How to store a chainsaw

Saturday, December 29, 2018
storing a chainaw

Storage of a chainsaw

The physical maintenance of a chainsaw is very important as we can all appreciate, however, good storage of your chainsaw will also help with good performance making sure it will start the next time you need it.

Chainsaw should be stored in dry and dustfree conditions. Cleaning it before putting it away for the winter will ensure that it's ready when you take it out in the spring.

Here's some other storage tricks you may wish to consider:

Emptying the fuel tank

Empty the fuel tank in a well-ventilated place and then clean it. Remember to drain the carburetor first, to prevent the carburetor diaphragms from sticking together.

Dismantle the saw

Remove the chain and guide bar, give them a good clean and then spray them with protective oil. We like to use CRC.

Store your saw in a dry place

Your chainsaw should be kept in a dry place.

Select an area which is well ventilated and protected from the weather.

Leaving it outdoors is not advisable as it is more suspectable to rust and it really should be protected from the sun - it's UV rays can break down the plastics, making them brittle.

The chain saw should always be packed away in a dust-free environment. You can place it in a dust bag or even a cardboard box or covered under a cloth.

It's also a smart move to store it in a place where children cannot get their hands on it. 

These are some simple ideas you can do - but let's face the truth. You are probably just going to leave the chainsaw on a shelf under a workbench somewhere...

Can I add two stroke oil to a 4 stroke lawnmower?

Friday, December 28, 2018
4 stroke engine oil
So I recently bought a brand new lawn mower. It had a Briggs and Stratton engine which was a real selling point.

As I was in the store, I grabbed some oil as I figured the oil sump was probably empty.

Turns out I was right, as there was a big yellow warning sticker on the engine to remind the user to add oil.

To actually add 4 stroke oil.

Which made me take note as I had bought only 2 stroke oil as that's that's what I had been adding to my old Briggs and Stratton engine until the casing gave way due to rust and I could no longer safely push the mower.

Maybe that wasn't the smartest idea in the world!

So, given it was a brand new engine, what should I do? Use the recommended oil of course!

Now, I wasn't going to drive all the way back to the store to grab the oil as that would have taken an hour and I really wanted to cut the lawn, so I'd thought I'd just grab some 4 stroke oil from the petrol station down the road.

They had none.

Nor did the one across the road.

Nor did the supermarket.

So screw it I thought and added the two stroke to the brand new engine.

And you know what happened?

Nothing but the grass was cut.

The engine didn't smoke and it started the first time which is simply a great feeling when you've just laid out some serious cash for your first ever brand new lawnmower!

So in terms of the science, 2 engines stroke engines work slightly different from two-stroke engines.

The engine of a two-stroke will complete its combustion and exhaust cycle in only 2 strokes or cycles of the piston, whereas a 4 cycle taking 4 strokes of the piston.

The only other difference between the two engines is that a 4 stroke engine uses oil from a sump system rather than being added directly to the fuel in a 2 stroke system.

However, adding 2 stroke to a 4 stroke engine is not a long term solution. 2 stroke is designed to be used with the fuel inside the engine and not in a 4 stroke engine.

It has different qualities, especially its performance under the high temperatures of engines bigger than it is designed for use in.

It's for this reason that you should indeed follow the engine manufacturer's advice and use 4 stroke oil. Sure the 2 stroke works in a pinch, but for the long-term efficiency and performance, the 4 stroke is the way to go.

If you suddenly feel you need to buy some 4 stroke oil, check out some options on Amazon.

What is the best pH meter for testing pH?

From brewing beer, or kombucha, growing weed or checking the ph level of your aquarium you need to check the level with a tester.

It's incredible in this modern age how accurate testers are and what a difference they can make.

Getting your water at just the right level can me can mean a vast improvement in your beer's flavor, the yield of your plant or extend the life of your fish.

So what is the best ph meter for testing?

There are many options out there. There are handheld units which give you easy portability or desktop units which can produce some incredibly accurate results.

If you are a home beer brewer, for example, you may only need a mid-range tester but if you are running a laboratory that is testing food for human consumption, you might just want to use one of the best instruments on the market.

Whatever you choose, it's our firm recommendation that you never buy a cheap pH tester. Anything in the below forty dollar range is likely to no go the distance that you need.

Users of cheap gear will find they might give a few readings initially before they become hard to calibrate or the cheap electrode parts dry out or cease functioning seemingly without cause.

If you are looking for an all round, accurate and dependable ph tester then we recommend the Milwaukee range.

Milwaukee MW102 PH and Temperature Meter for testing

We're featuring the MW102 Standard Portable pH / Temperature Meter as it is a standard yet affordable portable meter that produces accurate results.

The Milwaukee brand is recognized by the brewing industry as having a reputation for producing low-cost meters on which you can expect durability and reliable reading.

Milwaukee’s Standard manufacturer advertises that their digital meters are "manufactured to be easy to use, practical and accurate. Ideal for the classroom, laboratory or for general field use".

The MW102 is a microprocessor-based pH/Temperature meter with extended range (-2.00 to 16.00 pH). It features the standard Automatic Temperature Compensation ability, with automatic calibration in 2 points and ±0.02 pH accuracy.

The Milwaukee device is pretty much ideal for anyone working on a fair budget who desires quick yet reliable measurements.

The full unit comes with:
  • MW102 Unit
  • 9 volt battery -The battery life is estimated by at 300 hours and it features an auto-off after 8 minutes of inactivity meaning you wont have to worry about replacing the battery in the middle of testing. 
  • Temperature Probe (MA830r)
  • PH Probe (MA911B/1)
  • PH Probe cover (a small bottle that fits on the PH Probe when not in use that holds storage solution)
  • User Instruction Manual & Warranty Registration Card
  • 20 ml sachet of PH 4.01 Calibration Solution
  • 20 ml sachet of PH 7.01 Calibration Solution
  • 20 ml sachet of PH Storage Solution Packet
But don't just take our word on this product, the best way to know if the Milwaukee is right for you is to check out these testimonials from an actual user of the product:

This is a "fantastic tool to have in my brewing arsenal. I originally bought it for taking readings while kettle souring, but it's been invaluable as I dove deeper into water profile and mash pH adjustment.

It's a bit more expensive than some of the cheaper meters out there, but you get what you pay for.

