February 22, 2018

Maintaining Your Chainsaw

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.

When in perfect condition the chainsaw will produce large chips of wood whereas when the chain is in need of maintenance it will produce sawdust instead. Another sign that the chain is in need of maintenance is when the chainsaw tries to veer off to the left or the right while cutting vertically downwards.

The main cutting edge of the chain is coated with a very thin coating of chrome plate. This is the part of the chain that comes into contact with the timber does the actual cutting. And it’s the chrome which gets worn away over time which causes the chain to become blunt. In order to revert to chain back to pristine condition it must be filed. It is essential to use the right sized file for the chain that is being filed. Chainsaws are expensive pieces of equipment and will give long and productive service if maintained diligently.

A roller guide is the name of the tool used to file the chainsaw chain in order to get it back to peak operating condition. It is possible to file the chain by hand but it’s unlikely that this will produce as good a result as using the roller guide. Quite often the chain will get worn down by hitting the ground during use or striking a hard object within the timber. When this is the case the chain must be filed down so that the new chrome edge is revealed. The chainsaw chain can be filed down many times as long as there is still 1 mm left on the heel of the cutter.

Rather then shelling out for a brand new chain unnecessarily, it is wise to keep re-sharpening your chainsaw chain as much as you can in order to get the most use out of it as possible – not least because once the chain is sharpened it is as good as new. You can pick up a chain sharpening kit for around $30 which will contain the rounded file, a file gauge, and also a flat file. It’s not a bad idea to also have a small brush. For this you can just use an old toothbrush.

The rounded file is used to sharpen the chain. The flat file is for filing the depth gauge for each tooth. Hand the file gauge is used for setting the top plate cutting angles of each tough on the cutting side of the chain. The brush is simply for cleaning up the chain before sharpening and removing any debris.

One problem which means that you need to replace a chain (even if it still has some life left in it in terms of depth) is if you end up stretching your chain. When replacing a chain that has come to the end of its useful life, you should make a note of the make and model of your chainsaw. It’s also a good idea to take the old chainsaw chain with you as well as the actual chainsaw if this is possible in order to make sure that you don’t waste time making multiple trips back to the store in order to get the right chain. By using these basic tips you should be sure to get the most value for money from the lifetime of your chain.

Remember – Chainsaws are very useful, but are also extremely dangerous. Please take advice from a qualified professional before using a chainsaw yourself.

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