Chainsaw Oil Essentials

How To Manually Oil Chainsaw Chain? A Step-by-Step Guide

Maintaining your chainsaw is crucial for its performance and longevity, and one of the key aspects of this maintenance is the regular oiling of the chain. Whether you’re a seasoned professional or a DIY enthusiast, understand how to manually oil your chainsaw chain.

Not only is proper lubrication essential for cutting efficiency, but it also plays a critical role in your safety while using the chainsaw. We’ll cover everything from the types of oil best suited for your chainsaw to the common pitfalls to avoid during the oiling process. 

 In this guide, we’ll walk you through the process step-by-step, providing you with practical tips and insights to make this task as straightforward and effective as possible.

understanding chainsaw oil requirements


Different Types of Chainsaws and Their Oiling Needs

Chainsaws come in various types, each with unique features and oiling requirements. The two primary categories are electric (corded and cordless) and gas-powered chainsaws.

While electric chainsaws typically require less frequent oiling due to their design and usage patterns, gas-powered models demand more regular lubrication due to their higher power output and extensive use in demanding tasks.

Manual vs. Automatic Oiling Systems

Most modern chainsaws come equipped with an automatic oiling system that consistently lubricates the chain during operation.

However, understanding how to manually oil your chain is crucial, especially in scenarios where the automatic system might fail or when using older models without this feature. Manual oiling ensures that your chainsaw operates efficiently and remains in good condition, regardless of the built-in systems.

Tools and Materials Needed for Oiling a Chainsaw Chain

Embarking on the task of manually oiling your chainsaw chain requires not just knowledge but also the right set of tools and materials. Having these items at your disposal ensures that the oiling process is both effective and efficient. 

Essential Tools and Materials

Chainsaw Bar and Chain Oil: The cornerstone of this task is the right type of oil. Opt for a high-quality chainsaw bar and chain oil that’s designed to adhere to the chain, even under high-speed operation. This specialized oil reduces wear and keeps the chain moving smoothly.

Read: Can I Use Any Oil For Chainsaw Bar? 

Cleaning Brush and Rag: Before oiling, it’s important to clean the chainsaw chain and bar to remove any debris or residue. Use a soft-bristled brush for gentle cleaning and a rag for wiping down.

Funnel or Oil Dispenser: A funnel or a specialized oil dispenser helps in applying the oil evenly and precisely along the chain, minimizing spillage and wastage.

Gloves and Safety Gear: Always wear protective gloves when handling a chainsaw and its components. Additional safety gear, such as goggles, can protect your eyes from any splattering of oil or debris.

Chain Saw Wrench or Screwdriver (if necessary): Some chainsaw models might require loosening the chain before oiling. In such cases, a chainsaw wrench or a screwdriver compatible with your chainsaw model is essential.

Waste Oil Collector: To keep the environment clean, have a container ready to collect any waste oil or residue that drips off during the oiling process.

Preparing for the Task:

Before starting, make sure your chainsaw is turned off and cooled down. Lay out your tools and materials in a clean, well-lit workspace. This preparation is crucial for a smooth and safe oiling process.

Step-by-Step Guide to Manually Oiling Your Chainsaw Chain


Manually oiling your chainsaw chain is a vital maintenance task that ensures your tool operates efficiently and safely. This step-by-step guide will walk you through the process, focusing on precision and attention to detail.

Preparation Steps

  • Safety First:

Ensure the chainsaw is powered off and cool to the touch. Wear protective gloves and safety goggles to prevent any injuries.

  • Clean the Chainsaw:

Use a cleaning brush to gently remove debris from the chain and bar. Wipe them down with a rag to ensure they are free from dirt and oil residue.

Manual Oiling Process

  • Position the Chainsaw:

Secure the chainsaw on a stable surface. If your chainsaw has a guide bar, make sure it’s accessible.

  • Apply the Oil:

Take your chainsaw bar and chain oil and begin to apply it evenly along the length of the chain. Use a funnel or oil dispenser for precision. Ensure that the oil is applied to each link, focusing on the areas between the links and the guide bar.

  • Distribute the Oil Evenly:

Rotate the chain manually to ensure even distribution of the oil across the entire chain. This helps in lubricating all parts of the chain, reducing the risk of uneven wear.

  • Wipe Excess Oil:

After oiling, use a clean rag to gently wipe off any excess oil from the chain and the body of the chainsaw. This prevents any oil spillage during operation.

  • Check the Tension:

If you loosened the chain for oiling, re-tighten it to the manufacturer’s recommended tension.

  • Dispose of Waste Responsibly:

Collect and dispose of any waste oil or rags in accordance with local environmental regulations.

Post-Oiling Checks

Once you’ve completed the oiling process, it’s advisable to run the chainsaw for a few minutes to ensure the oil is properly distributed.

Regularly check the oil level and replenish it as needed to maintain optimal performance.

