Chainsaw cutting to the right

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SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
5,948
Downeast Maine
You can put 3/8 low profile on there and save yourself a lot of squinting and cutting into straps. It's just a sprocket away. ;)
Eh, I like the way it cuts and it is lighter. The Echo CS2511 is lighter than my MS150, but comes with a 3/8 LP and 14" bar kind of negating the weight savings. If my eyes get any worse I may change my mind ;lol
 

salecker

Minister of Fire
Aug 22, 2010
1,437
Northern Canada
Don't toss the bar
Try to fix it so it cuts straight.
i have never found that the lenght of cutter makes much difference in how straight the saw will cut.
Fixing the bar is where i find the issues that make the saw cut curves
 
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Sawset

Minister of Fire
Feb 14, 2015
1,169
Palmyra, WI
I can put on a very worn chain, that's poorly sharpened with different length cutters, and missing teeth, on a new bar, and it cuts straight. But not on a bar that's worn. Take a straight edge to the side of the bar, and push a tooth to the side. If the straight edge becomes flush with the side, it's a sign that there are bar issues (worn slot, uneven rails). That's my experience anyway. By the time the cuts start to curve, the bars have had many chains through them, and filing the rails flat no longer helps.
 
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jetsam

Minister of Fire
Dec 12, 2015
5,268
Long Island, NY
youtu.be
Or tension the chain properly and try to lean a tooth over by pushing on it. There's not much lean in a new bar and chain.

One thing I plan on making or buying one of these days is a set of 12" x 1" x (every gauge I need) strips of sheet metal, so I can stick it in the bar and move it down the length, hammering lightly in its center as I go. I know there's bar presses, but that seems like an overly complex solution to a simple problem if you have a flat surface and a shim the same gauge as your chain.

My crooked cut problems have always been chain-related, not bar-related, but I tend to flatten up my bars regularly. I do wonder if the steel bends more easily after it's been bent back and forth so many times (though each bend is tiny).

(Though anyone who does want to toss a curve-cutting 3/8" bar and chain, send 'em to Jetsam's Chain Rehabilitation Preserve and I will happily put 'em to work!)
 
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SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
5,948
Downeast Maine
Or tension the chain properly and try to lean a tooth over by pushing on it. There's not much lean in a new bar and chain.

One thing I plan on making or buying one of these days is a set of 12" x 1" x (every gauge I need) strips of sheet metal, so I can stick it in the bar and move it down the length, hammering lightly in its center as I go. I know there's bar presses, but that seems like an overly complex solution to a simple problem if you have a flat surface and a shim the same gauge as your chain.

My crooked cut problems have always been chain-related, not bar-related, but I tend to flatten up my bars regularly. I do wonder if the steel bends more easily after it's been bent back and forth so many times (though each bend is tiny).

(Though anyone who does want to toss a curve-cutting 3/8" bar and chain, send 'em to Jetsam's Chain Rehabilitation Preserve and I will happily put 'em to work!)
How do you flatten them? My MS150 bar looks pretty flat to the eye, but against my 2' level it looks like bacon.
 

jetsam

Minister of Fire
Dec 12, 2015
5,268
Long Island, NY
youtu.be
How do you flatten them? My MS150 bar looks pretty flat to the eye, but against my 2' level it looks like bacon.
I have a bar file that works, but a straight 2x with sandpaper stapled to it works well too. First rip the 2x on both short ends so the edges are all square instead of rounded. Then assemble it like roofing shingles... overlap the sandpaper all in the same direction, and only stroke one way so you don't tear up the paper. Or just put the sandpaper on a little 6" scrap; not as good as a long edge but it's already longer than a bar file.

I toyed with the idea of making a tablesaw jig for this purpose, but I haven't tried it yet. Get a piece of bar stock that fits in the groove in the table, weld a piece of c-channel to it at 90, flip another piece of c-channel and drop it over that one to make a telescoping tube. Now the top horizontal bit gets a long vertical (longer than the bar) welded to the end of it, and that vertical gets two studs for mounting bars welded to it near the base. If all your 90s are perfect, you bolt the bar on the vertical, put a metal grinding wheel on the tablesaw, and trim the edges of the bar just like lumber.

A simpler version would be putting 2 miter gauges on the saw, laying a straightedge between them, and hopefully using that to push the bar through straight. ...oh, or make a little block with studs on it for mounting the bar, and push the block through with the cross member.

