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Thoughts on Rip Chain Brands and Quality

Zee33

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Hi there , I'm still trying to gain some knowledge about milling my own lumber and thought I'd ask what is the most popular rip chain is and what brand most millers use.

I just want to know if I'm on the right track when choosing a chain .

The saw I'm using is a Stihl 084av with a 25"bar and a

25" Archer Chainsaw Ripping chain .404- 10degree tooth .​

I'm cutting red and white oaks along with spruce. I also have some chestnut but not planning on cutting it unless it falls naturally first.

Is the chain I chose above a good quality chain for all the variables I have listed ?

Also what Dremel stone should I use in order to sharpen with ?
 

Ketchup

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Plenty of debate there.

For starters, you waist a lot of wood with .404. 3/8” 10 degree chain is pretty standard. There are narrow kerf setups that reduce material loss more than that but they’re expensive.

I mill mostly with Carlton chain because it’s cheap and easy to sharpen. Oregon, Stihl and many others are fine too. I find Stihl chain physically harder. Perhaps it’s more durable but it’s more difficult to sharpen and wears files faster.

Archer, Forester, Copperhead (maybe Woodland Pro) etc are chinese import chain. It tends to be softer, so it stretches more, dulls faster, but is also easy to sharpen. I’ve used plenty of it without major complaints.

As for dremel sharpening, I can’t recommend it. For milling you have to sharpen a lot. I often touch up my teeth every pass in hardwoods. Get some files and get good with them. 3/8” chain is usually sharpened with a 7/32” round file. You can do .404 with 7/32“ or slightly larger if you can find it.
And for milling an actual chain grinder is nice. Oregon, Tecomec or Stihl make nice-ish ones. Between cutting sessions you can do several chains and you can get the teeth back to a uniform size and shape. Uniform chain makes much smoother cuts and prevents binding.

In general you will have a pretty easy time with a 25” milling setup. An 084 can pull a bar 3 times that length. Really wide slab cuts are where the inconsistencies start to be a problem.

You could get yourself a 32” or 36” bar and chain setup for bigger wood and still be in good learning terrain. I strongly recommend you switch to 3/8”.
 

Zee33

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Ok that's all great to know. I thought the Archer chain was Australian . When I bought the 084av from a guy at work it had a 36" Oregon bar and rip chain on it already . Not sure what brand the chain is though. I do have files in the garage so will try to use them on the chain today.

Thanks for the info .
 

Zee33

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I just switched to the 25" bar because for me , it makes the saw more useful for both felling and milling.
 

Ryan Browne

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Ok that's all great to know. I thought the Archer chain was Australian . When I bought the 084av from a guy at work it had a 36" Oregon bar and rip chain on it already . Not sure what brand the chain is though. I do have files in the garage so will try to use them on the chain today.

Thanks for the info .

The company is Australian, but most of their products are made in China.
 

Zee33

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Initially after I bought the saw I took it to a Stihl dealer to get it tuned up before I started using it . That's when I changed to the 25" bar. I bought a Stihl chain at the same time and wanted to get a OEM Stihl rip chain at the same time , but the girl said Stihl didn't make a rip chain for that size yet .
 

PA Dan

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Initially after I bought the saw I took it to a Stihl dealer to get it tuned up before I started using it . That's when I changed to the 25" bar. I bought a Stihl chain at the same time and wanted to get a OEM Stihl rip chain at the same time , but the girl said Stihl didn't make a rip chain for that size yet .
That isn't true Stihl does make ripping chain. I have some 84dl loops of 3/8" .050 Stihl ripping chain if your still looking for some.
 

