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Chain Sharpening

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

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  1. downeast

    downeast Guest

    Get started hand filing your chains whether in the field with a stump vise, or in the shop ( with or without Sealcove's beers :cheese: ).

    A new chain gives you the opportunity to carefully see the angles, raker height, generally how the chain should look when near perfect. My preference is to spend slightly more for Stihl chains; extra chrome seem to make then last longer cutting a variety of trees. Most pros seem to prefer Stihl chains.

    For the finest in hand filing look for the PFERD "SharpForce" or other model name of Pferd sold by Husky. This Pferd tool does the edge and raker with each pass. You need the correct size file and Pferd tool for each sized chain.

    Now there isn't any rule about when to sharpen the chain such as "every tank" :red: . Normal chips look like solid shaped chips except when ripping or quartering trunks. When cutting clean Paper Birch, a sharp chain could easily go through 4 or 5 tankfulls. Then, cutting dead standing Red Oak that tends to "suck" dirt up the cambium (under the bark), one tank of cuts will dull even a new chain. When you feel that the saw is "bogging down", the chain not pulling itself into the cut, or, the chips are now sawdust, it's time to sharpen.

    Too many of the sharpening machines can burn the chain easily, ruining the hardness. Some of the not so professional shops I've had to use for grinding after hitting barbed wire, shell casings, or other metal in the wood do lousy work and blacken the chain. Don't accept it.

    When hand filing becomes routine, you'll be able to hand file in about the same time it takes to set up and run a machine. Much cheaper and satisfying with the Maine micro brew we all love and admire. :cheese:

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  2. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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    All through my professional cutting career I used Oregon brand chain, switching to their full chisel as soon as it came on the market. A lot of my cutting then was in terribly dirty conditions on pipeline ROW. I now only cut on my own property and buck purchased firewood and the last two chains I bought were Stihl. I am impressed with how well they are holding an edge.
  3. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    It won't happen anytime soon, as I've got plenty of life left in my two 20" Oregon / Dolmar chains, and I figure that as little as I need it, my 28" set will probably last me for life, but what would be involved in switching to Stihl chain? Does it come in the same sizes as Oregon, and use the same bars, sprockets, etc, or does it need all new everything? (I believe I'm using 3/8" - .058 chain, would have to go out to the garage to check for sure)

    Don't know that I'd switch, but it would be interesting to find out. I guess the question is how much the cost difference was, and whether it was just a case of just getting a loop of chain or if there was more to it...

    Gooserider
  4. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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    I did buy a new bar at the same time but the chain is the same size and pitch as I had before. I didn't go looking for Stihl, it's just what the local dealer sells. He didn't have an Oregon bar either so now my old Partner has a Husky bar on it. I guess that makes it Frankensaw.
  5. downeast

    downeast Guest

    Why in world would anyone not logging average 20" DBH + trees want with a 28" bar ?? !!?? :red: Hey, we're not in the PNW with trunks averaging 36" and above DBH. This is the East Coast.....so far.

    Stihl chain has chrome hardened edges. All I know is that Stihl chain lasts longer in mixed harvesting, holds an edge longer before sharpening, and never breaks ( so far) under pressure or heat stresses. The Oregon chains used do not have those qualities. Most of the arborists and loggers, here at least, use Stihl chain. Yes, it is about 20% more expensive than Oregon. That's all part of the attitude towards professional tools.

    And of course, Stihl chains come in all sizes to fit all sprockets and bars. No, I am not a Stihl ho....yet. :lol:
  6. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    I have a Dremel sharpener witha diamond stone that I use on occasion at home, but in the field I hand file. I normally touch up on every tank. Watch out for changing the temper on a chain with an electric grinder- a second or 2 should do it. If you need to take out big flaws (like I get cutting with my crap chain through nail-filled pallets), then go around the chain twice to give the teeth a chance to cool.

