Electric Chainsaw Sharpener???

stilltenfingersJanuary 23, 2008

I'm interested in purchasing a Chicago electric chain saw sharpener from Harbor Freight Tools. I can't find any reviews on this product. Does anyone own one? Are they any good? They have regular price of $80.00 but, are on sale right now for $30.00 also a replacement grinding disc for an extra $6.00

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There has been alot of them for sale on ebay a long time, I figure they are a cheep china wanttobe, If I needed one I would look else where.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2008 at 10:33PM
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canguy(British Columbia)

What giventake said. The cheap ones do a poor job and don't last.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2008 at 11:40PM
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The Harbor Freight sharpener works quite well. Mine has lasted several years and does an excellent job. Learning to properly use the sharpener is important. It doesn't sharpen the chain by itself. There's a learning curve. For my purposes the Harbor freight model works fine.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2008 at 12:07PM
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Another option is the one from Northern Tool. With some minor mods it gets fair reviews from the chainsaw forum on another site. Sorry, naming the site has gotten me banned before.

I'm a casual chainsaw user. I have an Oregon file guide I use to maintain my chains. The Carlton File-O-Plate looks like another easy way to maintain your chains if you run Carlton chain.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2008 at 6:35PM
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Hum, I saw the same "sale price" at HF on the CS sharpener.

I need to sharpen a chain once or twice a year and couldn't justify "full price" of an electric sharpener, this HF unit looks attractive and at two chains per year even a low quality unit should last many years, maybe more than I will last myself.

The "learning curve" "rdaystrom" mentions is worrisome, I figured the electric unit would make lining everything up easy and consistent, much more show than the guides and hand files, or Dremel grinder method I've used in the past.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2008 at 9:42PM
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electric grinders take too much away. The right size file, used properly is all you need. Yes, there is some learning to do,but it isnt that hard to acquire. The main thing is hold the file level and to follow the existing angle. If you touch up the teeth before they get really dull, the process goes better. Keeping the tooth size uniform isnt that critical, keeping the angle uniform is. I hit the rakers about every 3rd time I sharpen the teeth.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2008 at 9:19AM
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Good electric grinders are capable of taking too much away but it is the operator who actually makes them do so. An inherent weakness of the cheap grinders, the weak motor, has in essence proven to be a plus in that the weak motor won`t allow a person to hog off material.

Make no mistake, these cheap grinders have very little in common with a quality grinder but they may actually be better for the occassional saw operator than a file or Dremel.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2008 at 12:23PM
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Thats right, electric grinders only take off as much as they are set for. I set mine so it barely touches the face of the tooth, keep the rakers low enough and they CUT. I suppose a file works just fine except when you hit a rock or something and really round the teeth off. It will take a lot of fileing to get it sharp again or a couple of seconds on a grinder. Steve

    Bookmark   January 27, 2008 at 6:45AM
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I'm encouraged to again consider the cheap (too inexpensive to be called that) HF electric sharpener. One of my key goals is help with uniformity somewhere near the correct angle. I find the file/Dremel guides helpful, but not great. Blades I sharpened over the years using manual methods do cut better than before I worked on them, but not as well as a new (and assume correctly sharpened) blade.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2008 at 10:28AM
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jbopp14 -- I don't know why one would get banned for providing information, I thought that is what these boards are for.

The mods to the Northern grinder consist of a few shims and some filing. This unit is a Chinese Oregon 511A knock off. It's only a few $$s more than the one you are considering and will provide good service for your needs. The thread on that "OTHER" site started in Dec of 06 and it is still alive in the form of other threads (NH Grinder-SS Washers (hint, goggle exact phrase)) I'm sure you can search the site and find all there is about this grinder (and there are a ton of posts).

As far as grinders go, I went and bought a MAXX grinder, comparatively very expensive, but I am on that thing 3-4 times a week. My advice is to learn to file the chain by hand using a file guide. If you touch up your chain after each use they will stay very sharp (once you find that "OTHER" site, search for sharpening tips, again, tons of posts). If you really need to take a lot of material away (you decided to dig a ditch with the chain saw (rocked it)) then yes a electric grinder is a nice thing to have. No matter what electric model you get don't be tempted to "HOG OUT" a lot of material at once. You will overheat the cutter and take away the temper. Multiple small grinds may take much longer but the results will be much better.

Good luck, stay safe.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2008 at 10:54AM
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The Maxx is definitely a step up from the really cheap grinders but still has it`s shortcomings, but that isn`t what tenfingers asked about.

I also used to recomend that everyone learn to handfile but have since figured out that not everyone wants to or is capable, that`s why they ask about cheap grinders.

I was also in the camp that recommended good grinders to everyone, Silveys to be exact, but not everyone wants to spend that kind of money or is capable of spending that kind of money, therefore I try to give an objective report on any grinder someone asks about.

