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How to Sharpen a Chainsaw: Detailed Guide

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Written By John Gibbs




» Power Tools » Chainsaws » How to Sharpen a Chainsaw: Detailed Guide
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A chainsaw is a powerful tool that can make quick work of large cutting tasks. However, it is only as effective as its blade. A dull blade will cause the chainsaw to bind and can be dangerous to use. To keep your chainsaw running smoothly and safely, it is important to keep the blade sharp.

This article will provide a detailed guide on sharpening chainsaws. We will cover the following topics:

  • Why it is important to keep your chainsaw blade sharp;
  • How to tell when the blade needs to be sharpened;
  • The best way to sharpen the blade;
  • How to maintain the blade to keep it sharp longer

Let’s start!

Chainsaws: How to Sharpen
The most important thing to remember when sharpening a chainsaw is to always use a file that is the same size as the chain’s cutter. Using a file that is too small will not remove enough metal and will make the chain dull faster. Conversely, using a file that is too large will remove too much metal and could damage the chain. Always use a new, sharp file when sharpening your chain.

Types of Chain Saw Sharpeners


It’s important to keep your chain sharpened. Not only does it make your saw perform better, but it also makes it safer to use. There are three main types of chain saw sharpeners: handheld, electric, and benchtop. Let’s take a closer look at each type of sharpener.

Handheld sharpeners

Handheld chain saw sharpeners are small and lightweight, making them easy to take with you wherever you go. They’re also relatively simple to use, which is a major advantage if you’re new to sharpening chains.

The main downside of handheld sharpeners is that they’re not as powerful as benchtop models. This means that they can take longer to sharpen your chain, and they may not be able to handle very dull or damaged chains.

Desktop sharpener

Benchtop chain saw sharpeners are larger and more powerful than handheld models. They’re also more expensive, which is something to keep in mind if you’re on a budget.

The main advantage of benchtop sharpeners is that they’re much more powerful, so they can handle even the most damaged and dull chains. They’re also generally faster, so you won’t have to spend as much time sharpening your chain.

The downside of benchtop sharpeners is that they’re less portable than handheld models. They also require more setup, so they’re not as convenient to use if you’re in a hurry.

Electric chain sharpeners


An electric chain sharpener is a great tool to have in your workshop. It is a device that uses a rotating grinding wheel to sharpen the cutting teeth on your chainsaw chain.

Here are some tips for using an electric chain sharpener:

  1. Always wear safety glasses when using the sharpener.
  2. Read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully before use.
  3. Mount the sharpener to a workbench or other sturdy surface.
  4. Position the grinding wheel so that it is touching the first cutting tooth on the chain.
  5. Apply light pressure to the grinding wheel and move it slowly across the cutting tooth.
  6. Repeat this process for all of the cutting teeth on the chain.
  7. Once you have sharpened all of the teeth, clean the chain with a brush or cloth.
  8. Apply a light coat of oil to the chain to protect it from rust.
  9. Reattach the chain to your chainsaw, and you’re ready to go!

By following these simple tips, you can ensure that your chainsaw will be ready to use when needed.

How Do I Know When It’s Time to Sharpen the Chain?

Your chainsaw’s cutting performance diminishes long before the chain is actually dull. If you wait until the chain is completely dull, you’re wasting time and energy, and you’re also more likely to damage the chain, the saw, and yourself.

So how do you know when it’s time to sharpen the chain? There are three primary indicators:


  1. The first is the sound of the saw. When the chain is sharp, it will make a smooth, even sound as it cuts through the wood. As it starts to dull, the sound will change, becoming more harsh and uneven.
  2. The second indicator is the saw’s cutting performance. A sharp chain will make clean, straight cuts with little effort. As the chain dulls, it will require more pressure to cut through the wood, and the cuts will be less clean and straight.
  3. The third indicator is the condition of the wood itself. With a sharp chain, the wood will have a smooth, even-cut surface. As the chain dulls, the cut surface will become ragged and uneven.

If you see any of these indicators, it’s time to sharpen the chain.

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Best Way to Sharpen Your Chainsaw

Given how important it is to keep your chainsaw sharp, it’s important to know the secret to sharpening a chainsaw.

