Small Woodland Owners' Group

Chain saw oil

A place to discuss or review of tools and equipment, how to look after them, handy hints for using them.

Chain saw oil

Postby Patandsam » Thu Jul 10, 2014 8:00 am

We finally got a chain saw at a auction but it has no instructions or chain. It goes fine but we havent used it because it still needs a chain which we can get of Ebay. Can someone explain for dummies about oil. It seems there are three different ones and a guy at the auction said they need two different oils, one goes somewhere in the motor. We only seem to have one oil container on it for oil and cant see any sort of hole where you would squirt more in the motor. Do they need two oils and as theres only one container are you supposed to mix them together? There is chainsaw oil, biological oil and another sort called fifty to one. If we only have one oil container which should we use please, or do you mix them up. If its best we would prefer the biological one as it seems to be natural.

Re: Chain saw oil

Postby SimonFisher » Thu Jul 10, 2014 8:43 am

Your chainsaw needs oil which lubricates the engine and oil which lubricates the chain. They are different.

Unlike a typical car engine which has a reservoir of oil to lubricate the engine, your chainsaw doesn't and so needs to have a small amount of oil mixed into the fuel (petrol). The ratio is typically 50:1 (one part oil to fifty parts fuel). I guess most people get their chainsaw fuel as unleaded petrol from a filling station forecourt. To the petrol you add the required amount of the fifty to one oil and keep that ready to use in your chainsaw. You put this petrol/oil mix in into the fuel tank of your chainsaw. I'd guess that if you were to put neat petrol in, your chainsaw engine will overheat and seize due to lack of lubrication. On my chainsaw (a Stihl MS 260), the tank for fuel/oil mix is at the back of the chainsaw and has a symbol showing 'fuel pump + oil drop'. I actually use alkylate fuel (brand name Aspen, see which I buy pre-mixed with oil (comes in a red container). Alkylate/Aspen has the advantage that it doesn't go off like regular unleaded petrol does so you don't have to be concerned about leaving stale fuel in your chainsaw. It also gives off less fumes when working with the chainsaw. Search for 'alkylate' and 'aspen' on the forum to see other posts about it.

Separate to the oil for the engine, the chain of a chainsaw needs to be continually oiled as it is used. Your chainsaw should have a separate tank into which you put chain oil (whether bio or not). Whenever the engine is running and the chain moving, the chainsaw will dispense oil directly onto the chain. Without this oil, your chain will very quickly seize. On my chainsaw the tank for chain oil is at the front of the chainsaw and (I think) has a 'chain' symbol. I use Stihl BioPlus chain oil which is vegetable based so hopefully better from the enviromnent. Remember all of the chain oil ultimately ends up on the wood you're cutting or the surroundings. Some people will tell you that it's ok to use old engine oil or old chip fat. I wouldn't. That chain is running at high speed and I'd rather have a lubrication which has been properly formulated for the intended purpose. A chain snapping at high speed probably isn't a nice thing to experience.

The fuel and chain-oil tanks should be sized such that the fuel will always run out before the chain-oil does. Good practice is that you always fill the chain-oil tank before you fill the fuel tank. That way you should never have the problem of continuing to run the chainsaw having run out of oil.

You can get twin-compartment containers so you can keep your chain oil and your fuel (pre-mixed with oil for the engine) in one handy bit of kit. You can also get easy-fill nozzles (Stihl fuel-filling system and Stihl oil-filling system) which mean it's easy to fill your saw with fuel and oil quickly and without spillage. See
Posts: 614
Joined: Sun Mar 30, 2008 5:00 pm

Re: Chain saw oil

Postby SimonFisher » Thu Jul 10, 2014 8:47 am

The other thing I'd mention is that if you go on a decent course, you'll have all of this explained to you as well as showing you how to carry out appropriate cleaning, maintenance and sharpening of the chainsaw, bar, and chain.
Posts: 614
Joined: Sun Mar 30, 2008 5:00 pm

Re: Chain saw oil

Postby Patandsam » Thu Jul 10, 2014 9:24 am

So if its an electric saw you just need to put one sort of oil in the oil tank for the chain and not worry about engine oil ? Can you use ordinary fresh vegetable oil like corn or sunflower, we buy it in bulk anyway. Its a 14 Inch Makita. I'm not sure if you need to go on a course if it is an electric saw, we would probably be laughed at because its not a 'proper' petrol chainsaw and they may not have power where the course is held. We also bought a job lot of extension leads for £20 at the same auction so should be able to stretch to about 200 metres. It is a lot quieter than a petrol one and seemed a bargain at £14.

