How to change the air filter of a chainsaw

Saturday, June 12, 2021

I have to admit I first learned about changing filters from our vacuum cleaner as a kid.

It was an old, barely holding together thing that seemed to need its filter cleaned every 15 seconds of use otherwise it simply wouldn't run properly.

And neither will your chainsaw if it cannot suck any oxygen into the engine. This means the fuel will not burn efficiently and the performance of your cutting machine will reduce.

How often should I replace or clean the chainsaw air filter?

dirt air filter on a chinsaw stihl

If you are a SUPER MAINTENANCE OF THE CHAINSAW kind of guy, then the air filter could be cleaned after eight hours of steady use, but truly, who has time for that?

Definitely, do it at the start of the cutting season (if you have one) and if you notice a performance drop off or you are using more fuel than feels normal.

You should replace the filter once per year if the chainsaw has had plenty of use. It will depend on the rate of use and the amount of dirt and debris the unit has had to contend with. The air filter will gradually degrade and wear out. 

Its pores can become larger (meaning debris can get through) and others pores may become too congested with debris.

If you are an average kind of joe, who uses the chainsaw infrequently, you should find your filter lasts for a vastly longer time before it needs maintenance.

In this context, don't get into the mindset that you need to replace the filter every year. Instead, take the time to inspect the filter once in a while and decide to replace on merit.

Removing the air filter

Use a  screwdriver or other suitable implement to open the cylinder cover of the chainsaw. Try not to scratch anything. Obviously, remove the cylinder cover and clean off any loose dirt or debris with a brush. You can then lift and release the metal latch that is probably holding the air filter in place.

Remove the filter and inspect it for dirt, damage or signs of aging. Make the assessment to clean or replace. 

Make sure you replace with a 'like for like part'. You do not have to replace with the brand's own version of the product, you can use an aftermarket filter if you wish, but make sure it is designed to operate with your brand. 

There are many replacement filters available on Amazon. Simply use the search tool for air filter and the brand name e.g. stihl replacement filter.

Note, make sure it is a quality after market part, one that has been made with a genuine intention to do its stated job, rather than a cheap knock off i.e. a fake. Never buy a fake part to use in your quality tools, they will cost you money in the longer term.

Cleaning the chainsaw air filter

If you are going to clean the filter prepare a soap and hot water combo in a bucket. 

Tap the filter on the edge (not the filtering part) to shake off loose dust. You can also try and use a vacuum clean or an air compressor to blow the muck out. 

When you've removed as much as you can, submerge the filter in the bucket. Give it a little bit of time to soak and then give it a light scrub with a soft brush. Some players will give it a light scrub with an old toothbrush. 

Let the filter air dry and most certainly do not install and use when wet!

Some filters will not be happy if cleaned with gas or solvents.

Speaking of lint filters...

How to store a chainsaw

Wednesday, June 9, 2021
storing a chainaw

Safe and proper storage of a chainsaw

The physical maintenance of a chainsaw is very important as we can all appreciate, however, good storage of your chainsaw will also help with good performance making sure it will start the next time you need it.

Your chainsaw should ideally be stored in a dry and dust-free condition. Cleaning it before putting it away for the winter will ensure that it's ready when you take it out in the spring. Mine rests under an old sheet to keep it free of dust, grit, bugs ...and the cold.

Here's some other storage tricks you may wish to consider:

Emptying the fuel tank

Empty the fuel tank in a well-ventilated place and then clean it. Remember to drain the carburetor first, to prevent the carburetor diaphragms from sticking together.

Dismantle the saw

Remove the chain and guide bar, give them a good clean and then spray them with protective oil. We like to use CRC.

Store your saw in a dry place

Your chainsaw should be kept in a dry place.

Select an area which is well ventilated and protected from the weather.

Leaving it outdoors is not advisable as it is more suspectable to rust and it really should be protected from the sun - it's UV rays can break down the plastics, making them brittle.

The chain saw should always be packed away in a dust-free environment. You can place it in a dust bag or even a cardboard box or covered under a cloth.

It's also a smart move to store it in a place where children cannot get their hands on it. 

These are some simple ideas you can do - but let's face the truth. You are probably just going to leave the chainsaw on a shelf under a workbench somewhere...

Can I use hydrochloric acid to remove rust from metal?

Thursday, May 20, 2021
washer with rust removed with HCL

Rust never sleeps but hydrochloric acid sure can put it to bed!

Sometimes it happens because your tools get wet or rust slowly creeps along like the Star Wars crawl and then bam!

