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Saw sharpening advice for a noob

Discussion in 'Chainsaw' started by BigOakAdot, Apr 18, 2013.

  1. BigOakAdot

    BigOakAdot ArboristSite newb

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    Hey guys seeking some sharpening advice for my ms261 and my ms440. The only sharpening I have done is with a file (with no holder) and I butchered up my first chain. The saw cuts super slanted cause I must have filed one side more than the other.

    So here are my questions 1) do the ms261 and ms440 take the same
    Sized file? 2) I found a bar mount for 30 dollars on amazon would you guys recommend that?
    Any advice is greatly appreciated.
     
  2. old-cat

    old-cat Fir Man

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    I would say you need to spend some time in the Oregon Maintenance Manual. The BEST tool for filing is a file guide made by Oregon or STIHL. The file clips to it and makes the job real EASY!

    I use machinist calipers to measure tooth length. You also need a gauge for the Rakers.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2013
  3. Gologit

    Gologit Mostly retired

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  4. Mass. Wine Guy

    Mass. Wine Guy ArboristSite Member

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    stihl023/5 likes this.
  5. stihl023/5

    stihl023/5 Addicted to ArboristSite

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  6. computeruser

    computeruser Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Saws don't take files, chains do. I don't know what chain you're running on either of those saws, so how can I decide whether they use the same files? First step is to figure out what chain you're running on each - pitch, gauge, drive link #, cutter type, chain model name/# - because that is important information to know about your chains as a whole. Then, based on the cutter type, you should be able to figure out what size file the chain manufacturer recommends, as well as recommended sharpening angles.


    Those anodized aluminum guides that Husqvarna and others sell (Stihl doesn't, I don't think) that sit on the bar and have little rollers for the file to ride on seem to work well. See: What I'm Talking About
     
  7. bikesandcars

    bikesandcars ArboristSite Operative

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    My suggestion is to find someone experienced in sharpening by hand to develop your "raw" skills, in person is best or through youtube, books, etc is OK

    You can buy a stihl or oregon file holder and see how it holds the file against the chain (after setting it up per instructions). The concept is the same for hand filing vs holder filing. I find the holder more cumbersome than it's worth for what I do (casual stuff).

    Being able to sharpen a chain the field with nothing but a file is probably one of the most most valuable skills you can have as a saw operator IMO.

    No harm though in using many of the good tools listed above if you find them easier... I just recommend you either start by hand filing and then migrate to easier tools, or use easier tools until you can reliably hand sharpen.. then do whatever you feel is easiest.

    side note.. my new favorite is with stones in a battery operated dremmel, gotta watch but very quick.
     
  8. deepsouth

    deepsouth AboristSite Guru

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    If you can get one, the Stihl FG2 is great, as a bench mount piece of gear.

    The Pferd chains harp, or husky/Stihl versions of same is also great to freehand.
     
  9. BigOakAdot

    BigOakAdot ArboristSite newb

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    Thanks for all the replies. I guess I'm going to just get a filing kit like the husky one that computeruser recommended. I started to look over the guide you guys provided me a link for and I think that's going to be a big help. I know my 261 takes a 26 RM3 chain but as for the ms440 I'm not sure what's on there because I bought it used. All I know is that thing was super frickin sharp til my buddy hit dirt bucking a big daddy :bang:
    Thanks again for the help and happy cutting.
     
  10. Mass. Wine Guy

    Mass. Wine Guy ArboristSite Member

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    The little roller guide thingie isn't great, in my opinion, because it's too unstable and moves all over the place while filing. The Stihl FG2, if it's like a couple of others like it on the market, is great as long as you're a mechanical genius who enjoys putting puzzles together. I got one from Bailey's and returned it because it was much more frustrating than holding a file in my teeth and sharpening the chain with my eyes closed. Honestly, I think the Pherd or identical Stihl sharpener has the best balance between great results and ease of use.
     
  11. CTYank

    CTYank Have saws, will travel

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    Not meaning to pee on anyone's parade, but all the filing thingies mentioned so far are toys and kludges in comparison to Granberg's "File-N-Joint". That's a guide that clamps on the bar, with settings for angles and height. Precise, repeatable, efficient, economical- can't beat that with a stick. :buttkick:

    Often, I'll touch up a chain to razor-sharpness with a couple strokes per tooth. Also just the thing to encourage taking a short break out in the woods- yet another safety factor.
     
  12. Mass. Wine Guy

    Mass. Wine Guy ArboristSite Member

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    The Granberg was what I returned to Bailey's. It's great for some, no doubt. But maybe not for everyone.
     
  13. Swamp Yankee

    Swamp Yankee Addicted to ArboristSite

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    First things first

    As an old logger told me when I was starting out, "before you can sharpen a chain you need to know what a sharp chain looks like. Otherwise all you're doing is randomly removing metal." That said what you need is a properly hand filed chain that you can use as an instructional aid. No tool will produce the proper end result(s) if you don't have a clue as to what they are. Sounds simple but many people's hand filed chains I've seen appear to have been filed via the hit or miss method.

    "Sharpening" a chain involves a process generating two results. First is creating a keen edge(s) that pierce and slice into the wood. The second is to develop the cutter tooth geometry, including the rakers, that allow the edge to do its job efficiently. Think about it, you can have perfect angles but if the edge is folded over, no chips. The same applies, superb edge, but lousy geometry, again no chips or a cutting edge that dulls very quickly.

    As you're starting out I recommend putting the saw in a sturdy vice, look at the sample chain, and start filing a few strokes at a time. Stop, re-examine what you've done with the sample, correct if need and proceed again. Learning takes time, patience is key. A jig such as the Granberg will help maintain geometry tooth to tooth, but you still need to get the proper file depth and raker height. For freehand, I use one of the Oregon or Stihl file holders previously mentioned. Not trying to set angles etc. with it, but it just makes holding the file so much more comfortable with all the arthritis I've developed in my hands over the years.

    In short, take your time, think about what you're doing, practice and you'll get there. Once you have the basics then you can move on to sharpening based upon the type of wood you're cutting or will be cutting.

    Take Care
     
    Mastermind likes this.
  14. Mastermind

    Mastermind Work Saw Specialist

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    Great advice from many in this thread already.

    All I have to add is something very basic but too often overlooked. The tooth length is very important side to side.......longer cutters on one side will make the chain cut to one side badly.
     
  15. nstueve

    nstueve Makita Freak!

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    Oh come on Randy... Who likes making flush strait cuts??? I like "J-hooking" all my stuff! :msp_biggrin:

    I don't think anyone suggested the Husky Roller guides also called a clam guide. There are a ton of us around here that like using them. Mitch, Shaun and Me are just a few. They are cheap ($20 for a handle, 2 round & 1flat files, and the clam). They sharpen chain really really well, and they are pocket size! Read the oregon manual so you understand the basics of the "how to" sharpen and then you can pick your own gadget for filing.

    here is the clam that we like, Keep in mind you have to buy the sharpener that matched the pitch of your chain!
    Husqvarna Chain Sharpening File Kit 505698194 .325 file guide depth gauge on eBay!
     

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