Dulling chain

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tadmaz

Feeling the Heat
Dec 21, 2017
480
Erin, WI
I've got a massive load of logs dumped at my place for free. Finally found a tree guy. I bucked a few rounds, saw some sparks, and my chain is dull. No sign of metal. I did this a few more times, probably sharpened 4 or 5 times and gave up. Logs are super hard sugar maple, some is spruce, some ash. The logs have some ice and snow, probably with frozen dirt and rocks all around. Teeth definitely had chips taken out. There was a small piece of eastern red cedar that I saw a spark on and my chain was instantly dull, so I'm reasonable sure it's stuff frozen to the outside of the logs. I've sometimes cut several cords of wood without sharpening before. My thought is to get a 16" piece of wood, mark the cut with a hatchet, then go around the top part of the log with the hatchet, and after rolling use the hatchet for the other side. Any other ideas, thoughts, etc? P.S.:bar oil is getting used, and I've set to max just in case.
 

duramaxman05

Minister of Fire
Aug 17, 2014
539
Perryville, Mo
Sounds like dirt and rock around the tree. Being frozen doesn't help matters either. Could also have a lot of mineral in it too. If it has dirt and mud on one side, stand on that side and cut. That way when the chain is cutting, most of the time the chain will chip the wood or bark and flake the dirt off. If it's on the opposite side the chain will drag the dirt and rock through the whole cut. My father in law told me that because when dragging logs with the skidder, there is always gonna be dirt and rock on the log. I'm not saying it wont get all the rock and dirt out but it sure helps.
 
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tadmaz

Feeling the Heat
Dec 21, 2017
480
Erin, WI
Sounds like dirt and rock around the tree. Being frozen doesn't help matters either. Could also have a lot of mineral in it too. If it has dirt and mud on one side, stand on that side and cut. That way when the chain is cutting, most of the time the chain will chip the wood or bark and flake the dirt off. If it's on the opposite side the chain will drag the dirt and rock through the whole cut. My father in law told me that because when dragging logs with the skidder, there is always gonna be dirt and rock on the log. I'm not saying it wont get all the rock and dirt out but it sure helps.
Nice tip, makes sense!
 
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DodgyNomad

Minister of Fire
Dec 19, 2009
673
West Michigan
Dirt with little stones in it sounds like. I have a railroad switch brush I use on dirty wood first, or it will dull a blade quickly. If you look real close at the soil that's stuck to them, you'll probably see it's made up of ground stone and rocks.
 

xman23

Minister of Fire
Oct 7, 2008
2,332
Lackawaxen PA
I had a standing dead tree like that. After sparks and killing 2 chains, I dragged it out in the woods for the wood peckers.
 
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Corey

Minister of Fire
Nov 19, 2005
2,595
Midwest
Probably not an issue, but make sure the grinding/re-sharpening isn't overheating and discoloring the teeth at all. Any bluing of the metal means its hot enough to temper the hardness and make the edge of the tooth soft.

Seems like we've had a few instances over the years where someone ran into a rock, wire, nail or what ever, and really buggered up a chain. The heavy grinding required to 'straighten it out' (if not done gently) also overheated the teeth making them much softer... which means it got dull very quick, requiring more heavy grinding, more bluing, etc...

If the going is really rough, there is always something like:

 
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CincyBurner

Minister of Fire
Mar 10, 2015
599
SW Ohio
Trees will have surprising amount of grit around the trunk flare (cutting at night you notice the sparks). Arborists gripe about the final flush cut being particularly tough on their chain. It sounds like mud and from logging is embedded within the bark. Some sawmills have a carbide tipped rotary saw tooth cut a groove in the bark in advance of the saw blade to reduce tooth wear.

If it's really bad, as Corey suggested, you could try carbide chain, but they're pricey.
 

Grizzerbear

Minister of Fire
Feb 12, 2019
1,092
SW Missoura
I have had this problem a lot in the past from cutting up dozer decks. I usually try to bust the bark off at each cut at least. Really makes a difference. Be extra mindful near the stump. That is where most of the rocks seem to be in my experience.
 

Jazzberry

Minister of Fire
Dec 17, 2014
645
Next to Yosemite
I have found an unbelievable amount of metal in our local trees. I bought a cheap metal detector and now we scan them before we mill anything now. It has saved me a ton of grief especially when using a 60' bar. Nails, spikes, staples and barb wire even found a fence post in one. Metal all over my area probably due to the gold rush. Another thing we found is if the tree was next to a dirt road it will be real hard on your chain.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,486
Northern NH
In snowy areas most of the logging is done in the winter to minimize the damage to the ground and the need to build permanent logging roads. The haul roads in the woods are usually "paved" with low grade trees on top of the snow and ice. The mix of snow and hauling freezes the road into a solid surface. At the end of the season these trees have to be hauled out to a landing and then sold, chipped or abandoned in place. Folks will see a pile of wood in the woods and try to salvage it but they quickly learn that its not great picking as the bark is full of dirt. Anyone with a firewood processor usually stays away from that quality of wood but a home owner who doesnt know any better will end up with trailer load of dirty wood. A pressure washer can clean off the surface dirt but if the dirt is ground into the bark there is not a lot that can be done.
 

tadmaz

Feeling the Heat
Dec 21, 2017
480
Erin, WI
This is all from a tree service in a mostly suburban area. So far no metal. I'll try cleaning off the snow, let some sun get rid of the ice, and chop away at some bark and see how it goes. Also I don't have a pressure washer and the logs are 1000' feet from a hose spigot.
 

DodgyNomad

Minister of Fire
Dec 19, 2009
673
West Michigan
simple takeaway is that the most likely problem is embedded debris in the bark that is from the dirt. Removing it is up to you.
 

duramaxman05

Minister of Fire
Aug 17, 2014
539
Perryville, Mo
You could always get some kind of debarker. They probably have carbide teeth. You could do the whole log or just around where you cut
 

Woodsplitter67

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2017
1,963
Woolwich nj
sounds like dirt on the outside of the logs, if it were me .. id wait untill the logs thawed out some . I would put them in a sunny area and let the snow and ice melt off. Then Id get the dirt/rocks off prior to cutting. usually its just a few logs from just sitting on the bottom. I don't think its your entire load
 

tadmaz

Feeling the Heat
Dec 21, 2017
480
Erin, WI
There was a random nice piece of eastern red cedar in the mix, I pulled it out and it's sitting in my attached garage. Might make a cross to go above my mantle, or maybe a bench. It has slowly melted, and now there is a pile of dirt with gravel below the log. Confirmed!
 

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