Rust attack!!

It's suddenly covered all your drill bits, Allen keys, and screwdrivers.

I was tidying the shed one morning and I found two things.

A massive jar of rusting drill bits and screwdriver heads and also some hydrochloric acid  (also known as muriatic acid) which I had stored for 8 years since I moved into our house and never used.

It seemed like the time had arrived.

A sample of what the screws looked like before the HCL

I placed all the bits and items in a plastic container, put on my safety glasses and added some of the hydrochloric acid to it. 

I then added the same amount of water.

Immediately small bubbles began to rise from the bits, the reaction was obvious.

I then placed the stuff high on a shelf in the shed so the kids couldn't get at it. I went and had a look about 6 hours later and could some pretty shiny items in the container!

screws soaking in acid hcl

Well, I then promptly forgot all about my experiment until I got home from work the next day - so everything had 24 hours to soak in the solution!

I carefully drained the solution and placed the nuts and pieces on some an old cloth. 

As I did this, I was wearing long sleeves and protective eyewear. A more seasoned pro may have worn plastic gloves (but not your good chainsawing gloves!). 

I then sprayed a thick coat of CRC on the items to form a protective barrier for the short term and to dilute the acid. I don't know if this was the best move, just something that I did as I'd read acids can strip away protective layers on tools. 

So how did they come out?


screws and drill bits after hydrochloric acid bath

Many of the drill bits came out coated black, some worse than others. They were originally coated silver!

The acid also ate through this bit extender tool so the lesson is maybe don't buy cheap parts and don't leave the metal in the acid too long!

The rusty screws came out silver, so all good there - so what is this black residue?

I've done some research and there appears to be two chemical reactions at play here. The first is the HCL reacting with the rust, and the second is the HCL with the iron of the bits itself:

Fe (s) + 2 HCl (aq) ---> FeCl2 (aq) + H2 (g)

So the bubbles we see are hydrogen and the black seems to be iron chloride.

So what I should have done is not used such a strong dilution (50:50) and not left it to react for 24 hours.

My research also tells me that while I may have cleaned off all the rust, I have also potentially opened up my items to suffering a complete secondary rust action. This is because there is probably not going to be an oxide covering the metal surface (an oxide layer can prevent rust from occurring).

I suspect some of the higher quality components were a bit more impervious to the acid.

So without doing any real research, I cleaned the bits with a towel and then sprayed them with CRC!

That's definitely a short-term solution.

It sounds like what I should have done is used a different acid instead of HCL, such as phosphoric acid (found in Coca Cola!).

Phosphoric acid is readily available from your hardware store (or try Amazon) and is apparently a proven rust remover.

Well, kinda it seems.

It will turn the rust (iron oxide) into iron phosphate which can be a black substance that forms on the items you are removing the rust from. This then needs to be scrubbed off, often with a wire brush.

If you are looking for a more commercial rust remover for your tools then there are many products that you can try which is Rust911 is a concentrated rust remover. When mixed with water (necessary) 16 oz makes 2-gallons which you can immerse your rusty item in.

Free All Deep Penetrating Oil by Gasoila Chemicals features a rust eating agent that not only penetrates rust but helps to loosen and dissolve it away meaning it's great for helping unscrew tough nuts and screws.

free all rust remover

As a spray-on, this Free All will help to free stuck threaded pipe connections, rusted machine screws, rusted bolts, rusted or frozen nuts, automotive clamps, pillow blocks, universal joints, locks and the like. 

Check out the price on Amazon.

Evapo-Rust Gel combines the rust removing power of Evapo-Rust with the ability to cling to vertical, rusted surfaces. Simply brush on and allow an hour for the gel to work its magic, then rinse away the rust with water. 

This gel appears to be safer than other gelled rust removers. Evapo-Rust get does not harm copper, brass, or aluminium so has a variety of applications. 

The only complaint about this product is that the gel can be tricky to apply and for that reason, many users tend to prefer Naval Jelly.

If you need to test the alkalinity of a solution, use a digital meter. And here's the chronological order of the Star Wars films for some odd reason.

Best electric battery powered lawn mower in 2021

Wednesday, May 12, 2021
best cordless gas free lawn mower

Choosing a battery powered push lawn mower for home use in 2021

Just as there are many ways to skin a cat, there are many ways to cut grass.

  • You've got your standard push mower that runs on gas
  • You've got manual mowers where you gotta push them along
  • You've got electric mowers that plug into the mains
  • Using a pair of scissors if you have a lot of time...

