Bar oil

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Forum topic by woodcox posted 11-09-2014 08:05 PM 1479 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2160 posts in 2215 days

11-09-2014 08:05 PM

Is there another oil I can use in a pinch? I have a cheap electric chain saw that I’m using to cut down a dead cherry tree in my yard. I have air tool oil, 5/20 motor oil, hydraulic shock oil and WD 40. What have you used because you didn’t plan ahead?

-- "My god has more wood than your god" ... G. Carlin.

16 replies so far

View johnstoneb's profile


3063 posts in 2376 days

#1 posted 11-09-2014 08:15 PM

You can use any cheap engine oil. When I was growing up all the loggers including my Dad used used crankcase oil and works fine. The 5/20 would work fine. That oil is mainly there to keep the sawdust and stuff moving out of the bar.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 3174 days

#2 posted 11-09-2014 08:28 PM

True bar oil is modified to have a good tackiness to help it stay on the bar and chain and not get slung off. But, I used a chain saw for years befor I ever tried it. I always just used whatever motor oil I had around.

The bar oil is better for the purpose, but any oil will work in a pinch. I have even used diesel fuel to avoid having to drive back to town. Worked pretty well actually.

View kaerlighedsbamsen's profile


1252 posts in 1917 days

#3 posted 11-09-2014 08:43 PM

I find mineral based oils to give off unpleasant fumes. Ordinary vegetable oil from the kitchen works great and is cheap. Grapeseed, sunflower, soyaoil etc are all great. But dont use linseed or olive oil (they will clog the pump)

-- "Do or Do not. There is no try." - Yoda

View REO's profile


929 posts in 2278 days

#4 posted 11-09-2014 09:49 PM

high pressure gear lube would be better suited.It is the tackiness of the oil to keep it on the parts where it is needed that is the most desirous attribute.STP oil treatment mixed with a little oil. I have also used my share of used and new motor oil but these definitely do not protect the bar and chain from wear as well as Bar oil.

View bigblockyeti's profile


5286 posts in 1924 days

#5 posted 11-09-2014 10:31 PM

The heaviest oil you can get your hands on would be best, much better than WD-40 due to the viscosity. I’ve used non-detergent HD 30wt oil before and despite being fairly thick, it still ran through the saw at over twice the rate as proper bar oil.

-- "Lack of effort will result in failure with amazing predictability" - Me

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2691 days

#6 posted 11-09-2014 11:17 PM

Actually, 90w-140 gear oil is rated on a different SAE-API standard than engine oil. It actually works out to be about the same as 50W engine oil, and acts more like a high detergent than a non detergent oil because of the additives.
If you doubt my word, use your favorite search engine and look it up at SAE and at API.
You do not want a thin oil for your chain bar oil. Thicker is better, stickier is better. Many oils are used to mitigate heat, with the bar, you have no need to. Even at 12” it is more than long enough to handle any heat.
What you do need is a heavy lubricant, Real Chain bar oil provides that. It sticks to the chain and the groove in the bar much better and causes much less wear.

Let me illustrate:
Years ago when we were logging we would use any oil handy. Used Motor oil, old gear grease, cheap new motor oil.
We also bought a new chain at least once a week and at the same time filing the burs on the bar down because of the wear. We always carried 3 or four new chains and an extra bar.
This is after multiple sharpenings and maybe 1000 crosscuts of 6-20” lodgepole pine. I doubt there was more than an actual 300’ bd ft of actual cutting.
I have had my chainsaw mill for the last 3 years and using it for 2 years. I have probably run more than 3,000 bd ft. in slabs and have only replaced 4 chains. 2 when I ran into railroad spikes withing 6” of each other and one was because of my stupidity in running a loose chain. The last was when I let someone else borrow the saw and they tried to cut a chunk of rock.
The point is, now I use a quality chain bar oil, (Stihl is less than $6/qt or $25/gallon), I have also used Oregon, Husqvarna, Jonsered among others.
I tried the Poulan as it is a Husqvarna sub-brand, but I wasn’t pleased with it.

On top of everything else, I have yet to file the burs off my bar. I would rather buy oil than chains.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View Gerald Thompson's profile

Gerald Thompson

1121 posts in 2438 days

#7 posted 11-10-2014 01:10 AM

My father cut hundreds of cords of wood and always used 30W non-detergent motor oil.

-- Jerry

View Dusty56's profile


11822 posts in 3891 days

#8 posted 11-10-2014 03:15 AM
$7.97 for a whole gallon of the correct oil at Walmart…...why would you want to use anything else ?
$11.99 at the HoDepo

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2894 days

#9 posted 11-10-2014 03:48 AM

The instructions with my electric chainsaw specifically state: “do not use chain and bar oil”, “use 30 wt. motor oil”. No idea why but that’s what it says.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View mtenterprises's profile


933 posts in 2896 days

#10 posted 11-10-2014 12:44 PM

Get a gallon of used motor oil and add a can of STP it will work fine. STP sticks to everything making it real slippery. Cost, the price of the STP.

-- See pictures on Flickr - And visit my Facebook page -

View Tennessee's profile


2893 posts in 2718 days

#11 posted 11-10-2014 12:52 PM

gfadvm: My guess, (and it’s only a guess), is that your electric chain saw doesn’t have the power that a gas does, so they want less tack on the bar?
Or maybe there is a seal in there that will not withstand some additive that bar oil provides, and they are trying to save their electric motor.

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View Tennessee's profile


2893 posts in 2718 days

#12 posted 11-10-2014 12:55 PM

I remember using old oil from my car when I used to heat my house in the 80’s and early 90’s with wood, living up in the Poconos. I used to eat a bar about every year, cutting up a logging truck of wood. There was more than one time I ran out of oil before I ran out of gas and used to have to listen to that slight grinding noise a dry chain makes going across a bar.

Finally started buying low-cost bar oil, and the first thing I noticed is that I had to turn up my oiler due to the new tack and viscosity. But I stopped eating bars…

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View bigblockyeti's profile


5286 posts in 1924 days

#13 posted 11-10-2014 01:02 PM

I used an electric chainsaw my grandmother bought and never used to cut up a few downed trees around her house after a wind storm. It did ok given that it had a brand new chain on it, but the chain speed felt like it was 1/4 of most gas saws I’ve used. I don’t remember what oil it specified so I used a mix of 10W-30 and gear oil as that was all I could find. The slower chain speed could be the reason why an electric saw might not specify traditional bar oil.

-- "Lack of effort will result in failure with amazing predictability" - Me

View CincyRW's profile


162 posts in 1854 days

#14 posted 11-10-2014 02:03 PM

My dad always used used motor oil… but we were hillbillies. It had less to do with research and more to do with cost and availability. I think in a pinch, just about any motor oil or even used motor oil would work. If it were my saw, I’d get the good stuff back in it as soon as I could after using the garbage I mentioned above.

View chrisstef's profile


17766 posts in 3210 days

#15 posted 11-10-2014 02:18 PM

So did you get the saw started woodcox?

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

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