Sloughfoot

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Granberg makes a ripping chain that isn't expensive, seems to stay sharp and isn't hard to sharpen. Definitely set that longer bar up for milling. I have a 32" bar for milling and occasional large fells. 26" is the max width I can mill with it if I remove the dogs.
 

blades

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just had a pair of granberg milling chain here for sharpening, these had been hand filed a few times ( sorry no pics ) So what the chain looks like is cutter is round type it is a skip chain set up ( there is a extra link between cutters ) and on every other set of cutters the top plate is 75% or so removed ( kind like an old scratcher chain) 10deg top, and is speced at .028 depth gauge height ( .030 is a common gauge height that .002 isn't enough to worry about). I just balanced everything out for the customer on my grinders. I think it was listed for 7/32 file but don't hold me to that. Attack angle of the wheel was 55 deg setting ( again standard from Oregon) wheel was dressed to standard form . I know he was planning using them this weekend, so I will have to call see how I did for him. ( if he dosen't call and complain first .;)
 

thedude74

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I can't speak to hardwood but have milled a considerable amount of spruce. Out of the box Stihl RS cuts about the same speed as dedicated milling chain. Milling chain makes a bit smoother cuts. I can get 2-3 tanks before filing the chain with RS.

As already stated .404 is a much wider kerf. About 9.5 mm vs 7mm for 3/8 chain.

For dimensional lumber live white spruce cut at 2"x6" dries to roughly 1.75"x5.75". In other words cut 1/4"- 5/16" over size it will dry close to box store nominal lumber size.
 

Zee33

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Cool tip on size , thanks. As far as .404 , unless I get a thinner bar , I have to stick with it. The .404 helps me a lot when felling trees at my property. Trees are very tight together and are about 80 feet tall. So the bigger kerf helps a lot , I know there's not going to be any pinching . The trees basically land into the other trees and I have to pull the bottoms out to get them to land. So I wanna make sure I can cut straight thru quick. If that makes sense. Glad I have a quad and a winch too. Lol
 

hacskaroly

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but the girl said Stihl didn't make a rip chain for that size yet .
33 RMX is the Stihl 3/8 050 ripping chain. It took me a year to get it in at work on a spool and when we did, we could not keep it on the shelf, became the second hottest selling chain after the 3/8 050 full skip.

Stihl 33 RMX Ripping Chain (3/8 050)
 

PA Dan

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33 RMX is the Stihl 3/8 050 ripping chain. It took me a year to get it in at work on a spool and when we did, we could not keep it on the shelf, became the second hottest selling chain after the 3/8 050 full skip.

Stihl 33 RMX Ripping Chain (3/8 050)
That's what I bought a roll of and still have a little left.
 

mainer_in_ak

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I've milled with a half dozen different .404 chains on both an 881 magnum and a cs 1201. I've also milled for many years using 3/8 chain. The .404 chain stays sharp longer and stretches less than 3/8 chain, especially when using the 100+ cc saws.

With 60-70 cc saws, I've also milled a bunch using 3/8 low profile GB milling bars, stihl 3/8 lp micro chisel chain and 3/8 LP rim sprockets.

On the big saw, right now I'm currently running Stihl 46RM .404 chain. This semi chisel chain has the oiler grooves that direct bar oil to the rivets and the dimples to retain bar oil on the drivelinks.

Yes, it comes sharpened at 25 degrees, I just simply knock off a few degrees every sharpening until I get to a 10 degree chain. It really is no biggey. The typical .404 milling chains to not have these bar oil enhancements on the drive links. But they cost the same as this nice 46RM Stihl semi chisel.
Screenshot-20240513-175012-Chrome.jpg

Regarding sharpening, tecomec makes a nice lithium battery chain grinder. It uses the same grinder wheels as a typical grinder. Mounts right to the bar, which is really nice because u don't have to remove the mill frame. Or remove the chain. In my opinion, it's the first "legitimate" portable chain grinder. Sure does hold a 10 degree angle better than I can:
20240309-171724.jpg

20240309-171743.jpg
 
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mainer_in_ak

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Here yah go Dan:

It comes with a wheel that grinds 3/8 or .404. But I did have to get another wheel for .325 and 3/8 lp:
 
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