(I doubt I'll be trying any of that unless someone ships me a crate of ruined bars to rehabilitate, but it all sounds okay on paper!)

Doing them with a short tool like a bar file or sanding block means do a little bit, inspect your results with a straightedge, repeat.
 
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SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
5,948
Downeast Maine
I have a bar file that works, but a straight 2x with sandpaper stapled to it works well too. First rip the 2x on both short ends so the edges are all square instead of rounded. Then assemble it like roofing shingles... overlap the sandpaper all in the same direction, and only stroke one way so you don't tear up the paper. Or just put the sandpaper on a little 6" scrap; not as good as a long edge but it's already longer than a bar file.

I toyed with the idea of making a tablesaw jig for this purpose, but I haven't tried it yet. Get a piece of bar stock that fits in the groove in the table, weld a piece of c-channel to it at 90, flip another piece of c-channel and drop it over that one to make a telescoping tube. Now the top horizontal bit gets a long vertical (longer than the bar) welded to the end of it, and that vertical gets two studs for mounting bars welded to it near the base. If all your 90s are perfect, you bolt the bar on the vertical, put a metal grinding wheel on the tablesaw, and trim the edges of the bar just like lumber.

A simpler version would be putting 2 miter gauges on the saw, laying a straightedge between them, and hopefully using that to push the bar through straight. ...oh, or make a little block with studs on it for mounting the bar, and push the block through with the cross member.

(I doubt I'll be trying any of that unless someone ships me a crate of ruined bars to rehabilitate, but it all sounds okay on paper!)

Doing them with a short tool like a bar file or sanding block means do a little bit, inspect your results with a straightedge, repeat.
The rails are flat, but since the bar has a curve to it so do the rails. Hence the potato shaped cuts. I tried two pieces of wood in my small table top vice, but that did about nothing.
 

salecker

Minister of Fire
Aug 22, 2010
1,437
Northern Canada
I can put on a very worn chain, that's poorly sharpened with different length cutters, and missing teeth, on a new bar, and it cuts straight. But not on a bar that's worn. Take a straight edge to the side of the bar, and push a tooth to the side. If the straight edge becomes flush with the side, it's a sign that there are bar issues (worn slot, uneven rails). That's my experience anyway. By the time the cuts start to curve, the bars have had many chains through them, and filing the rails flat no longer helps.
But squeezing the rails together is part of the process of truing up a bar.Add that to you process and you will see the difference.
 

Sawset

Minister of Fire
Feb 14, 2015
1,169
Palmyra, WI
But squeezing the rails together is part of the process of truing up a bar.Add that to you process and you will see the difference.
I wonder if the average firewooder would go through enough bars to justify messing with them that much. Average stove/house combinations go through maybe 4-5cord a year. The last bar here lasted 10 years, 50cord, 3chains, I have several saws, one 50years old, 25 and 11. With one additional new bar needed in all that time. All cut straight. Never have been too concerned with evening up the cutters. I chose to just spend the $25 for a new bar. If it was an old vintage saw worth holding onto, or maybe parts were hard to come by, that would be different. Fighting things - if it's a consumable, and starting to fail, update here and sidestep the issues. Off topic - I made a gocart for my kids years ago - 5speed transmission, 9hp briggs, balloon tires, fun unit, unless the engine failed to start, then it was zero fun, choice was to rebuild or a new engine cheap from surplus center, buy new, one pull, go have fun kids. Pulling the starter cord is no way to get across the lake to go fishing. Firewooding here is kind of that way.
 

jetsam

Minister of Fire
Dec 12, 2015
5,268
Long Island, NY
youtu.be
But in the firewood case you can run a file along a couple areas of the go-cart and it will start running perfectly. Beats a new engine!

Clamping the edges of the bar takes less time than ordering a new one, even.
 

salecker

Minister of Fire
Aug 22, 2010
1,437
Northern Canada
How long a bar lasts is also a sign of how it's treated by the user...
If you never sharpen your chains when they get dull and you keep grinding through wood cut after cut pushing down hard to compensate for not sharpening the chain,then you will put extra heat,pressure,wear on the bar.Keep doing that flipping the bar and you will fug up the bar in a short period of time.
If you maintain your saw and all its parts like you should then chances are you will get 10 years of life from your bar
 

jetsam

Minister of Fire
Dec 12, 2015
5,268
Long Island, NY
youtu.be
There's a lot of variables in there. One saw has an adjustable oiler and the next one doesn't. One guy leans on his saw to make it go faster, the next one sharpens his chain instead. One guy waits for the chain to start flinging oil before he starts cutting and the next one doesn't. One guy runs bar oil and the next one runs chunky old used motor oil.

