1. Welcome Hearth.com Guests and Visitors - Please enjoy our forums!
    Hearth.com GOLD Sponsors who help bring the site content to you:
    Hearthstone Soapstone and Cast-Iron stoves( Wood, Gas or Pellet Stoves and Inserts)
    Caluwe - Passion for Fire and Water ( Pellet and Wood Hydronic and Space Heating)

Sharpening chain with Dremel Tool?

Post in 'The Gear' started by TresK3, Sep 29, 2007.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. TresK3

    TresK3 Member

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2007
    Messages:
    77
    Loc:
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    A friend of mine gave me kit for sharpening chains that goes on a Dremel tool. Turns out, when I tried to rig it up, that my little tool is not a true Dremel so the sharpener won't attach. Now I have to decide: do I buy a "real" Dremel tool to use the sharpener with or do I go some other route. I'm not very skilled at sharpening anything (still can't seem to get the kitchen knives past the point of mashing a ripe tomato and don't even talk to me about my planes). There wasn't anything in the Wiki about sharpening chains (could the writer's group do something about that?) and very few threads, that I could find, about sharpening. A few people seemed to endorse the Dremel, but is it worth the $$? How much should I expect to pay for a set of files and a gauge (I doubt I could free-hand it with any precision). If I go the files & a gauge route, what's a good brand? How do I get more info on sharpening?

    Thanks,
    Tres

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. KeithO

    KeithO Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2007
    Messages:
    529
    Loc:
    Jackson, MI
    Tres:

    I went with the $17 sharpening attachment that clamps on the chain saw bar and uses a round file to sharpen the teeth. If your not a "natural" then you want someone to show you how it is done. My hand sharpener works fine and I use it every time I take the saw out. I wish the teeth were tungsten carbide (does anyone know why they are not ?), because the chain would stay sharp until you needed to replace it. Same as all of the saw blades we use on all of our other tools. Virtually no-one uses high speed steel for circular saw blades anymore.
  3. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    27,956
    Loc:
    Northern Virginia
    Just do a Google search for "carbide chainsaw" and you will find them. Of course fire departments with taxpayer budgets are the only ones that use them because they cost like rip. And woodworking saws don't go into rocks and dirt as often as chainsaw chains. Fireman have to live with cutting through nails all of the time. Firewood cutters try to avoid them.
  4. Corey

    Corey Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2005
    Messages:
    2,123
    Loc:
    Midwest
    I don't know about all the alignment gizmo's and clamps. My chain sharpening equipment consists of a couple of round hand files which I take out with me cutting wood. I usually get a new file every year or so, because they go dull, too. I use these to touch up the chain every couple of tanks of gas.

    For the shop I bought a couple of round stones that fit in a Dremmel - or other tool with a 1/8" collet. I think the two pack was only ~$4. So far, they seem to hold up well - they have brought the chain back from a couple of encounters with fence staples, nails and a piece of mystery metal that snuck under the bar. I'm considering throwing a small power inverter in the truck so I can run the dremel in the woods for an even faster recovery from metal strikes. I guess all the alignment gizmo's are nice, but over the years, my hands have just learned to "assume the position". Plus it always seems to be easier to dress the chain ever couple tanks of gas as opposed to giving it a full grind once it's really dull.
  5. zzr7ky

    zzr7ky Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2006
    Messages:
    1,047
    Hi -

    I've tried several different methods. Some observations:

    Commercial grinders are hard on chains, largely because owners are hard on chains...

    Dremel type sharpeners with or without guides seem to soften teeth a bit. They are OK but not quicker or better than hand filing UNLESS you've cut though wire, struck a rock, etc...

    Expensive fixtures (say >$15) are OK for the non hand tool user, but they are slow.

    Simple file guides (<$10) are great. I like them. Even novice users can get good results. I file a stroke of two after every tank of two depending on how hard or dirty the wood is.

    Simply filing by hand isn't that hard. It is also quick. Watch some others do it. Try it...