And in this modern world, you've got battery powered lawnmowers.

A battery-powered lawn mower? 


Yep, today's technologies mean there are lithium batteries powerful enough to turn the blades to cut grass. If Teslas and Swifts cars can drive around town all day on battery power, lawn mowers can cut grass! This means you can have the 'clean green' cutting experience as an alternative to using gas.

Here's our top three picks which are Amazon best sellers:

While petrolheads and Obi-Wan might love maintaining their engines by adding oil and replacing spark plugs, there's many a person out there who simply wants to mow the lawns as quickly and without any stress or maintenance fuss.

An electric mower is ideal for those who are slowing down in life and don't want to have to pull start a mower 15 times before it kicks into life or run over the cable and cutting it!

With an electric lawn mower, you charge the battery, turn the mower on, and you are cutting your grass in no time.

A cordless electric mower is ideal for mowing small and medium-sized yards and lawns. With no petrol or cords to worry about, they are very portable due to their lightness. 

A self-propelled mower also makes this chore even easier.

How long does a cordless lawn mower battery last?

While you might be able to mow your lawns in 30 minutes, a quality battery should last up to at least an hour, ideally 90 minutes.

Such a range should give you enough time to do the front and back and maybe your neighbor's lawns and the curbside berm too!!

What is the best battery powered lawn mower in 2021?

As you might have suspected, the major brands such as Dewalt, Black and Dekker, Ego and Ryobi have done their best to capitalize on the battery innovation market and so there is a fairly broad range of products to choose from.

You can cast your purchase decision into price and performance meaning you'll be able to find a mower to suit your budget.

That said, battery performance is the key measure on which you should make your purchase decision. At a bare minimum, you will want to consider a battery that when fully charged will last at least an hour. If you have a larger lawn, you'll probably want 90 minutes (usually a 7.5 Ah battery will reach perform at this level).

You'll also want to consider the kind of battery and to cut to the chase, you'll want to make sure your mower features a lithium-ion battery. They are lighter than traditional lead-based batteries meaning they are easier to push about. They also charge quickly and efficiently and will also have a longer life span. 

While batteries that are quick to charge are ideal, I reason that if you mow your lawn and then charge the battery, you'll be ready to cut next time you need to - and if that's the case, it doesn't matter how long it takes to charge the battery. Unless of course, you forget to charge it... but wait, most mowers will come with two batteries...

So with that in mind, here are some options that you may wish to consider:

greenworks cordless lawnmower best

Greenworks PRO 21-Inch 80V Cordless Lawn Mower featuring a 4.0 AH battery 

A stylish looking mower, this sharp cutter from Greenworks has the following specifications:

  • Up to 60 minutes of run time with a fully charged 4.0AH Battery
  • 4.0AH battery and charger included. 
  • Has a maximum cutting height 1-3/8 inches and a minimum cutting height of 3-1/4 inches
  • Greenworks brushless motor provides your tool with longer run-time, more torque and more power. This has the benefit of less wear and tear, extending the life-time of the mower.
  • Smart Cut Load sensing technology. Versatile 3-in-1 discharge capabilities allow for rear discharge, mulching and side discharge

Greenworks boast that this 21-inch cordless lawn mower features a durable steel deck, large 10-inch rear wheels, and Smart Cut(TM) load sensing technology. Load sensing tech means the lawn mower can tell when it's got to do some hard work (longer grass) and will amp up the power from the battery to the engine. Even though it's a handy feature, all practised lawn mowers know you just need to simply slow down your pushing rate when tasked with tall or thick overgrown grass to minimize the chance of an engine cut out. 

Lightweight and easy to use (heck, it's a lawn mower), it has a single lever height adjustment and 3-in-1 operation for mulching, bagging, and discharging. It's so light, you can easily store this vertically, meaning more floor space in your shed!

Designed for durability and heavy-duty jobs, it features a brushless motor that delivers the power and performance of a 160cc gas engine. 

A real con perhaps is that this machine is not self-propelled. 

Don't take the manufacturer's word on all this guff, however.

Here are some genuine reviews from buyers on Amazon who have bought and used this mower. This is the real test of judgment, people with skin in the game:

'Mower was light enough to lug it down alone to the basement for Winter and back up for Spring. Absolutely no preparation needed (no gas burn off, stabilizer, spark plugs, filters, etc.), aside from blowing off old grass clippings and covering for dust (cover interchanged with snow blower).'

