Many people use a chainsaw for a variety of purposes. Starting from minor yard work like pruning shrubs and branches of trees, to cutting wood for firewood, and sometimes even bringing down small trees, depending on where you live the uses that people put their chainsaws to are numerous.
Although chainsaws are very versatile and have a number of uses, it is only as good as its teeth are. Just like a knife, the amount of effort you put into cutting things and the time taken to cut it depends on how sharp the cutting edge. If therefore you want your chainsaw to function properly, you will have to ensure that you keep the teeth sharp.
This can be done in two ways. You can either get a manual saw and use some elbow grease or you can go with an electrical sharpener. The only difference between both is in the time taken and effort that you have to put into sharpening it. Or you can get it done outside if you are willing to pay for it.
The way you sharpen is very basic. Each “tooth” of the chainsaw consists of a block of metal. This has a leading edge that does all the cutting. However the sides of the tooth too have to be at an angle to ensure that you get the correct cut. If you don’t shape the sides, you will end up with a larger leading edge, meaning that you will have to put in more effort to cut.
Usually the chain itself will have indications on the angle that you will have to give each tooth. Generally the leading edge will have to be shaped at an angle of 60 degrees while the sides are generally around 30 degrees.
The actual sharpening is very easy. After some use you will find that you are having to put in more effort to cut into anything. While new the saw will actually “self feed” which means that the edge will pull the saw closer to the object you are cutting, as it is cutting. Also the chips will be regular square or rectangular sized. After use the size of the chips will reduce until it will be like sawdust. By this stage, the saw is almost completely dull and will not be cutting at all, except if you put in a lot of effort and hold it at full power.
If you look at the blocks in the saw you will find that the leading edge that does the actual cutting, has blunted so that it does not have any edge at all. It will be worn down to the extent that each block will look like a square without a knife edge to it at all. To get your chainsaw working well once again, you just have to give it this edge, and starting from hand files you get a number of different chainsaw sharpeners that will do the job.
You have to file the leading edge down at the bottom so that it once again gets a 60 degree cutting edge. This can be done with a hand file itself. It is not very difficult, only time consuming, but these hand files can be purchased for less than $10. If you have the time and the inclination, this is good enough.
There are also a number of electrically powered sharpeners, starting around $30 all the way up to a couple of hundred. Generally they operate in two ways. The cheaper ones will need that the chain be removed from the blade for it to be sharpened, while the more expensive ones can sharpen the chain while it is on the blade itself.
The basic principles are the same. The machine holds the chain tight, and the sharpening wheel is kept at a 60 degree angle. All you have to do is to lower it down cutting into the teeth until the desired angle is reached.
Most of them work well, and the only difference is in how you like to do it. For example, there are wall mounted sharpeners, table mounted ones, and even hand held ones. Each of them work differently and also cost different, so take a look at everything and choose the best one for you.
Chainsaw sharpening is not a big deal, and can be done by anyone. Even if you use your chainsaw only a couple of times a year, it is good to ensure that the saw is sharp before you start because it makes cutting easier, faster, and more economical.