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Author Topic: a word on chain sharpening....  (Read 4219 times)

peacmar

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a word on chain sharpening....
« on: August 25, 2012, 11:17:54 AM »

I seem to find more and more miss information on how to sharpen your chainsaw chain the farther I read through this section and feel I must say something before someone does something to hurt them selves or others....


First and foremost, an electric sharpener properly set up is far more efficient and accurate than hand filing. Hand filing does not hold consistent tooth lengths nor does it hold consistent angles. If your going to hand file properly you must carry a calipers and verify that each tooth is exactly the same length. Within thousanths of an inch. The throat and chisel angles are very critical to proper fiber severance and chip removal and only the most complicated of fixtures can duplicate a properly dressed sharpener wheel.

If you find that a freshly sharpened chain does not cut well first measure the length of the teeth from chisel point to back and ensure they are all the same length.

If they are the same length check that your not cutting too shallow or deep, as the angle of approach is everything.

If your chain dulls very quickly your cutting to shallow. Your making the cutting surface to long and thin and it is wearing or chipping off. For reference, I can cut approximately 4 hours continuously through hard oaks and hickory when we are clearing sections of land as long as I don't find any rocks or dirt or fence posts. That's approximately 8-10 cords of fire wood. Yet the chain isn't truly dull, but the saw is working harder than I would like. As long as the rakers are at the proper height and you never force a cut a chain will stay Sharp for a very long time if properly sharpened.


As far as rakers go.... Well there is so much misinformation is makes my stomach turn with visions of cut up legs and bodies. Raker depth is crucial to a fast clean cut. More is not better. Yes, manufactures make recommendations based on intended use, but the biggest factors are chain pitch, saw size, and type of wood being cut. A small saw with a safety chain will cut best with a .025" Raker depth. But a large saw, say 70cc or more with a 3/8 pitch chain cutting through soft wood may cut better at .035" Raker depth. Yet will cut better through hardwood with a .030" or even .025" Raker depth. The harder the wood the less of a bite you want to take. But with less of a bite you will still cut through the wood at the same speed because with a large bite your cutting teeth are skipping over the wood more than digging in. There is more load on the bearings and clutch, and you are wearing the tie straps because the teeth are being forced to "lean back" under the heavy load.

If your saw seems "grabby" then you took too much off the rakers and have a very very dangerous situation. Brute strength to hold the saw in a cut is ignorance at best. The saw could pull right out of your hand and land on you, not good.

This is a very rough over view but I feel the need to bring these poor and dangerous practices to attention.

The key points to a good cutting chain saw are this:

Keep teeth at equal length and proper angles.

Keep rakers at proper depth.

Keep proper chain tension and oil chain well.




Contrary to popular belief professionals do not file down the rakers for a faster cut. As a matter of fact some of the fastest saws use a very shallow Raker depth. The key to a fast cut is all the above + chain speed. A faster moving chain will remove more material faster, even with less material removed per tooth. For example, my 45cc tanaka with an 18" bar will travel through a piece of 16" oak faster than my 65 cc husqvarna will with the same length bar and same 3/8 pitch full comp. Full chisel chain. This is because the tanaka is turning at 14,000 rpm while the husky is only turning at 8,000 rpm. The chain moves slower even with the bigger saw so it moves through the piece of wood slower.


But there are ways of changing the chain speed and the options are numerous. The easiest, but not necessarily the best when done alone, is to put on a different rim or spur sprocket with more teeth. The teeth are commonly referred to as pins. If you have a 7 pin then put on an 8, you'll notice the difference immediately. But the problem is your saw might not have enough power for this. It's just like changing sprockets on a motorcycle or dirtbike.

If your saw is equipped with a safety chain you can switch it to a full chisel, that will make a noticeable difference. But beware of kickback.

If your really ambitious and have mechanical skills you can gut your muffler and retune your carb. As long as you don't have a limited ignition coil you will gain a substantial amount of rpms by letting the motor breath easier and gain power which may allow a larger sprocket and even higher gains in cutting speed. But keep in mind that the carb must be properly tuned so you don't burn out the piston or cylinder and you could void a warranty.

