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Chainsaws

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Created by Mollie 2 months ago, 3 May 2020
Mollie
4 posts
3 May 2020 10:27AM
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I have a Stihl MS231 chainsaw. It is not very old and it seems to chew through the chains. I suspect that the wood maybe too hard because I look for the hard dry stuff. When I use a standard chain it needs re sharpening every tank of fuel which it seems to chew through as well. I do have an extra carbide chain and even that looks like it will need replacing soon.
Now that I've finished complaining I just wanted to know if there is another type of chain that would suit my saw and be better for cutting hard wood and last a bit longer? My chain has 62 links on a 16" bar with a .325" pitch.
Any tips would be much appreciated.

knot board
QLD, 1178 posts
3 May 2020 1:22PM
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I would recommend a different forum - www.arboristsite.com/community/forums/chainsaw.9/

japie
NSW, 5954 posts
3 May 2020 1:22PM
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I used to go cutting timber with a mate of mine who also worked as a professional pine tree pruner using chain saws.

Aside from making everything look so easy it was interesting to note on my first trip out with him that the first task after running out of fuel was to sharpen the chain before refueling.

Mr Milk
NSW, 2056 posts
3 May 2020 1:28PM
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Mine's electric. If it never runs out of fuel it should never need sharpening

kato
VIC, 2773 posts
3 May 2020 3:15PM
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Select to expand quote
Mollie said..
I have a Stihl MS231 chainsaw. It is not very old and it seems to chew through the chains. I suspect that the wood maybe too hard because I look for the hard dry stuff. When I use a standard chain it needs re sharpening every tank of fuel which it seems to chew through as well. I do have an extra carbide chain and even that looks like it will need replacing soon.
Now that I've finished complaining I just wanted to know if there is another type of chain that would suit my saw and be better for cutting hard wood and last a bit longer? My chain has 62 links on a 16" bar with a .325" pitch.
Any tips would be much appreciated.


I do this stuff professionally, square your teeth up a bit. I'm assuming that you're running at 35 deg, change the angle to 30 deg

pweedas
WA, 4640 posts
3 May 2020 2:38PM
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If you are cutting jarrah then it's a fact of life that it is hard on chains, specially if the jarrah is old and dry and even more so if the jarrah is old and dry with white ants and thus sand in it. If this is the case you have to accept that the chain is a consumable item.
However the chain life can be made reasonable if you get a number of things right. I cut a whole years firewood on one chain and I use a lot of it. Literally tons of it.
I mostly cut old fallen jarrah for firewood because it burns all night, it makes lots of heat and it makes almost no ash.
But because it is all fallen timber on the ground it usually has some degree of ants and sand in it. I don't like to waste it so I just count the cost of a chain each year as a consumable item.
Stihl are reasonably good chain saws, even the cheaper ones, so the chain saw is probably not the problem, so,.. a bit of advice that might help;

If you are cutting hardwood, sharpen the chain regularly. I've seen people cutting jarrah and it appears they think it works like an angle grinder and you just smoke your way through a log with lots of high revs and bar pressure.
I've seen a chain literally smoking its way through a log.
If the chain is smoking then it is hot enough to wreck the tempering on the teeth. The teeth will then not hold a sharpen. If it starts smoking STOP cutting. Check for sharpness and chain oil. I carry an oil squirter and sometimes give the chain and end roller a small squirt if think it looks to be getting a bit too warm. Old knotty jarrah can be as hard as stone but it burns a right treat so I use it.
Keep the chain SHARP, and I do mean sharp. Give it a regular quick lick with the right size file for the chain. Every 15 minutes of cutting it gets a quick lick. Two or three licks on each tooth are enough if you do it regularly and it only takes about 10 minutes total, even when you do it slowly like I do it.

File the angle correct and consistent on all teeth and also on each side, left cutting teeth and then right cutting teeth. A consistent angle is probably more important than the exact correct angle.
To help with this, do all the left cutting teeth and then do another lap of the chain and do all the right cutting teeth, or the other way around if you prefer. That way the angle will be easier to keep constant. Use leather gloves to pull the chain through.
Sharpened teeth will cut a nice groove in your hand if it slips when pulling the chain through so BE CAREFUL. The chain is oily so very easy to slip in your hand.

If you do each side differently the cut will tend to drift one way or the other so use a file guard which has angle markings and then USE THE SAME ANGLE on every tooth, both left and right. Even if the angle is wrong it is more important to make them wrong all the same.

Make sure you are clear on the point on the chain where you start. Don't do one and a half laps of the chain,.. one is enough. One tooth too many is not required.
I always start at the part of the chain which has two teeth the same way, that is two left teeth or two right teeth. Most chains have this to stop resonant chain vibrations while cutting so look for it and start there.
You can use a marker if you prefer but then you don't always have a marker, but the 'two teeth together' point is always there.

After sharpening, you should be able to feel a razor like edge on the teeth as you slide your finger lightly over them. I said,. LIGHTLY!
Even a dull chain will still feel a little bit sharp because your fingers are a lot softer than jarrah, but it wont cut hardwood. You need it razor sharp so that you can feel it bight at your finger when you test it.

You can tell if the chain is sharp by the size of the sawdust it throws out the back. The sawdust out the back of the chain saw with properly sharp teeth will be sizeable shreds of wood, not just a fine sand sized dust.
Keep an eye on what's coming out the back of the saw. It will indicate the condition of the chain. If you want a takeaway sample you can usually find it in your socks. If it's a fine dust then either the teeth are blunt, or if it is an old chain then possibly the depth links between the teeth are too high. If so then file them down. MAKE THEM ALL THE SAME.
For hardwood like jarrah, I file them down a bit too far, about 1mm. The wood is too hard to allow the chain to bight in excessively so shorter depth links make it easier to saw with a light bar pressure.
If you are sawing softwood like pine or banksia then stick to the recommended depth, otherwise, the chain tends to bight in too deep and load up the chainsaw excessively.

Make sure the oil feed is working properly, and by that I mean that the oil should need filling after about half an hour of cutting. That's 'cutting', not just standing there thinking about it. If the oil is flowing too slow then you can use a lighter oil. Ordinary 30 grade engine oil is fine.
Most of the cheaper electric chainsaws have a foam filter which restrict the oil flow too much so use the thinner oil. Thinner oil s better than no oil. A more permanent solution is to remove the foam plug in the oil feed line at the bottom of the oil tank, but be aware that if you get sawdust in the oil tank (but then why would you) then the oil feed can be blocked off.

MAKE SURE YOU KEEP THE CHAIN TIGHT, not slopping and slapping around in the chain bar grove. I prefer it a bit overtight than loose. A sloppy chain seems to wear out much faster than a tight chain and it flogs out the bar much faster.
And a loose chain is harder to do a straight cut. Not that it matters much with firewood but get in the habit of cutting straight so you can do it when you need to.
Make sure the chain bar lock is done up really tight otherwise when the chain chatters it will flog out the chain tension mechanism.
The tension mechanism is for ADJUSTING the chain tension. It's not meant to be the primary means of keeping the chain tight.
Set the chain tension and then do up the bar lock tight!

And now for OHS,

Wear leather gloves while cutting and for sharpening the chain.
Wear some sort of eye protection. The sawdust can get thrown in your face. A woodchip in the eye is no fun. They are quite gritty.
Don't hold your face over the chain bar in line with the chain. Always have it to one side. A serious kickback can happen much faster than you can move your face. Yes I know, modern saws have a kickback lockout but it can still happen.
Don't hold your leg under the cutting line where the chain is going to drop out of the cut when it's finished.
If it's an electric chainsaw, don't have the power cord trailing under the work area. Run it in from behind you and to one side
If the saw consumes its own power cord you can get electroluxed, specially on wet grass
There is no 'Esc' or 'Replay' key. Whatever happens is it !
All obvious stuff but easy to get wrong if you're not thinking.

In summary, DON'T USE A CHAIN SAW IF YOU ARE NATURALLY ACCIDENT PRONE. (Yes, you know who you are. )


This all sounds like an awful lot but it's like most other things in life, if you get in the habit of doing it right then it eventually it happens without thinking about it and the job goes predictably well.
If you keep doing it wrong then it usually ends up being a mammoth task each time and really annoying dealing with the consequences.

