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What is the relative quality of Oregon Chain Saw Blades

Post in 'The Gear' started by Jerry_NJ, May 21, 2008.

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  1. Jerry_NJ

    Jerry_NJ Minister of Fire

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    Another thread on this forum about purchasing a chain saw also touched on the quality of chain blades, particularly in how long they last between sharpening. In this thread the statement was made that Oregon blades are sub-par relative to one or more of the upper priced chain saw brands.

    I use low cost chain saws (Homelite, Sears, Poulan) and buy Oregon chains at Walmart (two pack for 14" S52T being my most used) and sometimes at Home Depot. From what was said on the reference thread I may be getting poor life out of Oregon chains... or my economy/cheap chain saw/bar promotes early chain dulling.

    What's up? How many hours do you get per sharpening of your chains when cutting green hardwood? Here I'm most interested in smaller bars, say 14" and 16", I rarely use my 20" bar, still on the first chain :lol:

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  2. woodmaster

    woodmaster New Member

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    Both Stihl and Oregon make many different types of chain. The reality is that dirt dulls chain , I think its the Chevy -Ford debate. You may want to experiment and find a different chain that you like better.
  3. mikeathens

    mikeathens New Member

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    I ran a Craftsman for several years, and noted that the chain would last 3-4 hours. I bought several Oregon chains from Lowes, with the same results.

    Went to a talk on chainsaw safety and equipment put on by the local woodland interest group last year; the speaker was an OSU extension chainsaw expert. A friend of mine asked how long he typically gets out of a chain, and he said about 4 DAYS. He, of course, owned several Stihls.

    I got my Stihl 361 last fall, and have had the same experience. If I hadn't hit a rock when I was sawing some black locust, I would probably still be on the first chain.

    I went through 2 tanks of gas on saturday sawing some white oak- BIG stuff. I will probably put another 10 hours on this chain before I need to resharpen. I could never do that with the craftsman and oregon chain. Stihl makes their own chains, and they are worth the money.

    My opinion and experiences, of course...
  4. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Oregon makes perfectly good sawchain. If you can keep it away from dirt and rocks and keep it sharp, it will last for years under normal, firewood cutting use. I can get better than 20 full cords of 2-foot wood out of a chain, and that's with the occasional rock accident. Actually, not all that occasional. So far this season I've hit rocks 3 times in 15 tanks. Still expect to get more than 20 cords from a $10 chain.
  5. Jerry_NJ

    Jerry_NJ Minister of Fire

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    Eric,

    So, that's good news and a contrast to other posts I've read of late. Maybe it is you're using a better quality saw..i.e., tracks better or something that makes the chain stay sharp/usable longer. What saw are you cutting with?

    I don't hit a lot of rocks, maybe none in a tank or two, but it seems after a couple of tanks (what would that be? guess about 30 minutes of actual cutting time) the blade is in need of a file. I'm not talking either about how long a chain lasts after my amature sharpening, I'm talking about a new blade, just went through one, an Oregon S52T, a couple of days ago. Still, I've never tried a Stihl, guess you have to own one to use one of their chains..or do they make a S52T equivalent? Could be worth a try on my 14" Homelite.

    I'm not trying to start an argument, I'm quite willing to learn of those cases (not all cases are going to work out that way for me) where spending more actually cost less.
  6. mikeathens

    mikeathens New Member

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    Eric:

    So in your opinion, what would have caused the chain to need resharpened so much? Could lower RPMs cause that? I never hit rocks or dirt with the craftsman. I swear, I'm using my Stihl the same way, and that chain lasts a TON longer (if you'll let me measure time in terms of weight). I'm curious to see what your take is.
  7. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    I don't know. I sharpen after every tank, whether it needs it or not. Some woods are harder on chains than others. Sometimes you get fine grit or sand in the bark that you can't see, and that can dull a chain up pretty quick. Sometimes you can file the chain wrong and it will dull up more quickly because the cutting edge is the wrong shape. I doubt that chain speed has any effect on wear.
  8. mikeathens

    mikeathens New Member

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    I don't want to get into a big debate, and I'm not saying Oregon chains are not good quality. Can saw for many, many hours with the Stihl chain before it needs resharpened. The Oregon chain would only last a few hours before it needed resharpening. All in all, is it fair to say that both chains will have a similar life, but that Stihl chains will hold an edge much longer? A friend of mine and I were talking about this, and he noticed the same thing (he got his 361 when I did). He is convinced that Stihl uses higher quality steel in their chains.
  9. Jerry_NJ

    Jerry_NJ Minister of Fire

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    May be, the metal is harder in Stihl chains, good that it isn't my cheap saw that's causing the problem.
  10. Jerry_NJ

