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Chain Sharpening

Post in 'The Gear' started by kruger, Nov 22, 2008.

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  1. kruger

    kruger Member

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    I've got a foley I've been using for a long time. I keep my chains pretty clean (changing chains every few hours on a good day of cutting hardwood). When I put on a freshly sharpened chain, I certainly notice the hot knife through butter effect. HOWEVER, if I was to put on a brand-new chain, it would embarrass my freshly sharpened chain by the foley. My question: Is there any way to get a used chain (one that has PLENTY of life in the tooth) near as sharp as a brand-new chain?

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  2. Bigg_Redd

    Bigg_Redd Minister of Fire

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    Yes. I do it all the time.

    Are you filing the dogs every 3rd or 4th time you're filing the teeth?

    Are you keeping a 35-40 degree angle on your teeth?

    What's a foley?
  3. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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    I tried a google search and best I could come up with, it's either a catheter or a fashion handbag.

    My hand filed chains cut no different than a new chain. I certainly get more than a few hours on achain. ISTR the last 12 cord I bucked up, starting on a new chain, I sharpened it twice.
  4. Sealcove

    Sealcove Member

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    I would argue that depending on the wood you are cutting and the chain, that a well filed used chain can cut better than a new one.
  5. syd3006

    syd3006 Member

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    It is helpful to file your chain often if you are having difficulty sharpening, it is easier to maintain a sharp chain so it doesn't get to damaged or dull. I usually file every couple of tankfuls, you may want to file every tankful. I try to keep the teeth on the chain as even as possible so I look for what I think is the dullest tooth and start there. If it takes ten strokes of the file to get that one sharp, that's what I give them all. The rakers should be slightly lower than the teeth, if the teeth are the same height as them the chain will not cut. You can buy a cheap but effective little tool to help with this. Some chains have a guide line on the tooth that will help to maintain the proper cutting angle, I follow this angle and tilt my file upward very slightly.

    Keeping a saw chain sharp can be frustrating and it takes practice but it can be done.
  6. Bigg_Redd

    Bigg_Redd Minister of Fire

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    I grew up under this impression, but it's a fairly useless notion in my opinion. I sharpen every tooth till it's sharp whether it takes 2 passes with the file or 20.
  7. kruger

    kruger Member

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    A Belsaw Foley is a brand of chain sharpener. It has a degree regular and has the ability to clean a chain up pretty quick. I've used the OEM wheels for years and they are pretty course. The sharpener keeps the grind on each tooth at a perfect angle and sharpens very evenly. However, it doesn't get the tooth razor sharp like what you find on a new chain. I suppose I could run a hand file over each tooth after I use the grinder. I just figured experts like you would have a trick I wasn't aware of. I do grind the guides occasionally, not to much as to bog the saw or make bogging the saw easy (not sure if that make sense). Not a handbag, on the contrary, I've found the 30" Dewalt tool bags make great spare chain and bar bags.

    This is similar but much newer than the one I have.
    [​IMG]

    My handbag
    [​IMG]
  8. syd3006

    syd3006 Member

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    A friend of mine in the logging industry gave me this tip and he uses a chainsaw to make a living. I think this is sensible practice, I would not want the teeth of my other saws to be random heights or lengths.
  9. Sealcove

    Sealcove Member

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    He gave you good advice; A chain with uneven teeth will not cut nearly as well, and it usually leads to chatter and uneven cutting.
  10. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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    There's no need to over analyze it. If one cutter stands a little proud, it will do more cutting and will dull more, needing more filing, evening it all out in the end. I've cut wood professionally in my youth and never heard of such nonsense. I don't gauge their height and I don't count strokes.
  11. kruger

    kruger Member

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    It sounds like I'm the only one who isn't sharpening with a hand file. I guess I thought most active cutters would have been using an electric file. Go figure. After all these years, to think I could have been using a hand file....I guess I can imagine all that work. The electric is so convenient, but sounds inferior after hearing from you guys.
  12. sl7vk

    sl7vk New Member

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    I think that the electric's are great in terms of speed, but I've heard complaints that it is very easy to overheat the cutting teeth. when this happens, they'll go dull real quick once you start cutting. The metal has become compromised..... or so I'm told....
  13. Sealcove

