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  #1  
Old 10-26-2016, 11:29 AM
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Default Chain Saw Advice

Not sure where to post this-- this being Halloween, maybe under Firearms & Weapons?

For yrs as a suburban homeowner, I got by with a Craftsman 16in chain saw-- just had the occasional down tree to deal with after a storm. (ie-- I'm a novice when it comes to chainsaws and the saw didn't see heavy duty.)

But now I'm a land owner and will be heating with a wood burning, "gasification" boiler system. Not only is the furnace & circulating hot water system efficient, but it's also an earth berm house, so I don't anticipate needing more than 2-3 cords per yr.

I "inherited" an 18 in Craftsman from a buddy who also retired but moved into an apartment. I started using it on the numerous down trees on my property: oak and hickory that have been down for yrs, but not rotted. Good and dry.

This saw cuts thru branches up to about 4 in like butter, but any thicker than that and it suffers. Once I get deeper into the wood, it seems to stop cutting and smoke arises from the cut. I get the impression the bar is hanging up and the chain not contacting well. Even supporting the log to keep the end free and not pushing back on the cut does not seem to help.

Is it my technique or do I need a better saw?
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Old 10-26-2016, 12:53 PM
TickFarmer TickFarmer is offline
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Doc
I have spent a couple years cutting down and dead wood. They have a tendency to absorb dirt and grit from the ground that wear the cutters on the chain. I'm no expert, but I do have a little experience, and an opinion on almost everything. You know what they say about opinions...
Starting with the easy to check stuff first:

Usually when you get smoke (with black scorch marks) in a cut it is due to a dull chain. The duller it is the hotter the chain gets and should also seem to stretch and get loose on the bar rapidly.
Smaller stuff doesn't work the saw as hard as the larger diameter does - a function of contact area. See if the wood cuts better on the tip of the bar than on the flat. That indicates that the little 'shark fins" between the cutters need filed down a little. They regulate the depth of the cut. The other simple indicator is you aren't making chips on the flat parts of the bar, it's more flour or dust compared to the bar tip.
You might have a mechanic check the "drive" sprocket for wear. The chain may be slipping on that, although that usually throws the chain pretty regularly before it heats everything up.
And finally; although the wood shouldn't be effected, a slipping clutch could slow down the chain making the saw work harder to cut through the wood. That usually just makes the cut take longer than normal, although I have had a saw that ran fine until you tried to cut something. Any pressure against the log and the chain would hang up and stop turning.

Hope that helps
TickFarmer
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Old 10-26-2016, 02:16 PM
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I bet it is the shark-fin thing: it does cut better with the tip and I use a round file frequently to touch up the cutters but ignore those fins.

I don't think it's a slipping clutch: engine rpms go down as chain speed slows under load.

Thanks.
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Old 10-26-2016, 02:26 PM
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I borrowed a chain saw from my BIL.
He said it didn't cut very well.
He had the chain on backwards.
It was still factory sharp so it cut very well after I turned it around.
If you plan on using it a lot I would just buy a new Stihl or Husqvarna and be done with it.
Used chain saws can be more trouble than they are worth.
If money is an issue then try a new chain and bar.
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Old 10-26-2016, 07:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by backlash View Post
.....it cut very well after I turned it around.
You could have just stood on the other side of the log, no?

I was wondering if the Craftsman was just not powerful enough for logs 7 in. + and the chain just skips along, not digging in. To get it to cut on those, I really have to lean on it or use the nose and work it back & forth. The bar seems flimsy and gives a lot under load. As I said, it cuts well (ie- it seems sharp enough) on smaller diameter pieces. I had the same problem with the older, smaller model.

It's raining today, so tomorrow I'll file the whole chain as TickFarmer suggested and give it a try and post the results.

But then, Stihls are on sale this week here and new toys are always nice.
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Old 10-26-2016, 07:40 PM
jvcstone jvcstone is offline
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also, both oak and hickory are pretty hard wood, and harder still once seasoned which your laying around dead wood probably is. Bottom line--the chain will dull quickly. I usually have 3-4 extra chains along with me when doing some serious cutting --Oak and mesquite.

JVC
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Old 10-26-2016, 10:02 PM
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Tim Horton Male Tim Horton is offline
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Many years ago an old woodsman told me...
If you want to mess around, buy any saw you want.
If you want to cut wood, get a Stihl......

At present I have a MS170 model. It is 16" and rated "home owner"

I like the light weight of the smaller saw, and it will cut a lot more and bigger wood than many think it will.

The dealers usually have sales a couple times a year. Swoop on that. Buy the 6 pack of mix oil to double the warranty. Get a spare chain right away. And Stihl bar oil while it is on sale.

Good luck
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Old 10-27-2016, 12:10 AM
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I cut 7-9 cords of oak a year .i have a Maruyama 18. "
Mcv 51. It's made in Germany by Dolmar. Real cutting machine . Biggest thing anyone can do it keep it clean ( air filter, head fins and always check spark arrester . Mine gets blown out with compressed air every use . Also. I suggest flipping the bar and cleaning the track on bar each time . I keep mine sharp with an small Oregon 12 v sharpener. Runs off truck battery . use premium gas fresh fuel always ..

