Maintaining Your Chainsaw Chain

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.

The chain on a chainsaw must be kept in peak condition.  There are only really two conditions for a chainsaw chain to be in – either perfect, or useless.  It’s easy to tell whether a chain needs sharpening or replacing, because instead of acting like a knife cutting through butter, the chainsaw will require some kind of downward pressure in order to cut through the wood.

If the chainsaw chain needs maintenance it will start producing sawdust, instead of the large chips of wood that it will produce when it is fine.  When cutting downwards, if chainsaw tries to veer off to the left or the right this is another sign that the chain needs attention.

A new chain comes with a fine plating of chrome on the cutting tips.  It is this chrome plate which does most of the work, and as the chain wears the chrome becomes removed.  To maintain and restore a chain to good condition it needs to be filed.  You must ensure that you use the right sized file for the chain that you have. 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 chainsaw file gauge is used for checking the cutting side and the top plate cutting angles of each tooth on the chain.  The round chainsaw file is used to file down and sharpen the chain.  The flat chainsaw file is used to file the depth gauge on each tooth to the right height and shape.  You can use the brush to clear any rubbish off the chain before sharpening.

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.

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

Filed Under: Tools and Equipment


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