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Chainsaw Tune-Up. Tips from a Professional

Like all gas tools, Chainsaws need periodic maintenance to keep running seamlessly. Despite being designed to endure rough and challenging working conditions, lack of proper maintenance increases the occurrence of performance issues, apart from shortening the chainsaw’s service life. For a gas chainsaw, there is a standard tune-up procedure you can follow.

Chainsaw tune-up. Tips from a professional.

Tuning up a chainsaw involves servicing its essential components, such as the cutting chain, ignition, and fuel delivery systems. To tune your chainsaw, you should examine the spark plug, inspect the air and fuel filters for dust buildup, and check and service your carburetor for fuel deposits. Moreover, it is also important that you sharpen your chain links and depth gauges and lubricate your bar and chain.

This answer may give you a brief idea about what should a chainsaw tune-up be like. In this article, I will further explain in more detail what a chainsaw tune-up includes and how you can tune up your chainsaw.

What does a Chainsaw Tune-up include?

Chainsaw tune-ups comprise chain sharpening and lubrication, filter and spark plug replacement, oil change, carburetor servicing, and adjustment.

Tune-ups are critical for enhancing the machine’s efficiency and removing a variety of hitches that limit its productivity. Tune-ups for chainsaws should encompass four essential components, i.e., carburetor, filters, spark plug, and chain. Engine oil replacement can also be included, although it is something that is replenished on quite a regular basis along with fuel. Whenever a chainsaw faces performance-related issues, these four components almost always come into play.

The frequency of tune-ups is determined by how much the chainsaw is used. It is best to perform a tune-up every few months when used professionally. If you use it less often, a once-a-year tune-up is recommended.

● 1. Carburetor:

The carburetor blends air and gasoline before feeding it to the engine. The composition of the air-fuel mixture determines the engine’s performance.  A lean air-fuel mixture boosts RPMs, whereas a rich mixture decreases them.

Stale gasoline deposits are quite liable to block the carburetor jets through which the air and fuel pass. This, in turn, affects the air and fuel flow through the carburetor, due to which the mixture composition is disrupted, and the only way to restore performance is a carburetor tune-up.

● 2. Filters:

The air and fuel filters ensure that no foreign matter enters the air-fuel mixture when it is fed to the engine. The air filter captures air from the surrounding environment and filters dust particles. The accumulation of dust particles inhibits airflow and alters the composition of the airflow mixture over time. A similar event can occur if the fuel filter becomes clogged with debris due to gasoline deposits.

● 3. Spark Plug:

The electrodes are likely to become coated with ash and soot due to the mixture’s combustion. Furthermore, the electrodes tend to become oily as a result of a low fuel-to-oil mixing ratio. In these circumstances, they may not ignite, affecting the engine’s operation.

● 4. Chain:

The chain is the primary cutting element and is in charge of the main chainsaw operation. After the operation, the chain’s cutting teeth will likely become dull. The chain wears down fast, especially if it is exposed to dust. Chain sharpening and lubrication are essential maintenance practices that ensure a seamless cutting operation.

How do you Tune-Up a Chainsaw?

Tuning up a chainsaw is quite simple, and even if you are a beginner, you should be able to do it yourself rather than engaging a professional. Let’s look at the entire step-by-step approach to performing a chainsaw tune-up.

● Step 1: Get your tools:

Because you’ll be working with the entire chainsaw and its primary components, it’s best to have a complete set of tools on hand. Screwdrivers, an adjustable wrench, a shop rag, a feeler gauge, a carburetor cleaning liquid, and a flat file for chain sharpening should be included in your toolkit.

A conventional tune-up kit, which typically contains air and fuel filters, a spark plug, and 2-stroke engine oil, can be used if you need to replace certain parts. You can purchase such a kit online or from a local hardware store. A tune-up may take around an hour or even less if you’re an expert chainsaw user.

● Step 2: Examine the Spark Plug:

Begin with the simplest step, which is to inspect the spark plug. Before you begin, ensure that the engine is cold and that the chainsaw is on a flat surface. A socket wrench may be required to remove the spark plug. It’s typically present near the engine and visible from the top.

Before removing it, ensure that you detach the spark plug cable. Check the terminals of the plug after removing it to determine the degree of wear. Clean the electrodes with a dry cloth to remove any buildup. After cleaning, reinstall the plug.

– When should you change your spark plug?

Most users replace their spark plugs after every tune-up, which is unnecessary. Spark plugs may need to be replaced after 6 months if they have substantial wear, or they may continue for 6 years with no wear. The key is to use a feeler gauge to measure the spacing between the electrodes.

