Chainsaw held in place on a tree trunk with a stump vise

Stump Vise

When a chainsaw is cutting well it is a joy to use — you can see shavings fly. When it gets dull and spits out dust it’s a slog at best and dangerous at worst. Working out in the field for an extended period is no excuse for not sharpening your chain. There is a great little accessory called a ‘stump vise’ that every chainsaw lumberjack should own. It allows you to quickly sharpen your chain in the field and get back to work.

Stump vise
Stump vise

How do you use this vise?

You hammer this little vise into a stump or log. Then you clamp the chain saw bar into the vise, being sure to make sure the bottom chain can clear the vise.

Chainsaw held in place on a tree trunk with a stump vise
Chainsaw held in place on a tree trunk with a stump vise

Once the saw is secured you can mark the first tooth with a sharpie or similar marker and start filing. I usually do all the right teeth first taking advantage of muscle memory and using the same number of strokes. When I get back to the tooth with the sharpie mark I know I have made it all the way around the chain. Then I make a pass down the left teeth and sharpen each of them. I usually take 3 strokes with the file on each tooth.

Filing a chain saw chain out in the field
Filing a chain saw chain out in the field

After 10 minutes out in the field with a file I am ready to get back to work and making more shavings.

Where can I find one of these vises?

The vise I have was made by Husqvarna and fits nicely into its own compartment inside the blow molded plastic case I keep my chainsaw in when it’s not in use. When you don’t need one of these vises they are easy to find — when you need one they can be hard to find. Last year when I bought a new chainsaw I went to the local Husqvarna dealer seeking one of these vises and he had no idea what I was talking about  — so I showed him the plastic case they sell which had a picture of it even and you’d think I had 2 heads the way he was looking at me telling me that is not something they ever made — clearly he had not done a lot of work out in the field as all the timber framers I knew had them. Needless to say I won’t be returning to that shop. The local True Value, big box stores and Tractor Supply didn’t have them even though I know there is a LOT of logging going on up here in NH. So I caved and bought mine online from a 3rd party outdoor equipment supplier on Amazon and have been very happy with the purchase. I bought the official Husqvarna branded vise for about $18, but the castings look near identical to the yellow model you often see branded as ‘General’ or other similar brands.

I hope you’ll treat yourself or the chainsaw operator in your life to one of these vises so they can get back to cutting up blanks for future projects.

Take care,

-Bill

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