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hand sharpening chains?

Post in 'The Gear' started by nacho, Dec 12, 2006.

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  1. nacho

    nacho New Member

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    I have been cutting wood for a few years now and have been getting my chains sharpened by an old man down the road. But when I get them back they last a few cuts and dull again. He uses an elec sharpener. From what I have read on the forum many sharpen by hand using files. Are there any post on the right way to do this and what files are best to use. I am using a husq 261 20" I just bought a new oregon chain today 30.00 So i get to thinking of ways to keep it cutting like new?? Thanks for any help!

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  2. Corie

    Corie Minister of Fire

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    You should pick up one of the file holding jigs.

    The unit I have is made by oregon I believe. It clamps to the bar and makes the file angle idiot proof. I know lots of the pro's here do it freehand, but for us novices, its hard to beat the jig.
  3. Sandor

    Sandor Minister of Fire

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    Get the jig. Look at the package your new chain came in and they should give you the correct angles to file.

    If your chain is only sharp for a couple of cuts, the angles being used are incorrect.
  4. nacho

    nacho New Member

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    Yes the angles have to be wrong because I watch him while he is sharpening. He use the same angle on all chains of different sizes.
  5. Corey

    Corey Minister of Fire

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    I don't know that the angles are necessarily wrong...they cut well when you first get them back, right? He probably gets the tip of the tooth hot with the electric grinder (pretty easy to do) This will temper the metal back to a softer state. The soft metal just won't stay sharp as long. ( A win-win for your sharpener guy - he gets done faster by forcing the cut and you come back sooner because the metal goes dull fast) If the very tips of the teeth have a blue appearance on the metal, this is the most likely case. I do a quick file touch-up about every two tanks of gas, more if needed, so that would equate to a lot of trips to the sharpener.

    I tried using a file jig, but found it was almost more trouble than it was worth. I pretty much just eyeball it anymore and the saw cuts wood like butter. You may want a jig to first start out, but after a while, your hand will just know where to go.

    Corey
  6. johnsopi

    johnsopi Minister of Fire

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    I just started hand filing after a tank of gas for the last 5 tanks. Were a glove while moving the chain . I cut the pad of my thumb
    last time. It not as hard as it would seem. Starting with a sharp chain helps.
  7. Turner-n-Burner

    Turner-n-Burner New Member

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  8. Sandor

    Sandor Minister of Fire

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    Uh, the angles are wrong.

    Go to Madsens and read about it.
  9. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    I uses a $12.00 dremmel attachment. Works fast & great!
  10. spot

    spot New Member

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    I suggest finding a different old man.
    You could get all kinds of files and doodads to sharpen the chain yourself, and maybe after wrecking a few chains and cutting yourself a couple times, you will get good at it.

    ...BUT...
    Nothing beats the skill of an expert chain sharpener.
    My "old man down the road" only charges $5 per chain and they come back sharper than new! (definitely worth it)
    He has a little shop next to his house where he fixes mowers and such, all business is by word-of-mouth and a handshake is all paperwork you will get.
    He is one of those old guys that can identify a chain brand just by the sound it makes when you drop it on the floor (which is probably why it needs sharpening) and can diagnose a mower with one pull of the rope.

    I'm all for doing it yourself, I do a LOT of things myself. This is one thing I will hire out.
  11. Sandor

    Sandor Minister of Fire

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    What happens when the old man kicks the bucket, and the new old man is like the original old man mentioned at the beginning of the thread?

    What do ya do if you hit a rock, nail, bullet, etc while cutting. Stop for the day and run the chain to the old man? And I have hit several bullits embedded in trees while cutting in the woods of WV!
  12. precaud

    precaud Minister of Fire

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    I don't understand all the hooplah about chain sharpening. I mean, c'mon guys, this isn't rocket science... the right file with guide, a steady hand and repetitive motion is all that's required. Each day before you use the saw, just a few strokes on each tooth and you're done, in less time than it would take to deliver it somewhere. Don't wait for it to get dull before you sharpen it - keep it sharp! And carry a spare.
  13. zzr7ky

    zzr7ky Minister of Fire

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    ShHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! Every 60 chains those fella's bring I get a new Dolmar! Keep those chains a comin' boys!
  14. precaud

    precaud Minister of Fire

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    LOL!!!
  15. kwburn

    kwburn New Member

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    I also LOVE my dremel attachment! It rocks.
  16. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    Right on, and talk about fast, woot!!!!!!!!!
  17. wahoowad

    wahoowad Minister of Fire

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    I've been trying to sharpen my chain for awhile now, touching it up every tank, using a basic round file holder and the little marks on it to help me hold the right angle, also reading all the posts on the subject and asking questions as needed. I want to get proficient so I can keep a sharp chain on my own.

    I experience the same thing the original poster describes. Initially my chain feels sharp and I'm getting good chips and no dust. But this lasts less than tankfull and I feel it getting duller, see more dust and less chips, and know I'm struggling harder than I should to get through logs. This is without hitting the ground (happens with elevated logs).

    I feel like I'm doing OK on my angles and sharpening of the teeth. I look close and see I'm cleaning them up good. I do not do my rakers - I haven't graduated to that level, a little more mystery there although I understand the concept. I don't have a file or mechanism for that either. I have a feeling that is behind why my last chain was getting slow.

    I put on a brand new chain and it cut like a freakin' dream! Maybe I'll take my old one to the local Stihl dealer and see if he has any sage advice. This will be a good opportunity to see if he is interested helping me be a better woodcutter, or is only interested in me if I look like a big sale. Maybe he'll help me understand how to hit that raker and I can touch it up and put it back on and see.
  18. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    A raker file is just a good, flat file.

    If a new chain is getting dull before a tank is done, then you're either hitting sand or grit or some other substance or object that's dulling your chain way too soon, wahoo.
  19. johnsopi

    johnsopi Minister of Fire

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    I'm cutting up piles of wood that have dirt on them from being pushed a around. I try not hit the dirt but you do. Any tips if you do hit dirt
  20. Andre B.

    Andre B. New Member

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  21. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Talking about files reminds me of an old joke.

    But not today.

    Andre is right--raker files have smooth edges to avoid nicking the cutters if you stray, which you will.

    jonsopi--used to be you could buy what they called "chipper" chain (vs. "chisel) which had a rounded cutting edge, instead of the more common 90-degree arrangement on chisel chains. Now I think they're all pretty much a modified chisel design. The rounded edge would take more abuse, since the cutting edge was spread out over a larger area.

    My tip is: try not to hit the dirt with the chain. I've heard it said that if you have dirt on the log, it won't hurt the chain if you cut it from below. But I'm not buying it.

    Scrape the dirt off if you can, or cut somewhere else on the surface of the log. If your chain gets dull, sharpen it right away.
  22. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    I'm no expert at this, but I did buy one of those Oregon file holders with the clamp on sheet metal that has angle lines to help you align your stroke.

    I sharped my chain once so far. Since it was throwing sawdust, I figured I might hit it a bit harder than the next time. I put about 7 moderate to light strokes on each cutter. Went out the next day and... oh, my, gosh! It was like brand new. I burned about 3 tanks and the thing was still cutting like butter and making nice chips.

    Maybe I just got lucky.
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