I need some chainsaw chain 101 for shortening my chainsaw chains. I have 4
Stihl chains that need shortening and would like to buy some tools and do it
by myself. I was thinking of picking up the vise grip type chain breaker
mender tool to do it. What else do I need? What must I do/know to learn this
Are you certain they need shortening?
If they were originally used on that saw, then they don't
need shortening, you need to adjust the blade.
If they weren't, then you need to find the master link (it
will look different than all the others), separate the chain
there, use your tool to take out the links you don't want,
then reinstall the master link.
There is not a master link in saw chains. You punch the rivits out of a
link, remove a drive tag, or two, and reconnect with a new link.
I have repaired chains at home with common shop tools, no need for a rivit
punch or rivit seting tools. You will need new links to reconnect no mater
what methods you use. I grind the heads off of the old rivits, and peen the
new rivit with a small ball peen hammer.
All chains are differant, you need to find a source for links that match
your chain. The manufacturer of the chainsaw or a small engine shop that
deals in your brand of saw, or brand of chain should be able to help.
Better yet, just have them do it!
Wrong. Chains commonly stretch beyond adjustment range due to poor
oiling, poor maintenance, cutting with a dull chain and other reasons.
Even run properly it is not unusual to need to remove one link.
First of all, you didn't mention whether or not the chains are too
long because they are beyond the range of adjustment for the bar.
Normally, this only happens because you run them dry - without
sufficient bar & chain oil to lubricate them. You do know how to
adjust the length of the bar, correct? And you are using bar & chain
Some chains have a master link, some do not - it usually depends upon
who made them. Most small shops buy chain on a spool, cut them to
length and then fasten them together. Actually, they don't cut them -
they count the links and then punch out the rivet. The tool they use
is normally the tool you're thinking of buying - it looks like a pair
of modified vise grips. That's the simplest and cheapest tool you can
use to remove links.
The easiest way to put it back together, though, is using a master
link. They are made for that purpose.
Again, however, what bothers me is that you even need to do this.
I've got a couple of Stihls and a Husqvarna, used them for 30 years
and have never had to shorten a chain. While not claiming any
expertise, it does make me think you are doing something wrong.
Also, while on the subject, most of the pros around here (who are
pretty cheap!) never use a chain when there is less material on the
short side of the sharpened tooth than about 1/8". If your chains are
that short, it would be safer to throw them away.
Hope that helps,
I have been using a chain saw for the last 4 1/2 years off and on. I use
Stihl chains and have never run them dry. The wood that I am cutting though
is some of the toughest and dirtiest wood around. Florida Oak. So tough that
toward the stump I have actually seen a spark occasionally spit out. I have
never seen a cutter wear out and I typically have to resharpen about every 2
tank fulls of fuel (12V sharpener). When I do trash a chain it is usually
worn up to the side of the rivet (as viewed from the side). Before I put on
one of the chains that I get shortened at the shop I usually let it sit in a
coffee can full of oil for a couple weeks or more. Also after resharpening
with my 12 volt sharpener I'll pour a capful of oil around the chain where
it contacts the bar. Also when tightening it is usually 2 nickel widths
loose or enough so that there is minimal friction. At the end of the cutting
day I loosen up the chain due to heat expansion/cold contraction. For a bar
I am using the Stihl Duromatic 18" bar which is their higher end bar (lasts
a good long time). If there is anything else I can do let me know as my time
is cheaper than dishing out wasted cash. Also I like to play it safe as I
cannot afford to gamble with unsafe equipment ie;loose chain adjusted to the
max and barely hanging on. Shortening chains seems to be a logical step if I
can do it myself.
wrote (with possible editing):
Can't say for certain, but I suspect you're running the
chain way too tight, and/or your automatic oiler isn't
working and you're not pumping the manual chain oiler often
Here's a good test. After using the saw for a bit, 10
minutes or so of cutting, kill the engine, and with your
(gloved!) hand, try to move the chain along the bar. If it
moves freely but has minimal sag at the bottom, the bar is
perfectly adjusted. If not, you've got some work to do.
Once you find the proper adjustment point, let the bar and
chain cool completely (hour or better) and look closely at
how sloppy the chain is. Now you know how much to tighten
the bar in the future.
On most saws, the sag at the bottom of the bar will be
enough that the points of the guide links are just barely in
the track of the bar.
Excellent 101. I'll adjust them just like you said. One interesting thing I
found after my last post was that one of the sprocket teeth cracked or
sheered off. Never happened before and it was on a new chain. Both chain and
sprocket were Stihl. Got two on order.
I think you might be over-tightening the chain, as Mark said. Also,
you want to be sure to use bar & chain oil, not just used oil as some
do. Bar & chain oil has some kind of sticky stuff added to it so that
it goes further around the bar. I use bars with sprocket tips but I
didn't always do that, and I've never had to shorten a chain.
Bear in mind, I'm not trying to start a flame, it's just that I've
never seen chains need lengthening and I live in logging country and
what little I know, I've learned from guys who make their living doing
I've cut dead elm - just like stone! The chains get dull very fast,
but it seems like the teeth get too short long before the chain
becomes too long.
I sharpen about the same, sometimes a little more often. I take the
rakers down a little more than normal. I was shown that doing so
makes the saw more aggressive - you can use it upside down if you want
- but you better not stop in the middle of a cut.
Mark's method of determining proper length is similar to what I use.
It's a bit of an art - too loose and the saw throws the chain, but too
tight and you might end up with your problem.
Hope that helps.
There is one thing I haven't seen mentioned here. If the chain has
worn or lengthened enough to need shortening, the pitch has
changed.The chain will no longer fit the sprocket. It will ride up
onto the tips of the sprocket teeth and you'll soon need a sprocket.
Get a new chain.
somewhere in there you said you run a duromatic bar, that's a
hard nose bar, no sprocket. then you said they chains wear up to the
rivets,. what you need is new chains sprocket and bar. the other
clue was dirts and sparks flying.
there is never a good reason to remove one link. it's just a
aband-aid on the real problem. I went to Stihl school for 3 years in a
row, and several oregon chain seminars. I also used to run a stihl 028
with a duro bar. if the indentions in the sprocket are deeper than
.030. the sprocket is shot, i've actually seen people who shorten
chains run them long enough to cut through the sprocket and snap the
end off the crankshaft.
just my experience.
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