'No messy, smelly gas or oil needed. No nauseating exhaust! The electric motor is far quieter than a gas engine; my toddlers fell asleep fine during my mowing. There are none of the headaches of maintaining a gasoline engine: buy/store/pour jugs of gasoline, buy and keep engine oil topped off, buy fuel stabilizers, deal with spills, clean/replace spark plugs, burn off excess gasoline for off-season storage, etc.'

'The mower is very easy to push (note it’s not self-powered), so I speed-walked most of the time. It’s easy to turn 180-degrees for parallel mowing. The blades cut very near to the outer edge of the wheels (see attached picture), so there’s minimal need for overlap. There’s a rubber rear skirt to protect you from any rock or debris projectiles, which is a godsend for my large yard, full of landscape stones and sweet gum tree spike-balls.'

'The GreenWorks is superior quality in every respect, I don't even know where to begin. The single lever height adjustment is something I didn't consider that important when comparing alternatives, but something you really appreciate once you have it. The variable speed on the mower is really an awesome feature. When going through light grass you save energy, and when going through heavy grass it makes the mower not stall. The gasoline-powered mower would stall almost every lap on the lower part of our property, where the grass seems to grow thicker. The electric mower has not stalled even once, ever. By the same token, starting the mower with a button instead of pulling the cord is a dream too.'

'My experience with the mower and the blower which I purchased together has been just great. They mow and blow just like my old gas powered tools. I'm never going back to gas!!'

'Cuts grass as tall as the motor housing. Be prepared to go slow though. When I did manage to kill it in thick grass nearly as tall as the motor (well above the front wheels), it likes to wait a few seconds before starting again. Starts right up (until the battery is out of juice).'

'To turn on, you push and hold the green button on the upper-right of the handle, then grasp the green lever arm together with the handle bar, then let go of the button. When you release the lever, the mower turns off completely; there is no idle. To restart, you’ll need to repeat the hold-button and grasp-lever routine. There is no cord-yanking involved.'

'I purchased the mower with the 4ah 80v battery. This is the best lawn mower I have had. We live in Costa Rica and mow the lawn year round, our property is about 1/4 acre and has a steep hill. The battery lasts as long or as longer as a tank of gas on the mower it replaces, that was a Poulan Pro 6.25 hp with California compliant emissions.'

If those reviews, float your boat, check out the price on Amazon.

snapper briggs stratton lawn mower cordless

Snapper Electric Cordless 19-Inch Lawnmower Kit with two batteries & a rapid Charger

A popular seller on Amazon, the beauty of this mower is it features a Briggs and Stratton lithium ion battery!

The Snapper XD 82V Max* 19” Cordless walk mower is built for durability and ease of use. The 19” and 21” walk models feature a steel 3-in-1 mowing deck, providing mulch, side discharge or bagging options.

You can get the job done efficiently by being able to mow up to 45-minutes** off a single charge of a 2 Ah battery. If you desire long run times, you'll need to swap out with a with separate 4Ah or 5Ah battery).

The Snapper is a very quiet, efficiently operating machine making it a good choice for anyone that just wants to get the lawns done with little fuss. 

  • Powered by a Briggs & Stratton 82V Max Lithium-Ion 2Ah, 4Ah, or 5Ah battery.
  • 3-in-1 steel mowing deck is ready to mulch, bag or side discharge. The included large grass bagger fits about 2.1 cubic feet of grass clippings.
  • Compact vertical storage capability allows you to store your mower out of the way.
  • Features easy push button starting mode and a brush less motor meaning less maintenance for you.
  • Single lever height-of-cut adjustment allowing you to choose from 7 different cutting heights.
  • Maximum initial battery voltage (measured without a workload) is 82-volts. Nominal voltage is 72.

  • snapper cordless lawnmower

    Again, those specs look solid enough and merit consideration for purchase, but what about the road testers, the weekend warriors who have walked many miles behind the Snapper?

    'First off, everything about this mower SCREAMS quality and durability. Batteries??? OMG. I am wondering if they're not actually ZPMs from Stargate Atlantis!

    For those of you who cannot appreciate the reference, suffice to say, they are a very good size, and have a real good quality heft to them- along with a little button to show you how much power is left. There are two of them, and they charge in less than 30 mins.

    Use one up, charge it while you use the other, or weed whack, or take a break. The choice is yours. And btw, the battery does not slowly lose power and then slowly taper off to a barely spinning blade: It goes full strength until it's depleted. I really like that.'

