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chain sharpening?

Post in 'The Gear' started by bruce56bb, Jan 27, 2006.

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  1. bruce56bb

    bruce56bb New Member

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    does anyone use a flat file to sharpen their chain? i really struggle with the round file when trying to sharpen. it appears that a flat file could reproduce the cutting edge of my chain. am i missing something? thanks in advance

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  2. babalu87

    babalu87 New Member

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  3. Runs With Scissors

    Runs With Scissors New Member

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    Some chains DO require a square file, but I suspect that your chain has a rounded wave type of profile. The type of file guide mentioned above will have you sharpening like a pro in no time. You will need to replace your file every other sharpening or so as they tend to lose thair bite.

    Msc Industrial supply sells chainsaw files for about .79c each, it pays to stock up and have them on hand for when you need them.
  4. snowfreak

    snowfreak New Member

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    That's the same file guide I use. I sharpen by hand 3 times and then get things back to perfect with the bar guide. I just love a good sharp chain.
  5. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    You use a round file to sharpen chain saw chain cutters. You use a flat file to file down the depth gauges or "rakers." There is a filing technique that uses a flat file with a rounded edge, but it's an advanced sharpening technique that is hard to master and probably not something that would interest anyone but a fanatic.

    If you're referring to filing the top of the cutter, that would be wrong. As babalu87 said, get the right-sized file and sharpen the ground-out part of the cutter. The point is to put enough upward pressure on the file so that the top edge is sharpened from below.

    I don't know where Runs With Scissors is getting his files, but they should last the life of one chain. Mine do, anyway. One tip on file maintenance is to clean the file every couple of sharpenings or so with an oil-soaked rag. The rag you use to wipe up the spilled bar and chain oil works fine. You'd think that oil would make it harder to get a good bite, but the opposite is true. The oil seems to work like cutting fluid. And sharpen after every tank of gas so that you're always sharpening a sharp chain and never a dull one. Your chains will last a lot longer if you file frequently because they stay sharper.
  6. Runs With Scissors

    Runs With Scissors New Member

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    Full chisel chain requires a true square file.

    Im a toolmaker by trade and only use nicholson or swiss files. Being a toolmaker Im rather persnikeryt when it comes to doing things and dont like the effort it takes to use files that have more than one or two sharpenings on them.

    Doing difficult fine work for a living its hard to break some habits. I was tought that its benefitial to both the shop and the worker to spare(toss) a .79c file than to spent $25.00-30.00 per hr extra on labor.

    Im also partial to using a chain vise rather than trying to sharpen the chain on the saw, But again thats just me.




    All youll ever need to know about chain sharpening and then some...

    http://www.madsens1.com/sub4.htm
  7. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Interesting site. Thanks and they explain there why my chisel chain is round ground for sharpening with a round or square file. I'll stick to round files so I don't have to mess with filing down gullets.
  8. Sandor

    Sandor Minister of Fire

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    The first filing on a new Stihl chisel chain with a round file takes some time. After that, it goes rather quickly.

    Eric J. does offer some good advice. I file the chain after every tank of gas - it is very worth the time.
  9. wahoowad

    wahoowad Minister of Fire

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    I wish I could find a website that clearly describes the correct way to use a basic File Guide. A tiny half sheet of paper came with my Poulon and the instructions are not clear to a complete noob like me. I *think* I figured outhow to use it but really don't know. For example, it didn't say whether to both push and pull the file against the cutting tooth. It didn't recommend how many strokes to use. I both pushed and pulled (back and forth) and did about 5 strokes each way. I'm sure someone will correct me if I did this wrong. I am surprised at how quickly I was able to touch up the whole chain and will certainly be doing this instead of buying a new chain so quickly. I've been cutting a moderate amount of locust...
  10. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Just push the file; don't pull on it. There's no set number of strokes--you just file until it's sharp. Knowing when that is takes some practice but you'll figure it out soon enough. You want the pressure on your forward stroke to be slightly up and to the left. The key word being "slightly."

    I won't argue with Runs With Scissors. I'm sure he's right. However, I think tossing a file after two sharpenings is a little excessive for the average user. I think you have to be pretty sophisticated to notice a difference. All I can say is that most people who file their saws get more mileage out of their files, but I'll sure be paying more attention next time I pull a new one out of the box. Files are cheap.
  11. Sandor

    Sandor Minister of Fire

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    Wahoo,

    Don't feel bad! I'm an engineer with lots of mechanical experience and it took me awhile to get it down. I can say, you will know when you get it right becuase it cuts like a new chain and stays sharp for more than 3 minutes. You really need to be fairly precise with your file motions.

    My files last quite awhile. About 15 sharpenings or so. They will last alot longer if you are maintaing a sharp chain......and Scissors is probaly right about lasting one filing if you a trying to bring a chain back from dead.

    Eric's above posts are on the money so I won't rehash, just reinforce.
  12. stoz

    stoz New Member

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    When you guys file do you push away from the point or to the point of the cutter? I am trying to get as good as new but not working quite as well.

    scott
  13. Homefire

    Homefire New Member

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    http://www.right-tool.com/orbarmin12v.html


    I do not own one of these but I have seen them in action and it is sweet.
    I guess you could over do it but I believe sharp is a good thing when using
    any type of cutting tool.
    From what I recall about these tools is that they are so fast that it only take
    the wink of an eye to sharpen each tooth of the chain.
    The fellow that makes chains for me uses a bench model he built himself.
  14. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    stoz,

    You start the file so that your hand is away from the bar & chain and then push forward, ending with your hand closer to the bar. I guess that's the only way I can think of to describe it. As you're moving the file through the cutter, you want to put a little pressure to your left and up, so that the sharp cutting edge of the chain is sharpened. Everything else the file does in the process is just removing metal from the body of the cutter so that chips have a place to go.

