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How to Tune Up a Chainsaw

By Eric Blankenburg ; Updated September 21, 2017
To keep your chainsaw at peak levels, perform a tune-up at least once a season.

Tuning up your chainsaw will drastically improve its performance and power. So much so that it may almost feel like new, especially if it hasn’t been tuned up in several years. Tune-ups will also provide an excellent opportunity to visually inspect the chainsaw for damage and loose parts. Once spotted, these repairs can be done promptly before they cause larger problems in more expensive areas of the engine. When tuning up your chainsaw, always be looking out for signs of damage.

Clean off the entire outer bar, including the bar and chain, with the brush. Wipe off all the excess sawdust, dirt and oil with the rag. Get the outside as clean as possible. Unscrew the bar nuts with the wrench. Take the tension off the chain with the screwdriver. Turn the bar tensioner screw counterclockwise until it can no longer be rotated. Take off the bar, chain and bar cover.

Brush the bar cover and area around the clutch. Wipe it off with the rag. Take the chain off the bar. Run the tip of the knife along both slots in the guide bar. Clean out any compacted oil and sawdust. Clean out the bar oiler holes at the base of the bar. Wipe the bar with the rag.

Inspect the bar for dents, warping or other damage. Run a fingernail along the four edges of the guide bar. Look for burrs or other upward marks. Pass the flat file to smooth down any burrs. Flip the bar over so the next time you put it on the bottom will now be the top.

Undo the top cylinder cover with the screwdriver. Unhook the air filter from its mounting post. Wash the air filter in the detergent and warm water. Let it dry for at least four hours before reusing it. Replace the filter if it can’t be washed off.

Unhook the spark plug wire’s rubber boot from the spark plug. Unscrew the spark plug and remove it from the cylinder. Inspect the metal electrode gap and tip. Replace the spark plug if it’s black or dirty. Wipe down the area around the air filter, carburetor and cylinder with the rag. Brush off any stuck material.

Open up the fuel tank and let all of the contents pour into the approved fuel container. Pour 1 to 2 tbsp. of clean gasoline into the tank. Swirl it around in the tank for 10 seconds and pour it out. Scrub the inner walls of the tank with the rag and brush.

Pull the fuel filter up using the metal hook. Pull off the fuel filter with the needle-nose pliers. Throw the filter away if it’s dirty or older than one season. Push the new fuel filter’s nozzle into the gas line. Set it down in the bottom of the tank.

Set the choke to its half-open setting. Start the chainsaw. Spray in a second blast of carburetor cleaner into the open carburetor neck as soon as the engine pops and fires. Allow the engine to burn off the carburetor cleaner before using. Reassemble all other parts and fill with new fuel.


Things You Will Need

  • Brush
  • Rag
  • Wrench
  • Screwdriver
  • Knife
  • Detergent
  • Warm water
  • Socket wrench
  • New spark plug (if necessary)
  • Approved fuel container
  • Clean gasoline
  • Metal hook
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • New fuel filter
  • Carburetor cleaner
  • Freshly mixed chainsaw fuel

About the Author


Currently based in Minneapolis, Minn., Eric Blankenburg has been a freelance journalist since 2000. His articles have appeared in "Outside Missoula, Outside Bozeman," "Hello Chengdu" and online at GoNomad.com and various other websites. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from the University of Montana.