Re: Chain saw oil

Postby SimonFisher » Thu Jul 10, 2014 10:01 am

An electric chainsaw will have an electric motor which does not need lubrication. Your chain will still need chain oil.

As well as my Stihl MS 260 petrol chainsaw, I also have a Makita 18-volt cordless 6-inch chainsaw. I use Stihl BioPlus oil in both. Using vegetable oil intended for cooking or culinary use may not give the appropriate level of lubrication and cause premature wear of the chain, bar and possibly place increased load on the chainsaw.

You may wish to consider whether you have appropriate power isolation protection in place in the event that your power supply cable(s) becomes cut or damaged.

What sort of work are you intending to do?
Posts: 614
Joined: Sun Mar 30, 2008 5:00 pm

Re: Chain saw oil

Postby Dexter's Shed » Thu Jul 10, 2014 11:08 am

did this one come with a silencer, so as not to annoy your guests, although without a chain, that's already reducing the noise it makes :lol:
Dexter's Shed
Posts: 748
Joined: Thu Aug 15, 2013 5:29 pm
Location: essex and kent

Re: Chain saw oil

Postby The Barrowers » Thu Jul 10, 2014 2:13 pm

Course or No Course
Electric or Petrol
A fast revolving chain (when fitted) still cuts legs off
B and T
The Barrowers
The Barrowers
Posts: 333
Joined: Sat Apr 25, 2009 5:51 pm

Re: Chain saw oil

Postby Patandsam » Thu Jul 10, 2014 9:20 pm

Thank you for the advice Simon. We will use it mainly to make paths through the Rhododendrons and chop any already fallen trees lying across the chosen route. None of them seem more than about a foot across. It is a lot quieter than a petrol one and being less powerful we hope not as dangerous. You would have to be rather determined to take your leg off, the power cuts out as soon as you let go so the worst you could do is a nasty cut. We will wear proper headgear, gloves and decent boots. I dont think they would have us on a saftey course as its only a small electric saw but we will watch as many videos online as we can and have already seen the one on woodlandsTV about sharpening.

Wish us luck.

Re: Chain saw oil

Postby Terry » Sun Jul 13, 2014 2:13 pm

The electric saw certainly seems to be a good solution in your situation.

Do look into the potential dangers of chainsaw use and how to use it properly - being electric or indeed 'less' powerful does not reduce the dangers. It is designed to cut materials far tougher than soft human flesh.
Whether you do a course or educate yourself via the web is up to you (as long as your guests are well clear)- I have seen properly ticketed professionals do serious damage and self educated amateurs do excellent work - just apply a healthy dose of common sense and a shovel full of caution with chain saws.
Knowing the dangers and how to avoid them make a chainsaw a very useful, effective and safe tool.

Consider some chain saw trousers as well by the way - I believe legs are the favourite chainsaw snack.

On a practical note - make sure you get the correct bar/chain/sprocket combination - odd how many people get this wrong
Posts: 134
Joined: Mon Jul 16, 2012 9:29 pm
Location: Forest of Dean

Re: Chain saw oil

Postby oldclaypaws » Sun Jul 13, 2014 3:14 pm

Anyone unfamiliar with chainsaws, even those using small electric ones at home should read basic advice on using them, I've known someone become permanently disabled by trying to be butch with one, making a fundamental error and coming severely unstuck. It wasnt the saw did the damage, but the tree and cutting it the wrong way. Stihl's manual's open with some simple rules, have a look at any;

Dangers to look out for that you may be unaware of are;

Leaning trees; these are the hardest to deal with. Look for the likely compression points, if they spring up in a direction you haven't anticipated they can really fly back at you and cause major damage. Also think carefully where they are likely to fall, they can go sideways as well as down.

Escape routes; once a cut tree starts to move, whether its standing, leaning or on the ground you want to be well out of the way, and have your path away from the tree clear. Dont clamber over debris to get to the tree, get rid of it all first so the work area is clear.

Wear the vizor down. A small twig flying back at you at speed could take out your eye. Watch out for old wire, if the saw hits it, it can snag, kick back and fly at you. Try to stand at the side of the blade rather than directly behind it, or it can fly up and catch you. Always contact the tree with the edge of the chain bar, not the tip, again that can make it fly back.

Avoid contact with debris on the ground which can fly back and give you a painful whack, and dont touch the soil, it'll rapidly blunt the saw.

Watch out for roots which you can trip over. A good footing is essential.

Always have a mobile in your pocket.

Sure you want to try this without training?
Posts: 1132
Joined: Mon Sep 02, 2013 5:13 pm


Return to Tools & Equipment - reviews, use and maintenance

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests