Chainsaw Parts Terminology

Chainsaw Parts Terminology

When you are looking to purchase a chainsaw for the very first time, or even when discussing your new chainsaw with someone else it’s important not look like a complete greenhorn. Now we know that the chainsaw terminologies that you will encounter can be a little bit confusing to start off with, but we will endeavor to provide you with all the terms and lingo you need to better understand and be better prepared to buy, use, repair and maintain your chainsaw.

In this brief, we have made a glossary of terms to make it simple for you to understand. It doesn’t matter whether you are a chainsaw novice, at the end of this brief, you will have full understanding of chainsaw features and terms that you will be hearing each day. Knowing all the terms will make maintenance and repair much easier for you.


Ok so kickback isn’t really a part of the chainsaw but it is so important to understand that we decided to mention it first anyway. Kickback is the terminology that is used to refer to the most dangerous act of a chainsaw. When the chain hits a hard surface such as a piece of metal or a stone, you may experience what we called kickback. Kickback can be very dangerous and yet it is an avoidable situation. Avoid cutting anything with the tip of the chainsaw as this is a well-known danger area for kickback occurring. To learn more about kickback have a look at our article on How To Avoid Chainsaw Kickback

Now the good news is that most brands have inserted some type of safety feature that can help you deal with kickbacks, however it is extremely important to always careful, because kickback cannot be predicted.

Rear Handle Chainsaw

There are essentially two types of handle designs when it comes to chainsaws you have Top Handle Chainsaws and Rear Handle Chainsaws.

With rear handle chainsaws the front and rear handles are placed further apart for better handling and balance while at work. Rear handle Chainsaws are especially designed for heavy duty use. For this reason, if you want a light weight chainsaw, you may prefer the design of the top handle chainsaw. In this type of saw the rear handle is essentially moved and positioned at the top of the saw.


This protective chain casing is available for all types of chainsaws including Corded, gas and rechargeable chainsaws. It is a cover that is placed over the guide bar to protect the chain and also other items from damage while being stored or transported. It also helps the operator keep any vehicles, workshops or sheds clean and damage free. Always make sure that the scabbard is clean and dry before fitting as it will protect the guide bar and the chain from rust.

Bar/Blade/Guide Bar

A chainsaw bar is the long metal part of your chainsaw that holds the chain in place while cutting. The chain moves around this guide bar to facilitate the process of cutting. The chainsaw guide bar will typically range in size depending on the model of chainsaw. The length can range between 8-20 inches for most standard saws however pro use saws can have enormous chain and bars some can actually be several feet in length and are used for felling enormous trees and also as chainsaw mills for making wooden planks. The main reason for the difference in bar length is generally the shorter chainsaw bars are designed for homeowners and professional arborists. The longest Bars are designed for professional works especially for people who work with larger trees.

How to Maintain a Chainsaw Guide Bar

A Chainsaw Guide bar lives a very tough life because it supports a chain with cutting teeth on it. The guide bar always finds itself in wood cuts that can twist or even bend it out of shape. For this reason, you have to ensure that your chainsaw guide bar is in its best conditions all the time. So what should you look out for and what can you do to maintain the chainsaw guide bar?

Inspect it for Wear

The body of the guide bar usually wears on the top of the bar rails and on the surfaces inside the rails. If not inspected for wear and appropriate measures taken, then its functionality can be compromised. The outside is easier to see but the inside isn’t. Inspect the top in the first instance. After this, go to the inside. Also look for chipping or any other type of rail damage. If you notice any indication of excessive wear, then take appropriate measures such as replacing the bar or repairing where necessary.

During your inspection, you may notice wire-like edges. Take caution because these edges can be sharp. You should use a fine-tooth file to remove these sharp edges. The guide bar looks the same in all types of chainsaws. For this reason, the maintenance process is the same.

