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Chainsaw etiquette


Caliche Chris

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I’ve been using chainsaws a lot this year. Trying to tackle the learning curve on sharpening and other maintenance. I started with a normal round file that the manufacturer suggests, I use a guide with it. I’ve watched videos on sharpening in the field and I think I grasp the basics. I sharpen mine at least twice a cord. Or anytime it sparks or starts to slow down. It goes smooth for the first few sharpenings on a new chain. After I’ve sharpened it 3 or 4 times it gets to a point where it just won’t cut good anymore, even right after sharpening. There is still a lot of tooth and life left in the chain at this point. Does anyone else use a saw regularly and have any tips for keeping a blade in good shape? I’m thinking about getting one of the mounted electric sharpeners but have heard mixed reviews on them too. Any tips or advice always appreciated!

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Are you lowering the raker in front of the tooth?

It sounds like the raker is not letting the tooth get a bite. The tooth gets a bit lower with every filing and after a few sharpenings is even with the raker. 

Don't take to much off or the chain will jump into the cut.

If the angle is correct and the edge is cut back to a flat surface on top there should be no other reason it would not cut good...

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I’m going to post a pic of my chains that won’t cut.  I think I’ve found an issue, I usually just run the file through the tooth a couple times until new metal is exposed and it feels sharp. Looking at the tops of the tooth it does not come to a perfect point. The cutting edge looks and feels sharp but the very top/point of the tooth, looking at it from above, kind of looks rounded or blunted a tiny bit. Almost imperceptible. 

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You have to file it back until the top of the tooth is flat. You should not see any wear between the flat top of the tooth and the chisel edge. Otherwise your tooth slides over the wood with the cutting edge a few thousandths below. If the cutting edge is not at the top of the tooth it will not cut well. Keep filing! 

It amounts to the same thing as having the raker too high. It just holds that sharp chisel edge away from the wood and prevents it from digging out a chip.

I find the shortest tooth on the chain and file it until it is sharp. Then I set a caliper to that length and file them all down to that length. That way they are all the same and no tooth has a rounded edge.

I almost have to get a magnifying glass to tell if a tooth is sharp these days. If you use the shortest tooth for a gauge you don't have to worry about it. Just focus on keeping the angle right and the tooth flat across the chisel edge. Keep filing until the caliper slips over the tooth. Check the raker with a coin or a gauge. File it a few strokes if needed. That should make it cut like a new chain every time.

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I think that’s what is going on, sometimes right after sharpening I can’t get the chain to bite. It’ll just run on the wood and barely cut but won’t dig in like it should. I am going to start just taking several blades out with me. That way I don’t have to file in the field and can do it at home with a vice and a caliper and make sure every thing is in order instead of trying to knock out a sharpening in 5 minutes so I can get back to cutting. Do you use the “low kickback” blades? 

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15 minutes ago, Caliche Chris said:

I think that’s what is going on, sometimes right after sharpening I can’t get the chain to bite. It’ll just run on the wood and barely cut but won’t dig in like it should...

This might sound silly, but are you sure you're sharpening in the right direction..? It isn't all that hard to get turned around, especially in the field, if ya haven't been doing it yer entire life..

Swamp

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12 minutes ago, Caliche Chris said:

I think that’s what is going on, sometimes right after sharpening I can’t get the chain to bite. It’ll just run on the wood and barely cut but won’t dig in like it should. I am going to start just taking several blades out with me. That way I don’t have to file in the field and can do it at home with a vice and a caliper and make sure every thing is in order instead of trying to knock out a sharpening in 5 minutes so I can get back to cutting. Do you use the “low kickback” blades? 

That is how I always handled it. I just swapped chains, tensioned and went back to cutting. I would rarely sharpen unless I just needed the break from cutting.

Cutting green wood a chain will last all day unless you screw up and hit a rock. Cutting that dead alligator juniper is rough. Your blade goes south quick and will burnish the crap out of those teeth as soon as they start getting dull. That just increases that rounded front edge and makes for more filing.

I think all chains these days are "anti-kickback". I think that is just the raker height and shape.