Worth every penny in my book, and I regularly recommend it to those in the market for a high-quality meter."
That's a firm recommendation then.

If you want more of a quality handheld meter, the Apera may be for you :

Apera Instruments AI312 PH60F Premium pH Pocket Tester

If you are looking for a reasonably priced handheld ph Meter for testing water or wort then might want to reflect on the Apera Instruments PC60 Multi-parameter Tester.

Apera's PC60 meter tests for pH, EC, TDS, salinity & temperature in an accurate, quick and reliable manner for most regular water solutions.

Its versatility across the board means that it is suitable to use for a range of commercial and hobbyist adventures such as hydroponics, aquaculture, pools and spas, water treatment for beers, cooling towers and of course fish tanks.

Featuring a multi-parameter probe that is easily replaceable, it sports Apera's 'Brush-Resistant Platinum Black' sensor, which means you can rely on the results for accuracy - provided of course you have properly cleaned and then calibrated the unit!

This tool boasts the following features: 

The flat sensor which is easily replaceable
  • Easy 'Auto Calibration' with auto buffer recognition 
  • Auto Temperature Compensation which means you can test quicker 
  • Unique High/Low Value HEADS-UP function that instantly alerts you to any results that need your immediate attention 
  • Auto recognition of stable values (with optional AUTO HOLD function) 
  • Boasts a Liquid Crystal Display with 3 backlit colors (indicating 3 different modes) for easy reading of data results 
  • Unit displays both temperature and pH readings at the same time 
  • Comes with the necessary calibration buffer solutions, calibration bottles & storage solutions
The Apera is waterproof and dustproof and it naturally floats on water so you don’t have to worry you drop it into your fish tank or beer batch.

A super handy lanyard is included and everything that the kit comes with easily fits in the portable carrying case which protects your gear when traveling or simply storing (see the above image.

While these stats are handsome, a sales pitch with a testimonial feels empty...

Here are some reviews from real users who have real experiences with Apera's tester:

"The Apera PC60 instrument is super easy to use. It comes with everything needed to calibrate and feel confident in your readings. I even tested it against a 1000 TDS calibration solution I had and it read great! The display is easy to use and the backlight is very handy. I love that the "cap" is built in a way to put your liquid in, with a fill line, and closes securely around the pen.

It then is able to calculate the different levels in the liquid. I no longer have to bend over and hold my pen in the nutrient reservoirs. One of the best features is the ability to set the TDS factor. This is important because PPM is calculated differently in different parts of the world. It gets very confusing."

"Having previous experience with scientific research grade pH meters, I've maintained this pen in electrode storage solution between uses, and always rinsed the electrode with deionized water between measurement and before storage. With those precautions, both the pH and EC readings have remained on-point without recalibrating for more than a month at this point. When I do check the calibration, the instrument is never more than 0.05pH off-target."

"The back-lit display is excellent for working under low-light (tap the power button once while the unit is on to activate), and the instrument fits perfectly into the top of 1-gallon water jugs.

A note of warning, make sure the EC electrodes are not submerged in the electrode storage solution while not in use, only the glass pH bulb should be in the solution."

Finally, here's a testimonial that seems pretty fair:

"After having gone through 3 different cheap meters last year I decided to spend a little extra on this one. I am not disappointed. It's well worth the money. It's fast, accurate and covers a range of tests. I read the previous reviews and was somewhat skeptical. However, after using this product for a few weeks on a daily basis, I would recommend it to anyone.

The LCD screen is a little small but I can read it without glasses. I found the instructions to be thorough and fairly well written. I think they must have updated their manual after previous reviews. I have backups just in case but after the first week, it became obvious I wasn't going to need them. By far the best meter I have used without spending a couple of hundred dollars."

If you think those reviews sound fair, check out the price on Amazon.

We've got one more tester that you might take a shining to the:

Bluelab Combo pH meter

bluelab ph level tester
If you are looking for a fairly upmarket solution to measure your pH solutions then the tried and true Bluelabs brand has the measuring device you are looking for.
The Bluelab Combo Meter is a portable pH, conductivity and temperature meter all in one.

The meter has two probes, a Bluelab pH Probe and a Bluelab Conductivity/Temperature Probe. When taking a reading, simply place them into the solution and the selected reading is displayed on the screen.

Calibration of the pH probe is quite simple as instructions are supplied on the back of the meter and the easy push button method makes this one of the more simple meters to use.

The pH probe is replaceable so you can use this meter for years to come and you should be able to do so as Bluelab offer a 5 year warranty on their product which should give you an idea as the quality of the product and the faith the brand has in it.

The Bluelab tester has the following features:
  • it measures pH levels, conductivity/nutrient (EC, CF, ppm 500 and ppm 700) and temperature (°C, °F)
  • it's lightweight and portable
  • features a large & easy to read display
  • Simple push button for pH calibration
  • pH calibration indicator
  • No calibration required for conductivity and temperature readings
  • Replaceable double junction pH probe included - make sure you look after them!
  • Over range and under range indicators
  • 2 x AAA alkaline batteries included with a low battery indicator
  • Auto turn off function to save on battery power
Check out the price on Amazon.

How does Automatic Temperature Compensation work?

Many of the higher quality meters use ATC functionality. This is when the unit compensates for the response of the pH meter's electrode with varying temperature.

So ATC accounts for differing temperatures of things like a beer's mash.

What is the definition of pH?

It is a measure of hydrogen in the solution and pH thus stands for 'potential hydrogen'.

pH is a figure that expresses the acidity or alkalinity of a solution on a logarithmic scale on which 7 is considered neutral, the lower values are more acid and higher values more alkaline.

Probes can wear out so require proper storage

Probes will wear out over time and you should expect that you’ll have to replace quality ones every 2-3 years even if you take good care of them.

The probes should be safely stored in a pH storage solution to preserve their lifespan. If they are left in the open, the dry air will ruin their potential life span.

So when buying your pH meter you should purchase a pH buffer or 'calibration kit'.

This is why units like the Milwaukee MW102 comes with solutions but replacement calibration kits can be separately brought online. You might see them called 'reference solutions'. The Bluelab Combo Meter is very popular with horticulturalists and hydroponics enthusiasts (yes, even marijuana growers... which is fine given how many countries and states have legalized the sale of drug).

