Chainsaw Tune-Up Kit. Tips from a Professional


A chainsaw requires timely maintenance to make sure its performance stays up to the mark. Poorly maintained chainsaws can encounter numerous issues during operation. Some of them can lead to costly repairs. I recommend spending some time and money on the periodic tune-up of your machine so that it keeps on running seamlessly. I will help to extend the lifecycle of your chainsaw considerably.

Chainsaw tune-up kit:

Generally, a chainsaw tune-up kit includes replacements for spark plugs, air filters, fuel filters, and in some cases, oil for two-stroke engines. A typical chainsaw tune-up includes spark plug assessment, examining the air and fuel filters, cleaning the carburetor from deposits, and sharpening the chainsaw’s chain along with lubrication. You can perform a tune-up by yourself with the correct parts, like a tune-up kit.

In this blog post, I will discuss how to tune up your chainsaw by yourself. I will give a thorough explanation of all the procedures involved and explain the tune-up cost.

What does a Chainsaw Tune-up include?

Chainsaw’s periodic tune-ups consist of chain sharpening and lubrication, checking filters, and spark plugs. And replace them when needed. Also, cleaning and adjusting the carburetor are part of it.

Tune-ups are essential for optimizing the machine’s performance and removing several hitches that impede its productivity. In chainsaws, tune-ups should cover four major components. These include carburetor, filters, spark plug, and chain. For chainsaws with a separate oil reservoir, changing the engine can also be counted in. But this is something that needs to be checked much more frequently. Almost every time, these four components come into play whenever a chainsaw encounters performance-related issues.

Tune-up frequency depends on how often you use the chainsaw. If used professionally, it is better to do a tune-up after a few months. If used less frequently, a tune-up once a year will be sufficient.

● 1. Carburetor:

The carburetor is the component that mixes the air and fuel, which is then fed to the engine. The composition of the air-fuel mixture decides how the engine will run. A lean air-fuel mixture increases RPMs while a rich mixture does vice versa.

Deposits from stale gas are highly likely to clog up the carburetor. These deposits can block the jets from which air/fuel flows. Resultantly, the mixture composition gets disturbed, and a tune-up is the only way to optimize the performance.

● 2. Filters:

The air and fuel filters make sure that no contaminant can enter the air-fuel mixture. The air filter collects the air from the environment and separates the dust particles. Over time, the buildup of dust particles restricts the airflow and disturbs the airflow mixture’s composition. A similar situation can occur if the fuel filter gets plugged with debris due to fuel deposits.

● 3. Spark Plug:

The task for the spark plug is to ignite the air-fuel mixture in the engine. But the electrodes are likely to get covered with ash and soot from the mixture’s combustion. Also, the electrodes can get oily resulting from a lean fuel to the oil mixing ratio. They may not fire in these cases, which affects the engine’s operation.

● 4. Chain:

The chainsaw chain is the part that is most exposed to wear and tear. The chain’s cutting teeth are imminent to get dull after extended use. Especially if the chain is used on hardwood or other strong material, it will wear down quickly. Chain sharpening and lubrication are critical maintenance steps that guarantee a smooth cutting operation.

How do you Tune up a Chainsaw?

Chainsaw tune-ups are quite straightforward, and even if you are a beginner, you should be able to carry them out by yourself. Let’s have a look at the complete, step-by-step guide to tune up a chainsaw.

● Step 1: Use the correct tools:

Since you’ll be dealing with the entire chainsaw and its major components, it is better to have a complete toolkit at your disposal. Your toolkit should at least have screwdrivers, an adjustable wrench, a shop rag, a feeler gauge, a carburetor cleaner liquid, and a flat-file for chain sharpening.

If you need to perform replacements of some parts, you can use a standard tune-up kit that usually includes air and fuel filters, a spark plug, and 2-stroke engine oil. You can buy such a kit from your local dealer or online. Performing a tune-up may take about an hour or even less if you have some experience with it.

● Step 2: Assess the Spark Plug:

To start, proceed with the most straightforward step, checking the spark plug. Before doing that, make sure the engine has cooled down and the chainsaw is placed on a flat surface. You may need to remove the spark plug using a socket wrench. It is usually located near the engine and is easily visible from the outside. After removing it, check its terminals and see the degree of wear. Use a dry rag to clean the electrodes from any buildup. Reinstall the plug back after cleaning.

– When to replace the chainsaw spark plug?

It is not necessary to replace your spark plug after every tune-up, as most users do. Some spark plugs may need a replacement after 6 months of use if the wear is significant. Or they can last for 6 years without any noticeable wear.

The key is to check the gap between electrodes using a feeler gauge. The gap should be 0.02 inches (or 0.5 mm) for chainsaw spark plugs. You can also check it with the thickness of a nail, which is almost the same. If the gap is too large or too narrow, adjust it. If it is dirty, clean it with a metal brush. If you notice real wear on the electrodes, you should consider replacing it.

● Step 3: Check the Filters:

After examining the spark plug, the next step is making sure that the air and fuel filters are clean and debris-free. To access the air filter, you may need to unscrew and remove the outer cover. The filter is a plastic mesh. After removing, it should be adequately cleaned.

For a foam air filter, the best way to clean it, in my opinion, is to scrub it first with a wire brush and then use soap and water to remove the deposits fully. If the mesh or the fabric appears damaged after long use, the best idea is to replace the filter altogether.

