Tips for Chainsaw Repair

Stihl's 066 Chainsaw with a 32" bar.

Chainsaw Repair Tip: Periodically stop your chainsaw when cutting and clean behind the chain and sprocket cover on your chainsaw and keep the air filter clean!

Chainsaws and woodturners are like bread and butter, they just naturally go together. One of the first tools I purchased when I opened my studio was a Stihl 026 petrol chainsaw (18” bar). I still have that little bad boy and it is one sweet saw for small and mid-range cutting. It has lots of torque and is a great all around saw for woodturning.

Once I began to get into working larger logs, I purchased a Stihl 066 petrol chainsaw (32” bar). My “Boss Hog” 066 will do a day’s work and then some… Spend eight hours bucking logs with an 066 and you will wish your forearms were the size of Popeye the Sailor Man!

Not long after my 066 was purchased, I acquired a Stihl E-220 electric chainsaw for using inside my studio. All three of these chainsaws have been indispensable to me for processing my green wood logs and crotches. For them to run efficiently though, you have to keep them well maintained, just like any other piece of equipment that sees lots of hard, heavy use.

The chain and sprocket cover on this 066 chainsaw
is located just behind the bucking spurs.

Chainsaw Repair Tip: Two things I learned early on were that I needed to stop periodically and make sure the oil lubrication passages were clear and that the air filter was not clogged with shavings and dust. When you’re cutting logs, you are creating not only shavings, but some dust as well. Occasionally, a pesky shaving can become lodged in an oil lubrication port and reduce the oil that gets to the bar.

Stihl 066 with bar cover removed.

Chainsaw Repair Tip: The area around the end of the bar and the
sprocket can easily become clogged with shavings and
oily sawdust and should be periodically cleaned when cutting.

To make sure the oil ports are clear, I periodically inspect behind the chain/sprocket cover and clear out any accumulated shavings/oil saturated dust. This ensures that the bar receives the correct amount of lubrication during cutting. It’s easy to check this periodically when you stop to refill the bar oil, or the petrol tank. You’re already stopped, so it’s a perfect time to make sure everything is A-OK behind the chain cover as well.

Air filter on a Stihl 026

The other area I always check is the air filter. Chainsaws draw a lot of air during cutting and the surface of the air filter can become clogged with oily sawdust in short order. If you keep cutting with a saw that has a clogged filter, it will eventually start bogging down and your cutting speed will be reduced.

Chainsaw Repair Tip: I make it a habit to carry a small brush with me when cutting in remote locations, so I can clean the face of the air filter off as needed. I also carry a spare air filter that’s clean and ready to go, just in case I want to change it out in the field. This practice has saved my bacon many times in the field.

 Stihl 066 air filter is shown
here without the air filter cover.

Chainsaw Repair Tip: Always carry several sharpened chains with you, just in case. You never know when you’ll hit a rock, cut through some dirty bark, or hit some other type of foreign object in your logs as you’re bucking them down. I typically carry at least six spare sharpened chains with me in my chainsaw accessories bag. Unless you’re doing a lot of cutting, I would carry at least one or two extra chains. It’s not fun having to resharpen often in the field!


Safety Note: Always follow all manufacturers safety instructions before working with your lathe, or any of the tools or products you may use. If you are unsure about any operation, obtain competent professional instruction before proceeding. Use and wear all necessary safety devices during turning and observe safe woodturning practices to prevent accident or injury.


Steven D. Russell is a professional studio woodturner, teacher and writer. He has written numerous articles for international woodturning magazines, which have been published in more than 78 countries around the world. Steve has demonstrated in numerous cities across the United States. His studio, Eurowood Werks, specializes in bowls, platters and hollow forms with unique visual and tactile treatments.

Steve is also the current and founding President of the Lone Star Woodturners Association, Inc., an AAW member chapter. The LSWA is a 501(c)3 non-profit educational organization dedicated to teaching and demonstrating the art and craft of woodturning.

Steve is also a featured writer for the Guild of Master Craftsman's "Woodturning" magazine, published in London England. Woodturning magazine is the world's leading magazine for woodturners. Look for his articles covering technical topics, or project based articles in an upcoming issue.