    I'm a proponent of trying to get teeth even. It's easy to get several teeth on one side a bit shorter and end up with a crooked cut or vibration. I do see a personality in different teeth as I sharpen- I can see shorter ones etc, and try to give a little extra love to the longer ones every touch up.
  7. deadon

    deadon New Member

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    I touch up my chains after each tankful. I use a round 3/16 hand file on the teeth and a flat hand file for the rakers keep a can of carb cleaner with you and spray the file often, oil and files do not go well . I also bought a grease gun for my bar tip sprocket. Does anyone else use the grease gun? After about 4 tankfuls I touch up with a dremal tool and a chainsaw sharpening bit.
  8. downeast

    downeast Guest

    Wow Msr. Pantalones, you have got one big fat O.C.D. anthropomorphic chain thing. :sick: You may now name your chains. e.g. "Terminator" is taken, although "Defiant" is a possibility.

    But this "love" thing has got to stop, and you need to get a life. If you wish, you may also visit our many chains here Downeast, to give them that "extra love". The chains have been asking for quite awhile. ;-P At the same time you will be billed our usual hourly rate for Psychotherapy.
  9. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    A little wine and some Barry White out there in my shed- you wouldn't believe how sharp that chain will want to be :)
  10. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    Really simple - I've gotten the occasional BIG trunk in loads of log length, or had the opportunity to scrounge them... While I will grant that in theory one can cut to 2x the bar length, I find it's easier to not go more than about 150% of bar length - or about 30" w/ a 20" bar, and that DOES cover 95+% of my needs. (although it's worth noting that the very aggressive stock bucking dogs on a Dolmar mean that the useable bar length is closer to about 18")

    I don't feel any real strong desire to own a saw dedicated to a bar bigger than 20", but I do think it's worth owning a big bar that can be mounted for those occasional big logs... (I think I've mounted my 28" bar for one tank of gas, and really needed it for about half of that.)

    I use the grease-gun on every tank, pumping it in until it starts oozing out between the chain teeth, rotating the chain a bit, and repeating 2-3x... What I've heard is that there are mixed opinions on greasing, but that you should be consistent, either grease on every tank, or don't do it at all. I think grease is better, and figure the time and effort involved is negligible - probably the least of any of the various between session saw prep steps...

    I started using the little plastic Oregon push gun, and have now gone to one of the refillable metal guns - which I fill w/ wheel bearing grease.

    Gooserider
  11. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

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    Iam not a logger and i use my 28 in bar about 90 percent of the time would love to put the 20 in. on but just dont happen that often.With that said i have 13 chains for my 460 10 are 28 in. 3 are 20 in. with 2 still new in the box!
  12. downeast

    downeast Guest

    You go girl.

    Who is "Barry White" ?
  13. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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    OK, I had to look that word up just to be sure it means what I thought it did.
    http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/anthropomorphic

    Unless the chain grows legs long enough to reach the ground...

    I've got a few old Oregon chains filed down to tiny nubs that could use some lovin'. Send me your purolator account number and I'll send them along.
  14. Ken45

    Ken45 Minister of Fire

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    As for touching up the chain every tankful, I think that depends on the size of the tank. My little 180 doesn't last long on a tank whereas the tank on the bigger saw lasts longer. So the small saw gets a touch up maybe every 3-5 tanks, while the bigger saw gets it every couple of tanks.

    I sharpen the chain by hand, it's quicker than taking the chain off to use a machine, and a lot quicker than taking it to a shop to have it done.


    The wood species sure makes a difference. Yesterday I was cutting up some old dead oak and thought the chain was in terrible shape, tossing out a lot of sawdust. Then I did some fresh walnut and it cut like a banshee, throwing out nice chips. It's probably due for a touch up.

    Ken
  15. downeast

    downeast Guest

    Happy Thanksgiving --great country.

    Hey Msr. Pant, this is an old med school joke, couldn't resist:

    How many Psychiatrists does it take to change a lightbulb ?
    One.....but he's got to want to change. :lol:

    ....drumroll with rim shot........
  16. WarmGuy

    WarmGuy Feeling the Heat

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    I also sharpen about once per tank.