They will sure eat up the wood with that raker cut too low. I suppose they would jump back easier too. Especially out at the tip of that bar. I used to file the raker down a few strokes with every sharpening until it pulled the bar into the cut. Then I would just neglect the rakers until the bar floated in the cut. I knew that it would eat me alive when it got really aggressive so I was always careful. But it is a lot of fun blazing along with wood chips flying being pulled into a big log by your saw. What a hoot man!

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14 minutes ago, wet/dry washer said:

diamond rotery in a dremal grinder works best. have lumbered lot's of red-gum, mesquite, hard maple and desert ironwood. as you sharpen put less rake, when the teeth get down 3/16" remove and save for iron wood.

 

Hey bob!

The Dremel tool is awesome. As long as a guy has a guide. have seen a couple guides for Dremels and was not really too impressed.

saw a chain jig that looked a lot like a tiny chop saw. It had a jig that you clamped each tooth in. You lowered the diamond saw and cut the chisel edge on each tooth. Then flipped the thing over and did the other side. Every tooth was exactly the same after it came out of the jig and it took about five seconds per tooth to sharpen. It was perfect.

The guy had a fine diamond ceramic rod that he dressed each tooth on. It polished the ground face up pretty good. That edge was just like a razor.

He got it to do chain saw carvings where you were ploughing with the blade a lot and needed it super sharp.

Me just use a Stihl jig that holds a round file and it gets them good enough to crosscut firewood.

cut mesquite, acacia, ironwood, etc. with a circular saw. They will ruin the bar and chain on a chain saw. crosscut it all with a small back saw in the field and then buck it into woodstove sized pieces with an old worm drive circular saw at the house.

Me even bought a carbide tooth chain thinking me was going to cut mesquite. The bar and the back of the tooth still wore out at an incredible speed. have cut at least 3-4 cords of mesquite and acacia over the past 4 years with the same old carbide tipped framing blade on an old worm drive saw. It would have ruined $100 worth of chains and bars.

 

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easy-lap diamond is an alunium guide plate with the tool rotating inside with angle scribed on plate. got them from a chain saw supplier.

also had a ripper set-up where could rip six foot logs into quarters. then ripped them in a 3' x 10" do-all band saw with a blade welder. bought 3 tpi 3/4 wide blade in 100' packs used the easy-lap on them.

carbide has to run at high speed in order to last. chain-saws can not run high enough speed.

when cutting for lumber, swab white latex on the cross cuts, put a second coat on when you get them home, let dry for a year for every two inches of diamature. red gum you only have couple minuates to get the paint on before it splits.

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Touching up the chain with the proper size file on a regular basis is important to keeping the saw 'chipping' versus making sawdust. I cut somewhere between 75-80 cord of hardwood and softwood this past summer to supply a local camping population with firewood. Most of this wood was dragged out of wetlands and river edges in Southern NH and had been air drying for a couple of years prior to me hitting it with a saw. Some of those old oaks and rock maples that had 'dryed' in the water ... yes water does 'dry' wood ... it washes out the resins, pitch if you will, that make 'green wood to wet to burn properly... Anyway those logs were tough on the saw chain. I would stop about every hour and hit a couple of strokes with the file on each tooth  ... took about 10 minutes to do right on that 20" bar. About once a week I would take a flat bastard file to the rakers ... only needed to remove about a 1/32 or less each time. And I only used top grade Oregon Chain. Conveniently, by the way, they had a mark on the top of each tooth so that I could maintain the correct angle for the edge. So long as you filed parallel to that mark and perpendicular to the bar the cahin was mounted to you could do no wrong. That mark if filed beyond was also the point at which teeth started to break off if I hit any 'grit' in the water cured wood. By using the chains the way I did I only killed two chains over the summer and when I left the third chain was still chipping well. I guess after using a saw for 45 years or so you get used to just taking a water and file break every hour or so and the chains just last!

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Here’s a picture of a chain I had “sharpened” 

I haven’t been filing enough off to get the tooth edge straight. I spent about 30 minutes on it and got it nice and straight with a good point on it. I did two chains like that after the tips I got from everyone. They were the same two chains that I’d been having trouble cutting with, so I wasn’t sure how it would go. They cut great, they felt like new chains briefly, and It took both of them to cut a cord. I don’t have a pic of the chain after I had sharpened it correctly, this is the before pic when I was not filing enough off.  