    'This mower cut like a champ. One pass was enough. there was NOTHING left standing. Not a blade of grass, not a weed.'

    'I was using the rear bagger, which functioned superbly. Why the bagger? Because I was certain the mulching mode would be a joke. I mean, an electric mower that mulches? Sure. When pigs fly.
    Well, the pigs have flown the coop. This thing also mulches very well.'

    'Did the whole front yard and part of the backyard on the first battery, and I am particular. I should have taken pictures of my backyard...lotta weeds, thick stalks, and weed bushes. The Snapper absolutely DESTROYED them. Keep in mind that the low setting IS pretty low. You might want to start off at the second or third lowest setting and see what your cut looks like.'

    'The batteries charge extremely fast and last the whole 45 minutes each, when they're dead, they're dead. No power loss toward the end.'

    'It effortlessly cuts my thick grass, is very easy to push and maneuver, and I'm really enjoying how quiet it is compared to my previous gas mower. I couldn't be happier with all aspects of this mower and its performance.'

    So, see for yourself how impressive it is on Amazon.

    DEWALT DCMW290H1 40V MAX 3-in-1 Cordless Lawn Mower

    best dewalt 40v battery lawnmower

    We love Dewalt. It's a tried and true brand. Have you tried their work site fan? Mint. 

    Anyways, the DEWALT DCMW290H1 40V MAX 3-in-1 Cordless Lawn Mower features a powerful 40V MAX brushless motor that can cut up to 1/4 acre. 

    The mower is a 3-in-1 battery powered lawn mower which means you can mulch, bag, and discharge clippings out the back. 

    Its metal deck gives it durability which is great for those wary of the trend to plastic models. 

    This lawn mower also features a single-lever height-adjust system so you can easily change blade height. The handle also folds to allow for compact storage.

    As you would expect from the Dewalt system, the battery is compatible with their line of 40V MAX DEWALT outdoor power equipment.

    Here are the specifications:

    • Powerful Brushless motor for high power output
    • 3-IN-1: mulching, bagging, and rear discharging all-in-one
    • Heavy duty 20 in. Metal deck
    • Single lever Height adjust ranging from 1.5 - 3.4 in
    • Folding handle and lift handles make for easy transport and compact storage

    The battery is very simply able to be taken out for charging:

    easy to change battery dewalt lawn mower

    Here's some reviews from people who have pushed the Dewalt across their yard:

    'I really like this mower. I have generally been skeptical of battery-powered large appliances, having never owned anything rechargeable larger than a cordless hammer drill. A weed whacker and leaf blower converted me enough to risk buying my first electric mower. It worked like a charm right out of the box.'

    'I charged the battery overnight and mowed the front and back of my modest quarter-acre block *just* before the battery died. I've since mowed again twice with the same result and it handled it well both times. very easy to stop and start light and with small rubber wheels so it's easy to push and turn, it has several simple but effective safety features, all controls are large, robust and easy to operate even with gloves on. No more hard starts, strenuous cord pulling, cans of gas in the shed or oil dripping on the floor.'

    'Able to mow my back yard on a single charge easily. Lightweight mower folds up for easy storage and transport. Built-in safety features is a nice bonus.'

    'This is an amazing piece of equipment. I couldn’t be happier. Hardly any setup right out of the box. Cuts better than my past gas mowers. Runs smooth and quiet. I’ll never go back to gas. I also have string trimmer, chainsaw, and handheld blower. The whole line is awesome. What's the best lawn mower battery charger?'

    If those honest reviews sound like you could be onto a winner, check out the options on Amazon.

    Battery powered lawn mower maintenance tips

    How to make sharp, safe cuts with a chainsaw

    Monday, May 3, 2021
    A good clean cutting action works for many things.


    And chainsaws.

    To make a clean chainsaw cut, here's a few ideas

    Provided the saw has been turned on now:

    1. Hold the front handle of the saw with your gloved left hand with your thumb wrapped tightly underneath. 
    2. Grab the rear handle with your gloved right hand. Get into sawing position by spreading your legs apart for stability. 
    3. Now pull back the chain brake to disengage it. 
    4. Then squeeze the throttle. The saw cuts best when the engine is at full throttle.

    Pretty simple eh? - there are some clear principles at play - be well-positioned with your feet, use a good grip action and make sure your chainsaw is well sharpened and well oiled and the depth gauge cutters are properly filed down.