It's is a good practice to regularly clean your pH electrode. This is because a film or coating known as the hydrated layer will otherwise develop on the glass bulb. It can cause inaccurate measurements and drifting or erratic readings if not managed properly.

You can always use pH strips - handy for testing Kombucha brews!

I need a new lawn mower, what is the best one for me?

Thursday, December 27, 2018

I am on the hunt for a new walk behind lawn mower for my yard

This is a legit, genuine hunt and I can show you why.

But first, let me tell you the story of how I have to start my lawnmower.

It's a bitch and a half.

The pull start is rooted. The internal workings are gone. The recoil spring is bung and removed. The idler pulley is just done. It drinks mower oil like a fish.  I have to manually reset it every time I want to use it.

Today I went to mow the lawns and I realized that one of the 'grip bits' had disappeared. I thought about it and wrapped a small rope around the THING and eventually managed to turn the engine over.

And that's when a disaster I'd been expecting finally struck!

While I was mowing the laws, I managed to rip the handle arms out! The joints were pretty rusted and the metal hard started to come away.

So it's kind of impossible to mow the laws when your mower looks like this:

busted lawnmower handles

So now I am on the hunt to buy a new lawn mower for my 400 square meters of lawn. It's a small lawn really so I'm very happy to push it around in my gumboots for about half an hour.

I think I'm after a classic home lawn mower with a catcher.

One that will last at least 6 - 10 years and one that I'm able to maintain fairly easily. I don't want to buy the cheapest lawn mower out there but I think a mid-range, sturdy beast should suit my needs.

I also want a petrol / gas engine as I think petrol just adds to my lawn mowing experience. Even when I flood the damn thing...

What are my options? 

Given how much we love Husqvarna products due to their renown for reliability, let's check out the:

Husqvarna HU800AWDH Walk Behind Mower

husvarna lawn mower

Tackle your lawn care with a superior mower! 

The Husqvarna HU800AWDH has an all-wheel-drive system that guarantees balance and power in hilly terrain and the toughest mowing conditions. 

A durable mower, it features a 22" heavy-duty steel deck and a powerful 190cc Honda engine. 

The mower comes equipped with a quick pin, four-point adjustment for level cutting and a water hose connector for easy deck cleaning. 

The specifications as described by the manufacturer:
  • Honda gcv190 190cc 4 cycle engine. Net power at preset rpm: 3000 rpm
  • 22-Inch, 3-in-1 steel mower deck that gives you the option to side discharge, mulch or bag your grass
  • All wheel 4x4 drive rear hi-wheel that is exclusive to Husqvarna products - this provides improved maneuverability in all types of grass or terrain
  • Auto walk self-propelled all wheel drive system lets you control the pace of your mowing.
  • The cutting width is 22 inches
  • Ball bearing wheels 8-inch front and 11-Inch Rear Ball Bearing Wheels, 3 position handle height adjustment

In terms of power, this machine is nicely placed for your traditional lawn set but also has enough grunt for unlevel terrain.

You can employ three grass cutting modes - standard collection for a tidy lawn, a mulching mode for lawn fertilization and ejection!

Here's some reviews from users who brought this mower from Amazon.

"This self-propelled mower is really strong and pulls me along anywhere I want to go. I have to wear hearing protection with this thing because it is so loud, but that's fine with me. I love the power behind this beast and you will too!"

"I held off on the review until now to give me some time with it. The Honda engine has been great, has started effortlessly on the first pull every time I've used it, nothing required other than fuel. The AWD system has been excellent as well with only one hiccup, mulching high wet grass led to some drive belt slippage that remedied itself within a few minutes. The Honda engine combined with AWD allowed me to add a lawn striping roller and the unit effortlessly climbs my hill while mulching and striping."

"This mower is a beast. Built a pool in the back and I have a VERY steep hill behind it now. VERY steep. Climbs right up it perfect. You just walk along with it. Very pleased with it. Plenty of power, easy to start, great packaging/ boxing. Great mower so far. Lots of power."

If this mower sounds like it suits your needs, check out the price on Amazon.

Greenworks 20-Inch 12 Amp Corded Lawn Mower 25022

long world gas lawnmower

Want some grunt with your mower? Have a look at the Long World 161cc 20“ Deck 3-in-1 Self-Propelled Gas Lawn Mower

  • gas-powered push lawnmower with 161cc OHV powerful engine to get grass cut sharply & quickly in small yards.
  • 3-in-1 cutting system, equipped with a 20-inch steel mulching deck to side discharge, mulch and rear bag.
  • One Lever Adjustment, 8 grades of cutting heights (1-3 inch) which lets you cut grass at the size you want
  • 1.2 litre gas tank
  • Front wheels: 7” height; rear wheels: 10” height, wheels for easy operation and control while mowing.
If this mower will chop your lawn down to size, check out the price on Amazon.

The Power Smart range features machines that are ideal for the smaller yards of America. 

The compact, 159cc self-propelled gas-powered power smart DB8621S self-propelled lawn mower is easy to operate in tight spaces & features three cutting systems including side discharge option & mulching capability plus a collection rear bag. 

This is a no-nonsense model that offers a lightweight design balanced with power. The DB8621S features a rear wheel drive mode that makes it easier to maneuver on uneven & rough. 

The deep dome deck design accompanied with the sharp & solid blade makes for better mulching. 

Easy to operate & weighing just 76 lbs., the mower also features a durable steel deck that cuts a 21 in. swath with an adjustable height from 1.18 to 3 inches.

So that's three simple choices for you and for me. Of personal interest, it's been a long time since I've brought a new lawn mower - the key point of change for me appears to be the move from metal to plastic.

... and now this has got me thinking about the best kind of battery based lawnmowers...

How to make sharp, safe cuts with a chainsaw

Thursday, December 20, 2018

A good clean cutting action works for many things.



And chainsaws.

To make a clean chainsaw cut

Provided the saw has been turned on now:

  1. Hold the front handle of the saw with your gloved left hand with your thumb wrapped tightly underneath. 
  2. Grab the rear handle with your gloved right hand. Get into sawing position by spreading your legs apart for stability. 
  3. Now pull back the chain brake to disengage it. 
  4. Then squeeze the throttle. The saw cuts best when the engine is at full throttle.

Pretty simple eh? - there are some clear principles at play - be well positioned, use a good grip action and make sure your chainsaw is well sharpened and well oiled and the depth gauge cutters are properly filed down.

