There are several tell-tale signs to look out for which clearly indicate your chainsaw chain needs to be sharpened - ignoring them means you won't get the best out of your chainsaw and also you pose a risk to your personal safety.
A professional chainsaw operator will quickly know when their chain is dulled - but it can be a little bit harder for a novice to tell exactly when to carry out sharpening.
The most obvious sign that you need to get out the chain saw sharpener is when the chain no longer self feeds smoothly and effectively.
A correctly sharpened chainsaw should pull itself directly down through the cut. If you find yourself pushing extra hard on the chainsaw to make it cut, or you have to use the bucking spikes on the front of the device to gain leverage, it's time to treat your chainsaw to a session with a sharpener.
Another indicator that sharpening is necessary is if you have spotted dusty discharge from the chainsaw when cutting wood. A perfectly sharpened saw should cut out perfectly squared-off wood chips. If your chain saw is producing dust instead of this kind of chip, the chain needs sharpening.
Another indicator to watch out for is a shiny chain - you should take a look at both top and side plates and see if the plating has worn away. If it has it will expose steel on the under-half, and the cutting edge will look way too shiny. The best way to restore the cutting edge is to file away steel until a desirable thin overhang of chrome is exposed again.
You must stop cutting as soon as you realise your chain is blunt. Trying to force a chain that is dull to cut anything can cause wear and tear to the power head, sprocket, guide bar and chain.
There are also potential safety risks if you continue to use a dulled chain - there have been many accidents in the past where operators have been seriously injured as a result of using a defective chainsaw. Sharpening you chain can not only help you cut wood more effectively but could even save your life!
A perfectly sharpened chain should cut through wood almost as smoothly as a knife to butter. If it isn't cutting smoothly you are probably wasting your time and energy, putting yourself at risk and damaging your equipment into the bargain.
A chain would probably stay sharp for an incredible length of time if you were only cutting clean wood. However, in the real world, much of the wood we cut is dead or dirty and cutting often takes place near ground level when the chainsaw can come into contact with dirt, debris, stones and rocks and grit.
Any of these are capable of dulling a chainsaw chain which is revolving at phenomenal speed. That's why some people even go to the trouble of brushing or washing the wood they plan to cut before powering up their chainsaw - it could save you time in the long and extend the period before your chain needs sharpening.
Cutting wood is so much easier and safer when your chain is sharp - so, look out for the signs discussed and get that chain sharpened as soon as you think it is starting to dull.
After sharpening a chain you should always check the lubrication on your chainsaw. The chain sprocket which is located at the front of the guide bar should be lubricated with grease each time sharpening is carried out.
A pump-action grease gun can be used to pump some grease into the little nipple fitting at the front of the bar in order to lubricate the sprocket. Doing this will make your chainsaw run better and you'll get more power out of it.