Troubleshooting Common Issues and Solutions

Even with regular maintenance, chainsaw users might encounter issues related to the oiling process. Understanding these common problems and knowing how to troubleshoot them can save time and prevent damage to your chainsaw.

1. Insufficient Oil Flow to the Chain

  • Symptoms: The chain appears dry, or there’s increased friction during cutting.
  • Solution: Check the oil reservoir to ensure it’s filled with the appropriate chainsaw bar and chain oil. Inspect the oil delivery system for any blockages or malfunctions. In manual systems, ensure you’re applying enough oil uniformly across the chain.

2. Oil Leaking from the Chainsaw

  • Symptoms: Excessive oil accumulating beneath the chainsaw when stored.
  • Solution: This is often due to overfilling the oil reservoir or a problem with the oil pump or seals. Ensure you’re using the right amount of oil and check the pump and seals for any signs of damage or wear.

3. Clogged Oil Ports

  • Symptoms: Reduced oil flow despite a full reservoir.
  • Solution: Clean the oil ports regularly. Use a fine wire or similar tool to clear any blockages in the ports, ensuring smooth oil flow.

4. Oil Viscosity Issues

  • Symptoms: Poor lubrication performance, especially in extreme temperatures.
  • Solution: Use the correct viscosity of oil for your operating conditions. Thinner oils are better for cold weather, while thicker oils are suitable for warmer conditions.

5. Excessive Wear on the Chain or Bar

  • Symptoms: Faster than normal wear patterns on the chain or bar.
  • Solution: Ensure consistent and adequate oil application. If manual oiling is insufficient, consider servicing your chainsaw’s automatic oiling system or consulting a professional.

Regular Maintenance Checks

  • Regularly inspect the chain and bar for signs of wear or damage.
  • Ensure that the oiling system is functioning correctly and the oil used is suitable for your chainsaw and operating conditions.

Maintenance Tips for Chainsaw Longevity

While understanding how to manually oil your chainsaw chain is fundamental, there are additional maintenance practices that can significantly extend the lifespan of your chainsaw.

1. Regular Cleaning

  • Importance: Keeping your chainsaw clean prevents the buildup of debris and sap, which can impede its function.
  • How-To: After each use, clean the chainsaw, focusing on the bar and chain. Use a soft brush and a rag to remove sawdust, dirt, and oil residue.

2. Sharpen the Chain Regularly

  • Importance: A sharp chain reduces the need for excessive force during cutting, which in turn puts less strain on the chainsaw.
  • How-To: Use a chainsaw file or a professional sharpening service to maintain the sharpness of your chain. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines on sharpening angles and frequency.

3. Check and Replace Worn Parts

  • Importance: Worn or damaged parts can reduce efficiency and pose safety risks.

4. Store Properly

  • Importance: Proper storage prevents rust and keeps the chainsaw in good condition.
  • How to store the chainsaw in a dry, clean place. Before storing for an extended period, drain the fuel and oil, and protect the chain and bar with a cover.

5. Follow the Manufacturer’s Guidelines

  • Importance: Adhering to the manufacturer’s instructions ensures that you’re using and maintaining the chainsaw as intended.
  • How-To: Always refer to the user manual for specific maintenance instructions and service intervals.

6. Regular Servicing

  • Importance: Professional servicing ensures that any underlying issues are identified and addressed.
  • How-To: Have your chainsaw serviced regularly by a qualified technician, especially if it’s used heavily or exhibits any performance issues.

Frequently asked question

How often should I manually oil my chainsaw chain?

The frequency depends on how often you use your chainsaw. For regular users, oiling before each use is recommended. If you use your chainsaw infrequently, oil the chain each time you plan to use it, ensuring it’s well-lubricated.

What are the signs of an under-lubricated chainsaw chain?

Signs include the chain appearing dry, difficulty in cutting, increased fuel consumption, and excessive wear on the bar and chain. Regular lubrication is key to preventing these issues.

Can over-oiling the chain cause any issues?

Excessive oiling can lead to oil leakage and wastage. It’s important to apply just enough oil to keep the chain lubricated without overdoing it.

Can I use motor oil for my chainsaw chain?

While motor oil can be a temporary solution, it’s not recommended for long-term use. Chainsaw-specific bar and chain oils are formulated to adhere to the chain better, providing optimal lubrication and protection.

How do you put oil in a chainsaw chain?

To put oil in a chainsaw chain, open the oil cap on the saw and pour chain oil into the reservoir. Make sure to use the correct type of oil for your saw.


Understanding how to manually oil your chainsaw chain is a crucial skill that enhances the performance and longevity of your tool. Through this guide, we’ve explored not only the step-by-step process of manual oiling but also delved into the broader context of chainsaw maintenance. Regular oiling, along with proper cleaning, sharpening, and servicing, forms the backbone of effective chainsaw care, ensuring that your equipment remains reliable and safe for every use.