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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. computeruser

    computeruser Feeling the Heat

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    I'm presuming that the loops you're buying are some sort of rebadged Oregon 91VG chain. The 91-series is Oregon's 3/8" pitch Low Profile chain, usually found on <45cc consumer saws and <40cc pro saws. There is nothing inherently wrong with the 91 series, but the VG version with the bumper tie straps go so far into the realm of no-kickback as to prevent intentional cutting, too. The other 91-series versions, those without the bumper tie strap, are quite respectable performers. 95vp is the narrow kerf .325" pitch chain, common on Husqvarnas between 40 and 55cc. It is a "safety" chain with low-kickback properties owing to its depth gauge/raker design, and does not have bumper tie straps between the cutters; 95vp is a superb chain and a great cutter. I run 91-series on my Echo top handles and 95vp on my 238 Husqvarna.

    Any chain can hurt you, whether it is a "safety" chain or not. To think otherwise is foolish. The advantage of non-safety chain (or at least safety chain that doesn't have those huge tiestrap bumper link thingees) is that the chain is more predictable - it cuts when you ask it, where you ask it, quickly and efficiently. Chips are cleared smoothly from the cut, the saw pulls itself through the wood, and field-sharpening is easy and efficient. My experience has been that accidents are usually caused by fatigue and the operator fighting the machine to get it to do its job, rather than a machine that does its job too well.

    As for keeping the chain sharp, step one would be to keep it the heck out of the dirt, the grass, the sand, the pavement, and anything that isn't wood. It doesn't take much to knock a good edge off of a chain, and while the loop may still cut OK, it won't be efficient and its dullness will force the saw to labor more than necessary, force the operator to labor more than necessary, and will invite accidents. I have found that keeping my bars short helps a lot, especially when bucking stuff up on the ground. The past few cords of firewood have all been processed with a 13" bar on my 238, except for pieces greater than 20". I got better than 2 full cords out of the chain that is on the saw currently without having to sharpen it back up, and it still has a decent edge on it. But I was conscious of where the bar tip was, what it might contact, and the results in terms of edge retention speak for themselves.

    If you get a chance, take a look at Oregon's website, or at Bailey's to see illustrations of the particular chain cutter, depth gauge/raker, and tie strap designs.

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  2. WoodMann

    WoodMann Minister of Fire

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    OK, one more dumb one. Where can I get a non- safety, chipper chain for a 42cc Craftsman..............
  3. computeruser

    computeruser Feeling the Heat

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    Bailey's or Amick's would be good places to start for mail-order, or a competent saw shop should be able to set you up with something agreeable. Take a loop in with you and have them make up another with non-safety stuff using the same pitch/gauge and drive link count.
  4. WoodMann

    WoodMann Minister of Fire

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    Hmm, I'll got the Baily''s route first. Last time I was at the Stihl shope here lookin' for some help with my craftsman the guy looked at me like I spoke Latin......................
  5. aandabooks

    aandabooks New Member

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    Thank god you showed up from AS Computeruser. I have been reading this thread in disbelief. Of course, I was the same way before doing some research. First things first for all of those with questions, go to oregonchain.com. They have alot of answers there. Next go to arboristsite.com. Use the search function.

    Here's a quick rundown. It doesn't matter what brand of bar you have. All that matters is the numbers.

    Bars are made in three common widths--.050, .058 and .063

    Then there are three common pitches--3/8 Low Pro, 3/8 and .325

    Your bar will tell you what # of drive links you need.

    So lets say you are running a Craftsman with an 18" bar 42cc. I own one by the way. You are using 3/8 lo pro chain in .050 width with 62 drive links.

    Oregon offers these choices:

    91vg-crap safety chain
    91vx-very good in clean wood
    91vs-very good in dirty wood

    In Stihl this is the PM series of chain. I have a couple for my saw but they were $20 per loop at a Stihl dealer.

    There are a couple of less common and not easy to find varieties.

    Through a place like Amick's, these loops can be purchased for right around $11 per w/shipping.
  6. Tfin

    Tfin New Member

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    Can someone please explain how to know you're getting a non-safety chain. Does it say safety chain right on the packaging? If not, how do you spot one?
  7. WoodMann

    WoodMann Minister of Fire

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  8. Jerry_NJ

    Jerry_NJ Minister of Fire

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    The last two Oregon 14" chains I purchased from Walmart are shown as S52T, Cutting Chain. The bar guide teeth show 91on them, there are no letters following the number. There is no mention of "safety", but from the expert input on this thread I conclude they are as they have a wide bar (tie) between each cutting tooth and they cut slowly and with a lot of resistance, even when new/sharp.