Mollie
4 posts
3 May 2020 3:09PM
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japie said..
I used to go cutting timber with a mate of mine who also worked as a professional pine tree pruner using chain saws.

Aside from making everything look so easy it was interesting to note on my first trip out with him that the first task after running out of fuel was to sharpen the chain before refueling.


Thanks Japie

Crusoe
QLD, 996 posts
3 May 2020 5:36PM
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kato said..


Mollie said..
I have a Stihl MS231 chainsaw. It is not very old and it seems to chew through the chains. I suspect that the wood maybe too hard because I look for the hard dry stuff. When I use a standard chain it needs re sharpening every tank of fuel which it seems to chew through as well. I do have an extra carbide chain and even that looks like it will need replacing soon.
Now that I've finished complaining I just wanted to know if there is another type of chain that would suit my saw and be better for cutting hard wood and last a bit longer? My chain has 62 links on a 16" bar with a .325" pitch.
Any tips would be much appreciated.




I do this stuff professionally, square your teeth up a bit. I'm assuming that you're running at 35 deg, change the angle to 30 deg



Hey kato, saw an add for the chain sharpeners and thought it was bulls#it. Or they must make chain specially designed to suit the sharpener. I normally use a round file and couldn't see this working. What do you know about them?




Mark _australia
WA, 19854 posts
3 May 2020 4:30PM
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When I was cutting WA whitegum, about the hardest thing going, I sharpened every tank.
Kato's the man.

landyacht
WA, 5870 posts
3 May 2020 4:43PM
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Select to expand quote
kato said..


Mollie said..
I have a Stihl MS231 chainsaw. It is not very old and it seems to chew through the chains. I suspect that the wood maybe too hard because I look for the hard dry stuff. When I use a standard chain it needs re sharpening every tank of fuel which it seems to chew through as well. I do have an extra carbide chain and even that looks like it will need replacing soon.
Now that I've finished complaining I just wanted to know if there is another type of chain that would suit my saw and be better for cutting hard wood and last a bit longer? My chain has 62 links on a 16" bar with a .325" pitch.
Any tips would be much appreciated.




I do this stuff professionally, square your teeth up a bit. I'm assuming that you're running at 35 deg, change the angle to 30 deg



never seen 35 degree teeth.cross cutting chain comes off the roll at 30 degrees. sharpen every tank of fuel is standard.. you can resharpen to 25 degrees but that gets hard on the chain. i would suggest learning to sharpen teeth better.. Still make a great filing tool that has 2 round file and a flat file for the guides all built in. the cost about $60 which sounds a lot but by using one you will seriously cut down on chain wear ,bar wear ,fuel and oil. also use a really good heavy duty bar oil, not cheap bunnings crap or waste oil. after every days work you need to strip down and file bar if needed, clear out the oil path and refile before the next day.
just read some other posts calling jarrah hard. Out on the goldfields the softest stuff is salmon gum, which would be like marks white gum or wand. after that it all gets stupid hard. as a comparison. i use same chain for slabbing all my timbers and have worked out some relative cutting speeds.for a slab 350mm wide2000mm long.
jarrah/marri 400mm per minute,3 slabs per tank of fuel, sharpen every 5 slabs
salmon gum 200mm per minute,2 slabs per tank sharpen every 2 slabs
gimlet /blackbutt.2000mm per hour,3 tanks per slab ,2 sharpens per. go home after 2 slabs nickered
Norfolk island pine 6000mm long,15minutes per slab.1.5slabs per tank fuel.my favourite tree

landyacht
WA, 5870 posts
3 May 2020 4:47PM
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Select to expand quote
Crusoe said..


kato said..




Mollie said..
I have a Stihl MS231 chainsaw. It is not very old and it seems to chew through the chains. I suspect that the wood maybe too hard because I look for the hard dry stuff. When I use a standard chain it needs re sharpening every tank of fuel which it seems to chew through as well. I do have an extra carbide chain and even that looks like it will need replacing soon.
Now that I've finished complaining I just wanted to know if there is another type of chain that would suit my saw and be better for cutting hard wood and last a bit longer? My chain has 62 links on a 16" bar with a .325" pitch.
Any tips would be much appreciated.






I do this stuff professionally, square your teeth up a bit. I'm assuming that you're running at 35 deg, change the angle to 30 deg





Hey kato, saw an add for the chain sharpeners and thought it was bulls#it. Or they must make chain specially designed to suit the sharpener. I normally use a round file and couldn't see this working. What do you know about them?





looking at that photo it would actually grind the exact opposite part of the tooth, never touch the depth guides. It would trash your chain

woko
NSW, 689 posts
3 May 2020 7:46PM
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I would add that a too small a file will under cut the tooth and put too fine a edge on the teeth that will break off. Caution should be used bringing the rakers / depth gauges down with consideration to timber type, horse power and direction af cut ie cross cut or rip. it's a nessasry part of chain maintaince and some of the modern lighter gauge chains it's needed almost from the start.
Ps use a new file every chain and keep it clean

airsail
QLD, 439 posts
3 May 2020 7:54PM
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When we had property and cutting wood we always cut the year before it was required. Drop a living tree and cut it up, much easier on the chain and saw. Stack to dry for use the following year. I know not everyone has the ability to do this but it did make things a lot easier.

Ben 555
NSW, 443 posts
3 May 2020 8:31PM
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Cross cutting dry timber use only semi chisel and not full chisel chain
Touch up (2-3 strokes only) every tank
use depth gauge to ensure rakers are taken down
Use proper bar oil

kato
VIC, 2773 posts
3 May 2020 9:13PM
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Select to expand quote
Crusoe said..

kato said..



Mollie said..
I have a Stihl MS231 chainsaw. It is not very old and it seems to chew through the chains. I suspect that the wood maybe too hard because I look for the hard dry stuff. When I use a standard chain it needs re sharpening every tank of fuel which it seems to chew through as well. I do have an extra carbide chain and even that looks like it will need replacing soon.
Now that I've finished complaining I just wanted to know if there is another type of chain that would suit my saw and be better for cutting hard wood and last a bit longer? My chain has 62 links on a 16" bar with a .325" pitch.
Any tips would be much appreciated.





I do this stuff professionally, square your teeth up a bit. I'm assuming that you're running at 35 deg, change the angle to 30 deg




Hey kato, saw an add for the chain sharpeners and thought it was bulls#it. Or they must make chain specially designed to suit the sharpener. I normally use a round file and couldn't see this working. What do you know about them?





Crap. Use a round file , also on safety USE chainsaw chaps. They stop Windsurfer's becoming one legged pirates

Hunter S
WA, 511 posts
3 May 2020 8:11PM
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Select to expand quote
kato said..

Crusoe said..


kato said..




Mollie said..
I have a Stihl MS231 chainsaw. It is not very old and it seems to chew through the chains. I suspect that the wood maybe too hard because I look for the hard dry stuff. When I use a standard chain it needs re sharpening every tank of fuel which it seems to chew through as well. I do have an extra carbide chain and even that looks like it will need replacing soon.
Now that I've finished complaining I just wanted to know if there is another type of chain that would suit my saw and be better for cutting hard wood and last a bit longer? My chain has 62 links on a 16" bar with a .325" pitch.
Any tips would be much appreciated.






I do this stuff professionally, square your teeth up a bit. I'm assuming that you're running at 35 deg, change the angle to 30 deg





Hey kato, saw an add for the chain sharpeners and thought it was bulls#it. Or they must make chain specially designed to suit the sharpener. I normally use a round file and couldn't see this working. What do you know about them?





Crap. Use a round file , also on safety USE chainsaw chaps. They stop Windsurfer's becoming one legged pirates


That thing will never sharpen your saw teeth.

It looks like it's designed to lower the depth gauges on your chain, which is an important step in getting your chain to cut as you wear the teeth down by successive sharpenings.

