Chain selection for improved performance: 3/8 Low Profile options

ijpom

ijpom

Dude, where's my saw?
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I'm looking at OREGON 91VXL062G as an upgrade for the basic 3/8 LP chains that I have on many of my saws. Anyone have experience with this chain, and versus lower end 3/8 LP or basic 325 chain?

Back story:
Limbing and bucking a dead but solid tree about 17" at it's base (14" where I fell it). Started with my Craftsman 2400 equivalent with 18' bar and low kickback chain.
Chain is decently sharp, has maybe 25 thou from cutter to raker height, but takes a long time in cutting the main trunk.

Moved to what I call "Big Blue" in my collection (Blue Max 45cc, 20", 325 chain, Chinese knock off of the Zenoah) with a decently sharp chain. WAY FASTER! Not just more power, but lots more wood cutting ability.

Since I have another 42cc saw on the way (P&C rebuild), I expect to be able to pull a faster cutting chain than it was supplied with.

Will I be making something close to the 325 performance, or will I be disappointed by the difference in performance between the two 3/8 LP chains?



IMG_20210703_093941522.jpgIMG_20210710_131108541.jpg
 
Donb011

Donb011

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Not a bad chain if the wood is clean. Teeth are on the softer side. Cuts slower then the Stihl rm. The Carlton N1C cuts the same as the Oregon but holds up better and cost less.
As for speed unless you can run them on the same saw its hard to compare. I have a Dolmar 421, 42cc 3/8lp and a Echo CS501p ,50cc and .325. running 16" bars on both saws with the same brand and type of chain. On smaller wood under 6" the 421 cuts faster. 6-12" it's about a wash over 12 the 501 extra power shows. If the saws were the same power I think the 3/8 LP would cut just slightly faster.
 
Philbert

Philbert

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I'm looking at OREGON 91VXL062G as an upgrade for the basic 3/8 LP chains that I have on many of my saws. Anyone have experience with this chain, and versus lower end 3/8 LP or basic 325 chain?
The VXL mostly provides a longer tooth length, which lasts longer (more sharpenings). Full chisel teeth will cut faster in clean wood; semi-chisel teeth will cut longer in dead and dirty wood.

Before you try different chains, maybe try different sharpening angles. Assuming that you are good at getting a sharp edge, maybe try filing at different angles? The top plate angle can vary from 25° (hardwood), to 35° (softwood).
Chain Filing Angles.png
The height of your file will also affect the top plate bevel angle, or 'hook', which can make a chain cut more or less aggressively.
Screen shot 2015-12-18 at 7.32.48 PM.png

Finally, the height of the depth gauges ('rakers') will affect how a chain cuts.

Adjusting these for your saw and your wood might provide the performance you are looking for.

Philbert
 
tomalophicon

tomalophicon

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The VXL mostly provides a longer tooth length, which lasts longer (more sharpenings). Full chisel teeth will cut faster in clean wood; semi-chisel teeth will cut longer in dead and dirty wood.

Before you try different chains, maybe try different sharpening angles. Assuming that you are good at getting a sharp edge, maybe try filing at different angles? The top plate angle can vary from 25° (hardwood), to 35° (softwood).
View attachment 918376
The height of your file will also affect the top plate bevel angle, or 'hook', which can make a chain cut more or less aggressively.
View attachment 918377

Finally, the height of the depth gauges ('rakers') will affect how a chain cuts.

Adjusting these for your saw and your wood might provide the performance you are looking for.

Philbert
Philbert, have you tried 25 degrees top plate angle before? Curious to know how it compares to the 30 I've been using.
 
Philbert

Philbert

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Philbert, have you tried 25 degrees top plate angle before? Curious to know how it compares to the 30 I've been using.
The 25° will cut slower in softwood, but last longer in harder (or frozen) wood. There is no reason that you cannot have different chains, filed at different angles, for different wood or cutting situations: no one plays golf with just one club! A great experiment is to sharpen 2 similar / identical chains to different angles, and try them side-by-side in the same wood. That way you can tell if it makes a noticable difference in your cutting.

