What Is Bar Oil for Chainsaws?

Written by keith allen
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What Is Bar Oil for Chainsaws?
Bar oil lubricates the chain and cutting bar for optimum saw operation. (Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Bar oil is the lubricant that keeps the chain moving smoothly around the bar of the saw. Chainsaws include an oil reservoir connected to a small hole in the bar. The oil flows through this hole, keeping the chain and bar oily and slippery. The proper use of bar oil extends the life of the chain and bar and increases the cutting power of the tool.

Light Oil

Oil that is too light flies off the chain without providing full lubrication. The centrifugal force of the chain motion as it goes around the end of the bar causes the oil to fly off the end of the bar. Test for this by running the saw with the end of the bar pointed at a clean surface. If oil accumulates, the bar oil is too light.

Heavy Oil

Heavy oil has just the opposite problem and won't flow through the outlets onto the bar and chain. This can occur in cold weather. Add kerosene or gasoline to the bar oil to lighten the oil and allow it to flow more freely. Monitor the amount of bar oil in the reservoir. If the oil is not going down, the oil may be too heavy for the current conditions.

Adjusting the Flow

Higher-end chainsaws have an adjustable flow for the bar oil system. This is another option to increase the flow of heavy oil. It will not help if the oil is too light and flying off the bar.

Bar Oil Benefits

The friction between a nonlubricated chain and bar decreases the speed and power of the chain and thereby decreases the energy available for cutting wood. That same friction also causes excessive wear to the chain and bar, shortening the life of both components of the saw. Broken chains can pose a safety threat to the operator. For the most efficient and safe long-term operation of the chainsaw, maintain its bar oil.

Bar Oil Specs

Bar oil formulas include petroleum- and soy-based products. In either case, the oil is high viscosity, which allows the oil to stay on the moving chain rather than flying off. Using 30-weight motor oil, either new or used from a crankcase, is not advised and can reduce the oil's effectiveness in protecting the chainsaw. Bar oil is formulated to maintain the same flow in all temperatures and not smoke at high temperatures.

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