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Chain Sharpening

Post in 'The Gear' started by hareball, Mar 1, 2010.

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  1. hareball

    hareball Member

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    Do you guys think $6 is a fair price to have a chain sharpened? This is something I've never done so I have no idea if it's a PITA to do or if it's time consuming. If it's something I should do myself can you please recommend a kit for a Echo CS-400.

    I'm on a scheduled delivery for 2 cords a month of log length starting later this week. I was thinking about buying a few extra chains but also wanted to know if doing that was a good idea?

    My thoughts were 3 chains, cut the 2 cords and put the next chain on, then after 3 months take them all to be sharpened.

    Thanks for the advice. :)
    -Bob

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  2. StackedLumber

    StackedLumber New Member

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    here they charge $3/chain and they also do check the rakers, which a lot of shops don't. IMHO, go get yourself a file and guide and do it yourself. About every 2 tanks of gas, I run the file over mine. (Got that advice from the Goose and others on here) There's some variables in there like my own mistakes in cutting, types of wood, etc. that effect the frequency of my filing.

    Lowe's sells a bar mounted file and guide kit that's roughly $19-$25 that will hold your file at the right angles and is real handy, made by Oregon. (why on their website it's called a replacement file, I don't know)

    http://www.lowes.com/ProductDisplay...roductId=1112133&catalogId=10051&cmRelshp=sim

    It comes w/ a booklet that explains it all pretty well. Filing by hand though, IMO is the best way to go.
  3. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

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    5-10 bucks is normal
  4. peterc38

    peterc38 Feeling the Heat

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    If I were you, I'd think about doing it myself. I have been using a Pferd file guide from Baileys.

    http://www.baileysonline.com/itemdetail.asp?item=17050&catID=9956

    Between $15-$20 depending on what size you get. Its nice because it takes down the rakers the right distance as you sharpen the tooth.

    I have a couple of the Stihl file guides too, but I like the Pferd better.
  5. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    I used to get charged $6-7 / chain depending on where I took it, and they didn't do the rakers. IMHO If the rakers aren't at least checked, and filed if needed, then you might as well not have bothered sharpening as the chain still won't cut for beans... The job I got on the chains wasn't all that great either... Then I got one of the HF chain grinders, and started doing them myself, and found that while it helped, it was still a bit of a pain. (Didn't help that the HF unit is pretty cheap anyway)

    Now I hand file using one of the Oregon file holders, which indexes on the top of the cutter and the raker, and does a really nice job without needing to take the chain off the saw. I file after EVERY tank of gas, and while I spot check the rakers each time, I find they only need filing about every 4-5 tanks. If I "rock" the chain, or find a hunk of metal in the wood, then I might break out the grinder to clean the chain up if needed, but otherwise I just file after every tank... This keeps the chain really sharp, and gives me a break as well as letting the saw cool down before refueling...

    I'm running full chisel, non-safety chains on both saws, doing mostly mixed hardwoods, primarily oak and maple.

    Gooserider
  6. mainstation

    mainstation Feeling the Heat

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    +1 to all who suggested learning how to file yourself. Learn how to, or better yet, watch someone who knows how to do it properly.
    Chains aren't cheap, files are.
  7. savageactor7

    savageactor7 Minister of Fire

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    Hey 6 bucks is 6 bucks...sharpen a chain 25 times and ask me if it's worth it?

    hareball hand filing isn't rocket science but there are things you have to know and do correctly. With practice comes perfection. Read your book and try doing it yourself if you fail then you can bring it to a pro.

    And yes to your carrying 3 chains ...it always a good idea to have spares at the ready. If you're doing log loads they're a real easy take. LLigetfa does log loads and one got 8 cords out of 1 chain before sharpening.

    Now he's kind of remote up in Canada and can count on clean logs...you being in Jersey could hit a nail on you 1st log, hopefully not.
  8. WoodMann

    WoodMann Minister of Fire

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    If it's an immediate need and you're not up on sharpening skills just yet, then yes, do it then acquire afformentioned equipment and hone your sharpening skills. You'll find that sharpening your own chains saves an unbelievable amount of time, and hassel. Ya don't hafta take the chain of the saw, make a trip into town, wait until the guys get's to it and on and on.........
  9. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    I paid the 6 bucks for a few years. I would get a few chains done at a time and then rotate them through as I dulled them. I liked supporting the local guy. I am not interested in learning to file a chain at all.

    Then I realized that for the cost of one chain sharpening bill I could buy my own bench mounted chain sharpener from HF. I followed the directions and watched videos of people using the sharpeners before I did mine and they turned out freaking great. Not only are the chains nearly as sharp as new but I only take off a tiny amount of metal so the chains are lasting longer than when I had the pro do it.

