I was asked by OREGON® to review the PowerSharp® Saw Chain Sharpening System. “Sure! I enjoy trying out new tools!” I replied and received a PowerSharp Starter Kit for my Stihl MS-210C chain saw with a 16″ bar.
Oregon PowerSharp Review
The Oregon PowerSharp Starter Kit consists of two bundled units: 1) Sharpener with 16″ Guide Bar and 2) PowerSharp Chain with Sharpening Stone.
PowerSharp Saw Chain Sharpening System
The PowerSharp sharpening system consists of the following items:
- Guide Bar
- Sharpener (yellow clam shell)
- Sharpening Stone (replaceable)
- PowerSharp chain
- Product sticker to put on your chainsaw so you’ll have the replacement chain part #.
You only buy the Guide Bar and Sharpener once. Thereafter, replacing only the chain and sharpening stone if it becomes worn out. A new chain includes a sharpening stone.
How PowerSharp Works
The Oregon PowerSharp chain has cutters (teeth) that are taller compared to a standard chain.
The PowerSharp cutters sharpen from the top as the cutters contact the sharpening stone. To sharpen the chain:
- Place the bar on the two steel alignment pegs in the clam shell sharpener.
- Clamp and lock the sharpener over the bar.
- Run the saw and press the spring-loaded sharpener foot against a tree or rock for 3 to 5 seconds.
Mounting the PowerSharp Bar and Chain
The PowerSharp bar and chain was easy to mount on my Stihl MS-210C chainsaw, taking less than 5 minutes and I only needed a screw driver. To change bar and chain:
- Unscrew the wing-nut on the plastic sprocket cover and lift off the cover.
- Turn the tensioning gear to loosen the chain.
- Lift the original Stihl bar and chain off the saw.
- Unfasten the screw from the back of the tensioning gear and remove the gear from the Stihl bar.
- Place the tensioning gear on the PowerSharp guide bar and secure it with the screw.
- Fit the PowerSharp guide bar and chain on the saw.
- Take up the slack in the chain by turning the tensioning gear.
- Replace the sprocket cover.
- Check and tighten the chain if needed.
Bar and chain on the saw before replacing the sprocket cover:
The Oregon PowerSharp is ready to go!
Oregon PowerSharp Benefits
1) I’m a homeowner and occasional chain saw user who’s never bothered to learn how to sharpen a chain, preferring to pay my local Stihl dealer $11 to do it. Learning how to sharpen a chain isn’t difficult, I just have other priorities, haven’t bought the sharpening tools and lack the patience.
2) My chain always seems to get dull just when I need it most. Like the Sunday afternoon when I was sawing down a large Ficus tree that was too close to the house in Florida. I had sawn off the limbs and was working on the trunk when the blade started to get dull and was working me to death, lot’s of sawing with little progress. Being Sunday afternoon the local chain saw shop was closed so I couldn’t get it sharpened. I had to stop work until the next weekend.
3) It’s aggravating to be delayed by a dull chain.
Oregon PowerSharp Field Testing
Two things I wanted to learn about the Oregon PowerSharp® are:
- How well does it cut compared to a factory chain?
- Does the sharpening system really work?
To find out, my testing consisted of:
- Timed cuts with the Stihl factory bar and chain
- Timed cuts with the PowerSharp bar and chain
- Several hours of sawing with the PowerSharp to see how well it held an edge
- Trying out the PowerSharp quick sharpening system
Stihl Factory Bar and Chain – Timed Cuts
I began testing with a newly sharpened Stihl standard chain on my MS-210C chainsaw.
I cut a half-dozen discs off a ~14″ diameter log with the Stihl chain while my son timed each cut with a stopwatch. On average, the Stihl chain needed 20 seconds to make the cuts.
PowerSharp Bar and Chain – Timed Cuts
Next, I mounted the PowerSharp bar and chain on my Stihl chainsaw. Changing the bar and chain was quick and easy, needing only screwdriver.
I cut another half-dozen discs off the log with the PowerSharp, timing each cut with a stop watch. The PowerSharp needed 16 seconds on average for each cut. That’s about 4 seconds (or 20%) faster than the Stihl factory chain. I attributed this to the more aggressive cutters on the PowerSharp chain.
20% faster sawing is great but my main concern is working carefully rather than quickly, and I took comfort knowing the PowerSharp wouldn’t slow me down.
Compared to the standard Stihl chain, the PowerSharp was a bit different because it felt like the chain “melted” through the log and less pressure was needed on the bar. Relax and let the saw do the work.
Sawing up this felled tree was no problem with the Stihl chainsaw and PowerSharp chain.
I spent several hours sawing up a variety of fallen and live trees, both pine (softwood) and oak (hardwood). The PowerSharp worked really well – lasting longer than my lower back muscles!
Bar-Mounted Sharpening System
The cutters on the PowerSharp held an edge really well and was still sharp after sawing trees above ground. I turned my attention to logs on the ground that would put the chain in the dirt. The cutters now felt less than razor sharp.
The bar fits over two steel alignment studs in the bar-mounted sharpener and the sharpener is clamped over the bar. Be sure to shut off the motor first!
To sharpen the chain, start the motor, press the spring-loaded boot against a log and rev up the saw for 3 to 5 seconds. Notice the sparks flying!
After sharpening, I stopped the motor and felt the cutters. Razor sharp just like a new chain! Wish I had a PowerSharp system when I was working myself to death with a dull chain on that Ficus tree in Florida.
The PowerSharp system is a high quality, well made product that works. The speed and convenience of sharpening the chain in seconds is a huge benefit that will keep you going on the job. The sharpening system is foolproof and so easy anyone can do it.
The PowerSharp Starter Kit costs about $49 and available in sizes to fit most chainsaws. You only need to buy the guide bar and sharpener once.
PowerSharp replacement chains cost about $23, roughly twice the cost of standard factory chain but PowerSharp is more economical if you add the cost of two sharpenings by the chainsaw dealer.
An easy to use and inexpensive slide-hammer log splitter is described in this follow-up project.