Sawdust Is there a standard way to determine the Sharpness of A Chain

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Bearcreek

Bearcreek

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Can you determine when to sharpen your chain by examining the type and size of the sawdust being produced ?
as a complete new guy I came to the realization not only was I not making no progress I was producing pure dust .
at what point does the sawdust tell me sharpen the chain ?
before I get flamed I never noticed the difference in sawdust. Im sure professionals know when to sharpen the chain what should amateurs look for in the sawdust at what point is it time to sharpen other than a complete failure to cut.
You can tell by the sawdust, but people who really know what they're doing sharpen their chain long before they're producing anything that could be accurately described as "dust". By the time you're making fine dust, the chain and possibly the bar are probably junk from being overheated. There are lots of variables but you should count on sharpening at least once a day. If I'm cutting a bunch of firewood it's not uncommon for me to sharpen 3-5 times a day. When I was doing tree work full time the only saw that didn't get sharpened every day it was used was my climbing saw. It stayed sharp longer because it very rarely saw dirt since it generally wasn't used lower than 10+ ft. off the ground/dirt.
 
Canyon Angler

Canyon Angler

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The size of the chips, esp. when bucking, can be VERY misleading as indicator and vary greatly w/ the wood type, tree age/size/ environment= Growth ring size. Wide growth rings will give larger chips than small, tight rings.
Be that as it may, I have NEVER had a sharp chain give anything even approaching "dust" from any kind of wood.
If you get "dust," that means the chain is either backwards, or more "ball pein hammer" than "chisel."
Or somebody filed the teeth down to nothing without touching the depth gages.
 
onedash

onedash

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Get a stihl 2 in one sharpener, sharpen chain. Then you'll know what it should cut like sharp. It seems impossible to not get a perfectly sharp chain with that.
 
Dangerous

Dangerous

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Thank You all for the info on when to sharpen or replace. The three tank rule of thumb seems to make the most sense and easiest to Apply .
Kind of explained why Oregon sell Two packs of chains. D
 
Huskybill

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When I first open up the gullet on a new chain with a round file, I count how many passes I make on each tooth to keep the cutters even. I make one pass with the file n guide on the top cutting edge. With the rakers if it’s too high I make one or two passes with a flat file. So there all even. Counting the passes keeps the chain as even as possible l
 
computeruser

computeruser

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Like others said, chip size (relative to type of wood, hardness, frozen versus not, etc.) is a good way to test. However, simply looking at the chain is also a really good way to assess things, assuming you're running round-filed chisel chain and not semi-chisel.

When the leading tip of the cutter is not crisp and sharp, it's time to run a file over it. Peened and rounded out? It's gonna take a few passes with the file, at least!

The Stihl/Pferd combo sharpener tool thing works well. Not great, but well, and it is easy to use so you're more inclined to use it more often and not wait until the chain is dull. A swipe or two on each cutter is easy and fast to accomplish when you're topping off your tanks.

If you're cutting clean standing timber or tops that are still up in the air, you can go many tanks without needing a sharpening. Three or more is not unheard of. Cutting skidded wood or wood laying on the ground, I usually end up sharpening every tank full.

One other observation I made is that when I run a very short bar, I can get more tanks per sharpening because I'm not inadvertently sticking the tip of the bar into dirty things - the ground, the bark of an adjacent skidded log, etc.
 

rwoods

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Chips are only one indicator and are dependent upon what you are cutting.

Yesterday, I spent several hours cutting a number of large dead ash trees, a few live poplars, a couple dead red oaks, a small dead walnut, and miscellaneous small live trees. On several of the ash trees there were times of lots of powder and slow cutting but put it to the others (especially a live tree) and chips would flow again. After two tanks, I changed to a fresh chain and had better but very much similar results. The replaced chain had many cuttings left, it was just not quite sharp enough to maintain the speed I wanted in the dead ash.

IMO paying attention to performance in your cutting environment is more important than looking at chips. To properly gauge performance requires beginning with a sharp chain which is why a newbie should start with factory fresh chains or chains sharpened by someone who knows how to sharpen. With experience the typical cutter won't need to look at chips. Someone trying to up their sharpening skills might test for a sharper chain by comparing chips, but they don't need to look at chips to know if a chain is dull.

Ron
 

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