    I also have a Sears 16" which cuts like "crazy" by comparison, and it has a much simpler tooth between the cutting teeth than does the Walmart Oregon chains I have on hand.
  9. aandabooks

    aandabooks New Member

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    In Jerry's post above, ^^^^^, he uses a S52 when he goes to Wal-Mart. http://www.amickssuperstore.com/ will sell you that chain for $9.60. Tony will ship you up to $50 worth of chains in a flat rate Priority envelope for one shipping cost. That will then get the price down to about $11 per chain. They don't sell this chain at Wal-Mart, Lowe's, Home Depot etc. If you can find a farm supply store that carries genuine Husqvarna products, you might be able to get close but it will probably be Carlton brand.

    Go to his site and on the left side go down to Oregon Chains & Accessories. Most of the people in this thread need to go to the 3/8 LoPro link. I got a gguy I work with a few loops of 91VX 56 for his Poulan 2150 and he couldn't believe the time he was wasting running stock VG. Most saws are sold with safety chain due to lawsuit concerns from the manufacturers.

    If any of you run full size 3/8 chain, we can discuss Stihl RSC and Oregon LGX chain. RSC is better but at 1/2 the price LGX is a very close second.
  10. aandabooks

    aandabooks New Member

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  11. Jerry_NJ

    Jerry_NJ Minister of Fire

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    Thanks for the advice and link. The price of less than $10 each is lower cost than Walmart's two-for price. I take it the "52" is the number of cutters on the 14" chain. and I see the space between the cutters is low and non-interfering looking. The pictured LoPro chain looks a good bit like the chain on my Craftsman 16" and as I was using it this afternoon, I can say it really cuts nice.

    I'll use the Amick's superstore the next time I need to replace chains...or maybe sooner to get a better cutting chain in the 14" size.
  12. aandabooks

    aandabooks New Member

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    The 52 refers to the number of drive links on the chain. Those are what run in the groove in the bar. The number of cutters is not listed in the packaging.
  13. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    A lot is a question of the source... The chains that come on "consumer grade" saws (most Pull-on's, Crapsman, cheap Huskies, etc. - the saws in the big box stores) will come with "safety chain", and that is what will be sold as the "Manufacturer reccomended replacement" Likewise, the chains that you purchase in the big-box stores will be safety chains. These chains and saws are intended for the occasional user. and will have as much safety stuff on them as possible just to give the stores some protection from the incompetent user's lawyers...

    Pro-grade saws, and the chains sold in the typical PRO chain-saw shop will be "Pro-chains" that are designed to cut as well as possible, with safety features only to the extent that they aid, or at least don't get in the way of, cutting performance.

    Generally you won't see the exact phrase "safety chain" since really there is no such thing as a "Safe" chain - it's sort of like "Military Intelligence" or "Government Efficiency"... However you will see the chain billed as "homeowner" or "occaisional use" chain as the equivalent code words... They will also make a big deal about "anti-kickback features".

    Pro-grade chain will usually have a label reccomending "professional use only" or terms like that, and won't make a big deal about anti-kickback, though it probably will be mentioned since in theory ALL modern saws and chains are supposed to be designed for lower kickback (for instance by using narrower bars, and curved raker profiles)

    Also there are two main tooth designs - Chisel and Chipper - when you look at the outside edge of the cutters (the profile where the cutter comes up off the chain and bends over on the top) Chipper chain tends to be rounded, whereas chisel will be a sharp angle. This will have a significant impact on how the chain cuts... Chipper tends to be used on consumer chain - it doesn't cut as well when sharp, but it holds it's edge slightly better in dirty wood or when grounded. Chisel will cut MUCH better if it's kept sharp, but won't hold an edge as long, especially in dirty wood, and grounding really dulls it fast.... A lot of pro-chain will be chisel tooth, which cuts faster, but should ideally be touched up after every tank of gas.