These are the methods the pro's use. Make more power and more engine speed and gear up the sprocket to utilise that power. I own a 95cc husqvarna that usually totes a 42" bar turned by a 7 pin sprocket. Not the fastest cut but pulls through a long cut. Once in a while I find the need to put on a 20" bar and turn the 3/8" pitch full comp chisel chain with a 9 pin sprocket, runs through hardwood like a knife through butter. Last time I timed a cut on a 18" dia. Piece of 2 year seasoned white oak it averaged about 4 seconds a cut, and all I had was a normal off the shelf Oregon chisel chain and the rakers where only at .025"

Back to the original point. use the files to touch up in the field, use a proper sharpener when the day is over to restore your chain to its proper shape. I've compared the harbor freight unit to a $200 namebrand unit and the chain cuts just as well.  So for the cost of a summer worth of files you can have an electric grinder that will most likely last for quite a few years. Because if you sharpen properly, you will do it less.
« Last Edit: August 26, 2012, 09:06:38 AM by peacmar »
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MattyNH

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Re: a word on chain sharpening....
« Reply #1 on: August 25, 2012, 01:56:27 PM »

Totally disagree about the electric sharpener..I can get my chain way sharper than any electric sharpener out there...Look loggers hand file everything...Hand file way to go.. What you posted is great for someone that knows nothing about sharping a chain..There  are a lot of people out there that don't know how to sharpen chains.. But I do go to say each tooth doesn't have to be the exact length. Not sure where you got that info.. If you hit a rock for example, you got to file that tooth until it has a sharp edge.....Theres a line on each tooth for the angle for hand filing
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peacmar

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Re: a word on chain sharpening....
« Reply #2 on: August 26, 2012, 08:48:16 AM »

Loggers run a file over here and there to touch up but still true up a chain after so many touch up's. Round shaped cutters are slightly forgiving in that respect. If you file one cutter down to fix it though, and not the rest, then that one cutter will be shorter than the others and not even cut again until the others have been taken down also. I base my information on training I have received from workshops put on by Carlton, Oregon, and woodpro, 75 years family experience in logging and tree care combined and 3 previous Generations of knowledge and experience passed on to me. Also keep in mind that every brand new chain is sharpened on a grinding apparatus very similar to the small units for home use. Same angle, same shape, same cut. Benchtop units just lack all the fancy automation.

I know not everybody here is a professional, and some are probably scary to watch operate a saw. But the professionals hold a certain standard for a certain reason. And that's safety. I know that when I'm 75' up chunking down a spar that I need to have a saw running at its very best or my life is at stake. I also.know I can lean back in my saddle, put my saw on my lap, and at 75' in the air hanging from a roap or spurs throw a new chain on in a little bit more than a minute on a good day. So between grinding and change out on a 20" loop I have maybe 4-5 minutes at most.

I did not intend to insult anyone's knowledge or methods that they have always used. Nor do I wish to start a post war. I only wanted to share a very brief portion of the knowledge the "professionals" use in hopes that some misinformed individual out there may stop with a certain bad habit and save him or herself a few stitches or even an arm or a leg.
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willieG

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Re: a word on chain sharpening....
« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2012, 02:29:19 PM »

peacmar, youhave pretty much said everything i have been told by the arborists in my area. i uses to run a file through my chain everytime i added gas to teh saw but witht he little bench grinders now and the price of chain i no longer even do that. i jsut take 4 or five chains to the bush and change them if needed, then  run the dull ones on teh bench grinder. i was told unless you damaged a tooth you should be able to start  at the chain splice and that should keep them all the same. if you have a damaged tooth then yes you must grind the rest of the chain down to match that one. That is what i was taught and i have used that info so far in my life. I may have waisted a bit of chain but i have not ever had one come apart buck back and cut me.
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Re: a word on chain sharpening....
« Reply #4 on: August 26, 2012, 06:05:30 PM »

i have been climbing trees for 26 years. sharpen all my saws by hand have two grinders collecting dust only use if i hit concreat in tree
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willieG

