A chain saw can be an extremely useful tool to get work that needs to be done actually done in a reasonable amount of time. Over time though any tool will wear down through use and will need to be cleaned or sharpened and chain saws are not an exception. A dull chain saw can make working with one inefficient and, more importantly, a danger to the user and anybody around. It takes knowing what to look for and a little bit of skill to actually sharpen a chain saw, but any user of one of these tools shouldn’t have any problems maintaining it.
The first step when sharpening a chain saw is to actually know what to look for and to know when it is time to sharpen the tool. There are a few signs that are easily spotted to anyone who is paying attention while using the saw. For example, if the saw is emitting wood dust instead of wood chips it means the blades are wearing down and not cutting as cleanly as they should. The feel of the blade while it’s cutting can be a heads up sign also. If the saw no long self-feeds and forces the user to push on the saw the make it cut. Also there are simple visual signs such as the chrome on the blades fading away and the steel becoming visible.
To actually start the process of sharpening a chain saw, a proper workplace is needed. If at all possible, the job should be done on a decent workbench and not out in the field. The saw needs to be steady and the work area needs to be well lit. The chain needs to be snug but easily pulled around by hand because a loose chain could result in causing more damage to the saw then just dull cutting blades.
The right tool makes all the difference on any job and sharpening a chain saw is no exception. A file of the proper diameter should take care of this job without many issues. In order to know how big of file is needed, it is safest to consult the owners manual to find out the exact measurement because using the wrong tool puts the saw at risk for more permanent damage. If there are still questions on which type of file to use, it is best to consult your dealer who should at least be able to look up exactly what is need for any particular sized chain saw.
The actual sharpening of the chain saw is not the most elegant process but does take some practice in order to get the results wanted. Getting the exact angles may not be the most important detail because removing the damage and getting the tops are as sharp as possible are more important, but it can be a delicate process overall. A file guide can take most of the user error out of the process so having one is of the upmost importance.
The first step is to place the file guide over the cutter, lay the file on the guide and align it with the witness marks. This is all that is needed to start the sharpening process. While holding the file with both hands, lightly apply pressure and then let up on the return stroke. The file is working properly if about 20 percent of the file is above the top place. Simply file one side of the chain and then flip the file to sharpen the other.
This may sound like a long process but it is a needed one for any chain saw owner. This is all mostly to make the tool safe to use and makes it more effective and doing what it does. Simply paying attention the chain saw will make it clear when sharpening is needed and will make owning one all the more worthwhile.
Allan Thomes has been a professional writer for 1 &1/2 years. He joined the THF Team in May, 2011. Along with the numerous other hobbies he enjoys, Allan spends many hours doing home remodeling projects, entertaining family and friends, and gardening.