    ATB,
    Mike P
  6. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    5,705
    Loc:
    Central NYS
    Professional loggers, tree service people and other chain saw professionals all use a round file with no attachments. If you're sincerely interested in keeping your saw sharp, I recommend taking the time to learn how to file with the appropriate round file. It can be a frustrating exercise, but in the end, you'll get much better results with a file.
  7. eba1225

    eba1225 Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2007
    Messages:
    312
    Loc:
    Chester Springs, Pa
    I have found similiar results where the Dremel grinder sharpened teeth do not last as long as the hand filed teeth.
  8. TresK3

    TresK3 Member

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2007
    Messages:
    77
    Loc:
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    Thanks for all the thoughts. My main concern is ruining the chain by "rounding off" the edge of the cutter with a file, instead of sharpening the edge. When I try something like this, my hands always seem to rock, no matter how straight I think I'm pushing the tool.
  9. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2006
    Messages:
    14,868
    Loc:
    Northern IL
    {I'm gonna get bashed for this, but here it goes}

    I purchased one of them Harbor Freight "nick the grinders". I've been using it for 3 years. Sharpen approx. 15 chains a year (at least). Works good for me, and when you get it figured out, you can barely touch the chain to get your edge back. This will remove VERY little material and yields a long chain life. As a test, I have compare a brand new Stihl chain to one that I have sharpened (on a Stihl MS-361) and they have nearly identical performance and longevity in the field. I am real familiar with hand sharpening with files and still carry files to the woods with me for touch ups, but that cheapo grinder DOES WORK for me.

    I have heard quite a few arguments on the other side of the fence, that they take too much steel per sharpening (which doesn't make sense, cuz the operator can adjust for that) and that they don't have all the fancy multiple adjustment angles etc. but I have gotten along with mine just fine. If I had to pick a down side, it would be that you can't grind the raker with them, and it still must be done by hand (use a raker gauge, and its a no brainer). If I had trouble with hand files and short of a pro taking care of the sharpening of my chains, I would consider this a good option.

    Note: to set this type of grinder up perfect, use a brand new chain and then set the grinder to the angles of the new chain, mark it for both the left and right angles and then you can be sure to always have the "factory" angle for your chain.

    By all means listen to guys here like Eric that are wood maniac's, their suggestions are in the field proven (heck, he probably sharpens 15 chains a week), but if you are truly challenged by sharpening chains, it might be worth a look.

    {just trying to help a brother out, so be nice to me.}
  10. Backhoe

    Backhoe New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2007
    Messages:
    22
    Loc:
    E Mass
    I expect hefty criticism for this post also - must be a full moon or close to it.

    I've included a picture of how I sharpen my chains. I've been doing this for about 4 years now doing about 10+ chains per year. I tried every conceivable gadget to hold, brace, angle and everything else to the chain while I hand sharpened which resulted in reasonable sharpness. I then read about the dremel and have tossed all the other stuff in the recycle bins - long gone. What I do is put the chainsaw in the vice and then position the magnifying glass above the chain. I then eyeball the dremel on to each chain segment and grind. I keep the angle of the dremel aligned with the link and lightly grind. When I see the top of the link start to sharpen I go on to the next. I get a chain done in about 6-8 minutes taking my time. In addition to being quick and easy these chains cut as good as a new chain and, yes, I am patting myself on the back.... The chains seem to last long.

    I use this method to cut about 5 cord per year which meets my needs.

    Now go easy on the critique.....

    Attached Files:

  11. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    5,705
    Loc:
    Central NYS
    I think you guys are a little paranoid. You know, whatever works for you. My point is that I've tried all that stuff over the years, and finally realized that practice with a round file beats 'em all. Just something to keep in mind as you work your way through the various alternatives. Sometimes simple is best.
  12. bjorn773

    bjorn773 Member

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2007
    Messages:
    229
    Loc:
    Rockford, Illinois
    I agree with some of the others that the file is the most precise with minimal loss of precious tooth metal. I have tried the clamp on the bar gizmo from Oregon. It seems accurate enough, just kinda overdone. They tried to put too many adjustments in a compact design rendering it kinda flimsy IMO. My favorite file system is made by Husqvarna. They have a simple roller guide that sets on the bar. The file rolls across the rollers but is held at the proper angle by the guide. It's a slick setup and it's cheap... under $20. That said, I also own a professional grinder that I use the majority of the time. Maybe it's because I like to play with machines or maybe it's because it's very quick to do several chains. I got it for free and invested about $50 to get it operational. Anyway, the Husky files would be my recommendation for most bang for the buck. They sell them at Lowes.
  13. Corey

