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Best chainsaw sharpener

Janice WilliOgleams

Janice WilliOgleams

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Joined
Jun 3, 2014
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We had a big storm blow through yesterday afternoon. Lotta wind and rain. We had a tree fall across our driveway,so when it finished raining I had some work to do. It was right at dark and as I was cutting I see sparks. Great! I had managed to cut through the tree into the gravel on the drive. Almost a brand new chain ruined. When I was looking to see if I had a replacement I found that I have 3 or 4 old chains that need a good sharpening. I have not had good success with a file. Can anyone recommend a good sharpener?

 

CJ1

ArboristSite Guru
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Apr 8, 2011
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902
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MICHIGAN
Buy a file guide, Granburg [sp] makes a good one and a raker gauge. Follow the directions on set up and after the first few you will never have to pay somebody again or try to find someone. Most of your hardware stores can grind chains but it really depends on the person doing the work on how good of a job you get. I much prefer my hand filed chains to a ground chain. CJ
 
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7sleeper

7sleeper

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@Janice WilliOgleams ,

personally if your situation equates to infrequent cutting ( which I presume from your experience), I wouldn't recomend any top of the line equipment. To be honest I have had good results with the el cheapo type grinders from Harbor Freight and equivalent. Some also have, others haven't had good results. But for the price I find they do exactly what they are made for. Simple, efficient grind. No fancy grinds are possible, but the chain manufacturers grind their chain almost always 60/30/0 and the HF grinder can do it as well.
Here is a video about how to use it, that I find very good!


I like to combine the above with a simple file roller guide from Husqvarna. They are excelent in my eyes and make the chain even sharper, although the results with above are absolutly sufficient for generel use. They look like this and can often be had in a Set with two round files and one flat file, the roller guide and a file grip. Of course you need the correct size that fits for your chain. Here is a vid made by a member here.


7
 
heyduke

heyduke

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Joined
Mar 6, 2009
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Location
in the mountains
We had a big storm blow through yesterday afternoon. Lotta wind and rain. We had a tree fall across our driveway,so when it finished raining I had some work to do. It was right at dark and as I was cutting I see sparks. Great! I had managed to cut through the tree into the gravel on the drive. Almost a brand new chain ruined. When I was looking to see if I had a replacement I found that I have 3 or 4 old chains that need a good sharpening. I have not had good success with a file. Can anyone recommend a good sharpener?

for damaged chains you will find a file to be useless. you will need to take off, at a minimum, a couple of millimeters of metal to get past the damage. unless you're highly skilled (and infinitely patient) your chain will not be suitable. and, you did ask about sharpeners, not files. the most common sharpener is the oregon . it's a little pricey and you can buy a lot of loops from baileysonline.com for $350. northern tools and tractor supply sell a near clone of the oregon grinder for much less. just google northern tools. alternately harbor freight sells a very inexpensive grinder that uses smaller wheels. they're not great but you can make them work. if you buy one you need to be sure you also purchase the correct wheel(s) for your chains and also a good stone dresser so that you can dress the edge of the stone to the same radius as the correct file. i find the harbor freight grinder to be fragile and almost useless but there are people here who think they're great. my shop has one oregon grinder and one northern tools grinder. the norther tools grinder is usually set up to lower depth gauges.

after you've removed the damaged parts of your chain, you might want to try filing to keep your chains sharp. you should probably use a good filing guide. my favorite is the husqvarna roller guide. it lets you easily rotate your file so you're not wearing out the file's teeth. another type of file guide is the flat type into which you clamp your file. it has angles clearly marked and keeps your file at the correct depth. if you use this type i recommend that you clamp the file loosely enough that you can rotate the file with every stroke.

here's oregon chain grinding chart:

www.oregonproducts.com/pdfs/FilingAngles.pdf

you will find most of what you need to know about sharpening there.

and oh, sorry about the storm damage and welcome to this forum.
 
CTYank

CTYank

Peripatetic Sawyer
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Aug 26, 2010
Messages
3,377
Location
SW CT
Having done some side-by-side comparisons between the HF and NT grinders, it was obvious to me that the HF wasn't near comparable to the NT. Not even close IMO. A kludge.

