Chains dulling VERY quickly

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awfarmington

New Member
Sep 3, 2014
23
ohio
Here the issue: Our chains are dulling much too fast. Maybe 8 or so large cuts and we have to change it. We had a large old maple come down this summer, and working on the thickest part of the tree now. Our chain saw is a Poulan (sp?) 18". We have had to buy 5 chains that we rotate through in a day and then have to get sharpened at $3 each. It's becoming quite expensive!

Is it the chain saw (being junk)?

Or us using it wrong?

Second related question. We will buying a new chain saw next season. Any recommendations for something that can handle tough jobs??
 

Jon1270

Minister of Fire
Aug 25, 2012
2,048
Pittsburgh, PA
www.workbyhand.com
First thing I'd look for is oiling problems. Is the saw consuming most of a tank of oil with each tank of gas? If you rev the saw with the bar pointed at a clean surface of some sort, does it spatter a trail of oil droplets onto that surface?

There are, of course, all sorts of excellent saws available. We'll need to know more about your needs (and budget) to recommend anything specific.
 

TMonter

Minister of Fire
Feb 8, 2007
1,526
Hayden, ID
Here the issue: Our chains are dulling much too fast. Maybe 8 or so large cuts and we have to change it. We had a large old maple come down this summer, and working on the thickest part of the tree now. Our chain saw is a Poulan (sp?) 18". We have had to buy 5 chains that we rotate through in a day and then have to get sharpened at $3 each. It's becoming quite expensive!

Is it the chain saw (being junk)?

Or us using it wrong?

Second related question. We will buying a new chain saw next season. Any recommendations for something that can handle tough jobs??
What kind of chain are you using?
 

TreePointer

Minister of Fire
Sep 22, 2010
3,109
PA
Lower parts of old trees and especially the sections that are in reach of humans can have surprises in them that will dull a chain more quickly than usual.

1. Man made junk: nails, screws, staples, climbing spikes, etc.
2. Bark can take on sand and other gritty materials over the years.

Sharpen your own chains:
1. Learn the pitch of your chain
2. Buy a round file and file guide that matches your pitch. Since your saw is Poulan and comes with Oregon made chain, get the Oregon/Husqvarna file guide that matches your chain pitch.
3. Clamp bar in banch vise with powerhead still attached. Clamp at point along length of bar that produces fewest vibrations during the filing stroke.
4. File away! It gets a lot easier after your first chain.

See video:
 
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awfarmington

New Member
Sep 3, 2014
23
ohio
Forgot to add, it takes a lot of bar oil. Maybe even more than gas and drips.

Also, we have been carefully watching for stray nails and other metal pieces, so far so good. The tree was in an out of the way spot so I think it avoided tree forts, clothes lines, etc.
 

TMonter

Minister of Fire
Feb 8, 2007
1,526
Hayden, ID
Forgot to add, it takes a lot of bar oil. Maybe even more than gas and drips.

Also, we have been carefully watching for stray nails and other metal pieces, so far so good. The tree was in an out of the way spot so I think it avoided tree forts, clothes lines, etc.
My advice, start by not buying your chain from home depot and going to a local saw shop and buying a loop of high-quality chain from Oregon, Stihl or Windsor. Ask for something that isn't "safety" chain (low kickback may be unavoidable depending on your chain type).

It looks like 3/8 pitch chain so any reputable saw shop should carry it. If it is 3/8 chain you can file the chain with a good file and file guide yourself. Oregon calls for 7/32" files for 3/8" chain.
 

highanddryinco

Burning Hunk
Aug 2, 2014
122
Denver, CO
Number one thing that comes to mind and most likely the cause from what you've said so far...Are you touching the ground with the chain at all while making your cuts? That will ruin a sharp chain almost instantly.
 
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awfarmington

New Member
Sep 3, 2014
23
ohio
Tmonster, can those chains also be found online (like amazon or ebay)?

Highanddryinco... Yes, we have! :eek: The tree base is on the ground and almost always hits the ground when I finally get through. How does one avoid that with a tree too heavy to move? I'm a beginner this year, hopefully I can avoid the same mistakes next year.
 

TMonter

Minister of Fire
Feb 8, 2007
1,526
Hayden, ID
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awfarmington

New Member
Sep 3, 2014
23
ohio
Check Baileys as well but yes I think they can be found on ebay and amazon. You can always talk to a live person at Baileys for some help getting the correct chain.

http://www.baileysonline.com/
Thank you, I will check there for an extra chain to get us through till we are done for the season. We have about 2.5 cords so far, hoping to get 2 more cut before the snow comes!

