Manual vs power/professional chain sharpening?

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Microduck17

Burning Hunk
Dec 21, 2017
240
New Concord Ohio
I took all my chains from my 460 rancher to the local Husqvarna dealer and had them "professionally" sharpened expecting they would cut like new when I got them back.
Two of the chains had found metal in the wood and were basically useless , they barely cut at all. Two others were getting dull and not cutting efficiently and the one that I actually took off the saw to have sharpened was still cutting fairly well. I was less than thrilled with the results. The ones that were next to useless would cut OK again and the others were better off, but the one that came off the saw actually cut worse than before it was sharpened.

The few chains I've filed by hand cut almost like new.

Whats the deal here? Did they do a bad job on my chains or is this just par for the course for having chains sharpened at a saw shop?
 

Jags

Moderate Moderator
Staff member
Aug 2, 2006
18,288
Northern IL
Somebody simply did a poor job. It can take a bit of time to learn, but isn't difficult to do. Get a stihl 2 n 1 ( or equivelent) and learn to sharpen them yourself. It takes only a few minutes per chain and yields a chain with good performance.
Just one dudes opinion.
 

Sawset

Minister of Fire
Feb 14, 2015
1,219
Palmyra, WI
Just one dudes opinion.
Make that two. Three including the cat.
Very happy with the results.
Easy to do.
On the spot sharp and ready to work.
I used to hand sharpen in various other ways, and sometimes would take them in for sharpening - no more.
Rocking a chain can take more time to correct, but that's about it, just more time.
Takes about 4min for an 18" bar, about the time it takes to change out a chain, or to refuel.
Adjusts the depth teeth at the same time - very valuable bonus.
Another thought - a dull chain is often times cited as a way of ruining a saw. It may seem as a disconnected issue, but a chain that cuts hard, can bog the saw, and cause it to overheat. Heat destroys the oil mix surface film and could cause an engine to seize or be ruined in other ways. A razor sharp chain is a benefit in more ways than one.
 

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bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
26,193
central pa
I sharpen with a chain grinder now. Used to do it with a Dremel. To me the time savings is well worth the shortened life of the chain. But yes if they try to take to much to fast they can overheat the chain which means it won't hold an edge long at all.
 

salecker

Minister of Fire
Aug 22, 2010
1,542
Northern Canada
The main thing about sharpening your chain with any method...
Is understanding how your chain actually cuts wood.
Once you have that understanding then you know where and what to sharpen.
The sharpest chains will come from someone who has the knowledge on what the chain does,and hand sharpens.Next will be a chain sharpened on a quality machine,by someone who knows what they are doing.
 

tadmaz

Feeling the Heat
Dec 21, 2017
485
Erin, WI
I had some serious rocks and dirt frozen to some logs (see my post "Dulling chain") and using my pferd and some major major filing pressure, my stihl branded chain cuts far better than NEW. Scary fast cuts. Some folks say not to use pressure, but in my case I needed to take off some major material. I recently rigged up a small drill press vise with some small pieces of wood with a gap in the middle for the chain to move, as opposed to a stump vise for filing. I was previously putting the saw in between my legs on the ground and filing, this seems better.
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
6,301
Downeast Maine
I like my Granberg precision grinder. It keeps the cutters pretty even and I can run it off of any 12v battery. Currently I'm using a small 12v garage door battery charged with a trickle charger. Once I forgot to charge the small battery and I had to use my truck, no big deal.
 

MTASH

Burning Hunk
Dec 24, 2018
179
Montana
I am also a fan of the 2-in-1 tools. I bought a Pferd last season and wish I would've got it years ago. So easy and fast. As @tadmaz stated, my chain cuts better than it did when new.
 
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Jags

Moderate Moderator
Staff member
Aug 2, 2006
18,288
Northern IL
Just for full disclosure...I have one of the cheap electric grinders that I use to correct a rocked out or badly damaged chain. It also works for truing up angle and length of the teeth. The hand filing is for the “sharp”.

Note: heat is the enemy of cutting edges. Stay mindful when using ANY of the electric sharpeners.
 

Wood1Dennis

Burning Hunk
Jan 17, 2016
144
Eastern Wisconsin
I have a cheap electric sharpener that I got from Harbor Freight, I think it was $25 on sale.
I know there are a lot better ones out there, it really is a cheap plastic thing. It needed some simple mods to get it to work, but once I got it set and working with my chains, it does a good job. My chains cut like new!
I used to take my chains to a local guy for sharpening, this sharpener has paid for itself many times over.
1582828016308.png
 

duramaxman05

Minister of Fire
Aug 17, 2014
546
Perryville, Mo
I have a tecomec super jolly,(where they came up with there names is beyond me) same as a oregon 620-120. Does an outstanding job. Once you get it set right and remember not to take much metal off, it does great. I have had to go around a couple times just to get the bad teeth lined out rather than taking off a bunch of material at once. I have had no problems cutting after I got done sharpening. Even in hickory which I think is hard to cut. I still use a file out in the woods though.
 
