Chainsaws are powered garden equipment that comprises a rotating chain with a set of sharp cutting teeth. The higher RPMs enable the cutting teeth to saw wooden logs of all kinds. However, with prolonged use, the chain sharpness tends to go downhill. This eventually affects the cutting efficiency of your chainsaw. Therefore, chain sharpness is of utmost importance for better cutting results, which shall be discussed in detail in this blog post.
Do chainsaw chains come sharpened?
Yes, the chains of the chainsaw come sharpened from the factory when you buy a new one. There is no need to sharpen it before your first job. But even the sharpest chain for the chainsaws available in the market will lose their sharpness over time and grow very dull.
A brief answer doesn’t help you understand the matter in-depth, scroll on to read the details of the various aspects of the chain in your chainsaw.
- 1 Should You Sharpen a New Chainsaw Chain?
- 2 How to Sharpen the Chain of Your Chainsaw?
- 3 Final Remarks
Should You Sharpen a New Chainsaw Chain?
A sharp chain is a real muscle of your chainsaw. The sign of the sharpness of the chain in your chainsaw is that it slices through even the hardest wood very easily and smoothly just like a hot knife through butter.
You will realize the sharpness of the chain in your chainsaw when it pulls itself down into the huge log without any effort that you apply. It will spit out wafer-like, long wood chips as it slices the log. In contrast, a dull chain will force you to exert a lot of pressure to push the saw into the wood while it will spit out sawdust not long wood chips.
A dull chain in a chainsaw will cause a lot of friction, you will notice smoke coming out of the cut as too much heat builds up. This will damage your chainsaw beyond repair. The cuts in logs using a really sharp chain are clean and precise.
If you feel that your chainsaw is not digging any deeper down into the wood and blowing away the sawdust, it means that it needs an urgent sharpening. If your chainsaw keeps bouncing upward and shaking a lot, it means that you must replace the chain. Dull chains are also responsible for life-threatening accidents.
Regularly sharpening the chain will extend the lifespan of your chainsaw. A dull chain will tear through the wood which will wear down even the best chainsaw early. Always remember that there are a certain limited number of times that you can sharpen your chain before it loses its temper and needs a replacement.
The logging experts advise you to sharpen your chain only three to five times. This number greatly depends on how you take care of the lubrication of the bar, the time of usage, and your working condition. If you are careless enough to strike the hard, uneven ground or the nearby rocks or snow too frequently or you are cutting very dense wood, then your chain will become dull too early.
If you store the chain in humid conditions, or you work in wet weather, it will cause the number of times you can sharpen it to greatly reduce. Good maintenance will help you to sharpen it 3 to 5 times before you will have to replace it.
Some customers think that a brand new chain is sharper than you can ever sharpen it yourself with your file. The beginners are usually scared of the nasty-looking teeth of the chainsaw. You don’t have to seek the services of the professionals just to sharpen a chain because a couple of inexpensive guides and files will help you do it in about ten minutes.
You must carefully observe the cutters or teeth of your chain. You can sharpen and reshape the semicircular edges within a few minutes using a round file. The depth-gauge fin found on every cutter is responsible for the depth that it bites into the logs that you are cutting.
To sharpen the semicircular cutting edges of the chain in your chainsaw, you must use a round file of the same diameter. At the front of each cutter, you will see a sharp metallic thorn shaped like a shark’s dorsal fin; it is called ‘raker.’ The tip of the depth gauge is a hair shorter than the cutter.
The average diameter of the cutting edges is 5/32 inch, 3/16 inch, or 7/32 inch. Make sure that you use the round file with the same diameter as the cutting edge of the chain. You will see that the teeth are located at altering angles. One is facing left, and the other is facing right.
Shark dorsal fin or the raker which is a flat piece of metal, is located between two teeth. The rakers never need sharpening. You must make sure that you mount your file into a sharpening guide.
The sharpening guide will serve you with two different purposes: i) It will control the depth that your file can cut into and ii) It will provide you with a flat surface to place the file on your chainsaw.
How to Sharpen the Chain of Your Chainsaw?
I will provide you with a step-by-step guide to sharpen the chain of your chainsaw:
●Step 1: Perform Initial Measures:
First of all, put on your personal protective equipment especially a pair of rubber gloves. Then remove all the mineral oil that is found on the guide bar of your chainsaw using a piece of dry cloth or paper. Make sure that you engage the chain brake and lock the bar in a vice.
●Step 2: Secure the File:
Select a round file with exactly the same diameter as the semicircle edges of the cutting teeth. Now you must loosen the thumbscrews on your sharpening guide and then you can slide your round file beneath its two metal hold-down clamps. Now you have to tighten all of its screws or its wingnuts to secure the round file in your guide.
●Step 3: Position the Chainsaw:
Place your chainsaw on a flat and safe surface. Remove the battery pack if yours is a cordless chainsaw otherwise unplug it from the wall outlet. You must always begin by sharpening the dullest and the shortest cutter. As a reminder and to prevent repeated sharpening, you must use an indelible marker to mark the first tooth that you began sharpening from.
●Step 4: Determine the Sharpening Angle:
Read the user manual of your chainsaw to learn exactly what the best angle to sharpen its chain is. You must also consult the instruction chart that comes with your filing kit. Depending upon the type of the chain, the sharpening angle can vary between 25 degrees to 30 degrees.
You must adjust the angle using the markings on the file guide or the wings of the handle. You must always keep the file guide in contact with the depth guide and the cutter for both the grinding angle and the lateral angle. You must make sure that you sharpen each cutter from the inside to the outside carefully maintaining the same length for each cutter.
●Step 5: Count the Strokes:
Never repeat more than ten slow and steady strokes. You must count the number of strokes that you make across the first tooth and make sure that you make the same number of strokes across all the teeth.
Things to Consider While Filing:
While filing the blades and the depth gauges, please take the following measures into consideration.
- Sharpen Alternatively: To save your time the best trick is to skip every other tooth and sharpen the next one because they are facing left and right and you will have to keep altering the angle back and forth. After finishing all the left facing teeth turn over your chainsaw and sharpen all the teeth that are facing right.
- Use a flat file for depth gauges: You must always use a flat mill bastard file for leveling the rakers. While you are holding the depth gauge in its actual place, you must run a flat-file over the top of the rakers until they are leveled with the depth gauge. The depth gauge protects other teeth from being filed, nothing will stop the gauge itself from being filed down properly.
- File the gauges to the right level: You must be careful not to file away the gauge because it will lead to inconsistencies between the rakers. While you are filing over the rakers, you must slide back the gauge to avoid filing it. While you are filing you must keep checking the height of the rakers to stop when it lines up with the top of the depth gauge. When you have finished filing the rakers you must use a flat file to smooth their edges. You will have to continue the same process of checking the rakers with the depth gauge while filing them all the way around the rest of your chainsaw. In contrast to the cutters, don’t worry about filing down the same raker two times when you are filing down the rakers.
- Re-fill the gas tank: Finally, you must refill the oil in the fuel tank of your chainsaw for an even and smooth performance.
To conclude this blog post, I would say that it is essential to sharpen the chain to extend the lifespan of your chainsaw. A dull chain will damage even the most expensive chainsaw beyond repair. You will have to spend just about ten to fifteen minutes on maintaining the sharpness of your chain. Always remember to use proper personal protective equipment for your safety.