Yes, it is 62.
 

TMonter

Minister of Fire
Feb 8, 2007
1,526
Hayden, ID
Thank you, I will check there for an extra chain to get us through till we are done for the season. We have about 2.5 cords so far, hoping to get 2 more cut before the snow comes!

Yes, it is 62.
You're welcome. Lots of people here file by hand I prefer something that is a little more precise and have found that with some practice I can use this to get my chains as sharp as a fresh grind from the saw shop.

http://www.baileysonline.com/Forestry-Woodcutting/Portable-Sawmills/Granberg/Parts/Granberg-File-N-Joint-Precision-Filing-Guide.axd

You'll be amazed what a good quality chain will do for your saw.
 
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awfarmington

New Member
Sep 3, 2014
23
ohio
Your welcome. Lots of people here file by hand I prefer something that is a little more precise and have found that with some practice I can use this to get my chains as sharp as a fresh grind from the saw shop.

http://www.baileysonline.com/Forestry-Woodcutting/Portable-Sawmills/Granberg/Parts/Granberg-File-N-Joint-Precision-Filing-Guide.axd

You'll be amazed what a good quality chain will do for your saw.
Can't wait to use a better chain, while avoiding the dirt (now I know :)), will be nice to get more than 30 mins of work time.
 

highanddryinco

Burning Hunk
Aug 2, 2014
122
Denver, CO
First of all, given your situation being a beginner and probably an occasional user, get your chains sharpened and you 'll be fine even with the cheaper ones. By all means, stay with the safety chain. Don't step up to the yellow marked chains until you get some time under your belt.
Hopefully you can find one or two parts of the log that are not tight to the ground. Make your first cuts there to get the logs into more manageable sizes, maybe 10' long or so. Once you get there, cut those sections into firewood length pieces by cutting only about 3/4 of the way through logs every 16" - 22". Now roll that 10' log a little to get the remaining attaching wood facing up and the saw cuts that you just made facing down. Now simply go along and cut those little connectors and your chain will never even come close to the ground. That's the Reader's Digest version.
 
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TMonter

Minister of Fire
Feb 8, 2007
1,526
Hayden, ID
Can't wait to use a better chain, while avoiding the dirt (now I know :)), will be nice to get more than 30 mins of work time.
You do have safety gear right? (Helmet/Face shield, Chaps, Steel Toed Boots?)
 

TreePointer

Minister of Fire
Sep 22, 2010
3,109
PA
That is low quality China chain. Low quality means it will stretch, dull faster (softer metal) and be more likely to snap. Oregon or Stihl (available at Stihl dealers) chain would be my recommendation. BTW, Husqvarna branded chain is made by Oregon.

To get a chain to match a saw and bar, you need to know it's PITCH, GAUGE, and Number of Drive Links (DL). All of this information should be stamped on the bar near where it attaches to the saw. If you aren't sure, take your saw (or just your bar with the info stamped on it) to a local Husqvarna or Stihl dealer, as mentioned.

If you wish to buy a filing kit (round file, file guide, flat file), purchase one that matches the chain's pitch and one that's from the same manufacturer of the chain.
 

TreePointer

Minister of Fire
Sep 22, 2010
3,109
PA
If you need to roll a large/heavy log to cut on the other side, a peavey, cant hook, or timberjack/logjack often is used. They are all essentially a lever that hooks into the wood to make rolling a log much easier.

Just don't buy the least expensive all steel handled model from your local big box store or farm store (Tractor Supply, Menards, Farm & Fleet, etc.). It will fail too soon.
 
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highanddryinco

Burning Hunk
Aug 2, 2014
122
Denver, CO
Like TMonter said...Make sure you get that safety gear!
Take your time. There's also a lot of good information on making basic saw cuts at various places on the internet. Lots of good stuff on YouTube but stick with the stuff put out by saw manufacturer's like Stihl and Husqvarna or by various forest agencies and universities. There's a lot of "Joe Bobs" that post how-to videos that you should steer clear of.
 

TreePointer

Minister of Fire
Sep 22, 2010
3,109
PA
Forgot to add, it takes a lot of bar oil. Maybe even more than gas and drips.
This is expected. The low end chainsaws like the your Poulan are known to be "messy" with oil. They put out oil any time the saw is running. Higher quality saws will have an oiler gear that is activated ONLY when the chain is moving; and therefore, are less prone to be "messy."

I keep my messy saws on one of those plastic trays for snowy/muddy boots.
 

