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Author Topic: Sharpening a chain. Why so difficult  (Read 4020 times)

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Offline Somewhat Handy

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Re: Sharpening a chain. Why so difficult
« Reply #20 on: January 31, 2019, 02:25:39 PM »
I've sliced my hands open several times over the years sharpening various things. Everytime I promise to get some cut-proof mesh gloves. smiley_idea I never do.... smiley_dozy_bored

Online Kwill

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Re: Sharpening a chain. Why so difficult
« Reply #21 on: January 31, 2019, 07:25:35 PM »
Simple things in life bring me pleasure.
I like the fact that I can sharpen a saw chain with a round file.
I use the file holder pictured and clamp my saw bar in a 6" vice.
I sharpen each tooth with 2 strokes of the file unless they are damaged.
(In eastern WV I tend to hit a rock now and then.) always filing away from the engine.
About every 3rd to 4th sharpening I'll hit the rakers with a flat file. I don't use a guide for this, just eyeball it.
My chains are sharp and cut straight so I must be doing it right.
... or pretty close to right.
(Image hidden from quote, click to view.)

Whats your address i will send you all my chains to sharpen :D
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Online John Mc

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Re: Sharpening a chain. Why so difficult
« Reply #22 on: January 31, 2019, 07:44:51 PM »
If you don't mind spending a few bucks, this is one of the better chainsaw sharpening videos I've seen: The Art & Science of Chainsaw Sharpening

I've met the author. He teaches the Game of Logging classes in my area. Really knowledgeable guy. The technique is the same as what they teach in the GOL II class.

I learned it first hand from him, but I bought a copy anyway to lend out to friends.
If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.   - Abraham Maslow

Offline Tom King

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Re: Sharpening a chain. Why so difficult
« Reply #23 on: February 04, 2019, 10:31:22 PM »
Tighten the chain first, if it needs it.

Push straight back into the cutter-not down, or up.

If right handed, hit right side cutters first to better protect fingers from a slip of the file off the cutter.

To learn how hard to push the file, start with a new file, and find something to hold a white sheet of paper up near the bar, but low enough to be out of the way.  Watch the filings accumulate on the white paper.  You will see that a light pass will still cut metal.

Start with the little smooth end of the file on the tooth, and use the whole length of the file.

Until you get a feel for the angle, take a strip of plywood, or board, and mark the angle a bunch of times with a Magic Marker, on both sides of the strip of wood, in opposite directions on the different sides.  Lay it down behind the bar, so it will be in the background of your line of sight.  You will easily see if the file is not at the right angle.  Learn to push in straight strokes.

One or two strokes on every tooth, at every fillup, or two, is less work than letting it get dull to the point that each tooth takes seven strokes.  Count strokes, and try to use the same pressure on every tooth to maintain them all at the same height.

I find it fastest, and easiest if I'm standing at the truck tailgate, but find some position that's comfortable to you where you don't have to bend over.

Find a handle that fits your hand.  I like the wooden Oregon handles so much that I also use them for sharpening handsaws.  Sharpening handsaws is a lot more complicated than sharpening a chain, but a chainsaw chain is the best place to start.

Master this on a new chain, and after a few sharpening, follow previous advice given in this thread about the rakers.  I use the special little smooth file with no teeth on the edges for the rakers.  The little gauge is worth having to start with.  Later, you can judge by putting any straightedge handy across the top of a couple of cutters on the straightest part of the bar, and eyeball the raker clearance to judge how much needs to be taken off.

Take care of your files.  If they just get thrown in the toolbox, or on the dashboard of the truck, you might as well just toss it over in the woods.  No one is good enough to make a chain sharp with a dull file.

Online Kwill

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Re: Sharpening a chain. Why so difficult
« Reply #24 on: February 05, 2019, 12:13:43 PM »
Well I broke down and bought one. We will see how it works 8)

 
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Online Old Greenhorn

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Re: Sharpening a chain. Why so difficult
« Reply #25 on: February 05, 2019, 12:29:44 PM »
Different stuff works for different folks. Let us know how you make out with it. Me, I always steer away from the gimmicks and gizmos that are trying to replace skill. That's just me. I have a friend at work that uses one of those do-dads and loves it, so go figger.
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Online John Mc

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Re: Sharpening a chain. Why so difficult
« Reply #26 on: February 05, 2019, 02:31:29 PM »
No reflection on the current commenters, since I've never met the vast majority of you face to face, but as I've stated in other threads here...

I've met many dozens of people who think they do a great job of sharpening a chain freehand - with just a round file and nothing else (well, almost nothing else: they do use a flat file when it's time to touch up the depth gauges). For most of them, I'll admit that it does cut better than before they sharpened it. It doesn't cut as well as they seem to think it does, and I certainly wouldn't term it a consistently great job.

I've met just three people who actually can do a great job freehand (i.e. as good as or better than the factory edge). Sadly, I am not one of those three... Nor do I have any intention or need to become one. I can beat "out of the box" cutting performance using either the Oregon guide that clips on to the file, or the "Swedish roller guide" sold by Husqvarna.