Overall, an NT grinder is useful for restoring rocked chains and evening-up cutters that have gotten hand-filed unevenly. Other than that filing is way preferable, again IMO, so long as the file is in a Granberg guide. That guide makes it simple to keep cutters very consistent and sharp, with minimum metal removal. (For me, one or two strokes/tooth every second tankiful keeps 'em razor-like.) That guide, with a flat file, can precisely set depth gauges, something you'll have to do after de-boogering a chain. I still use one of those guides from 35+ years back; still works great.
 
juttree

juttree

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Jun 2, 2013
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Wallingford, ct. USA
I like the Pferd chain sharp filing guide, its about $20 and does the rackers at the same time. There's a few other brands (husqvarna, stihl). I've been using mine for about a year and a half and get good results.
 
zogger

zogger

Tree Freak
Joined
Nov 23, 2010
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16,456
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North Georgia
You are a perfect customer for a powersharp upgrade! Infrequent cutter, but needs a sharp chain now, no fooling around. Clip the sharpening dodad to the end of the bar, push moderately straight into something, rev saw quickly for a few seconds or so, done, sharp chain.

To start with you need the full monte, the bar and chain and sharpening cassette and stone, after that, just the chain and stone combo.

They do a demonstration where the dull it by cutting a cinder block, then back to sharp and cutting wood in five seconds!

I have one, works as claimed. I got twelve good sharpenings from the first chain.

http://powersharp.com/default.asp
 
Philbert

Philbert

Chainsaw Enthusiast
Joined
Nov 25, 2006
Messages
16,801
Location
Minnesota
Welcome to A. S.!

You can clearly see that there are many different opinions on sharpening chains. You need to find a method that works for you.

Files and file guides are the simplest, and least expensive.

The Grandberg jigs can be a little confusing at first, but will give you very sharp, consistent cutters.

My preference is for the Oregon style grinders, especially for chains that are really rocked. They are more expensive than the cheaper versions, but I like quality tools.

The PowerSharp system that Zogger mentioned she is also a good system, but only works with 3/8 low profile chains. You are new to the forum, so we don't know what type of saw(s) you run.

And some people like the Dremel or rotary style hand grinders.

Some of it depends on whether you want to be able to sharpen in the field, or back home/at a shop. Some of it depends on how many chains you plan to sharpen, and how messed up the edges are when you do. Some of it depends on how much money you're willing to spend. And some of it depends on what you are comfortable with.

For lots of folks the best solution is to find somebody locally that can teach you how to sharpen and use their methods.

Philbert
 

w8ye

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Ohio
In the last 45 years I have never taken a chain anywhere to have one sharpened.

For most of that period I hand sharpened with a filing guide plate (both Oregon & Stihl) attached to the file and I got along rather well. Years ago, I once got into a cutting off to the side situation but with careful measuring and examination, I straightened the chain out. I tended to think I was good enough?

I formed the opinion that the saw shops in this area put the new kid on the grinder and every chain is sharpened 30-60-0 no matter what kind it is and they don't do rakers,

About four years ago I started using the old red Oregon pro style (clamp onto the bar) file guides. (I have several). I think they gave me more consistency left to right and top plate angle? It would probably take a stop watch to determine any improvement in cutting speed?

Like has already been said, a rocked or damaged chain can cause you to work up a sweat when using a file but the only time I ever got into this situation was on a horse trade chain I wanted to use up.

Last year I came across a nice used Oregon 511A grinder which I have been using and is even more consistent. Only thing is, you have to take the chain off the chainsaw to sharpen it. If I'm out in the woods, I still might use the file.

A couple years ago I bought a old style Silvey Swing Arm square grinder that I doubt had been used in over 20 years? I cleaned it up and used new bearings and fasteners. It turns out a nice square ground work chain.
 
Rokon

Rokon

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Mar 22, 2011
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658
Location
Washington
Sounds like you are not a heavy chainsaw user, so dumping money into a chain sharpening system that you rarely use may not be your bag.

Why not just take it to a reputable shop and have them do it? 6-7 bucks a chain times 4 = 24-28.00
 
Stihl 041S

Stihl 041S

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Dec 9, 2006
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Quaker Valley
Having done some side-by-side comparisons between the HF and NT grinders, it was obvious to me that the HF wasn't near comparable to the NT. Not even close IMO. A kludge.