    Gooserider
  14. rg58612455

    rg58612455 New Member

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    I had used oregon chain for for a long time.Last year I switched to full skip tooth chain made by Stihl.The stihl chain seemed to be harder than the oregon chain as far as sharpening goes.The big advantage of the full skip chain is that it has half as many cutters(less teeth to sharpen=sharp in half the time).I also buy this chain by the roll.It works out to cost $.12 a driver.The downside is having to buy the punch and the rivet setter (about $100 each).Also, if you have the chain sharpened with a grinder it is very hard to sharpen with a file in the field afterword.I think it hardens the chain due to the heat of the grinding wheel.Back to oregon chain ,in my opinion, the oregon chain isn't as high in quality as stihl.(the only two brands i have ever used).The stihl chain is higher priced though.I have cut hundreds of cords of wood with oregon chain and can't complain either.Just like the skip tooth.
  15. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    I agree the roll chain can be a bit cheaper, but the downside is the extra tooling - unless you have an unusual setup on your saw that you can't get a stock loop, or are a pro-level cutter that has to keep chains on a whole bunch of saws, I suspect that buying loops is a better deal - as an example, IIRC my 20" Dolmar takes 72 cutters - at $0.12 each, that works out to $8.64 a loop - I pay about $11 a loop for Oregon chain from Amick's or about $2.50 per loop more... If I go through two loops a year, it would take me years to pay for the tooling to make my own and start saving money... I suspect most of our users are in the same boat.

    Stihl chain may be a little better than Oregon, but it is significantly more expensive from what I've heard - even assuming you get the full life out of each chain, the cost / cord is probably about the same - and I'll cry less if I hit a buried nail or rock and trash the chain early.

    As to Skip vx. Non-Skip chain, you are right that skip has less teeth to sharpen, but it also has fewer teeth to cut with - assuming the saw can pull the full bar of standard chain, you will cut faster with standard chain than you will with skip... Where skip gets useful is if you are trying to over-bar the saw, and run a longer bar than the saw can pull easily with standard, the reduced cutting load will let you get away with it. (However it is definitely a case of whatever works for you)

    Sharpening w/ a grinder is something most people seem to feel softens the teeth by taking the temper out, as opposed to heat hardening - however what I've heard as being more of a possible reason for making it harder to sharpen with a file afterwards is that it may embed microscopic particles from the grinding wheel into the cutter steel. Since those particles are harder than your file, they will tend to keep the file from cutting well until they are gone... Don't know how true this is, but it makes sense to me. As is, I file after every tank of gas, and won't grind unless I hit a rock, nail, or otherwise manage to bugger the chain up beyond the point where I can fix it by filing...

    Gooserider
  16. TruePatriot

    TruePatriot New Member

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    Jerry NJ,

    I cannot provide the quality of comments that Goose, Eric and others can.

    I simply wanted to reinforce what others have said about this:

    (bold emphasis added)

    You simply cannot let the nose "hit the dirt." Respectfully, I believe you are wrong when you say "figuring if it doesn’t hit a rock it will not be damaged, much."

    Here's a test: after you (properly) hand-sharpen your chain, you will notice that the cutting edges do not reflect light from a 100 watt, incandescent bulb. I suggest you immediately go recheck the teeth-edges' light-reflecting ability, after your first "dirt strike"--I suspect you will see many teeth now reflecting light, where they did not, when properly sharpened. Just my .02.

    But I thank you for posting this thread--I didn't realize, before reading this, that I do NOT want to buy chains from a "Big Box" store--just as a sharp knife is less dangerous than a dull one (per my Grandfather, and others--LOL) I believe you will be happier, and less-fatigued, i.e., thus safer, with professional chains. The Homelite 360 (late '70's/early '80's vintage) saw that I got from my Dad has an "old school" chain on it, and it cuts mad-fast (as "the kids" might say).

    Re:
    I dont' think so--the guards I'm familiar with protect the end of the bar; yet, a "dirt strike" would, IMO, commonly occur on the bottom edge of the tip, i.e., an area not (necessarily) protected by the goofy bar-end guards.

    Though the experts here may feel differently, IMO, if you're getting "binding" of the bar, in cuts, I would look to technique, not chains or guards. Every time I've bound a bar in a cut, it's because I wasn't paying attention and/or failed to analyze the situation, prior to pulling the rope.