Here are some more tips for an efficient cut:

  • Cutting with the upper portion of the tip could cause a kickback reaction, which can be bloody dangerous and may engage the chain brake. Basically, try to avoid cutting with the tip. 
  • It's good practice to cut at your waist level — never raise your saw above shoulder height. This is just asking for trouble if you run into trouble! You are less able to properly control the saw at this height and angle.
  • Avoid cutting too close to the ground where the blade could dig in and kick back.
  • Try to cut from the side of the saw. This is to say, do not stand 'over' the saw. A kickback in this position could be lethal as the saw will kick back into your line of sight - meaning a chest or face injury is on the cards. It's really easy to suddenly find yourself in this position if you have moved around a bit so keep an eye on your positioning at all times. 
  • You should cut with a downward pressure with the bottom of the bar — known as cutting with a pulling chain since the chain pulls the saw out from you. The vice versa applies when cutting upwards. We suggest you have a fair bit of practice with the standard method before trying an up cut motion. At the least, have a really good appreciation for how your saw feels in your hands.
  • It is very easy to over work your back while using a chainsaw. Try not to curve your spine to move lower, instead bend your knees.

How to start a flooded chainsaw

Monday, December 17, 2018
how to start a flooded chainsaw

One of my youngest memories is being with a father in an orchard somewhere cutting firewood.

When we were done, the car, stacked up with firewood wouldn't start. 

We had to wait for what felt like forever for my mum to turn up to take me home while Dad tended to the car. 

And what does that have to do with starting flooded chainsaw engines? 

Nothing, except to say my dad was pretty handy with a chainsaw. He had a green Poulan and as a kid it just seemed the coolest thing in the world. 

Anyways, enough of this chit chat here are some:

Tips on starting a flooded chainsaw

Before we get into it, make sure you have fresh petrol in your engine. 

If you've got an old mixture of oil and gas that's older than a month, it will be harder for your engine to start. We suggest you drain and add fresh petrol to ensure a good start. 

If you have tried several times unsuccessfully to start your unit, it is most likely flooded, especially so if you can smell gas. 

Flooded means there is excessive fuel pumped into the engine which as displaced the vital ingredient of oxygen for starting. 

Do not prime the engine again as you will add to the problem!

There are two ways you can try to clear the unit of the excess fuel and get it chopping wood.

The first is the easiest and most common method.  Let yoru chainsaw sit for 15-20 minutes to allow the fuel to evaporate from the engine and then to repeat the starting instructions. Maybe go make a cup of tea while you wait. 

This method will work best with a mildly flooded engine. 

The more hands-on method:
  • Have the chain break on
  • Turn the choke off
  • Activate the fast idle (by engaging the throttle lock/trigger assembly or pulling the choke out and pushing it back in
  • Turn the on/off switch on
  • Hold the saw firmly on the ground as you do during normal starting, and pull the starter rope sharply until the saw starts. Do not to pull the starter rope out to its full length. Employe short, brisk pulls when you do this
If the engine does not start in 15 pulls then the spark plug may be 'wet fouled'. If you suspect this has occurred, remove the spark plug and look for moist wet deposits on the electrode. 

While the plug is out, here's a chance to remove any fuel in the engine via the spark plug hole. 

Here's a great video tutorial on starting your saw:

How to sharpen a lawn mower blade safely

Tuesday, December 11, 2018
sharpened lawn mower blade

Guide on how to safely sharpen your lawn mower blade

If you are like me, you like to use your lawn mower as a bit of a mulcher machine.

Maybe you like to monster some stray branches or other plant material such as flax (which can go all stringy and cut stuck around the blade) and you simply run over them with the mower to get rid of the waste.

Do this enough times coupled with hitting the odd stone or when you accidentally maneuver the blade onto concrete or brick you've got a blunt blade.

And if you're blade is blunt, the grass isn't being cut as well as it should - meaning more work for you, especially if the grass is wet.

How sharp should mower blades be?

Blades should be sharpened so they are like a pair of scissors or butter knife, and not like a boning knife. A knife edge blade will get dull much faster.

What angle should mower blades be sharpened?

Most blades leave the factory with the blade sharpened at a 45-degree angle.

You should aim for the same.

If you are ever in a lawn mower store, have a feel of the blade - you'll note it is not honed down razor sharp!

Can I sharpen a lawnmower without removing the blade?

No matter how you choose to sharpen your blade, the first thing to do is to disconnect the spark plug by removing the spark plug wire.

This is to prevent the engine from accidentally starting if the blades generate enough pressure to turn the engine - either when removing it or sharpening. 

Yes, you can. It's a little tricky but can be managed. 

As usual, disconnect the spark plug first. 

Turn the mower on it the side so that the air filter and carburetor are facing up (to avoid oil spillage), grab your file and file the blade at 45 degrees. Make sure you do even strokes on either side.

This is a quick and dirty way to sharpen the blade. You run the risk of sharpening unevenly and make the blade unbalance. 

We recommend you take the blade off. 

How to sharpen a lawn mower blade by hand with a file

  • Mark which is the downward facing side of the blade with a Sharpie of similar. This is so you do not accidentally re-attach it upside down.
  • Remove your blade from the mower and clamp the blade in a vice.
  • Wear appropriate safety gear, especially safety eyewear.
  • Sharpen the blade with a file. Your strokes should go from the inside edge to the out. 
  • You should aim to sharpen at a 45 degree angle. 
  • Your mower blade is sharp enough when it feels like a butter knife - that's suitable enough to cut with, given the force that occurs when it rotates under engine speed. 
  • Reinstall the blade the correct way up. 
A standard file is all you need. 

How to sharpen a lawn mower blade with a drill 

You can use your home handyman drill to sharpen your blade, with the right sharpening attachment. Usually made of the abrasive corundum (a crystalline form of aluminum oxide), these sharpening aids can be found fairly cheaply on Amazon.

sharpen lawnmower blade with a drill

  • Note which is the downward facing side of the blade with a marker. This is so you do not accidentally re-attach it upside down.
  • Remove your blade from the mower and clamp the blade in a vice with the cutting part of the blade face up. 
  • Add the attachment into the drill. 
  • Put your safety classes on! 
  • Line the bevel of the drill up to the blade. This will guide you as you use the drill. 
  • Use a light degree of pressure. 
  • Flip the blade over in the clamp and repeat.
  • Balance your blade

This video tutorial shows an excellent method on how to sharpen the blade safely:

You can also use a rotary tool such as a Dremel, angle grinder or a belt sander to sharpen the blade in the same fashion. Just use the tools in a safety conscious fashion and you'll be fine. 

