How to Lubricate a Chainsaw With Oil

Unless you understand both types of chainsaw oil and how to use them, your chainsaw won't work properly for long. Here's what you need to know.

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Next Project

A few hours






Chainsaws are great tools for many different wood cutting projects. Felling trees, trimming branches and cutting posts and rails for fences are just a few things for which I regularly use my chainsaw. Part of responsible chainsaw ownership involves caring for and maintaining your saw, and much of this comes down to oil.

To run properly, all chainsaws need two types of oil for different jobs. The first is engine oil. The chainsaw shown here has a two-stroke engine, so it needs two-stroke engine oil mixed with the fuel to help cool and lubricate the moving parts inside the motor.

The second type of oil, called bar and chain oil, is for lubricating the chain as it cuts. Choosing the correct oils for these two jobs and adding them to the tool correctly is crucial to the performance and longevity of your chainsaw.

Tools Required

  • 2-part divided gas can
  • Chainsaw
  • Slot-head screwdriver
  • Socket wrench set

Materials Required

  • 2-stroke motor oil for air-cooled engines
  • Medium grade bar and chain oil
  • Premium gasoline

Project step-by-step (6)

Step 1

Remove Chain Guard

  • Determine what size of socket you need to loosen the two nuts securing your chainsaw’s guard over the chain and bar.
  • Loosen and remove these nuts, setting them aside where you won’t lose them.
  • Slide the plastic chain guard off the bolts and set it to one side.

1 Remove GuardFamily Handyman

Step 2

Clean Inside the Saw

  • Use your slot-head screwdriver to carefully scrape away all the oily sawdust and dirt that’s built up around the bar and chain. Be thorough.
  • Turn the plastic saw guard over so you can see the inside face. Use your screwdriver to remove the dirt and gunk from all the nooks and crannies of the guard.

2 Clean InsideFamily Handyman