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Old 05-27-2009, 09:07 AM
 
1,297 posts, read 3,158,208 times
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I have always been unhappy with how "sharp" a chainsaw chain is. It is quite disappointing that as we near the decade mark of the new millennium that chainsaw chain manufactures could not get a decent edge on a new saw chain right out of the box...one must hand file it to get it reasonably sharp first. But even then I wondered could you up the chainsaw sharpness ante up without spending a lot of time and yet have some longevity to it as well. I mean what is the point to get it super-sharp and yet have that crisp edge disappear by noontime?

I always noted that a chainsaw chain has a flat spot on the back side of every tooth. I wondered if that might be the answer to the holy grail of loggers, a super sharp chain that would last quite awhile? Well today I had some time (babysitting my daughter) so I tried a new method. First I had a new bar and chain on my saw, then hand filed that new saw chain so it was decently sharp. Then I took a small fine-grade sharpening stone and stoned the back edge of every tooth. A magnifying glass seemed to show a much smoother edge, so I took a diamond file and further flattened the back of every tooth. In theory it should have been the equivalent of filing the backs of our plane blades and chisels. It took me an additional 5 minutes to do this...no big deal really if it worked.

I did a series of test cuts on wood and I am convinced it is much, much sharper. The saw never stalled the chain once, and the cuts left no ragged edges from the cut. This was an improvement, but obviously the cutting edge was not really being tested...the standard height raker was only feeding the tooth x amount of wood. Yes my saw was not laboring, but I was not really going from point A to Point B any faster.

So the next check was to see how much of the raker I could file off in order to make a bigger chip and see if the saw, with its ultra sharp saw chain, could pull out of the wood without bogging down. Well a pretty darn big chip! I swiped each raker with a coarse mill b@stard file twice and the saw was blowing some pretty big curlie ques out the other side when I did another test cut. In fact it looked like I was ripping and I was making a cross-cut, the chips were that big!

I am definately happy with its new performance!

I guess the only way to really up the ante now as far as sharpness goes would be to put a slip stone 7/32 in size along the bevel of each tooth and really smooth out the file marks on the tooth. Between that and the flattened backs of each tooth, your chainsaw would be like having 66 3/8 chisels along its bar!

I don't think I found the Holy Grail of chainsaw sharpness yet, but I think I found the trunk it resides in. So for anyone that spends a fair amount of time with their chainsaw, here is a new method of filing it that will get you back in the house sooner.
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Old 05-27-2009, 11:15 AM
 
16,308 posts, read 25,267,295 times
Reputation: 8302
Rakers height should be filed based on whether you will be cutting hardwoods or softwoods. A chain filed for softwoods will bog down in hardwoods

Best tool to sharpen the teeth is a Dremel Tool with the correct size bit. I have a battery powered one that I carry with my saws. As a rule, two tanks of gas/oil and I'll take 5 minutes to touch up the chain.
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Old 05-27-2009, 12:37 PM
 
Location: Somewhere in northern Alabama
18,543 posts, read 55,469,830 times
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I would imagine the competition loggers have a lot of tips to get a maximum cut. I can't see myself going after a chain with a diamond file, and you neglected to mention that filing down the rakers can increase the kickback hazards. Other than that, if it works for you, great!
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Old 05-27-2009, 05:53 PM
 
Location: Oklahoma(formerly SoCalif) Originally Mich,
13,387 posts, read 16,962,646 times
Reputation: 4611
Quote:
Originally Posted by harry chickpea View Post
I would imagine the competition loggers have a lot of tips to get a maximum cut. I can't see myself going after a chain with a diamond file, and you neglected to mention that filing down the rakers can increase the kickback hazards. Other than that, if it works for you, great!
Saw chains sold today all have "anti kickback" links.
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Old 05-27-2009, 06:17 PM
 
Location: Way up north :-)
3,031 posts, read 5,345,620 times
Reputation: 2918
Quote:
Originally Posted by BrokenTap View Post
Well today I had some time (babysitting my daughter) so I tried a new method. First I had a new bar and chain on my saw, then hand filed that new saw chain so it was decently sharp. .
...and what did you do in kinder today kids?

