Green Ideas

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When and how to sharpen a saw chain

 

Why it is important to keep your chainsaw sharp

Even if you avoid cutting hard materials that could damage the teeth, saw chains will always wear with use. It is important to regularly inspect the condition of the chain: you may not be aware of this, but a dull chain will wear out much more quickly than one in good condition and will also result in increased fuel consumption.

If you use a medium-power chainsaw such as the GS 440 or the 947 and you want to avoid problems that could affect the quality of your work, it is a good idea to sharpen the cutters each time you refuel and use a blade guard. By touching up the teeth every day and protecting them when transporting the saw you will make them last longer and cut more efficiently without having to resort to more drastic and expensive sharpening.

When to sharpen

Never sharpened a saw chain before but think it might be time to do so? Look out for the following signs of a dull chain:

  • the chainsaw struggles to bite into wood and requires light pressure on the motor to make the cut;
  • when making a vertical cut, the saw produces fine sawdust rather than coarse chips;
  • even when the chain is correctly lubricated and tensioned, the saw produces smoke when cutting wood;
  • the chainsaw won't cut straight and tends to pull to one side, as the teeth are uneven in length;
  • the chainsaw bounces and skips during cutting, making it difficult to achieve a precise cut.
     

If even just one of these signs is present, then it is time to sharpen the chainsaw.

 

How to sharpen

The chain can be sharpened by hand or using a mechanical system.

Sharpening the saw chain by hand is a lengthy but effective process that, if done carefully, can significantly extend the life of the chain.

Before starting, you'll need a round file, flat file, sharpening file and a log clamp: rest the chain saw on a bench or insert it in a log and clamp the guide bar as you would with any clamp. Sharpen the chain one tooth at a time, filing the edge on the cutter side so as to minimise wear on the teeth. Remember to sharpen the edges in both directions and, at the end of the operation, check that all the cutters are the same length.

 

Electric and automatic chainsaw sharpeners

The electric saw chain sharpener is a sturdy, reliable tool that, thanks to a rotating clamping device, allows you to sharpen the teeth chain without altering the tension of the chain.

Most of these tools have a depth stop with a graduated scale that regulates the grinding depth. Some models also feature built-in lighting and pivoting head, making them even easier to use.

If you choose an automatic saw chain sharpener, you will be able to sharpen chains of all types very quickly. Unlike a conventional sharpener, this machine clamps, unclamps and advances the chain fully automatically. Thanks to special clamping system and internal mechanism, the chain is advanced automatically and is sharpened precisely and rapidly, saving you time and effort.


When to replace the chain

If the longest part of the cutter is less than 4 mm, sharpening the chain of your chainsaw is no longer enough: it must be replaced.