Ian K
WA, 3325 posts
3 May 2020 8:28PM
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landyacht said..




some relative cutting speeds.for a slab 350mm wide2000mm long.
jarrah/marri 400mm per minute,3 slabs per tank of fuel, sharpen every 5 slabs
salmon gum 200mm per minute,2 slabs per tank sharpen every 2 slabs
gimlet /blackbutt.2000mm per hour,3 tanks per slab ,2 sharpens per. go home after 2 slabs nickered
Norfolk island pine 6000mm long,15minutes per slab.1.5slabs per tank fuel.my favourite tree





A fourby, a chainsaw and a tinnie. What else does a bloke need to be happy? Back in the day I went 1/3 shares in a Stihl 090. My mates had found a huge windblown elm tree that needed slabbing for woodworking projects. We also obtained a long cutter bar and a jig that turned it into a giant potato peeler. Although we never got to the level of tuning that Landyacht has achieved we somehow produced a nice pile of elm and blackwood which I seem to have lost track of. My last recollection of the 090 was refitting the standard cutter bar and attacking some fire wood. If you want to cut firewood get an 090.

Decades later I did the TAFE tree felling course. A couple of chain smoking, climbing, tree loppers were doing their regulation "refresher" course. We gathered chainsawing 25 metres above ground is pretty stressful. They said they sharpen the saw once a week! Up there the timber's green and there's no dirt. Our work was at ground level, weeding out suburban bushland reserves. Privet , lantana, african olive, lantana all mixed in with barbed wire, bricks, rubble and steel-belted radials. Sometimes we'd sharpen 3 or 4 times per tankful. Teeth got a bit uneven but still work reasonably well if sharp. One sharpen per tank sounds reasonable.

Pweedas forgot the chaps.
Gloves are optional. Never let go.
You can tell if a chain's blunt by the sound of the motor.
Sharpen in full sun, a sharp edge doesn't reflect.
Get a vice for sharpening at a comfortable working height.
Mark the first tooth with peanut butter.
Pull the next tooth through with the file. You don't need gloves.

harry potter
VIC, 2722 posts
3 May 2020 11:37PM
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pweedas said..
If you are cutting jarrah then it's a fact of life that it is hard on chains, specially if the jarrah is old and dry and even more so if the jarrah is old and dry with white ants and thus sand in it. If this is the case you have to accept that the chain is a consumable item.
However the chain life can be made reasonable if you get a number of things right. I cut a whole years firewood on one chain and I use a lot of it. Literally tons of it.
I mostly cut old fallen jarrah for firewood because it burns all night, it makes lots of heat and it makes almost no ash.
But because it is all fallen timber on the ground it usually has some degree of ants and sand in it. I don't like to waste it so I just count the cost of a chain each year as a consumable item.
Stihl are reasonably good chain saws, even the cheaper ones, so the chain saw is probably not the problem, so,.. a bit of advice that might help;

If you are cutting hardwood, sharpen the chain regularly. I've seen people cutting jarrah and it appears they think it works like an angle grinder and you just smoke your way through a log with lots of high revs and bar pressure.
I've seen a chain literally smoking its way through a log.
If the chain is smoking then it is hot enough to wreck the tempering on the teeth. The teeth will then not hold a sharpen. If it starts smoking STOP cutting. Check for sharpness and chain oil. I carry an oil squirter and sometimes give the chain and end roller a small squirt if think it looks to be getting a bit too warm. Old knotty jarrah can be as hard as stone but it burns a right treat so I use it.
Keep the chain SHARP, and I do mean sharp. Give it a regular quick lick with the right size file for the chain. Every 15 minutes of cutting it gets a quick lick. Two or three licks on each tooth are enough if you do it regularly and it only takes about 10 minutes total, even when you do it slowly like I do it.

File the angle correct and consistent on all teeth and also on each side, left cutting teeth and then right cutting teeth. A consistent angle is probably more important than the exact correct angle.
To help with this, do all the left cutting teeth and then do another lap of the chain and do all the right cutting teeth, or the other way around if you prefer. That way the angle will be easier to keep constant. Use leather gloves to pull the chain through.
Sharpened teeth will cut a nice groove in your hand if it slips when pulling the chain through so BE CAREFUL. The chain is oily so very easy to slip in your hand.

If you do each side differently the cut will tend to drift one way or the other so use a file guard which has angle markings and then USE THE SAME ANGLE on every tooth, both left and right. Even if the angle is wrong it is more important to make them wrong all the same.

Make sure you are clear on the point on the chain where you start. Don't do one and a half laps of the chain,.. one is enough. One tooth too many is not required.
I always start at the part of the chain which has two teeth the same way, that is two left teeth or two right teeth. Most chains have this to stop resonant chain vibrations while cutting so look for it and start there.
You can use a marker if you prefer but then you don't always have a marker, but the 'two teeth together' point is always there.

After sharpening, you should be able to feel a razor like edge on the teeth as you slide your finger lightly over them. I said,. LIGHTLY!
Even a dull chain will still feel a little bit sharp because your fingers are a lot softer than jarrah, but it wont cut hardwood. You need it razor sharp so that you can feel it bight at your finger when you test it.

You can tell if the chain is sharp by the size of the sawdust it throws out the back. The sawdust out the back of the chain saw with properly sharp teeth will be sizeable shreds of wood, not just a fine sand sized dust.
Keep an eye on what's coming out the back of the saw. It will indicate the condition of the chain. If you want a takeaway sample you can usually find it in your socks. If it's a fine dust then either the teeth are blunt, or if it is an old chain then possibly the depth links between the teeth are too high. If so then file them down. MAKE THEM ALL THE SAME.
For hardwood like jarrah, I file them down a bit too far, about 1mm. The wood is too hard to allow the chain to bight in excessively so shorter depth links make it easier to saw with a light bar pressure.
If you are sawing softwood like pine or banksia then stick to the recommended depth, otherwise, the chain tends to bight in too deep and load up the chainsaw excessively.

Make sure the oil feed is working properly, and by that I mean that the oil should need filling after about half an hour of cutting. That's 'cutting', not just standing there thinking about it. If the oil is flowing too slow then you can use a lighter oil. Ordinary 30 grade engine oil is fine.
Most of the cheaper electric chainsaws have a foam filter which restrict the oil flow too much so use the thinner oil. Thinner oil s better than no oil. A more permanent solution is to remove the foam plug in the oil feed line at the bottom of the oil tank, but be aware that if you get sawdust in the oil tank (but then why would you) then the oil feed can be blocked off.

MAKE SURE YOU KEEP THE CHAIN TIGHT, not slopping and slapping around in the chain bar grove. I prefer it a bit overtight than loose. A sloppy chain seems to wear out much faster than a tight chain and it flogs out the bar much faster.
And a loose chain is harder to do a straight cut. Not that it matters much with firewood but get in the habit of cutting straight so you can do it when you need to.
Make sure the chain bar lock is done up really tight otherwise when the chain chatters it will flog out the chain tension mechanism.
The tension mechanism is for ADJUSTING the chain tension. It's not meant to be the primary means of keeping the chain tight.
Set the chain tension and then do up the bar lock tight!

And now for OHS,

Wear leather gloves while cutting and for sharpening the chain.
Wear some sort of eye protection. The sawdust can get thrown in your face. A woodchip in the eye is no fun. They are quite gritty.
Don't hold your face over the chain bar in line with the chain. Always have it to one side. A serious kickback can happen much faster than you can move your face. Yes I know, modern saws have a kickback lockout but it can still happen.
Don't hold your leg under the cutting line where the chain is going to drop out of the cut when it's finished.
If it's an electric chainsaw, don't have the power cord trailing under the work area. Run it in from behind you and to one side
If the saw consumes its own power cord you can get electroluxed, specially on wet grass
There is no 'Esc' or 'Replay' key. Whatever happens is it !
All obvious stuff but easy to get wrong if you're not thinking.

In summary, DON'T USE A CHAIN SAW IF YOU ARE NATURALLY ACCIDENT PRONE. (Yes, you know who you are. )


This all sounds like an awful lot but it's like most other things in life, if you get in the habit of doing it right then it eventually it happens without thinking about it and the job goes predictably well.
If you keep doing it wrong then it usually ends up being a mammoth task each time and really annoying dealing with the consequences.


Ha..... and to think someone suggested the OP was in the wrong forum

sn
WA, 2686 posts
3 May 2020 9:58PM
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Mollie said..

japie said.. the first task after running out of fuel was to sharpen the chain before refueling.

