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Old 01-14-2013, 04:19 PM   #1
RKA
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Default Timberline chainsaw sharpener review

A few months ago Sandy dropped by and left me with a few downed trees. Off to the store I went to get a new chainsaw (first time using one). I knew not to put the blade into the dirt, but the circumstances made that difficult. Some of the wood was buried 8" in the dirt from the force of impact, so even when I dug them out, I was dealing with dirty wood. Other pieces were too heavy to roll. In short order I found the little ribbons of wood turning to saw dust and that monster saw was looking more like a sander than a saw.

I went back to the big box store and picked up a file and guide. As much as I tried, I would guestimate that the angle varied +- 5 degrees as the file grabbed the chain. "Grabbed" is exactly the word I would use for it. I don't have a knack for this stuff...some do. The end result wasn't much better...it cut soft wood fine, but there was no going through green 50+ year old oak. So a little googling later I stumbled on the timberline sharpening jig.
http://www.timberlinesharpener.com/

I read the instructions twice, set it up on the bar as instructed and gingerly made the first pass with the carbide cutter, adjusting the depth of the cut so I wasn't getting too much resistance when turning the carbide cutter. The cutter rotates into the chain and has a set of spiral cutting grooves so it can "hone" the edge into the chain. The first 2-3 turns you get a bit of resistance and the last 2-3 it goes away as the metal is shaved down. The jig maintains the fixed angle against the chain, you just rotate the crank on the carbide cutter. It comes with a fixed 30 degree cut, but you can order replacement guides for 25 and 35 degrees if you need. The carbide cutters are also available in different sizes depending on what you need...13/64" for stihl chains. On a side note, the file I got was 7/32" which was slightly big, perhaps that's why I had some trouble with it?

The instructions warned the first pass on a blade can wear the cutter the most, so I took it easy. It seemed like it was "fixing" whatever I did with the file previously, but I'm not certain. Then I went back and took a second pass, which went much easier. To the naked eye, it was producing a nice clean edge that I wasn't achieving with the file. All in all, the first pass took me 25 minutes for both sides, as I went gingerly not wanting to ruin the cutter or screw up the chain. The second pass took 15 minutes, again going slow to get consistent results.

And the final test, how did the chainsaw do on that 50+ year old oak? It was like a brand new chain spitting out nice clean chips of wood again! Still took a bit of work, but cross cuts through 24" oak were taking 20 minutes before (and producing a bit of smoke at times) and after the sharpening they were taking less than 5 minutes. To go any faster I think I really needed a longer bar so I could make a single pass rather than working from both sides and a more aggressive chain instead of the standard chain equipped with the saw. All things considered, under 5 mins a cut wasn't as bad as it might seem to you guys that do this everyday.

It's pricey at $125, but the way I looked at it, if the chain hit the dirt unexpectedly (and it did several times), it was 10-15 minutes to touch up the chain and I was back in business. No trips to the store to get it sharpened, no need for additional chains, etc. And since it's completely manually operated, you could do this in the field. Keep a flat file handy for the rakers though...this tool won't help with that. You can also adjust the depth of cut so you're just touching up the chain not taking a bunch of metal off, which might be the case if a power tool was used to sharpen the chain. If I had better skills hand filing, perhaps there wouldn't be a need, but in my case I'm more than satisfied with the excellent results in my unskilled hands. This tool took the variables out of the process and gave me consistent and excellent results in very little time!
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Old 01-14-2013, 04:31 PM   #2
woody 73
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Default Re: Timberline chainsaw sharpener review

Very good review I wish the price was cheaper because it looks like a cool shop tool to put in ones tool bag. I find a few minutes with a cheap file guide is all I need, but still fun to see all the new tool ideas from time to time.
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Old 01-14-2013, 05:26 PM   #3
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Default Re: Timberline chainsaw sharpener review

What brand and model saw are you using?
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Old 01-14-2013, 05:36 PM   #4
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Default Re: Timberline chainsaw sharpener review

Very nice write up, but ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by RKA View Post
... It's pricey at $125, ...
HOLY CRAP ! That is more than a lot of no-name brand saws cost !