Can I touch one up freehand in a pinch? Sure. But since if I've got my file with me, I also have the guide with me, so why bother? I can read a newspaper without my reading glasses on, but if I've got them with me, you can bet I'll use them. (Speaking of reading glasses: I can sharpen a chain using a guide even if I don't have my glasses with me. Doing it freehand without my glasses would be a lot tougher.)
If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.   - Abraham Maslow

Offline upnut

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Re: Sharpening a chain. Why so difficult
« Reply #27 on: February 05, 2019, 03:02:10 PM »
Good luck with your new tool, let us know how it works out. My brother has a power sharpener mounted on a dedicated work station which he likes. He's going to need it after today, I hit metal in an old dead elm we were bucking up with his Stihl 441. Thought it was fencing, turned out to be a broadhead embedded quite deep. Couldn't believe the damage to a fairly new chain...ugh!

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Online Kwill

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Re: Sharpening a chain. Why so difficult
« Reply #28 on: February 05, 2019, 03:12:12 PM »
I gave it a whirl on a newer chain that had got dull and hadn't been sharpened. It worked good and the saw cut nice and straight. Better than I ever sharpened one with the other dope holders and stuff. I'd say it was 40 well spent
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Offline Pulphook

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Re: Sharpening a chain. Why so difficult
« Reply #29 on: February 05, 2019, 04:32:52 PM »
There are few anythings that do exactly what they say and do it well. One is a pulphook. Or snow tires. Maybe long underwear. Another is the Pferd ( also under Stihl ) 2 in 1 sharpener.
As said, it even does those "rock" chains when you hit barbed wire, a round, or dirt in a tree. Just takes many easy, efficient passes to get the chain sharpened. No noisy electric grinder to burn the chain...and, you can sing as you sharpen and count passes. :-[
I have 3 of them for my sized chains/bars. The new and improved version as shown above eliminates shifting the round and flat files for each chain side.
Maybe I'll get one when the files in the original versions wear out...or I eliminate my daily Laphroaig 2 fingers.
This is really "better than sliced bread". 8)
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Online Old Greenhorn

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Re: Sharpening a chain. Why so difficult
« Reply #30 on: February 05, 2019, 04:49:26 PM »
I gave it a whirl on a newer chain that had got dull and hadn't been sharpened. It worked good and the saw cut nice and straight. Better than I ever sharpened one with the other dope holders and stuff. I'd say it was 40 well spent
Well, there you go then! You found what works for you. Just give it some practice and things will continue to improve.
 @John Mc I am one of those 'freehand guys' you were probably referring to, and yes, it works just great for me. I have never seen or heard of an kind of guide or gadget for those of us decrepit old dogs that square file. (save one of those $1,500 (used) grinders.) The file fits the tooth form and the corner MUST come out in the right place or you have a lousy cut. I also find it much easier than round filing once I have the square profile created the first time. Changing a chain from round to square can take me the better part of an hour doing it carefully. If I were to round file, I would be using a Swedish roller guide, they work well. If anybody has something to help square file folks like me I'd love to hear about it.
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Online John Mc

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Re: Sharpening a chain. Why so difficult
« Reply #31 on: February 05, 2019, 05:30:11 PM »
@Old Greenhorn - The freehand guys to which I was referring are all more or less local, and people who I've had the chance to see their filing in action - either using their saw myself, or seeing what happens when they use it. (You can't really tell how good a guy is over the internet.)

They range from Joe Homeowner to pro loggers. Two of the ones who really could do a good job were pros. One was a small landowner. He did not have a lot of experience using a chainsaw - sometimes his felling technique was a bit scary. He sure could sharpen a chain, though. I was a bit surprised by this until he told me what he did for a living: he was a machinist , and into woodworking as a hobby - I guess working with hand tools came naturally to him with that experience.
If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.   - Abraham Maslow

Offline HolmenTree

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Re: Sharpening a chain. Why so difficult
« Reply #32 on: February 05, 2019, 05:45:48 PM »
Always hand file the right hand cutters first because if your file slips out of the right hand cutter's gullet your index finger knuckle will get sliced to the bone on a freshly sharpened left hand cutter. And the thickest leather gloves won't save your knuckle.
Here's how I like to file my chain, comfortable,  good view of the cutting edges, free hand suppirts the chain from wobbling and firm grip on the saw. Got my reading glasses on too ;D
Works the same sitting on a log or stump.

(Image hidden from quote, click to view.)
 
(Image hidden from quote, click to view.)

That's pretty much how I do mine. Either in my lap, or on a tailgate. Chaps keep the saw gunk off your pants  :^D
I only wear chaps on the hottest days in my tree service.
Those are ballistic nylon padded safety pants I'm wearing there.
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Offline lxskllr

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Re: Sharpening a chain. Why so difficult
« Reply #33 on: February 05, 2019, 06:07:20 PM »
I only wear chaps on the hottest days in my tree service.
Those are ballistic nylon padded safety pants I'm wearing there.
I have the luxury of cutting when I want, and that's pretty much always <70F. All the gear makes me hot, especially the hard hat. I wear that mainly for the face shield and muffs. So far, 25F seems to be the sweet spot, but I haven't gone colder yet. At 25, I'm doing enough work to stay warm, and just on the verge of sweating, but not quite there. It was 65 today, and I consider that too hot for any real tree work. There's an ash at work I'd like to fall, but I was too busy doing what I'm supposed to do, and my spotter wasn't available. A single tree at 65 would be ok.


