Although a chainsaw is capable of destruction on a large scale, you might be surprised to be told that it is a high precision tool and needs to be kept in perfect condition in order to remain productive as well as maintaining the safety of the operator.
It is imperative that a chainsaw chain is kept in tiptop condition. The chain only really has two states – useless or perfect. A chain which is in perfect condition should cut through timber like a knife through butter. Normally it will require barely any downward pressure to cut through wood, but once it is in need of maintenance it will either require extra pressure or simply try and burn through the wood.You must keep the chain on your chainsaw in absolutely perfect condition. The condition of a chainsaw chain has no middle ground it is either absolutely perfect for the job at hand, or completely useless. Once the chain starts requiring more than a tiny amount of downward pressure to get through the wood it obviously needs sharpening. In perfect condition, the chainsaw should cut through timber just like a knife cuts through butter.
If the chainsaw chain needs maintenance it will start producing sawdust, instead of the large chips of wood that it will produce when it is fine. When cutting downwards, if chainsaw tries to veer off to the left or the right this is another sign that the chain needs attention.
A new chain comes with a fine plating of chrome on the cutting tips. It is this chrome plate which does most of the work, and as the chain wears the chrome becomes removed. To maintain and restore a chain to good condition it needs to be filed. You must ensure that you use the right sized file for the chain that you have. Chainsaws are expensive pieces of equipment and will give long and productive service if maintained diligently.
To file a chain ideally you should use a tool called a roller guide. It is possible to file a chain by hand, but in most cases the results will not be as good unless the person doing the filing is particularly experienced. If the chain has been ground down by poor usage – for example – when the chain has hit some solid material or the ground, it needs to be filed back in order to give a new chrome edge. They can be filed down quite low but one must ensure that there is still about 1 mm left on the heel of the cutter.
Although it can take some time and be quite a difficult job to sharpen a chainsaw chain, it is still a wise move to do so as once the chain is filed back to ideal condition it is as good as new. A chain sharpening kit shouldn’t cost any more than $30 and the only other item required is a pair of protective gloves. The contents of a chain sharpening kit are a file gauge, a flat file, and the round chain file which must be the correct size for the chain. It is a good idea to have a small stiff brush as well. For example, an old toothbrush is ideal.
The rounded file is used to file down and sharpen the chainsaw chain. The flat file is used to file the depth gauge on each tooth of the chain. The file gauge is used for adjusting the top plate cutting angles of each tooth on the chain. The brush is used to brush away any pieces of debris on the chain before sharpening commences.
One problem which means that you need to replace the chain rather than sharpening it is if you find that the chain has been stretched. When heading to the store to buy your replacement chain if you’re not taking the chainsaw itself you should write down the make and model number and also if possible take the old chain with you. With these tips you should be able to get the most bang for your buck from your chainsaw chain.
Remember – Chainsaws are very useful, but are also extremely dangerous. Please take advice from a qualified professional before using a chainsaw yourself.