How to balance your blade properly (as all things should be)

After you have sharpened the blade, you can test its balance with a blade-balancing tool. If you don't have such a tool you can try the classic trick of hammering a nail partway into a wall and hang the blade from it (using the center hole). If the blade hangs horizontally, it is perfectly balanced (as all things should be).

If one side lowers, you can lighten that side with your file or grinder. It's usually recommended that Material should only be removed from the end of the blade, in the sail area.

How often should I sharpen the mower blade?

Many users sharpen the blades at the beginning of every grass growing season. It never hurts to check and give it a tune-up if you frequently use the mower, especially if you've caught a few rocks or mulched some wood with it.

My blade is pretty damaged, what can I do?

damaged lawn mower blade

If your blade has done a diligent service but it's full of cuts and nicks it's probably time to replace it.

You can find plenty of replacements on Amazon. They are usually measured in inches, so make sure the size your order matches that of your machine!

Can I put a mulching blade on my mower?

If you want your lawn mower to do some heavy action mulching - you might want to consider attaching a blade designed to mulch grass (rather than simply cutting the grass).  When using such a blade, it is usually recommended that you leave the grass to be a little bit longer than you would an ordinary blade. 

You will probably also find you need to sharpen a mulching blader more regularly than a regular blade as they come into contact with the grass more.

Thinking of checking out a cordless electric mower? We've got you covered.

Promise us though that you will never sharpen a blade like this guy pictured below. Sure, he has ear cover and his eyes protected but one false move and he's cut himself so bad, he won't be pushing a lawnmower for a while:

unsafe way to sharpen a lawnmower blade

What are the best chainsaw safety chaps and trousers to use?

Saturday, December 8, 2018
In many countries, the forestry or logging industry has extremely high death and injury rates when compared to other workforces. This makes sense given trees are being felled and a lot can go wrong, both accidental and user effort with dangerous machinery.

Now think back to the good old days when chainsaws began to gain widespread use in the logging industry. Did those crude saws feature safety innovations such as chain brakes?

They sure didn't and many users were maimed and killed as a result.

If that was bad enough, think of their safety gear. No chain safe safety chaps were issued by employers 80 years ago. Instead, hungry & honed blades cut through denim work jeans into bone and arteries without a care in the world.

In the present, the modern chainsaw user has a much safer gig when chopping down a tree however they must take precautions and using properly designed safety chaps is a great way to prevent harm to your legs.

It doesn't matter if you are a forestry worker or an experienced weekend warrior, using safety gear should be a standard part of your chainsaw practice.

Let's not waste your time.

If you just want to know which is a great pair of chaps then the Husqvarna protective wrap chaps are quite suitable for most users.

husqvarna safety chaps

These chaps feature:
  • 1000 denier polyester with PVC coating with Tek warp protective layers
  • Can adjust the wasit up to size to 42 inches
  • Felling wedge/gear pocket and acetyl Delran buckles
  • Meets ASTM f1897, American National Standards Institute z133.1, and OSHA regulation 1910-266
  • Underwriter Laboratories certified

The real question you might want to ask yourself is do they work?

Here's a picture an Amazon buyer left in his review. He described the situation as that he: "Put a running saw to my left leg while limbing some cedars. Strands stopped the saw and didn't even have a bruise."

chainsaw chaps prevent a leg injury

If that proof is enough pudding for you, check out the price on Amazon

How do safety chaps protect legs from a chainsaw blade?

Let's be upfront, safety chaps are not a suit of armour.

If you wanted absolute protection from a chainsaw, then you may as well suit up like a Knight. 

However, that's not too practical when chopping wood, so chaps offer the versatility of movement with the knowledge they are designed to reduce the severity of the cut should an accident occur.

What we are saying here is there a tradeoff between practicality and safety here.

If the idea is safety, then placing a user in cut-retardant chaps that are too restrictive or that become too hot in itself is unsafe so many internationals safety standards for chaps and personal protective safety wear recognize this. 

When a chainsaw comes into contact with the safety trousers, the outer layer is immediately cut through by the blade but the inner layer of fibres (such as kevlar) are drawn out by the chain and into the machine. It wraps around the saw's drive sprocket. The tough fibres lock the sprocket in place thus halting the chain and hopefully limit damage to the chainsaw operator's leg. 

That said the stronger the chainsaw, the more chance of damage can occur to the user. It also depends on how fast the saw is going, the strength and angle of the saw. 

Here's a great video which demonstrates how chaps work when they catch a saw:

Does it matter what kind of chaps to wear if I am a casual or a professional user?

If you are simply doing a bit or yard work or lopping the occasional branch off a tree, it might not make economic sense in buying the best professional pants there are. 

You may simply decide to use something that will help keep you safe but is perfectly functional for your needs. At a minimum though, the pants should still be designed to meet a suitable product safety standard. 

To that end Husqvarna's chainsaw chaps are ideal. An economical buy, they fit quite comfortably over your work jeans:

safety chaps husqvarna economic

Do these chaps work? Here's a real-life example described by a user:

"First day of sawing, running a bigger saw than I had used in the past, tired and neglectful that it idled down slowly - saw pivoted in my L hand as I reached for a branch with my R hand, and I felt a "bang" on my left thigh and the saw was suddenly quiet. I looked down and had crossed the blade onto my leg - the blade was now stuffed with white strands from the chaps, and I was unscathed. Saved me from my very own trip to the ER and allowed me to cut another day"

If you don't feel like getting your quads cut, then check out the price on Amazon.

Just be wary of buying pants which are designed only to protect from flying debris / keeping your work pants clean. These are not designed in any way to protect your long limbs from a chainsaw bar cutting into your leg. They are only good for keeping the grass off.

What if I really only want budget pants?

There are a few protective pants out there that are handy for those on a budget. Remember, you should only wear pants which are designed specifically for use with a chainsaw and thus should have been fully tested to comply with the relevant safety standards.

