Sharpening Chainsaw Blades

Dull chainsaw blades aren’t fun – not only they slow down your work, but they can also cause burning and buckling while sawing through wood. It can be dangerous!

Since the invention of the chainsaw, the task of cutting and felling tall trees has turned from laborious and time-consuming, to quick and effortless. Both professional and DIY builders and arborists use the chainsaw for cutting down trees and slicing through trunks.

The chainsaw’s efficiency is attributed to its motor and sharp blades, but over time the blades become dull. In order to keep your chainsaw consistent, you should sharpen the blades often. Even the largest chainsaws won’t cut with a dull chain. The good news is that you can sharpen the chainsaw back into its top condition easily, and it won’t take too long to do that.

How to tell when to sharpen a chainsaw

When the shavings cut from the chainsaw appear to be very fine and almost dust-like, then it is time to sharpen your chainsaw. Also, when the chainsaw has the tendency to “ride” in the cut without deepening it, it is an indication that you should sharpen it.

How to sharpen a chainsaw with by filing

While filing seems slow and tedious, most handymen consider it as the best and the most preferred way to sharpen a dull saw chain. Filing is probably the most common method of sharpening a chainsaw ever since the tool first came out. Once you perfect the techniques, you will actually find filing a pretty fast way to get a blunt chainsaw back to its razor-sharp form.

Make sure to wear protective gloves when filing a dull chainsaw.

  • Engage the chain brake.
  • Clamp the bar of the chainsaw to any work surface.
  • If the chain is still loose on the bar, use a tension adjusting screw to tighten it.
  • Mark the chainsaw tooth that you want to file first with a permanent marker. Marking it will enable you to keep track of where you started, and to avoid sharpening the same section again.
  • If you have a roller file guide, place it between the rivets on the chain, with the arrows of the guide pointing towards the nose of the bar.
  • Follow the angle of the tooth’s top plate; the rollers on the file guide will keep your file from going too deep in the tooth’s side plate.
  • Start filing the first chainsaw tooth in steady, even strokes. Make about two to three strokes until the face of the tooth becomes sharp. It will become shiny silver.
  • After sharpening a couple of chainsaw teeth, release the chain break and rotate the chain forward to reveal more teeth to be sharpened. After that, reset the brake.
  • Once you’re finished sharpening the teeth on one side of the chain, flip the chain around so that you can begin sharpening the teeth on the other side of the chain.
  • When sharpening, keep the chainsaw teeth out of dirt, or they will become dull.
Product
Visual
Where to Buy
Husqvarna 505698109 Combination Swedish Roller Guide
Oregon 70503/80503 3/16-Inch Chain Saw File
Katzco Chainsaw Sharpener File Kit - Contains 5/32, 3/16, and 7/32 Inch Files, Wood Handle, Depth Gauge, Filing Guide, and Tool Pouch - for Sharpening and Filing Chainsaws and Other Blades
Timberline Chainsaw Sharpener with 3/16" Carbide Cutter (for .325" pitch chains)
Oregon 520-120 Bench Saw Chain Grinder
Granberg Bar-Mount Chain Saw Sharpener, Model# G-106B (Original Version)
Stihl 2 IN 1 EASY FILE CHAINSAW CHAIN SHARPENER .325"

The essential tools for manually filing chainsaw blades:

1) Husqvarna 505698109 Combination Swedish Roller Guide

If you are going to do basic filing, you will need this roller file guide with a depth gauge tool. It is so small it can easily fit in your pocket. One of the best things about this tool is that it can fit chains of any standard-sized pitches.

2) Oregon 70503/80503 3/16-Inch Chainsaw File

This pack contains 12 premium quality files made from the state-of-the-art manufacturing process. Each file is designated with a 3/16” diameter, which is noticeably bigger than the standard file sizes. The files’ Swiss double-cut design provides precise and reliable cutting and sharpening capabilities.

3) Katzco Chainsaw Sharpener File Kit

This handy kit has everything you need every time your chainsaw loses some of its bite. It includes a depth gauge, hardwood handle, flat file, three round files, and a file holder, plus an instruction guide.

Other methods of sharpening a chainsaw

While manual filing is the most common, basic and effective way to sharpen a chainsaw, there are other ways to do it. There is a variety of chainsaw sharpening kits on the market that promise quick and efficient sharpening with the best results. The following lists some of these other methods:

1) Timberline Chainsaw Sharpener

The Timberline Chainsaw Sharpener seems to streamline the process of sharpening a dull saw chain. No matter your level of knowledge or experience about chainsaws, you will find this tool incredibly easy to use. It is also handy and portable, making it perfect for people whose occupation requires them to be on the move at all times (such as a forest ranger or lumberjack).

The Timberline Chainsaw Sharpener is easy and quick to use – after only a few number of turns, you can see the results pretty quickly. It is made from durable materials so it is guaranteed never to break, no matter how many times you use it.

2) Oregon 520-120 Bench Chain Grinder

You can also sharpen a dull chain saw by using an electric chainsaw grinder, such as the Oregon 520-120 Bench Chain Grinder. It has three different grinding wheels to help get the chainsaw teeth back into their original razor-sharp condition. It also comes with an integrated lighting feature that lets you check your work more clearly and to make sure that you’re sharpening each tooth at the exact same sharpness and angle. For those who have their own workshop or studio and want a stationary chainsaw sharpener, you should consider this machine.

3) Granberg Bar-Mount Sharpener

This machine is ideal for those who are looking for a budget chainsaw sharpener that almost has the same quality and performance of their top-of-the-line counterparts. This thoughtfully-designed machine allows you to sharpen the chainsaw teeth on pitches of any standard size, which will help you to file all chainsaw teeth at the same angle and sharpness each time. It is quick to use, and in no time you’ll have your chainsaw back to its original sharp form. It is lightweight and portable.

4) Oregon 30846 12-Volt Sharpener

Another method of sharpening your chainsaw blades involves the help of electricity. The Oregon 30846 12-Volt Sharpener derives its power from its 12-volt battery for on-the-spot field sharpening when the situation arises. However, it also includes a power converter that lets you work from a more fixed power source. In addition, its built-in gauge ensures that the blades are sharpened back to their mean cutting form, and keeps them properly aligned to deliver the best cutting results.

5) STIHL 2-in-1 Easy File Chainsaw Sharpener

The STIHL 2-in-1 Easy File Chainsaw Sharpener is a compact and lightweight chainsaw sharpener that is easy to carry and transport. But don’t underestimate its size – it is a reliable chainsaw sharpener that produces accurate and consistent results in every use, which takes only a matter of minutes. It also requires minimal maintenance.