What’s in a File Handle?

Last week I tried a new file handle for sharpening my chainsaw.  I didn’t like it.  The handle was flat and I held the file only one way because it felt ‘right’.  I ended up filing every tooth with the same part of the file and quickly dulled the it.

Chainsaw Sharpening File Handles
The blue file handle on the left is not recommended for chainsaw teeth.  Because of the oblong shape you hold the file one way and quickly dull it.

I like big fat round file handles for chainsaw teeth.  I grip narrow file handles too tightly.  The tighter I grip the quicker my hand tires.

My preferred file handle is the Oregon file handle in the picture above.  It’s the fattest I can find.

A few years back I got a deal on Pferd wooden file handles.  They’re a little skinny for my taste but I use them because I don’t want to waste money.

File Handle Box
My file handle collection. I’ve tried many searching for the best handle and I like Oregon wood file handles the best.

I prefer wooden file handles because I like how they feel in my hands compared to slippery plastic.

Firewood Cutting Opening Day 2016 Season

Yesterday I got out to start firewood cutting for the 2016 wood burning season.  I’ve already got plenty of seasoned wood for this year.  It was a crisp fall day and I felt a need for chainsaw.

I grabbed the 036, cleaned the air filter, checked the chain tension, filled the chain oil and fuel tank and started cutting.  I thought I put the saw away sharp but after two cuts it was best to stop work and sharpen the saw.

I put the saw in the vice and took 4 strokes off my weak side and 2 strokes off my strong side.  The marks on top of the vice helped keep my file at a 25 degree angle.  Once I sharpened the teeth I took two strokes off the depth gauges and then another two to round the leading edge.

Oregon Semi Chisel Chain with Safety Depth Gauges
Oregon Semi Chisel chain with Safety Depth Gauges. That’s how it looks after sharpening and one tank of use. Semi chisel chain isn’t as aggressive as full chisel chain BUT it stays sharper if you hit dirt and is easier to sharpen.

The Sugar Maple melted away as my saw cut like a hot knife through butter.

I’ve missed that feeling.

I went through one tank of gas before I had to quit because it was getting dark.  It felt great to be outside with a sharp chainsaw in my hands.

Firewood Cutting Updates

I’ve been removing wood from the holz hausen that fell.  It amazes me how stable an improperly built holz hausen is.  Imagine how strong it would be if I built it properly.

Holz Hausen Half Gone
The pile on the left is ‘wetter’ firewood than the one on the right. I started pulling wood from it because that was the pile that fell. Every time I pull wood from a holz hausen I’m amazed by how dry the wood is.

I’ve been running the saw dust and bark from firewood cutting through my Bearcat Chipper.  I admit it’s a slow and often tedious process.  I enjoy chipping and shredding and knowing that I have a 3-4 cubic yard pile of mulch ready for the yard.

Chipper Log Splitter and Chainsaw Mill
The little chipper that could. The pile behind the chipper is 3-4 cubic yards of bark and saw dust. It’s just as fine as the mulch I buy locally. I still have to tune up the log splitter for the season. You can see my log table in the background. I need to get some time on that next.

Have you started cutting firewood yet?

Hand Filing Chainsaws Figured Out!

Hand filing chainsaws is a perishable skill.  If you don’t practice you’ll lose it.

Today it clicked.  I no longer need, or want, a file guide.

My chain needed a major sharpening.  The cutters were different lengths and the top plate angles were way off.  I also hit a piece of metal embedded in the wood.

Oregon 72DPX Chainsaw Chain Hand Filing Chainsaws
That’s hand filed Oregon 72DPX semi chisel chain.

I use a welding magnet with lines to reference the top plate angle.

Keep the top of the file 20-30% above the cutters.  That’s a good starting point.

Keep the file parallel to the top of the teeth.  Look for a clean straight line where the file touches the top of the tooth.  If you don’t see a clean straight line keep filing until you do.

Welding Magnet with Angles
The welding magnet I use to reference the top plate angle.  I stick it to the bar when sharpening. You don’t have to be perfect.  Did I really say that?  Yes, I did.
Oregon 72DPX Semi Chisel Chain Hand Filed
A different view of the chain.

Adjust the height of the file by applying pressure toward the tooth and up, toward the tooth and back or toward the tooth and down.  Apply MOST pressure straight back toward the tooth.

Safety first!  Wear thick gloves when hand filing chainsaws!

Check every tooth with the depth gauge tool and file as necessary.

I checked the depth gauges with a depth gauge tool and knocked them all down one stroke.  Sometimes I get impatient.

Take two rounding strokes over the front of the depth gauges after setting their height.  Rounding the front of the depth gauges gives a smooth cut.

Consistency is the key when hand filing chainsaws.  Make the process as repeatable as possible.

Hand Filed Oregon 72DPX Chainsaw Chain
Final view of the chain.

Hand Filing Chainsaws

A brief video showing the results.