Thanks Japie


an unintended benefit of doing this is that the engine and muffler get to cool down a fair bit before you start sloshing fuel all over the place while refilling the tank.
hot engine/muffler + fuel fumes has been known to be exciting at times...

knot board
QLD, 1178 posts
4 May 2020 6:43AM
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harry potter said..
Ha..... and to think someone suggested the OP was in the wrong forum






Yeah I did, it was a very unusual first post for a watersports forum but I'm blown away from the credible responses. It would have taken the OP as much effort to sign up to Seabreeze as to a dedicated arborists forum, but still they chose here.

I shouldn't be that surprised really, I posted a question here recently about DIY Kitchen Extraction fans and got some excellent advice too.

eppo
WA, 7528 posts
4 May 2020 5:44AM
Thumbs Up

I've tried just about every chainsharpener method there is. In the end a file in a file guide, running through a stihl file guide holder is the most effective and accurate
I sharpen 3 chains at home then when bush, change them over over every tank or sometimes I get two tanks if there isn't too much sand about. Sand, dirt is your number one enemy. Avoid it at all costs.


I need this unlike the tree lopper I spoke to the other day. Just causally sat and talked, simple file in hand, chains saw in his lap... just filing away, sharpening both sides within a minute or two !! But for the novice the above works really well.


soemtimes in the bush I might just touch it up with a file in a guide, if I want another half a tank out of her. But then I've got a lot of cutting back at home to get it right.

Ben 555
NSW, 443 posts
4 May 2020 10:50AM
Thumbs Up

Eppo is on the money - for the weekend warrior those jigs ensure the correct angle. Then the issue is the depth - the jig can "sit up" the file if the raker isn't taken down in line with the tooth. Proper raker depth can be achieved via the raker guides that Stihl sell And a flat file

Ian K- those chain smoking climbers tell good tales - sharpening once a week is BS - especially on rough barked species. They will typically be using full chisel chain also - blunts easier but if your not hitting sand / grit / dirt it will stay sharper for longer.

I have seen that many "products" geared at the impatient over the years. I work in the industry and come from a logging family so have seen gadgets come and go but it's really a simple task best done slowly with a careful approach - eppo's tip to do them at home misses one small thing - beer
one last point - clean files, no oil - not even hands on the file surface and rotate the file in the stroke

Mollie
4 posts
4 May 2020 10:35AM
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pweedas said..
If you are cutting jarrah then it's a fact of life that it is hard on chains, specially if the jarrah is old and dry and even more so if the jarrah is old and dry with white ants and thus sand in it. If this is the case you have to accept that the chain is a consumable item.
However the chain life can be made reasonable if you get a number of things right. I cut a whole years firewood on one chain and I use a lot of it. Literally tons of it.
I mostly cut old fallen jarrah for firewood because it burns all night, it makes lots of heat and it makes almost no ash.
But because it is all fallen timber on the ground it usually has some degree of ants and sand in it. I don't like to waste it so I just count the cost of a chain each year as a consumable item.
Stihl are reasonably good chain saws, even the cheaper ones, so the chain saw is probably not the problem, so,.. a bit of advice that might help;

If you are cutting hardwood, sharpen the chain regularly. I've seen people cutting jarrah and it appears they think it works like an angle grinder and you just smoke your way through a log with lots of high revs and bar pressure.
I've seen a chain literally smoking its way through a log.
If the chain is smoking then it is hot enough to wreck the tempering on the teeth. The teeth will then not hold a sharpen. If it starts smoking STOP cutting. Check for sharpness and chain oil. I carry an oil squirter and sometimes give the chain and end roller a small squirt if think it looks to be getting a bit too warm. Old knotty jarrah can be as hard as stone but it burns a right treat so I use it.
Keep the chain SHARP, and I do mean sharp. Give it a regular quick lick with the right size file for the chain. Every 15 minutes of cutting it gets a quick lick. Two or three licks on each tooth are enough if you do it regularly and it only takes about 10 minutes total, even when you do it slowly like I do it.

File the angle correct and consistent on all teeth and also on each side, left cutting teeth and then right cutting teeth. A consistent angle is probably more important than the exact correct angle.
To help with this, do all the left cutting teeth and then do another lap of the chain and do all the right cutting teeth, or the other way around if you prefer. That way the angle will be easier to keep constant. Use leather gloves to pull the chain through.
Sharpened teeth will cut a nice groove in your hand if it slips when pulling the chain through so BE CAREFUL. The chain is oily so very easy to slip in your hand.

If you do each side differently the cut will tend to drift one way or the other so use a file guard which has angle markings and then USE THE SAME ANGLE on every tooth, both left and right. Even if the angle is wrong it is more important to make them wrong all the same.

Make sure you are clear on the point on the chain where you start. Don't do one and a half laps of the chain,.. one is enough. One tooth too many is not required.
I always start at the part of the chain which has two teeth the same way, that is two left teeth or two right teeth. Most chains have this to stop resonant chain vibrations while cutting so look for it and start there.
You can use a marker if you prefer but then you don't always have a marker, but the 'two teeth together' point is always there.

After sharpening, you should be able to feel a razor like edge on the teeth as you slide your finger lightly over them. I said,. LIGHTLY!
Even a dull chain will still feel a little bit sharp because your fingers are a lot softer than jarrah, but it wont cut hardwood. You need it razor sharp so that you can feel it bight at your finger when you test it.

You can tell if the chain is sharp by the size of the sawdust it throws out the back. The sawdust out the back of the chain saw with properly sharp teeth will be sizeable shreds of wood, not just a fine sand sized dust.
Keep an eye on what's coming out the back of the saw. It will indicate the condition of the chain. If you want a takeaway sample you can usually find it in your socks. If it's a fine dust then either the teeth are blunt, or if it is an old chain then possibly the depth links between the teeth are too high. If so then file them down. MAKE THEM ALL THE SAME.
For hardwood like jarrah, I file them down a bit too far, about 1mm. The wood is too hard to allow the chain to bight in excessively so shorter depth links make it easier to saw with a light bar pressure.
If you are sawing softwood like pine or banksia then stick to the recommended depth, otherwise, the chain tends to bight in too deep and load up the chainsaw excessively.

Make sure the oil feed is working properly, and by that I mean that the oil should need filling after about half an hour of cutting. That's 'cutting', not just standing there thinking about it. If the oil is flowing too slow then you can use a lighter oil. Ordinary 30 grade engine oil is fine.
Most of the cheaper electric chainsaws have a foam filter which restrict the oil flow too much so use the thinner oil. Thinner oil s better than no oil. A more permanent solution is to remove the foam plug in the oil feed line at the bottom of the oil tank, but be aware that if you get sawdust in the oil tank (but then why would you) then the oil feed can be blocked off.

MAKE SURE YOU KEEP THE CHAIN TIGHT, not slopping and slapping around in the chain bar grove. I prefer it a bit overtight than loose. A sloppy chain seems to wear out much faster than a tight chain and it flogs out the bar much faster.
And a loose chain is harder to do a straight cut. Not that it matters much with firewood but get in the habit of cutting straight so you can do it when you need to.
Make sure the chain bar lock is done up really tight otherwise when the chain chatters it will flog out the chain tension mechanism.
The tension mechanism is for ADJUSTING the chain tension. It's not meant to be the primary means of keeping the chain tight.
Set the chain tension and then do up the bar lock tight!

And now for OHS,

Wear leather gloves while cutting and for sharpening the chain.
Wear some sort of eye protection. The sawdust can get thrown in your face. A woodchip in the eye is no fun. They are quite gritty.
Don't hold your face over the chain bar in line with the chain. Always have it to one side. A serious kickback can happen much faster than you can move your face. Yes I know, modern saws have a kickback lockout but it can still happen.
Don't hold your leg under the cutting line where the chain is going to drop out of the cut when it's finished.
If it's an electric chainsaw, don't have the power cord trailing under the work area. Run it in from behind you and to one side
If the saw consumes its own power cord you can get electroluxed, specially on wet grass
There is no 'Esc' or 'Replay' key. Whatever happens is it !
All obvious stuff but easy to get wrong if you're not thinking.

In summary, DON'T USE A CHAIN SAW IF YOU ARE NATURALLY ACCIDENT PRONE. (Yes, you know who you are. )


This all sounds like an awful lot but it's like most other things in life, if you get in the habit of doing it right then it eventually it happens without thinking about it and the job goes predictably well.
If you keep doing it wrong then it usually ends up being a mammoth task each time and really annoying dealing with the consequences.


