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best way to sharpen a chain saw?

Post in 'The Gear' started by par0thead151, Sep 28, 2010.

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  1. Beowulf

    Beowulf New Member

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    I like the HF unit pretty well. A "light touch" works best. Once things are set, just touch the tooth for about 1 second. Repeat a couple of times if the tooth has obvious damage. The chains I use seem to cut about as good as they ever did coming back from the hardware store service that I used a few times for sharpening. I think there have been some reviews on the HF or CE unit, as well as the more expensive ones. It is not a high quality tool, but it seems to work pretty well for $29.

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  2. CTYank

    CTYank Minister of Fire

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    Wish I could see what you're doing, before commenting. Of course, I assume you're filing each side in the same direction- exiting at the cutting edge. Sometimes, I've noticed that a small vertical adjustment is rqd on the second side cutters. Maybe, if you pretend that each side is a new job- set up each from scratch- maybe a 60-sec job each. Happy filing.
  3. fidiro

    fidiro New Member

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    I bought this HB grinder about 2 years ago for $29. I have sharpened my 3/8lp chains on it, .325's and .375's
    I personaly am not a professional at sharpening but I have to say that the 1/8" grinding wheel it comes with works best on the 3/8lp it's ok on the 325's and I guess it will sharpen the .375 but not to my liking. It would work best on the bigger chains with a 3/16" wheel and an actual chain tilt in addition to the angle built into the grinder. I have placed a 1/4" piece of wood on the angle to lift up on side and create a tilt to the chain but again I think a 3/16" wheel would probably work better. This thing is all plastic so it does give some and flex but it was 29 bucks. Just have to be gentle with it to get a good sharp chain.

    I use the .375's the most and have 8 or 9 20" and 3 25" green link stihl chains. Although I have been using the 1/8" wheel I really should look into finding a wider grinding wheel to experiment as I depend mostly on the ms390. I always take 3 or 4 extra sharpened 20" chains with me when cutting just in case one didn't get sharp enough.
  4. mtarbert

    mtarbert Minister of Fire

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    I think you guys just may be over-thinking the entire precess and concept of sharpening. I find that if I hit each tooth 4-5 licks with a file for every tank of gas the saw will never get really dull. This excludes nails or rock hits. Just my opinion.
  5. ramonbow

    ramonbow Member

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    I prefer to hand sharpen for several reasons. I know how, I am able, it costs me nothing but time, I have had some bad experiences with having them sharpened by others, it is convenient, i know I am taking the minimum amount of metal off to get the chain sharp.

    Two things to note about sharpening: make sure you have new files - they do wear out over time and remember to dress your bar and file your rakers occassionally as well.
  6. Flatbedford

    Flatbedford Minister of Fire

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    I have had good results filing by hand. If I do a quickie every 2 or 3 tankfulls, it is quick and easy to restore the chain to nearly new condition as long as there is no major damage on y wear to the cutters. I use the tooth itself as a guide. After really messing up a chain last winter I bought one of these for less than $20.
    http://www.mowermagic.co.uk/acatalog/stihl-File-Sharpening-Kit.jpg
    With it I was able to get even the chain that I could not fix free hand as sharp as new. I can easily carry a hand file or the guide kit anywhere for quick and easy sharpening on the saw.
    I also use Stihl chains and find that I sharpen less often than I did with Oregon chain.
  7. WARDNEAL

    WARDNEAL New Member

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    I use the dremmel and a power inverter so I can sharpen in the field if needed. I also have the files and use them in my cordless drill.

    Both are fast and easy.

    Both are not exact but you will get a chain that will cut well and with practice it will be like a new chain everytime.

    If you want the least metal removed and sharpest use the hand files and practice.

    For me the results of the dremmel are the best.

    Hope you find what works best for you.
  8. northwinds

    northwinds Minister of Fire

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    That's been the trick for me. I was never happy with my hand filing until I started using the vice. The difference was like night and day.
  9. Jamess67

    Jamess67 Feeling the Heat

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    ordered the HF grinder. Hope you all were right...lol
  10. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

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    You can find some good use one (511a and ax and a few other brand name) on ebay, but depends on what demand you have for the machine.
  11. OhioBurner©

    OhioBurner© Minister of Fire

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    You have a good point. I was just going by what my dad does and my BIL too. They say to hand file every couple/few hours and after 4-5 hand filings to take it in. Thats basically going back and forth between a flat grinder cut and a round file correct? I've never taken a chain in yet so dont know but assume they are using a flat grinder like what the HF one would do.

    Thing is, my HF sharpener is still in box and I just got a coupon for it $10 less (I paid $40 coupon is $30), so I was thinking about taking it back. But if I do that I could just return it al together and buy something like the granburg mentioned above... that way I'd stick to one method. Or I could just use the HF and instead of hand filing intra-day I could just swap chains. Would 2 chains last a day of sawing? I might get a third - want to get something a bit more aggressive than the RMC3.
  12. kenskip1

    kenskip1 Member

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    I also had the Harbor Freight grinder. I had relatively good results with it but I needed something more substantial and bought this! Ken

    Attached Files:

  13. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    The HF grinder wheel, like most wheels, is a flat disc but the edge of the disc has a somewhat round shape that isn't perfectly round but isn't like using a square bastard file either.

