Should you be flipping the chainsaw bar? [Answered]

Should you be flipping the chainsaw bar?

Well, you’ve come to the right place because that’s exactly what I’ll be going over in this post.

So let’s get straight into this!

Why should you flip the chainsaw bar upside down?

Cutting with a chainsaw utilizes different sections of the bar. For large logs, we tend to use the bumper spikes to lever the chain through the wood and so we are cutting close to the motor.

When pruning we tend to use the end of the bar as we stretch to reach the limbs of the tree and then the third area is on top of the bar when there is the chance of the wood pinching the bar as the branch of the trunk begins to fall. 

The idea behind flipping the bar is to spread the wearing areas of the bar so that the bar not only lasts twice as long, but it also ensures a safer operation of the saw.

Chainsaw bars are designed to be used in both positions. Essential to the efficient operation of the saw is the supply of chain oil to the track in the bar. Bars have two chain oil holes to allow the required lubrication no matter which way the bar is attached to the saw.

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How often should I flip my chainsaw bar?

If you sharpen your own chainsaw using a file, chances are that you will flip the bar less often than those operators who have their chainsaws ground.

The reason for this is that there is no need to remove the chain from the saw when sharpening the chain with a file, whereas people who get their chains ground must remove the chain and consequently the bar. 

If you are going to make flipping the bar a regular maintenance activity, then there must be a pattern to your schedule.

Are you going to flip every time the chain gets sharpened or perhaps every second time and if you are anything like me you are not going to remember if you did it the last time or not so my suggested rule is that you flip the bar every time you clean the saw.

That means taking off the bar and cleaning the sprocket area and the oil access holes. It would make sense to flip the bar once everything has been cleaned because you will also need to clean the track in the bar. It might be that the bar is going to be flipped a little more than necessary, but no damage can result from this.

How do I flip the bar?

Flipping the bar is a fairly simple process and only requires the spanner normally supplied with the saw and a screwdriver. Begin by reducing the tension on the chain using a screwdriver and turning the adjustment screw in an anticlockwise direction.

Next, remove the two nuts that attach the cover on the side of the saw where the bar is located. 

Removing the cover exposes the bar and the sprocket. Remove the bar and thoroughly clean out the area around the sprocket paying special attention to the small lubrication hole that allows chain oil to reach the bar track. 

It is a good idea to remove the chain from the bar and to thoroughly clean the track. Once everything is good and clean replace the chain on the bar and make sure that the chain has been put on in the correct direction. It’s easy to fit it the wrong way around so make sure. 

Turn the bar over and replace it together with the chain onto the retaining bolts and ensure that the chain fits correctly over the sprocket. Check as well that the pin for adjusting the tension on the chain is correctly seated on the bar.

Refit the cover and fit the retaining nuts but do not tighten them just yet. Check that the chain moves freely around the bar and then adjust the tension until there is the required amount of play in the chain.

Now you can tighten the retaining nuts and the saw is good to go with the bar in the upside-down position.

Checking for wear

Taking good care of the saw will ensure a long and reliable life of the bar. Sand and grit will quickly destroy the track and the safe operation of the saw, so it is within your interests to keep the chain as clean as possible especially when cutting close to the ground.

Although flipping the bar will almost double the life of the bar there will come a time when the chain begins to wonder, and the safety of the saw is reduced. To check on the wear of the bar you will need a small straight edge. 

Holding the straight edge against the side of the bar there should be a gap between the straight edge and the individual teeth of the chain. If there is no gap or the straight edge pushes the tooth over when flush against the bar it is time to replace the bar and most likely the chain as well.

Are other bars compatible with my chainsaw?

The short answer is ‘Yes’ providing the bar is approved by the manufacturer of your saw. You need to check all the various characteristics of the bar to make sure it will fit your saw. Items like length, groove width, and bar type are all important characteristics to ensure a compatible bar. 

Unless there is a compelling reason, I would hesitate to attempt to fit a bar different from that of the manufacturer of the saw.