Wow pweedas that's some answer and I thank you for it.
I live in Tambellup, I'm seventy and I can't go too far for timber these days.
I would love to cut Jarrah but there's not that sort of choice here and I have to scavenge up and down the rail lines, which is a no no but who's looking. I have to settle for whatever I can get but I do look for solid dry wood. I prefer to cut dead standings but I'm often too close to fences and rail lines.
I was fortunate enough to obtain a good amount recently when a friendly neighbour from down the street offered me all the wood in his back yard that had been lopped off a couple of giant gums. There was lots of it and cleaning up his yard was the trade off. It was green, easy to cut and I'm fortunate enough to have plenty of room to stack it. That's when keeping your chain saw clean applies. Being green it was heavy, as you know, but worth the effort.
In regard to bar oil I purchased some Penrite bar oil a couple of years ago thinking because of its reputation as a motor oil it would be the bees knees. Not quite the case as it turns out. It was very thick and very sticky, too much and after reading what you've said I'm even more convinced that it might well have been the reason why I've been having problems.
In regard to sharpening my chain. It does seem to wear quite quickly and that's probably because I have pushed it a bit out of sheer frustration while knowing I was doing the wrong thing. Overheating was something you spoke of and maybe that's why the chain is becoming blunt so quickly?
I'm thinking I might buy some new chains and have another go while keeping advice your advice and tips in mind. Is it important to buy a good brand ?
Sharpening is a bit of a problem for me because I don't have a bench with a vice to keep the saw in place. I have a similar problem when I'm on the job out in the bush. I gather accuracy is important but it's not always possible to achieve.

Thanks again for taking the time.

landyacht
WA, 5870 posts
4 May 2020 6:31PM
Thumbs Up

Select to expand quote
Ben 555 said..
Cross cutting dry timber use only semi chisel and not full chisel chain
Touch up (2-3 strokes only) every tank
use depth gauge to ensure rakers are taken down
Use proper bar oil


interesting . i threw away my last semi chisel .. When i buy a new saw it must take full chisel. i sharpen a lot.massive improvement

landyacht
WA, 5870 posts
4 May 2020 6:38PM
Thumbs Up

Select to expand quote
eppo said..
I've tried just about every chainsharpener method there is. In the end a file in a file guide, running through a stihl file guide holder is the most effective and accurate
I sharpen 3 chains at home then when bush, change them over over every tank or sometimes I get two tanks if there isn't too much sand about. Sand, dirt is your number one enemy. Avoid it at all costs.


I need this unlike the tree lopper I spoke to the other day. Just causally sat and talked, simple file in hand, chains saw in his lap... just filing away, sharpening both sides within a minute or two !! But for the novice the above works really well.


soemtimes in the bush I might just touch it up with a file in a guide, if I want another half a tank out of her. But then I've got a lot of cutting back at home to get it right.


stihl make a tool with 3 files .2 round and a flat file. they are brilliant. the round files rotate as they file to even the wear. My local shop commented that. bar sales had dropped significantly when they started selling them. I also invested $250 in a sharpener that has a grinding wheel on a swing arm. I would resharpen the teeth every 2 or 3 days when we are doing firewood or lots of trees. after doing 15 sharpens on various chains (up to 36" bar) I had paid for the machine. I bought an italian one ,but I reckon even an OZITO at $120 would pay for itself

Macroscien
QLD, 5411 posts
4 May 2020 10:16PM
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Select to expand quote
pweedas said..
If you are cutting jarrah then it's a fact of life that it is hard on chains, specially if the jarrah is old and dry and even more so if the jarrah is old and dry with white ants and thus sand in it. If this is the case you have to accept that the chain is a consumable item.
However the chain life can be made reasonable if you get a number of things right. I cut a whole years firewood on one chain and I use a lot of it. Literally tons of it.
I mostly cut old fallen jarrah for firewood because it burns all night, it makes lots of heat and it makes almost no ash.
But because it is all fallen timber on the ground it usually has some degree of ants and sand in it. I don't like to waste it so I just count the cost of a chain each year as a consumable item.
Stihl are reasonably good chain saws, even the cheaper ones, so the chain saw is probably not the problem, so,.. a bit of advice that might help;

If you are cutting hardwood, sharpen the chain regularly. I've seen people cutting jarrah and it appears they think it works like an angle grinder and you just smoke your way through a log with lots of high revs and bar pressure.
I've seen a chain literally smoking its way through a log.
If the chain is smoking then it is hot enough to wreck the tempering on the teeth. The teeth will then not hold a sharpen. If it starts smoking STOP cutting. Check for sharpness and chain oil. I carry an oil squirter and sometimes give the chain and end roller a small squirt if think it looks to be getting a bit too warm. Old knotty jarrah can be as hard as stone but it burns a right treat so I use it.
Keep the chain SHARP, and I do mean sharp. Give it a regular quick lick with the right size file for the chain. Every 15 minutes of cutting it gets a quick lick. Two or three licks on each tooth are enough if you do it regularly and it only takes about 10 minutes total, even when you do it slowly like I do it.

File the angle correct and consistent on all teeth and also on each side, left cutting teeth and then right cutting teeth. A consistent angle is probably more important than the exact correct angle.
To help with this, do all the left cutting teeth and then do another lap of the chain and do all the right cutting teeth, or the other way around if you prefer. That way the angle will be easier to keep constant. Use leather gloves to pull the chain through.
Sharpened teeth will cut a nice groove in your hand if it slips when pulling the chain through so BE CAREFUL. The chain is oily so very easy to slip in your hand.

If you do each side differently the cut will tend to drift one way or the other so use a file guard which has angle markings and then USE THE SAME ANGLE on every tooth, both left and right. Even if the angle is wrong it is more important to make them wrong all the same.

Make sure you are clear on the point on the chain where you start. Don't do one and a half laps of the chain,.. one is enough. One tooth too many is not required.
I always start at the part of the chain which has two teeth the same way, that is two left teeth or two right teeth. Most chains have this to stop resonant chain vibrations while cutting so look for it and start there.
You can use a marker if you prefer but then you don't always have a marker, but the 'two teeth together' point is always there.

After sharpening, you should be able to feel a razor like edge on the teeth as you slide your finger lightly over them. I said,. LIGHTLY!
Even a dull chain will still feel a little bit sharp because your fingers are a lot softer than jarrah, but it wont cut hardwood. You need it razor sharp so that you can feel it bight at your finger when you test it.

You can tell if the chain is sharp by the size of the sawdust it throws out the back. The sawdust out the back of the chain saw with properly sharp teeth will be sizeable shreds of wood, not just a fine sand sized dust.
Keep an eye on what's coming out the back of the saw. It will indicate the condition of the chain. If you want a takeaway sample you can usually find it in your socks. If it's a fine dust then either the teeth are blunt, or if it is an old chain then possibly the depth links between the teeth are too high. If so then file them down. MAKE THEM ALL THE SAME.
For hardwood like jarrah, I file them down a bit too far, about 1mm. The wood is too hard to allow the chain to bight in excessively so shorter depth links make it easier to saw with a light bar pressure.
If you are sawing softwood like pine or banksia then stick to the recommended depth, otherwise, the chain tends to bight in too deep and load up the chainsaw excessively.

Make sure the oil feed is working properly, and by that I mean that the oil should need filling after about half an hour of cutting. That's 'cutting', not just standing there thinking about it. If the oil is flowing too slow then you can use a lighter oil. Ordinary 30 grade engine oil is fine.
Most of the cheaper electric chainsaws have a foam filter which restrict the oil flow too much so use the thinner oil. Thinner oil s better than no oil. A more permanent solution is to remove the foam plug in the oil feed line at the bottom of the oil tank, but be aware that if you get sawdust in the oil tank (but then why would you) then the oil feed can be blocked off.

