How to do-it-yourself instructional on sharpening a chainsaw by hand using files and checking raker height using a straight-edge and a feeler-gauge. Discusses use of Dremel power rotary tool in shop environment. Shows use of chain file guide for proper angle on cutting edge and filing back a damaged chisel-point to restore a good cutting edge.
Today on Repairs101: Iím going to show you how to throw a quick edge on your saw using nothing but a couple of files Ė the way you do it out in the bush.
OK so one of the keys to getting your chain sharpened correctly is getting the chain tension right so Iíd ask you to please look at my other film ďChainsaws : Correct Chain TensionĒ before you watch this one, set up your chain tension correctly first and then watch what follows here.
OK the first thing youíre going to need is, of course, a work surface. If youíre at home or at the shop you know you can throw it up on your workbench. If youíre out in the bush find a nice comfortable work station like the deck of your truck or the tailgate or a log or a stump or whatever. I donít know, some guys donít mind using the hood of their truck for a workbench.
So the first thing I should talk about is that there are all kinds of time saving devices like this Dremel tool with a rotary stone on the end of it and they are going to make light work out of it. And there are all kinds of jigs that you can buy nowadays Ė little round ones that you can lay on the top, thereís all kinds of table-top jigs that you can use to hold your rotary tool in place.

sharpening chainsaw chain with a dremmel rotary tool

Now Iíll give you that thatís a lot easier than doing it by hand but if youíre out in the bush, thatís not going to be an option, now is it? So the best way to learn really is the old fashioned way.
If youíre a weekend saw user : a rat-tail file, a flat file, a file holder, a file guide. Thatís pretty much it. Itíd all fit in your pocket although I sure donít recommend you carry that stuff in your pocket Ė especially if youíre in the woods working with saws. You donít want to be carrying stuff like that around on you. Keep it in a tool bag or a tool box and keep that handy.
Youíre going to need a rat-tail file the same size as your chain Ė in this case itís 7/32. You know Iíd encourage anybody to use a brand new file. Oh I understand trying to save money for sure but youíve got to pick your battles. Try cleaning it up on a ďfile cardĒ, this is called a file card OK it looks like a brush for cats but itís not itís for cleaning files, just like that. So if you can, try cleaning it up but you know theyíre not that expensive and for the aggravation itís going to cost you: just chuck it and get yourself a new one. Iíve seen guys try and get decades of use out of a two dollar file and I just donít understand.

Oregon chain angle file guide for precise sharpening

Alright so this file guide here fits in your tool bag you can carry it around you know on the job if youíre out in the bush itís not too much to carry around. It does give you a really great accurate idea of what angles to cut. So if Iíve chosen the thirty degree angle what I want to do then is line up that score line on the guide with the bar and then you can see itís giving me a basis for a thirty degree angle. Just go down the line to the next one and itís offset at thirty-five degrees.




The tip of this chisel here has been blunted off OK itís obviously hit something hard Ė perhaps a rock, perhaps a nail, perhaps a piece of chain link fence. The only solution youíve got there is to clean it up to the point where the tooth is basically restored. Itís going to be considerably shorter if you take it all the way back to get rid of the damaged point but you know, to have one tooth thatís a different length than all the rest isnít going to affect your performance or the straightness of your cuts. Once youíve got three or four teeth that are damaged and got cut back and are different varying lengths from your other teeth well then youíre going to have it start to pull to one side perhaps if itís not evenly balanced. Once youíve got three, four, five teeth that are shot, then itís time to get a new chain. In the meantime take your file and just push it back like this.
This tooth that was damaged here Iíve cut back to shorten it. Much shorter than this one over here, OK? So weíll just do the other side now and then weíll look at the rakers.

measuring chainsaw raker clearance with a feeler gauge

OK so the idea is to take a straight edge and lay it across from the crest of one tooth to the crest of the same tooth in front of it and that of course being every other tooth is an opposite. So when you lay that out then youíve got this height here of this raker. This raker you canít really adjust for this way. You have to go up and check it against the next set of teeth. So Iím setting up my straight edge from chisel tip to chisel tip here and therefore being able to measure the height of that raker. Now I can tell you right now that Iím holding a twenty thou feeler gauge in my hand and I canít get it in there. Twenty thou is only two one-hundredths of an inch. Two one-hundredths of an inch of an inch not a lot of room so I would say we need to cut down these rakers. So Iím just going to take down the tip of the raker, just like that. That being the raker. Iím just going to take down the tip of it with my flat file. OK Iíll just do one from the other side there. Again: point to point. Take my feeler gauge. I canít get it in there. I cannot feel a half a millimetre or twenty thou. Anyways so Iím just going to take it down a little bit.
Youíre probably thinking ďhow come he yea how come he says yea yea yea and heís still using a dirty old flat file. Well: youíre right. I got a brand new one right I got a brand new one right here. Well OK Iíve used it once. Take it down. There you go twenty thou or half a millimetre. Easy. Iím not suggesting that you take a feeler gauge with you out into the bush Iím just showing you how you would confirm that you had approximately a half a millimetre or twenty thou depth on your rakers to make sure the depth of your cut is about right. You donít want to be too aggressive, you wouldnít want a one millimetre bight Iíll tell you that because youíre just going to be pulling in too much, youíre going to be overworking the engine, youíre going to be overworking the chain, things are going to get heated up, youíre going to consume oil. You know? Itís just not going to be a good scene all in all. OK check your angles and check your depths. OK this is why these kinds of guides exist and after youíve used them for a few years you start leaving them behind and just doing everything by eye and then checking afterwards and thatís what I do I do them all by eye. I check afterwards, if Iím out on a couple of teeth I buff them up. I tweak the angle on them and Iím done.
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