Chainsaws can seem like really complicated machines, however, the main components can easily be serviced to prolong the life of the internals to give your chainsaw plenty of years of life.
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Believe it or not, the sharpness of your chainsaw teeth directly contributes to the health of the engine and can help save gas and extend battery life. A sharp chain means the motor needs to work less to remove the same amount of material giving you more cutting time.
How do you know your chainsaw needs sharpening?
When you notice the cutting speed is significantly slower than previous cuts. You may also hear the engine working harder. There may be a number of reasons though, harder woods will obviously be more work to cut through so make sure you compare cutting similar materials.
A good visual que your chainsaw needs sharpening is that your chainsaw will create more sawdust than ribbons of wood. The way the chainsaw teeth work is by carving out pieces of wood. As the chainsaw teeth become dull, they will not be able to remove full ribbons and will instead just scratch the wood and create sawdust. It can certainly be hard to judge because there will be an intermediate point when there will be both ribbons and sawdust. If in doubt, go ahead and give your chainsaw a quick sharpen.
One other way to tell your chainsaw needs sharpening is by observing the chainsaw teeth themselves. If they have a lot of sap deposit on them then they are in need of sharpening.
Leaving your chainsaw stored with sap on the teeth can also encourage rust which you’ll need to work really hard to remove. You shouldn’t worry too much about this, the bar and chain oil lubricant will be enough to keep the rust at bar so long as you use the chainsaw every couple of months.
There are also certain events which will automatically require you to sharpen or service your chainsaw. Cutting into material which is not wood can cause damage to your chainsaw. Often times, there are nails and screws embedded in old trees, this was done to encourage growth, to dissuade milling, and sometimes to simply hang something from the tree. Embedded metal can spell big trouble for your chainsaw as this will not only dull your chainsaw but can damage it beyond service.
It is generally a good practice to sharpen your chainsaw after three gas refills or 3 battery changes, about 3 hours of run time.
Below is a photo of what your chainsaw cutters should look like after sharpening. The sharpening doesn’t need to be precise, as you can see there is still some dirt deposit on the tooth.
Why does my chainsaw get dull so fast?
There are certain trees which will immediately gum up your chainsaw. Pine trees are the main offender. Other reasons why your chainsaw gets dull so fast may be due to operator error such as using the incorrect lubricant or incorrect sharpener.
Our favorite sharpener is the 2 in 1 Stihl sharpener. They come in 3/8 inch, .325 inch, and 5/32 inch sizes. Be sure to consult your owner’s manual to determine which size you need.
One great benefit of the Stihl Chainsaw Sharpeners are that they also file down the depth gauge at the same time as you sharpen the cutting blade. The photo below shows how the depth gauge is also filed down after using the Stihl 2 in 1 Chainsaw Sharpeners. You can tell by the small shiny spot on top of the depth gauge.
What causes a chainsaw to become dull?
Harder woods can wear out the sharpness of your chainsaw pretty quickly, but so can really sappy woods such as pine trees. Moisture is really your enemy when it comes to keeping the chain sharp. Knowing this, the sap is most prominent during the late spring and early summer periods. It is best to avoid using a chainsaw during that time. The best time to cut trees is in the fall and winter months when the trees naturally have a lower moisture content and will place the least amount of strain on your chainsaw.
The worst enemy of chainsaws is dirt! Do not let your chainsaw get anywhere near dirt. This can often happen when bucking a felled tree or when removing a stump. The bar and chain oil cannot overcome the destructive nature of dirt in chainsaws. Dirt soaks up the bar and chain oil leaving no lubrication for your chain. This increases friction which starts to destroy the moving parts of your chainsaw.
That being said, be sure to provide the best type of bar and chain oil for your chainsaw. My favorite bar and chain oil is from Husqvarna.
How often should I sharpen my chainsaw?
A good rule of thumb is after every 3 gas refills or battery changes. This can be fairly frequent but you will definitely notice a difference in the cutting ability if you stick to that regiment.
How long should chainsaw blades last?
Chainsaw blades can last as long as the chainsaw itself, this all depends on the user. However, it can be a good practice to change out the chain ever year. It is not really possible to give a good estimate of how long any given chainsaw blade will last because of the varying degrees of use.
Land scaping and arborist chainsaw users usually go through 4 or 5 chains a year. This can change depending on what sort of issues the arborist encounters.
Does cutting wet wood dull my chainsaw?
Not exactly, cutting wet wood does not necessarily dull your chains teeth. It does makes your chainsaw work harder to remove the same amount of material. There is also a difference between wet wood versus green wood.
Green wood is a tree which was just standing and has not been seasoned and dried. Trees can have a relatively high moisture content in this case and can deposit large amounts of sap onto your chainsaw during late spring and early summer.
Wet wood, being firewood or felled logs which have simply been in the rain, will dry up much quicker than the internal moisture of green wood. The water in wet wood is loosely captured by the wood fibers and will not cause sap to build up on your chainsaw. Therefore, wet wood should not dull your chainsaw any faster. The excess water will also not cause rust on your chainsaw because the bar and chain oil will create an oil film on the chain which keeps the water from penetrating and rusting the metal parts.
Can a chainsaw cut roots in dirt?
No!!!! Do not by any chance use your chainsaw to cut roots in dirt. Dirt is the number one enemy of chainsaws. This is one of the biggest problems people run into when trying to cut stumps low to the ground.
Dirt will almost immediately destroy the working design of your chainsaw. The bar and chain oil cannot overcome the destructive nature of dirt in chainsaws. Dirt soaks up the bar and chain oil leaving no lubrication for your chain. This increases friction which starts to destroy the moving parts of your chainsaw.
The chain below got into some dirt and finally ended up jumping off the guide bar. As you can see there is a lot of dirt between the links and there is a huge gouge on the drive link.
Can you use a chainsaw as a trencher?
No, a chainsaw cannot be used as a trencher. Though a trencher looks very similar to a chainsaw, it is not suited to be run into the dirt.
A trencher has a much different design than a chainsaw, for one the bar has a much wider track for the chain meaning the tolerance for the chain can vary significantly and it does not need to be centered to within a millimeter. Second, the blades on a trencher are designed to move soil and dirt, not carve out wood.
This question took me by surprise because I could not for a single second imagine using a chainsaw as a trencher. However, after thinking about the situation a little bit more I came to realize how it is possible for someone to mistake using a chainsaw for a trencher.
Angel is a Cuban immigrant who grew up with backyard chickens and a yard-loving abuela. He is our “gear guy” who can never have too many pairs of gloves or weed whacker attachments.
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