    I have only two chains for the stihl and just one is easily enough to fill my truck with a cord of firewood. I keep a second sharp chain in the tool kit for that unfortunate dulling from hitting the dirt, muddy wood, or a buried rock. Yes, have more than one chain. Two is good, three is better. Just swap them out in the field, I used my tailgate yesterday and took the opportunity to flip the bar and clean the oiling system. There is no reason that you can't touch up a slightly dull chain with a grinder, they only take off lots of metal if you want to.

    Nice grinder Ken. I would of course rather have a really nice stout quality grinder just like I would rather eat nice steak every day but for many folks, the HF grinder is perfectly adequate at a cheaper price. As I understand it, there is a nice Oregon? brand unit for only like triple the cost of the HF that is the next step up. Then there are the several hundred dollar units for the pros.
  14. fidiro

    fidiro New Member

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    This grinder will come with the 1/8" wheel. If you want to sharpen a .325 or bigger chain you should look into changing it to the 3/16" wheel. The 1/8 does a decent job on 3/8lp chains but I don't like what it does to the 3/8 .050 chains. I have sharpened a few of a family members' .325's .063 and although it will do the job on them the grinder should really use the 3/16 wheel.
  15. fidiro

    fidiro New Member

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  16. fidiro

    fidiro New Member

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  17. fidiro

    fidiro New Member

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    I messed up the quotes above
  18. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    I'm using the OEM pink 1/8" (I guess) wheel on the HF grinder to sharpen 3.8 0.50 Stihl chain. Seems to work great. What is the benefit with going to the 3/16" wheel? Are wheels expensive?
  19. fidiro

    fidiro New Member

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    It will create more cutting area on the lower part of tooth. I guess I could compare the 1/8" wheel to using a 1/8" hand file or just slighty larger, it just doesn't do the job to my liking on the 3/8 .050 chains as it only leaves a small amount of sharp edge on lower part of tooth. I have been using it like that for the past year but will be changing the wheel. Dressing the wheel to round it will also help. I still feel that having 4-5 sharp chains on hand, or in my case 9-10, is better to just change on site than having to go through 72 teeth hand filing. I have hand filed and although I had mastered it, I still like to just throw a sharp chain on and keep cutting. I'll then sharpen 4-5 chains in one sitting.

    If the grinder also had a tilt for the chain with the 3/16 wheel it will sharpen it like a hand file, or close to it. But, again it was only $29. I place a small thin flat piece of wood to lift one side of chain guide to create a tilt.

    Place a chain on this grinder that was sharpened with a hand file, or new chain would be better but DON'T run grinder or scrape new teeth with wheel, and try to angle and tilt the grinder wheel to match the original tooth angle and tilt. You will see that 1/8 wheel will not sharpen the same area of tooth and 3/16 will get real close to the original angle and tilt. Tilt will be off some unless you place something flat like I do.
  20. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    So the 3/16" wheel more closely mimics the factory grind. I plan to grind 3/8 or even bigger chain forever so I may just buy one of the 3/16" wheels, keep the 1/8" wheel for friends with poulans.

    Oh, one drawback to just swapping chains in the field is that the saw gets hot. The chain, bar, and even the bar nuts can be too hot to handle. Especially if you are trying to get by with a dull chain for awhile before finally giving in and putting a fresh one on.
  21. charly

    charly Guest

    Hand file, once you spend some time , you'll get an understanding of what needs to be done. Go to Harbor Freight and pick up a dial indicator, they're cheap there. Put one paint dot on top of a cutter, start measuring the length of the cutters as you go around and keeping bringing the dial caliper dial back to the zero mark as you keep finding a smaller cutter. Once around to the paint dot, you've now found the shortest cutter. Now rotate the dial face until you reading .005 above zero,if the cutters aren't bad. If the cutters are in rough shape I'll remove about .010. Now file each cutter until your back to reading zero on each one. That my friend gives you a nice cutting chain. I only do this about half way thru the cutters life. Other than that I just look at the hash mark on the cutter and eye them for equal length. Don't forget to do the rakers too after you even up all the cutters. You'll need a raker gauge and a flat file. After filing each raker I do one stroke on the nose of the raker to round off the leading edge, so it's not square. Hey, best of all, if the power goes out, and you got downed trees in a storm, you can still sharpen your chain :) Hand filing like this only removes very little material and you'll get a long service life from your chains. I found brand new chains out of the box with a difference of .010 between cutter lengths. I like to keep them within 0- .003 difference between cutter lengths.
  22. Got Wood

    Got Wood Minister of Fire

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    Well you guys convinced me to give it a try. Ordered it yesterday for $29.99. Will report back once I get to use it.
  23. toytrkman

    toytrkman New Member

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    I purchased this one from Northern Tool and found it almost as good as the Oregon that I used at work for many years.

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  24. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    That's the one that jay says is the best copy of the expensive Oregon.
  25. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    Those get great reviews too. Of course, you paid probably about 4 times what the HF unit cost so it had better be good.
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