If you use wood heat and cut your own firewood you simply have to have the right chainsaw chain on your awesome saw. Your chain must also be properly sharpened, otherwise you will be fighting the wood instead of cutting it. Heating with wood can be an enjoyable experience, or it can be an endless chore. Find out more…
Eventually your nice, new gas chainsaw chain is going to get dull and need to be sharpened. The tendency is to just keep on sawing away because you are on a roll and don’t want to stop. Bad idea. It is far better to stop and either sharpen the chain yourself on the spot, or install the extra one you wisely have kept on hand.
Keep an extra chain on hand
Keeping an extra chain on hand is a real time saver. Sure, you have to shell out some extra money to have the spare one just lying there, but when you are busy cutting away it quickly pays for itself. Think about it, you are either hot and sweaty in your yard or deep in the woods; who wants to drive into town and get a new chain or have the dull one sharpened?
Keep your chainsaw chain sharp
I have used many methods for keeping my chain sharp. Many dealers or hardware stores have a special grinder made expressly for sharpening chains. I love these things, but I don’t really need to own my own; so once a year I get my chains sharpened by the grinder. I think this is the best method, next to a brand new chain.
Inventive people keep coming up with innovative ways for the homeowner to use sharpen the chain with a round file and some of the fixtures work really well. Others are, well, not so good.
Some experienced loggers laugh at the idea of using anything at all besides the file. I suppose that, if you sharpen enough chains you can get really good at it.
My suggestion is to at least start out with the correct size file and experiment with different guides to see which works for you. Ask your friends, the hardware store guy (the one who knows what he’s doing, not the one who just reads the label off the box).
How to buy a chainsaw chain
Once your original chain wear out and cannot take another sharpening, you have to get a new one. The easiest way is to take your old one to a good hardware store or outdoor equipment store and buy the exact same thing.
All you really need to know is the length of your bar, the pitch and the gauge. The numbers are usually engraved right into the bar or written on the saw, so you can just use the numbers listed.
The length of the bar is how long it is from the end of the saw body to the tip of the bar. The pitch is the distance from one saw tooth to the next. The gauge (gage) is the width of the slot in the bar where the chainsaw chain rides.
How to measure the pitch on chainsaw chains pitch
To measure the pitch make sure you measure from the beginning of one tooth to the beginning of the next one. You can measure from the beginning or end or even the middle, just make sure you measure to the exact same spot on the next tooth.
Not every manufacturer has chains that are interchangeable with other brands. For example: a Husqvarna chain may not fit a Stihl or a Homelite probably will not fit an Echo saw. This information is written on the package of the chain, or a good supplier can look it up for you.
You can save a lot of money by buying locally from somebody who knows what they are doing. In fact, he may even be able to make just about any kind you need, though these types of men are more and more a rarity.
How to sharpen chainsaw chains
Sharpening your chain can be done with a simple round file. This takes a bit of practice to do it correctly and, from my experience, most people are not very good at it. They really don’t understand the geometry of the cutting edge, don’t know that the file only cuts in one direction, and just the patience to make each tooth the same.
A file guide is very helpful to keep the angle correct and is not difficult to use. One such tool is the Oregon Sure Sharp Chain Saw Manual Filing/Sharpening Guide. Sharpening a chainsaw takes a bit of practice, but, in time you can master it.
There are other, more complicated fixtures available that work well, such as the Oregon Sure Sharp 12 Volt Electric Chainsaw Chains Sharpener. This is a handy little device that sells for around $35.00.
sharp chain leaves nice, big wood chips, instead of little sawdust type chips. You will be cutting your firewood cords faster than ever and your firewood shed will be full of wood for next year.