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Re: a word on chain sharpening....
« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2012, 06:32:55 PM »

when i used a file after each tank of gas i was pretty good at keeping it sharp but i eventually got one side sharper than the other and could never get it back the way it should be. then when the little bench grinders got cheap it seemed to me a couple of chains a year was still cheap heating. for you guys that can sharpen by hand and keep them cutting straight i admire you, i think it is a craft in its own. i pay the price for more chain and grind like hell with the electric one!
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MattyNH

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Re: a word on chain sharpening....
« Reply #6 on: August 26, 2012, 07:31:01 PM »

I do have to say I was taught by a logger way back on how to sharpen a chain saw... I may go through 2 chains a yr and thats cutting 25+ cord a yr all said and done..Willie you know any loggers at all? I bet if u ask them on how to sharpen a saw..Im sure they will gladly show you.
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willieG

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Re: a word on chain sharpening....
« Reply #7 on: August 26, 2012, 08:03:35 PM »

i'll bet a good wood cutter that knows how to sharpen a chain can likley sharpen one faster than i can change one.LOL i buy a couple of chains a year and i think me filing would be disater, i cut all dead trees and the bugs have made homes in them and there is grass ,dirt,little pebbles and stuff like that in most of the trees i cut so i just take a handfull of chains with me when i go.

with the ash borer and other things around my part of ontario i REFUSE to cut a live tree and i guess i pay the price with chains because of the dirt and crap behind the bark. out hickory trees here seem to die off early and of course our elm trees all die around my part with a trunk of about 10 or 12 incheswhite ash are all infected and some die each year. as one dies the bugs just move next door to the closest one and start into it. i can see in my ravine this year that almost every ash tree is infected and a lot will have very little leaves on them next year.
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peacmar

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Re: a word on chain sharpening....
« Reply #8 on: August 26, 2012, 08:19:16 PM »

I'm actually glad we have both approaches here. Yes, I can and do file my chains. Especially the 2 square ground on for the long bar. My grandfather taught me how to use a double bevel file when I was young and the efficiency of a square ground cutter on a long bar makes all the difference. I also feel that the art of filing a chain is something that most people never have the opportunity to truly learn properly so a grinder makes more sense for the average user. If you use a high quality stone in a good grinder you get just as high quality cutting edge and all your angles are correct. For the more experience user that knows what top plate angles work best for what situation and when to adjust the side plate angle for conditions a hand file can make quick adjustments on the fly a snap. But at the same time, when time is money and maximum production is essential a grinder can make or break the bank. I guess the conditions of work, the region you live in, and where and when you learned to sharpen are all factors that contribute to what works best for you. In the northern Midwest we get paid by volume not hourly when land clearing and selling to the mill. When pruning or removing from a residential setting efficiency and safety become number one to prevent climber fatigue. For the occasional firewood collector, I personally would like to see that the saw user does so in as safe a manner as possible. These are the individuals that learned on their own, and in the school of hardknocks, the less hardknocks you endure the longer you are in the game.

While I grew up in a family of professionals and learned from the experiences of my predecessors I watched friends injure themselves and practice dangerous methods. A close friend of mine almost lost his leg from the knee down right in front of me because of his lack of knowledge on saw use. Had he been using a professional saw instead of a baby Poulan when the top of the bar pinched the saw would not have bogged when it kicked out of the cut and he probably would have severed his leg completely.


That being said, I want to thank all you for your input so far. Let's not argue which is better and instead take this is a more positive direction.

Mattynh- you very strongly advocate hand filing, what are some tips you can share that you attribute to the success you have had? Please be as descriptive as possible. What steps do you follow? What do you find to be the best way to secure the saw and chain as you work on it? Any specific items or fixtures you highly recommend? How do you personally judge when your cutters and depth gauges are correct? Please share your insight for the benefit of all, and any one else who has any tips please do so also. I intended for this to become a wealth and sharing of information in the spirit of the "forum" so let's carry on down the path of enlightenment.
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MattyNH

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Re: a word on chain sharpening....
« Reply #9 on: August 28, 2012, 07:49:38 PM »