I found when I had chains sharpened .. they did not touch the rakers ..
My 2in1 is used 99% of the time ..if it's that bad .. i just toss it !
 
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Sawset

Minister of Fire
Feb 14, 2015
1,219
Palmyra, WI
What is the average shop rate to sharpen a chain? It's been a long time.
Average size, 18"
 

RandyBoBandy

Minister of Fire
Feb 25, 2015
1,270
Whitmore lake, MI
Major sharpening is done on my Stihl FG2 sharpening jig. Here i measure each tooth as I go and try and keep them within 5 thousandths. Teeth that are really short for some reason get skipped until the rest finally catch up. I field dress with a hand file every couple of tanks until it’s time to put them back on the jig. I can get quite a bit of distance between each major sharpening. As long as I don’t find a rock or metal that is.
 
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What is the average shop rate to sharpen a chain? It's been a long time.
Average size, 18"
It's been a long time for me ..off the saw $5
 

Microduck17

Burning Hunk
Dec 21, 2017
240
New Concord Ohio
I paid $7 chain to have them sharpened. There was an old barber in my home town than sharpened chainsaw chains, mower blades, knives and, saw blades. Every chain he ever did for me cut better than new. Too bad he retired and moved away I have one of the harbor freight chain grinders but never got good results with it. I never thought to go over it with the file after grinding to really get it good and sharp. I have good results with the file and a basic guide but its slow going when the chain is really rough. Definitely going to be trying the grind then file procedure.
 

Socratic Monologue

Burning Hunk
Dec 2, 2009
196
WI
I gave up on saw shop sharpening (they take off too much material), and hardware store (egad! overheated!). I hand file, and it teaches me patience.

Get a couple brands of files to see which you like, and get a few extra chains so you don't feel obligated to spend the whole day on a bad one. I keep a chain for each saw in the tool box, and two more for each in the garage, and will happily put on a new chain if it avoids building frustration in the woods. I don't wanna operate a saw if I'm feeling upset.
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
6,301
Downeast Maine
If you like hand filing the granberg file n joint is pretty nice. It has a length adjustment and will pretty much guarantee a perfect a perfect cutter. The stihl micro 1/4" profile chains suck to hand file and are the main reason I bought an electric grinder.
 

Woodspliter

Member
Jan 25, 2020
131
Maine
I always hand file works great for a while on a new chain but I always seems to take more on one side or the other on the life of the chain. I've tried the timberline sharpener but i only could get it to sharpen one side of the chain good maybe I just cant figure it out. So I just bought last year a Oregon chain sharpener no regrets perfect geometry every time. I still file in between fill and usually run them though the grinder at the end of a good cutting day.
 
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duramaxman05

Minister of Fire
Aug 17, 2014
546
Perryville, Mo
What is the average shop rate to sharpen a chain? It's been a long time.
Average size, 18"
A place in town charges $7 for 20" and under. I think $10 for over 20". That's off the saw. They charge a few more dollars if it's on the saw. They have an automated sharpener. It's pretty cool to watch.
 

Medic21

Minister of Fire
Feb 26, 2017
1,142
Northern Indiana
I do both at times. I love the Oregon 620-120. With a CBN wheel and practice you can take off less than when using a manual file, I’ve proven this with a dial caliper, and have a better, longer lasting edge, than new. I actually touch up new chains before I run them.

The number one mistake is taking too much and over heating the chain. Mistake number two is not clearing out the fuller of the cutter, need it open to clear out the chips. Mistake number three would be not hitting the rakers.

I hand file in the woods when a chain just needs a quick touch up.

64EAC301-A56C-498C-BF0A-82972A83BFB4.jpeg
 

Microduck17

Burning Hunk
Dec 21, 2017
240
New Concord Ohio
That looks like a good setup. I'll have to look into one of those. I've really got the hang of hand filing the cutters but I'm kind of lost on how and when to file the rakers.
I have filed down the tops of the rakers on one particularly worn-out chain and it seemed to help some. Any pointers on getting the chain fine tuned when hand filing?
 

Medic21

Minister of Fire
Feb 26, 2017
1,142
Northern Indiana
That looks like a good setup. I'll have to look into one of those. I've really got the hang of hand filing the cutters but I'm kind of lost on how and when to file the rakers.
I have filed down the tops of the rakers on one particularly worn-out chain and it seemed to help some. Any pointers on getting the chain fine tuned when hand filing?
File the rakers to .025 under the cutter. I check them every sharpening but, only grind them every third or forth sharpening when they need it.

Hand filing is all about angles and holding them. That’s what’s so nice about the grinder. Easy to keep everything perfect and uniform.