Does A Chainsaw Need To Warm Up?

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When it comes to using chainsaws, many things always race through the mind of a woodworker. Definitively, a chainsaw is a typical machine/tool with a set of teeth that rotate around edges of a blade. The result is a powerful wood cutting action. You should, however, note that the mode of operating these machines varies depending on whether you have a gasoline-powered or electrical chainsaw. Moreover, depending on your needs, uses of chainsaws vary from place to place and from one woodworker to another. However, a question most woodworkers have been asking on homesteading forums:

Does a chainsaw need warm-up? 

There is a difference between gas chainsaws and electric chainsaws. The gas engine in a gas chainsaw should warm up, but due to the small size of the engine, this will happen quickly. Normally the engine will run for a short time after startup before you really start using it, giving the oil enough time to warm up and lubricate all engine parts. An electric chainsaw does not need to warm up.

Does A Chainsaw Need To Warm Up? 1
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While some people consider warming up chainsaws unnecessary, we would say, the merits of doing so outweigh the disadvantages. Whether you are a first-time chainsaw owner, veteran lumber or a handyman, this post is for you. There are many things you may not know about warming up chainsaws, so dive in with us as we explore this topic bit by bit.

What Is Chainsaw Warm Up And Why It Is Necessary?

Let’s start by indicating that ensuring your chainsaw remains in great working condition is not always about changing oil very often or cleaning it after every use. There are technical aspects of using chainsaws that every woodworker should know. Take, for example, warming up chainsaws. You may be learning about it for the first time hence the need to explore further and why sometimes warming up your wood ripping tool is the best thing to do.

Chainsaw warm-up is briefly starting the machine and letting the engine/motor run for a few seconds. Whether you have one from Husqvarna, STIHL, Craftsman or Echo, every woodworker would want to have a great sawing day with their tool. Now, on answering why chainsaw warm-up is necessary, we would say it is to get the engine fired up and lubricated before you start working. It is also noteworthy that warming up engines for a minute makes them run smoothly at full throttle. It is something you wouldn’t realize with cold-starting. When you warm up the engine, it also ensures air and fuel mix in the right ratio at a constant temperature.

Cold-Starting Vs. Warm-Starting Your Chainsaw

A question of how to start a chainsaw engine is always common, especially first-time users learning about chainsaw warm-up for the first time. With this, the issue of cold starting and warm starting comes to mind. Let’s explore the two concepts separately.

Cold Engine Start

While the procedure for starting chainsaw engines may vary slightly from one model to another, you should always activate the chain brake for the best start. The risk with not activating the chain brake is that the chain would begin to rotate. It is something you wouldn’t want to happen at this stage, especially because you will not have sawing wood. Now, when it comes to cold engine start, we recommend doing the following:

  • Start by activating the chain brake so that the chains do not rotate as soon as you power on the machine, because you are not ready and set to start sawing at this point.
  • You should press a decompression control button, especially if your chainsaw model has it.
  • Now, go right ahead and activate the choke. For models that have a fuel pump or air purge, press it until there is fuel inside and consequently in the carburetor.
  • The next step is pulling a starter handle. Use your most dominant hand to do so until the engine ignites.
  • Go half-throttle by pushing the choke. Your chainsaw should start at this point. Accelerating the chainsaw becomes the next step and the aim is to have the engine idle for a few minutes before releasing the brake.

When starting a chainsaw, we emphasize putting it on the ground. Your right foot should be on the rear handle even as you establish a firm grip on the right handle using your left hand. Alternatively, you can position it between your legs. In the latter case, you should firmly hold the front handle using your left hand and the rear handle positioned between your thighs.

Warm (Hot) Starting Chainsaws

Warm starting a chainsaw boils down to doing so when the engine is hot. While the procedure is the same as cold starting, skip everything to do with the choke. In case of a difficult start, we recommend warm starting the engine at half-throttle. But first, you must activate the choke because it is the only way to throttling it halfway.

M-Tronic Technology and Why It Is Important In Chainsaw Engine Warm-Up

Chainsaw manufacturers have embraced technology to give woodworkers excellent performance with different chainsaw brands. In particular, M-Tronic technology used by STIHL perfectly demonstrates how to bypass problems with cold starting. It factors in the status of your machine and surrounding environmental conditions for optimal engine performance. With M-Tronic technology, you don’t have to worry about adjusting the level of fuel in the carburetor to realize an ideal mix with air. Everything is automatic.

Using Your Chainsaw in Cold Weather

Warming up your chainsaw is not only necessary after storing it for several months but also if you live in regions experiencing low temperatures. In cold weather conditions, you may have to do it occasionally. Using your machine in cold conditions is, therefore, not going to be easy until you learn about the right things to do for it to function optimally. If your chainsaw does not get cranky hence fails to cut properly through the wood grain, its sprockets will be filled with cold wood chips. In the latter case, the chains would stop turning, a phenomenon that will grind your workday to a halt.

Here are a few tips that will ensure your chainsaw remains in optimal working condition during winter:

  • For chainsaws that have a carburetor shutter, switch it to winter mode.
  • Clean the machine by removing wood chips on the sprocket cover and chain sprockets. You should also check the groove for rigorous cleaning.
  • Clean the air filter. You may want to install a new spark plug for an easy start and warm-up.
  • Always use winter-grade oil but first, drain used oil and the bar. Winter-grade oil is usually thinner. If you cannot find one in your local shop, we recommend adding diesel or kerosene to the oil. Take caution to use only about 5 percent or at most 10 percent of diesel/kerosene.
  • Because cutting wood in freezing conditions is often difficult, you should also sharpen the chain beforehand. Most importantly, have a spare chain just in case the original one snaps in the process of cutting wood. Experts recommend decreasing chain filing angle by 5 degrees to reduce vibration as well as minimize wear and tear.
  • In extremely cold temperatures, a carbide-grade chain should help you realize a clean cut with great ease. The catch here is that carbide-tipped chains are strong enough to withstand frozen wood grain.
  • You should also ensure fuel and air in the carburetor mix in the right proportion before warming up your chainsaw. For the best outcome, keep the warm-up temperature constant.

Final Thoughts

In the end, every woodworker wants to do their best when sawing wood. Whether you need firewood for warming your home during winter or you are into commercial lumbering, ensuring your machine remains in great working condition should be at the top of your priority list during winter.

You should also note that depending on the model of your chainsaw, the mode of operating it may slightly differ. Take, for example, M-Tronic technology that STIHL employs to ensure its products deliver excellent performance throughout the year. If that is the case, you wouldn’t have to worry about warming up your machine a bit. Everything is ready and set up for you.

In a nutshell, every experienced woodworker agrees that chainsaw warm-up is necessary. It is especially necessary if you have stored the machine for several weeks or months on end. Something even more noteworthy is that using these machines without warming them a bit during winter will be the beginning of troubles. When temperatures fall below freezing point, sawing/cutting wood can be a rather difficult experience. However, when you factor in tips for using your chainsaw in such conditions, everything should be a breeze.