If your chainsaw is using a paper air filter, it always has to be replaced when it is dirty. When it is damaged, it should always be replaced as well.

The fuel filter is usually situated in your fuel tank. While replacing it, it is a good practice to drain all the gasoline in your tank. Use a metal wire hooked at one end to bring out the fuel filter connected at the inlet of the fuel line. Carefully remove the filter and install the same version in its place.

– When to replace the filter?

If you use your chainsaw more regularly, check and consider replacing your fuel and air filter yearly. For sporadic use, my experience is that they can easily last for 3 to 4 seasons. For industrial use, however, you might need to replace the filter every other month.

● Step 4: Service your Carburetor:

Probably the most significant step in chainsaw tune-ups is servicing the carburetor. Almost 90% of the cases when the chainsaw engine doesn’t start or bogs down after starting can be fixed by cleaning or replacing the carburetor. Let’s look at the step-by-step procedure:

  • Step 1. Access the carburetor: First, empty the gas tank. To reach the carburetor, remove the air filter cover. If removed, unscrew the 8mm bolts to remove the entire filter assembly. With the assembly removed, the carb assembly underneath should become visible.
  • Step 2. Remove the carburetor: To remove the carburetor, first detach the fuel line. While doing this, always ensure the tank is empty. Then, disconnect the throttle and choke linkages. Pull the carburetor out, and it is removed entirely.
  • Step 3. Clean the carburetor: Spray the carb cleaner liquid on the jets and holes of the carburetor. You will know that a certain hole is unclogged if the cleaner fluid comes out of the other end. If available, using compressed air can further help eliminate the clogging and clean it entirely.

● Step 5: Maintain the Chain:

The chain needs to be sharpened and lubricated to make sure that it performs its job. This tune-up step is the same for all chainsaw types, be it gasoline or electric. To sharpen your chain, you can follow this step-by-step guide:

  • Step 1. Set the chainsaw bar: Before you begin, it is best to adjust the chainsaw bar on a bench wise. Confirm that the thickness of the bar is fixed between the wise fixtures, with the cutting teeth seen from above. While the chain is fixed, it should move in the groove of the bar.
  • Step 2. File the cutting teeth: Using a round file set in the file guide, press firmly on the top surface of a cutter tooth at a 30-degree angle. Then, using strong pressure, move it across the cutter. It is important to understand that the filing should only be done in one direction. Moving the file back and forth repeatedly will damage it. Repeat the process on the remaining cutting teeth after a few passes until they are all completely filed.
  • Step 3. Adjust the depth gauges: After the cutting teeth have been filed, it is necessary to adjust the depth gauges so that the cutting depth is not compromised. Use a flat file and a depth gauge guide tool for this purpose. Check that their top surface has been leveled according to the guide tool. Then, for the full chain, repeat the same operation.

– Oiling the Chain:

In chainsaws, a specialized bar and chain oil are used to lubricate both the bar and chain. Ensure that the system is working and the oil reservoir is topped up with this lubricant. I always prefer using the standard petroleum-based bar and chain oils from brands like Husqvarna and Stihl.

While you have added the oil, it is essential to clean the bar’s groove and the oil holes of all the debris. Take the guide bar and pass a metal wire through the rails to remove all the deposits. Also, pass the wire through the oil holes in the guide bar. This cleaning should enable the chain to run freely in the groove.

How much should a Chainsaw Tune-up Cost?

On average, performing a chainsaw tune-up by yourself can cost around 15-25$. If you take it to a professional, you might get charged around 100-125$, depending on the chainsaw condition and the hours spent on the job.

Routine tune-ups aren’t too costly if you do them yourself. The expenses mainly consist of the replacement parts. A spark plug usually costs around 4$ to 5$, an air filter around 10$, while a fuel filter is around 4$. If all the supporting tools are available (screwdrivers, wrenches, rag, flat file, carb cleaner), the maximum cost for a tune-up will lie around 25$. It will take most people around an hour.

If you take your chainsaw to a mechanic, he would probably charge your 70$ to 90$ for labor cost, excluding the parts. The exact cost will depend on the shop’s hourly rate. Rural shops may charge 50$ to 60$ for labor costs, while urban shops may even charge up to 90$. If you need a tune-up that covers all major operations (filter and plug replacement, carb cleaning and rebuilding, chain sharpening), you might get charged around $100 to $125.

I recommend owners that have some experience with maintenance to do it themselves. The job is not very difficult and does not take long. Almost all beginners can do these tasks by following the steps mentioned. You can save some cost, and you do not have to bring and collect the machine. Doing it yourself will help your DIY skills and gives you confidence in undertaking other maintenance projects with other equipment like lawnmowers, pressure washers, or vehicles.

How do I Tune up my Stihl Chainsaw?

Tuning up a Stihl chainsaw requires you to examine the spark plug, clean or replace the fuel filter, service the carburetor and sharpen and lubricate your chain.

As discussed earlier in this blog post, the basic tune-up procedure for any gasoline chainsaw is quite similar. For battery-powered chainsaws, maintenance is less extensive as there aren’t any spark plugs, filters, or carburetors. Whenever you are tuning a chainsaw, always start with the most straightforward step and then move towards advanced ones.

For a gas Stihl chainsaw, start your tune-up with the spark plug. After checking/replacing it, you can move towards the air filter. The next step is checking the fuel filter. Followed by the carburetor, and finally, you can sharpen your chain towards the end. Make sure you tune up your chainsaw once every cutting season.

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