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Issue link: http://gcmdigital.gcsaa.org/i/385759
34 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 10.14 Avoiding damage when chain grinding Purists say that grinding ruins a chain; that only a fle should be used to restore sharp - ness. But most of us need to put a new edge on chainsaw teeth and get back to work pronto — and that means grinding. A few simple steps will maximize the ben - efts of your mid-priced electric grinder (see "Chain grinder: an essential tool" on Page 34 of the August issue of GCM). A few good habits will reduce the chance of damaging the chain during sharpening. When you open the box, put your new grinder's pieces on a terry cloth towel or piece of carpet. Remove the big knob under the chain vise, and lift it off the base. Split off the tilt table, being careful not to lose the little steel balls and springs. You'll likely see rough castings and blobby paint. Use emery paper or a Dremel- type tool to remove casting fash and smooth the surfaces that will make contact when ro - tating and tilting. It took under 10 minutes to get all our pieces moving smoothly without the balls and springs in place. Lightly grease all contact surfaces and the detents. Use grease to hold the balls and springs in place for reassembly. Unbolt the chain-stop lever system at the back of the vise. This will let the wheel drop down to touch the vise. Assemble the motor head, and mount a wheel. Most chains need the 3 ⁄16- or 1 ⁄8- inch wheel. Set the wheel to 90 degrees and the vise to 0 degrees. Use a protractor to ver - ify that the pre-set snap-in vise angles actu- ally are 0, 15, 30 and 35 degrees, to the left and right. If needed, re-mark the grinder's scale to refect actual angles. Cut a 3 × 5-inch index card at 30 degrees and verify that the built-in head angle indicator is accurate. You may need to grind the detents a bit to achieve equality of the snap-in pre-sets. The grinders we've checked are very close to dead-on, but it's worth verifying. A proper sharpening demands exactly equal angles on the chain's right and left teeth. When reassembling the chain-stop system, bend some metal or add washers if needed to snug up that system. A chain is smooth - est when each sharpened tooth is exactly the same length. We replaced our grinder's sloppy adjusting screws and knobs with the higher-quality screws and knobs that came with our otherwise-al - most-useless "universal" plastic chain grinder. Look for 6-millimeter and 8-millimeter screws and wing nuts from the hardware store. Met - ric nylon wing nuts can also be found hold- ing the tail light assemblies in junkyard cars. These rustproof, vibration-resistant fasteners are also great for holding down small-engine air cleaners. Sloppy screw threads can be enlarged and tightened with a few drops of cyanoacrylate (Super Glue) allowed to harden in the air. Mount your grinder to a bench or wall, or onto sturdy ¾-inch stock. We store ours on a shelf. Clamp it to a tailgate, get 110 volts AC from the vehicle with an inverter, and you're ready to restore a chain that's hit a rock. Bring along your fles for light tooth dressing. Now prepare the sharpener — that's a human. It takes practice for the ear to hear a smooth grind and the touch to kiss — not clobber — the chain teeth. It's sharpeners, not grinders, that ruin chains. The trick is to keep each tooth as cool as possible, to avoid de-tempering the steel. Take several small bites out of the tooth. Pause for a second between bites. Let the heat escape from the thin cutting edge. Don't try to sharpen the chain with only one pass at each tooth. Mark a starting tooth with a permanent marker, and set the chain- stop lever so the stone just grazes each tooth. After one round, screw in the chain-stop ad - juster a nudge, and do another round until all are shiny, sharp and ready to have the depth guides set. Next month I'll look at some of the fner de - tails of cooler sharpening and custom grinding for special purposes. Scott R. Nesbitt is a freelance writer and former GCSAA staff member. He lives in Cleveland, Ga. (shop) Scott R. Nesbitt ORPguy@windstream.net Top: While the chain at the top can be dressed up with a fle, the teeth on the lower chain demand sharpening with a good grinder. Photos by Scott Nesbitt Middle: Rough surfaces need to be smoothed and lubricat- ed to improve operation of the pre-set detents and general operation of a mid-priced chain grinder. Bottom: Checking the accuracy of the grinder's angle settings is easily done with a protractor and contributes to safer, smoother, faster cutting with chain saws.