    Sealcove Member

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    If the teeth are off by a little it is not a big deal. If over the life of a chain teeth vary greatly, which can happen with bad sharpening, the chain will cut like crap. I will wager you $100 that it is noticeable and significant if you compared a chain that you can visually tell is uneven to an even chain on the same saw and bar. Do you have to keep them even? No, but if you want the pest performing chain you do. The chain manufactures will tell you that as well.
  14. kwikrp

    kwikrp Feeling the Heat

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    Quite new to this burning wood, felling, bucking ect. I have used chainsaws in the past (maybe a couple of hours/year) but would have a shop sharpen my chain when I brought it in for a tune up before the season, or buy a new one. Could someone explain how one sharpens a chain manually. Do you do it on the bar or off? How long does it take for say an 18 inch bar ? Whats the difference between filing and sharpening? I have seen different types of chains with different pitches they must be used for different applications if so what are they? Sorry for the ignorance, but it is a legit question for me, and maybe others would be curious too.
  15. WoodMann

    WoodMann Minister of Fire

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    Hey- not meaning to hi- jack the thread but it's on the subject. Seems I've gone as far as I can go with hand filing and was under the impresion that after a certian number of hand filings the chain needs to be machine sharpened................
  16. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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    My father could not sharpen a chain or even maintain his saws for that matter. He had to have two saws and several chains. Whenever I'd go visit him I would have to fix his saw and sharpen his chains.

    Most often I would sharpen the chain sitting on the tailgate. Usually I did it right after cleaning the bar and adjusting the chain tension. Set a block of wood on the tailgate to rest the bottom of the bar on, not so thick that the saw wobbles. One arm rests against the top of the saw to steady it with the thumb of that hand rocking the chain away from you. With the file in the other hand, push it at the correct angle away from you. Reverse sides, arms, and hands to do the other side.

    If away from the pickup, I'd find a suitable stump. I've seen some people use a stump vise to hold the saw and it looks like a handy tool if you are not comfortable doing it freestyle.

    [​IMG]
  17. kruger

    kruger Member

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    I can sharpen five 25" chains on a chain grinder in about fifteen minutes. Of course the point of the initial thread was rooted in my dissatisfaction with the degree of sharpness I can get with a grinder....so, I don't know that the grinder is worth the distance I can throw it.

    I guess I see the biggest upside to a grinder is the convenience and the consistency. I can effectively run through ash and locust from six am til a lunch break on a sharpened chain. I'll run a fresh (not new) for another five hours in the afternoon. I don't know if that seems like very little life per sharpen or not.

    The key is to take very little off the chain tooth with a grinder. Like someone said before, you can over heat a tooth when you take to much off.
  18. Sealcove

    Sealcove Member

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    I have never had a chain machine sharpened. Typically I run 3-4 chains a cycle that I start with a new sprocket. All are hand sharpened to the end, and when those chains die it is also time to put a new sprocket on and start again with new chains. Back to your statement/question; there is nothing that machine sharpening does that you cant do with a hand file. One key thing is that to sharpen well by hand you need the saw held firmly in a vice so you can hold the file with both hands.

    The advantage of machine sharpening is speed. Many commercial outfits will have someone process chains for saws and harvesters every few days (or even daily if they are running enough machinery), and with that kind of volume a machine is the way to go. The same goes for a shop that tunes up lots of homeowner chains. I thought about getting a machine, but I like hand filing. Its a nice part of the cutting day; I either file in the morning with a cup of tea listening to the radio in the shop, or with a beer in the evening. I also only usually need to tackle 1-2 chains at a time so I only need 30 minutes or so (that time estimate assumes that I have kept my chains in pretty good shape with light filing in the field).
  19. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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    How long a chain stays sharp has to do with how clean the wood is to begin with and how you use the saw. Some wood species are purported to have more silicates than others and dull the chain faster. Also, not all chains are the same.

    I buy winter cut wood that hasn't been skidded through the mud. In fact most modern day harvest operations don't skid wood, they carry it.

    I buck my wood up on skids so they don't touch the ground. If bucking on the ground, I try to lift the wood with the toe of my boot and barring that, cut part way through and roll the log over to finish the cut.

    I worked on a slashing operation once clearing land for a power plant that was built near an abandoned iron ore operation. The first thing that struck me as odd was that the Wiskey Jacks (Grey Jay) looked like Robins in that they had red breasts. I quickly discovered that there was a red dust on everything and it was dulling my chain real bad. The job paid bonus but I quickly figured out that cutting extra acres for bonus would just work me out of a job sooner. The foreman didn't know slash operations and did not know how to supervise the cutters. Many of the cutters were cutting twice the acreage per day that I was and they finished their strip and got laid off. When the skidders tried to go in to harvest the wood, they couldn't because the cutters left waist high stumps everywhere. Easy to make the acreages if you don't stomp down the snow around the stumps and cut them low. I got to stay on to recut every stump after they were laid off.
  20. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    I hand file after EVERY tank of gas - takes me 15-20 minutes for a 20" chain, not rushing. The only time I'll use a grinder is if I've grounded the chain, hit a rock or embedded metal, or otherwise REALLY chewed the crap out of it, and need to take off a lot of metal to get it back in shape. I try to keep the teeth even, but I'm not fanatical about it.

