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Advice/tips on chain sharpening needed

Post in 'The Gear' started by Socratic Monologue, Apr 10, 2010.

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  1. Socratic Monologue

    Socratic Monologue Member

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    I'm finding that the hardest part of this whole project of burning wood is keeping a sharp chain on the saw (Husqvarna 455, if that matters). I've been taking the chain to a shop to be ground after I file it a couple times, but I've figured out that they are abusing the chain more than I am -- they take off about half the cutter, and almost as much of the raker. I need to figure out how to do this myself.

    I have a "Forester" file kit, with a stamped steel guide that fits on the file; I haven't found this to be any better than freehanding the file. I also have a "Pferd" file kit, with the guide that holds the round file as well as a flat file for the rakers; this seems to be a much better tool.

    Still, I am having one problem. I have not figured out how to get the edge on the top plate of the cutter sharp. The side plate I can sharpen fine, and the point is a little less sharp, but the top plate seems not to contact the file correctly to put an edge on it. I think I have the 25 degree angle of the top plate correct, and I put about a 10 degree angle downward (this I gleaned from the manual that came with the saw, though I am now using Carlton chains that the shop sold me since that is what they carry) on the file.

    Any ideas as to why the top plate might not be getting sharp like it is supposed to? I'd like to figure out how to hand file, since it seems like plenty of folks here do only this and keep their chains plenty sharp.

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  2. thewoodlands

    thewoodlands Minister of Fire

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  3. loon

    loon Minister of Fire

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    one size up on the file that its rated for...
    i have to use what zapny put up or i am all over the place.


    [​IMG]
  4. Socratic Monologue

    Socratic Monologue Member

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    The "Forester" is like the one in loon's picture; the Pferd is visually indistinguishable from the Husqvarna file, except for the color (the blue file guide really clashes with my blaze orange saw and PPE).

    loon, are you saying that I ought to use a larger diameter file than the 7/16" that the chain is supposed to be sharpened with? Is there a larger diameter round file sold for chain sharpening use? I thought 7/16" was already the biggest common size. I can imagine how a thicker file would solve the problem I'm having, although I don't think that there would be enough clearance behind the raker -- the file already drags on the back of the raker if I am not careful.
  5. loon

    loon Minister of Fire

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    what i do is after about a dozen touch ups on a new chain, i will go from a 3/16th to a 13/64 file. not sure if this is proper but it works very well for me...

    will try and post a pic later with the larger one on the chain.


    [​IMG]

    Terry
  6. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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    Forget the file guide gizmos... freehand it. Also, watch that 10 degree angle. Chances are the chain is canting over in the groove so if you're 10 degrees to the bar, you are way off. Try holding the file parallel to the top of the cutter, not relative to the bar.
  7. Socratic Monologue

    Socratic Monologue Member

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    Edit to the above posts: I'm using 7/32", not 7/16". I got overtired cutting with a dull chain yesterday...

    I'll try to find a 5/16" file around here and see if that makes a difference. Need some new files anyway, I think; I read somewhere that I should be replacing the file after 6 or 8 sharpenings, so mine are possibly shot.

    I did try a little freehand yesterday, and although I didn't get any better results than using the 'gizmo', I felt like that might be the right way to learn exactly what I'm doing, and what I'm doing wrong.
  8. loon

    loon Minister of Fire

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    here is the 16/64 on one of my used chains.

    sorry not very good with a camera...

    [​IMG]
  9. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

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    That looks really good!
  10. Socratic Monologue

    Socratic Monologue Member

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    So I think I figured out that my problem was a combination of (1) depending too much on the file guide, and (2) a dull...no, really dull...file. I went to town to get a larger diameter file, but the largest they (well, TSC) had was a 7/32", so I got a pair of them. Came home, compared the new files to the old and realized that the new files are noticeably thicker than the old ones. Same nominal diameter, but the old ones had been worn down to where they were not contacting the cutter correctly, I think.

    So I sharpened up a chain (freehand) and headed out into the woods. It was a little sharper, I guess, for about 1/3 tank of gas and then it was dull. So I sat down and really took my time with each cutter, going slowly and making sure each was nice and sharp on all cutting surfaces before I went on to the next one. Listening to the birds helped, too. Nice pleasant afternoon here today. This chain was quite a bit better than the first. After a couple rounds of this, I've got it to where the chain stays reasonably sharp through a full tank of gas.

    Thanks for the feedback. I was getting discouraged there for a while.
  11. WES999

    WES999 Minister of Fire

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    I have one of these, pretty much the same thing as the file and joint.
    I think it does a good job. With some practice it is just about as fast as filing freehand but more accurate.

