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Chain sharpening?

Post in 'The Gear' started by babalu87, Dec 29, 2005.

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  1. babalu87

    babalu87 New Member

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    How many tanks of fuel do you usually get out of a chain sharpening?
    I have been cutting alot of dead standers (Oak) and I am lucky to get through the 1 1/2 tanks without needing to touch up the chain

    I know some of the dead wood is so hard it seems petrified so that has to have something to do with it but the cutting I have been doing lately makes me yearn for that second saw

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  2. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    I sharpen my chain every time I gas up. That way you're usually touching up a sharp chain rather than sharpening a dull one.

    Proper sharpening with a file is an art, but it's one well worth acquiring if you're planning to use a chainsaw for any length of time.

    If you start out with a new chain and try every time you sharpen to maintain the same cutter angle, you should catch on fairly quickly.

    I usually sharpen my saw on a workbench with the tip of the bar held firmly in a vise and a light directly overhead. After you've sharpened one side, turn the saw upside down and hold it in place with the bar in the vise and sharpen the opposing set of cutters. This will help you avoid the common problem of one side having a different cutting angle than the other.

    And don't forget to periodically take down the rakers. That process is described in some detail in another thread on here somewhere. I think I started it, so you should be able to find it by looking at my post history. Pictures, too.
  3. quads

    quads Minister of Fire

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    It varies with me. I sharpen my chain everyday after I use the saw. That could be anywhere from 1 tank to 5 or so, depending on how much time I had that day. I normally do not sharpen my chain while out in the woods, but will tighten it a little if it needs it (I carry a wrench with me but no file). If for some reason the chain gets to the point where it needs to be sharpened, then I call it quits for the day. When I'm done I sharpen it before I put it away. Next time all I have to do is grab it and head out into the woods. I also cut only dead oak.
  4. babalu87

    babalu87 New Member

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    Eric I use an Oregon sharpening jig/guide and seem to be able to get a good edge that way, maybe I'll try the upside down method too.
    Good idea to sharpen after every tank, whats 5 minutes in the whole scheme of things anyway.
  5. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    quads is right about not trying to sharpen your saw in the woods if at all possible. I always do a better job at home. If you plan to cut more than one tank, you can bring along another sharp chain, or rig up some way to do the job on the tailgate of your pickup or a stump. If you're careful, you can do a decent job.

    BTW, dead oak is great firewood. Just be really careful about widowmakers and snags. Dead wood is a different animal than live wood, and it's even more unpredictable than cutting live trees. Be especially careful of branches that might break off before the tree starts to fall down, 'cause they can come straight down at you.
  6. babalu87

    babalu87 New Member

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    I always have an escape route
    One close call was enough for me to learn that sometimes, no matter what precautions are taken, you just need to beat feet to stay out of harms way.

    Look UP to admire the precision with which you dropped that tree before cutting it into 20" rounds ;)

    Maybe i'll take the time tonight to have a few beers at the vise and sharpen the three chains I have for the saw, that would be :guiness: BRILLIANT!

    Some of the dead Red I can light off with a piece of Newspaper
    I have to be carefull not to load up with all Dead Red for the night, there is such a thing as firewood that is too good
  7. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    The only problem with on the job training in logging is that sometimes they give the final exam on the first day.

    It pains me to admit that I learned some of my most valuable safety lessons by surviving close calls. That's still true to some extent, although I try to be a better student and do my homework before class.
  8. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Thank you Eric. 35 years of trying to solve the problem of perfect angles on the right side and different angles on the left and, viola, you hand me the answer.

    Gotta go have another cup of coffee and feel stupid and relieved at the same time.

    Who knows, maybe the one man "Gang That Can't Cut Straight" just left town. Always knew what the problem was but be damned if I knew how to fix it.

    Duh!
  9. carpniels

    carpniels Minister of Fire

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    Hi Eric,

    Thanks for that tip too. I will be trying that this weekend. I used to reside to buying more chain, but now with proper sharpening I will be able to have a chain that last longer and sharper.

