Idaho company’s chain saw sharpener gets worldwide acclaim


At the Idaho Innovation Center on North Yellowstone Highway, Phil Krantz demonstrated how his company's chain saw sharpener works by attaching it to a chain saw.

He spun the sharpener and pulled the chain to line up the tooth of the blade with the tungsten file.

"People are really impressed with it," he says.

Krantz is the general manager of Timberline Chainsaw Sharpener, a business in Idaho Falls that distributes all over the world, including to Canada, Great Britain, New Zealand and Australia. The tool is constructed in the home of one of the company's four employees. It sells for $125.

Krantz's company has advertised in magazines, but the Internet has been its most effective outreach to potential customers. A YouTube video made by the staff enticed people as far away as New Zealand to contact the company.

Phil's father, Jeff Krantz, is the company president. He started Timberline Chainsaw Sharpener in 2009. Jeff Krantz says it is a joint venture between him and his son.

"I would say it was both of us (who started the business)," Jeff Krantz says. "I found this idea, this entity, and I approached him and asked, 'Do you want to tackle this?' He says, 'Yeah, I think I'll take this on.' That was kind of the genesis of the project."

Jeff Krantz says he wanted to make a tool that craftsmen would use. He also wanted to make it easy to operate. He thought at the beginning that the tool satisfied that desire.

"But the one thing I didn't know, the one variable I wasn't certain of, was going to be how's it going to sell," Jeff Krantz says. "You can do marketing and research, et cetera, but until you actually have the product on the market, you never really know what the sales are going to be like."

The sharpener's parts are manufactured in the United States and China. Phil Krantz speaks Mandarin, and he went to China to find fabricators. Once the parts are shipped to Idaho Falls, they are assembled by local employees.

Customers have been happy with the product.

Larry Randle, from New Mexico, uses the Timberline sharpener for personal and commercial use. He compared it with other methods of sharpening chain saws.

"Very few people are skilled enough with a file to do a good job with it," Randle says.

"A grinder you can do a good job with if you know how, but they don't stay sharp as long as they do with the Timberline because an electric grinder heats the metal, which causes it to be softer. Whereas with the Timberline grinder, it doesn't create any measurable heat at all."

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