresponding amount of premium gas to the gas can
  • For instance, say that a gas can hold 6 liters on the fuel side and 2.25 liters on the oil side so to make 6 liters of fuel at a ratio of 40:1, you will require 5.85 liters of premium gas and 0.15 liters of two-stroke engine oil

Step 6: Prepare the chain oil

  • Purchase the bar and chain oil that you will be pouring into the chainsaw 
  • Chain oil comes in different viscosities that are perfect for different temperatures 
  • You can either use the same oil rated for year-round use or prefer using different oil options for hot summers and cold winters so that you don’t have any lubrication issues 
  • Open the chain oil and then carefully pour it into the smaller portion of the divided gas can 
How to Add Bar and Chain Oil to Your Gas Chainsaw

Step 7: Fill up your chainsaw

Your chainsaw will have a separate reservoir designed for holding bar and chain oil. In the majority of chainsaws, the bar and chain oil reservoir will hold enough oil that it can last as long as a tank of fuel. Whenever you are refueling your gas-powered chainsaw, you must add bar and chain oil as well each time. The steps to do this are quick and easy –

  • Set your gas-powered chainsaw on a level surface such that the bar side is down to ensure it lays flat
  • Now, allow a minute or two for the oil settles down
  • After that, unscrew the cap to the chainsaw’s bar and chain oil reservoir 
  • Use a small funnel so that you can slowly pour the bar and chain oil into the reservoir 
  • When pouring oil, remember to take care that you don’t overfill
  • When it is full, you should secure the cap firmly and wipe the surrounding area of any excess bar and chain oil
  • Keep the gas and oil tanks of your chainsaw topped off as the tanks are sized in a way that they run out at the same time, so when your chainsaw runs out of gas, it also runs out of chain oil

That’s it. If your chainsaw features a sprocket at the nose, you should add grease to it as well. Use a grease gun to give the chainsaw a couple of shots of grease. Once the grease starts pushing back out, you should stop and wipe the outside of the chainsaw sprocket clean. All that it’ll take are a few quick steps and the right oil for a few essential parts, and you’ll be able to keep your chainsaw running for years to come.

How To Know That You Have Oiled the Chain Properly

Once you have oiled your chainsaw bar and chain, you will have to make sure that you have carried out the job correctly. Doing this is rather simple, but ensuring safety will be your main concern.

To figure out that you have oiled the chain correctly, you should wear protective gloves and ensure that the chainsaw is off and stationary. Now, you should pull the chain away from you. Grab the chain once again and continue rotating the chain over the bar away from you. The chain will flow smoothly without clunky, jumpy sections.

professional logger putting oil on chainsaw

Next up, you should make sure that you have oiled the chain properly. To achieve that, you will require a vertical surface where you can see the oil clearly. Put the chainsaw on a vertical surface and then turn on the chainsaw. You should not do this from a cold start as the oil will not flow properly.

Some chainsaws come with an oil adjuster screw underneath, which means you might have to turn this up for the oil to flow properly. Now, have your chainsaw around 2 inches from the vertical surface and give it a few revs. You should continue working the chainsaw and after a couple of minutes, you will see a line of oil flick onto the surface.


How often should I oil my chainsaw chain?

Gas chainsaws make use of around one tank of bar and chain oil for each tank of fuel. This is why you should fill the reservoir each time you are filling the tank.

How does a chainsaw chain get oiled?

The crankshaft drives the pump of the chainsaw, which draws oil from the tank and pushes it to the guide bar using the outlet hole. The movement of the chain will then distribute the oil along the entire length of the guide bar, oiling the chainsaw chain.

Do I need to oil the bar on a chainsaw?

It is important that you should use the appropriate amount of bar and chain oil. If you are running a chainsaw without bar and chain oil, it is likely that the chainsaw chain will eventually start heating up and ultimately break. This could result in extensive damage to the chainsaw and might also require a new chain and bar.

What happens if you aren’t oiling the chainsaw?

Without proper lubricant, the speed at which the chainsaw chain moves over the chainsaw bar can result in serious friction. A slowed-down chain and excessive fuel burning will mean that there is a lot of friction between the bar and chain. This means a lot of heat is getting produced, and it could result in major damage to the chainsaw.

What is the difference between chainsaw oil and motor oil?

The bar and chain oil is stickier compared to regular motor oil, which means it’ll stay on the chain longer. Motor oil, on the other hand, flings off the chain much quicker. So if you’re using motor oil, you should be prepared to refill the oil on your chainsaw more quickly compared to regular bar and chain oil.

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Hi, I'm Mike - but my friends call me Backyard Mike. I'm the founder of this website, and I'm addicted to outdoor power tools. I love to work with wood and share my knowledge here on this website with you. You can find more about me here.