How to Port a Chainsaw — A Step-by-Step Guide

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If you have done everything you could to make your chainsaw cut wood faster and easier, but it’s still not performing at its best, you might want to try porting it. Doing this will not only increase its power but also extend its lifespan! 

If you’re interested in enhancing your chainsaw’s performance, let me share with you my insights on how to port a chainsaw for optimal results.

What Does Porting Entail + Advantages

Porting is just one type of saw modification available. Changes include port timing adjustments, a new carburetor, and a different stock cylinder geometry.

After the process, you can enjoy these advantages:

disassembling chainsaw for porting

Tools and Materials You’ll Need

chainsaw porting tools

Protective Equipment

What to Do First Before Porting Your Chainsaw

Start disassembling the chainsaw by detaching the cylinder base and gas or oil tank at the porting area. I also make sure to remove the chain bar. It’s a method that’s worked for me time and again.

But be careful as you’re taking things apart. Next, wipe the cylinder wall dry to remove oil. Take precise measurements of the engine and write them down.

Porting a Chainsaw: 5 Steps

Step #1: Widen the Exhaust

To pressurize the muffler, connect the air compressor to the exhaust port, and then insert the airline. Open the regulator on the compressor to the desired setting, and it will deliver a blast of compressed air to the chainsaw. You can achieve this by using an air-powered drill.

filing cylinder lining with air powered drill

You can use an electric Dremel to prevent the exhaust valve from being shot open suddenly and forcefully.

To reduce the height of the chainsaw jug, you will also engage in squishing. The process you’ll use together with the thin gasket is called milling.

Step #2: Remove the Exhaust Holes

Remove the muffler’s exhaust holes, leaving the compressor hooked to the gas chainsaw. All holes can be seen when the CAT muffler is taken off. After that, continue cutting until all metal has been removed. It’s a meticulous process, but it has always worked for me.

Don’t forget to turn off the compressor and let it cool down for at least half an hour. It makes it easy for you to go on to the following phase.

Step #3: Attach the Muffler Top

Wait until the chainsaw has cooled down, then carefully install the muffler cap (half section) and securely tighten it.

attaching chainsaw muffler

Holes (that you just made) can be filled with sealant gum and allowed to be set.

Step #4: Drill on the Muffler

Create an opening in its muffler to use as a vent. Avoid doing it too deeply or at an awkward angle if you must hole.

Make a clean, precise hole for the exhaust with a power drill.

Step #5: Polish the Holes

After drilling and sawing, smooth everything out with a metal file and remove excess material. 

Put that gas-powered chainsaw to the test and see if the saw has a higher compressor ratio. And a little tip from my experience: sanding the components and adding a fresh coat of paint really gives it a refined look.

Other Methods of Porting

In addition to the conventional method, alternative approaches achieve similar results.

chainsaw cylinder

Putting sawdust into the saw’s combustion chamber is one method. As a result, the saw’s combustion ratio will increase, allowing it to cut with more force.

The process’ main function is to reduce the chainsaw’s operating temperature. Wood porting is an unconventional method. Therefore, a high level of skill is required to avoid unnecessary corrosion.

If you’re just starting these procedures of the box practice, you shouldn’t consider trying to do this process just to increase the chainsaw performance.

Other than porting a chainsaw, some minor modifications for increasing power include the following:

perrson holding chainsaw carburetor

Risks and Hazards to Know

Since the ports are crucial to operating a standard chainsaw, they deserve our utmost care. I’ve also come across several YouTube channels that discuss different porting techniques. But if you’re ever in doubt, consulting an expert or specialist in your vicinity is always a wise move.

Unfortunately, not everyone is careful when they try to boost compression. They make it possible for the exhaust ports to be so large that the rings on the exhaust system may get clipped.

An improperly ported chainsaw engine may lose some of its engine speed or power and, in extreme cases, become unusable. That means it won’t have as much oomph, and chopping wood will be more of a chore.

filing cylinder lining

If you want more power out of your saw, take time to know how its engine works. People who port a chainsaw often chop off a sizable chunk of the engine cylinder edge or the piston crown to make room for the piston ports. 

Because of this, it suffers the effects and becomes useless. Therefore, chainsaws are not worth porting sometimes.

Should I Port the Chainsaw Myself or Hire a Professional?

Even if given for a good price, woods porting services are never reliable, regardless of how skilled or well-respected the mechanics may be.

If you want quality work done and better performance, it’s important to take time and do your homework when selecting a mechanic.

A chainsaw owner should consider that the benefits of this process will vary according to the builder’s skill level. Try not to fall for all the hoopla. No amount of hype will make a builder proficient at wood porting.

porting chainsaw

It takes a long response time, which is typical. Six to eight weeks is typical, although it can take a few months.

When it comes to “upgrading” from the standard saw to a brand new one, most chainsaw owners merely take it to a mechanic who wood ports without research.

There may be a $500 fee associated with wood porting. It’s not cheap, and if you don’t hire the “correct” mechanic, you might not even receive what you pay for.

I strongly recommend looking for one who can help you remotely if you can’t find a competent local mechanic. The cost of two-way shipping could increase your total cost. You might not want to use UPS if you pay high customs fees and taxes.

However, spending a few bucks on shipping is inconsequential when weighed against the saw’s potential gain over its lifetime.


How will I know if my chainsaw is powerful enough? And how to get more power from my chainsaw?

You will know if your chainsaw is powerful enough through its amperage (A) [1]. More digits on its compression ratio mean a more powerful chainsaw. Even though there are other ways to do it, porting can effectively increase your chainsaw’s power.

How much will it cost to port my chainsaw?

To have someone port a chainsaw can cost anywhere from $100 to $300. A trip to the shop to have the cylinder head shape cut for porting purposes might cost you $40. 

This is going to be another four hours or more before getting accurate timing data, and actually porting a chainsaw is also time-consuming.

What does “woods porting” mean?

Woods porting is one way to boost the chainsaw engine’s horsepower and torque. The main goal is to improve the chainsaw’s compressor ratio and refine the chainsaw’s exhaust system. 

The idea behind the process is that it improves engine performance by a small margin over standard power tools.

Is it safe to leave fuel in my chainsaw?

You can leave fuel in your chainsaw and should never let your chainsaw run dry. Instead, use a high-quality gas stabilizer. Adding a stabilizer can keep the gas from going bad and prevent damage to the fuel system caused by using old gas.

Will my chainsaw consume more fuel after porting?

After porting chainsaw engines, there won’t be any discernible difference in fuel consumption. However, you’ll need to purchase more gasoline to keep up with the increased power curves, the efficiency of a customized tool, and a more robust porting engine. 


Only learn how to port a chainsaw if you are ready to take the risk. A strong saw with a good compressor ratio and exhaust path will do wonders and make short work of chopping wood, but keep in mind the risks you’ll be taking. And remember to exercise extreme caution in operating any power tool, especially chainsaws.

If this is your first time doing something like this, you should get direct consultation from a professional chainsaw user to know the dangers involved and maybe even save more money on chainsaws.

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Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You’ve probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.

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