Before we get the Timberline review, I want to share with you first the story of how I came to the decision of buying one.
I’m not a pro arborist, and I think the frustrations I’ve had might be shared by others…
My battles with chainsaw chains.
As and offroader who lives on the doorstep of the snowy mountains trees across tracks are a common occurrence as are zero degree nights. Having something that can help you clear those tracks and collect enough firewood to get a fire cranking is essential.
While a good axe can serve you well and take up a heap less storage space, a chainsaw is an option most people will turn too. These days you can pick up a little Husqvarna for under $300 which will get the job done 95% of the time.
The secret to getting the most out of a smaller saw is a sharp chain.
This is something I’ve always struggled with.
When I purchased my first saw a Husky 55 for $50 off eBay (I think it was stolen) I knew the techniques of how to use a chainsaw – my old man had taught me well, but I didn’t know how to maintain it.
The saw was infrequently used, so I could just outsource the maintenance. Paying $15 to have a chain sharpened once a year wasn’t that bad.
It was when we moved to our little acreage with big trees, did I realize I could burn through 3 of 4 chains in a day, which was just creating big bills to have them sharpened.
It was time to learn how to do it myself.
Growing up, I remember the buzzing sound of the 12-volt sharpener attached to the battery of my dad’s 4×4 so figured that’s where I would start. They’re cheap, and I just plugged it in and ran with the default settings to sharpen my chain. Not realizing I needed to set this thing up depending on my chain type, all I did was successfully ruin a chain…
I did then what a lot of us do. I googled how to sharpen a chainsaw. You’re then with great videos on how to do it by hand with just a file. Inspired I went straight down to the local mower and chainsaw shop and grabbed a hand sharpening kit to suit my chain and headed home.
Putting the chainsaw in a vice, with the youtube video playing on my phone I started to sharpen my chain. This was pretty successful although I felt it was a bit hit and miss with how long the chains would perform, but I did feel a lot more in control with how sharp my chains were.
Here’s the video I used:
Reading up a bit more on the hand sharpening technique, I came to the conclusion though that this approach just takes time to perfect and best for someone sharpening a saw every day. I’d have months in between sharpens and would lose that touch. It was a good solution, but not one I was completely happy about. The chains were still going back to the mover shop a couple of times a year for proper sharpen.
Then I discovered carbide chains.
I was having some trouble with my saw, so I borrowed the old mans – he said
‘son be careful, I’ve just put an expensive chain on for our trip to the top end.” I soon learned what “expensive” chain meant the second I planted this thing into the first log.
It was orgasmic.
And it seemed as sharp on the first log as the last. I started thinking; maybe this is my solution, a chain that doesn’t need sharpening! In further research, I did realise that yes these were in fact very expensive, did last a long time, but that they could only be sharpened professionally.
I deduced that, if I were only going to use my saw when 4x4inng, this would be a great option and a worthy investment. But if I was going to need to use it around the house as well – there was no escape. I needed to get even better at sharpening a saw.
Next step – those drop disc grinder sharpeners
You see them everywhere now. Those drop grinder style chainsaw sharpeners. The downside to them is you need 240 volts (I think there are some 12V ones now), and you need to take your chain off. I run four chains, so I always have three off the saw, so that didn’t worry me, and I still had my hand file if I needed to sharpen away from power — I gave it a whirl.
It took me a few goes to set the settings right. By now I was a lot smarter on angles, chain types, etc. And it did a fine job.
However, it just seemed to rip through chains at a much faster rate. I wondered if I was just replacing the cost of someone sharpening the saw with having to buy new ones more often.
I still wasn’t satisfied.
The hand method I felt was still the best. It was less intrusive on the chain; I didn’t need power and hey, it was what the pros do so must be good.
The plan though was to look for something manual that might be more pitched at the amateur.
Hand sharpening with Training wheels.
There seemed to be two options.
A hacksaw looking thing, which was a lot cheaper and while I’d seen them a few times in shops, I don’t remember seeing anyone used them.
Then I found the OMG how much Timberline
I remember when watching the video on how the Timberland sharpener worked, it seemed to make sense in every way. It needed no power, it kept the chain teeth consistent (super important in chain performance), seemed pretty easy to use, and it packed up small. I won’t explain exactly how, someone has already done a pretty good job.
My thought was, I’ve found exactly what I’ve been looking for a set off to buy it. The first problem was it was pretty hard to find online in Australia, and it was pushing $250-$300!
That’s about 20 professional sharpens and given it sounded almost too good to be true I spent six months convincing myself I needed it, stopping, going back to the techniques I used before, then coming back to the timberland.
I then bit the bullet.
There’s an official distributor in Australia and them only one person selling it online. Seems disorganised, but with days of purchasing it arrived in my mailbox.
My confidence grew as I unboxed it. It was clear this was well made, well thought out (with a couple of exceptions I’ll talk about) and I even thought it was late, I couldn’t wait to go our and sharpen a chain.
The instructions were clear, and it didn’t take long to get the chain on the saw in great shape. The video played out exactly in real life, and the chain felt sharper than it ever had before.
Chalk up one to the Timberline
As I was putting it through it paces, though, I did wonder a couple of things.
- You can’t adjust the angle of the I think it’s 30 degrees or nothing. I know some people like different angles. You can puchase a 35/25 degree setup for extra.
- Why use these tiny Allen keys to connect the handle to the carbide bit. It would make much more sense to use a screw fitting as Allen keys are as easy to loose as they are to break, and you’ve probably already got a screwdriver already with your spark plug tool. I’ve changed mine to a screw.
- The band for the carry case. I don’t imagine walking down the street with sharpener strapped to my side. Didn’t do detriment but just seemed weird.
No matter how it sharp felt, it was how it sunk it’s sharpened teeth into the next few bits of wood that mattered. It’s hard to describe exactly how it went other than to say both in sharpness and durability it wasn’t as good as a pro sharpen, but was better than anything I’d managed with the hand file.
All things considered, I’m pretty impressed with the Timberline. It’s a lot to spend on a sharpener, but for someone who doesn’t do this for a living, but used a saw enough to get your money eventually back it’s worth the investment.
What I like the most is
- It’s well built and feels like it will last a long while
- In a handy self-contained case that I can keep in my chainsaw box
- Doesn’t require any power
- Doesn’t require the saw to be in a vice
- Does a pretty good job of what it’s supposed to
Note: When you buy the Timberline Sharpener you need to figure out what carbide screw you need. You can see them here.
If you have questions, feel free to ask in the comments.