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With frequent use, saw chains become dull, which leads to rough, jagged cuts and a much slower cutting process. When this occurs, a chain saw sharpener is used to sharpen the chains, bringing new life back to the power tool. There are several things to consider when purchasing a chain saw sharpener, including the size of the chains, the amount of chains to sharpen regularly, whether, or not, you want to remove the chains, and where you wish to mount the device.
Chain saws come equipped with several different size chains. The most popular sizes include 1/4 inch (0.635 cm), 0.325 inch (0.826 cm), 3/8 inch (0.95 cm) and .404 inch (1.02 cm)-pitch chains. Some chain saw sharpeners will accommodate all these sizes, while others will work with one size only. If you are purchasing a sharpener for one particular chain saw you use on a regular basis, it will be more cost effective to purchase a sharpener meant specifically for that size.
The amount of chain saws that you sharpen regularly, and the frequency with which you have to sharpen them, should be a large determining factor in the type of chain saw sharpener you purchase. If you sharpen your chain saw less than once or twice a month, a hand file should work fine. It does a quick, simple resharpening without even having to remove the chain from the saw. If you are sharpening your saw chain fairly often, or sharpening a couple different chains, the mini grinder can do the job in a reasonable amount of time, without having to remove the chain from the saw. Sharpening a large amount of chains in a reasonable period of time requires the use of a full-size, bench, or wall-mount grinder.
Removing saw chains and putting them back on can be a time consuming hassle. Many people avoid having to do this by using a hand file or a mini grinder to sharpen their chains. Using the hand file involves placing the chain saw in a vise and sharpening each individual saw tooth to a point. A mini grinder is operated by a 12 volt battery. Attach the sharpener to the saw, while it is secured in the vise, and it will sharpen several teeth at a time. Other sharpeners require you remove the chain, though many will lock, and unlock, the chains for you, via a hydraulic assist.
A professional size chain saw sharpener can be mounted one, of two, different ways. One model mounts directly to a work bench. A bench grinder can operate efficiently in a very small amount of space. Wall mount grinders are much larger and require a vast amount of workspace. This must be taken into consideration when planning the installation procedure.
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