    Attached Files:

  12. loon

    loon Minister of Fire

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    Wes, my problem is that when i am over on the farm the sharpening is done off this.
    cant beat bringing it home to the vice.
    and like i said before, i have to have something to help me as i cant keep a straight line on the chain..

    i seen that at home depot the other day.

    Terry


    [​IMG]
  13. savageactor7

    savageactor7 Minister of Fire

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    Forget the file guide gizmos… freehand it.

    yup what LL says, plus tighten the chain up so it doesn't move when you draw a file across it. Keep your feet/body still while you do one side then the other...you move the chain the chain doesn't move you.

    For me the best place to file is as close to the powerhead where I have it viced down. Use a felt tipped pen to mark off the cleaned off starter tooth.

    As you draw the file across the tooth try and twist it up to the point...the points do most of the cutting. After 10 or so times you'll get the hang of it. It's a good idea to keep a log round close by so you test it by taking a inch off to see if you're cutting square...don't forget to put chain at proper tension before testing.
  14. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    I think the "gizmos" have their place as most people who sharpen by hand recomend to have them sharpened buy a shop every 10 times or so to get the angles trued up, some of these "gizmos" keep the angles correct so you can skip taking them to the shop who also use "gizmos".
  15. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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    Just like the grinders in the shop, those gizmos rely on the operator setting it up and doing it right. They don't make idiot-proof gizmos. The OP stated the shop would grind off way too much and who knows if they got the profile right or not.

    My father could never sharpen a chain his entire life so I bought him one of those gizmos. I showed him how to set it up properly but he never did get the hang of it so everytime I went to visit him there were a dozen mangled chains to waiting for me. He'd get them so dull that they would get hot and when he ran it into the wet ground, they would harden to the point the file would just skip and get a shine on it.
  16. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    Its all about learning as much as you can about the subject, all I was saying is even some of the experts like to have the angles squared up afther 10 times or so, if you can use something that keeps the angles correct you do not have to relay on someone else. Not knowing how to use the gizmo is a whole another subject.
  17. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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    No, the gizmo not working out as expected IS the topic of this thread, not another subject. Whether or not the problem is a knowledge issue is conjecture.
  18. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    If you can not figure out the gizmo then how are you going to figure out how to hand file it correctly?
  19. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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    Ja, that is my point. The gizmo is like training wheels that don't really teach you how to ride a bike. I think every chain should come in a box with a giant size picture of how a properly sharpened cutter should look. Then it's just a matter of making it look the same. Keep a new chain on hand to compare to and don't cont on the shop grinding correctly or a gizmo to bring a chain back in true.
  20. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    I think you might have missed one of my points earlier, most people who hand file recomend taking it to a shop to true up the angles after 10 or so sharpenings so why not use a gizmo (getting tired of that word) to keep the angles true. I think the devices for sharpening still need the same knowledge for hand filing so take some of the guess work out of it. By their own admission the hand filers can not keep the angles perfect.
  21. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

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    Your right old spark even some of the best hand sharpeners will need help from time to time..with that said after you get some experienced with it free hand will come in time but no need to push it just take your time and do it right that's the most important part!
  22. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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    Points are being missed all around. Yes, there are a lot of people that say take it to a shop to get the chain back to true but if the shop does a hack job, you're not back to true. The same thing with the gizmos. They are not foolproof so you can hack up the chain with one and not be any closer to true.

    There is anecdotal evidence of both at the start of this thread. The OP stated the shop grind was dubious and that his gizmo guided filing wasn't working. What more do you want?

    I did a lot of skate sharpening years ago between bush work. I also overhauled and calibrated the grinders. Anyone can buy a grinder, hang up a shingle, and call themself an expert. I've seen a lot of hack jobs. The owner of the shop I worked at was a hack. Customers would hang back and wait for me to spell off the owner at the grinder and then bring me their skates, asking that I grind them right away and not leave them for the owner to do. Sometimes they would come ask me to do their skates even when the owner was at the sharpener. The funny thing was that I couldn't even skate at the time.
  23. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    That would not be the first time I missed points, I guess it all comes down to what works for you, the only reason I posted was because it sounded like the sharpeners were being written off as no good. One shop screwed up one of my chains once and I made them buy me a new chain, they were not happy but they knew they were wrong, other wise when ever I have a shop sharpen my chain they are better than what I do by far!
  24. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    What 10 degree angle are you refering to?
  25. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

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    I guess there is no one you can trust with your chains not even yourself! lol I guess most people see all the wood I have stack and piled that I must know some-
    thing about chains and there are others around who do a good job its not a Rocket!
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