MAKE SURE YOU KEEP THE CHAIN TIGHT, not slopping and slapping around in the chain bar grove. I prefer it a bit overtight than loose. A sloppy chain seems to wear out much faster than a tight chain and it flogs out the bar much faster.
And a loose chain is harder to do a straight cut. Not that it matters much with firewood but get in the habit of cutting straight so you can do it when you need to.
Make sure the chain bar lock is done up really tight otherwise when the chain chatters it will flog out the chain tension mechanism.
The tension mechanism is for ADJUSTING the chain tension. It's not meant to be the primary means of keeping the chain tight.
Set the chain tension and then do up the bar lock tight!

And now for OHS,

Wear leather gloves while cutting and for sharpening the chain.
Wear some sort of eye protection. The sawdust can get thrown in your face. A woodchip in the eye is no fun. They are quite gritty.
Don't hold your face over the chain bar in line with the chain. Always have it to one side. A serious kickback can happen much faster than you can move your face. Yes I know, modern saws have a kickback lockout but it can still happen.
Don't hold your leg under the cutting line where the chain is going to drop out of the cut when it's finished.
If it's an electric chainsaw, don't have the power cord trailing under the work area. Run it in from behind you and to one side
If the saw consumes its own power cord you can get electroluxed, specially on wet grass
There is no 'Esc' or 'Replay' key. Whatever happens is it !
All obvious stuff but easy to get wrong if you're not thinking.

In summary, DON'T USE A CHAIN SAW IF YOU ARE NATURALLY ACCIDENT PRONE. (Yes, you know who you are. )


This all sounds like an awful lot but it's like most other things in life, if you get in the habit of doing it right then it eventually it happens without thinking about it and the job goes predictably well.
If you keep doing it wrong then it usually ends up being a mammoth task each time and really annoying dealing with the consequences.


Interesting reading.
one more question.
How long file last?or how many chains can sharpen?
I have standard Stihl file and found that recently I need to push , press more and more.
Maybe file is too worn out or chain too long in use between sharpening? Is it worth to invest in electric sharpener? I am afraid that electric could cut too much and too quickly trough chains.How long chain last and when do you know that need new one? I went through a dozen chains already.

Ben 555
NSW, 443 posts
5 May 2020 7:16AM
Thumbs Up

Not a fan of the electric gadgets as they tend not to get the "curl" correct. Whilst the grinding wheel is on a arc, it cannot replicate the action of a file, creating a straighter tooth profile and therefore reducing the length of the cutting edge and hence effectiveness.
How long does a file last?
Depends on how it is treated - debris and especially oil (even from your hand) will reduce its effectiveness. I used to cop a whack to the ear if I touched a file on the filing surface. Place it back in a cover to reduce oxidation
Want to know if a file is effective - Get a new one and compare

Macro - you need a new chain when there is minimal tooth left to sharpen........

Ben 555
NSW, 443 posts
5 May 2020 7:36AM
Thumbs Up

Select to expand quote
landyacht said..

Ben 555 said..
Cross cutting dry timber use only semi chisel and not full chisel chain
Touch up (2-3 strokes only) every tank
use depth gauge to ensure rakers are taken down
Use proper bar oil



interesting . i threw away my last semi chisel .. When i buy a new saw it must take full chisel. i sharpen a lot.massive improvement


landyacht there is no difference in pitch and gauge of the drivelinks, its just the tooth profile that is different - If it takes semi it takes full chisel

Yes on a full chisel chain the tooth will "cut" more (grab two brand new chains 1 semi and one full and look at the chip that comes off - the full chisel will produce a larger "chip") but it also loses it edge more easily - good for softwood or felling but not for crosscutting in material that has grit and debris

landyacht
WA, 5870 posts
5 May 2020 7:30PM
Thumbs Up

Select to expand quote
Ben 555 said..

landyacht said..


Ben 555 said..
Cross cutting dry timber use only semi chisel and not full chisel chain
Touch up (2-3 strokes only) every tank
use depth gauge to ensure rakers are taken down
Use proper bar oil




interesting . i threw away my last semi chisel .. When i buy a new saw it must take full chisel. i sharpen a lot.massive improvement



landyacht there is no difference in pitch and gauge of the drivelinks, its just the tooth profile that is different - If it takes semi it takes full chisel

Yes on a full chisel chain the tooth will "cut" more (grab two brand new chains 1 semi and one full and look at the chip that comes off - the full chisel will produce a larger "chip") but it also loses it edge more easily - good for softwood or felling but not for crosscutting in material that has grit and debris


i went to replace my little 14" husky saw as it was 15 years old and keeps rattling loose, i was going to buy a still as it was the same price , but it can only take semi chisel according to the chainsaw shop. I bought a new husky instead vas it came with full chisel. mind you Im not an expert or a professional. Isold the business and all the pole saws, arborist saw ,milling saws are all gone . doen to just the 100cc stihl,the 65cc stihll and the 40cc husky I think. favourite is rocking up cutting with the boys with the 25" bar on the 100cc machine then cutting wood at half revs

pweedas
WA, 4640 posts
6 May 2020 12:30AM
Thumbs Up

Select to expand quote
Macroscien said..

pweedas said..
If you are cutting jarrah then it's a fact of life that it is hard on chains, specially if the jarrah is old and dry and even more so if the jarrah is old and dry with white ants and thus sand in it. If this is the case you have to accept that the chain is a consumable item.
However the chain life can be made reasonable if you get a number of things right. I cut a whole years firewood on one chain and I use a lot of it. Literally tons of it.
I mostly cut old fallen jarrah for firewood because it burns all night, it makes lots of heat and it makes almost no ash.
But because it is all fallen timber on the ground it usually has some degree of ants and sand in it. I don't like to waste it so I just count the cost of a chain each year as a consumable item.
Stihl are reasonably good chain saws, even the cheaper ones, so the chain saw is probably not the problem, so,.. a bit of advice that might help;

If you are cutting hardwood, sharpen the chain regularly. I've seen people cutting jarrah and it appears they think it works like an angle grinder and you just smoke your way through a log with lots of high revs and bar pressure.
I've seen a chain literally smoking its way through a log.
If the chain is smoking then it is hot enough to wreck the tempering on the teeth. The teeth will then not hold a sharpen. If it starts smoking STOP cutting. Check for sharpness and chain oil. I carry an oil squirter and sometimes give the chain and end roller a small squirt if think it looks to be getting a bit too warm. Old knotty jarrah can be as hard as stone but it burns a right treat so I use it.
Keep the chain SHARP, and I do mean sharp. Give it a regular quick lick with the right size file for the chain. Every 15 minutes of cutting it gets a quick lick. Two or three licks on each tooth are enough if you do it regularly and it only takes about 10 minutes total, even when you do it slowly like I do it.

File the angle correct and consistent on all teeth and also on each side, left cutting teeth and then right cutting teeth. A consistent angle is probably more important than the exact correct angle.
To help with this, do all the left cutting teeth and then do another lap of the chain and do all the right cutting teeth, or the other way around if you prefer. That way the angle will be easier to keep constant. Use leather gloves to pull the chain through.
Sharpened teeth will cut a nice groove in your hand if it slips when pulling the chain through so BE CAREFUL. The chain is oily so very easy to slip in your hand.

If you do each side differently the cut will tend to drift one way or the other so use a file guard which has angle markings and then USE THE SAME ANGLE on every tooth, both left and right. Even if the angle is wrong it is more important to make them wrong all the same.

Make sure you are clear on the point on the chain where you start. Don't do one and a half laps of the chain,.. one is enough. One tooth too many is not required.
I always start at the part of the chain which has two teeth the same way, that is two left teeth or two right teeth. Most chains have this to stop resonant chain vibrations while cutting so look for it and start there.
You can use a marker if you prefer but then you don't always have a marker, but the 'two teeth together' point is always there.

After sharpening, you should be able to feel a razor like edge on the teeth as you slide your finger lightly over them. I said,. LIGHTLY!
Even a dull chain will still feel a little bit sharp because your fingers are a lot softer than jarrah, but it wont cut hardwood. You need it razor sharp so that you can feel it bight at your finger when you test it.