    This lesson will be reinforced the first time you have to unbolt your saw from the bar, and leave the bar (thus preventing theft of the powerhead) while you go home for saw #2. P.S.: I now take saw #2 with me, in case I "bind up."

    But I don't think you can blame "bar pinching" on the chain--no offense, but IMHO, that's the fault of the operator--and I've had occasion to blame myself in several such occasions...trust me.

    I would remove "nose guard," were it to come with a new saw--it prevents "plunge cuts" and limits the effective length of your bar; on the other hand, if you feel, as you state, that you are not ready to do this, due to the increased risk of "kick back," then follow your gut, by all means. I'll bet you could get the saw vendor to send you a new bar guard, free-of-charge, just for the asking, given the legalities involved. If not, how much could a new guard possibly cost?

    At least as valuable as a guard would be, IMO, Kevlar chaps, to protect your legs. I have never owned a pair, myself but, to be honest, when I see experienced cutters like Goose, et. al., using them (IIRC), as well as some upstate friends of mine, it makes me consider them a good investment. However, as my wood guy now delivers bucked-to-length rounds, FREE OF CHARGE, I really don't do much cutting, these days, happily. (I'm assuming you, like me, already wear safety glasses and hearing protection, part of the PPE ethos?)

    If you follow the Oregon link posted, above, you can find an excellent, FREE BOOKLET ON CHAIN SAW TECHNIQUE AND MAINTENANCE, from Oregon! I had one sent to me and it was VERY informative!

    Also, as has been noted, minute amounts of dirt in the bark can DESTROY your sharpening job. For that reason, when I was getting "yard trees" dropped in my hard (from an arborist) for free, I would painstakingly roll the 3' diameter logs until I could go all the way around it with a cup brush on my angle grinder, FOR EACH 18" length cut, to remove dirt impacted into the bark from dragging, or from being dumped/sitting on my lawn. This greatly extended the time between necessary sharpenings of my saw.

    Thanks for a very informative thread!

    Wishing you safe, fruitful chainsawing.
  17. Jerry_NJ

    Jerry_NJ Minister of Fire

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    TurePatriot,

    Thanks for the careful summary/analysis/recommendations, they help clarify what has been a great collection of experience.

    I still have the nose guard, just need to put a new bolt to reattach...I like it better off. I also note I have had great success with my (for occasional use only - I find that warning amusing and painfully honest) 16" Craftsman saw which has the safety chain, it cuts great anyway... must be sharp, and I have touched it up a couple of time with a file. I do look for a clean looking tooth after sharpening, but hadn't specifically used a light and looked for reflections. I'll add that to my "tool kit".

    Thanks,
    Jerry
  18. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    Mostly good advice TP... "Dirt strikes" even without rocks are bad news for a chain, though IMHO some dirt is worse than other dirt, "leaf mould" will probably do a lot less damage than what most of us think of as dirt...

    I'm not sure I like the idea of having the guard on at all, especially with a modern saw with a narrow bar and a brake. (And I wouldn't use an older saw with a wide bar / no brake for production cutting - just possibly a controlled demo that it still works) The nose guard at best is only going to prevent one of the three possible kickback types, and as you mention it will significantly interfere with cutting - far better to learn what causes kickback, how to avoid it, and how to control it safely than to place false confidence in a device that might not work.

    As to safety gear, I've got FAR more $ spent on gear than I do on my cheap Pull-on saw, and nearly as much as I've got in my Dolmar... I don't pull a rope unless I'm wearing ALL of it. - In rough order of priority, both mine and from looking at the accident statistics from OSHA etc. as to where injuries are likely to happen.

    Head gear - I started w/ just muffs - Mandatory, even new stock chainsaws are loud enough to cause significant hearing damage with one tank of gas... I also require anyone working with me to wear them. I wear large prescription eyeglasses, but even with them I was still catching a lot of chips in the face, so I got a set of muffs with a face screen - this is OK if ALL you are cutting is logs that are on the ground, but when doing any sort of tree work, you need impact protection as well - trees are noted for dropping stuff on people trying to cut them down. :bug: I now use a combination hard-hat / ear-muff / face screen unit, with my glasses underneath - spend the money, it's worth it. Look to spend $30-50 (and beware the cheap units... I would not buy one that didn't either have a saw makers name on it, or that I'd personally examined and found to be good quality)