For chainsaw spark plugs, the gap should be 0.02 inches (or 0.5 mm). You can compare it to the thickness of a nail that is nearly the same width. If the gap is too big or too small, you should consider replacing your plug.

● Step 3: Check the Filters:

Following the examination of the spark plug, the next critical step is to ensure that the air and fuel filters are clean and dust-free. You may need to unscrew and remove the outer cover to gain access to the air filter. The filter is made of a plastic mesh. It should be thoroughly cleaned after removal.

In my opinion, the best approach to clean it is to scrape it first with a wire brush and then use soap and water to remove the debris completely. If the mesh or fabric becomes damaged after extensive use, it is preferable to replace the filter entirely.

The fuel filter is located in the fuel tank. It is good to drain all of the gasoline in your tank while replenishing it. Bring out the fuel filter linked at the inlet of the fuel line using a metal wire hooked at one end. Remove the filter with care and replace it with the same type.

– When should the filter be replaced?

If you’re a homeowner who rarely uses your chainsaw, try replacing the fuel filter once a year. They can easily survive 3 to 4 seasons in amateur use. However, the filter may need to be replaced once a month for professional use.

● Step 4: Clean your Carburetor:

This is most probably the most crucial step in chainsaw maintenance. Almost 90% of the time, cleaning or replacing the carburetor will fix a chainsaw engine that won’t start or bogs down after starting. Let’s go over the steps one by one:

  • Accessing the carburetor: Remove the externally mounted air filter cover to make sure the carburetor is visible. Unscrew the 8mm bolts to remove the complete filter assembly if it was not already removed in the previous step. With the unit removed, the carburetor assembly below is revealed. 
  • Remove the carburetor: Before removing the carburetor, disconnect the fuel line. Always make sure the tank is empty while doing this. Next, detach the throttle and choke links. Now, remove the carburetor entirely by pulling it out.
  • Clean the carburetor: Spray the carburetor’s jets and holes with carburetor cleaner liquid. If the cleaner fluid comes out of the other end, it shows that the hole is unclogged. A compressed air charge, if available, can help eliminate the blockages and completely service the carburetor.

● Step 5: Restore the Chain:

To ensure that the chain does its work properly, it must be sharpened and greased. This step is the same for all chainsaws, whether gasoline or electric. You may sharpen your chain by following this step-by-step guide:

  • Adjust the chainsaw bar: Before you start, it’s a good idea to adjust the chainsaw bar on a bench wise if available. Check that the bar’s thickness is fixed between the wise fixtures, with the cutting teeth visible from above. Furthermore, the chain should move in the bar’s groove while it is fixed.
  • File the teeth:  Press firmly on the upper surface of a cutter tooth at a 30-degree angle with the round file positioned in the file guide. Then, with firm pressure, drag it across the cutter. It is critical to note that the filing should only be done in one direction. The cutting teeth can get damaged if the file is moved back and forth repeatedly. After a few passes, repeat the operation on the remaining cutting teeth until they are all perfectly filed.
  • Adjust the depth gauges: Once the cutting teeth have been filed, the depth gauges must be adjusted to ensure that our cutting depth is not compromised. For this, use a flat-file and a depth gauge guide tool, and ensure that the top surface has been leveled according to the guide tool. Then, for the entire chain, repeat the process.

– Chain Lubrication:

A specific bar-and-chain oil is used in chainsaws to lubricate both the bar and the chain. Make sure the oil reservoir is full of this oil. Always use standard petroleum-based bar and chain oils from brands such as Husqvarna and Stihl.

As you’ve lubricated the bar and chain, it is also critical to clean the bar’s groove and the oil pores of any dirt. Take the chainsaw bar and slide a metal wire through its rails to remove all deposits. Pass the wire through the oil holes in the guide bar as well. The chain would be able to run freely in the groove after this cleaning.

How Do I Tune up My Stihl Chainsaw?

Tuning up a Stihl chainsaw includes inspecting the spark plug, cleaning or replacing the fuel filter, servicing the carburetor, and sharpening and lubricating the chain.

As described in the article, the tune-up approach for any gasoline chainsaw stays the same. The tune-ups are usually straightforward for battery-powered chainsaws as there aren’t any plugs, filters, or carburetors. When tuning a chainsaw, always begin with the easiest step and progress to the more complicated ones.

Begin your tune-up, for example, with the spark plug. After you’ve checked/replaced it, you can go to the air filter. The fuel filter can then be examined subsequently. The carburetor follows this, and then, towards the end, you can sharpen and grease your chain. Always ensure your chainsaw is tuned up at least once during every cutting season.