You can tell if the chain is sharp by the size of the sawdust it throws out the back. The sawdust out the back of the chain saw with properly sharp teeth will be sizeable shreds of wood, not just a fine sand sized dust.
Keep an eye on what's coming out the back of the saw. It will indicate the condition of the chain. If you want a takeaway sample you can usually find it in your socks. If it's a fine dust then either the teeth are blunt, or if it is an old chain then possibly the depth links between the teeth are too high. If so then file them down. MAKE THEM ALL THE SAME.
For hardwood like jarrah, I file them down a bit too far, about 1mm. The wood is too hard to allow the chain to bight in excessively so shorter depth links make it easier to saw with a light bar pressure.
If you are sawing softwood like pine or banksia then stick to the recommended depth, otherwise, the chain tends to bight in too deep and load up the chainsaw excessively.

Make sure the oil feed is working properly, and by that I mean that the oil should need filling after about half an hour of cutting. That's 'cutting', not just standing there thinking about it. If the oil is flowing too slow then you can use a lighter oil. Ordinary 30 grade engine oil is fine.
Most of the cheaper electric chainsaws have a foam filter which restrict the oil flow too much so use the thinner oil. Thinner oil s better than no oil. A more permanent solution is to remove the foam plug in the oil feed line at the bottom of the oil tank, but be aware that if you get sawdust in the oil tank (but then why would you) then the oil feed can be blocked off.

MAKE SURE YOU KEEP THE CHAIN TIGHT, not slopping and slapping around in the chain bar grove. I prefer it a bit overtight than loose. A sloppy chain seems to wear out much faster than a tight chain and it flogs out the bar much faster.
And a loose chain is harder to do a straight cut. Not that it matters much with firewood but get in the habit of cutting straight so you can do it when you need to.
Make sure the chain bar lock is done up really tight otherwise when the chain chatters it will flog out the chain tension mechanism.
The tension mechanism is for ADJUSTING the chain tension. It's not meant to be the primary means of keeping the chain tight.
Set the chain tension and then do up the bar lock tight!

And now for OHS,

Wear leather gloves while cutting and for sharpening the chain.
Wear some sort of eye protection. The sawdust can get thrown in your face. A woodchip in the eye is no fun. They are quite gritty.
Don't hold your face over the chain bar in line with the chain. Always have it to one side. A serious kickback can happen much faster than you can move your face. Yes I know, modern saws have a kickback lockout but it can still happen.
Don't hold your leg under the cutting line where the chain is going to drop out of the cut when it's finished.
If it's an electric chainsaw, don't have the power cord trailing under the work area. Run it in from behind you and to one side
If the saw consumes its own power cord you can get electroluxed, specially on wet grass
There is no 'Esc' or 'Replay' key. Whatever happens is it !
All obvious stuff but easy to get wrong if you're not thinking.

In summary, DON'T USE A CHAIN SAW IF YOU ARE NATURALLY ACCIDENT PRONE. (Yes, you know who you are. )


This all sounds like an awful lot but it's like most other things in life, if you get in the habit of doing it right then it eventually it happens without thinking about it and the job goes predictably well.
If you keep doing it wrong then it usually ends up being a mammoth task each time and really annoying dealing with the consequences.



Interesting reading.
one more question.
How long file last? or how many chains can sharpen?
I have standard Stihl file and found that recently I need to push , press more and more.
Maybe file is too worn out or chain too long in use between sharpening? Is it worth to invest in electric sharpener? I am afraid that electric could cut too much and too quickly trough chains.How long chain last and when do you know that need new one? I went through a dozen chains already


Files are dirt cheap so one file per chain is reasonable. You can make them last much longer than that. It just depends on how much time you want to waste rasping away with a blunt file. If you have to press really hard on the file then get a new file.
Buy a chain plus the file to suit, i.e the right diameter. You only need to buy the file and fit it to the guide you bought years ago.

Don't bother with an electric sharpener. I bought one many years ago but I only used it for one season. It was far too slow to set it all up each time and was no use out in the paddocks. It was only some use if the teeth got all uneven due to sloppy sharpening; that is, by ignoring all that I said previously.
Get used to sharpening the chain out in the paddock rather than swapping chains or taking it back to the shed to set it all up in a vice or other fancy stuff. It's not needed.
I Just put a small piece of plywood over the corner of the trailer and use that as a bench top. Use a short stick or cut off branch to fit the gap between the chain and the bench to help keep the chain bar from moving around when you file it. Hold the chain with one hand firmly just behind the link you want to sharpen and then with the other hand, file two or three light licks across the tooth.
Make sure the file is contacting the whole cutting profile of the tooth, not just one part of it. I use a pair of 'coke bottle' glasses so I can see the file contacting the cutting face. (If you're not blind as a worm then you won't need these.) If you keep the correct angle or at least a uniform angle then this will happen automatically.
Drag the chain to the next tooth of the same side (which means every second tooth), then file that one, then same again,.. and again until you come back to the starting point.
By doing this, the tooth you are working on is always in the same relative position to you which makes it much easier to file each tooth with some sort of uniformity, which is a major point of the exercise; uniformity of cutting teeth.
If the file skates a bit on a particular tooth then give it a bit extra. The idea is to remove a similar amount of metal from each tooth.

It is much faster to do all this than it is to explain it. Each side takes about three minutes tops. i.e one lap of the chain takes three minutes. Then another three minutes to moan about your sore back from leaning over the saw.
Then another three minutes for another lap of the chain to repeat the procedure for the other side teeth.

You can use the same chain until there is no more tooth to file away, just so long as the tooth still has a complete cutting profile. That is, the top cutting edge of the tooth has to be the complete width of the chain. Once this cannot be maintained then the chain is officially dead.

I just buy cheap chains. The expensive ones are better but since I cut in dirt quite a bit I prefer the cheap chains.
By using cheap chains it improves my day by not having to stress every time I see a stream of sparks coming out the back of the saw when I run into a white ant trail in the log being cut.
I bought a whole lot for about $25 each some years ago and am still chewing my way through them.

Unless you are using the saw a huge amount, like all day every weekend,.. a single chain should last a year or more, unless you are constantly running the chain in the dirt or something equally abusive. I treat my chains with very little respect and they typically last at least a year. When the teeth are three quarters worn then I use that saw for all the really crappy jobs which I know are going to wreck the chain. It's surprising even then how long they carry on.
One chain bar is good for about three chains. Eventually the chain guide groove wears so wide that it's impossible to saw a straight cut. That is mostly due to cutting dirty wood. If the wood was always clean a bar should last many years.

I suppose I should add that sharpening the chain while still on the chain bar contributes to the demise of the chain bar because some of the filings inevitably end up in the chain bar groove and that can't be good for it. I have no idea how much longer the bar would last if the chain was removed from the bar before sharpening because I've never done it that way. If someone knows, then they can make a comment.

Mollie
4 posts
6 May 2020 8:43AM
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pweedas said..

Macroscien said..


pweedas said..
If you are cutting jarrah then it's a fact of life that it is hard on chains, specially if the jarrah is old and dry and even more so if the jarrah is old and dry with white ants and thus sand in it. If this is the case you have to accept that the chain is a consumable item.
However the chain life can be made reasonable if you get a number of things right. I cut a whole years firewood on one chain and I use a lot of it. Literally tons of it.
I mostly cut old fallen jarrah for firewood because it burns all night, it makes lots of heat and it makes almost no ash.
But because it is all fallen timber on the ground it usually has some degree of ants and sand in it. I don't like to waste it so I just count the cost of a chain each year as a consumable item.
Stihl are reasonably good chain saws, even the cheaper ones, so the chain saw is probably not the problem, so,.. a bit of advice that might help;

If you are cutting hardwood, sharpen the chain regularly. I've seen people cutting jarrah and it appears they think it works like an angle grinder and you just smoke your way through a log with lots of high revs and bar pressure.
I've seen a chain literally smoking its way through a log.
If the chain is smoking then it is hot enough to wreck the tempering on the teeth. The teeth will then not hold a sharpen. If it starts smoking STOP cutting. Check for sharpness and chain oil. I carry an oil squirter and sometimes give the chain and end roller a small squirt if think it looks to be getting a bit too warm. Old knotty jarrah can be as hard as stone but it burns a right treat so I use it.
Keep the chain SHARP, and I do mean sharp. Give it a regular quick lick with the right size file for the chain. Every 15 minutes of cutting it gets a quick lick. Two or three licks on each tooth are enough if you do it regularly and it only takes about 10 minutes total, even when you do it slowly like I do it.

