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I've been using my Stihl MS180 chainsaw to help with debris cleanup for Hurricane Michael victims. I have one question and one recommendation.

CHAIN BRAKE HANDLE: My little saw is great for firewood and small stuff, but when cutting standing trees or anything large, my hands repeatedly trip the chain brake because the handle is too close to the grip. I find myself holding both handles and squeezing them together. Does anyone know of a solution to this problem, other than removing the chain brake handle altogether? This has become yet another safety device that causes dangerous distractions. I know its value, but I have to do something about this problem.

STIHL 2-IN-1 EASY FILE CHAIN SHARPENER: Everyone in the area was sold out of files, so my local Stihl dealer recommended the 2-in-1 sharpening tool. They gave it very high praise despite its ~$50 price tag. I have to agree. It's easy, fast, accurate, and does an exceptional job. My saw cuts faster then it ever has. Here's the link I used, but be sure to get the right size for your saw & chain.
https://amazon.com/gp/product/B00HY90LAE/

Here are a couple of the best YouTube links:
https://youtu.be/marzGaMq6pM
https://youtu.be/SzjmpNTVH6U
 

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I’ve been using that 2 in one sharpener for years. Love it. I need to get another one though. Mine won’t stay together anymore.
:(


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
 
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CHAIN BRAKE HANDLE: My little saw is great for firewood and small stuff, but when cutting standing trees or anything large, my hands repeatedly trip the chain brake because the handle is too close to the grip. I find myself holding both handles and squeezing them together. Does anyone know of a solution to this problem, other than removing the chain brake handle altogether? This has become yet another safety device that causes dangerous distractions. I know its value, but I have to do something about this problem.
I do the very same thing, and despite having the brake handle in my grip on the saw, I had a situation where I did activate the brake when the saw rotated down moving my hand forward. Since it is often designed as a handle, I almost wonder if hanging onto both isn't part of the design and plan.....:dunno: Otherwise, my 3xl hands, especially when wearing gloves, makes bumping the brake handle very easy.

Smaller saws seem to have very little clearance between the handles. I am going to work with mine the way it is, just because it hasn't been a big problem, more of an inconvenience to me. I find the "safety chains" , also called "Low Profile" chains, which come on many new saws cut not nearly as well as those chains which don't have the safety elements in the chain between the cutting teeth.

My friend who owns and operates the local small engine shop buys chain in bulk on spools so they can make chains to fit anything and the "commercial chain" doesn't have the "safety elements", which when missing, greatly improved the chains actual cutting......of course, it would also make any chain saw injuries even more catastrophic.
 
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Good for you

I've been using my Stihl MS180 chainsaw to help with debris cleanup for Hurricane Michael victims. I have one question and one recommendation.

CHAIN BRAKE HANDLE: My little saw is great for firewood and small stuff, but when cutting standing trees or anything large, my hands repeatedly trip the chain brake because the handle is too close to the grip. I find myself holding both handles and squeezing them together. Does anyone know of a solution to this problem, other than removing the chain brake handle altogether? This has become yet another safety device that causes dangerous distractions. I know its value, but I have to do something about this problem.

STIHL 2-IN-1 EASY FILE CHAIN SHARPENER: Everyone in the area was sold out of files, so my local Stihl dealer recommended the 2-in-1 sharpening tool. They gave it very high praise despite its ~$50 price tag. I have to agree. It's easy, fast, accurate, and does an exceptional job. My saw cuts faster then it ever has. Here's the link I used, but be sure to get the right size for your saw & chain.
https://amazon.com/gp/product/B00HY90LAE/

Here are a couple of the best YouTube links:
https://youtu.be/marzGaMq6pM
https://youtu.be/SzjmpNTVH6U
Good for you for helping Michael victims. With what I saw around Panama City, you have a lifetime job but every little bit helps somebody.

I left my MS170 with my brother in law in Panama City as he didn't have a reliable saw. It wasn't near enough of a saw for what he has down but I wasn't sure he could handle the larger saws safely. The 170 is a nice limbing saw but on anything over about 6" it lacks power, especially with a sharp chain. I was sorry I couldn't spend more time down there but we did what we could.

Bless you for helping others. That area needs all the help it can get.

Treefarmer
 

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I have the blue handled version of that sharpener. Works fantastic. I use it during my cutting jobs to keep the chain in razor sharp condition and both of my saws are like hot knives through butter.

Biggest benefit to it that I have found is that it doesn't just sharpen the tooth, bit it knocks the depth gauges down to the correct height at the same time. Nothing worse than having the wrong depth to match against the tooth. Too shallow and your cuts are extremely slow. Too deep and you keep stalling out the saw.
 
