A cut of class
Oregon's latest tiny chainsaw proves its worth
Oregon, the favoured supp- lier of chainsaw chains and bars to many chainsaw manufacturers, recently launched a new concept in chainsaw chains and sharpening, the PowerSharp system. We got our hands on one pre-Ploughing launch to see what it was all about.
The traditional chainsaw chain design uses alternating left- and right-sided cutters to cut their way through all manner of timber. To keep a sharp edge on the chain, careful filing is required to maintain each individual cutter's performance. This filing can be quite a task for occasional chainsaw users and an inconvenience for more experienced operators. Basically, it's not as easy as it looks. Even more frustrating is if you hit a stone or piece of metal -- this instantly wipes out all the hard work put into sharpening the chain.
Oregon's solution to the inconvenience of chain sharpening is their new PowerSharp system. The three main components of this system are their new design of chain, the chain bar and the sharpening unit. The traditional cutter on a chainsaw chain is vaguely similar to a hand-held wood planer but with two cutting edges -- top and side -- which are sharpened internally with a round file. The cutters on the new PowerSharp chain are more chisel-like and are sharpened on their external edge.
Equipped with the PowerSharpening system, it was time to test the chainsaw out on some trees. Already on the ground was an ash tree, which makes some of the easiest winter firing. The PowerSharp unit supplied was a 16-inch bar and chain for smaller saws, though it is a pretty average size among hobby- and smaller-farm users for general blocking and small-scale felling.
Cutting timber, the PowerSharp chain is extremely hungry and far more aggressive than the standard chainsaw chain. It seems to have a very high work rate and I cut an awful lot of timber before I felt it had become in any way dull. It must be the chisel-like design that gives it a bit more longevity over the regular chain cutters.
The chisel-cutter design seems to produce an awful lot of sawdust very quickly and, on one occasion when I was cutting using the full length of the bar, the chain was thrown off. A rapid build-up of sawdust in the saw's drive housing caused the chain, which had become loose, to get de-railed. You do need to keep the chain well adjusted all the time regardless of chain or chainsaw type, and you won't get away with a saggy chain.
After producing a fair pile of winter firing and dropping a couple more likely candidates for the stove, it was time to sharpen the chain. Sharpening the traditional chain on the 18-inch bar takes a good five minutes -- maybe 10 if it had hit a stone or something as hard.
Fitting the PowerSharp unit to the end of the PowerSharp bar is easy, even with thick gloves on. There are two alignment pins which go through holes in the end of the bar to align everything up. Click the unit closed, fire up the saw, flat out, and push the spring-loaded nose piece into something solid for three to five seconds and the job is done. The 'chisel' edges are all sharpened very quickly with the curved stone in the base of the PowerSharp unit. The chain is now sharpened and again ready for action.