    Chaps - I use a pair of Stihl Pro-mark chaps, but Labonville also makes nice ones - Look for lots of kevlar or energetex padding, and a tough outer shell, preferably with a cell phone pocket. You can get either chaps or pants, I've been told that the pants are a bit more comfortable in all day wear, are a bit less prone to catch on brush, and may offer a little better protection, but the chaps are a lot easier to get on and off, and are cooler in the heat - I find the chaps are quite adequate for my needs, and I don't have any desire for the pants... Look to spend around $70

    Chain Saw boots... These are specifically designed boots with kevlar or other saw jamming padding in them. They are NOT the same as the "Logger boots" that you will find in lots of shoe stores, these are fashion accessories and won't give any protection to speak of. A chainsaw boot will be clearly marked as such and have various certification labeling on it. Steel toe boots are better than nothing, but the OSHA injury stats say that many chainsaw hits are on the top of the foot, where a steel toe isn't (plus a chainsaw can go through a steel toe)... Feet are very complex body parts, a bad cut on the top of the foot can definitely be crippling. I spent over $300 for a pair of Matterhorn boots because they clearly appeared to be better than the others - Higher, more layers of kevlar, Gore-tex lining for waterproof breathability, etc. and while they are the most expensive footgear I've ever owned, they are also incredibly comfortable. You can get less expensive boots from Labonville and a few other places, but you will still pay a pretty good chunk for them, this is probably the most expensive peice of gear.

    Gloves - I have a pair of Husky chainsaw gloves, which I wear, but would tend to say that while SOME gloves are essential, I'm not sure how much good it does to have them be chainsaw gloves - the OSHA numbers show hand injuries to be very low frequency, and the padding in these gloves is so thin as to be nearly indetectable and it's only on one hand... At $25/pair the gloves aren't that expensive, but when these wear out I probably won't buy a replacement pair, just stick with the normal gloves I wear for other things. Also the Husky gloves are "gauntlet" style, and they tend to fill up with chips... I prefer the tight fitting "technical" style gloves with a snug wrist closure that keeps the crud out.

    Chainsaw vests / shirts / jackets - I do NOT wear these - probably nothing wrong with them, but the OSHA stats say that the risk of injuries in the areas they cover is minimal to begin with, I'm not sure the added protection is worth the expense...

    BTW, if you want testimonials on chaps and head gear especially, take a look over on Arboristsite, you'll see lots of "true confession" stories, complete w/ gory pictures of what happens when NOT wearing the gear...

    Gooserider
  19. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    Continued from above...

    I'll second that, very useful book, and the price is right....

    Most of the veteran cutters will tell you to sharpen a few strokes with a file after every tank of gas - I didn't use to do this, but once I tried it, I now find it absolutely essential. I won't do a grinder unless I hit a nail or rock and really ding the chain up beyond where filing can fix it - hasn't happenned yet... However if you are doing this, I would tend to say that your cup brush technique is a bit excessive unless the logs are so coated they look like chocolate mud dipped... The amount of wear on the chain from the bark dirt during one tank of gas won't hurt the cutting ability enough to notice if you touch up after every tank. You probably spent more time brushing the log than you would have spent sharpenning the chain between tanks - I find it takes me about 10-20 minutes depending on how hard I go at it, which gives me a nice rest from swinging the saw, and lets it cool down before refueling... (Not to mention embedding wires from the brush into the log, and what THOSE might do to the saw...)

    Gooserider
  20. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Goose what was the verdict on that Home Depot chain you bought last year? They are Carltons and after using Carlton chains from another source for a year I throw rocks at my Oregon chains. Won't have any more of'em except in an emergency. Whatever they make the cutters out of on the Carlton chains is hard stuff and holds an edge a long time but file beautifully by hand.
  21. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    Mixed... One of the two chains broke on me, but that may have been abuse (I think I might have gotten it pinched earlier) the other one was holding up OK but not great when I decided to rebar the saw it was on to 12" - I'd been using a grinder on it before then, the switch to the 12" bar was also the point where one of my friends got me into hand filing...

    With the 12" bar, I'm now running a pro-grade chain, I forget what brand, Windsor perhaps? It cuts even better than the HD chain, but that might be a function of the shorter bar as well.

    At this point, I still have the old 16" bar in the toolbox with that chain on it, but consider it fairly unlikely that I'll ever use it again - the 12" bar works so much better on the Pull-On, and when I need something bigger, it's Dolmar time...