Bud, you sound like a safety officer at a const site.. no offense.. Yes chain saws are dangerous if mis used just like anything else.. .By the way what do you have for a OWB??  Look everyone has there way of hand sharpening their saw.. Really no right or wrong way of doing it...Bottom line as long as its sharp and does the job of cutting the wood..What do you have for a saw? Yes Im a huge advocate of hand filing..Its hard to teach on this..Maybe someone on "YOUTUBE" posted a video on it...I use my chains until there is virtually no teeth on the chain itself and its  just as sharp since the chain was bran new. Grinders are a waste of $$ and ill stick to that
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peacmar

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Re: a word on chain sharpening....
« Reply #10 on: August 30, 2012, 04:44:23 AM »

OWB: home made version 2.0 working on version 3.0, originally built a traditional, then a gasifier, now going for very high efficiency gasifier with wasteoil backup. Currently 500 gallon capacity adding another 700 gallons with the new burner to heat a 3500 sq ft shop along with the house. New unit will be in its own shed in back and resemble a Frohling plus I'm adding a condensing heat exchanger to it. I've dabbled with syngas enough to know I can get a clean enough burn for this. Check the homemade section.

Saws: husky 395 xp, husky 365xp with 371 cyl ported and muffler mod, tanaka 3301 pfs top handle saw for climbing, vintage husky L65 mod as a backup saw.


I'm a climber and have a partial stake in a family owned tree service, and as a climber safety is always the first thing on my mind. Then customer satisfaction. Then production.

This is a forum where people come to learn from others, if someone that comes here isn't willing to share what they know it kinda defeats the purpose doesn't it? Of course, I always have had a very "technical" mind set so maybe its just me. But I ask this, safety aside, why not have your tools and equipment operating at its very best? When I was younger and raced motocross every aspect of the bike had to be perfect or catastrophic results could occur. I then moved on to drag racing as I got older, and learned even more so that every integrated part of a machine must be in top condition as every piece interacts with eachother. Now I carry this requirement through all I do. I check my plug, check my filters, and adjust the carb every time I fire up a saw for the first time of the day. If everything else is at its best why not have the chain be also?
« Last Edit: August 30, 2012, 07:48:40 AM by peacmar »
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beeman

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Re: a word on chain sharpening....
« Reply #11 on: May 18, 2013, 11:39:07 PM »

hey all have not been on in a while been working with father inlaw on weekends he is a logger has tryed to teach me to hand file but like he told me in a good way [boy when you trash enough of your own chains you will figure it out ] after today not to toot my own horn but am finly getting the hang of it . he is trusting me to cutting out logs that have been bucked up, i find fire would to bee much easer what i do is my file fits into a guide but when i get home i put chains on bench grinder its to late to do the math but after 62 logs every 4th cut i would have to sharpen we all know about the chain being dangers but i tell you what when the saw kicks straite back out at you hitting you in the shine with the lower handle it hurt so bad dam neare threw up better go mis this place    by the why been tacking pic of log spliter build hope to post soon
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nstueve

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Re: a word on chain sharpening....
« Reply #12 on: January 28, 2014, 08:52:58 AM »

Just an outside prospective.

I have 3 grinders: 511a, 511ax, and a Silvey RazorsharpII with a custom swing arm (square grinder).

I will true a chain if its had the dirt nap to many times or hit the fence wire. But I carry a simiple husky clam guide that costs less than $20 at the local farm store. It includes 2 round files, 1 flat, 1 handle, and 1 guide. They are so simple to use even the worst hand sharpener can get by with 4-6 touch ups before needing a grind.

Honestly all you need is consistency. The same number of even file strokes on both sides. If you touch one up 3-4 times and want to check; you can measure with a digital caliper ($10 at any auto store or harbor freight) to make sure your tooth length is the same. Even if tooth length is off significantly it will only make you hook your cut to the side when bucking. The only other thing you really need is a decent raker guage to check and file the rakers.

I can't count how many of those husky guide sets i've sold but after teaching a guy for 5mins he can now sharpen on his own without depending on grinder time. Don't give away the fish, teach the guy to fish for himself.   
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