    Every 3-4 tanks I find that I usually need to do the rakers (Note, a lot of the shops that I've talked to say that they DON'T touch the rakers when someone brings them a chain to grind)

    (BTW, the things that stick up in front of the cutters are known as rakers - dogs are the spikes or teeth on the front of the saw that help hold the saw while cutting...)

    What I've heard a few places is that you are best off either hand filing OR grinding, not both - when you grind it leaves little particles from the wheel embedded in the face of the saw tooth, which will then dull up your files. Don't know if this is true, but it makes sense.

    Granted my HF plastic grinder isn't as good as the one the OP was talking about using, but I find that I can keep a chain much sharper than that grinder can, and it really doesn't take me that much more time to file by hand as opposed to having to take the chain on and off to sharpen it.

    Gooserider
  21. crazy_dan

    crazy_dan New Member

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    since I cut very near my house I just put the saw in the shop vice and file the chain in a few min usually about 5 for a 24" bar that includes chain tension and nose sprocket lubing as well. I do this every load or 2 when I feel the chain is not cutting to its full potential. but they do get a squirt of grease in the nose sprocket every load of wood. grease is cheap bars are not:)
  22. MadTripper

    MadTripper New Member

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    I hand file but I'm still learning after 5 years. I have a tendency to push back instead of up so the vert section gets a nice edge but the horizontal not as much. I typically do 5 runs with my file but that is just my happy spot. I will have it done at a shop if I feel the need but I find they take more off than my hand filing which in turn, shortens the life of the chain. I'll top the rakes every 3 to 5 sharpenings but I think paying attention to your chips keeps your chain in order. As a matter of fact, today might be a good day to take care of my chains.

    Chris
  23. blades

    blades Minister of Fire

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    Hi. I am a new member. I own and run a professional full time 1800 sq. ft sharpening shop. Take a close look at a new chain , you will see that the top edge is about 60*(Verticle), Horizontal somewhere between 30* to 40*, I use 35. The more pointed the top corner is or the longer(thiner) the top leading edge is the faster the chain will dull. What you are refering to as rakers are in reality depth gauges in front of the tooth should be about .025 below the top of the tooth. Max would be .035 but that tends to bog/ chatter (as stated before) most saws. I do 50-60 chains sometimes more in a month.
    I buck down and split around 10 cords every year for my self.
  24. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    Welcome Blades. I agree somewhat with your specs as a general description, but there is some variation between chain brands and sizes - definitely one should look at the manufacturer's spec book, or the package the chain came in to get the exact reccommended numbers for that chain... If you are hand filing properly, with the right size chain file for that chain, you should end up with the correct top edge angles automatically, as they are set by the file geometry. Horizontal angle probably varies more, but 35* is probably good for most bucking and general purpose. (I understand the guys that do a lot of ripping and milling use a shallower angle, closer to right angles to the bar...)

    There is also the counterpoint to your comment about the more pointed the top corners, the faster it dulls - OTOH, the more pointed, the better it cuts... The point where the bulk of the cutting action happens, and this is why so many of us like full chisel - it has a sharper point that cuts better, but needs to be touched up more often, hence the "file after every tank" suggestion. Chipper and semi-chisel never get quite as sharp as full chisel, but stay sort of sharp longer...

    Raker / depth guage depth also varies a bit, both with the saw and the wood being cut - again see specs, but in general bigger saws can run a deeper guage, and also you can run deeper if cutting hardwoods as opposed to softwoods (i.e. more towards the .035 end)

    Of course I would imagine that if you are running a sharpening shop, you probably use a grinder as opposed to hand filing, which means you need to do more settings to sharpen a chain.

    Gooserider
  25. blades

    blades Minister of Fire

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    HI Gooserider, Should of mentioned mfg specs, sorry. Was trying to be fairly general. I do use different settings on the grinders for various type chains as well as some customers who want it done a specific way. As to pointed corners I should have been more specific, I do not disagree with you at all. It's just that I get in some chains that look like someone used a pencil sharpener on them, after being done by hand, although some of the ice carvers like them that way with a very pronounced hook. (laying the grinding wheel over to 75*) They also have me take out the depth gauges. Very abusive on the chain (no oil, stains the ice) the tie straps and bars get worn very quickly so both are short lived.
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