    I have long since come out ahead on the investment into a bench sharpener.

    To answer your question, 6$ is not out of line to have one chain sharpened. Takes the guy 10 minutes to do the whole job and that's only a labor rate of 60$ an hour.
  10. webie

    webie Minister of Fire

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    Yea 6 bucks sounds about right , Local guy here gets 5 . I use to file my chains with a bar mounted fileing gauge , Unless I hit something metal or stone that there was some major saw tooth damage then I would take it in and have it sharpened by the local grinder . Now I have my own electric sharpener and that is all I use . Generally I make it all season on about six saw chains , but my wood is clean and green for the most part and I dont ussually cut much frozen wood . The reason when you take it by the local grinder that so much tooth is gone ussually these guys when they set up they get ready and sharpen a whole bunch of chains at one time and if you happen to be the lucky guy with the shorter saw tooth not much will be taken off the tooth , but if you are the unlucky sole with the brand new chain you can ussually expect a fare amount gone . They generally try to group the chains togeather in saw tooth length but they rarely ever readjust the grinder so to just kiss the tooth like I do .
    Sharpening chains is a buisness and time is money so for them its make sure you hit it in one pass and thats it .
    Unless you request it here they dont even look at your rakers and to get them taken down is an extra charge .
  11. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    If you have someone else sharpen chains then you will likely not sharpen them often enough. I touch them up every tank of gas- it's well worth the time!
  12. basswidow

    basswidow Minister of Fire

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    Get the round file specified for your chain and a flat file for the raker and learn to do it yourself. There are many on - line tutorials that show how to do it and it's a cinch. It only takes a minute.

    I used to do it at every tank full, but if is still biting good and throwing good chips, I'll hold off until I feel it slowing down and throwing dust instead of chips. Then I will point it up. You get a feel for when it needs to be done.

    I used to think it was just as easy to switch out chains - but thats not the case. It really can be done in about 1 minute. And with a stump vise it's a breeze.

    I also thought that by taking my chains to the shop - they were gonna be just like new (or atleast better then I could do). The shop that did mine charged $ 9 and a new chain was like $ 13, and once done - it wasn't that much of a noticeable difference. Thanks to the advice I've gotten here on Hearth.com, I can sharpen mine like new everytime. I've got it down now.
  13. iskiatomic

    iskiatomic Minister of Fire

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    I had a local arborist give me a tutorial. This is not rocket science.

    I figured if I can maintain all of my skiing equipment (and many other people's) I can sharpen a chain.

    Count your strokes, make sure each tooth gets the same amount, raker guides are cheap.


    Take baby steps, it will be well worth it in the long run.


    KC
  14. John_M

    John_M Minister of Fire

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    hareball, Don't know how much dealers charge in my area but $5 - $6 per chain seems like a reasonable price if it is sharpened correctly and not too much of the cutter is removed.

    As others have suggested, I would recommend you learn how to hand sharpen your own chains using the correct size round file w/ handle. Taught myself to hand file about 40 years ago using only the instructions included with a chain (I think). My first couple of efforts did not provide the results I had hoped for but after 5 or 6 sharpenings I noticed a significant improvement in sharpness. Have been doing it by hand ever since. About a year ago I tried using a file guide and that was okay but not great. About a week ago my brand new 72 link semi-chisel Stihl chain was dinged up when it bound up in a kerf and came off the bar (I had loaned the saw to a friend). The out-of-control chain was stopped by the saw's aluminum chain stop. Four of the drive links were dimpled and some of the cutters were rounded a little. Some would say the chain was useless. Used a Dremel to clean-up the dinged drive links (about 4-5 minutes) and gave each of the cutters 2-3 strokes in the correct direction (about 7 or 8 minutes) using only the file w/handle. Then checked all the rivets and gauged all the rakers in about 2 minutes. All were good. So, in 15 minutes I was able to revitalize what some would consider to be a useless chain. It now cuts like a brand new chain.

    Should you change your mind about hand sharpening, there are a number of excellent threads on this board. They will get you started in the right direction. Good luck. John_M
  15. Nonprophet

    Nonprophet Minister of Fire

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    Like others have said, learn to do it yourself--it's not that hard! The Husqvarna website has some nice videos on how to sharpen chain, and, I happen to really like their chain filing guide--about $12 with two round files and it's very small/compact and really does a good job keeping the angles straight and it has a raker guide built in. You can see the videos here. I file after every tank of gas, and check the rakers every 4-5 tanks or earlier if cutting is too slow. BTW, I almost always carry at least one extra chain with me--it's just cheap insurance against having a problem and having to drive all the way back to town.