I think the single most important factor in there is whether or not the user knows what a sharp chain looks and cuts like. Somebody who's taken the time to figure that out is going to have a lot less bar wear than somebody who sharpens according to a magic formula and hopes for the best. (Believe me, because I've been both of those guys! ;lol )
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
5,948
Downeast Maine
I've ruined a few bars on my chainsaw mill. Usually everything will be going great and then suddenly the bar will start rising (cutting crooked if cross cutting) and then it's game over. Usually it happens very gradually so I don't notice until the bar is smoking and about 1/2" higher than it should be. If I'm quick and catch this early I can just lightly dress the bar and get back to work. If the bar starts to smoke then the rails are way off and I'll be spending some quality time with the bar. Enough times smoking the bar and it's significantly pinched in the middle. I am not exactly sure what causes the bar to suddenly pull, but this only seems to happen to me on slabbing cuts, so I'm thinking there was a stone or some hard debris in the bark I didn't see and that's that initiated the pull. Regardless of what causes this I do get frustrated because it takes me a good 30 minutes to dismount the saw, get it cutting straight, clean up the cutters, and get it back on the mill. I can tell when the saw is cutting properly because there is a visible gap between the chain and the bar. I'm sure after a few thousand more board feet milled I'll be really good at this and won't ruin anymore bars from abuse.
 

jetsam

Minister of Fire
Dec 12, 2015
5,268
Long Island, NY
youtu.be
If you want the straightest possible cutting, I'd suggest a digital angle finder for depth gauge maintenance. It adds considerably to the time needed to set the depth gauges, but each tooth ends up cutting the same sized slice even if they’re all different lengths, so you don't have built-in pull to one side or the other.

If you are thinking "I have a grinder, of course they are all the same length", I suggest you measure them with a micrometer and see. (If they ARE all within .010", you are way better at grinding than I am.) :)

Alternatively, you should get a much faster but not quite as good result from a FOP style progressive depth gauge tool.
 
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SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
5,948
Downeast Maine
If you want the straightest possible cutting, I'd suggest a digital angle finder for depth gauge maintenance. It adds considerably to the time needed to set the depth gauges, but each tooth ends up cutting the same sized slice even if they’re all different lengths, so you don't have built-in pull to one side or the other.

If you are thinking "I have a grinder, of course they are all the same length", I suggest you measure them with a micrometer and see. (If they ARE all within .010", you are way better at grinding than I am.) :)

Alternatively, you should get a much faster but not quite as good result from a FOP style progressive depth gauge tool.
I'm using a Granberg Precision grinder. It's not perfect, but my "rough cut" lumber doesn't give splinters, I'll have to post some pics. I find that I get a better finish with the grinder than with the file jig. The Granberg jigs mount to the bar and have a depth stop with adjustable angles. There's a bit of slop in the setup, but I don't yet have a shed to put a bench grinder in. I have yet to encounter a raker guide that I really like. Right now I just take them down "a few thou" with the Granberg jig when the sawdust starts clogging the clutch cover. Not perfect, but my boards look good.

While building my coop I mistakenly wrote on pencil on a piece of wood that was going to be visible, so I "erased" the pencil with sandpaper. Within a few seconds the 200 grit made the board smooth as any planed lumber. My lumber is pretty accurate right now at +/- 1/16", a lot better than the +/- 3/8" I started at last summer! This week I'm going to make a platform for the mill with "store bought" 2x6's from a few summers ago. Should get me to the +/- 1/32" that I'm looking for. Working on milling fence posts right now, then lumber for a mud room, then a proper shed.
 

Corey

Minister of Fire
Nov 19, 2005
2,577
Midwest
For all the talk of cutter length and angles, I've never noticed slight differences there to make much difference in the cut. Unless most of the cutters on one side are all off by some considerable amount...otherwise all the random + and - just balance out.