Never worn the pants, but I don't think I'd like them. It's nice being able to easily take the chaps off for lunch, and cool down a bit. I'm not doing it professionally either though. I could see how an arborist would prefer pants. Probably more freedom of movement, and less stuff to snag.

Online Old Greenhorn

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Re: Sharpening a chain. Why so difficult
« Reply #34 on: February 05, 2019, 06:37:30 PM »
@Old Greenhorn - The freehand guys to which I was referring are all more or less local, and people who I've had the chance to see their filing in action - either using their saw myself, or seeing what happens when they use it. (You can't really tell how good a guy is over the internet.)

They range from Joe Homeowner to pro loggers. Two of the ones who really could do a good job were pros. One was a small landowner. He did not have a lot of experience using a chainsaw - sometimes his felling technique was a bit scary. He sure could sharpen a chain, though. I was a bit surprised by this until he told me what he did for a living: he was a machinist , and into woodworking as a hobby - I guess working with hand tools came naturally to him with that experience.
Really? I thought everyone was perfect on the internet, especially those dudes over on another social media site that know EVERYTHING!
Most of the guys I see, like you have seen, (My GOSH, they are EVERYWHERE!) just never had somebody who really knows, to teach them and coach them. The nice thing about ignorance is that it can be cured fairly easily.
You won't be surprised to learn that I have been a machinist for about 45 years now (although these days they call me an Engineer) and in part of my training we were given a chunk of steel as a test and we had to make a 3/4" cube that was square and flat on all sides and measured to size within .005". We were allowed two cutting tools, a hacksaw and a file. You get pretty frustrated doing that, but once you figured out the Zen part of it, you got pretty good. I tend to use a file more like a painter would use a brush. Every stroke means something. When I had my own shop, I would occasionally make some free form parts (no square edges, usually make to a traced template) on my die-filer, which is nothing more than a powered filing machine (works like a jig-saw and cuts on the downward stroke). Man I miss that machine. I did a quick prototype for a customer out of a brass scrap one time to make sure I knew what he wanted, took me 20 minutes, and showed it to him. He bought the sample, just said "how much?" I explained it was junk to see if I understood the concept, but if he wanted it he could have it or I could make a nice one. He just said "how much?" I said "pay me whatever you think it's worth" so he gave me $200. for it. Easiest buck I ever made.
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Online thecfarm

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Re: Sharpening a chain. Why so difficult
« Reply #35 on: February 05, 2019, 08:47:13 PM »
I am glad you found something that works for you.
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Online Kwill

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Re: Sharpening a chain. Why so difficult
« Reply #36 on: February 05, 2019, 09:32:36 PM »
saw worked good afterwards as far as cutting.Its running a bit rough. Im hoping its just this tank of gas.
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Offline Greyman

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Re: Sharpening a chain. Why so difficult
« Reply #37 on: February 05, 2019, 11:47:42 PM »
The biggest mistake my brothers all make (  ::) ) is to only sharpen from one side of the saw, either freehand or with a file guide.  If you do that, especially with a worn bar, one side will be at a much different angle than the other and it will cut crooked.  That, in turn, wears the bar groove so it gets worse every time.  Always file in the up/forward direction.  Also make sure you're using the correct file size.

Offline realzed

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Re: Sharpening a chain. Why so difficult
« Reply #38 on: February 06, 2019, 12:18:42 AM »
I gave it a whirl on a newer chain that had got dull and hadn't been sharpened. It worked good and the saw cut nice and straight. Better than I ever sharpened one with the other dope holders and stuff. I'd say it was 40 well spent
I bought one hearing that they worked well and I found it is certainly easier, but not especially any faster than a regular Stihl Files and guide setup. 
I always found filing sort of therapeutic :) and a great way to unwind with a 'cold one' nearby after a day of hacking away at a bunch of wood..
I haven't hit much in the way of metal things thankfully though, and except for grounding a tooth here or there, drastic efforts at sharpening haven't been too much of a necessity or urgently needed in the woods though - so with a cold beside me back at camp, it's always been a good way to end up my day - cleaning up and readjusting everything and getting prepared for the next day's mayhem!
The 2 in 1 deal, although expensive, I find makes it visually easier to maintain the correct tooth angle and keep a level cross motion, and all in all makes for a good job leaving my chains just as sharp if not more so than 'as new' condition from what I can tell by the action or cuttings left behind.     

Offline hopm

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Re: Sharpening a chain. Why so difficult
« Reply #39 on: February 06, 2019, 09:51:31 AM »
I'm terrible at sharpening!!! Yes the first step in resolving a problem is admitting there is a problem. The Stilh 2 and 1 was what showed me how bad my sharpening really is....I have a grinder that I use on occasion for bad damage or when I over file and my saw doesnt cut straight.....I guess all in all you just have to find what works best for you and no there is nothing idiot proof.


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