Are you headed to the woods to do some management activities? Maybe a thinning? Then make sure your chainsaw is as ready as you are. Chainsaw inspection and maintenance are critical to its mechanical integrity and safety. The following checklist is designed to help you operate your chainsaw properly.

  • Make sure fasteners on your chainsaw are snug.
  • Check the antivibration system and ensure the buffers are in place and not worn, broken or damaged.
  • Check your air filter often. If your filter is dirty, clean the filter according to manufacturer directions or replace the filter.
  • Check the chain on your saw when on idle. If the chain moves when the saw is idling, adjust the saws idle using the proper adjustment screw on the carburetor.
  • Check your muffler and spark arrestor according to you saw’s maintenance schedule.
  • Inspect the bar, chain and sprocket frequently. Remember: install a new sprocket after every two chains wear out.
  • Keep your saw chain sharp. File the chain with a few light strokes on each tooth using a file and guide each time your refuel, even if you think the chain is already sharp.
  • Replace worn, cracked or damaged chains immediately.
  • Check and maintain your bar. Inspect the guide bar body, grooves and rails for damage, wear and debris. Repair minor nicks with a flat file.
  • When reinstalling your guide bar, always place the bar with the opposite side up from when you last took it off.
  • Finally, check your chain brake to make sure it engages and disengages appropriately.

Most owner’s manuals feature a chart detailing the maintenance you should perform and at what intervals. If you are unable to perform any of these functions, return your chain saw to an authorized dealer for inspection and maintenance.

Additional chain saw resources

The following MU Forestry Extension guides relating to chain saw safety are available online and as downloadable PDFs:

In addition, STIHL has an excellent video on chain saw safety, maintenance and operation available online at It your prefer a DVD, you can order one for $4.99 plus shipping by calling STIHL at 800-732-0054.