For the cost-conscious, the Forester range of apron chaps might be the ideal choice. We hate to use the word 'casual' but for those that only use a chainsaw every so often, then these chaps could be ideal.

They provide good coverage for the front of your legs. The only drawback is they are not designed to protect against the really high powered saws and they certainly won't halt an electric engine from rotating. They are do however meet the STM F1897, OSHA 1910.266 standards and are UL Certified. We suggest if your day job requires chaps, then you go upmarket, such as the Husqvarna 587160704 Technical Apron Wrap Chap.

Buying safety gear gives the user the confidence that it will do what is asked of it t - i.e. reduce the chance of severe leg injury. In terms of aesthetics, Forester describes them as "sleek, durable, lightweight, and comfortable chaps are chainsaw oil- and water-resistant". The chaps also feature a large side pocket and a flip adjustment belt for a perfectly secure fit.

Again, we always ask - do they work?

This chap on Amazon shared his experience:

"I needed to drop about 8-10 small trees and just out of habit put these on. That day it was the smartest thing I did because not only did they save my legs from injury once but twice the same day. First time I just cradled the chainsaw on my leg and had not set the brake, the chaps stopped the chain from cutting into my thigh right where I bend. I surely would have bled out before EMS got to me."

Check out this picture of a save by these pants:

forester chainsaw protective pants

The wearer is uninjured which is a great result because that cutting area is pretty damn close to the femoral artery. Which, you may know is a pretty major one and a severe cut can result in a bleed out.

If you think protecting your femoral artery might be a good idea, then check out the price on Amazon.

Is it true electric chainsaws will cut through even the best chaps?

Yes, this is true as they are not configured the same as gas powered saws. As they have higher torque than gas engines, electric saws will continue to cut the chap fabric and chaps are generally not designed to withstand contact with an electric saw.

Sure, you should still wear chaps when using an electric saw but do not rely on them to reduce the chance of personal injury. 

What length should chainsaw chaps be?

Chaps (which go over trousers and legs) should be long enough to cover the tops of your boots.

To figure out how long your chaps need to be, measure from your waist (just below your belt where the chaps will sit) to the beginning of your foot. This length will provide suitable coverage and protection.

It's important you order and use the right size - a shorter than necessary chap will probably result in a piece of your leg exposed which it Murphy's law kicks into force, your chainsaw will find it. If your chaps are too long, they could be too loose, which may be annoying at best and at worst, could cause you to trip or stumble.

When ordering chaps it's important to understand that the advertised length is the overall length and not the length of a traditional measurement of the inseam.

When you're thinking about buying safety gear, whether it be chaps, gloves or protective eyewear, it's always really good to remember that no one ever died just because they bought quality gear. Actually, we think the adage is no one ever regretted buying quality but you get the point. I know we keep talking about it, whatever buying decision you make, you really should consider if your safety gear has met the requirements of the most relevant safety standard.

Your femoral artery might just thank you for it.

If you've got this far, well done. Now, head to Amazon and have a look at the best safety chaps they have.

Oregon Powersharp Chain Sharpening Kit Review

Monday, December 3, 2018
oregon powersharp chain sharpener

If getting a file out and sharpening each tooth of your chain is not for you or is too much of a time suck, then Oregon's Powersharp chainsaw sharpening kit may be the tool for you.

Taking the classic concept of sharpening with a stone, this time saving device attaches to the end of your bar. Give the engine a short rev and the chain is sharpened.


The PowerSharp system consists of a chain, a bar, and a bar-mount sharpener.

When your chain gets dull, sharpening is as easy as snapping the sharpener on the blade and pressing the tip of the sharpener into a solid surface for a few seconds, bringing the unique top-cutting cutters into contact with the sharpening stone.

You do have to replace your existing bar because only the PowerSharp has the correct holes to snap the sharpener on.

You can't sharpen regular chains with the sharpener, only PowerSharp chains. But you can put a regular chain on the bar if you don't have any more PowerSharp chains so your investment risk is quite low, as you've brought yourself a qualty bar from Oregon no matter what.

This video from Oregon demonstrates how you can safely and quickly use the attachment:

Here's the technical specifications: 

  • Pitch: 3/8" Low Profile, gauge: .050", drive link count: 62
  • Fast, Easy, Portable, Precise, Tough
  • LubriTec keeps your chain and guide bar oiled for less friction and longer life
  • For saw sizes up to 42 cc

Will this cause any kick back issues?

Oregan state that this saw chain met the kickback performance requirement of ANSI B175.1-2012 when tested according to the provisions of ANSI B175.1-2012. Low-kickback saw chain meets the kickback performance requirement of CSA Standard Z62.3.

Reviews by actual users of the Powersharpener

"I use the PowerSharp to cut anything I would cut with a regular chain, I don't just prune small branches with my saw either, I have an 18" bar because it is what I need for what I cut.
I hate having to change a chain because it is dull, and I don't find it worth spending the time sharpening them, or sending them out to be sharpened. I have had good luck with the PowerSharp and I am pleased with the system. I have used the PowerSharp on an Echo CS-400 18", and an Echo CS-360."

"These don’t cut quite as fast as a normal chain, nor does it have the normal “pull” into the wood as a semi-chisel chain, but this chain stays sharp for 2-3x longer than Oregon or other chains. When sharpening is needed, it only takes about 30 seconds to install the sharpener and run it a few passes! Afterwards, the chain cuts straight and is like new again. The bar seems of good quality, no complaints. Great system!"

"I own a christmas tree farm where I use chains after chains & they get dull and then it takes time to sharpner the chain! After seeing the video from oregon chain saw sharpener i ordered it for my saw to try out! Its was very ez to install! this bar & chain! This is the REAL DEAL! WOW! Takes seconds to sharpen! It performs well! Save me so much time! what an invention! Got to get! Ordered two more for my other saws!"

"My experience with it has been exactly as advertised. I initially came across this because I was looking for a longer bar for my little husqy 235e. the 14" bar was way too short for cutting limbs on the ground. my back protested quite loudly. Oregon made this in an 18" for that saw. I rejoiced, and purchased it immediately. I have only used the sharpener thingy twice, because that is all it has needed in the half-cord's worth of cutting this thing has seen. both times it has been restored to full sharpened glory with under 2 seconds of sharpening. brilliant."