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I commend you for helping clean up efforts.
I'm afraid you need to add another saw to your tool list.
I would consider your current saw as extremely dangerous to use for what you are doing if you have to stress the anti vibe elements to fit your hands.
Small saws are wonderful as they reduce fatigue and in my experience they get the most use.
Upgrading to maybe a 50cc saw should keep the saw on the light side and provide greater power allowing at a minimum the use of an 18 inch bar and give you plenty of clearance between the chain brake and front handle.
 
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Discussion Starter #8
I'm afraid you need to add another saw to your tool list.


Thanks for the advice. I'll do some comparisons with larger saws. If I could somehow rotate the chain brake handle on its pins to allow an extra 1/2", this one might still be viable. I just don't know it that could be done, or done safely. On the other hand, going bigger sounds like a lot more fun!

By the way, helping out in the Panama City area isn't as selfless as it might seem. I've always enjoyed chainsaw work. It's a guilt-free way to avoid my honey-do list and the associated spousal supervision. (I ran out of trees to prune on my puny half acre suburban lot pretty quickly.)
 

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I love the easy file system.
I bought the Pferd a year or so ago, two sizes for my two chain sizes.
The best part is that I dont have to file twice, one time around and both the teeth and depth gauges are done.
Our local Stihl the Stihl version for about the same price as the Pferd on Amazon, so I guess it might pay to look at the dealer.
I used to touch up my saws after a tank, and every third Id look at the depth gauges. It was kind of a pain for me to get them right. Now its a piece of cake.

As to the chain brake, I cant say Ive ever had that issue, even with Winter gloves on, and Ive got pretty big hands (wear a 2X).
Sometimes if Im cutting longs on the ground, and bent over, I can hit it, but thats positioning, not the saws fault. And thats usually only on my little saw.
Ive used my neighbors little 40cc saw, both a Poulan and a Dolmar, and cant recall having that issue.
I have used the same saw you have, and dont recall any issues, but didnt use it long at all.
If I were in your shoes, Id speak with the dealer about it, and see if something isnt quite right with it. If nothing is wrong, Id definitely be looking for a better fitting saw. It certainly isnt mean to be held, and by doing so, you are defeating the safety on the saw, but you know that.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
If I were in your shoes, Id speak with the dealer about it, and see if something isnt quite right with it. If nothing is wrong, Id definitely be looking for a better fitting saw. It certainly isnt mean to be held, and by doing so, you are defeating the safety on the saw, but you know that.
I just returned from the dealer. I apparently still have "farm boy disease" -- I overstressed the primary handle and it now flexes forward about 3/4" when I'm cutting, letting my hand trip the chain brake guard. There are no official solutions, but I may be able to fabricate stiffer grommets to replace one of more of the three rubber anti-vibration mounts. I'll look at the chances of doing such heavy work again vs the cost of a larger saw. I literally pushed this one well past its specs. (I just turned 60, so I won't be pushing so hard much longer!)

Thanks for the feedback.
 

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I just returned from the dealer. I apparently still have "farm boy disease" -- I overstressed the primary handle and it now flexes forward about 3/4" when I'm cutting, letting my hand trip the chain brake guard. There are no official solutions, but I may be able to fabricate stiffer grommets to replace one of more of the three rubber anti-vibration mounts. I'll look at the chances of doing such heavy work again vs the cost of a larger saw. I literally pushed this one well past its specs. (I just turned 60, so I won't be pushing so hard much longer!)

Thanks for the feedback.
Just a suggestion, instead of fabricating stiffer mounts etc (and increasing vibration), why not get a non-safety chain that would cut more aggressively...

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Geez Rod, you must have have a pretty good set of arms on you, twisting up that poor little saw... I could just imagine what you would do to it if it refused to start one day!
I would think even replacing the anti vibes with factory should get it back where it was but a harder durometer replacement sounds interesting.
 

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RE 2 in 1 Sharpener

I never heard of theses. THANKS! Now to check all my chain sizes (multiple saws) Are they sized by just chain pitch, .325, or 3/8" ?

One more question, do these have consumable parts? Can you buy replacements, or do you have to replace the complete tool?
 
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I never heard of theses. THANKS! Now to check all my chain sizes (multiple saws) Are they sized by just chain pitch, .325, or 3/8" ?

One more question, do these have consumable parts? Can you buy replacements, or do you have to replace the complete tool?
There are five versions, and individual replacement files (both round & flat) are available. Here's a link to the five sizes offered by Stihl.

https://www.stihl.com/STIHL-power-tools-A-great-range/Chainsaws-saw-chains-guide-bars/Chains-bars-and-accessories/Tools-for-cutting-attachment-maintenance/21750-63674/2-in-1-file-holder.aspx
 

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This video shows a lot about the sharpener.
I found this guy years ago when I was trying to get better at sharpening knives/axes. He covers lots of stuff, and usually does a pretty good job.
He covers a lot of technical info about what you are doing, and how to do it in most of his videos.

