Correct chain sharpening
It is useful to think of the chain on a chainsaw as a precision cutting tool. Anyone can sharpen a chain to cut wood. Few can sharpen a chain so it will cut wood to its maximum efficiency.
The simplest and for some still the best way of sharpening a chain is by hand file. Most people usually get a hand filing kit which has a round file in a round file holder, flat file, depth gauge measure and bar groove cleaner. Oregon, Stihl, Husqvarna and Vallorbe all do sharpening kits for chainsaws.
Vallorbe’s guide to chainsaw sharpening
Regularly change your files
Files wear out so get yourself packs of replacements to change them regularly. You can’t cut with a dull chain and you can’t sharpen with a worn file. Slacken the chain so it is easy enough to pull round but not so it’s too loose.
What size file do I need for my chain?
As a rule of thumb use the following:
What angle do I need to file the top plate of the chain to?
The box the chain comes in should tell you this.
Usually crosscut chain will be 30 degrees and ripping chain 10 degrees.
Pay attention to what the tooth looks like
Pretty straight forward – this is the angle across the top of the cutter.
Side plate angle
Harder to explain as it’s curved. But this is the side plate angle. Let’s call this the ‘hook’ angle. Too much hook and you’ll get a beak – fast aggressive cutting but will dull fast. Too little hook and the chain will cut like it is dull even though you just sharpened it.
Get the cutters the same length
Cutter length is critical. Measure and examine them. Why is this so important? If you have longer cutters they will hit the wood harder and dull quicker causing drag on the chain
Depth gauges / rakers
This is the little ramped bit in front of the tooth. Filing depth gauges is really tedious but again crucial to how the chain works. Lower too much and the chain will be ‘grabby’ in the wood, aggressive, will dull fast and is hard on the saw.
The Stihl Easy File has a built in flat file to take the depth gauges down as you file the teeth. If you are going to hand file buy these and you’ll save time and gain accuracy.
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