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Chain Saw Tooth Modifications for Ripping

Detailed, specialized advice on chain selection and tooth grinding and sharpening for chainsaws used to rip logs into rough thicknesses. April 20, 2011

What is the best way to "rip logs" for later turning? Do I need to put a different angle on the chain saw chain? I can get sliver or very fine dust what is better?

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor J:
When I have to rip 4, 5 and 6 diameter logs I use a chipper tooth chain with 10 degrees on the angle for the cutters not 30 degrees as normal. Granberg is the company that I started using 25 years ago for the chains. The chains used for ripping are not to be used for cross cutting. They do work but very slow. I have two Husky 3120xp saws and have ripped 200 plus logs in the last 10 years and found that the chains are expensive to buy so I make my own up from 100 foot rolls. For ripping big logs you really need a "BIG" saw. The 3120 can use up to a 72" bar on the newer EPA saws, (8.7hp) and on the other older one I have, (9.2hp) it should be able to take a 96" bar. I am working towards converting the EPA saw I have to the older design. It costs more than $400.00 to do. I think it will be worth it down the road.

Back to the chain, I do not use a skip tooth or chisel tooth chain, which means I use a full comp chain with the rounded corners on the teeth. I take a die grinder and remove just the top flat part of every two teeth. This might not make sense so this is where Granberg comes in to see what you need to do. The bar I use the most is 42?long and has 123 drivers and after the ends are joined together I set up the die grinder and start at the joint. I first two teeth are left alone (a right and left), the next two teeth the top places are removed (a right and left). The reason for this is to help clean out the cut and help from clogging up the saw. You do leave the sides of the teeth on. You repeat this process until you come back to the start. I hope this helps.

From contributor F:
I can second the fact that you need a "ripping" chain and they are usually 10deg angles. It is slower and more work but probably the cheapest way to start milling lumber. That's how I started with a Logosol TimberJig Big Mill.

Contributor J - since you grind off the teeth anyway, why don't you just use a skip-tooth chain? I've thought about that for a while but never bought any.

From contributor J:

The second set of teeth that have the top plates removed are to help clean out the cut. You really need to have really large (CC) to do this. This would be for a non-skipped tooth chain.

From contributor X:
Like Contributor J is saying - skip tooth chain doesn't even have anything there except another link. But by grinding the plates of the cutters like he's say, you still have part of the cutter gullet sticking up. It won't cut, but it won't make any chips either, and further it will fill with chips and clear them out.

Skip chain doesn't have that portion of the gullet sticking up, it just has a drive link where the cutter would have been, so that's usable space that isn't being utilized other than holding the chain together, which is somewhat important of course. All those cleaners equal less friction, less heat, less wear and tear, and better efficiency - well, you get the idea.

From contributor M:
I have ripped hundreds of douglas fir and western red cedar logs into cants light enough to be flown out by helicopter. I use a 066 for the smaller logs (up to 4' diameter) and a 088 for the big logs (up to 8' diameter) all I use is a skip tooth chisel bit chain and take the rakers down a little more (.0030) works like a charm. Just remember, if the saw tip is buried in the log you have to pull the bar out of the cut frequently to avoid sawdust build-up.

From contributor F:
Well that's good info I may have to grind off a few teeth on one of my ripping chains and see how it works!

From contributor U:
I have two Husqvarna 395's which I double power head chainsaw mill with on a 66" and 96" double ended bar, and I also run a Stihl MS 880, which I hate. The 880's air filter clogs constantly and is really problematic.

I have always bought bailey's ripping chain for my chainsaw mill, but I'm not really happy with them, The rakers are shaped weird, the rakers are also typically too low from the factory, and I always find teeth of different sharpened lengths. After I regrind each tooth and adjust the rakers the chains cut well, but when I compare them to my typical 24" loops of Husqvarna .058 square chisel chain which I mostly run while logging and crosscuting these ripping chains are horrible! I have been considering buying a roll of my .058 Husqvarna square chisel chain and modifying it to 10 degrees or so and seeing how it works.

