Survival Warehouse

Please check out our Sponsor Survival Warehouse!

They are dedicated and devoted to providing the best Survival & Preparedness Gear available. They have been around for decades and really excel in the Long Term Food Storage Category.

See more
See less

Advance Lesson Plan 200 **Fire Wood Nomenclature and Chainsaw Maintenance

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Advance Lesson Plan 200 **Fire Wood Nomenclature and Chainsaw Maintenance

    Advance Lesson Plan 200

    Fire Wood Nomenclature and Chainsaw Maintenance

    1. Background: When we no longer get our electrical power from the local electrical company, going camping, or just moving off grid, we have a major problem. How do we heat our shelter and cook food , heat water or to build things. You need a resource that is renewable, and easy to work with. The answer is WOOD in it most raw form (Trees).

    What tools do we have, that will allow us as to cut down 40-75 foot tall trees? The answer is a CHAINSAW! This is the effective tool currently found in most rural homes. It is used to cut trees down, cut the trunk into rounds, cut off branches, even with proper adoption can make lumber from those same tree trunks.

    When it comes to getting up a winter’s worth of wood, the work is never done. If not cutting, splitting, and stacking, I’m scoping out trees for next year or cleaning up brush left from the last.

    Chainsaws are everything the handsaw isn’t. They are loud, obnoxious and above all very fast. Beyond cutting firewood they have endless uses around the homestead. Their lightweight, compact size and dependable power make them irreplaceable. They do, however, share common ground with their hand-powered brethren. Both must be well maintained and sharpened correctly to utilize their full potential.

    Chainsaws are often thought of as brute force, wood-eating monsters. But power without finesse only leaves a mess. A closer look at the chain reveals a highly evolved precision cutting tool. In order to keep the chain in top shape it’s necessary to understand how it works.

    2. Terms used around fire wood:

    Cord of wood is cut wood usable to be placed into a wood stove or fire place a cord is 4’ wide, 4’ tall, and 8’ long . Most wood is cut at between 20“ - 24” long.

    Round is when the trunk of the tree is cut into the 20” - 24” long pieces of fire wood.

    Splitting is the term used for breaking up (Along the grain) the rounds. You can either use a sledge hammer with a steel wedge or purchase a mechanical firewood splitter.

    Chain Saw Parts

    Engine: A 2/4 stroke gas powered engine from the small 40 cc to a professional 55+cc engine. As the cc’s go up so does the weight. Chainsaws also come in electrical and pole models.

    Bar: This is the metal oblong shape sticking out front where the chain runs around it. It stays stationary. They size from 12” to well over 30” in length Keep it clean.

    Cutter: The cutter is the teeth of the chain that saws thru wood. The side edge of the Cutter teeth clears the saw kerf for the chain and bar to pass through.

    Tie plates connect the cutters to the drive links.

    Drive Links: Drive links have two functions. They mesh with the engine sprocket to propel the chain and run in the bar grooves much like a train on tracks.

    The links are staggered left and right down the length of the chain. A cutter link consists of two cutting edges, side and top, with a depth gauge in front. It sets the amount of “bite” each tooth is allowed to take and also acts as a rake to help drag shavings

    3. Basic Safety Tips:

    To learn how to use one - purchase a small chain saw, and use it around the home site to trim branches. You can gain experience this way and ensure you keep your fingers, hands, legs, etc…

    Wear the proper clothing, shoes and personal protective equipment, I.e. helmet, hand, eye, and ear protection.

    Always follow the instructions found with your chain saw.

    With the right file and sharpening technique you can maintain your cutting edge cord after cord!

    4. Chain Saw Maintenance:

    A sharp chain will cut smooth and straight, it feeds itself into the cut. You should not have to apply pressure to the saw to make it cut. Watch your shavings; a sharp chain throws large chips of wood, a dull chain just dust. Smoke is a sure sign of a dull or bound chain. Sparks are a sure sign you have hit a rock and now have lots of filing to do.”

    To sharpen the chain, you first need some basic tools. Like most things in our modern world the market is awash with gadgets and gizmos to sharpen a saw. All of which have more moving parts than just a file. With more parts, come more problems; simple is better. Once you have used a file enough to “get a feel for it” you can sharpen fast and accurately, without set up time and complications. Save your gadget money for a pressure canner or new wheel bearings for the pickup.

    You need a round file, the correct size for your chain with a good handle. The file size is matched to the chain tooth size. Consult your owner’s manual or local saw shop to find the right size. The depth gauge is lowered with a flat file. The chain tension should be set before sharpening, so toss in a bar wrench and you’re all set.