    Bottom line, I can't say what the durability of the HD chain is. I can't completely review it, but it does seem to do better than the Oregon for cutting ability, but not as good as a pro-grade. (Note that while it isn't as overly safety loaded as the Oregon chains, it is still a safety chain....)

    Gooserider
  22. TruePatriot

    TruePatriot New Member

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    Jerry,

    Re: this:

    The 100 watt bulb thing is my own concoction--I just happened to notice this, when lighting the chain brightly, in an attempt to see whether I was actually getting the chain sharper or not (I started hand filing a few years ago, after I found I could do it--"wintering over" on an Island, at the time, trips to the saw shop were not an option.) If I really screw up a chain, through a nail strike, etc..., I'll go have it ground, but pretty much, I hand file. I still find it challenging to correct a "hook" (cutting "in circles") by mere hand filing, but not impossible. Anyway, the 100 watt bulb thing works for me--I'd be curious if others had an opinion on my observation that a properly-sharpened tooth will not reflect light from the cutting edge....

    And you're welcome--but I believe I learned as much as I tried to share, in your thread, if not more. And thanks for the kind remarks!
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Goose:

    Re: this:

    I must admit I never even considered the fact that some wires from the braided cup brush could get embedded into the wood, dulling my saw chain, but from the number of such wires that embed themselves in my T-shirt/belly area, I'd have to say you're right to raise this as a concern--thanks!

    However, since I switched arborists, and the new guy drops wood CUT TO LENGTH, requiring only splitting, my biggest chain saw worries lately have been "How old is the gas in that saw? Do I need to dump it before it deteriorates, necessitating a carb teardown?" I still cut upstate, and to do yard maintenance, but that's usually with the little Poulan Micro XXV, or my 16-inch Poulan "Pro-line," and not the kick*** Homelite 360 from "back in the day." However, I will be taking the big saw upstate this summer, as I am OUT of wood....

    And while not "chocolate dipped," the logs the first arborist use to bring me sometimes had channels of mud 1/4" - 1/2" deep, in the channels in the bark. I suspect I am somewhat less accomplished, as a hand-filer, than yourself...consequently, after I sweat out a decent-to-good sharpening job, I'm really averse to do what felt like "rototilling" in the mud-encrusted bark. So I got out the cup brush, admittedly never thinking about my painstakingly-sharpened saw chain chewing on the wires stuck in the bark.

    I'd bet you're right--you could probably hand-file your chain before I could roll a 7' x 3' in diameter oak log 360 degrees, using the cup brush/angle grinder every 18", all the way around. But I'm not sure I could--LOL. It takes me probably a half-hour or more to sharpen the 19" bar on the Homelite 360--and that's if I do it "right" and it's not hooking when I'm done.

    Did I mention how much I like my new wood guy, who brings me dumptruck loads of bucked-to-length hardwood, sometimes cut from "standing deadwood"?

    Makes up, in some tiny way, for the outrageous property taxes in the "Tri-state, NYC-metro area."

    But Goose--I will try your sharpen-after-evey-tank-of-gas technique, when I'm cutting upstate again. If nothing else, the practice should improve my hand-filing technique, right? And thanks for the PPE pricing info/recommendations. Those Matterhorn boots sound awesome!
  23. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2006
    Messages:
    6,737
    Loc:
    Northeastern MA (near Lowell)
    I usually sharpen in daylight, so no bulbs for me, but I would agree a sharp edge on any blade shouldn't show... However what I tend to notice more when I'm sharpening is that while cutting the chain tends to build up a layer of sap / crud on the surface of the cutters - If I've filed correctly, that layer should be all gone and the inside of the cutter should be one layer of clean and shiny metal. Doing it every tank means it only takes me about 2-3 strokes per tooth. I check the rakers after every sharpenning, and find that I usually have to take them down about every 3-5 times. The other way I can tell I'm doing well is that I should see some little metal filings coming off the file with every stroke. Probably takes me ten minutes on the 12" bar Pull-on, 15 on the 20" bar for my Dolmar, and 20 minutes on my big 28" bar...

    I must admit I never even considered the fact that some wires from the braided cup brush could get embedded into the wood, dulling my saw chain, but from the number of such wires that embed themselves in my T-shirt/belly area, I'd have to say you're right to raise this as a concern--thanks!