The only con of this product is that many users have found it doesn't work with a Husqvarna bar. 

If this sharpening device floats your boat, check out the price on Amazon.

How to identify chainsaw work area safety zones

Consider your workplace safety zone before you turn on your engine

When you intend to use a chainsaw, it's important to check the work area for hazards before you start felling or cutting.

Obviously, you'll never deliberately do any anything that will harm another person when you are using your chainsaw but you do need to be mindful.

Here's a personal example of a lack of mindfulness

Last year I was chopping up some branches my neighbor himself had cut down and thrown over the fence for me to use as firewood.

I happened to run out of fuel and the saw cut out. I put it down in front of me and that's when I realized my two year old daughter was standing just me. Gave me a hell of a fright with the realization that a kick back or an odd movement from myself could have put her in harm's way.

It appears I did not shut the back door of the house properly. Did I think to do so? I can't recall, but either way, I wasn't mindful enough to check my working zone would be safe.

So I know personally this is no joke, and you do too, that's why you're here, looking for safety zone advice.

Now this may be obvious stuff but so is properly shutting a door so here we go:
  • Check that there are no (or will be) no people or animals in your work zone. Tell people around you to stay clear and ask mums or dads to keep the kids inside.
  • Do not work in adverse weather conditions such as heavy rain, snow or high winds or even rain
  • Ensure you have a clear work area in which you have a stable footing and do not have to reach or work off balance. Make ladder adjustments as necessary and have a support person as required. 
  • Make your way carefully on uneven or sloping ground. 
  • Shut down the chainsaw off before carrying it. Carry it by the front handle with the bar to the rear - not balancing on your shoulders mate!
  • If you are felling trees, make sure other people are at least two tree lengths away. Before you commence cutting, determine your escape route escape route, one that is cleared to the side and rear.
  • Check for hazards in the area - such as electricity or telecommunication cables. If in doubt, seek advice from the local controlling authority.
  • Always check for any material such as branches or tops which may dislodge and fall into the work area as the tree falls. 

Should I buy a gas or electric powered chainsaw?

electric chainsaw pros and cons

Gas or electric powered chainsaws - which is best?

With advances in modern technology arborists and woodcutters no longer need to simply rely on the 'old fasioned' gas powered chainsaw to fell trees or cut firewood.

There are now three kinds of ways a chainsaw may be powered.

As you might expect each kind of machine has benefits and weakness to their use.

Let's consider the merits of each.

The benefits of a gas powered chainsaw

If you're a Tim t'he Toolman' Taylor kind of tool user, you'll have a fond appreciation for devices that run on gas and give off a strong, powerful vibe. And gas or petrol powered chainsaws do just that. 

Gas driven engines can be configured to very high degrees of power output making them super useful for industrial work in the forest or simply being used intensively all day. 

The attraction of a gas powered saw is that they are the most wholly portable of all chainsaws - you can take them with you high into the hills and not have to worry about running out of fuel (if you've of course budgeted for what you needed to use the saw for!)

A downside of using a gas driven engine is they do require a fair bit of maintenance. Many a user will often however take pride in undertaking correct maintenace of their chainsaw - especially when they can cost a small fortune!

Reasons to use an electric chainsaw

Electric chainsaws are a lot more quiet than gas. They don't have the same ooomph of the gas-powered cousins but they do have enough output power to light to medium duty jobs. 

Starting them is as simple as pulling the trigger. That itself has great appeal as starting a finicky gas-powered engine can be one of the most frustrating exercises there is! You know the drill, you just want to cut up the branch that has fallen on to your driveway but you then have to spend time, checking the fuel, checking the spark plug, making sure it has fuel!

The utter drawback of an electric powered chainsaw is that you are only as mobile as your electric cable. This is fine if you just want to use it around the house but you can't run off to the neighbors for a chainsaw chopping party with it! One also should bear in mind that the longer your cable, the lower the voltage supplied to the chainsaw, meaning its power output can drop. 

Another benefit is that giving they are fairly quiet, you will not annoy your neighbours so much as you would with an electric or battery powered chainsaw. 

When you might want to use a battery powered chainsaw

A battery powered saw is a good option when you have to do a small amount of light to medium work such as pruning or cutting small trees. 

These things are obviously battery powered and won't last all day. They are however very easy to use, clean and are quite portable. 

If you only have the one battery, you will be limited by the amount of work you can get done as you'll obviously need to recharge it when empty meaning downtime for you.

How to maintain a chainsaw

A good chainsaw is, in some ways, the keys to the castle.

By cutting down trees, removing fallen branches and preparing firewood to warm your family, you are the King of your Castle.

Any good king knows he's only as good as his loyal subjects, in this case being a chainsaw that turns on when you need it to!

Good maintenance of a chainsaw will result in a loyal tool that will serve your wood cutting needs for many wars.

Your first port of call is from the manufacturer's operation manual that came with your chainsaw. If you do not have a copy, google for the PDF of it. Those who made your saw, know it best. So if they say do this, you do it.

But onwards, you can do what you like.

Basic tips on how to properly maintain a chainsaw

To start, there are three key points on the checklist:

  • Before you use the chainsaw, ensure that the bar and chain oil is full. A chain with no oil will quickly become unsuitable for proper cutting and it will also begin to degrade. 
  • The chain must be kept sharp. A sharp chain will obviously cut through wood better than a blunt chain but importantly a sharp chain also helps to reduce the risk of an accident occurring or the chain getting stuck in a log. 
  • Cleaning your chainsaw of wood debris after each use will help keep the engine in top shape and reduce the chance of blockage say from the oil release.

Adding bar and chain oil

For the chain to work properly, chainsaw bars should be kept well lubricated. A good oil will penetrate into chain links ensuring they function well.

To add oil, simply add it to the machine where it is clearly marked for the chain oil. Do not overfill as this is just a waste of oil.

A well-oiled chain will also work to help prevent rust from developing on the chain. It will also help resist the build-up of unwanted deposits such as pitch, sap or gum.

One should always use oil that has been properly designed for chains. They contain what is referred to as a "high-tack" additive that prevents it from flying off the chain as it travels around the tip. Other oils do not have this property so they will quickly disappear off the chain which is just a waste of oil and time.

