Chainsaw depth gauges are necessary for proper chainsaw maintenance. When you notice your chain jumping instead of turning smoothly, you’ll know it’s time to lower your depth gauge. Some people will check them every time they sharpen their chain as part of routine maintenance. However, a good rule to follow is to adjust the depth gauge every second or third time you sharpen your chains.
What is a Depth Gauge?
If you look at the teeth on your chainsaw chain, the depth gauge is the metal point that sits in front of each cutter, which is also called a tooth. The depth gauge determines how much wood is cut when the chain is pulled through it. Every time you sharpen your chain, the cutter gets lower. If the depth guide isn’t lowered as well, your chain will start to cut thinner chips. Soon you will find it won’t cut at all.
Proper Depth Gauge Height
If the depth gauge is too high, it will take longer to cut the wood because the chain will move more slowly. If the depth gauge is too low, the chain will cut quickly, but the risk of serious injury increases. Each cutter should be approximately 0.025 of an inch higher than the depth gauge. If your depth gauge is higher than the cutter, you will find that your chain will vibrate and cut unevenly, even if the cutters are sharp.
The Depth Gauge Guide
The easiest way to ensure you are filing your depth gauge to the correct height is by using a specially made tool called a depth gauge guide. Here are 3 simple steps to help you properly adjust your depth gauges:
Step 1: Get the Right Tool
Purchase the correct depth gauge guide for your chain. The tool comes in different sizes, so it is important to buy the tool that fits your specific chainsaw. You can purchase them directly from the manufacturer or from your local dealer.
Step 2: Place the Depth Gauge
Place the depth gauge guide on top of your chain. One depth gauge will protrude from the slot at a time.
Step 3: Adjust the Depth
If you find a depth gauge that is higher than the guide, use a flat file or a grinding wheel to file the depth gauge so it is lower than the cutter. Be careful not to file the depth gauge lower than the setting. As you file, make sure the depth gauges keep their original shape so the cutters will feed smoothly.
Continue around the entire chain, checking each depth gauge to ensure each one is at its proper height. If you only file the depth gauges on one side, your chain will cut crooked because it will automatically pull to the side of the chain with the lower depth gauges.
Keeping your depth gauges at the proper height will ensure smoother cutting and reduce the risk of injury. It will also lengthen the life of your chain so you won’t have to purchase a new one as often.