But bump into an old nail in the wood, an unseen rock on the back of a cut, or a 'hidden' piece of barbed wire for a tenth of a second, and it can knock 'sharpness' off the corner of most teeth on one side of the chain. Suddenly your're cutting salad bowls out of every log. This goes double if you have a square tooth semi or full chisel chain. Don't even look at one of those for too long or it will knock the edge off that point.
 

Sawset

Minister of Fire
Feb 14, 2015
1,169
Palmyra, WI
In that Carlton article, they talk about a chrome plate on the teeth that needs to be maintained in order to keep them razor sharp. Gouge off some of that - rocks, nails, fence - and the chain will cut miserable. It's getting back to that good chrome finish (all the way) that takes so much filing/grinding.
 

maple1

Minister of Fire
Sep 15, 2011
10,783
Nova Scotia
I'm still sticking with my theory. Most time, crooked cutting is due to wear on the other side of the chain. Drive links get worn and thinner, under side of teeth and tie straps where it slides on bar get rounded, chain gets sloppy in the bar and it won't stay upright.
 
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SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
5,948
Downeast Maine
I'm still sticking with my theory. Most time, crooked cutting is due to wear on the other side of the chain. Drive links get worn and thinner, under side of teeth and tie straps where it slides on bar get rounded, chain gets sloppy in the bar and it won't stay upright.
I think that's what happens when I smoke the bar when milling. Something causes the chain the get dinged up on one side but not the other. Usually that's the right hand cutters on my mill setup, probably because they hit something on the side of the log facing away from me while milling.
 

jetsam

Minister of Fire
Dec 12, 2015
5,268
Long Island, NY
youtu.be
I'm still sticking with my theory. Most time, crooked cutting is due to wear on the other side of the chain. Drive links get worn and thinner, under side of teeth and tie straps where it slides on bar get rounded, chain gets sloppy in the bar and it won't stay upright.
That sounds plausible, but my experience is that you can always fix crooked cutting with a round file and a flat file.

Happily, your theory is measurable! Measure the gauge of your worn drive teeth with calipers, and measure the flatness of the bottom with a straightedge and close up pictures.
 

Max W

New Member
Feb 4, 2021
16
Maine
Thanks for the Carteton link,
So that’s how a saw chain works. You’re never too old to learn. It’s not like I haven’t filed a chain or cut any wood. My first saw, 49 years ago, was a Homelite then a Partner R17 and an R20 followed by a couple of Husqvanas, Rancher 55 and a 323. I’ve logged our former 70 acre wood lot, worked a stint for small operation cutting logs and four foot softwood pulp, cleared house house and garden sites and of course firewood. I’m sure I’ve made and worked through all the mistakes the Carleton article shows but somehow came to maintain a well cutting saw. Still, knowing how that tooth pivots and lifts into the cut make the rest of the info make so much sense. From what Carleton says I might have to be more precise if I had an XP model with the higher rpms. Buying my first chisel chain the advice I got and followed was ‘file up a little from straight across’. Carleton recommends 10 degrees. I’m wondering how many do this.
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
5,948
Downeast Maine
Thanks for the Carteton link,
So that’s how a saw chain works. You’re never too old to learn. It’s not like I haven’t filed a chain or cut any wood. My first saw, 49 years ago, was a Homelite then a Partner R17 and an R20 followed by a couple of Husqvanas, Rancher 55 and a 323. I’ve logged our former 70 acre wood lot, worked a stint for small operation cutting logs and four foot softwood pulp, cleared house house and garden sites and of course firewood. I’m sure I’ve made and worked through all the mistakes the Carleton article shows but somehow came to maintain a well cutting saw. Still, knowing how that tooth pivots and lifts into the cut make the rest of the info make so much sense. From what Carleton says I might have to be more precise if I had an XP model with the higher rpms. Buying my first chisel chain the advice I got and followed was ‘file up a little from straight across’. Carleton recommends 10 degrees. I’m wondering how many do this.
Good filing guides, like the Stihl/Pferd 2-N-1 or even the dinky Husqvarna/Oregon guides, have a way to try and help the user get the desired 10 degrees upward angle. On my Granberg jigs I can set the angles to whatever I want in the X and Y axis with a round file or grinder. With a three angle file on the Granberg file jig I can also set the Z angle for a square ground chain, but I don't have the right tools or desire to fiddle with square ground chain.