Best Chainsaw Sharpener Ever - FINALLY!!! - YouTube

By the way, to add a bit of info over what Ive said earlier, if your Stihl dealer is more than $39.99 for these, or you dont like orange (are you nuts?) the Pferd CS-X is the one to search on Amazon. I got one for less than $30, and the other was $40 with tax, free shipping on both of course. They are blue, but are the same file, using the same replacement files.

Also, to add a bit more to the use, there is a little molded in guide that shows the files orientation to the saw. It can be a bit confusing to figure out at first, but it really cant be filed wrong, as the file wont fit correctly. Just keep in mind that the flat file needs to be on the depth gauge, and youll never go wrong.
 

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People should realize that 3/8" Picco is different than 3/8" on Stihl chains too. The round file on 3/8" Picco is the smaller 5/32" or 4.0mm round file. The 3/8" chains require 13/64" or 5.2mm round files.

I use the file with guide, depth gauge, and flat file on my MS181C. The yellow chains work well. Just don't buy the wrong size round file. ;)
 

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People should realize that 3/8" Picco is different than 3/8" on Stihl chains too. The round file on 3/8" Picco is the smaller 5/32" or 4.0mm round file. The 3/8" chains require 13/64" or 5.2mm round files.

I use the file with guide, depth gauge, and flat file on my MS181C. The yellow chains work well. Just don't buy the wrong size round file. ;)
Very true. Make sure you are getting the file you need.
I dont run Stihl saws, mostly because my first was a Husky, and they have never let me down, but I DO run Stihl chains. They are, in my opinion, the best you can buy, bar none.
They last me quite a bit longer than Oregon or Carlisle, and seem to stay sharper longer too.
I prefer the RM, semi chisel, and stay way away from the green safety chains. Cant seem to get my neighbor to switch though.

Maybe Ill get him a loop of RM and one of these sharpeners for Christmas!
 

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People should realize that 3/8" Picco is different than 3/8" on Stihl chains too. The round file on 3/8" Picco is the smaller 5/32" or 4.0mm round file. The 3/8" chains require 13/64" or 5.2mm round files.

I use the file with guide, depth gauge, and flat file on my MS181C. The yellow chains work well. Just don't buy the wrong size round file. ;)
Very true. Make sure you are getting the file you need.
I dont run Stihl saws, mostly because my first was a Husky, and they have never let me down, but I DO run Stihl chains. They are, in my opinion, the best you can buy, bar none.
They last me quite a bit longer than Oregon or Carlisle, and seem to stay sharper longer too.
I prefer the RM, semi chisel, and stay way away from the green safety chains. Cant seem to get my neighbor to switch though.

Maybe Ill get him a loop of RM and one of these sharpeners for Christmas!
I don't run Stihl saws or chains. I have Husqvarna.

So, do I get the size by chain pitch AND file size for that chain?
I need to check, but IIRC my chains are .325" and take a 5/32" file and 3/8" and take a 7/32" file.

I forgot I also have a pole saw to check, very small chain.

Another question, could I buy ONE and different files for it? Do they take a special file? I have some new files Oregon IIRC
 

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I don't run Stihl saws or chains. I have Husqvarna.

So, do I get the size by chain pitch AND file size for that chain?
I need to check, but IIRC my chains are .325" and take a 5/32" file and 3/8" and take a 7/32" file.
Sounds right on the sizes. (After looking, it appears I was wrong. According to Pferd, you want the 3/16" for the .325, this is what I have for my 550XPs chains).
The one thing, on the 3/8", you can run a 13/64" file. It gives a bit more hook and cuts just a tad faster than the 7/32".
Chain brand should not matter a bit, except with regard to life and wear.
I have a loop of Husky chain that came with my old Rancher 55, that didnt get used much at all before it was replaced with a more aggressive chain. I put it on if someone is coming over to help cut that doesnt have a ton of experience. Its been sharpened twice with my Pferd CS-X 13/64" file, and cuts WAY better than it did with the old file.
Husky also makes great chains, but none are available around here. At least not the semi-chisel, non-safety chains.
I usually get my chains online, or if the not so local Stihl dealer has a roll and can make one, they are cheaper that way than buying pre-made. Next go-round, I might try Huskys newer chain.

Pferds recommendations:
PFERD Chain Saw Files Accessories - CHAIN SHARP® CS-X - CHAIN SHARP CS-X

Incidentally, I had trouble trying to figure out what the heck 3/8 low profile was. Its pretty obvious when they are side by side.
The low-pro is what you find on say a Poulan Wild Thing 18" saw, or quite a few pole pruners, so basically, nothing I have around here, though I would LOVE to have an Echo, Stihl or Husky pole pruner!
 
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