    Here are some more tips for an efficient cut:

    • Cutting with the upper portion of the tip could cause a kickback reaction, which can be bloody dangerous and may engage the chain brake. Basically, try to avoid cutting with the tip. 
    • It's good practice to cut at your waist level — never raise your saw above shoulder height. This is just asking for trouble if you run into trouble! You are less able to properly control the saw at this height and angle.
    • Avoid cutting too close to the ground where the blade could dig in and kick back (at least try and not do this so the chain stays clean as possible).
    • Try to cut from the side of the saw. This is to say, do not stand 'over' the saw. A kickback in this position could be lethal as the saw will kick back into your line of sight - meaning a chest or face injury is on the cards. It's really easy to suddenly find yourself in this position if you have moved around a bit so keep an eye on your positioning at all times. 
    • You should cut with a downward pressure with the bottom of the bar — known as cutting with a pulling chain since the chain pulls the saw out from you. The vice versa applies when cutting upwards. We suggest you have a fair bit of practice with the standard method before trying an up cut motion. At the least, have a really good appreciation for how your saw feels in your hands.
    • It is very easy to overwork your back while using a chainsaw. Try not to curve your spine to move lower, instead bend your knees.

    The four basic rules of chainsaw chain maintenance

    Friday, April 30, 2021
    how to care for a stihl chain

    Your chainsaw's chain health is vital to a successful cut

    Obvious right?

    Just like the barber's blade is a well-honed instrument, your chainsaw chain blade needs to be given the same love and attention so that it stays sharp and cuts the wood just right.

    In effect, the chain is the most vital and important part of the saw. It's also the part that needs the most maintenance - the beauty of this though is any user with a little bit of know-how can maintain the chain really well.

    A dangerously undermined chain can increase the risks of a safety incident - incorrect sharpening angles, incorrect depth of gauge setting, a poorly tensioned chain and of course a dull and blunt chain that can all cause real issues for the operator.

    The Four Basic rules of chainsaw chain maintenance

    There are four simple rules that will ensure that your chainsaw chain performs up to spec.

    The operator should keep the chain:

    1. Properly oiled; 
    2. Correctly tensioned correctly; 
    3. Sharp, cutter angles correctly made; and 
    4. The depth gauge height to consistent and correct. 

    Let's work through these now.

    A chainsaw chain needs to be properly oiled

    The chainsaw's guide bar and chain are designed to be constantly supplied with oil. It's just how they work. If they did not get oil, the parts would overheat and seize and not cut properly. They would also suffer friction deterioration.

    One should then regularly check that the chain oiling system is supplying oil. We recommend you use oil designed for chains and chain bars - not waste oil from other engines.

    Chainsaw oils are designed to stick to the chain, whereas used car part oil has no such properties and is probably filled with impurities and metal that could damage your gear.

    chain maintenance tips

    A correctly tensioned chain is a safe chain

    At best, a loose chain is not cutting properly and at worst, it is likely to fly off the chain bar - causing you to lose time putting it back on and also run the risk of injury to hands or legs (unless you are wearing safety gloves or chaps!)

    A loose chain also increases the potential chance of a kick back from happening. And no one wants a kickback blade to the face. 

    An incorrectly tensioned chain will also place more pressure on the sprocket, causing it to wear.

    A properly tensioned chain is one that has been adjusted to that it is touching the whole way around the guide bar. It should feel like a snug fit but still be easily pulled forwards from the chainsaw body towards the guide bar tip.

    Some tension tips:

    • Tension the chain prior to each session. Tension the chain often, or at each occasion of refuelling.
    • Never tension your chain right after cutting wood.
    • A chain tensioned while hot can cool and then shrink, causing tension to be too tight which will break shit. Trust me on that...
    • Let the chain cool first before doing anything.
    • It's a smart idea to wear protective gloves, especially if you have diligently sharpened your chain or it's a brand new chain - those things are factory sharp!

    Here's a handy video which demonstrates how to correctly tension the saw:

    A sharp cutter makes a sharp cut

    It just seems so sensible to ensure that your chain cutters are well maintained - damage free and sharp.

    The basic rule is that you sharpen inline with the manufacturer's recommendations for your chain.

    At the most basic level, you simply need a round file with a handle and also file guide to sharpen the chain.

    Your goal when caring for your chain is for the cutters to be kept at an equal length and shape for the life of the chain.

    It's best practice to use a file guide to ensure the file is held at the proper depth and angle.

    Here's our guide to sharpening a chain. The basic method is to file from the inside out with firm and smooth strokes of the file. This should be done in conjunction with a file guide to maintaining the correct angle.

