Chainsaw No-No’s and Safety Tips

Don’t Cut Into Dirt

Nobody plans to run their chain saw into dirt. But when you cut close to the ground, you’re just begging for a quick dip into dirt, rocks and crud. All it takes is a second in the dirt to dull the cutters. In addition to dulling the cutters, dirt also wears out the chain links faster, causing the chain to stretch. Plus, dirt wears the sprocket at the bar tip. Always support a log far enough off the ground to give you enough clearance to prevent an accidental slip into the dirt.


rust© Provided by The Family Handyman

Don’t Cut With Improper Blade Tension

A chain that’s too loose can come off the bar, creating an unsafe condition while you’re cutting. A overly loose or tight chain also wears out the drive sprocket and causes rapid chain and bar wear. To determine if your chain is properly tensioned, pull up on the chain. The drive links should still be in the bar groove. If the links come out of the bar, the chain is too loose.


oil© Provided by The Family Handyman

Don’t Fill the Chain Lube Reservoir With Used Motor Oil

It’s free, right? Well, not really. Filling the reservoir with used oil instead of the proper lube will cost you more in the long run due to accelerated bar and chain wear. Used motor oil contains fuel, acid, water and soot and none of those ingredients are good for moving parts. Isn’t that why you drained the oil out of your engine? So skip the “free” oil and use real bar and chain oil or fresh motor oil in a pinch.


Hot© Provided by The Family Handyman

Don’t Refuel Your Chain Saw When It’s Hot

Don’t care about starting yourself on fire by refueling your chain saw when it’s hot? Fine. But why burn up a perfectly good chain saw just because you’re too impatient to wait for it to cool off? The heat from a hot engine vaporizes the fuel as you pour it into the tank. If the vapor ignites, you’ll be pouring gasoline right onto the, ah, fire. If you want your chain saw to live to see another day, let it cool for at least 10 minutes before refilling it. If the engine is still too hot to touch, take a walk, eat a Twinkie or call a friend.

9 Things You Should Never Do to Your Chain Saw

9 Things You Should Never Do to Your Chain Saw© Provided by The Family Handyman

Don’t Put the Pedal to the Metal With the Brake On

Chain saws have a safety kickback braking mechanism that stops the blade by locking the clutch drum/drive sprocket. But you can accidentally activate the brake by knocking the kickback handle as you set the chain saw against a downed tree limb or stump. If you hit the throttle hard while the brake is on, you can burn up the centrifugal clutch in just seconds. If the chain doesn’t spin when you squeeze the trigger, STOP and make sure the kickback brake isn’t on. If it’s on, release it and then hit the trigger.

9 Things You Should Never Do to Your Chain Saw

9 Things You Should Never Do to Your Chain Saw© Provided by The Family Handyman

Don’t Cut With a Dull Blade

Cutting with a sharp blade actually extends the life of your chain saw. That’s because a sharp blade pulls itself into the wood, while a dull blade requires lots of downward pressure. That pressure wears out the bar, drive links, clutch sprocket and clutch. When the blade starts making sawdust instead of chips, it’s time to stop and sharpen the blade.

9 Things You Should Never Do to Your Chain Saw

9 Things You Should Never Do to Your Chain Saw© Provided by The Family Handyman

Don’t Leave Old Gas in the Tank Over the Winter

You should add fuel stabilizer right at the pump as you fill your gas can. But even with stabilized gas, most chain saw manufacturers recommend emptying the tank and running the carburetor dry before storing the machine. Emptying the tank prevents corrosion and gum formation in the tiny passages of the carburetor. Emptying the tank also extends the life of the carburetor diaphragm. Pour the old gas into a container. Then start the engine and run out the last bit of gas before putting it away.

9 Things You Should Never Do to Your Chain Saw

9 Things You Should Never Do to Your Chain Saw© Provided by The Family Handyman

Don’t Add Car Motor Oil to the Gas Instead of 2-Cycle Oil

This one’s really simple—2-cycle oil is designed to lubricate and burn with the gas. Regular motor oil is designed to lubricate but not burn. What happens if you run out of 2-cycle oil and substitute regular motor oil in your chain saw? It’ll foul the spark plug, leave carbon deposits on the piston head, in the piston ring grooves and in the exhaust port. Plus, the engine will spit unburned motor oil out the muffler, so you’ll get oil all over your hands. Run the engine long enough with regular motor oil and you’re looking at a complete tear-down and cleaning. Cha-ching!


Filter© Provided by The Family Handyman

Don’t Run Your Chain Saw With a Dirty Air Filter

Chain saws kick up a lot of dust and the air filter prevents that dust and dirt from entering the combustion chamber. But if you don’t clean/replace your air filter (shown here), the engine will suck some of that dirt and dust into the combustion chamber, causing excessive wear. If you notice a loss of engine power or excessive fuel consumption, check the air filter. Some filters can be cleaned, but others must be replaced. Replacement filters are cheap, a new chain saw engine isn’t!