    Jerry_NJ Minister of Fire

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    Another, related question/experience. I took my saw out tonight to cut some Eastern Red Cedar, yes I've decided to start collecting stove size cedar, no more hard wood snobbery for me. The Oregon blade had about 30 minutes cutting time on it and I had just done a light sharpening, 5/32" round file only. I was cutting some trees my wife wanted removed so some wild dogwood trees would get more light. The cedar were about 6-8" in diameter at a few feet off the ground, and about 25 feet tall. Now I may have cut my notch too deep, but I started getting binding problems while cutting the notch. Then, when I had the tree on the ground I again found some binding when cutting through the trunk, even when it was on the ground. Is it possible that softwood, such as cedar will swell or something else while being cut and thus start to bind the blade? Or, could it be a poorly sharpened chain that does it. Seemed to me I was not binding the blade because of the weight of the tree was squeezing the cut opening. I hope my story makes sense.
  11. savageactor7

    savageactor7 Minister of Fire

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    On my 20' Huskey I use Oregon 73LG chains cause I have Oregon bar. Just replaced a chain after cutting at least 13 full cords of wood...plus after having used it last summer mostly harvesting/limbing. Since it was my last one I bought 10 chains this AM at 10 something a chain. Think I save 2 something when I get them 10 at a time.

    I don't think I've ever used more than 2 chains a year. My chains stretch out, but if I could find someone to take a link out I think they'd probably all be good for another 10 full cord. They don't take links out anymore cause of some lawsuit so I've been saving my old one's just in case.

    At one time I used Stihl chains but with my wood I like the Oregon 73LG it's not real sharp, sharp but it stays sharp longer. When I find myself putting pressure on the grab bar then I sharpen it up cause when this chain is sharp it'll cut through a 16"+ log one handed. Sometimes I'll find myself limbing with a dull chain but never bucking.

    I suppose the kind of wood you cut mostly determines how long it will stay sharp. Sometimes I can go a half a day without sharpening other days I sharpen it 3 times. I always drag the log over 3 saplings centered in the middle third of log I'm cutting... doing that helps keep the chain out of the dirt and it's easier to roll the log over. Also the chain is always resharpened at the end of the day.

    I cut mostly maple and ash and some elm. Oh and I'm pretty sure I'm going through fewer chains using my 20' saw than the 16" saw.
  12. Jerry_NJ

    Jerry_NJ Minister of Fire

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    Thanks, another testimony for Oregon. I always thought Oregon chains to be "A" quality, whereas my Homelite $99 14" chain saw is bottom of the heap (not sure, Harbor freight may have something cheaper). Still, I don't get a lot of cuts out of a blade, maybe only 20 or thirty trunk cuts (and I'm talking small trunks, all under 12", i.e., I cut with a 14" blade). I'm wondering if I've got a real poor technique or if the low-end saw contributes to a short blade life, or some combination. As I mention just above in this post, I found some pinching problems with softwood/cedar, I'll have to try the: "drag the log over 3 saplings centered in the middle third of log I’m cutting", but not sure I can figure out what "middle third" means. I'm not taking "shots" here, just trying to learn. I'll take this to mean that three saplings (smaller pieces) form a platform upon which the log being cut extends beyond the point of cutting, i.e., its weight is pulling the cut apart.

    I am an occasional chain saw user, I have purchased most of my fire wood cut and spit (but the rising costs are making me do more cut my own, if I can find it, or buy it for less $$ than already cut).

    I have a large maple near the house, maybe too near my chimney and was thinking about hiring a professional tree service to cut the larger branches on the side facing the house and just dropping them on the ground, then I'll cut/split and clean up. This should be cheaper than having them dispose of the cut limbs, right?
  13. computeruser

    computeruser Feeling the Heat

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    Oregon chain is perfectly serviceable. The crap safety chain you are buying at Wal-Mart is about as poor a choice as you could make from the current crop of Oregon offerings. Assuming you're running 91vg 3/8"LoProfile chain, I suspect you would want to check out the non-safety versions for better cutting, easier sharpening, and improved performance.

    Oregon holds an edge just fine if you do your part. I got a couple full cords of firewood, a weekend alongside the chipper, and a few hours of clearing saplings and shrubs out of the loop of 95vg that is still on my Husqvarna 238 without needing to even touch it up with a file. This is more than acceptable, in my opinion.
  14. Jerry_NJ

    Jerry_NJ Minister of Fire

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    c-user, thanks

    So, does Walmart have a contract with Oregon for a cheap chain, or is it a general cheap line sold elsewhere too, e.g., Home Depot. I know Walmart is famous for "hitting on suppliers" to get the cost/price down and this can/does lead to cost cutting measures. How can one tell looking at the Oregon package? You note a "95vg" is that a part number? for what length? I will look on the Oregon web site.I am happy to report, looking at a two chain package on my desk at this moment, that the chain is "Made in U.S.A." gotta love that :)

    As for a non-safety version, no thanks, I'm dangerous enough (unskilled enough) as it is.

