Which sharpener for my chain?

  • Active since 1995, Hearth.com is THE place on the internet for free information and advice about wood stoves, pellet stoves and other energy saving equipment.

    We strive to provide opinions, articles, discussions and history related to Hearth Products and in a more general sense, energy issues.

    We promote the EFFICIENT, RESPONSIBLE, CLEAN and SAFE use of all fuels, whether renewable or fossil.

AstroBoy

New Member
Feb 9, 2022
23
Philadelphia suburbs
The Pferd sharpener arrived yesterday, and files should arrive tomorrow, and then I’ll get to work! I might do a few cuts with the saw today (even though it’s not sharpened yet) just to have a clearer sense of before and after.
 

DonTee

Member
Dec 1, 2021
206
Upstate NY
You'd do well to learn to sharpen standard chains with standard methods. A hand file and guide is a good way to go, for most firewood cutters.
I’ve been using a Stihl/Pferd 2 in 1 sharpener for the past few years. I borrowed my uncles for a while and last year got my own.
Before that I used a round file free hand, and a flat file to touch up the depth gauges. I’m much more consistent with the Pferd sharpener.

I’ve never actually seen one of the other style chains. The type meant to be sharpened with the curved stone file I linked above. I only use regular full chisel Oregon 3/8 chains on my saw.

My first couple years cutting firewood I used an electric sharpener. I didn’t like having to carry extra chains with me in the woods. I like being able to sharpen on the fly like with a hand file.
 

Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
16,208
Philadelphia
I’ve been using a Stihl/Pferd 2 in 1 sharpener for the past few years. I borrowed my uncles for a while and last year got my own.
Before that I used a round file free hand, and a flat file to touch up the depth gauges. I’m much more consistent with the Pferd sharpener.
yep, I was counting the 2-in-1 among the "standard techniques", as opposed to those gimmics that automatically sharpen special chain on the bar. Heck, I use a bench-mounted grinder, another "standard technique" applied to "standard chain". Point is, understanding the criticality of three angles and a depth gauge height.
 
  • Like
Reactions: EbS-P
Remember to flip the bar after a couple of sharpening's..
 
  • Like
Reactions: AstroBoy

CincyBurner

Minister of Fire
Mar 10, 2015
685
SW Ohio
The Pferd 2-in-1 is convenient, accurate system suitable for sharpening at home, or in the field in less than ideal conditions. Great concept to simultaneously sharpen teeth and set the raker teeth.
It works well with full comp chain, but not half skip, or full skip chain.
 
  • Like
Reactions: EbS-P

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
6,745
Downeast Maine
I've used the Pferd 2 in 1 the last few sharpening. Works better than what I could do free hand or with the HF sharpener. Actually, Seems to get as good results as a new chain.
Once you get a bar mounted file jig or accurate bench mounted grinder you will have chains sharper than new.
 

AstroBoy

New Member
Feb 9, 2022
23
Philadelphia suburbs
I sharpened my chain this weekend! As mentioned earlier, I got the Pferd CS-X (2-in-1), and some of the Pferd 11/64" files needed for my chain.

A few observations / comments:

- It took a bit more work than expected / hoped to put the 11/64" (4.5 mm) files into the sharpener, which came with 5/32" (4 mm) files. The holes weren't quite big enough. But, following the principle that you don't really own it if you can't modify it, I took a drill and gently enlarged those holes until I could fit the larger files. It was a little awkward because it's hard to get a straight shot at the holes (especially at the end that doesn't open), but I made it work, and it's a one-time modification I won't have to do again. If I get a different chain in the future and want to put the larger files back in, I can just put a bit of tape on their ends.

- It was a little tough to get the first pass started on each tooth. I don't know if that's just because the chain was dull (burrs?), or if the factory angle was just slightly different than the Pferd sharpener uses. (I did double-check that the files looked straight [parallel to the flat file and the guides] inside the holder after my modification.) But once I got the first pass started, then subsequent passes were easy.

- It took a little practice to get a smooth flow with sharpening one tooth, flipping the file, and going the other way on the next tooth. But not hard once you get the hang of it, and the markings on the handles are helpful.

Overall, it seemed to work well - the saw definitely performs better than before. Easier cutting, larger chips.

