Now that you have cleaned your saw, reinstalled the bar and chain and made the proper adjustments, its time to sharpen your chain. A handy tool for sharpening a chain in the field is the stump vice that will hold the saw firmly while sharpening. If you are sharpening your chain in a workshop or garage, a botch vice will work just as handily.
Often items you will need to properly sharpen your chain are a file and guide with the proper size rounded file, a flat file and a depth gauge tool. Check your owners manual or ask your authorized dealer for proper file size and depth gauge tool required for your saws chain. This information can also be found in the chain leaflet packet with new loops of steel chain.
Before we sharpen the chain, it will help you understand the process better if you know the different components that make up your chain. These are the cutters your chain has separate left and right cutters. They are the parts that you will be sharpening. Located on the front of each of the cutters is prostrution called the depth gauge or as some people refer to as raker or drag. The depth gauge acts much like the adjustment on a hand plain chisel and determines the depth of the cut or chip the tooth will take. The wider the gap between the tooths cutting edge and the type of depth gauge, the larger chip the chain will take.
If there were no gap between the cutting edge and the depth gauge, the chain virtually wouldnt cut at all. Your chain has been designed to cut optimally with a specific depth gauge clearance. Check your owners manual or with your authorized dealer to see what gaps is specified for your chain.
You can see that the cutters top plate has a declining slope as the tooths cutting edge is sharpened back, the depth gauge will also need to be filed to maintain the recommended chip clearance between the tops of the depth gauges and the tooths cutting edge. The chain consists of a series of tie straps and ribbets, which hold the components together, separating the right and left hand cutter alternately.
This is the drive link. It has several functions. Its the portion of the chain that engages the sprocket, compelling the chain around the guide bar. It acts as a scooping device, dispursing the lubricant that comes from the oiler to components of the bar and chain and it guides the chain in the bar groove.
For your chain to be sharpened properly, you must make sure that each tooth has been filed at the same specific angle with the proper file, that the top plate of each cutter tooth is the same length and that the depth gauges are set at the proper height. Begin the process by looking for the cutter with the most damage or wear. This will become your master cutter. Once sharpened properly, this cutter slope and length will be what all the cutters should look like. Not doing so will result in a poor cutting performance; your chain will run roughly and could even break.
As you file the first cutter, count the number of filing strokes you take and be conscious at the amount of pressure youre applying to the file. Using the same number of strokes with the same amount of pressure on the rest of your cutters should result in a consistent length on each. If you are uncertain, check the individual cutters length with a measuring device. If you find that some teeth are larger than others, make the necessary sharpening adjustments. Always file the cutter from the inner portion of the cutter outward. Never file from the outside in. This will dull the chain and damage the file and when youre filing, never allow the file to drag back across the cutting edge when pulling the file back. Doing so will quickly dull your cutter and damage your file as well.
Your filing guide has a plate positioned on both sides of the file. Placing the filing guide on this chain, the plate on one side of the file will rest on the leading edge of the cutter while the other plate will rest upon the top portion of the depth gauge equipped with the proper sized round filed and assuming that your depth gauges have been maintained in the past. This will give your round file the proper filing depth when sharpening, resulting in the proper edge of the cutter.