    Thanks again,
  15. savageactor7

    savageactor7 Minister of Fire

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    Jerry I'm thinking if your saw is 'pinching' then it's probably getting dull when you quickly pull it out and the tip hit's the dirt. When ya do that a couple a three times the edge quickly comes off the points of the chain...and it's the points that do the cutting, mostly anyways.

    So it would help if the log you were cutting was elevated slightly off the ground with those sacrificial logs I mentioned earlier. by putting those 3 logs in the center of the log your cutting you can cuts ends for the left then the right saving the middle for last...when it works correctly your log is kind of balanced, but not really.

    As far as WalMart Oregon chains being lower quality...I don't think that's true, but I dunno. But like was suggested earlier get away from those safety chains...you'll be fine.

    With your 14" saw and a sharp chain you should be able to one arm that saw and watch it cut through wood cleanly with no forcing at all. Not that I'm recommending one arm operation but only to help you understand that the saw does the cutting with out any pressure from your guiding arm.

    Finely if you still have those spiked bumpers on, I'd take 'em off you don't need 'em for bucking rounds and imo they kind of lend themselves to saw abuse. Some operators use them unconsciously to strong arm the chain saw through the log.
  16. Jerry_NJ

    Jerry_NJ Minister of Fire

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    Ok, thanks for the details on improving technique. I'm sure I let the "nose" of the say hit the dirt, figuring if it doesn't hit a rock it will not be damaged, much. The Homelite is "famous" for the nose guard, I suppose that has in the past helped protect the chain when I let the nose hit the dirt. The guard came off a couple of cuttings back, and so I no longer use a protector..and it may be that the chains get dull faster now, for reasons noted.

    I now understand putting support in the middle, and working in from both ends, that's a good tip.
  17. WOODBUTCHER

    WOODBUTCHER Minister of Fire

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    I have been using Oregon chains for many years. My recently retired 42cc craftsman used Oregon S62 chains from Wallmart. I'm careful about dirt and rocks and sharpen my own.
    Last year a freshly sharpened chain got me through many cords of pignut/shagbark hickory. I've got a Dolmar 5100s now, Oregon makes the bar for Dolmar and I've got 3 Oregon 3/8 chains for it.
    Good Quality stuff !


    WoodButcher
  18. mikeathens

    mikeathens New Member

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    Pretty good testimony! I just wonder what factors have resulted in my oregon chains dulling much faster than my stihl. Hmmmmmmm...
  19. savageactor7

    savageactor7 Minister of Fire

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    Mike I used Stihl chains for years but when I needed a new bar right away I got an Oregon and that required a 73 tooth chain which Stihl didn't have. That's when I found out an Oregon chain suited my needs better...even though I started buying them by the 10 count. Being in Ohio you're probably cutting a lot of cherry and perhaps that's more suited for the Stihl chipper chain. I'm no expert but I'm thinking the wood you 'mostly' cut would best determine what chain to use.
  20. JustWood

    JustWood Minister of Fire

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    I won't buy anything but Oregon chisel chain. Been using it for a long time with no problems.
  21. Jerry_NJ

    Jerry_NJ Minister of Fire

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    So, not all chains are created the same/equal. Where do you find information such as "chisel chain" or "chipper chain"? The box my Oregon came in just says "Cutting Chain" and a number S52T. Is this another type: chisel, chipper and cutting? In any case, if I buy from Walmat what I get is what they got, there's no choice of type of teeth.
  22. savageactor7

    savageactor7 Minister of Fire

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    ^ that's why I always recommend dealing with a qualified 'dealer'...they have your interests at stake and will have the right answer for any question you throw at them. Just say'en I have no personal interest or investment of any kind with any dealer what so ever...I'm just speaking from personal experience.
  23. mikeathens

    mikeathens New Member

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    Woodbutcher:

    Now, are you saying that you got through many cords on one chain - OR - you got through many cords on the initial sharpening?

    Maybe I should clarify that I can cut much, much longer between SHARPENINGS with Stihl than I did with my Oregon chains. When it's all said and done, could you say Stihl vs. oregon might get you the same # cords per chain, but that you spend a lot less time sharpening with the Stihl. I didn't see that anyone addressed that or that anyone has noted same experiences?

    I'm typically cutting black locust, cherry, red oak, white oak, shagbark hickory, some black walnut.
  24. savageactor7

    savageactor7 Minister of Fire

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    Wow...wood doesn't get any harder than what you're cutting Mike...stay with the Stihl chain if it works for you. Chain is a preference ya just have to go with whatever works best for you and I can see why you prefer that stihl chain.

    For me sharpening a chain is no big deal...any time I find myself use a full trigger pull to cut...it's time to sharpen. Logging hard enough as it is why use a dull chain...resharpening is something I do to take a break.
  25. Sealcove

    Sealcove Member

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    I use Oregon 73LG and the equivalent Stihl chain interchangeably. There is no perceptible cutting or wear difference between the two for this particular chain. Just like saw brands, it is more a question of grade, and you need to compare like grades not just Oregon versus Stihl.
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