    Complete one side of the chain and then swap over. If they are damaged, file and repaired as necessary. If you have had to make a replacement cutter then you need to ensure the cutter is the same length as the rest of the chain else it will lead to a less efficient cutting rate.

    Check out this video tutorial which shows how to sharpen the chain:

    The correct depth gauge setting 

    This is a part of chain maintenance that is easy to overlook or ignore but as always, doing it right will mean a good and safe cut.

    The depth gauge controls the thickness of the chip the cutter will remove from your wood target.

    The basic tools required for this task are a flat-file and the correct depth gauge tool as recommended by the manufacturer of your device.

    To ensure the correct gauge once places the depth gauge tool in position over the cutter.  The excess is filed off from the inside of the cutter outwards.

    It's good practice to check the depth gauges after 4 or 5 sharpenings.

    Another really important component of chainsaw maintenance is ensuring you keep the chain and bar well oiled.

    And once you're done for the day, catch up on some Mandalorian TV show Star Wars trivia. Or why not learn how to fix a flooded chainsaw engine.

    Best Reviewed Soil Testing Kits in 2021

    Sunday, April 18, 2021
    You are the boss of your vegetable garden. You're in charge of weeding and watering.

    You decide what to plant in the soil and how to cultivate it.

    Your soil might have other ideas, however. A soil that has a poor pH level or is deficient in the right nutrient content (NPK) is not the ideal growing environment and your treasured plants and vegetables will not grow to their optimum size or taste.

    To solve this problem, using a soil testing kit will help analyze the nutrient content of your soil, showing you any deficiencies.

    This gives you the necessary knowledge allow you to make decisions around adjustments to the soil by using additional fertilizer or other nutrient formulas.

    This guide will help you choose the best soil tester for your needs

    As you will appreciate, you simply shouldn't go down to the local garden store and grab any bag of fertilizer and dump it onto your soil, you probably won't have the results you desire.

    Knowing however that your soil is low in nitrogen or phosphorus as the result of using a quality soil tester means you can add the correct mineral so your carrots will grow straight, long, and nicely orange, putting you back in charge of your garden!

    best -soil -test- kit -for- npk - ph levels

    Listen, Tool Guy, I'm just here for your recommendation on the best soil testing kit, save me the marketing speech ok and show me the money.

    Understood, dear reader:

    Here is it, a very popular test kit on Amazon:

    What data do Soil Testing Kits provide?

    You can test for the level of light exposure that your plants receive using a light probe, or you can use a probe that tests the moisture content of your soil and those two points of investigation can be handy but we're gonna focus on two really important parts of plant growth:

    Your soil's alkalinity, that being measured in terms of the pH level.

    What the nutrient composition of your soil is - generally speaking, the test is for the terrific trio of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium -which are collectively known in the home gardening and farming industries simply as NPK.

    Testing kits are also great for grass lawns, not just vegetable gardens!

    The five steps to use a soil testing kit

    Pre-step: Read the instructions that come with your soil testing kit.

    While most kits and their use are stock standard affairs (a chemical test is a chemical test right) however measurements and volumes can vary, so it never hurts to read the manual!

    Step 1: Get Your Soil Sample

    It should seem obvious but you need to gather your soil samples from the preferred sections of your garden patch.

    Keen testers have been known to divide their garden into equal segments and pick a sample from each.

    One of the crazy things about nitrogen is that it can ‘clump’ in pockets so you can have some nitrogen-rich areas and poor areas in another spot, go figure!

    Take a clean gardening trowel, and collect the sample(s). Place it into a clean containment vessel.

    Try to remove any mulch or debris from the top of a small area of your soil, and then dig down about 2-6 inches. give or take, and then dig out your sample

    In order to do all four tests (pH and the N.P.K.), you’ll need about one coffee cup of soil for the NPK testing and a less than one teaspoon amount for the pH test.

    Step 2: Preparation of ‘Soil & Water’ solution

    Remove any worms you find and replace them into the garden out of direct sunlight...

    To get the right reading your soil-water mixture solution should be a ratio of one part soil to five parts water. Your testing kit maker will tell you that it's best that you use distilled water to prepare the mixture but you can get away with any decently maintained urban water system.

    Now, shake your solution vigorously and place your bottles somewhere where they will not be disturbed. You now have to allow the mixture to settle undisturbed for about 24 hours.

    Yeah, we get it, that’s annoying!

    You still can carry on with the testing.

