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How often do you file your rakers?

Post in 'The Gear' started by nshif, Dec 1, 2006.

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  1. nshif

    nshif New Member

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    And how important is it?.

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  2. DiscoInferno

    DiscoInferno Minister of Fire

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    I have one of those doodads that hold the round and flat files together, so the rakers get filed every time I hand file. Thus, I can't really say how important it is.
  3. ourhouse

    ourhouse Minister of Fire

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    I agree its very important, for you saw to cut at its max potential. The Pferd filing system works good. I file my rakers about every 2 filings. I tend to take them down a little more than they should be.
  4. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    The rakers, also known as depth gauges, regulate how deeply the cutters go into the wood. If the rakers aren't at the right depth, your saw won't self-feed and you'll find yourself pushing down on the saw as you cut. That not only wears you out, but it wears out the bar and chain as well. One sure-fire indication that your rakers are too high is if instead of making chips, your chain makes fine dust and it takes forever to get through the wood. People tend to use the log spikes to force their saw through the wood when their rakers are too high, compounding the problems.

    If you take your rakers down too low, on the other hand, your chain gets very aggressive and either stalls out in the cut or (worst case scenario), hangs up in the cut and kicks back at you. Other, less severe signs of mis-filed rakers include a choppy, jerky cut and frequent hang-ups.

    You can determine the proper raker height with a simple tool called a raker gauge. They cost about $3 and when used properly, will tell you how much you need to take your rakers down. More experienced cutters have a good feel for how their saw is cutting, and simply take their rakers down whenever they seem to need it. In my case, that's about once every five sharpenings, more or less, assuming nothing extraordinary happens, like hitting a rock.

    The important thing to remember about rakers is that their height is relative to the cutter length. You can file all the rakers down to the same height and your saw will cut crooked (sweep to the left or right as you cut), because half the cutters are shorter than the other half. That happens even with razor-sharp chains. That's why a raker gauge is such a good idea--it measures the height of the raker relative to the cutter it's serving. Also, you file the rakers a little differently for hardwood vs. softwood. A good gauge will give you that option.

    So yes, filing the rakers is critical and it's critical that it be done right.

    And like filing, it's best done by hand, IMO.
  5. Corey

    Corey Minister of Fire

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    I'm far from doing it right, but "out in the field" i give the cutters a quick swipe every couple of tanks of gas or (worst case) if I ding a rock or piece of barbed wire. If the saw seems to be cutting good in the field, I may give the rakers a quick swipe when I get home. If it seems to hang up a little, I may lay off on the rakers, or if it seems I have to push a little, I will hit them a little heavier.

    Corey
  6. DiscoInferno

    DiscoInferno Minister of Fire

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    Yep, that's the one.
  7. precaud

    precaud Minister of Fire

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    Good explanation, Eric. I would only add, to check the raker height even on a brand new chain before cutting with it. I was astonished to see how high the rakers were on the Oregon chain that came on the Makita saw I bought this summer.
  8. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    You can't blame the chain mfgs for playing it save.
  9. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Anybody here using the Oregon Vangard chain? I ended up with a couple of new ones for Old Yaller. I hate the rakers on those things. I don't know what the heck should be used to gauge them, standard gauges darn sure don't work, and trying to file them is an exercise in futility.
  10. DiscoInferno

    DiscoInferno Minister of Fire

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    I have a couple loops of the Vanguard. The aforementioned Husky Sharpforce doesn't use a gauge, it just holds the flat file at the right height as you file the cutters. I didn't buy mine but I doubt it's that expensive. The Vanguard rakers look substantial, but they seem to file down OK for me.
  11. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    I am going to have to find me one of those things. Thanks. On those rakers I can file till I am blue in the face with new files and I don't seem to get anything off of them.
  12. nshif

    nshif New Member

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    BB I agree, The same on Stihl Chains, seems as if the rakers are a harder steel then the cutters. Ive thought of using a grinder wheel in my Dremal.
  13. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Yeah. I hear that Stihl is using a raker similar to the Vanguard on their new low kickback chains. Probably the same thing. I have considered doing exactly the same thing. That and maybe seeing how long it will take two chains to rust away hanging from a tree limb. My problem is that D72 chains for the saw are hard to find. I guess it is time to go down to a shop and have some loops made up.

    I have just been cutting with the little Poulan because I can't get the big boy to do anything but skid over the surface until I can cut those rakers down. That little green sucker is nice and light and actually whacks through twenty inch red oak pretty nicely. But Old Yaller, when the chain is on its game, rips the suckers in two. At twenty-three pounds I don't need to be holding that thing up any longer than is absolutely necessary. I am a scrawny, wimpy old tree whacking dude.

    Besides, I have that helmet and other crap now. Looks kinda goofy to be dressed up like an orange Darth Vader with a midget chainsaw in your hands. All the time I am cutting with the little saw I keep hearing a voice in the earmuffs of the helmet saying "Use the Force old Skywalker!".
  14. ourhouse

    ourhouse Minister of Fire

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    IT beats a nother trip to the ER though.
  15. suematteva

    suematteva New Member

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    I thought you had mastered wood cutting with your light saber!!
  16. babalu87

    babalu87 New Member

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    Now that would be the BALLS!
  17. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    A light saber would be cool, but I'd rather have a variable gravity beam that I could aim at trees to pull them over enough so that when I make the final cut, they fall where I want.

    I used to have one, but I dropped a tree on it.
  18. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    I used to do that with the Force. But the dark side kept trying to take over and drop the trees on my garden tractor and trailer.
  19. ourhouse

    ourhouse Minister of Fire

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    That is too funny!!!
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