That said, there is a big environmental movement to use specially curated vegetable oils as bar and chain oil. This is so that the 'traditional oils' are not left behind in the forest after tree culling (the chain oil is lost in the sawdust). A common complaint about users of vegetable oil is that chains can become gunked up pretty quickly due to the nature of the oil.

Keeping the chain sharp is a must for good cutting (dur!)

A sharp chain is pretty much a must when it comes to chainsaw maintenance. You can sharpen the chain yourself or get a professional to do it for you, it's a service many chainsaw agents are happy to provide.

Here are some sharpening tips:

  • Ensure that you use a file that is the proper size. The owner's manual will tell you what is the correct size to use. If you have lost your manual, google it, most popular brands will have them on their respective websites. 
  • When filing, do so at the correct angle. Chains are designed to operate in a specific manner, so deviating from the correct angle means they will not perform as intended. You can use a file gauge to hold the file in the correct position if need be, but a practiced hand can do the job quite well. 
  • Use the same number of filing strokes on each tooth. This will ensure a consistent sawing action. 
  • Avoid filing the depth gauge too much. If this occurs the saw will bite too deeply into the wood running the risk of a stall or dragging you off balance (which is a safety issue, especially depending on your stance elevation). Again, the use of a file gauge will help prevent this from occurring. 
  • A great trick is to place the blade inside a vice so it's held steady when filing. You can also use a stump vice:

Keeping the air filter regularly cleaned

You've no doubt changed or cleaned the filter in a vacuum cleaner or your lawn mower before, so why wouldn't you do the same for your chainsaw, especially as it's an item that relies on oxygen as part of the combustion process?

Other than the air filter, there's no much standing between the engine and dirt and sawdust and other debris. Get any of that in the internal workings of your saw then the carburetor will have some issues such as poor starting and generally poor running.

Many modern saws have a screen as opposed to a foam or paper filter. A handy way to clean them out is to use an air compressor to force out any debris and dirt. Else, you can do the classic trick of tapping the filter on the end of your workbench or similar and force the debris out.

If you do have a foam or paper filter, then consider regularly replacing it, especially if you use the saw often.

Simple guide-bar groove maintenance

The channel that guides the chain along the bar can become easily become clogged with sawdust and what not. You can remove the drive-case cover, chain, and bar, then clean the groove with a small screwdriver, thin piece of wood or a piece of wire.

You can force out dirt and debris with a blast from a can of CRC or WD40 or a can of compressed air.

Experts will file any nicks flat in a manner perpendicular to the bar's flanks.

Keeping oil ports clog free

There is not so much annoying when using a chainsaw and the oil port gets clogged. This means your chain isn't getting the oil it needs. You can usually tell when this has happened as the wood you're chopping might start to smoke due to the friction!

A handy tip is to clean the port(s) out with a small wire or pipe cleaner when you have the bar off the saw.

A properly tensioned chain saves you pain

When using a chainsaw, it is best practice to ensure the chain has the proper tension. A loose chain is not going to be cutting well and is more likely to come flying off which as we all know is just a pain in the ass when you're in the middle of chopping up some wood.

So don't let the chain sag.

An overtightened chain can also be an issue too.

A chain that is too tight can overheat, causing the oil to overheat and burn off.

If you can't advance the chain forward manually with your hand (wear a glove for safety), then loosen the tension slightly.

Here's a handy video tutorial on how to tighten your chain:

If you have a used your chainsaw and its heated the chain up quite nicely, you should be warned that if you tighten that chain too much, when it cools the chain will probably be too tight.

Also, remember to loosen those nuts before you turn the tension screw!

Spark plug maintenance for strong ignition and combustion

Start Me Up is not just a song by the Rolling Stones, it is a wish from every man or woman who's ever tried to start a chainsaw they haven't used in a few months.

While you're not going to start a chainsaw, first time, every time, a well-maintained spark plug will go some way to helping you easily start one.

To clean a spark plug, use a plug or socket wrench to remove the plug. A handy method is to take a wire-brush to it. Either way, clear off any gunk or rust so it makes a good contact. If the external body of the plug itself is rusted, it may still work fine but know you really should replace it.

When replacing a spark plug, check the manual to make sure you are installing the correct kind.

Plugs should be tightened but not firmly, just say 'moderately'. Older models which user breaker points can be tricky so you may wish to get your model serviced.

Only use a chainsaw which has a working chain break

Chainsaw safety is paramount when using these devices.

If you want to see the horrors of what can happen when things go wrong, I dare you to Google "chainsaw facial accidents". It ain't pretty and at absolute worst, you can die from a kickback.

This is why modern-day chainsaws will come with a chain break. In some countries, it's even the law for both new and used chainsaws. By placing the requirement on used chainsaws, it effectively will remove unsafe chainsaws from the secondary market over time which improves overall safety outcomes across the population of chainsaw users.

So to avoid getting your nose carved in two (and worse) there a couple of things you can do. The first is to always use appropriate safety gear when actively using a chainsaw and the second is to maintain the chain brake properly by checking that it works.

Here's how to do it:

  • Place your chainsaw on a sturdy and stable surface
  • Release the chain brake and engage the throttle
  • Activate the chain brake by pushing your left wrist against the kickback protection without releasing the handle, the chain should immediately cease rotating.

If that occurs, you know the brake is working properly. If it does not, repeat the steps again. If you have a failure, get the unit serviced before your next session with the saw.

It's important to not be cavalier about the chain break.

Yes, they can reduce the likely hood of an injury but avoiding behaviors which can cause kickback in the first place is your best means of keeping safe when cutting wood.

Kick backs are why I bought this face protector to use when chopping wood.

When mixing petrol and oil, follow the recommended ratio

When using a wo-stroke chainsaw, you'll need to add engine oil to petrol.

It pays to follow the directions as instructed. Scientists and many years of experience show that if you guess, you'll have an underperforming engine, one which you will have stressed out.

This is to say, if the ratio of fuel to oil is 50:1, then that's what you should do.

You can get mixing bottles which have the ratios marked on the side. Fill the petrol first, then slowly add the oil until you have the correct mix. Give the bottle a good shake and then add to the chainsaw.

The fuel mixture will begin to degrade quickly, it's often recommended you do not use any leftover mix that's older than one month.

If your machine hasn't been used in three months or so, you may have difficulty getting in started due to fuel degradation. If this is the case, we suggest you ditch the fuel and start afresh.
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