(Sorry to be off topic, my DH does have a chainsaw however, hence my visit here. Carry on)
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Old 05-27-2009, 06:19 PM
 
Location: southern california
56,598 posts, read 75,691,467 times
Reputation: 49474
im not an expert but i have found that dirt is fatal to a sharp chain.
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Old 05-27-2009, 06:34 PM
 
Location: Oklahoma(formerly SoCalif) Originally Mich,
13,387 posts, read 16,962,646 times
Reputation: 4611
Quote:
Originally Posted by BrokenTap View Post
I have always been unhappy with how "sharp" a chainsaw chain is. It is quite disappointing that as we near the decade mark of the new millennium that chainsaw chain manufactures could not get a decent edge on a new saw chain right out of the box...one must hand file it to get it reasonably sharp first. But even then I wondered could you up the chainsaw sharpness ante up without spending a lot of time and yet have some longevity to it as well. I mean what is the point to get it super-sharp and yet have that crisp edge disappear by noontime?

I always noted that a chainsaw chain has a flat spot on the back side of every tooth. I wondered if that might be the answer to the holy grail of loggers, a super sharp chain that would last quite awhile? Well today I had some time (babysitting my daughter) so I tried a new method. First I had a new bar and chain on my saw, then hand filed that new saw chain so it was decently sharp. Then I took a small fine-grade sharpening stone and stoned the back edge of every tooth. A magnifying glass seemed to show a much smoother edge, so I took a diamond file and further flattened the back of every tooth. In theory it should have been the equivalent of filing the backs of our plane blades and chisels. It took me an additional 5 minutes to do this...no big deal really if it worked.

I did a series of test cuts on wood and I am convinced it is much, much sharper. The saw never stalled the chain once, and the cuts left no ragged edges from the cut. This was an improvement, but obviously the cutting edge was not really being tested...the standard height raker was only feeding the tooth x amount of wood. Yes my saw was not laboring, but I was not really going from point A to Point B any faster.

So the next check was to see how much of the raker I could file off in order to make a bigger chip and see if the saw, with its ultra sharp saw chain, could pull out of the wood without bogging down. Well a pretty darn big chip! I swiped each raker with a coarse mill b@stard file twice and the saw was blowing some pretty big curlie ques out the other side when I did another test cut. In fact it looked like I was ripping and I was making a cross-cut, the chips were that big!

I am definately happy with its new performance!

I guess the only way to really up the ante now as far as sharpness goes would be to put a slip stone 7/32 in size along the bevel of each tooth and really smooth out the file marks on the tooth. Between that and the flattened backs of each tooth, your chainsaw would be like having 66 3/8 chisels along its bar!

I don't think I found the Holy Grail of chainsaw sharpness yet, but I think I found the trunk it resides in. So for anyone that spends a fair amount of time with their chainsaw, here is a new method of filing it that will get you back in the house sooner.
Have you tried using "Chisel Chain"?

You never specified the size of chain/bar you have, the type of chain your using or the make of chain..Oregon, Wisdom, Carlton, Stihl.
or the different kinds of wood you used when testing.
There are many things that can dull a saw chain. Your mechanically inclined, so maybe if if you know the function of a saw chain you would understand what it takes to keep a saw chain sharp.
I'm not trying to offend anyone, I Have respect for you and I'd like to help'
The link below show the operation of a saw chain, each type of chain and what it's made for and detailed steps for sharpening.
It also tells you what causes the chain to wear and how it happens.
I hope this helps
http://www.sawchain.com/images/complete%20book.pdf

Last edited by mkfarnam; 05-27-2009 at 07:13 PM..
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Old 05-27-2009, 07:23 PM
 
Location: Oklahoma(formerly SoCalif) Originally Mich,
13,387 posts, read 16,962,646 times
Reputation: 4611
Quote:
Originally Posted by Huckleberry3911948 View Post
im not an expert but i have found that dirt is fatal to a sharp chain.
You couldn't be more right.