Frankly, with a very gentle hand and a little bit of understanding a person can do an acceptable job of sharpening a chain with a grinder from Harbor Freight. A friend of mine who along with his dad are tighter than bark to a tree bought one between the two of them and pleaded with me to show him how to use it. I prepared them for disappointment by telling them that in my "expert opinion" that Chinese junk would never work accurately or reliably. I ended up eating those words. I do believe however that the HF grinder wouldn`t hold up to alot of usage but on the other hand, you can buy one for less than three dozen files or five sharpenings at the shop(minus gas to get there) so what do you expect? The darn things will probably last forever with the guy who only sharpens a few times a year.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2008 at 7:18PM
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That's right use a cheap grinder gently, power shouldn't matter as it doesn't take much to just touch the teeth. Steve

    Bookmark   January 31, 2008 at 5:03AM
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Hey there fellas, I bought one of the Harbor Freight chain saw sharpeners, several years ago when the colors were RED and BLACK. Before that they were BLUE and BLACK. Probally all made by CHICAGO ELECTRIC, and modeled after the famous OREGON machine.
What I have noted with mine is the "sloppy tolerances" that there are in the mechanics of securing the chain cutters. Such as the metal strip tab that holds the tooth down to be ground. That slop in the tab that rides on the plastic shank could be eliminated with a bushing to tighten things up.
Maybe, I really need a crash course that will enable me to use this machine making percise grinds on the cutter teeth. Anyone out there that has a set-up procedure or, technique PLEASE forward your Information.
THANKS TO ALL -- For your HELP. Jim

    Bookmark   February 9, 2008 at 9:50AM
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I had bought the Harbor Freight grinder and found the same sloppy tab that is suppose to stop and position the cutter for clamping. It also has enough side to side play that you would have to re-adjust for doing the left side and right side cutters. I tweaked mine and it made a big time improvement. First remove the clip from the plastic pivot and then remove the chain stop. I put it in a vice and slightly tightened the curl. I then clamped it in the vise to hold the curl and could see the arm was pointing to one side. I nudged the arm so that it was squared to the curl. Removed some of the burrs from inside the curl with a round file and put it back on the grinder. The stop tab now stays near enough to center that I don't adjust for each side anymore. I'm using my saw for clearing stumps around my few acres and I rock the chain constantly. I ran an Oregon grinder in my uncle's shop many years ago and while there is no comparison, this grinder does a good job to bring the chain back to usable condition. To help your sharpening technique, learn to always grip the grinder in the same place and pull the grinder down with the same arm motion and you won't flex the plastic housing mounts to get noticable variations in the chain. I do have multiple chains and if I were to be going somewhere to cut, I'd take a few. But for stumping work I use only one chain therefore the sharpener is already set waiting to grind without having to reset and re-adjust all the stops. I make a few extra trips back and forth to my garage this way but I'm getting old and need to take the extra breaks anyway.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2008 at 8:08PM
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Thanks for your input cadmanjwm. Are there any other areas that need tightening up? What are the biggest notable differences between the Oregon and the Harbor Freight grinders? What do you think about using a plastic bushing insert in place of "slightly tightening the curl?"
To everyone else, Please forward your ideas, or experiences with your Harbor Freight Machine ........
Thanks-To-All, Sincerely, Jim

    Bookmark   February 10, 2008 at 9:40AM
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Hello there stilltenfingers and rdaystrom, I tried to send you guys Private, or E-mail messages. Cadmanjwm's information with his correction of the chain stop, and his technique for sharpening the chain are Great things that have worked for him, and he passed them on to me.
If you two would be so kind as to do the same, with any problems in design [corrections] and, or sharpening techniques that you use ........ Please, Post them.
Thank-You-All, for your beneficial Ideas and info. Sincerely, Jim

    Bookmark   February 13, 2008 at 8:35AM
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Hello Again There STILLTENFINGERS and rdaystrom. For some reason I thought these Forums were to find out information. Apparently, only the Few believe as I do. This can become a problem when a Web Site provides the necessary technical info, but is Lacking the "Hands-On" Experience! I think you know, as you may have questions yourself, what I'm talking about.
This is not a Lecture, just common Courtesy to answer the Members when it is possible. Thanks, Jim

    Bookmark   February 20, 2008 at 9:35AM
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For the amount of use my chainsaw gets, I just take the chain to the local shop and have it sharpened for $7. The guy does a great job on both cs blades and mower blades.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2008 at 12:42PM
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Hello Folks, I made a change to the metal tab that holds the chain tooth to be ground. First, I clipped off the plastic shank that previously held the tab, and then used a 3/16" drill to make a hole on center. Using a 2" long 1/4" dia. course thread machine bolt, I threaded this through the 3/16" hole; then put on the tab, with a 1/4" locknut. NOTE: The curl on the tab may be tightened by using Pliers if necessary.
I believe there are "other" problem areas with the Harbor Freight Sharpener, but I haven't gotten there yet. To any of you that know of other Problems ........ I would Appreciate it if you would mention that Area. Thank-You, Jim

    Bookmark   February 29, 2008 at 8:30AM
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I'm a homeowner who does a fair amount of cutting. I used to file by hand and tried some guides and other gizzmo's. I'm now using my dremel with a chain saw guide attachment. I'm pleased with how it works and it's quick.

    Bookmark   February 29, 2008 at 12:13PM
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You Want cheap Chinese plastic . . . You Get cheap Chinese plastic:
My Harbor Freight sharpener lasted 3 weeks, then the plastic adjustment broke for no reason at all. They would not give me a replacement because it was not defective "out of the box", and I had not bought the optional replacement warranty.

To give you an idea of the Very poor quality;
The motor shaft is made of plastic with a plastic nut holding the grinding wheel on. To correct for poor alignment, a piece of masking tape was put under the grinding wheel at the low point to attempt to make it run "true". $6.00 is way too much for a wheel. DeWalt retails a similar wheel for $1.50.

The motor is not 110vac, it is 12vdc. An integrated adapter allows its usage on 110vac.

Here is a link that might be useful: Cheap Chinese Chainsaw Sharpener

    Bookmark   March 8, 2011 at 8:20AM
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