    NP
  16. paguy

    paguy New Member

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  17. hareball

    hareball Member

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    Thanks for all the advice!! I will definitely start doing this on my own.
    I don't have a work bench right now but eventually I'd like to get one of those work tables sold at Home Depot that a lot of the guys are using for their electric splitters.
  18. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    As a temporary measure, keep an eye out on trash day - I see lots of older desks and similar furniture get thrown out... Don't waste time trying to salvage the particle board stuff, but any kind of real wood or metal desk, dining table, dresser, etc. can make a reasonably decent workbench, especially for the price...

    Also keep an eye on your local "Freecycle" group - we've gotten some good stuff that way as well...

    Gooserider
  19. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    For what it's worth, that photo looks EXACTLY like my HF chain grinder, other than the colors of the plastic bits... HF pretty regularly puts their version on sale for $29.99 or thereabouts, so the E-bay guy is a little bit more... I think the HF unit does a marginal job at best, good for cleaning up chains that have gotten buggered up, but I can do a standard filing just about as fast and easily.

    Gooserider
  20. hareball

    hareball Member

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    Hmmm...I live alone and my office has a metal desk. I'm thinking fishing show on the TV a nice chair to sit in and a chain to sharpen :coolgrin:
  21. Stlshrk

    Stlshrk Member

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    Just to add to the already good advice you've gotten on here. The skill of hand filing is one that many people attain, up to a certain level. I've been lucky enough to know some true masters at it. That being said, few folks will confess out loud that they only do a passable job at it. In my case the chips fly better with a chain sharpened on a grinder. But I can hand file in the field if needed.

    At $4-6 per sharpening from the shop, I picked up that HF grinder on sale for $27 a few years ago (still see it on sale often). Then, I purchased the larger size grinding wheel to handle the 3/8" chain, from Baileys, I think. Like anything there is a trick to it. In the case of a chain grinder, there are a couple. Don't overheat (turn the metal blue or discolored), and take as little material as possible. I like to carry extra chains to the woods in case I get into some dirty wood or a nail/fence. If I notice that the chips are not flying the way they were, I usually swap out. None of the chains ever get bad that way and touch up is easy to keep even (both tooth to tooth and left to right) on the grinder. Grinding a chain probably takes 3-5 mins more than hand filing.

    I've never actually counted sharpenings over a large enough number of chains to obtain a meaningful average. And my perspective is likely skewed due to experience keeping the bar nose out of the dirt more now than years ago. However, chains seem to last me longer now that hand sharpening is rare for me now. But as I admitted above, I am no hand sharpening savant!
  22. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    I still haven't quite mastered the art of hand filing . . . it looks deceptively easy and a co-worker and my brother can hand file a saw to a razor edge in no time . . . me . . . it's passable . . . but not so great. I broke down and bought the Granberg File N' Joint a week or so ago . . . one angle seemed to file real nice, the other didn't get much of a bite for some reason . . . and I haven't used the chain yet so the verdict is still out on whether this was a good purchase or not.

    In the latest Northern Tool catalog I did see this grinder on sale for $34 . . . not sure if this would be any good or not.

    http://www.northerntool.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/product_6970_200327451_200327451
  23. Nonprophet

    Nonprophet Minister of Fire

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    Other than having yet another tool to make space for, the thing that annoys me the most about the chain grinders is that you have to take the chain off and then put it back on. It's not a big deal on an 18" bar, but with my 24" and 32" bars it's starts to be a pain in the rear and I'd rather hand sharpen whenever possible. I also have one of those little Dremel-type chain sharpeners that with hook up to my truck battery (pretty sure mine is the one that Oregon sells), and I like it ok especially on a damaged cutter. But I do 90% of my cutting in the woods where a bench grinder won't do me any good unless I want to stock up on extra chains......


    NP
  24. karri0n

    karri0n New Member

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    I have great luck with a chainsaw sharpening stone for a dremel tool. The technique is nearly the same as hand filing; match the angle of the top plate and insert the tool at that angle, keeping it parallel with the table or perpendicular to the bar. The only difference is, instead of 3-5 strokes per tooth, and needing to apply the pressure at the right angle, it's less than a second for each tooth an the angle seems perfect every time. The bit alone is basically the cost of a file, and it comes with two. The bit and the guide is on par with a file and a guide. I had never sharpened a chain before, got this tool, and it came out perfect on the first try. I give it the karri0n reccomendation.

    If you don't already own a dremel, it's less cost effective, but my dremel tool is one of the best 35 bux I've ever spent. it has saved my @$$ on many projects.
  25. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    I like the dremel sharpener as well. I mostly hand file, and pull out the Dremel for good dings. Easy to overheat- watch out with any power grinder.
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