Assuming you have a 14" bar and if you had bought 2 spare chains, you could still afford to have all 3 of them sharpened a couple of time and still might have change in your pocket !

Long term it is the "right answer", but I would have a problem dropping that much coin on that tol !
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Old 01-14-2013, 05:42 PM   #5
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Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by theoldwizard1 View Post
Very nice write up, but ...



HOLY CRAP ! That is more than a lot of no-name brand saws cost !

Assuming you have a 14" bar and if you had bought 2 spare chains, you could still afford to have all 3 of them sharpened a couple of time and still might have change in your pocket !

Long term it is the "right answer", but I would have a problem dropping that much coin on that tol !
Or $20 in files and save $105. Taught myself to sharpen a chainsaw by watching YouTube videos. I could teach someone in 2 minutes.
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Old 01-14-2013, 07:07 PM   #6
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Default Re: Timberline chainsaw sharpener review

Looks like a neat product but it doesn't file the rakers and after the filing the cutters you need to check the height of the rakers. If you are making dust and not chips your chain is dull or not getting enough bite do to the raker height.

Jeremy
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Old 01-14-2013, 07:22 PM   #7
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Default Re: Timberline chainsaw sharpener review

I like it and can see where it would be handy for someone even like myself that can file free hand. I like how the cutters on both sides can be done from one side of the bar. Id like for when a chain really gets rocked or finds metal in a tree. It would really save time and get everything back inline and even. I have not found a shop around here that can grind a chain right without over heating it.
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Old 01-15-2013, 08:47 AM   #8
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Default Re: Timberline chainsaw sharpener review

Answers:

Stihl 362 w/20" bar. Ideally I would have chosen something further down in Stihl's lineup, but beggars can't be chosers when every tree guy and homeowner is running around snapping up saws. I took what was on the shelf and justified it as cheaper than paying the tree guy. Very happy with how it performed. I would have ordered something over the internet, but in all honesty, having never handled a chainsaw, I wanted to spend a little time with a dealer familiarizing myself with the saw.

Same justification with the sharpener really. I had 6-7 weekends to get all the trimmings to the curb so the township would take them. Outside that window, I have to pay a tree service to remove the debris. At least 3 of those weekends were a washout, 1 was lost because I had to work and the remaining weekends I put the hours in and made up the extra over Thanksgiving. Time was a factor and running back to a shop everytime the chain needed a touch up would waste too much time. I'm fortunate I didn't have to call in a tree service considering my property was worse off than everyone else in my neighborhood. At the end of the day, 2 sides of my property are wooded with mature trees, so this won't be the last time I'll need it. Seems like we get these once in a century storms every year now.

I've sharpened the chain about 4-5 times and it's just now getting to the point where I need to file the rakers. The carbide cutter takes slightly more off than a file (or more than when I tried to file it), but not so much that you're filing the rakers everytime, if that makes sense. I'm obviously not very experienced here, so maybe I'm wrong, but that's what I'm seeing so far.

As for trying to fix a damaged chain, I would say that's not what it's designed for. If you're trying to remove that much meat off the chain, you might burn up that $20 cutter...and it may take some time. You're probably far better off sending it out to have it sharpened. The way this tool works, you set the depth for one side, sharpen every other cutting tooth, then set the depth for the other side and do the same. Each pass is removing a small amount of metal. If you wanted to remove more, that can be accomplished by taking many passes on each side but not by adjusting the depth for a "course cut". You will damage the cutter trying to do that. This is most likely the wrong tool for fixing a damaged chain.

Hope this helps.

Last edited by RKA; 01-15-2013 at 12:39 PM.
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Old 01-15-2013, 09:35 AM   #9
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Default Re: Timberline chainsaw sharpener review

Haven't used the Timberline but all reports I hear say it works great. As to the cost, for a beginner sharpening his or her chains, it is a good choice. Around where I live, having a shop sharpen a chain runs about $10, plus the time and distance to drive to drop them off and pick them up. Doesn't take too many sharpenings to break even on a sharpener purchase. Plus, shops very often over-grind chains and the chain life is greatly shortened. $$$ to buy new chains sooner. In dirty wood, a newly-sharpened chain can dull in a few seconds. Literally. So having a good sharpener on hand saves lots of time. Lots.