    I haven't figured out why a vice would be needed. I just hold the bar down with one hand and file with the other. Am I missing something?
  17. Sealcove

    Sealcove Member

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    You can do a much better job of filing with two hands on the file. I was a skeptic myself, but when I saw how much my filing improved even just using a field vice I never looked back. Filing with or without a vice is pretty much night and day when it comes to the results; especially when working in a heavy shop vice on a bench.
  18. GaryS

    GaryS Member

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    I could never keep the angle consistent filing by hand. I purchased an oregon bar mounted filing guide http://www.amazon.com/Oregon-Professional-Bar-Mount-Filing-23736A/dp/B000B8JCRI. I only file when I think the saw needs it and I give each tooth the same amount of strokes. My dad noticed that loggers working on the farm filed the drags (or whatever you call them) down right out of the box. I file those every 3 or 4 sharpenings.
  19. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

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    they are called rakers.
  20. GaryS

    GaryS Member

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    Folks in my part of the country called them drags for some reason.
  21. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

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    makes more since!
  22. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    They are called "rakers" most commonly, and they are commonly thought to have two basic functions, first to "rake" out the chip cut by the previous cutter on the chain, which they don't really do, and secondly, which they do as their most important function, is to control the depth of cut that the cutter they are attached to takes out of the log... The Carlton chain website has an excellent and very detailed description of how a chain cuts, it is quite an interesting read if you are into that sort of technical detail, as it's far more subtle than you'd expect. :coolhmm:

    There are a few reasons your father may have noticed the loggers he was watching filing the rakers down on a new chain...

    1. They may have been "hacks" - there is a not uncommonly circulated myth that filing the rakers way down will make a chain cut faster - it's mostly false, and it can result in a dangerously grabby chain that overloads the saw, but some reports suggest that the increased vibrations make it FEEL like it's doing more...

    2. There is a slight range of ideal raker depth settings, typically between about .020 and .035 IIRC (I don't have my book handy) and out of the box chain comes at the shallower setting, which is great for smaller saws and / or softwoods. If you are running a larger saw (especially if it's bar is small for it's size) or are cutting hardwoods then there is a slight advantage to going to the slightly deeper setting, but you should never go deeper than the factory reccomended max clearance. (This comes from the guys doing racing saws over on Arboristsite - you KNOW that if they got an advantage from filing "out of spec" they would....)

    I agree, if you are touching up the chain after every tank, you aren't going to be taking much metal off the cutters, so it takes a while for the raker clearance to change enough to matter... I spot check the clearance every time I sharpen, but I agree it takes 3-5 times before the rakers will get high enough to be worth touching.

    Gooserider
  23. JerseyWreckDiver

    JerseyWreckDiver New Member

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    As the other poster mentioned, if the stone on the grinder is fairly course, you may want to look into a finer stone to get a sharper edge.

    I use a little $10. attachment on my Dremel with the appropriate size round stone, sharpen the chain right on the saw. Have a Cordless Dremel, you can take it out in the field with you... and they are variable speed so you don't need to worry about burning the temper out of the steel. My chains come out sharper than new.
  24. ken999

    ken999 New Member

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    http://www.usa.husqvarna.com/node3254.aspx?nid=56754&pid=83059

    http://www.usa.husqvarna.com/node3254.aspx?nid=56735&pid=21032

    These two tools have made all the difference in my filing. They are small, light and inexpensive. I can now make a chain cut better than out of the box. Typically, I'll file every tank, taking the rakers down a stroke every other tank. If the woods dirty, I'll file more often. If you have to use the dogs for leverage or have to put pressure on the handle to make the saw cut, it's time to file.
  25. Bigg_Redd

    Bigg_Redd Minister of Fire

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    Wrong. If you want to cut 30+" diameter logs without using the dogs that's your business, but it's time to file when it's time to file and has nothing to do with the dogs.
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