    And while not "chocolate dipped," the logs the first arborist use to bring me sometimes had channels of mud 1/4" - 1/2" deep, in the channels in the bark. I suspect I am somewhat less accomplished, as a hand-filer, than yourself...consequently, after I sweat out a decent-to-good sharpening job, I'm really averse to do what felt like "rototilling" in the mud-encrusted bark. So I got out the cup brush, admittedly never thinking about my painstakingly-sharpened saw chain chewing on the wires stuck in the bark.

    I'd bet you're right--you could probably hand-file your chain before I could roll a 7' x 3' in diameter oak log 360 degrees, using the cup brush/angle grinder every 18", all the way around. But I'm not sure I could--LOL. It takes me probably a half-hour or more to sharpen the 19" bar on the Homelite 360--and that's if I do it "right" and it's not hooking when I'm done.

    You may be trying to get over fancy with the sharpening, I don't know... My theory is that surface dirt probably isn't going to do that much harm anyway as it is going to tend to either get knocked off by the exiting wood chips before the cutter gets to it, or just get carried along with the larger chip. Seems to me like you need something with "backup" to really be much of a problem.

    Gooserider
  24. TruePatriot

    TruePatriot New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2007
    Messages:
    156
    Goose,

    You could be right about this, here:

    It wouldn't be the first time I got a little "over fancy" with a task. I suspect I'd get diagnosed with "OCD" if I asked the right doctor--LOL.

    I hadn't considered the effect of the exiting woodchips insulating the cutters from the dirt--it bears thinking about--I will remember to think that through the next time I've got the saw "in the groove"--I can't seem to "model it" effectively just in my head, at the moment. And certainly, you're right that things with "backup" (e.g., rocks) do more harm than mere dirt. I just keep thinking about valvegrinding compound's cumulative effect, when pressure is applied. I dunno--I'd be less concerned if I could sharpen faster, like you.

    Happily, my upstate cutting is almost never involving dragged trees, so no impacted dirt. The downside is--I'm the one that has to drop and limb them, too--LOL.

    Take care,

    TruePatriot
  25. Adk Patroller

    Adk Patroller New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2008
    Messages:
    9
    Loc:
    Western Adirondacks, NY
    The secret to making effective use of skip chain is to also change the sprocket. By picking up a tooth on the sprocket the chain is spinning faster which helps counteract the distance between the teeth. Those of us that cut for a living also use the skip chain on long bars to allow the saw to not work as hard in large wood since there are less teeth in the cut. If you are running a bar which is at the upper end of the recommended range for a saw, you can reduce the load on the engine by using skip chain and picking up a tooth on the sprocket. For weekend wood cutters this is not such a big deal when blocking smaller logs. In my case I am using a 20" bar to fell and buck 18" to 30" hardwoods on a regular basis, with one or more plunge cuts on each tree, so the full bar is in the cut most of the time.


    As to the fellows that claim 10 hours between sharpening....you need to bring your file to the woods/wood pile with you. Try touching up your chain every two or three tank-fills (if you don't hit a rocket of ground the saw) and you will be amazed at how much quicker and easier wood cutting is. There is not way you should get 10 hours of cutting time out of a chain with out sharpening. Your saw will love you! Your saw's bar will love you! AND your pocket book will love you with the gas an 2-cycle oil you save.


    As to Stihl vs. Oregon chain:

    One big difference with Stihl chain is that the rakers are set lower from the factory and this allows the tooth to bite deeper into the cut. This may be why you feel that the Stihl chain stays sharp longer. This is what also makes a new Stihl chain kind of jumpy in hardwood when new. after a few filings the rakers are at a level more similar to Oregon chain which results in a less aggresive bite.

    You do know that you have to file your rakers occasionally to keep the saw cutting properly?

    I highly recommend a good chainsaw saftey class for any operator from a group like, Game of Logging or Dan Tilman from Jonsered etc. You will be amazed at what you will learn in an 8 hour day or weekend as far as saw and chain/bar maintenance, proper felling practices and chainsaw saftey. I have seen 50,60, 70 year old men that have been cutting for years walk out of these courses saying, "Man I wish I someone had told me ...XXXX... twenty, thirty, forty, fifty years ago!!!
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