Can You Use a Chainsaw Without Bar Oil?

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Chainsaws are very efficient, amazing tools. If you’ve ever worked with a chainsaw before, then you know how effective they are when you need to get something significant done quickly and easily. When it comes to tackling major yard work or any big projects around the house, it’s challenging to live without a chainsaw.

So, can you use a chainsaw without bar oil? No, you should never use a chainsaw without bar oil. If you do use your chainsaw without bar oil, you can create some significant problems as well as risk your safety. Some of the issues you may encounter include:

  • A broken chain
  • Stronger kickback
  • Dulling or destroying your chain
  • Increasing your bar and chain wear

Since there isn’t much information available on the Internet today covering why you should not use a chainsaw without bar oil, we created this article to help you. Below we’ll discuss the dangers of using a chainsaw without bar oil, including the damage you can do to your chainsaw and the potential safety risks that can also occur. After reading our information, you’ll always want to use bar oil with a chainsaw. 

Should You Use a Chainsaw Without Bar Oil?

No, you should never use a chainsaw without bar oil. Below we’ll cover the reasons why you should always use bar oil with your chainsaw.

Reason #1: A Broken Chain

One reason you should always use bar oil with your chainsaw is to help you avoid experiencing a broken chain. You are much more likely to break your chainsaw’s chain if you do not apply bar oil to your chainsaw. Breaking your chain on your chainsaw is no laughing matter; it’s a serious safety issue. 

Since chainsaw chains are linked together, much like bicycle chains, the links can experience wear and tear and eventually break. You increase your chances for a broken chain if you run your chainsaw without bar oil consistently. Using bar oil on your chain allows your parts to move freely while in use, and this also assists with keeping the chain cool. On the other hand, when the chain is dry and not oiled, the links wear out faster and easier as they twist around the bar

All chainsaws come with a fitted chain catch. Much like the name implies, a chain catch is added to a chainsaw to help catch a flying, broken chain. Chain catches are known to work well; however, it’s best to avoid breaking your chain for your safety whenever you use your chainsaw. That’s because the teeth breaking out and flying everywhere can harm you as you are working with a chainsaw.

So, to stay safe and keep your chainsaw running longer, you should use your chainsaw with bar oil unless you prefer to overlook the safety concerns and damage this can cause your chainsaw. 

Reason #2: Stronger Kickback

Chainsaws are:

  • Efficient
  • Effective
  • And necessary items

But a chainsaw can also be dangerous tools to use. So, that’s why you always want to use your chainsaw correctly, and that includes using bar oil. If you fail to use bar oil on your chainsaw, you’ll experience more substantial kickback when you utilize your chainsaw. That only increases your potential for an accident, which means you’ll risk your safety. 

If you aren’t sure what’s meant by chainsaw kickback, we’ll break it down for you. Kickback on a chainsaw happens when the tip of the saw touches timber, and the chainsaw is running at full throttle. When that happens, the chainsaw can lurch upward rapidly, and move backward toward the individual using the chainsaw. So, instead of cutting something, the chain’s friction causes the saw to kickback towards the user, which creates a dramatic safety concern. 

Not all chainsaw kickback is quite this violent. However, experiencing any type of kickback with your chainsaw can put you in harm’s way if you aren’t expecting the kickback, or you are unaware of it while you use your chainsaw. If you want to avoid kickback

  • Don’t allow the tip of your bar to touch any of the wood you cut. 
  • Instead, only let the bottom of the bar touch wood. 
  • Also, make sure your material is supported so that you don’t have a pinch point as you cut. 

Unfortunately, a dry chainsaw chain will dramatically increase your saw’s kickback potential. That’s because lacking lubrication on the chain increases the friction, and that only increases the rate of kickback on the chainsaw. If you do experience kickback with your chainsaw, you can use the chain brake, which is built into your saw’s handle. That chain brake helps to lock the chain once you experience kickback.

If you happen to encounter a violent, strong kickback, then your top bar hand, which is found on the left, will automatically hit the chain brake. That way, your brake will immediately be engaged. However, it’s still essential for you to check the use of your chain brake to ensure it always works to keep yourself protected and safe. 

If you’re worried about experiencing potential kickback with your chainsaw, make sure you always oil it. Also, you can ask your local hardware store for a chainsaw course to help you learn how to handle kickback appropriately. 

Reason #3: Dulling or Destroying Your Chain

Adding bar oil to your chainsaw also makes cutting easier for your chainsaw. That’s because the bar oil helps to coat the chain and teeth on the saw, which makes it easier for the saw to cut. The bar oil helps decrease the friction the saw experiences. If you don’t add bar oil to your chainsaw, then the friction can rapidly dull or destroy the chain on your chainsaw. 

Many have experienced hitting a chains while cutting with a chainsaw. That’s the kind of friction experience that will instantly dull your blade. The two main reasons why a chainsaw blade winds up becoming dull is:

  • Heat 
  • Friction

By applying bar oil, you can decrease the friction on the chain and also bring down the heat of the chain. 

Also, when your chainsaw has a dull blade, you’ll be more likely to lean on it harder. Doing that only increases the friction and the heat on the chain, which can make the problem worse. Instead, you can avoid much of this by just using bar oil. 

Reason #4: Increasing Bar and Chain Wear

If you fail to apply bar oil to your chainsaw, you are increasing the friction and heat that your chainsaw experiences. Consistently failing to apply bar oil to your chainsaw means your saw will experience a lot of bar and chain wear that could simply be avoided by using bar oil. 

When bar oil isn’t used on a chainsaw, certain parts of the chainsaw experience wear and tear more quickly, including the chainsaw’s:

  • Chain teeth
  • Links
  • Drivers

Because a lack of bar oil increases the friction the saw experiences, you can wind up breaking your saw’s teeth much more quickly. That also adds more wear and tear on the chain, which means the chain can stretch out and wear out more quickly. One way you can tell if your chain is worn out and stretched is figuring out if you continually need to adjust your chain’s tension. If you are, then you need to purchase a new chain. 

Not using bar oil can also cause the bar to suffer on the chainsaw, too. That’s because the heat will build-up on the lower side of the bar. That can result in the metal burning, distorting the shape of the bar overall. Unfortunately, you cannot merely repair this type of damage. Instead, you’d need to replace both your bar and chain on your chainsaw.

Related Posts:
10 Types of Chainsaw Chains Explained
Sharpening Your Chainsaw In The Field
This is Why You Must Not Use A Chainsaw in the Dirt


Shanna is the 2nd half of Top Outdoor Survival. Like Forest, she has a passion for guns and knives. They love to go on a survival trip at least once a year. They love to go camping, hiking, and traveling.

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