New Bar and Chain - Wow what a difference!

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Minister of Fire
Hearth Supporter
Jul 11, 2008
Northern NH
I tend to run my bars until they get pinched or they are worn to the point that the chain bottoms out. I also hand file my chains every tank full using a Husky roller guide and use a Oregon depth gauge to check the depth gauges. I think I can get a reasonable sharp chain most of the time but as the chains get used I definitely lose some cutting ability and regard it as the law of diminishing returns. I usually keep a new chain on hand and when I am doing some serious cutting just switch to a new chain and set the old one away for dirty work.

Last weekend I managed to get the roller nose pinched on my old bar and got it jammed up with wood. Even before I jammed it, I was getting a lot of sawdust and small chips despite a touch up before cutting. There was plenty of side to slide slop in the bar and in general and angled face cuts were tough as I think the chain was rolling in the bar so at an angle I was only catching the side of the chain instead of the full face.

I couldn't clear the nose it at the wood lot so I hauled it home and decided it was time for the new bar and chain I had hanging on the wall. Before I swapped bars I sharpened up the old chain and checked it against the new chain. If anything my depth gauges were set deeper than the new chain and the hooks looked good. I use the same file size recommended by Oregon. The only things I noticed is the Husky guide is set up for steeper angle than the angle used on the new chain and the rollers on my Husky guide are worn out and have lost some diameter.

The new chain was so tight in the slot of the new bar that it would only move with lot of force. I greased up the nose and got the chain moving and expect the nose grease helped.

I had a big 20" beech that I dropped the with the old chain. It was laying flat over my woods road and needed the crown limbed out and then bucked into stove length. This was solid beech with almost no beech bark disease. Its about the densest wood I routinely cut (I also have eastern hop hornbeam but usually dont mess with it) I started out limbing and realized the new chain was a lot grabbier than my old one but boy did it cut. I made a big pile of rounds of the crown and then started on the main stem. Unlike previously the weight of the saw did the cutting and I got big chips. My normal approach is run through a tank and call it day as the saw would need sharpening, I didn't need to this time but I had left the gas and oil home so I headed home.

So now the question, without buying a high end filing machine do I just accept that point of diminishing returns and buy a new chain more often? I will probably pick up a new filing guide and then deliberately set to the Oregon flatter angle on my new chain and may give it try on an older chain.
Hmm... I’m no expert, but my bench-ground chains seem to cut as fast as factory, if not a little faster. Like you, I knock my depth gauges down a hair lower than factory. I’m doing factory angles otherwise, 60/30/10 on Stihl RS-33 chain.

I have heard hand filing guys claim their hand file jobs are much faster than factory, but I guess they’re not using factory profile.

Maybe it’s your sharpening profile/angles?
I took my old chain, and put it in the new bar then checked the angles on the chain boxes for the chain. I have used a Husqvarna filing guide that is set at what looks to be a 30 degree angle. Depending on the chain, the chain boxes have either 20 or 25 degrees which lines up with the marks on the chain teeth. I refiled all the teeth back to line up with the angle mark on the teeth which looks to be 25 degrees. I also checked the gauges. It definitely cuts better with much better chips when bucking up logs. I was less happy trying to make angled face cuts, there was definitely a big difference between it and a new chain. Since the majority of my cutting is bucking I may just elect to keep a good new chain for dropping trees and use the sharpened older ones for bucking. My filing guide has grooves in the rollers so getting the right angle is bit of a challenge but I should have new one in hand pretty quick.
New Bar and Chain - Wow what a difference!

This is what I use. If you use stihl chains it’s hard to beat. I have 2 of them. 1 for each pitch of chain I use

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