Letter Re: The Importance of Chainsaw Spare Parts

I just wanted to throw this out there for general information. This past Saturday my neighbor was cutting some trees with his chainsaw. Not long after he started he was over to my house asking to borrow one of my chainsaws because he got his hung up in the tree.

I grabbed one of my three saw and went over to help him out. I figured he got his hung up I did not wish him to hang up mine also. After we got his cut out, I mentioned to him if he had a spare bar and chain for the saw, he could have very easily removed the drive engine from the bar and chain put on his spare and continued cutting. He was lucky I was at home and had a saw. I know when many people with chainsaws prepare. They pick up spare chains, oil, bar oil and such but hopefully they think ahead and also pick up a spare bar or two. – Tom in Virginia

JWR Replies: Having a spare bar (or better yet two) and a half dozen spare chains is indeed important. In addition those rare pinched bar situations, keep in mind that bars can get bent, chain guide grooves can get distorted, and tip rollers can wear out. (Or burn out, if you forget to check your bar lube oil reservoir consistently.) If you run a saw a lot, at some point you will need to bolt on a spare bar.

If and when you ever do have to extricate a bar that has been pinched, it calls for great caution. A bar is usually pinched when a tree is in a precarious position-often when a tree has a rotten core, so the trunk has shifted in a unexpected way. So use extreme caution. and work only from a side where the tree won’t fall. Also, if you need to cut out a pinched bar, work very slowly and exactingly, to make room for plastic or hardwood felling wedges. You should have at least three felling wedges. And of course never use steel wedges for felling! When making a cut toward a pinched bar, go slowly and conservatively, or you will end up with two destroyed chains and two destroyed bars and the potential to throw shrapnel. Again, your goal is to make room for a wedge that you’ll drive in enough to free the bar. Lastly and most importantly: Never fell trees when it is windy and be sure to keep you eyes up very frequently, watching for any signs of the tree tilting, so that you can make a hasty exit. Leave yourself a couple of clear escape paths and if need be, drop your saw to speed your escape. The saw is replaceable, but you are not.