Overall, an NT grinder is useful for restoring rocked chains and evening-up cutters that have gotten hand-filed unevenly. Other than that filing is way preferable, again IMO, so long as the file is in a Granberg guide. That guide makes it simple to keep cutters very consistent and sharp, with minimum metal removal. (For me, one or two strokes/tooth every second tankiful keeps 'em razor-like.) That guide, with a flat file, can precisely set depth gauges, something you'll have to do after de-boogering a chain. I still use one of those guides from 35+ years back; still works great.
Kludge. What a good word.

But the Harbor freight grinder is not even a Kludge unless you REALLY like to fuss with things. And know how you want to grind a chain........

A kludge at least works.........
 

w8ye

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Sounds like you are not a heavy chainsaw user, so dumping money into a chain sharpening system that you rarely use may not be your bag.

Why not just take it to a reputable shop and have them do it? 6-7 bucks a chain times 4 = 24-28.00
Do that about 6 times and you have the price of a NT grinder
 
CTYank

CTYank

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Aug 26, 2010
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Do that about 6 times and you have the price of a NT grinder
Not to mention that the shop-apprentice-trainee grinding the chains would likely have gotten to the end-of-life of a chain before any sixth grinding.

After hearing similar horror stories from a co-worker at the friendly local Stihl dealer, I never went that route- I progressively learned to sharpen my own. Went from basic file holders, to dremel-like grinder with clamp-on (Granberg) guide, to Granberg "File-N-Joint" clamp-on guide (goes with me & saws everywhere nowadays), to NT grinder recently. NT grinder with Molemab wheels, of course.

For a value-conscious yankee, the Granberg guide and the NT grinder are the current evolutionary end-points, for filing or grinding, respectively. With care and understanding of the goal, both can yield excellent to very good results, respectively, with min. metal removal.
Just not possible to grind a chain to match precision guided filing. No can do.

It's so trivially simple to touch up any round-filed chain in the woods with the Granberg, I do that every second fill-up. One or two strokes per tooth. Done. Razors. Most effective "Mod" you can make on a saw- no additional engine stresses.
 

MCW

Somebody's talking crap here & it ain't the tree!
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It's fair enough that everybody expects all saw users to learn how to file but it's not that simple. To be a good filer you need to do a lot of it.
Unfortunately if you don't do a lot of it you're either not that good or can actually make things worse. It's easy to have a crack at a saw dealer grinding a chain wrong (or not up to expectations) but how about what the average dealer sees coming through every day from average saw users who think they know how to file :D I have chains come in that ruined from people who think they can file that I struggle to sleep some nights!
The unfortunate thing with many dealers is that they don't actually run saws. They also generally sharpen chains for people who don't have a clue anyway so as long as it cuts better than it did before they're happy.
Some people don't necessarily want to sharpen a chain so they can shave with it so a cheap grinder is actually a good investment for the average or less than average user - as long as they know how to use that as well!
 
7sleeper

7sleeper

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It's fair enough that everybody expects all saw users to learn how to file but it's not that simple. To be a good filer you need to do a lot of it.
Unfortunately if you don't do a lot of it you're either not that good or can actually make things worse. It's easy to have a crack at a saw dealer grinding a chain wrong (or not up to expectations) but how about what the average dealer sees coming through every day from average saw users who think they know how to file :D I have chains come in that ruined from people who think they can file that I struggle to sleep some nights!

The unfortunate thing with many dealers is that they don't actually run saws. They also generally sharpen chains for people who don't have a clue anyway so as long as it cuts better than it did before they're happy.
Some people don't necessarily want to sharpen a chain so they can shave with it so a cheap grinder is actually a good investment for the average or less than average user - as long as they know how to use that as well!
Excellent post!!!! What I am trying to say here for years!

7
 
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Sid Post

Sid Post

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Jan 3, 2010
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Texas
It's fair enough that everybody expects all saw users to learn how to file but it's not that simple. To be a good filer you need to do a lot of it.
Unfortunately if you don't do a lot of it you're either not that good or can actually make things worse. It's easy to have a crack at a saw dealer grinding a chain wrong (or not up to expectations) but how about what the average dealer sees coming through every day from average saw users who think they know how to file :D I have chains come in that ruined from people who think they can file that I struggle to sleep some nights!
The unfortunate thing with many dealers is that they don't actually run saws. They also generally sharpen chains for people who don't have a clue anyway so as long as it cuts better than it did before they're happy.
Some people don't necessarily want to sharpen a chain so they can shave with it so a cheap grinder is actually a good investment for the average or less than average user - as long as they know how to use that as well!
Excellent post.
 
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