If you get past the clean-up and don't need or want the saw any more, the sharpener will be easy to sell, as will that saw, which is a really good model and would sell quickly.

You did good. There are millions of less-expensive sharpeners sitting in drawers and on shelves that never get used because they are not very good and people are frustrated with them. The Timberline seems to be one that everyone is having good results with.
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Old 01-15-2013, 12:38 PM   #10
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Default Re: Timberline chainsaw sharpener review

RKA, thanks for the full report - I like the looks of the Timberline, think I'll give it a try. My chain gets sharpened every time I use the saw. I've never been any good at filing it freehand, so I use a simple (Oregon) clamp-on file guide. I cut about 4-5 cords of firewood a year, as well as general clean-up chores in the woods.

Learning to sharpen the chain yourself is a must - you can do it whenever you need to, and even with care you're going to kiss the dirt when you work in the woods. It takes about five minutes to do, and the kid at the shop may grind the snot out of your chain - I've gotten them back with blue cutters!
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Old 01-15-2013, 01:07 PM   #11
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Default Re: Timberline chainsaw sharpener review

If you are cutting right, you should be able to go thru that oak in under a minute with that Stihl. That is a pro level saw that should go thru a green oak like butter.
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Old 01-15-2013, 01:30 PM   #12
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Default Re: Timberline chainsaw sharpener review

Maybe it could, but not in my hands. This piece was 3 ft wide and 2 ft high.



I worked from each side of the tree, but as I neared the ground I was teasing the chain into the bottom of the log trying to cut just enough that I could pry off a wedge of wood but not so much that the chain hit dirt. I didn't have access to anything that would roll that giant log. It probably took 2 mins for each side and another minute to open the cut at the bottom enough to crack off a wedge. Add to that fatigue...holding that saw down near the ground will give your back a workout! Even working the bar into the wood was work. It cut through the outer 3-4 inches like butter but as soon as it hit the green wood inside you could feel the added resistance.

Honestly, if you have suggestions, I'm open to them. I thought 5 minutes a cut was reasonable.
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Old 01-15-2013, 01:57 PM   #13
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Default Re: Timberline chainsaw sharpener review

That area of the tree shown in the photo is going to be tougher to saw through than farther up the trunk, so five minutes if the chain isn't super sharp is not unextected. Also, down there near the base, sometimes there is grit [sand, soil, even small stones] embedded in the wood, stuff that blew in and stuck over the years and was encased in the tree as the tree grew. There is no way to avoid this material, unless you simply don't cut that part of the tree. If I cut a place like that, I just accept the fact beforehand that I'll be either sharpening the chain afterwards or switching out to a spare chain. That 362 would zip right through the other areas of the trunk without the weird grainy portion there at the base. The cellulose fibers and hardened sap can be rock hard there, or other spots such as at the base of a fork in the trunk or a place where the tree suffered damage in years past. It is just the way the trees are. A 362 running right will only be slowed down significantly in a tree that diameter if you are using a less than sharp chain.
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Old 01-15-2013, 02:56 PM   #14
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Default Re: Timberline chainsaw sharpener review

Don't forget to use a plastic wedge to prevent the tree from pinching your bar if that is happening. Steve is right on everything he said and I will add that if you cut on top and let the bar cut down the back side and then work towards you taking 8" or 9" slices at a time, that type of cut will go fairly fast. I also use a different chain than you probably have as a lot of shops sell low kickback chain (green) only. I make my own from bulk length chain and it is not a low kickback style of link.
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Old 01-15-2013, 03:03 PM   #15
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Default Re: Timberline chainsaw sharpener review

Explain why you need this when 5 dollar file will do it in the same amount of time with the chain on the saw.
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Old 01-15-2013, 04:06 PM   #16
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Default Re: Timberline chainsaw sharpener review

Quote:
Originally Posted by purplezr2 View Post
Explain why you need this when 5 dollar file will do it in the same amount of time with the chain on the saw.
That's what I've been thinking. The answer I often read is that some folks just can't get the knack for hand sharpening with a round file and guide. Personally I think most folk just haven't been shown the proper way to do it.