    Corey Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2005
    Messages:
    2,123
    Loc:
    Midwest
    True, true. A couple passes per tooth with a good round file is usually all it takes. A slight rocking of the hand seems to make very little difference. The big thing to remember is always use a stroke so the file is dragging out across the cutting edge of the tooth - never push the file into the edge of the tooth - you are just about as likely to shear the "teeth" off the file as sharpen the chain.

    The other tip is that if you are seeing any discoloration - bluing or blackening of the teeth - while using a mechanical grinder, the metal is getting too hot and you are taking the temper (hardness) out of the steel, and it may not stay sharp as long. If the sharpening can be accomplished with no discoloration (using a slower and lighter feed into the grinder) this should not affect the hardness of the metal and shouldn't have any effect on the ability to stay sharp.

    Corey
  14. BurningIsLove

    BurningIsLove New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2006
    Messages:
    353
    Loc:
    Billerica, MA
    I have used the dremel sharpener for about a year now, and I find it works good as an incremental sharpener while Im bucking a lot of logs to keep a fine edge. Takes off VERY little metal (when used correctly) and you can easily change the angle (by hand) to get the bite that you want. It's also good for some light grinding if you hit a rock or something else that you didnt see....I just hit some heavy gauge wire that had been swallowed by a tree and I didnt know was there, dremel sharpener had by back up & sharp in a few minutes.

    After a good while, a nice commercial sharpen or slow attention w/ a file is necessary. The dremel tool doesnt replace that method (or others) entirely.
  15. cbrodsky

    cbrodsky Member

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2006
    Messages:
    517
    Loc:
    Millbrook, NY
    This is still something I'm not great at and I have some questions.

    I find that I do much better w/the Dremel than by hand and it is really easy. Still, it seems to be necessary after each tank or I really start to slow down. So here are some questions I have:

    What speed do you find best for sharpening?

    What direction do you spin the grinding wheel relative to the tooth and does it matter?

    What direction do you apply pressure to keep it on the tooth, and how much pressure do you apply? (perfectly horizontally and aligned with the tooth angle or any diagonal downward pressure as well? this is something I'm never sure about...)

    How long do you let it run against the tooth?

    The other thing I found the Dremel useful for was taking some off the depth adjusters when they looked like they were out of spec. However, I think I went a bit nuts on it. It helped it cut faster, but now I find that the saw wants to tilt as it goes through the wood. I'm guessing this is because I didn't do an even job on the depth gagues - is there a rule of thumb as to how to correct this? Standing in the cutting position, my bar tilts from a vertical N-S orientation to a NW-SE orientation as you cut through the log. It's mainly a problem in larger trunks.

    For what it's worth, this chain has cut about 6 cords or so - when should I be planning to retire it?

    My neighbor who has probably done this about twice as long as I've been alive does a very fine job w/a round file.

    -Colin
  16. BurningIsLove

    BurningIsLove New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2006
    Messages:
    353
    Loc:
    Billerica, MA
    Ditto....takes less time to dull than by a manual sharpen.

    About 1/2 speed, maybe a little less. too fast and you can heat up the metal and ruin the temper

    Not sure I understand the question. I go 'with the grain' so to speak

    the angle of the chain cutting surface is offset from horizontal. I follow that. I hold it downward presure on the back of the dremel slightly because thats the area of the teeth you want to focus on that part is doing the work. You dont want to be able to see reflected metal on the tooth edge. tough to describe in words

    not long....just enuf to get a clean surface on the cutting teeth. couple seconds per tooth.

    You probably need to true up the bar. Are you flipping it regularly as well?

    No, its got life as long as you are making sure the teeth & rakers are at the proper offset and that there's plenty of metal left. You can always take it to a dealer and they will do a professional sharpening & true the bar as well. Its worth doing after cutting 6 cords.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page