Get a good saw and take care of it .
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Old 10-27-2016, 10:03 AM
Setanta Male Setanta is offline
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I cut 300+ cords a year, I use a Jonsered 2152C (middle size saw, smaller than most professional saws and bigger than most homeowner saws).

what your describing could be caused by several things. first is a dull bar, the second is an improperly sharpened bar (hand sharpening that favors one side makes the saw cut in a curve, if the curve is significant enough it could pinch the bar). the third I can think of is the bar itself, the bar gets burs in the edge over time (especially if you are forcing it down to cut), if these burs are big enough they will make the edge of the bar wider than the teeth of the chain and result in resistance.

for what you are doing the craftsman should be OK, I would never use one myself, but then I do a lot more than you are planning. my advice is to take it to a reputable shop and have them inspect the safety features (break, catch pin, etc), then sharpen the saw and check for those burs.

then buy a good file gauge and learn how to use it (the hexagon shaped one is best because it lets you file at the correct angle and depth). I also advise a pair of saw chaps, hardhat with ear protection and face shield, saw gloves with chip block on the wrist, and steel toe boots. these will be pricy to buy at once but they will prevent the most common chinsaw injuries (a suit of armor for logging).

use only ethanol free gas, for what your doing you can probably just use those 50:1 premixed cans, they are expensive compared to gas from the pump, but they are pure gas and better for the saw.
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Old 10-27-2016, 06:58 PM
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Quote:
I cut 300+ cords a year,


WOW
I can't even imagine cutting that much wood.
You must be in the firewood business and even then that is a lot of wood.
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Old 10-28-2016, 12:07 AM
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I don't think I can add anything of value to the advise already given your trouble shooting question, but for sharpening a chain saw's chain, I have one of the Timberline Chain Saw Sharpeners and that is the fastest and easiest sharpener anyone could ask for. It is almost fool proof, with the exception one can over sharpen, prematurely wearing their chain if not careful and vigilant.
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Old 10-28-2016, 09:27 AM
Setanta Male Setanta is offline
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Semi professional, I was a tribal forester for a few years and oversaw logging and storm damage cleanup, I was very good at it but my employers didn't have stable funding to keep me employed. when the job ended I just dug in on my homestead since it was debt free, my reputation with a chainsaw is still well known locally so I often get hired to clear lots and help people cut firewood. logs for milling, posts, etc. I also cut wood off my own land and sell seasonally.
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Old 10-28-2016, 06:06 PM
Mad_Professor Mad_Professor is offline
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50-60cc stihl husky makita or jonsered pro saw, new or good used and you are set for life if you take care of it.

Use fresh gas and mix, learn how to sharpen chains and do basic repairs.
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Old 02-28-2017, 05:40 AM
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Doc I was looking thrunold thread and read thru this one.. that " shark fin " thing is called the raker and need to be filed down every 2nd or 3 rd sharpening . It is what hauls the chips out after they are cut by the teeth of the chain. Look closely and you will see the teeth you sharpen with the round file tilt back. So the more you sharpen them the shorter they get. The raker then gets higher and shortens the bite of the cutting teeth. Then You get saw dust instead of cut chips. There Is cheap little metal guage you use file down the rakers. It's about 4 inches long with a slot in the middle for the little shark fin thing to stick thru. Set the gauge on cutting teeth and file the top of the raker flush. You usual find the gauge in a box on the counter of home store.

To many people rush out and buy a new chain or bar when all they need to do is set the raker. The cutter teeth can be file half away and chain is still fine.

Hope you figured this out last fall.
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Last edited by MissouriFree; 03-01-2017 at 02:59 PM.
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Old 03-01-2017, 07:21 AM
Setanta Male Setanta is offline
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the raker (i love the shark fin analogy) also acts as a depth guage to tell the cutting edge of the tooth how deep to cut, if you use a guage to file it down you can get it to the exact depth for each tooth and keep high performance, if you file it too much you will cut bigger chips, but will be more likely for the teeth to sink in and get stuck in wood, too shallow and the tooth won't cut anything (i know people who will sharpen their saw teeth down to nothing then replace the chain thinking its dull or defective when they really needed to file down the rakers).
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Old 03-02-2017, 03:35 PM
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I was sharpening frequently and ignoring the rakers.

Another complication was that I was cutting hickory. Discussing it with an old-timer neighbor: he said they always have the problem of quickly dulled chains on hickory-- he claims the shag bark allows dirt to be incorporated into the wood and that's hard on the chains...He may be right because I didn't seem to have the problem when I moved on to an oak.
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Old 03-02-2017, 04:09 PM
Setanta Male Setanta is offline
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Doc, thats not how trees grow, trees build new cells only at the inner bark, the bark on the outside is dead tissue, the wood inside is also dead tissue, only the cambium is alive (and leaves). from that layer new bark is created and sent in layers outward and wood is created inside. the fissures are created over many years as the tree grows the bark is cracked due to the cambium layer being bigger every year and the older layers being smaller. dirt caught in the fissures never goes into the wood, the function of the outer bark is to keep contaminates away from the perpetually embrionic cells of the cambium layer and to keep fungi from reaching the dead material inside of it. once inside the tree has no way to stop fungi from spreading and rotting it until its hollow, only new cells healing over breaks in the bark can protect it, this is why capping done after pruning is ineffective long term, though people offering patches and application services don't tell you that). hickory is a very slow growing tree compared to others and the wood is very dense, compared to lighter wood like aspen or willow which is mostly water weight. thats why hickory also yeilds much better heat, hickory has about 3 times as much matter in the same cubic volume as lighter wood. so if you cut trees of the same size one hickory will wear a chain as much as 3 aspen.
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Old 03-03-2017, 12:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doc View Post
I was sharpening frequently and ignoring the rakers.

Another complication was that I was cutting hickory. Discussing it with an old-timer neighbor: he said they always have the problem of quickly dulled chains on hickory-- he claims the shag bark allows dirt to be incorporated into the wood and that's hard on the chains...He may be right because I didn't seem to have the problem when I moved on to an oak.
Here's what gauge thing looks like.

https://www.google.com/search?q=rake...QOjuDD3Dx5EUM:



You tube has videos on using it. I cut all hickory and oak and really see no difference.


Hope this helps you .sorry I didn't notice soooner
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Last edited by MissouriFree; 03-03-2017 at 09:05 PM.
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