The other issue is that the first filing of a new chain will always be the most difficult. The file will grab and stall more during the first couple strokes per tooth, but that goes away for the remainder of the chain's life.

For newbs, I don't recommend freehand filing (just a file and no guide). I do recommend the file WITH guide. Clamp the bar (with powerhead still attached) in a bench vise. Make sure to clamp the bar at the proper position along its length to eliminate vibrations.

If you all haven't seen them, the Stihl chainsaw videos are excellent. They can be a bit long, but stick with them because they are thorough.

Here's the one for sharpening:



You can find the rest on Stihl's website:
http://www.stihlusa.com/information/...saw-safety-ope
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Old 01-15-2013, 05:18 PM   #17
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Default Re: Timberline chainsaw sharpener review

Been cutting for a living (in the winter anyway) for 25 years now, about 3 years ago I saw one of these http://www.husqvarna.com/us/accessor...ce-file-guide/ for the first time and tried one. Made by Pferd, they also sell it under their own name but I haven't seen them here. Best tool I've ever found for sharpening saws. Files the teeth and rakers down evenly everytime. Generally average about 5 cords per saw per day here, 2 strokes every other fill up takes about 2 minutes and saves a lot of time over cutting with a dull chain. I have 2 of these for every chain size I own now, got them split into two different kits so if I have one of my Amish neighbours helping me he can take his own kit and cut a distance away without having to come back all the time.
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Old 01-15-2013, 05:26 PM   #18
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Default Re: Timberline chainsaw sharpener review

Quote:
Originally Posted by purplezr2 View Post
Explain why you need this when 5 dollar file will do it in the same amount of time with the chain on the saw.
Some people have the "touch" and some people just don't have that feeling ; I can do it in my sleep but if you ask me to paint anything forget it because I don't have that "feeling" and everything I touch looks like crap.
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Old 01-15-2013, 07:30 PM   #19
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Default Re: Timberline chainsaw sharpener review

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Originally Posted by RKA View Post
Maybe it could, but not in my hands. This piece was 3 ft wide and 2 ft high.


Honestly, if you have suggestions, I'm open to them. I thought 5 minutes a cut was reasonable.
If you haven't already done so, watch the Stihl videos (link posted earlier in this discussion) and pay attention to the part on tension and compression forces in the wood.

TIP: Before you buck sections of trunk or (heavy limbs), place other logs/limbs on the ground underneath the trunk (perpendicular to it). This will keep the sections off the ground when they drop, and make for easier bucking cuts.
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Old 01-15-2013, 07:41 PM   #20
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Default Re: Timberline chainsaw sharpener review

It would really save time and get everything back inline and even.
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Old 01-16-2013, 09:09 AM   #21
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Default Re: Timberline chainsaw sharpener review

@Steve...I think that dark spot was actually rot as it was quite soft and the chain zipped right through that. What you see in that pic was the part of the tree about 20-30 feet in the air. In the background you can see part of the base of the tree. That facing cut was ust below a fork, and you're right, it was harder to cut than the parts further down. I haven't actually worked my way down to the base as it's still hung up 6 feet in the air and the trunk is split, unstable and on an embankment (too risky with a spinning chain for me to bother with it). It's on the edge of the property so it doesn't bother me too much. I need to call in some pros to deal with a standing 50 ft dead tree hanging over my garage and shed, so I'll have them remove what's left of this one as it shouldn't take them more than 10 minutes to yank it down with a truck and some straps. You raise lots of good points though...duly noted.

@Georgia...up, I had exactly one plastic wedge...but it didn't do a whole lot of good the times I forgot to use it! My neighbor rescued me when I got the bar stuck. Live and learn. I did think about getting a full skip chain but being my first time with the saw I decided to just take a little extra time and get used to handling the saw and dealing with the physics of fallen trees. Let's just say I have a healthy fear for what the saw can do!