File the angle correct and consistent on all teeth and also on each side, left cutting teeth and then right cutting teeth. A consistent angle is probably more important than the exact correct angle.
To help with this, do all the left cutting teeth and then do another lap of the chain and do all the right cutting teeth, or the other way around if you prefer. That way the angle will be easier to keep constant. Use leather gloves to pull the chain through.
Sharpened teeth will cut a nice groove in your hand if it slips when pulling the chain through so BE CAREFUL. The chain is oily so very easy to slip in your hand.

If you do each side differently the cut will tend to drift one way or the other so use a file guard which has angle markings and then USE THE SAME ANGLE on every tooth, both left and right. Even if the angle is wrong it is more important to make them wrong all the same.

Make sure you are clear on the point on the chain where you start. Don't do one and a half laps of the chain,.. one is enough. One tooth too many is not required.
I always start at the part of the chain which has two teeth the same way, that is two left teeth or two right teeth. Most chains have this to stop resonant chain vibrations while cutting so look for it and start there.
You can use a marker if you prefer but then you don't always have a marker, but the 'two teeth together' point is always there.

After sharpening, you should be able to feel a razor like edge on the teeth as you slide your finger lightly over them. I said,. LIGHTLY!
Even a dull chain will still feel a little bit sharp because your fingers are a lot softer than jarrah, but it wont cut hardwood. You need it razor sharp so that you can feel it bight at your finger when you test it.

You can tell if the chain is sharp by the size of the sawdust it throws out the back. The sawdust out the back of the chain saw with properly sharp teeth will be sizeable shreds of wood, not just a fine sand sized dust.
Keep an eye on what's coming out the back of the saw. It will indicate the condition of the chain. If you want a takeaway sample you can usually find it in your socks. If it's a fine dust then either the teeth are blunt, or if it is an old chain then possibly the depth links between the teeth are too high. If so then file them down. MAKE THEM ALL THE SAME.
For hardwood like jarrah, I file them down a bit too far, about 1mm. The wood is too hard to allow the chain to bight in excessively so shorter depth links make it easier to saw with a light bar pressure.
If you are sawing softwood like pine or banksia then stick to the recommended depth, otherwise, the chain tends to bight in too deep and load up the chainsaw excessively.

Make sure the oil feed is working properly, and by that I mean that the oil should need filling after about half an hour of cutting. That's 'cutting', not just standing there thinking about it. If the oil is flowing too slow then you can use a lighter oil. Ordinary 30 grade engine oil is fine.
Most of the cheaper electric chainsaws have a foam filter which restrict the oil flow too much so use the thinner oil. Thinner oil s better than no oil. A more permanent solution is to remove the foam plug in the oil feed line at the bottom of the oil tank, but be aware that if you get sawdust in the oil tank (but then why would you) then the oil feed can be blocked off.

MAKE SURE YOU KEEP THE CHAIN TIGHT, not slopping and slapping around in the chain bar grove. I prefer it a bit overtight than loose. A sloppy chain seems to wear out much faster than a tight chain and it flogs out the bar much faster.
And a loose chain is harder to do a straight cut. Not that it matters much with firewood but get in the habit of cutting straight so you can do it when you need to.
Make sure the chain bar lock is done up really tight otherwise when the chain chatters it will flog out the chain tension mechanism.
The tension mechanism is for ADJUSTING the chain tension. It's not meant to be the primary means of keeping the chain tight.
Set the chain tension and then do up the bar lock tight!

And now for OHS,

Wear leather gloves while cutting and for sharpening the chain.
Wear some sort of eye protection. The sawdust can get thrown in your face. A woodchip in the eye is no fun. They are quite gritty.
Don't hold your face over the chain bar in line with the chain. Always have it to one side. A serious kickback can happen much faster than you can move your face. Yes I know, modern saws have a kickback lockout but it can still happen.
Don't hold your leg under the cutting line where the chain is going to drop out of the cut when it's finished.
If it's an electric chainsaw, don't have the power cord trailing under the work area. Run it in from behind you and to one side
If the saw consumes its own power cord you can get electroluxed, specially on wet grass
There is no 'Esc' or 'Replay' key. Whatever happens is it !
All obvious stuff but easy to get wrong if you're not thinking.

In summary, DON'T USE A CHAIN SAW IF YOU ARE NATURALLY ACCIDENT PRONE. (Yes, you know who you are. )


This all sounds like an awful lot but it's like most other things in life, if you get in the habit of doing it right then it eventually it happens without thinking about it and the job goes predictably well.
If you keep doing it wrong then it usually ends up being a mammoth task each time and really annoying dealing with the consequences.




Interesting reading.
one more question.
How long file last? or how many chains can sharpen?
I have standard Stihl file and found that recently I need to push , press more and more.
Maybe file is too worn out or chain too long in use between sharpening? Is it worth to invest in electric sharpener? I am afraid that electric could cut too much and too quickly trough chains.How long chain last and when do you know that need new one? I went through a dozen chains already



Files are dirt cheap so one file per chain is reasonable. You can make them last much longer than that. It just depends on how much time you want to waste rasping away with a blunt file. If you have to press really hard on the file then get a new file.
Buy a chain plus the file to suit, i.e the right diameter. You only need to buy the file and fit it to the guide you bought years ago.

Don't bother with an electric sharpener. I bought one many years ago but I only used it for one season. It was far too slow to set it all up each time and was no use out in the paddocks. It was only some use if the teeth got all uneven due to sloppy sharpening; that is, by ignoring all that I said previously.
Get used to sharpening the chain out in the paddock rather than swapping chains or taking it back to the shed to set it all up in a vice or other fancy stuff. It's not needed.
I Just put a small piece of plywood over the corner of the trailer and use that as a bench top. Use a short stick or cut off branch to fit the gap between the chain and the bench to help keep the chain bar from moving around when you file it. Hold the chain with one hand firmly just behind the link you want to sharpen and then with the other hand, file two or three light licks across the tooth.
Make sure the file is contacting the whole cutting profile of the tooth, not just one part of it. I use a pair of 'coke bottle' glasses so I can see the file contacting the cutting face. (If you're not blind as a worm then you won't need these.) If you keep the correct angle or at least a uniform angle then this will happen automatically.
Drag the chain to the next tooth of the same side (which means every second tooth), then file that one, then same again,.. and again until you come back to the starting point.
By doing this, the tooth you are working on is always in the same relative position to you which makes it much easier to file each tooth with some sort of uniformity, which is a major point of the exercise; uniformity of cutting teeth.
If the file skates a bit on a particular tooth then give it a bit extra. The idea is to remove a similar amount of metal from each tooth.

It is much faster to do all this than it is to explain it. Each side takes about three minutes tops. i.e one lap of the chain takes three minutes. Then another three minutes to moan about your sore back from leaning over the saw.
Then another three minutes for another lap of the chain to repeat the procedure for the other side teeth.

You can use the same chain until there is no more tooth to file away, just so long as the tooth still has a complete cutting profile. That is, the top cutting edge of the tooth has to be the complete width of the chain. Once this cannot be maintained then the chain is officially dead.

I just buy cheap chains. The expensive ones are better but since I cut in dirt quite a bit I prefer the cheap chains.
By using cheap chains it improves my day by not having to stress every time I see a stream of sparks coming out the back of the saw when I run into a white ant trail in the log being cut.
I bought a whole lot for about $25 each some years ago and am still chewing my way through them.

Unless you are using the saw a huge amount, like all day every weekend,.. a single chain should last a year or more, unless you are constantly running the chain in the dirt or something equally abusive. I treat my chains with very little respect and they typically last at least a year. When the teeth are three quarters worn then I use that saw for all the really crappy jobs which I know are going to wreck the chain. It's surprising even then how long they carry on.
One chain bar is good for about three chains. Eventually the chain guide groove wears so wide that it's impossible to saw a straight cut. That is mostly due to cutting dirty wood. If the wood was always clean a bar should last many years.

I suppose I should add that sharpening the chain while still on the chain bar contributes to the demise of the chain bar because some of the filings inevitably end up in the chain bar groove and that can't be good for it. I have no idea how much longer the bar would last if the chain was removed from the bar before sharpening because I've never done it that way. If someone knows, then they can make a comment.


Excellent pweedas, best advice yet, thanks heaps.



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