Chainsaws have an automatic oiler that keeps the drive links on the chain oiled. Once dirt is pickup by the oil on the bar and chain, it works like sand paper and if it's not cleaned immediately, the bar, chain and sprocket will be worn out within 1 hours use.
Many saws with that exact problem have come into the shop.
Again, no offense to anyone, but that's pure neglect
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Old 05-28-2009, 04:00 AM
 
1,297 posts, read 3,158,208 times
Reputation: 1506
Quote:
Originally Posted by mkfarnam View Post
Have you tried using "Chisel Chain"?

You never specified the size of chain/bar you have, the type of chain your using or the make of chain..Oregon, Wisdom, Carlton, Stihl.
or the different kinds of wood you used when testing.
There are many things that can dull a saw chain. Your mechanically inclined, so maybe if if you know the function of a saw chain you would understand what it takes to keep a saw chain sharp.
I'm not trying to offend anyone, I Have respect for you and I'd like to help'
The link below show the operation of a saw chain, each type of chain and what it's made for and detailed steps for sharpening.
It also tells you what causes the chain to wear and how it happens.
I hope this helps
http://www.sawchain.com/images/complete%20book.pdf
I cut a lot of wood in a year because I am a farmer and there isn't a lot to do in the winter. Over the last year I have cleared a lot of land and got another 20 acres to go, so lately my average is up but typically I average between 100-150 cords of wood a year. But here is the kicker, since I typically only cut tree length (no firewood blocking) my saw stays sharp for a long periods of time. I also learned to keep my saw out of the dirt a long time ago.

That is why I have a fascination with getting a super sharp chain. I know I can get it super sharp and have it stay that way for quite awhile. Unless I hit unexpected wire buried in a tree or something, I typically sharpen my saw in the morning and run it all day. That typically gets me 8-10 cord a day (felled, limbed and hauled out with a tractor).

I run an MS 460 Stihl (6 hp) with a 25-32 inch Stihl bar depending on on the size of the trees I am felling and use a 3/8 pitch standard Stihl chain. I really like it and its proven to be a really great saw especially since I use the open face notch which tends to lend itself to a bigger saw and longer bar. In years past I primarily cut softwood, but in clearing land I run probably a 50/50 split between softwood and hardwood. All my test cuts were on softwood though.

I got a pretty good grasp on how to sharpen a chain for sure, I was just trying to push the sharpness factor to a whole new level. I was just really surprised how much of a difference my new saw filing method worked.

Right now I think my biggest issue is with complaceney and that has nothing to do with how sharp a saw chain is. I use the open face notch technique so I have gotten into this habit of not walking away from a tree after I fell it. Most of the time it stays attached to the stump, but that is NOT a good habit to get into.

Another bad habit is using the top of the bar. I would say 75% of the time I am using the top of the bar rather then the bottom. It does keep the saw from being pulled down into the dirt and instead tends to push it back at you, but it can snap back on you too if your not careful and hit the tip just right. Its nice not spraying yourself with chips though too.

The other issue is using such a long bar. Its nice when felling, in particular the open face notch technique since you plung cut so often using that method, but when you are limbing you really have to yard that saw up to get the nose of the bar over the trunk of the log when snapping off limbs from one side to the other.

In any case I'm going to keep trying my new sharpening method and see how it goes. So far I am really happy with how it is turning out. It seems to be pulling a bigger chip with no loss in RPM so I am happy with that.
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Old 05-28-2009, 04:02 AM
 
1,297 posts, read 3,158,208 times
Reputation: 1506
I am looking at getting a new saw this year and was thinking about upgrading to the MS 660 Stihl Saw. Anyone got one and like it?

I really love the 460 so I am hesitant to upgrade, but with my new filing method, I could use the extra CC's to get an even bigger chip.
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