Keep Your Chainsaw Purring Like a Kitten–Part 2

As promised, here is part two of our article on chainsaw maintenance Q&A.  (For part one, click here.) We’re returning with Tim Phillips, gold-star tech and all-around Stihl guru. By the way, if you have a question about your chainsaw that isn’t covered in these two articles, Tim has generously offered to help. Email him with your questions at And if you have a twitter account, give him a follow! His twitter handle is @detourkid1. And now, back to the chainsaw stuff:

Questions #3:  What’s the proper procedure for sharpening my chain? Do you have a favorite method/ tips/tricks to make it easier?

Tim: “Sharpening the chain. Stihl sells a sharpening guide that has a plate that holds the file and gives you the correct angles (30 degrees). To sharpen a chain correctly you should also take down the raker. You can buy a raker guage and a flat file to do this. The raker gauges come in different sizes depending on what kind of wood you are cutting and how big the saw is you are using. Gages come in .025 to .050.

My tip is when you have to push down on the saw, or when you see sawdust instead of chips, it’s time to stop and sharpen the chain. I also recommend sharpening it a couple of times and then take it to a saw shop and let them sharpen it. Then look at what looks different from what you are doing.

There are different kinds of chain.  When you buy a chain, ask for round file chisel chain. What that means is that the cutter is flat on top, and flat on the side. It gives you a sharp point. (There is also round round, and the cutter in that one has a round edge, versus the point.)”



Note to readers.

If you are wondering about the cutter teeth on a saw chain, feel free to drop Tim a line. You can also click on this link for a great explanation from Madsen’s Shop & Supply.


Question #4: How do you clean the air cleaner?  Any tips or tricks that might make it easier?

Tim: “Ok air filter can be cleaned with an air hose but no 90 psi it can blow the air filter apart..You can also use a old paint brush ..My favorite way is to soak it simple green or some kind of liquid cleaner and let it soak for a couple minutes and then rinse ..If you use water and soap just make sure it is dry before you reinstall or the moisture goes in the engine..Ok no matter what way you clean your air filter always blow or wash the dirt outward so it’s not being pushed thru the filter..”

Question #5:   Are the above procedures usable for most chainsaws, or does each brand vary too much?

Tim: “The procedures are the same for most saws but some manufactures make you buy there special tool to adjust the carbs ..You can buy a 5 piece tool kit that gives you all the screw drivers to fit the carb adjusters..”

Question # 6:   If you couldn’t use a Stihl, what is your second and third choice?

Tim: “Ok yes Stihl is my first choice ..Then Husky or Echo would be my next choices..I tell my customers they are all good saws if you take care of them ..Stihl is the number one seller world wide .!!!

“I would say buy a saw from the dealer in your area.  Buying a saw from Home depot or Bi-mart or home repair store isn’t a great idea due to when it breaks  nobody has parts for it and they don’t fix them if you have a Stihl store in your town buy Stihl..if you have a Husqvara dealer or Echo dealer buy there and build a relationship with them…..

“Some of my favorite Stihl saws are the MS250 with 18-inch bar. As far as big saws I like the MS460R or MS461R.

“I own a MS 261cm..I don’t burn firewood at home. An 18-inch bar is big enough for me because I mostly use it for camping and hunting.

“Any of the saws from Stihl are the best if taken care of. They have some easy start models that make it easy to pull the rope and real easy to start ..check out the MS211cbe or the MS251CBE for that style.

“They also have computer controlled carbs and ignition models ..what they do is every time you change elevation they reset the carb for you–MS261CM or the MS362CM.

You mentioned to me in an email that you wanted to talk briefly about fuels and oils.

Tim: “Today there are many types of 2-stroke oils. I recommend using the Stihl HP Ultra ..

“Why? Because is a premium quality, fully synthetic engine oil that’s formulated to meet the high temperature operating conditions of today’s technically advanced power tools..with great lubicration.

“Some multi-purpose oils are also designed for water-cooled engines; they will have TCW listed on the bottle stay away from these. Saws are air-cooled. So if it shows a boat motor and saws on the bottle stay away.

“Buy an oil that meets JASO rating..Yes it’s more money but why save 5 bucks on oil but burn up your saw?

Today’s fuel—

“Today’s modern fuels contain ethanol. Ethanol attracts and absorbs water…ethanol loses its volatility (evaporates) much faster .

“Gasoline left in a small engine should be considered stale and worthless 30 days after purchase. Due to this NO manufacture will warranty any fuel system-related issues..

“I recommend non-ethanol ..If you can’t find non ethanol then buy what you can use up in 30 days. 90 % of the equipment that comes in for repairs has bad fuel ..and that’s what caused them the problems.”

That’s it for the q&a on maintaining your chainsaw.

What do you think? Pretty good advice, hey? If you have any questions related to your chainsaw that isn’t covered in these articles, Tim is more than willing to help you. As mentioned at the start of the article, you can drop him a line with your question at this email: And it bears repeating that if you have a Twitter account, follow him at @detourkid1

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