OT- Chainsaw maintenance and sharpening
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    Default OT- Chainsaw maintenance and sharpening

    PM, I'm pretty new to using a chainsaw for more than a few minutes and beyond keeping the lube topped and bar out of the dirt I don't know much.

    Does anyone have tips or tricks on how to keep chains sharp, or how to sharpen them? There's obviously a ton of info on the net, but I prefer this group's view on things.


    Also- it kind of reminds me of a torch where once I get in the rhythm I feel very safe with it.

    Sent via CNC 88HS

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cole2534 View Post
    PM, I'm pretty new to using a chainsaw for more than a few minutes and beyond keeping the lube topped and bar out of the dirt I don't know much.

    Does anyone have tips or tricks on how to keep chains sharp, or how to sharpen them? There's obviously a ton of info on the net, but I prefer this group's view on things.


    Also- it kind of reminds me of a torch where once I get in the rhythm I feel very safe with it.

    Sent via CNC 88HS
    Getting an appropriate size cylindrical file and freshening up the chain occasionally will help. You will need to have it sharpened once in a while to get all the teeth the same height and knock down the guide in front of the teeth. As the teeth get lower the "guide" will prevent the teeth from contacting the wood. You will swear that it is dull when the teeth are actually sharp. Do not get to feeling you are safe. I have clipped my jeans more than once after sawing through a limb, letting the saw drop as you let off the trigger will bite you some day. Having 2 chains is a good idea.
    Others may have a lot to offer.

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    I don't do that much sawing these days with back issues, I can only do a little at a crack, but there isn't all that much to it.

    Keep the chain out of the dirt and keep the oil reservoir full is pretty much all you need. I run my saws a little on the richer side instead of that 50:1 a lot of them recommend these days... Better safe than sorry.

    I like a chain grinder for sharpening. Just don't get carried away if you use one, it's easy to quickly remove way too much steel.

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    I did buy an extra chain, so I got that covered.

    I saw a review on the Stihl 2 in 1 sharpener, it seems pretty dang handy. Basically a pair of files in a fixture to tune up the teeth and height guides as a pair.

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    Years ago I bought a Gamn chainsaw sharpening jig. It worked good and it was worth the money, however I just use the right diameter file and sharpen by hand.
    Tree surgeons don't bother with jigs, they just use a file with a steady hand or use the other hand as a guide.

    Gamn Sharpener- First Impressions - YouTube

    In my opinion the hand stuff can be done out in the field and the jig can put the 100% correct angle back when the chainsaw is in Bangkok for r & r.

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    There are vids on YT for hand sharpening, get the right file for your saw blade, I find that a few strokes on every tooth every 2-3 trees works well, to a point. When that is no longer sufficient you will need a proper sharpener, good ones are not cheap. You might also consider ordering saw chains from Amazon, I got a pack of 5 for just a few $ more than the hardware store wants for 1. If cutting logs on ground do not try cutting all the way thru, rocks will instantly destroy the blade, go 3/4 of way then roll over to finish. If cutting down trees, do not try cutting too close to base, rocks have a way of getting into tree base. We have a tree out here called Mountain Mahogany, burns real hot, but it is hard as rock and dulls blades very quickly, they make carbide tipped chainsaw blade, but its very pricey, have not tried one.

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    I run a full chisel chain which you do not use a round file to sharpen. It's easier to have a bunch of chains and grind them in the shop anyway.

    Supposedly chisel chains are more prone to kickback of something like that so they are a little more difficult to source but man, once you've used one on a saw with some power you will never go back.

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    What kind of saw?

    I just have a little 24" Sachs Dolmar for camping anymore (nice little obscure saws). I used to do a lot of firewood and had a tuned Stihl 056 Magnum AV. Had 36" and 48" bars for it with 3/8" chisel chain. I cut up a 200' tall fir with it once and spent some time playing with the chain angles and runner heights. with a more powerful saw you can pretty much eliminate the runners and the closer to 90 the cutting edges are the harder each tooth bites, but the more violent the saw will shake in the cut. I shoot for a cut that will let the weight of the saw do most of the work. Like if you push on it you'll stall the chain.

    I always used an el cheapo harbor freight saw sharpener and carried a file to touch up.

    My wood cutting friend always used a file and still does. His chains usually cut pretty straight. I was never that good (patient?) with a file so I prefer a grinder.