@ Mr. Purple...I believe I've already explained this, but if it wasn't clear in my review I'm happy to repeat. I did try a file. Oregon specifies a 7/32 file, however I later learned that 13/64 seems to be better for the Stihl chains. That may be why the file had a tendency to grab and when it did, it torqued and changed the angle. I tried applying a light touch initially, but as I put a little more pressure on the file so it could actually do some work, it would grab again. I did the best I could and the result was very little cutting improvement (admittedly I didn't do a good job). With enough practice, I might develop a knack for this. But the timberline removed all that from the equation and gave me excellent results. Value is in the eye of the beholder. I understand the price is rediculous to some and for those...this review really has no value. But for the others, I think it's been helpful.

@treepointer...good tips. Stihl and Husqvarna both produce excellent videos which I would recommend to any saw virgin. I went through the entire set of videos from both series' before I put my saw to use. Well worth the time! I did watch the part on tension and compression forces and for the most part was mindful of that as I cut. I did get b!tch slapped by a branch under tension once and scratched my head a few times when I approached a tangled mess. I called for help when I couldn't figure out which way the tree was being pulled/pushed. If that wasn't possible, I made a few shallow cuts to see which way things started to move. In the pic above, you're right...would have been better to put something under it before dropping that limb. There was a downhill slope there and that piece was heavy. I was just happy to have it flat on the ground, relieving most of the tension. In hindsight, even something shallow like a 2x4 would have been great...live and learn. Thank you!

Peropett...I'm not sure this jig would do exactly what you're thinking. The reason is the adjustment for depth of cut for the left and right cutters are done independently. So if you're already filed one side more than the other, my understanding is the blade will cut to one side (curved cuts). Just like you would when hand filing, you would have to file down one side more than the other so you're back at even again. This tool won't automatically even out both cutters if that makes any sense? When I switched sides, I adjusted the depth of cut to achieve the same approx resistance in the carbide cutter as I felt on the opposite side, then kept working. But I was starting with an even chain and more or less ended up with the same when I was done.
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Old 01-16-2013, 09:41 AM   #22
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Default Re: Timberline chainsaw sharpener review

OK so there always has to be a PRO that chimes in with his $.03, today it will be me. I have seen a bunch of different sharpening aids in my 17 years of tree work. Some of these are complete jokes, some really can help even the seasoned veteran saw man. This one looks really cool, my issue is the fact that the operator still has to account for equal depth from side to side of the chain. The only sharpener that does this is a motor style as a saw shop has. No matter what brand most "chop saw" style grinders have a depth setting to "equalize" the total length of the cutting tooth. My best recommendation is to carry 1-2 extra loops of chain. This tool is about the best looking I've seen and certainly could get you out of a pinch if you needed it. The times you talked about in the original post are about what it takes to free hand file a chain once you got the hang of it. I do agree it is very difficult to learn how to file anything, let alone a chain, when you want to keep it as close to the same as possible. At least as a beginner you realize the saw needs to be sharp, and you're willing to make it sharp. A sharp saw is safer than a dull one!
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Old 10-30-2013, 12:22 PM   #23
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Default Re: Timberline chainsaw sharpener review

Just ordered mine today...will post my own review in a few days after it comes in.
I am in the middle of dropping over 200 cedars and the stump clearing is heck on the chains, so something where I can take to the field and sharpen with precision while wearing gloves will be a big help.

I've been hand filing saws for 30 years, but never really as good at it as I think I should be by now.

I also ordered 2 additional cutter sizes to handle the different Oregon and Stihl chains.
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Old 11-24-2013, 10:25 PM   #24
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Default Re: Timberline chainsaw sharpener review

got mine, been using it for a couple weeks now.

Absolutely, without question, the best chain sharpener I have ever used. I'm good with a file, have had a $300 grinder sharpener, you name it, I have tried it.
This thing sharpens better than any brand new chain I've used, and it's SAWEET to have in the field. No overheating, perfect angle, consistant removal from cutter to cutter. I saw a lot, so I figure the price will be made up for in longer life from the chains because you don't remove too much material when sharpening.
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