Groove and Oil Hole Cleaning

Every time you take time to inspect the guide bar, take a few minutes to clean the wood chips from the center of the rails and also make sure that the oil hole is open. Get a pocket knife or a groove cleaner in order to do this work effectively. This will ensure that the oil is moving freely down the bar which is good for tip and rail lubrication. There are some professionals who say that those chainsaw users who hand file their machines tend to have more problems than those users who sharpen with a grinder. The supporting reason for this is because they don’t remove the chain from their way that often. What this means is that even if you don’t remove the chain for sharpening time to time, at least ensure you remove it often to clean the bar groove and the oil hole.

Check Whether the Machining Plug is in Place

Check whether there is a small aluminum plug in the machining hole near the tip of the guide bar. The hole is likely to collect chips if the plug falls off. This is one of the places that most chainsaw users don’t check. Surprisingly, this plug is very important. When it is missing, the tip will hang up in the cut. I bet you haven’t thought of this plug but from today, take your time and check if it is in order. If it is damaged or missing, then get a replacement.

Bumper/Bucking Spikes

Now this part may or may not apply to your particular machine. Most of the larger and indeed medium sized petrol powered chainsaws have these metal spikes called bumper/bucking spikes, where the chain and bar meet the body of the chainsaw. So what is the reason for and purpose of these chainsaw bumper/bucking spikes? Well the main reason is to help rest your chainsaw on when making a cut to prevent chainsaw kickback. They also help prevent the saw from getting pulled into and stuck on the wood you are cutting, they act as a sort of buffer. This video will better explain the use of these bumper/bucking spikes.


Chainsaw Chain

This is the most important part of a chainsaw. It is the chainsaw Chain that facilitates the cutting capabilities of a chainsaw. It has cutting teeth that cut the tree when it rotates around the bar. It is made up of several sharp, steel cutting teeth. One of the most important things to do to the chainsaw chain is to maintain its sharpness at all cost. If the teeth are not sharp, then the machine’s cutting capability is compromised. Basic chain maintenance should be done every time the chainsaw is used.

There are several chainsaw users out there who don’t know How to Sharpen a Chainsaw Chain. That is one of the main reasons why most of them will stop using a chainsaw and buy a new one every time the previous one becomes dull. However, we are here to help you on this. A chainsaw chain has a cutter and a raker. The cutters are the ones that cut while the rakers are there to control the depth of the cut. Both should be filed down as the cutters wear over time.

Chain Brake

Depending on the chainsaw type, there are several security features on modern chainsaws. Chainsaw Chain Brakes help ensure that the user is safe from any risk of injury from the chainsaw chain. The chain brake restricts the movement of chain by applying a steel brake band around the driven clutch.

The Chain Brake can be used to secure the chain when changing positions, starting a cold chainsaw or moving between cuts. It ensures that there’s no uncontrolled chain movement which could otherwise lead to injuries. Although this feature can be activated entirely by the operator, there are some chainsaw models that activate it automatically.

Chain Catcher

This is another very important feature that you need to be checking from time to time. It catches the chain in the event that it breaks or flies off your chainsaw during in use. It serves to reduce instances of impact injuries when operating a chainsaw. For this reason, you should be checking on its condition during your inspection and maintenance procedures to ensure the catcher is in good condition.

Terminologies in Gas/Petrol Operated Chainsaws

Fuel Filter

This is another common chainsaw term that you will be coming across especially if you are operating a gas powered chainsaw. Corded and rechargeable chainsaws don’t have a fuel filter because they don’t use fuel. The purpose of this feature is to help keep dirt and debris from reaching the carburetor. Having a good fuel filter will help to keep your chainsaw in good condition and prevent any unwanted problems. The fuel filter is essential in keeping debris and particles from clogging your carburetor which could otherwise cause operational problems. Always check if the fuel filter is in good condition and if not in its best condition replace it.

Fuel Line

This is a tube in which the fuel moves on its way from the fuel tank to the carburetor. The black rubber fuel lines lose elasticity over time. For this reason, they can collapse, reduce or split and even stop the flow of fuel. The resulting effect is starting problems or even dying engines. If this is the issue then the fuel line may need to be replaced, simply because it cannot be fixed. Some of the chainsaw brands comes with a comprehensive guide that will help you replace the chainsaw fuel lines.