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    And watch out where the bar tip may touch another log or piece of wood. That's where the spinning chain going around the nose can cause the saw to climb upwards. It's called kickback and chains have been developed to minimize it, but don't get cocky about that eliminating the risk. I had one instance that was enough for one lifetime. In my memory I have just a flash of seeing the saw coming up towards me, then something slamming me in the shoulder. When I had my wits about me again I had a shredded sleeve on my padded denim jacket and the saw was lying on the ground behind me. Damn lucky that time, but I'm not betting on being lucky twice.

    They're great tools, but give them the respect they deserve.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Garwood View Post
    What kind of saw?

    .
    Just a little homeowner special, 18" Stihl MS251. Wanted a 261 but couldn't justify the extra bucks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FredC View Post
    I have clipped my jeans more than once after sawing through a limb, letting the saw drop as you let off the trigger will bite you some day.
    I did that a year or 2 ago, ripped my jeans wide open, barely a scratch on my thigh, remind myself of it every time I start the saw now.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cole2534 View Post
    Just a little homeowner special, 18" Stihl MS251. Wanted a 261 but couldn't justify the extra bucks.

    Sent via CNC 88HS
    You can probably drop the runners some on a stock chain and see a good improvement with that saw. Stihl says it's rated for 3.0 HP. Not crazy, but it will do some work.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Garwood View Post
    You can probably drop the runners some on a stock chain and see a good improvement with that saw. Stihl says it's rated for 3.0 HP. Not crazy, but it will do some work.
    Unfortunately I'm done for the time being.

    We had an ice storm blow through and wrecked a bunch of trees. So rather than pay cleanup I bought a saw and have been collecting up all the firewood I can get my hands on.

    What limits bar length? I don't cut big trees, I'd just like the extra reach.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cole2534 View Post

    What limits bar length? I don't cut big trees, I'd just like the extra reach.

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    How much extra weight you want to carry around?

    I used that 48" bar saw to prune up a few trees. I'm 6'3" so I could get up there pretty high for a minute, but I couldn't hold that saw above my head for too long.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Garwood View Post
    How much extra weight you want to carry around?

    I used that 48" bar saw to prune up a few trees. I'm 6'3" so I could get up there pretty high for a minute, but I couldn't hold that saw above my head for too long.
    Ha, I'm 6'2". I don't want it to reach up high, I want it to reach down low and not bend over as far!

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    You only need to really know 3 things.

    Understand and be aware of kick back.
    Always wear good chaps.
    Never cut above chest level.

    Also, felling is a whole nuther ball game and likely the most dangerous thing you will do with your pants on.......Bob

    The rest will come with experiance

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    I battled for years with a big old 26" Mc Culloch.....great saw ,but heavy and hard to start....In my younger day it cut the trees off many green acres.......a couple of years ago I bought a 18" chineee saw, from a good quality toolstore,not a supermarket or hardware....little thing is magic,and Ive done heaps of eucalypt and wattle....nothing harder ..and so far not needed sharpening...not even a touch with a file............................the most dangerous thing you can do to a tree is when you give a big dead gum a shake with the blade,to see how solid it is.....Huge limbs can fall on the canopy,you hope one isnt going to spear through the mesh and sheet.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bhigdog View Post
    You only need to really know 3 things.

    Understand and be aware of kick back.
    Always wear good chaps.
    Never cut above chest level.

    Also, felling is a whole nuther ball game and likely the most dangerous thing you will do with your pants on.......Bob

    The rest will come with experiance
    No interest in felling trees, mainly because I don't own any.

    Seems like keeping the chain sharp would help prevent kickback?

    Good tip on chest level.

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    Do yourself a favor with that little Stihl, pay the extra for Stihl gas, yes it is expensive but if you are not doing much cutting then it really does not make much difference. What you will notice is when you don't use it for a few months it will start like you used it yesterday. It has no ethanol to dissolve the carburetor and ruin the fuel lines and filter and comes pre mixed with the proper oil. worth every penny in my mind.

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    Buy some chaps for sure! And then wear them. Steel toe boots if ya gottem. Wear eye and ear protection. All the foregoing everytime.

    Here is a link with loads of info on sharpening chains:

    Just Chains | Outdoor Power Equipment Forum

    Hand filing is the way to go (for the money invested) once you get the idea of how it works.

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