    Step 3: Checking the pH levels of the dirt

    To check the pH of the soil, you need to fill the (usually) green-capped tube with soil, and then pour the powder from the green capsules.

    Now, (distilled) water and shake vigorously.

    When you allow the mixture to settle, it will slowly change color. When you think the color change has settled you now may compare with the provided pH level chart (provided with the testing kit) to determine the alkalinity of your earth.

    Now you have the knowledge of what pH level is, you can now investigate what options exist to correct the alkalinity of your soil (if that’s what the result was!)

    Step 4: Check Nitrogen, Potassium, and Phosphorous Levels

    Most of the ‘home use’ soil testing kits come with a super handy color chart that allows you to test and determine the level of the NPK elements by matching colors. So, here is how to how to go about it:

    Using a dropper, draw water from your soil-water mixture and fill your tube.

    Add the testing powder to the capsule, and shake well.

    Allow the mixture to stand for about ten minutes and note the color development.

    Then, compare the color with the chart included. The chart is very easy to follow because it categorizes the levels of potassium, nitrogen, or phosphorous into three; high, medium, and low.

    If the NPK are each tested separately, then you’ll need to repeat this testing process for each element.

    Step 5: write down the results and use them for soil management decisions

    Now that you have your testing data, you can make judgments on how to adjust your soil.

    Chances are though, now you’ve discovered your soil is deficient in NPK, you’re just gonna head down to Amazon and buy a big bag of stock standard fertilizer and dump it on your garden. 

    Just don’t add too much alright? 

    An overabundance of NPK can cause issues such as root damage.

    Why is NPK so important to plant growth?

    Nitrogen is heavily used by plants as the primary nutrient to spur leaf and stem growth.

    Phosphorous has been scientifically demonstrated to encourage fruit and flower growth, and is essential to 'green thumbs' growing tomatoes!

    Potassium is the foundational element for developing routes. Without enough potassium, root systems can become stunted which obviously prevents the plant’s future growth. However, farmers and the agriculture industry know too well that too much potassium can cause misshapen roots.

    Have you ever seen a wonky carrot in your garden? A lack of potassium could well be the cause of the deformities (the truth is lots of things can cause carrots and parsnips to not grow straight!)

    How To Test Soil pH with a digital pH tester

    Back in the day, before scientific methods were available to test the soil, farms and other toilers of the soil, would literally taste the earth to try and determine the soil's composition - you had to get a taste for it... which meant eating dirt often.

    Go figure.

    In the modern digital error, digital meter readers with probes can be used to measure the pH level of soil, It's amazing how crucial correct pH levels affect our lives - even beer needs to be brewed at the correct pH level!

    Calibrating ph testers can be a tricky thing, so we're gonna assume you're all over that ;)

    When your soil's pH is too high or too low for a plant, either the plant can't access nutrients already in the soil or the nutrients effectively become toxic to the plant.

    Kind of like Goldilocks, the pH needs to be just right.

    A digital soil pH meter takes the guesswork tells you which soil amendments are needed.

    If your soil is too low in pH, a really good way to raise the pH is to add lime. Lime is actually, calcium carbonate, (CaCO3).

    Basically, the method is to take your sample, add water, and then use the calibrated probe to test for the pH. 

    Gotta make sure those red cabbages grow well right?

    Here's a handy video that shows how to test:

    What is micronutrient testing?

    We appreciate that the correct NPK ratio for your soil is crucially important but there are many other elements / minerals that are important for plant growth. These are commonly referred to as 'micronutrients'

    Let's be clear, most home soil testing kits don’t test for nutrients other than the NPK. However, your fruit and vegetable plants also require other micronutrients to maintain health. These include calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and many more.

    Specialised kits can test for these micronutrients. We venture however that if you are a 'home hobbyist' looking to improve the performance of your garden, you should focus on remedying any deficient NPK levels.

    Can I use pH test strips with soil?

    pH Test strips are great fun. They remind me of litmus testing we did all those years ago in high school. 

    Just like you can test your Kombucha's pH level with strips, you can test your soil's pH with them.

    Standard or “Universal” pH test strips do not necessarily provide the most accurate results when used to test the earth. Garden Tutor Soil pH Test Strips are specially designed and calibrated to ensure accurate soil pH readings.

    They will never be as accurate as a digital meter but if you're an "I just want to be in the ballpark" kind of green thumb gardener, then there's nothing wrong with using a strip.

    Here's a guide to using them, it's a pretty straightforward process:

    how to use pH strips to test soil hello
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