When you are replacing the tubes, it is imperative to cut the tubes to the right length. When removing the fuel line, use needle-nose pliers to remove the tubes from the carburetor and later pull them from the tank. After this, hold the length of the original tubing against the replacement tubing and cut the new tubes to the same length.

Throttle and Throttle Lock

The throttle is what adjusts the amount of fuel that reaches the engine. This later determines the speed of the chain. On the other hand, the throttle Lock is designed to work together with the throttle to prevent accidental triggering of the throttle. Check the throttle trigger every time before use to ensure it is in its best condition and working effectively.

Oil Filter

These are very essential devices of the chainsaw. They prevents debris and dust particles from mixing with the oil. They are very important because they help keep the moving parts of the chainsaw lubricated the right way. If they are not performing to their maximum, then replace them entirely with new oil filters.

Spark Plug

The spark plug ignites the fuel and air mixture in the chainsaw to produce the energy that’s required to power the machine. If you want to keep your machine at the top of its performance, replace the spark plug after every 100 hours of work. If the spark plug is dirty or damaged, it can lead to inconsistent firing which can reduce the performance of the machine. A defective spark plug can increase the fuel intake of your chainsaw and eventually increase the cost of operation if not replaced often.

One thing that most chainsaw users don’t know is that chainsaw spark plugs are easy to repair and replace when the need arises. If you want to inspect or even replace the spark plug, start with disconnecting the spark plug lead from the spark plug. Remove any dust and debris before removing the spark plug. After this, remove the plug using a spark plug socket wrench. After this, either clean the spark plug using a wire brush and a spray plug cleaner. If you want to replace it which is advisable, then make sure you purchase a similar type of spark plug and secure it correctly back to its original place.

Terminologies in Corded and Rechargeable Chainsaws

Automatic Bar Oiler

Every chainsaw needs an automatic bar oiler. There is a very high chance of metal-on-metal friction when a chainsaw machine is in use otherwise and this leads to instant wearing of the parts involved. For this reason, your chainsaw needs an automatic guide bar oiler. Most of the rechargeable chainsaws on the market have an automatic bar oiler to make life easier for you.

Voltage and Amp Hours

This is another term that is common in rechargeable type chainsaws. It helps you choose the chainsaw you want depending on the battery life and power produced. On the outside case or indeed on written on the battery of a rechargeable chainsaw you will see some numbers and figures, these numbers determine the operational capability of the chainsaw. There are some manufacturers today who produce up to 80 volt cordless chainsaws. These chainsaws can outlast many other models due to their battery capacity that is measured in amp hours or milliamp hours. Usually the bigger the number here the better.

Lithium-Ion Batteries

This is a terminology that is specific to rechargeable chainsaws. A rechargeable chainsaw operates on a rechargeable battery. These batteries are the newest battery technology on the market today. They offer better performance and a longer operational time than the older battery technologies. When you are going to purchase a rechargeable chainsaw, then look at the voltage and the type of battery that the machine comes equipped with.

Start Button

Most rechargeable and electric chainsaws are started by just the press of a button. The all have a start button to facilitate the process of starting. In fact this is the reason why most of the people prefer electric and rechargeable chainsaws over troublesome and temperamental gas/petrol powered chainsaws.

However, sometimes, the start button can be affected in one way or the other. For this reason, when the startup button has a problem you will need to get a qualified chainsaw mechanic to fix it or indeed replace the part involved. If this button is not in its best condition and operating effectively, then the machine is unlikely to start.

To Wrap Up

So hopefully you have learned one or two things from this Chainsaw Parts Terminology overview. Either way it is nice to understand a little more about a chainsaw before you commit to buying one for several reasons. Firstly you will be better equipped to make a more informed purchase decision. Secondly you will be safer because you will understand more about the various parts of your machine and the purpose they serve and why they should be maintained. Lastly you will be better equipped to describe your saw to other people including any service or repair shops you may need to visit.

Please check out our other articles on the site and don’t forget to have a look at the Rechargeable Chainsaws Blog page too.

Thanks Folks and Happy Cutting!!