2517B474-471C-4E96-BFDE-E8374C4DCD31.jpeg

Edited by Caliche Chris
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Just wanted to add a little to this thread in case anyone ever comes here looking for similar advice. I need about 4 good chains to get through a day of cutting. It was really inefficient trying to keep up with that with a hand file. Ive tried a couple sharpeners in the past week. First one I tried was the Oregon sure sharp. It’s a small hand held device that uses 12v power to operate. I got the model that can also be plugged into a cigarette lighter. It’s similar to a dremel in that it is just a small bit that spins and you place it inside the cutter. The only guide on it is for the proper 30 degree angle when filing the cutter, keeping it level and stable are entirely up to the user. Works pretty well, I can see it being very handy for quick touch ups in the field. It doesn’t take metal off very fast so if your chain is beat up it’ll take a little while to get it ground back to good metal with this tool. 

The next sharpener I tried was the timber tuff electric sharpener. It mounts on a table, and uses a grinding disc to sharpen the cutters. For this one you must remove the chain and place it in the guide on the sharpener. It is really simple and quick to set the necessary angles and depth on this machine. The depth gauge isn’t exact on this machine. So even though the depth gauge is hitting its stop point, with a little more force the handle of the machine will give or flex some and you can keep grinding way further than you mean too. So finding the right pressure is important. I really like this machine and think it will be a game changer for me. The first chain I sharpened with it was one of my older beat up chains that hadn’t cut right in forever. I ground a lot of metal off of it to get the cutters sharp and clean again. It took me all of five minutes and that was on a really rough chain and my first attempt with the machine. Once you get used to it you can really go quick and it takes no time to get a chain razor sharp again. 

BF6A7A88-CF83-4073-835B-6258214D53B5.png

2123A5AE-5489-43CE-9A69-5A543C74987C.png

Edited by Caliche Chris
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2 hours ago, Caliche Chris said:

The next sharpener I tried was the timber tuff electric sharpener. It mounts on a table, and uses a grinding disc to sharpen the cutters. For this one you must remove the chain and place it in the guide on the sharpener.

Harbor Freight has one similar to the timber Tuff Sharpener.  I have been using it for a few years and hav been served well by it.  It does have the same WEAKNESS THAT YOU STATED ABOUT HOW MUCH PRESSURE YOU PUT ON THE DOWNWARD STROKE.( sorry)  You can get used to that very easy and adapt.  You still have to file by hand your rakers though, just a little at a time.

   Old Tom  

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6 hours ago, Old Tom said:

 

 

 

Harbor Freight has one similar to the timber Tuff Sharpener.  I have been using it for a few years and hav been served well by it.  It does have the same WEAKNESS THAT YOU STATED ABOUT HOW MUCH PRESSURE YOU PUT ON THE DOWNWARD STROKE.( sorry)  You can get used to that very easy and adapt.  You still have to file by hand your rakers though, just a little at a time.

   Old Tom  

They work well, if this one ever wears out I’ll try the harbor freight one. It’s nice standing next to this machine to sharpen instead of kneeling on the ground trying to tackle it with a file. 

Speaking of rakers...one thing I noticed when filing them, is that most of them file pretty easy. Every once in a while on a chain I’ll start on a raker and it feels super hard. Some of them take one stroke of the file. Then I’ll hit a “hard” one and have to use a lot of pressure and several passes before the metal even starts to grind away. I don’t know what’s causing that. 

Another thing I’ve wondered, when using the saw for hours at a time, does anyone wear respiratory protection? I have just been using a bandana and I can sure feel the stress on my lungs after cutting all day. Do any face masks filter out the harmful particles that are in the exhaust? 

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3 hours ago, Caliche Chris said:

Speaking of rakers...one thing I noticed when filing them, is that most of them file pretty easy. Every once in a while on a chain I’ll start on a raker and it feels super hard. Some of them take one stroke of the file. Then I’ll hit a “hard” one and have to use a lot of pressure and several passes before the metal even starts to grind away. I don’t know what’s causing that. 

Make sure that your file is absolutely flat on your raker.  If you catch an edge sometimes It will dig in for a while until it flattens out.  

As far as masks, I use the hard formed ones and get good service but then I don't cut as much as you do.  

   Old Tom  

 

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