I have always found square chisel to cut much faster than round chisel chain, and would like to hear anybodies comments regarding the two types. My chainsaw dealer says the round over chain is basically designed more for the home owner individual and the edge holds up longer from dulling, and the square edge if more for an everyday chainsaw user and cuts quicker, but dulls more easily.

I do not quite understand this and feel that if you hit something in the log, or some sand or grit that the chain will dull equally as fast on both, but I defiantly feel that square chisel cuts faster.

From contributor J:
Square chain does cut faster but takes longer to sharpen. I always file my chains, never grind and yes I file my chains with an attachment that clamps to the bar. Chisel or square teeth are filed at 30 degrees with the file up at 10 degrees for both sides. Chipper teeth are filed at 30 degrees and are flat or 0 degrees. Yes, chipper teeth last longer and can take more abuse that is why I only use this style. The only time I use the chisel is when I compete in logging competitions, just for the reason you stated. They cut faster. I can start my stock 3120xp and cut through 24 inch douglas fir log in just under 17 seconds. I am having a really hard time taking a good picture of the chain.

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From contributor J:
Square tooth chains come to a very sharp point at the tip. It is just like a bandsaw blade, if it is not sharp it does not cut. Where as a chipper tooth has a rounded corner and does not have to rely on that very sharp point to start the chip when cutting and can rely on a little more of some other part of the cutter to sever the wood.

Chisel teeth are very temperamental as to size, shape and depth of the rakers. Chipper teeth are very forgiving and the teeth do not have to have the same size. I can file one side more than the other sometimes and it always cuts straight. I have sharpened hundreds, if not thousands of chains over the last forty years and have only had just a few that just did not work. That was usually from broken teeth from all on one side of the chain

I have never cut myself and can only remember one time I broke a chain. Every chainsaw I have has had the chain brake assembly and falling dogs removed. Believe or not this is for safety and longer life of the clutch drum. People rely way too much on falling dogs and I have found that they should never be installed on any saw unless you fall trees for a living. This is why you need the chain brake. I do not get the bar close to my body and always use both hand and never have my body inline with the bar when cross cutting logs. I am an OSHA instructor and teach safety classes at the community college. Not for chain sawing but for construction sites and the tools used there.

From contributor G:
I've just started using a 660 w/ a 42" abr and an Alaskan Mark III. But I've run across some property with big wood. It seems many sites say it's better to use on big saw rather than two medium size ones. But for about $600 I can pick up a 660 used, versus over $1000 for a used 880. In your experience how big should I be able to go with two 660's?
Will they do six feet?

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From contributor J:
Larger saws will cut faster than smaller ones. I actually did a test 12 years ago when I started chain saw milling. I used an Echo 550 EVL with a long bar on it and cutting a 22 inch Cedar log that was 10 feet long. It took me 8 minutes to make the cut. I then change the bar to my new (to me) Husky 3120XP and was able to cut the next board in 1 minute and 5 seconds. So there is something to be said about more power!

To answer your question you will be able to cut your 6 foot log it will just take longer. By the way, I don抰 like Stihl saws. I have used them in logging competitions for many years and I just do not like them. Echo saws are just as good at half the price. They do not make a real big saw so I now have two 3120XP抯. My newer 3120 has now been converted to the older model with 9.2 HP. It really works greaat!

From the original questioner:
Thanks everyone it has helped a lot and yes I do rip hardwood such as cherry, hack-berry, and a few white oak logs. I don't rip log that are very long mostly just the length of my 18 a few times I have close to a three foot piece by doing one the other. By holding the saw at the right angle I seem to have pretty good luck. I trim the sides then right down the middle to make say 12x12x 4, 5, 6 in. turning blanks depends on the tree and how much time I have. The other day I ran across a 2 1\2 ft diam. hack-berry that I was able to get some almost 12x12x12 blanks they are drying now and seem to be doing ok so far.