How To Oil A Chainsaw | Step-By-Step Guide

Do you own a chainsaw but feel like it could perform better? If so, one way to help your tool reach its full potential is by properly oiling it.

Oiling and maintaining your chainsaw can make all the difference in terms of your tool’s performance output, safety precautions, and longevity.

In this blog post, we will show you how to oil a chainsaw to ensure that all these pieces are taken care of properly.

Short answer: To oil a chainsaw, ensure it’s turned off and cool. Locate the chain oil reservoir, unscrew the cap, and fill it with bar and chain oil. Replace the cap and adjust the oil flow rate if necessary. Finally, test the lubrication system by running the chainsaw.

Why a Chainsaw Needs Oiling?—What Would Happen If You Don’t?

Why A Chainsaw Needs Oiling

Chainsaw chains require oil to ensure a smooth and efficient cutting process.

Continuous friction between the chain and the guide bar and other internal components generates heat and causes wear on these components.

Regular lubrication with bar oil prevents this excessive wear and tear, providing several benefits to the chainsaw’s overall performance and longevity.

What You Need 

You will need

How to oil a chainsaw in 7 steps

Step 1: Preparation


Before starting:

  1. Ensure your chainsaw is turned off and cool to the touch to avoid injury.
  2. Place it on a flat and level surface, such as a workbench or table.
  3. Allow the saw to rest for a few minutes, so any residual oil in the reservoir settles.

Step 2: Locate the oil reservoir

Locate The Oil Reservoir

Find the oil cap on your chainsaw, typically positioned at the top of the saw close to the handle or on the side of the housing.

The cap may have an oil can symbol or be labeled ‘oil.’

Step 3: Fill the oil reservoir with Bar and Chain Oil

Fill The Oil Reservoir With Bar And Chain Oil

Remove the oil cap by unscrewing it counterclockwise. Slowly pour the bar and chain oil into the reservoir using a funnel.

Ensure you use oil specifically designed for chainsaws – motor or vegetable oil is not recommended.

This is because they may not provide sufficient lubrication or may damage the saw. Keep pouring until the oil level reaches the “full” line or the max fill indicator.

Be cautious not to overfill or underfill the reservoir, as it can result in starting/operational issues or inadequate lubrication.

Step 4: Wipe and Replace the Oil Cap

Wipe And Replace The Oil Cap

After filling, remove the funnel and use a clean cloth or paper towel to wipe off any excess oil from the reservoir opening and the cap.

Screw the cap back onto the reservoir securely to prevent leaks and ensure a proper seal.

Step 5: Manual lubrication (if necessary)

Manual lubrication

If your chainsaw is equipped with an automatic oiler, skip this step; however, if your chainsaw requires manual lubrication, you’ll need to remove the chain brake cover, chain, and bar.

Follow manufacturer guidelines to safely accomplish this.

Step 6: Lubricate the bar and chain

Lubricate The Bar And Chain

Using a clean cloth or brush, apply the bar and chain oil to the bar’s groove and the sprocket tip (the part dispensing oil to the chain).

Lubricate the bar and chain thoroughly and evenly. Additionally, inspect the oil holes on the bar for clogs – clean them out if necessary.

Step 7: Reassemble and Test

Reassemble And Test

Reattach the bar, chain, and clutch cover, again following manufacturer guidelines.

Properly tension the chain, ensuring it neither sags nor is overly tight.

Once reassembled, start the chainsaw and let it run for a few seconds to distribute the oil across the bar and chain.

Visually inspect the oil flow to ensure optimal lubrication.

How to Choose the Right Chain and Bar Oil

How To Choose The Right Chain And Bar Oil

Choosing the right bar and chain oil is essential to maintaining and prolonging your chainsaw’s life.

To ensure you select the right oil for your specific needs, consider the following factors and product features:

1. Viscosity and Adhesion: High-quality bar and chain oils should have the right viscosity and adhesion properties, creating a sticky film that clings tightly to the chain, even at high speeds.  

3. Compatibility: While many bar and chain oils are designed to be suitable for a wide range of chainsaws, it is important to ensure compatibility with your specific model. 

4. Brand Recognition and Reviews: Opting for well-known, reputable brands like Toro, Poulan Pro, and Stihl can offer greater assurance of product quality and performance. 

Toro Bar & Chain Oil is a popular choice among chainsaw users.

It is specifically formulated to provide superior lubrication, protect against wear and corrosion, and reduce the build-up of resin and gum on the bar and chain.

Poulan Pro Bar and Chain Oil is another sought-after option. 

Stihl Platinum Bar and Chain Oil is a premium choice offering performance-enhancing features.

In short, selecting the right bar and chain oil is crucial to the longevity and performance of your chainsaw. Factors such as viscosity, adhesion, additives, compatibility, and brand reputation should be considered while making your choice. 

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How To Oil A Chainsaw: FAQs

How often do you oil a chainsaw chain?

Generally speaking, lubricate the chain after each use or at least once a month.

Factors like frequency of usage, cutting conditions, and type of wood also impact the oiling frequency.

Do you have to oil the bar on a chainsaw?

The oil acts as a lubricant, reducing friction between the chain and bar and preventing wear and tear.

Neglecting to use the oil can result in damage, decreased efficiency, and increased fuel consumption.

Chainsaw-specific oil is designed with a high viscosity, enabling it to adhere to the rapidly moving chain and provide consistent lubrication, ultimately enhancing the saw’s cutting power and ensuring smooth operation.

Can you manually oil a chainsaw?

Yes, you can manually oil a chainsaw by following these comprehensive steps:

First, place your chainsaw on a stable, level surface with the bar side facing downwards to ensure it lays flat.

Give the oil a moment to settle, and then locate and unscrew the cap of the chainsaw’s bar and chain oil reservoir.

Utilize a small funnel to carefully pour the recommended bar and chain oil into the reservoir.

Be vigilant while filling to avoid overfilling, which could cause potential leaks or malfunctions.

This process ensures proper lubrication and smooth functioning of your chainsaw.

Can you use WD 40 to lubricate a chainsaw?

Yes, you can use WD-40 to lubricate a chainsaw. The versatile WD-40 Multi-Use Product effectively oils the chainsaw’s chain, ensuring optimal performance.

In addition to providing excellent lubrication, WD-40 also prevents rust formation.

This dual-purpose solution maintains the chainsaw’s longevity and enhances its efficiency, making it a reliable choice for chainsaw maintenance.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, oiling your chainsaw is essential for proper performance and the longevity of the saw.

It must be done correctly to ensure that the chain is adequately lubricated, and it is important to use the right bar and chain oil.

As long as you follow these seven steps and select quality bar and chain oil, you’ll find that operating your chainsaw becomes easier.

In addition, you’ll find that you experience fewer problems with equipment.

Photo of author

Charlie Bass

Charlie has been a mechanic for over 25 years and has worked on everything from small engine gardening equipment to huge diesel-electric mining haul trucks, trains and even aircraft. This broad range of industry experience gives him a unique insight into almost anything mechanical especially with an engine, including gardening and landscaping equipment. He currently owns his own mobile mechanic business and lives with his family in Australia.

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