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Shorter Bar Equals Sharper Chain

Post in 'The Gear' started by Eric Johnson, Jun 12, 2007.

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  1. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Late last summer I switched from a Husqvarna Model 55 with an 18-inch bar to a 346xp with a 16-incher. This summer I've noticed that my chain stays a lot sharper and I don't hit rocks and other other chain-dulling obstacles like I always did with the 18-inch bar, even though I was trying pretty hard not to.

    On the drive home today, it occurred to me that the shorter bar is probably what's making the difference. Since I do most of my cutting out in the woods where there are all kinds of moss-covered rocks and boulders, I think that extra two inches was getting my chain into harm's way a lot more than the shorter one does.

    The 346 is also a much lighter, more powerful saw, so that probably means more control on my part. But man, I gotta tell you, having a reliably sharp chain makes a huge difference in my workload. And it's much easier on the saw, too.

    I'm thinking about getting a 13-incher. You do get more power with a shorter bar.

    The bottom line is (and has always been): Use the shortest bar you can get away with. Better to have the occasional tree be wider than your bar length than it is to be walking around trying to cut wood with a dull chain.

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  2. Sandor

    Sandor Minister of Fire

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    Two saws is the answer!
  3. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Now I keep the old 55 behind the seat of the truck, but it's only there for emergencies, since all the gas and oil has been drained out and if I gas it up and use it again, it'll stink up the cab. Instead, I prefer to use an axe on the "rare" occasions when I get the saw stuck. Only once so far this year.
  4. WarmGuy

    WarmGuy Feeling the Heat

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    The book The Good Woodcutter's Guide comes to the same conclusion. He also makes the point that with a shorter bar, you've got less friction hence more power.
  5. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    That would be "The Good Woodcutter's Guide" by Dave Johnson? Eric Johnson's daddy.
  6. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Well, I really thought I was coming up with a more-or-less original idea, but apparently the old man beat me to it by a decade or two. Maybe. I edited the book, but I don't recall any mention of bar length affecting chain sharpness. I'll have to check that out when I get home tonight.

    Anyway, thanks for the plug, WarmGuy. Gotta keep those fat royalty checks rolling in!
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