Philbert
 
Franny K

Franny K

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Oregon 91 VXL is what I would call basic 3/8lp. I have experience using it. I think the obsolete 91vx and current 91px with the smaller cutters and depth gauges that don't stick out as far forward is a performance improvement for low powered saws. The Stihl chisel 63PS would be a performance improvement but cut a wider kerf.
 
ijpom

ijpom

Dude, where's my saw?
Joined
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Messages
206
Location
Illinois
The VXL mostly provides a longer tooth length, which lasts longer (more sharpenings). Full chisel teeth will cut faster in clean wood; semi-chisel teeth will cut longer in dead and dirty wood.

Before you try different chains, maybe try different sharpening angles. Assuming that you are good at getting a sharp edge, maybe try filing at different angles? The top plate angle can vary from 25° (hardwood), to 35° (softwood).
View attachment 918376
The height of your file will also affect the top plate bevel angle, or 'hook', which can make a chain cut more or less aggressively.
View attachment 918377

Finally, the height of the depth gauges ('rakers') will affect how a chain cuts.

Adjusting these for your saw and your wood might provide the performance you are looking for.

Philbert
Hi @Philbert ,

Thanks for your thorough answer.
I've been filing at 30deg, and maintaining the factory cutting angle each time up to this point. My usual check on the effectiveness of the sharpening is to see that I have a straight line on the top of the cutter edge and a clean cutting surface created by the file underneath it. I have been wondering about the 0 to 10 deg file guide angle, but not experimented with that yet.

Not sure what species are native to Illinois, what is growing in my rando backyard forest or even how to identify them (living and dead). Speed/sharpness has not been a problem for small trees of any variety, but as I get bigger, the trees will all be dead and so far, still solid inside. What I'm trying to say is that I couldn't tell what is a softwood or hardwood on my property.

For reasons of longevity of chain sharpness, I think I should avoid the full chisel for now.



Oregon 91 VXL is what I would call basic 3/8lp. I have experience using it. I think the obsolete 91vx and current 91px with the smaller cutters and depth gauges that don't stick out as far forward is a performance improvement for low powered saws. The Stihl chisel 63PS would be a performance improvement but cut a wider kerf.
@Franny K

The basic chain I refer to has huge 'bumpers' between the cutters, in addition to the rakers. Truely a homeowner/novice chain with all the compromises (and safety?) that brings. The Oregon web site warns that the VXL chain will allow more kickback without the bumpers, and that its recommended for "Arborists and professionals".

They think VXL is a step above their basic, and I have a loop on the way to try out. As other commenters have mentioned Carlton N1C for sharpness and value, I'm trying a loop of that too.
 
Philbert

Philbert

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Not sure what species are native to Illinois, what is growing in my rando backyard forest or even how to identify them (living and dead). Speed/sharpness has not been a problem for small trees of any variety, but as I get bigger, the trees will all be dead and so far, still solid inside. What I'm trying to say is that I couldn't tell what is a softwood or hardwood on my property.
That is why I encourage folks to experiment, once they have basic sharpening down. Your saws, your wood, you types of cutting, etc., are different than mine.

If you ONLY cut softwoods (e.g. on a Christmas tree plantation) or ONLY cut hardwoods (e.g. a forest full of cherry trees) it would be easier. But most people cut a mix of woods, and that 30° angle is a good, 'all-around' angle for that. So, if you feel comfortable with it, try changing a few angles, along with trying different chains, and see what works for you. If you don't notice a significant difference, go back to what you did before. But it you find something that gets your attention, see if you can replicate it.

Again, it does not hurt to have different chains for different cutting situations, just like you probably have different sockets (deep, metric, 12-point, etc.) to use with your ratchets.

Philbert
 
ijpom

ijpom

Dude, where's my saw?
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Messages
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Conclusion on this topic has the rebuilt Craftsman 42cc 18inch strato charged saw being given a Carlton N1C. Now it cuts way better.

Still working on the tune a little, but it cut though the rest of my solid 12" dead tree trunk rapidly and well matched to the saws power.
Just the biggest (front) sections were cut recently with this combination.IMG_20210723_151316759_HDR.jpg
 
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