    Thanks

    Carpniels

    PS. Eric, in your avatar, is that you cutting WITHOUT gloves!! Really? And what about the short sleeves?
  10. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    It's not me, man. I just took the picture. But I never wear gloves and usually cut in short sleeves. It's the legs, feet and head you have to worry about, IMO.

    That sharpening trick is one more thing my dad taught me. When he sharpens in the woods, he sits down crosslegged, and flips the saw over so that the powerhead is in his lap. You want to do that BEFORE you gas the saw up. Actually, I don't use a vise. What I have (cause I'm a cheap SOB) is a C-clamp screwed into the end of my workbench. Put the tip of the bar into the clamp and tighten it down. A vise works too, but I prefer the simplicity and economy of the clamp. I'll post a pic when I get the chance. I will have to buy one of those stump vises that downeast mentioned for the multi-tank afternoons.
  11. babalu87

    babalu87 New Member

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    Stump vise?
    Why not figure out a way to get a c-clamp attatched to a stump %-P

    I bet you could weld a couple prongs to a c-clamp and wack it in their with an axe and be in business
  12. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    More and more your dad strikes me as a great guy to sit down with over a cup of coffee.
  13. babalu87

    babalu87 New Member

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    I just want his address so I can send him my chains ;-)
  14. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    You guys should consider buying his book. It's less than $20 I think. Out of print, but you can still get copies on Amazon.

    "The Good Woodcutters' Guide" published by Chelsea-Green Pub.
  15. Sandor

    Sandor Minister of Fire

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    Out of all the years of sharpening chains I never thought about turning the saw over to sharpen the other side.

    Thank you for a great tip!

    I touch up the chain after every tank of fuel. Doesn't seem too bad with a cold beer next to ya!

    P.S. Last time I took my chain in for a "professional" sharpening, he took about 8 cords of life out of the chain.
  16. carpniels

    carpniels Minister of Fire

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    Hi Sandor,

    Same thing here. They used one of those grinder blades and took half of the tooth off. I was mad!!!

    I will do it all by hand now

    Carpniels
  17. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

  18. snowfreak

    snowfreak New Member

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    Right now I sharpen my chain when I notice the cutting perfomce is lacking, or if I manage not to hit any dirt, stones, or nails, I touch it up at the end of the day. I do however kinda like the idea brought up on here about touching up a sharp chain rather than sharpening a dull one so I may very well try that method. I file by hand with one of those file guides for 3 sharpenings and then I use a bar mount filing guide to get all the teeth angles perfect. Here's a question,all things beign equal, ie. all cutters angles, sharpness, and rakers, if one side of the chain cutters were quite a bit shorter would the chain still cut straight? Or in other words if you sharpened one set of cutters with 3 strokes and the other side with 10 would it pull to one side or the other? When I use my bar mount filing guide every 4th time I also measure the length of the chain teeth with a ruler that has 1/32nd marks on it. I start with the shortest cutter and get that one sharp and then make all the other ones that size. The file guide has a stop on it that I can set to get the teeth pretty close but I can get the teeth much closer by measurng them seperately. I'm wondering if measuring them is a bit over the top? I have even considered buying one of those digital micrometers to measure the length, it can be a pain to read those 1/32nd marks.
  19. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    I don't think cutter length makes any difference, snowfreak. As long as the angle is correct, the cutters are sharp and the rakers are the right height relative to the tooth (checked with a raker gauge), then the chain should cut well. Of course, it's better to have both sides the same length (mostly as a matter of professional pride), but it happens to all of us at one time or another. The problem seems to be that people, being right- or left-handed generally, tend to put more pressure on the file while sharpening one side or the other. Usually about the time I've got things going right and feel like I've got the whole sharpening thing under control, I'll hit a rock and it's back to square one. Good time to toss the chain if it's near the end of its natural life anyway.
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