Issue 834

Issue 834

One Tooth at a Time

Chris Marshall photo

Last weekend was too rainy for yardwork, so I rough-turned some bowl blanks. The first step was to get the chainsaw out and quarter up a couple of log chunks, but after sawing the first log, my chainsaw was struggling to cut well. It was time to sharpen the teeth.

Not too many years ago, my solution for a dull chain was to pitch it and buy a new one. They’re not that expensive, but the real reason I didn’t sharpen them was because I thought it would be too difficult. It seemed fraught with mistakes, so a $20 chain with factory-sharpened teeth was the faster, easier choice.

Then one day, I found a YouTube video that made the sharpening process seem simple, so I gave it a go. Turns out, I did make some mistakes when I filed that first chain – the saw didn’t cut much better when I was done. But I tried again, holding the file consistently and counting my strokes. To my thrill, when I put that chain back into service, the saw zipped through wood like I was cutting butter!

Since then, sharpening teeth has become pretty easy, and I’m getting so much more mileage out of each chain. Here’s the moral of the story, and it’s as old as time: Don’t be afraid to try something new because you’re afraid you’ll muck it up. Allow for mistakes — initially, you’ll probably make a few. But the process just might become simpler than you can imagine. And the outcome of achieving success, even if it takes a few tries, feels fantastic.

Chris Marshall, Woodworker’s Journal

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