Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Sharp Idea

We use a fair amount of firewood over here and that means that I'm cutting a fair amount of the stuff with my chainsaw. This in turn requires a bit of maintenance on my part to keep our machines running smoothly, and a lot of it I've had to learn on my own, which for the record is at times an exercise in futility. One area that I've repeatedly tried to master and have come up short is sharpening my chainsaw chain. As a real man in training, this sort of behavior is a little less than exemplary, but sometimes you just fall a little short in your quest for male dominance.

The actual process is pretty straightforward - you simply bore out the teeth with a file and in theory the chain should become sharp again, but I just can't seem to get it right. I've used files and a Dremel tool (thanks for my Mentor for that one), and I come away from it feeling good and accomplished, but the chains just don't seem to cut the wood as easily as a newly bought chain. It's hard to beat the clean smoothness of a cut with a new chain, almost as if the chain is being drawn into the wood. Factor in the enormous amount of wood we cut and the fact that chainsaws are terrifying machines (they made horror movies about them), and I've just found it not worth it to try to sharpen my own chainsaw chains. I bow my head in shame to my Mentor and the Amazing PR Man.

I could always take the old chain in and have it sharpened professionally, but it takes several days to a week, and who wants to sit around waiting when there's wood to cut? It costs about half of what a new chain costs. In light of all this, my solution has been to simply buy a new chain when the old one gets dull, and as you can imagine, I've got a little collection of chains lying around the basement (about 4-5, not that many, actually). My son was quick to point this out to me when I went to get a new chain.

It was then that I realized that I could have the old chains sharpened and have them ready to use when I needed them, thus eliminating the need to get new ones. Joe's has a sharpening program where you get 6 for the price of 5, like they do with ice skates over at Stateline Sports. This puts the old chains to good use, and I can plow through the wood without any down time. I usually go through two sharp chains per truck load of logs, but truth be told, I should probably use at least three because by the end I'm making sawdust, as they say in logging circles.

I know it's not the ideal real-man path, but sometimes you just have to make do with what you got. Whatever be the case, I'm ready to cut some wood, which is a good thing because we sure have plenty of it.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Rob Fisher for the pic.

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