TreePointer

Minister of Fire
Sep 22, 2010
3,109
PA
Another tip to keep the saw out of the dirt when cutting trunks and larger logs is to plan a few cuts ahead before making your first cut. That is, if the log will touch the ground after your cut, put other logs or branches under it in strategic spots before making that first cut. This will keep the wood off the ground (elevated on those other logs and branches) after your cut. Then you can make successive cuts off the ground.

My concern is if you are asking about technique for cutting larger wood off the ground, you are fairly new to cutting, and there are a lot of forces at play that can get you in trouble. Kickback, push, pull, tension, compression, spring poles, hillside cutting, stump cutting, bar pinching, notch, hinge, holding wood, back cut, widow maker, barber chair, bore/plunge cutting are terms you should get to know. I highly recommend watching all the Stihl chainsaw videos if you haven't already done so. They cover just about everything a n00b needs to know.

Watch online here:
http://www.stihlusa.com/information/videos/#chain-saw-safety-ope
 
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firefighterjake

Minister of Fire
Jul 22, 2008
19,298
Unity/Bangor, Maine
Tmonster, can those chains also be found online (like amazon or ebay)?

Highanddryinco... Yes, we have! :eek: The tree base is on the ground and almost always hits the ground when I finally get through. How does one avoid that with a tree too heavy to move? I'm a beginner this year, hopefully I can avoid the same mistakes next year.

And we have a winner with Highanddryinco ... this is THE Reason (caps were intentional) why your chain is dulling so quickly. As others have said ... with practice you will learn how to cut part way through and then roll the log ... some folks like a peavey for this purpose. Keeping the chains out of the dirt will make a huge diference in how fast they dull.
 

Chimney Smoke

Minister of Fire
Nov 24, 2013
679
Maine
Tmonster, can those chains also be found online (like amazon or ebay)?

Highanddryinco... Yes, we have! :eek: The tree base is on the ground and almost always hits the ground when I finally get through. How does one avoid that with a tree too heavy to move? I'm a beginner this year, hopefully I can avoid the same mistakes next year.
There's the answer right there. No matter what the chain is and what saw you're using running it into the ground dulls chains very quickly.
 

Bigg_Redd

Minister of Fire
Oct 19, 2008
4,153
Shelton, WA
Here the issue: Our chains are dulling much too fast. Maybe 8 or so large cuts and we have to change it. We had a large old maple come down this summer, and working on the thickest part of the tree now. Our chain saw is a Poulan (sp?) 18". We have had to buy 5 chains that we rotate through in a day and then have to get sharpened at $3 each. It's becoming quite expensive!

Is it the chain saw (being junk)?

Or us using it wrong?

Second related question. We will buying a new chain saw next season. Any recommendations for something that can handle tough jobs??
Things that can quickly dull a chain: dirt, grit, sand, rocks, metal

Things that cannot dull a chain: any other part of the saw

Things that make your chain seem like it has dulled quickly: chain is loose, bar is way out of true. These two conditions cause the chain to lean over and cut at an odd angle. It feels just like a dull chain and makes powder that looks just like dull chain.
 
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awfarmington

New Member
Sep 3, 2014
23
ohio
I will plead the 5th on what safety gear I wear, or lack there of. Admittedly, I could be doing much more.

I've ready all the replies and the key points seem to be avoid the ground, get better quality chains, work on cutting techniques and do my homework.,.
 
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Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
15,715
Philadelphia
Re: hitting the ground...

When you fell a tree, do it at a comfortable height above the buttress roots, perhaps 18" - 24" above the ground. If you must flush it to the ground, save that final flush cut for the end of the day, as it will toast your chain. When bucking a log on the ground, mark off your lengths, then cut 80% of the way thru from one side of the log. Get yourself a cant hook so you can roll the log over to finish all of the cuts (last 20%) from the other side, without hitting the ground. You can roll a mighty big log with a 60" LogRite cant hook.

Re: chain...

Most here prefer Stihl RS / RSC-33 chain. It's a great all-purpose full-chisel chain. Carlton, Husqvarna, and Oregon all sell an equivalent to this chain, but the Stihl RS is so ubiquitous that you can just ask for "that or equivalent," at most saw shops. Bailey's is a good option, too, but not the cheapest.

Re: new saw...

A better saw will make your hands and back happier, with more HP to weight ratio and better anti-vibe, but will not affect how quickly your chains dull. If your current saw appears to have a bar oiling problem, check the bar channels for blockage, as it sounds like your saw is pumping oil somewhere.

Re: safety gear...

Leg contact injuries happen 4x - 5x more frequently than face / head contact injuries. If you're felling trees, you need a helmet with face shield, but if you're bucking firewood on the ground... buy chaps first!
 
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