My other observation: I need a vise! I jerry-rigged an arrangement with some clamps to hold the bar, but it was awkward to set up. I could get a stump vise, but I think I'd be better off with a real vise, maybe mounted on a board. (I don't have room for a real workbench, so I just use a foldable Workmate.) Any recommendations for vises would be welcome. I might just try to pick up a used older one.

Thanks for all of the help and advice in this thread!
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
6,745
Downeast Maine
I sharpened my chain this weekend! As mentioned earlier, I got the Pferd CS-X (2-in-1), and some of the Pferd 11/64" files needed for my chain.

A few observations / comments:

- It took a bit more work than expected / hoped to put the 11/64" (4.5 mm) files into the sharpener, which came with 5/32" (4 mm) files. The holes weren't quite big enough. But, following the principle that you don't really own it if you can't modify it, I took a drill and gently enlarged those holes until I could fit the larger files. It was a little awkward because it's hard to get a straight shot at the holes (especially at the end that doesn't open), but I made it work, and it's a one-time modification I won't have to do again. If I get a different chain in the future and want to put the larger files back in, I can just put a bit of tape on their ends.

- It was a little tough to get the first pass started on each tooth. I don't know if that's just because the chain was dull (burrs?), or if the factory angle was just slightly different than the Pferd sharpener uses. (I did double-check that the files looked straight [parallel to the flat file and the guides] inside the holder after my modification.) But once I got the first pass started, then subsequent passes were easy.

- It took a little practice to get a smooth flow with sharpening one tooth, flipping the file, and going the other way on the next tooth. But not hard once you get the hang of it, and the markings on the handles are helpful.

Overall, it seemed to work well - the saw definitely performs better than before. Easier cutting, larger chips.

My other observation: I need a vise! I jerry-rigged an arrangement with some clamps to hold the bar, but it was awkward to set up. I could get a stump vise, but I think I'd be better off with a real vise, maybe mounted on a board. (I don't have room for a real workbench, so I just use a foldable Workmate.) Any recommendations for vises would be welcome. I might just try to pick up a used older one.

Thanks for all of the help and advice in this thread!
I have a trailer hitch mounted rig with a small vise. It's not perfect and there is a bit of slop, but it worked good enough to keep a saw in one place while I used a bar mounted file and later grinder (both Granberg). You could probably figure out how to get the slop out of the hitch setup, it was just never enough of an issue for me to deal with it. If I remember today I'll take a picture of the rig. I don't have a shop/shed/anything to do work in right now, so most of my stuff lives outside, like my portable vise rig. It's all chinese stuff from amazon, didn't cost me much and still works after living outside for two years. The screw on the vise is rusty, but functional with a bit of effort. If I were smarter I would have sprayed it down with chain wax.
 
  • Like
Reactions: AstroBoy

bigealta

Minister of Fire
May 22, 2010
660
Utah, NJ
I sharpened my chain this weekend! As mentioned earlier, I got the Pferd CS-X (2-in-1), and some of the Pferd 11/64" files needed for my chain.

A few observations / comments:

- It took a bit more work than expected / hoped to put the 11/64" (4.5 mm) files into the sharpener, which came with 5/32" (4 mm) files. The holes weren't quite big enough. But, following the principle that you don't really own it if you can't modify it, I took a drill and gently enlarged those holes until I could fit the larger files. It was a little awkward because it's hard to get a straight shot at the holes (especially at the end that doesn't open), but I made it work, and it's a one-time modification I won't have to do again. If I get a different chain in the future and want to put the larger files back in, I can just put a bit of tape on their ends.

- It was a little tough to get the first pass started on each tooth. I don't know if that's just because the chain was dull (burrs?), or if the factory angle was just slightly different than the Pferd sharpener uses. (I did double-check that the files looked straight [parallel to the flat file and the guides] inside the holder after my modification.) But once I got the first pass started, then subsequent passes were easy.

- It took a little practice to get a smooth flow with sharpening one tooth, flipping the file, and going the other way on the next tooth. But not hard once you get the hang of it, and the markings on the handles are helpful.

Overall, it seemed to work well - the saw definitely performs better than before. Easier cutting, larger chips.