    5. Sharpening How-To:

    HOLD IT STILL: The first hurdle to cross when sharpening by hand is to hold the saw at the right angle. It’s impossible to hold the proper file angle if the saw is moving. If you’re in the shop, clamp the blade in a vise. In the woods you may need to get more creative. Use an axe driven in a stump to rest the saw blade on and push against. I sometimes sit cross-legged with my leg over the saw with the blade resting on a log round. However you go about it, you have to hold the saw still.

    ASSUME THIS POSITION: Next you have to be in a braced position. Keep your shoulders and upper body stiff. This gives your arms a stable platform to push from with a smooth, fluid motion.

    BASELINE: Now that you are all set, find the tooth with the most damage. All the teeth should be filed down equally each time you sharpen. Count the number of file strokes it takes to clean up the worst tooth. Then use the same number on all the others.

    BE CONSISTENT: Look straight down on the tooth and match the file angle to the angle of the tooth. The angle the teeth are sharpened to is important. That said, most of us will never notice the difference in a few degrees. What counts is a sharp edge on both cutting edges and keeping all the teeth even.

    STROKES: Holding the file with both hands makes smooth, controlled strokes. Maintain side pressure on the file into the tooth, don’t press down. Lift the file off on the return, dragging it backwards dulls the file.


    Before you make any changes to the depth gauges be sure you know the correct depth for your chain. The size of the chain, power of the saw and skill of the operator all play a role in the depth you will set. Start with the manufacturer’s recommended depth. When the depth is too shallow, the saw will cut very smoothly but slowly. It will throw fine chips or shavings.

    As you lower the depth gauge the saw will begin to cut more aggressively. When it is too low, the saw will no longer have the power to pull such an aggressive depth and the chain will hang up or jam. The more aggressive your chain is, the more prone it will be to kick back. With time you will find the perfect depth that balances the power of your saw and your comfort as the operator. To check the depth, lay a straight edge across the tops of the cutter teeth, then use a feeler gauge between the straight edge and the top of the depth gauge. With a flat file lower the tops of the depth gauges as needed.


    To refresh an edge, three to four file strokes should be enough. Very dull or damaged chain will require as many as it takes to cut damage back to a fresh edge. Your best bet is to keep your chain sharp and keep the blade out of the dirt. Give the chain a touch up every other tank of gas.
    Last edited by RICHFL; 05-14-2017, 08:26 AM.

  • #2
    Thanks Rich. Never been much of a chainsaw guy and have seen some ER inducing incidents with them. But seems like an important skill to acquire. Thanks for the push and the info.



    • #3
      Hubby;s chain saw has died a slow death. No repairing it. We really need to get a new one but that one is so old and we haven't even begun to look at the new ones yet. Hope we can find one we can both handle as the old one would cut down a 40 foot tree and he can't do that anymore. Need something that will be able to cut up smaller limbs for firewood


      • #4
        Rich, that is a much needed lesson for some folks that don't depend on wood like others do. I have been running Poulan 3400 now for about 20 years. This not the Poulan from Walmart this is a Poulan like the pulpwooders used back in the day. It is starting to show its age now and getting hard to crank and cant always find parts for it anymore. With a good chain it will cut anything you put in front of it. A friend of mine just bought a Stihl and it seems to be a solid saw. A tree man friend uses an Echo for his work along with a larger saw. His Echo is for when he has to climb and cut. A solid small easy maneuverable saw.
        If you are cutting your own firewood I have always found that if you cut your wood about 2" shorter thatn you actually need it is easy to move them around in the stove or fireplace. Plus it lets air flow better for a better fire.


        • #5
          I'm going to publish a list of types of wood and how well the wood works as fire wood. I will include some dues and don'ts.


          • #6
            I have one word. Fuel. actually 2 words, the second one being Oil. Now oil has a much longer shelf life than gasoline so that you can store much easier than gasoline. And gasoline will be one of the first things gone if the outage is long term.
            All cutting techniques would be about the same I think, for a two man or one man crosscut logging saw but sharpening is different. I remember my grandfather using a flat file to sharpen his one man saw (which I have) but no idea how to go about it. After all the last time they used it I was about 11 or 12 and kept well away from most of the action except watch my grandfather or uncles sharpen the saw on the porch.
            If you know any of these techniques please include this in one of your lessons...Might be a good idea to have this for back up. Of course you will still need an ax, splitting wedge and maul if you splitter runs on electrical power or gasoline...


            • #7
              So you want to know how to sharpen a chain saw blade? OK I'll set up one But It will take a lot of photos to do it right. It'll take about 2 weeks.