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File maintenance

Post in 'The Gear' started by Eric Johnson, Jul 3, 2007.

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  1. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Files are cheap, but even a new file requires frequent cleaning and lubrication to work right. That's right, I said lubrication.

    Oddly enough (to me, anyway), nothing gets a file back into shape better than a cleaning with either gasoline or WD-40, followed by a thin coating of bar/chain oil.

    I have a small rag that I use to clean up any oil that spills out when I'm gassing and oiling the saw on my workbench, and I use that rag to wipe down the file before sharpening.

    There's no better way to keep a saw chain sharp, IMO, than a properly maintained file.

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  2. keyman512us

    keyman512us Member

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    So what about "out in the field"??? Do the "Levi's take a beating"..lol A lot of guys "wipe the chips on the pant leg" from what I gather.
    Out of curiousity Eric??? How many "spare chains" do you keep with you "out in the field" to get through the day?? (I'm not a big fan of 'sharpening on the tailgate' either)lol
  3. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    I usually cut one tank and haul one pickup load of wood after work, so I'm usually doing my saw maintenance on the work bench. But when I do cut more than one tank, it's a tailgate arrangement. I do sharpen the chain after each tank, regardless, and I'd rather not do it in the field. But I don't think it's worth the trouble of swapping chains unless I really chew one up. I don't use gloves, and am too impatient to wait around for the saw to cool down enough to swap the chain. Plus, with the blackflies, you don't want to stop moving (or producing exhaust) for very long. BTW, I do keep a spare saw and chain in the cab, but they're for emergency use only.
  4. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    Eric and I differ on this, neither one is right or wrong.. For Eric, his method works best and he has the experience to make it happen that way.

    Those new to hand fileing especially in the field , there is a good chance you will screw up a decent cutting chain. It will under preform afterwards.

    I file when necessary not every tank full. I feel the saw tells you when sharpening is needed. One will get to know when it gets dull looking at the chips pile.

    When you start seeing finer chips the chain is getting dull. When you find yourself applying more pressure the chain is getting dull. I only sharpen when it tells me it is needed
    The philosophy, why mess with something working correctly.

    BTW Eric great advice in file prep.
  5. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    I agree that you can do more harm than good with a file if you don't have the technique down. And, out in the woods is not the best place to practice.

    Having said that, you will get more life--and better performance--out of a chain if you never let it get dull. And if you can feel it getting dull, then it's too late. Sharpening after each tank is an arbitrary maintenance point, but it's a good one. You won't fall out of your routine if you make a point of sharpening every tank. The goal, as noted by the professionals is: "If you always sharpen a sharp chain, you'll never have to sharpen a dull one."
  6. keyman512us

    keyman512us Member

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    Aaagh...An interesting discussion all the way around.

    Maybe some would regard my way of looking at it as "The Tailgunners' mentality" (flying around looking at things from a backwards point of view)lol. I try to keep the chains sharp...But I inherently 'let a few go'. Being in the (stump) business I figure a few are going to "get smoked". I don't even want to think of how many chains I have 'wrecked dirt cutting' a stump.

    I play the 'good amabassador' of the tree industry though. When a customer asks "Why didn't the tree guy cut the stump lower???" I politely explain how the butt of a tree takes all the dirt in and for a tree cutter it's bad news for the chains...'They' make their living with sharp chains..."That where I come in...the stump undertaker"...lol

    No two 'stump men' are alike. While the 'competition' for the most part come in and make a big mess...I market my services "to the discerning client". The others grind everything...not much reason to worry if you are going to "leave an ant hill"...but I prefer to "leave no trace". It's easier to 'cut and chunk' (therby reducing the amount of millings that need to be tended to). It costs a few chains...but I price accordingly.

    I've learned over the years "little tricks" to make for a nicer job...and "return calls and recomendations"... An example of one of my stump jobs (just the other day...and how I left it):

    Attached Files:

  7. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    I wrote a response, keyman, but somehow it disappeared. But the bottom line was:

    If you value a chain, keep it the hell away from anything growing below the ground level.
  8. keyman512us

    keyman512us Member

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    Eric,
    I do value the chains...but it's amazing what the first 18" of a tree will do to a chain...lol ;)
  9. snowfreak

    snowfreak New Member

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    So you take the file and submerge it in gasoline or wd-40 to clean out the gunk and then put some bar oil to lubricate it? I have never cleaned nor lubricated my file for chain sharpening, I'll brush some of the crap off with a shop rag every now and again. Is this procedure for the sole purpose of extending the file life? I break out a new file every other new chain. If it improves how the file sharpens I'll have to give it a shot.
  10. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    You don't have to submerge it--just spray a little on or wipe the file with a gasoline-soaked rag. But you get the idea.

    The sole purpose is to make the file cut better.
  11. WarmGuy

    WarmGuy Feeling the Heat

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    Tell me more about the rationale behind lubrication. I believe you, but intuitively, it seems that the oil would make the file cut less well. We generally lubricate parts so that they won't wear, yet that's exactly what we want to happen to the chain -- controlled wearing. I would expect that the oil would make the file glide over the blades rather than cut them.
  12. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    That's what you'd think, but it ain't so. Try it and you'll see what I mean.
  13. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Minor safety note. Keep that oil or gas soaked rag hanging flat in a well ventilated place or in a tightly sealed metal can. Put a few oil or gas soaked rags, balled up in a tight space and they can spontaneously combust as the oil oxidizes.
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