My other observation: I need a vise! I jerry-rigged an arrangement with some clamps to hold the bar, but it was awkward to set up. I could get a stump vise, but I think I'd be better off with a real vise, maybe mounted on a board. (I don't have room for a real workbench, so I just use a foldable Workmate.) Any recommendations for vises would be welcome. I might just try to pick up a used older one.

Thanks for all of the help and advice in this thread!
Vise is Key to hand sharpening. Holds saw rock solid. So much easier, faster, and accurate filing than without.
 
  • Like
Reactions: AstroBoy

Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
16,208
Philadelphia
I sharpened my chain this weekend! As mentioned earlier, I got the Pferd CS-X (2-in-1), and some of the Pferd 11/64" files needed for my chain.

A few observations / comments:

- It took a bit more work than expected / hoped to put the 11/64" (4.5 mm) files into the sharpener, which came with 5/32" (4 mm) files. The holes weren't quite big enough. But, following the principle that you don't really own it if you can't modify it, I took a drill and gently enlarged those holes until I could fit the larger files. It was a little awkward because it's hard to get a straight shot at the holes (especially at the end that doesn't open), but I made it work, and it's a one-time modification I won't have to do again. If I get a different chain in the future and want to put the larger files back in, I can just put a bit of tape on their ends.

- It was a little tough to get the first pass started on each tooth. I don't know if that's just because the chain was dull (burrs?), or if the factory angle was just slightly different than the Pferd sharpener uses. (I did double-check that the files looked straight [parallel to the flat file and the guides] inside the holder after my modification.) But once I got the first pass started, then subsequent passes were easy.

- It took a little practice to get a smooth flow with sharpening one tooth, flipping the file, and going the other way on the next tooth. But not hard once you get the hang of it, and the markings on the handles are helpful.

Overall, it seemed to work well - the saw definitely performs better than before. Easier cutting, larger chips.

My other observation: I need a vise! I jerry-rigged an arrangement with some clamps to hold the bar, but it was awkward to set up. I could get a stump vise, but I think I'd be better off with a real vise, maybe mounted on a board. (I don't have room for a real workbench, so I just use a foldable Workmate.) Any recommendations for vises would be welcome. I might just try to pick up a used older one.

Thanks for all of the help and advice in this thread!
Many folks who hand file report finding it best to do it after each 2nd tank of gas thru the saw. This seems to be an ideal compromise between time lost setting up to sharpen, and time spent sharpening.
 
  • Like
Reactions: AstroBoy
Many folks who hand file report finding it best to do it after each 2nd tank of gas thru the saw. This seems to be an ideal compromise between time lost setting up to sharpen, and time spent sharpening.
Or when you just get dust and not chips ...;)
 
  • Like
Reactions: PaulOinMA and EbS-P

ericm979

Member
Nov 2, 2018
97
California
I almost always hand file without a vice. It does not take much to hold the saw in place with the hand that's not holding the file (which I use to hold the chain in place on the bar). You don't need to push the file hard into the tooth, moderate pressure is enough.

When filing it can be useful to examine the underside of the teeth to see if you are filing the underside of the tooth. Also inspect the top of the teeth. You need to file enough so the hard chrome layer on top extends all the way to the cutting edge.
 

bigealta

Minister of Fire
May 22, 2010
660
Utah, NJ
I almost always hand file without a vice. It does not take much to hold the saw in place with the hand that's not holding the file (which I use to hold the chain in place on the bar). You don't need to push the file hard into the tooth, moderate pressure is enough.

When filing it can be useful to examine the underside of the teeth to see if you are filing the underside of the tooth. Also inspect the top of the teeth. You need to file enough so the hard chrome layer on top extends all the way to the cutting edge.
I just can't hold it dead steady if not in the vise and i use 2 hands on the file anyway, so i would have to do the lie down on the saw move. Vise just way easier for me.
 

highanddryinco

Burning Hunk
Aug 2, 2014
146
Denver, CO
For me, vise at home on the bench. Stump vise in the bag for in the field. Can you do it without it? Sure, but why?
And yes, the grabby first filing on a new chain seems to be pretty normal. It'll be much easier next time. Good work.
 
  • Like
Reactions: AstroBoy