Environmental, Health and Safety Services


Basic Tools

In addition to the the chain saw itself, the follow tools are necessary for proper maintenance.

  • Bar wrench - to adjust the chain tension on the saw. The chain should be kept as tight as you can get it while still turning freely.
  • Chain files - in the proper size to sharpen the cutters. The file tip will bend somewhat during use; however the base of the file is made of case-hardened steel and can shatter or splinter when broken. Always carry the files in a safe place, such as a tool pouch. Never place them in your pockets (pants or overalls).
  • Depth gauge - to assist with filing off the extra height on the "trailer" links of the chain. The gauge will help ensure that the height of the "cutter" is slightly higher than the "trailer" and thus allowing a better cut.

Types of Chains

There are two basic types of chains on the market.safety chain

  • Green label safety chains provide anti-kickback protection and are highly recommended.
  • Yellow label chains do not provide anti-kickback protection. Use with caution.

Excessive Wear

The chain links should be inspected for excessive wear periodically. Many brands of chains will have a wear line on the heal of the cutter links to indicate if enough metal is still present between the rivet and the edge to hold the chain on the bar. Once the link is worn beyond the wear line, the chain must be replaced.

  • It is not recommneded that chains be repaired.
  • It is not recommended that chains be shortened once they have been stretched beyond a safe limit.


Chains do not need to be drenched in oil! Pull the chain away from the bar and look for the presence of oil. If any oil is visible, it is enough - even though the top of the chain may appear dry. Most of the oil actually ends up going to the ground, which poses an environmental concern. The less oil you use, the less environmental impact created.

  • Use only bar and chain oil, which is attracted to friction. (Motor oil is designed to move away from friction, and is not effective on chains.)
  • Biodegradable oil is acceptable, but may be more costly.

Chain Bars

Chain bars are very sharp! Wear gloves when handling the bar to perform maintenance tasks. Chain bars wear from the inside (of the track) out. Dealerships can redress the bar at least twice, if necessary. As a rule of thumb, most bars will last through two chains before they need to be replaced due to excessive wear.

  • Remove the chain and inspect the bar to make sure it is straight.
  • Clean out the track of the chain bar.
  • Turn the chain bar over every time you take the chain off. This ensures even wear and tear on the bar and chain. Note: If the chain saw seems to be cutting crooked, turning the bar over may help correct the problem.

Air Filters

Chain saws process a huge amount of air when in operation. Dirty filters make the engine work harder and can reduce the life of the chain saw. Therefore, air filters should be kept as clean as possible at all times.

  • Remove the cover and shake the dust out of the filter.
  • If it is recommended by the manufacturer, wash the filter with soap and water and allow to air dry before reinstalling.