    A good way to get both sides even is to file one side with the saw sitting level, then flip the saw over (you need to hold the tip of the bar in some kind of a vise) and file the other side from the same angle.
  15. stoz

    stoz New Member

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    I bought one of those Oregon sure sharp and did figure out what you're saying about ending away from the bar, one thing I can't figure out is how do you know what angles your chain is, I am running a Stihl 260 with chisel chain, the files are 3/16", but not sure what to set the angles to on the Oregon set up, I am thinking 10 degree up and 30 degree for the cutter? Any help would be appreciated, I can see from this set up that by hand I was off alot from side to side.

    Scott
  16. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Scott,

    The best way to maintain the right angle is to get some chain that has a little scribe mark on the back of the top of the cutter. Not all chain has this mark, however, and it may not be available for the kind of saw you have.

    In the absense of that, the best way is to start off with a new chain and then try to file it so that you maintain the right angle. You can get various guides to help get you back on track when you stray (and you will).

    Most chainsaw pros don't recommend grinding a chain, either yourself or at the shop or hardware store. Lots of reasons for that that I don't have time to go into now.

    Chain sharpening is an art and it takes practice to become good at it, but if you cut wood with a chainsaw, it's time well spent.

    The angle should be 30-35 degrees for most chains.
  17. stoz

    stoz New Member

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    I agree, it looked to me like it was between 30 and 35, judging by the scribe mark on the chain, neither looking quite right, I have a new chain I will check it tonite, thanks for the idea, I am glad I bought the Oregon setup, I couldn't believe I was off that much by hand. This is a great site for the beginner like myself!
    Scott
  18. wahoowad

    wahoowad Minister of Fire

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    I sharpened my chain for the first time recently and today was the first day using it after sharpening. It definately felt sharper. I was cutting a mixture of scavenged logs - a few cedar, some of that tree-of-heaven (fairly soft), sycamore and some locust. Logs were on the small to medium size. The locust is definately one hard ass wood - things really slowed when I went to work on it. Then, when I went back to other types of wood, it seemed a lot duller. I didn't cut a whole lot - probably no more than 1/2 a tank of fuel combined. Guess I was expecting the edge to last longer.
  19. Sandor

    Sandor Minister of Fire

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    Wahoo, did you use a tool to assist in your sharpening?

    When I first started sharpening, my "sharp" chain would dull in minutes. I discovered that I was doing it incorrectly.

    Now, the edge stays sharp for the duration of a tank of fuel. But I still touch it up after each tank because its a lot less work in the long run.

    And Locust is great firewood.
  20. wahoowad

    wahoowad Minister of Fire

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    Well, I used one of these Oregon Chain file guides that came with my saw. I think I used it properly. I think I had the angle down, or at least understood what angle I was trying to maintain. I'm sure I could do a more consistent job though with more practice. I'm gonna sharpen it again today before finishing up my load of logs. Then I'll proably be done with the saw for a good while since I have put quite a bit of wood aside for my recreational use.


    How does one know when the chain needs to be retired after being sharpened over and over? I'm not there, just wondering.

    Attached Files:

  21. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    wahoowad,

    My rule of thumb is that it's time to retire a chain when restoring it to acceptible condition is more trouble than it's worth. If you hit a rock or some other chain-wrecker, you can spend $11 for a new chain or the next hour filing the damaged one back to health. The more mileage I have on a chain, the more likely I am to toss it. (That's gratitude for you!)

    My dad will scrap a chain if it looks at him wrong.

    I'm gonna go down into the basement in a moment and take a photo of my top-of-the-line, state-of-the-art filing vise and post it here.

    Here you go....

    I've got a couple more pics showing how to file both sides of the saw more or less equally with a vise like this, but will start another thread with all three shots.

    Attached Files:

  22. stoz

    stoz New Member

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    Eric,
    $11 for a chain, where are you getting your chains? I pay 22.00 for a stihl chain and I looked at an Oregon replacement for my stihl 260 and it was just as much, is there a good place to but them? I like the set up for sharpening, I have been using a regular vise but that setup makes it easy to flip your saw over.

    Scott
  23. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Eleven bucks is a little out of date, but not by much. Here's a place that sells direct and through the mail, but the prices should be pretty much the same all over the country. If you have any woodsmen's field days or forest industry trade shows in your area, they're also a good place to stock up on saw accessories at rock bottom prices. You're not getting any deal buying saws or saw accessories at the big box stores.

    http://www.gksales.net/

    Where do you live?
  24. stoz

    stoz New Member

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    Eric,

    Just to the East of Rochester, NY. originally from near your neck of the woods, near Potsdam, NY. They do have good pricing on that website, was thnking of getting 20" bar and new chains, might have to check them out.

    Scott
  25. carpniels

    carpniels Minister of Fire

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    Hi Stoz,

    YOu are not too far away. Wait until september and go to the woodman's field days in Boonville, NY. Everything you could ever need will be there and at really good prices. Bring lots of cash as all are cash deals.

    Carpniels
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