Dull chains are dangerous because they are more likely to get stuck in the log and kick the bar up toward you, the person handling it. Therefore, a sharp chainsaw blade is safer than a dull one, as it cuts better and demands less effort on the operator’s part.
Check your chain often, particularly when you use new equipment to make sure it doesn’t need readjusting. Sharpen your blade regularly or whenever you refill the tank if you want to make sure your chainsaw won’t wear out quickly; you can tell it’s time to file your blade when you get dust instead of chips as a result of cutting. However, try to sharpen only a chain that is cool to avoid binding.
Step 1: Cleaning
Clean the chain with a degreasing detergent that removes dirt and oil, but be careful not to pour too much cleaner because it could damage the chainsaw. Take the opportunity to check the chain for any overly worn, weakened, or otherwise damaged teeth.
Step 2: Safety
Aside a chainsaw filing kit (typically consisting of flat and round files, and depth gauges), you will need gloves and safety goggles as well to get the job done safely. Next, make sure the chain brake is engaged, and place the chainsaw on a solid surface to keep it from wiggling. Alternatively, you can clamp the bar in a vise, so that the chain is properly supported but can rotate freely.
Step 3: Sharpening and storing
Place the file guide between the chain rivets to make sure you won’t file too deep into the cutter (or tooth) of the chainsaw. Start with the leading, or the shortest, cutter; 2 or 3 file strokes should be enough as long as you apply them evenly, but check that the top flat edge of each tooth is the same length. Each saw has its own specifications, but generally you can file at a 25 or 30 degrees angle horizontally from the bar, and vertically at a right angle.
After working your way along the exposed side of the cutter on one side of the chain, make sure to release the chain brake, rotate the chain forward (by hand only; never start the chainsaw during the sharpening process), and re-engage the brake to gain access to the teeth that have not been sharpened yet. Then, turn the chainsaw around and file the teeth on the other side of the chain as well.
Finally, soak the chain in oil, and check the tension. Now you can resume using the equipment, or you can store it. Note that, whether gasoline or electric, all chainsaws must be stored properly, away from dirt and debris.
There are two cutting edges to the cutters, or teeth attached to the chain. Use a round file to sharpen the semicircular cutting edges on the saw teeth. Since chainsaw teeth come in different sizes, be sure to purchase a file that matches the diameter of the cutter. Apart from the round files, use a file guide as well for sharpening cutters, given that file guides ensure the round file stays at the same depth throughout the process.
Flat files, on the other hand, along with a depth-gauge guide, are more suitable when you need to lower depth gauges.
Sharpening depth gauges
A depth gauge looks like a shark fin and comes ahead of each tooth to prevent the teeth from cutting too deep into the wood; this is usually limited at depths of around 0.5 mm. Normally, the tip of the depth gauge is a little shorter than the tip of the tooth, but in time, after having sharpened the blade over and over again, the depth gauges and the teeth can reach the same height, which means the chainsaw will stop cutting. Similarly, the cutters won’t be able to reach wood if the depth gauges are too high.
In this case, you must file down the depth gauges until they become shorter than the cutters; you can do this with a flat file and a file guide. Be careful not to lower them too much, though, because that will increase the risk of chain kickback and excessive chainsaw vibration.
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