Choose a convenient place

The place you choose to sharpen your chainsaw has a big effect on how well and how quickly the job gets done. Here are some things to keep in mind when choosing a place to sharpen your chainsaw:

In the field:

  • If you’re sharpening in the field, make sure you have a level, clean surface to work on.
  • You’ll also need a good light source so you can see what you’re doing. A flashlight or headlamp will do the trick.
  • Be aware of your surroundings – make sure there’s nothing in the area that could potentially damage your saw or injure you while you’re working.

In the shop:

  • If you’re sharpening in the shop, you’ll have a lot more options for surfaces and lighting.
  • You can use a bench vise to hold your saw while you work, which will give you more control and make the job easier.
  • You can also use a power sharpener, which will save you some time and effort. Just be sure to follow the instructions carefully, so you don’t damage your saw.

Know the size blade or tooth diameter


The first thing you need to know when sharpening your chainsaw is the diameter of your saw blade or tooth. You can find this information in your saw’s manual. Once you know the diameter, you can purchase a file of the correct size.

Choose a chain saw sharpener

There are many ways to sharpen your chainsaw, but the best way is to use a chain saw sharpener. There are many different types and brands of chain saw sharpeners available, so you will need to do some research to find the best one for you. Some chain saw sharpeners are electric, while others are manual. You will also need to decide how often you want to sharpen your chainsaw.

Clean your chainsaw chain

If your chainsaw chain is dull, the first step is to clean it. A dull chain will have build-up on the teeth, which can cause the chain to bind. A clean chain will help you get a better result and make the sharpening process easier. You can use a chainsaw cleaning brush or a rag to wipe down the chain.

Set the tension on the chain

The next thing you need to do when sharpening your chainsaw is to set the tension on the chain. This can be done by loosening the bar nuts and turning the adjuster screws until the chain is tight. Once the tension is set, you can start sharpening the chain.

Stabilize the chain saw


You can do this by placing a chainsaw on a firm, level surface. There are three ways to stabilize: on the ground, in a vise, or on a workbench.

  • On the ground. Stabilize the chainsaw on the ground by placing the tip of the saw on the ground. The saw should be level with the ground. Then, take your foot and place it on the back of the saw near the handle. This will help to keep the chainsaw from moving.
  • In a vise. If you have a vise, you can stabilize the chainsaw in it. Place the chainsaw in the vise so that the blade is facing up. Then, tighten the vise so that the chainsaw is secure.
  • On a workbench. If you have a workbench, you can place the chainsaw on it. Place the chainsaw so that the blade is facing up. Then, use clamps to secure the chainsaw to the workbench.

Start sharpening with the shortest cutter

It is important to use the shortest cutter first when sharpening your chainsaw. This will help to prevent the cutter from getting too hot and becoming damaged. Use a depth gauge to ensure that all of the cutters are the same depth.

Strike the teeth at an angle

Start by holding the file at a 30-degree angle to the tooth. Be sure to stay consistent with the angle and the motion, and don’t apply too much pressure. After a few strokes, you can move on to the next tooth. You should only need a few strokes per tooth, and you’ll quickly get a feel for the process. Once you’re finished, you should have a sharp, effective chainsaw that’s ready to take on whatever you throw at it.

Sharpen the other side of the chain


If you want to get the most use out of your chainsaw, you should sharpen the other side of the chain as well. This will help you to keep your chainsaw running at its best and will also help to protect the saw from damage.

Maintaining a Chain Saw Blade

If you use a chain saw on a regular basis, you know how important it is to have a sharp blade. A dull blade not only makes the job harder but it can also be dangerous. Here are a few tips on how to maintain a chain saw blade so that it stays sharp and in good condition.

  1. Always make sure the chain is properly tensioned. A loose chain can cause the saw to kick back, which can be dangerous.
  2. Use a file or sharpening stone to keep the teeth of the chain sharp. You’ll need to do this more often if you’re using the saw for hardwood.
  3. Keep the chain clean. A dirty chain can cause the saw to bind, making it difficult to control.
  4. Oil the chain regularly. This will help keep it from rusting and will also help keep the chain lubricated, which will prolong its life.
  5. If you’re not using the saw for a while, store it in a dry, protected place. This will help keep the chain from rusting.

By following these tips, you can keep your chain saw blade in good condition and avoid having to replace it prematurely.

Safety Precautions and Visual Aids


If you’re using a saw, there are a few precautions you should take to ensure your safety.

  1. Always wear eye protection when using a saw, as flying debris can cause serious eye injuries.
  2. Be sure to use the correct blade for the material you’re cutting – using the wrong blade can cause the saw to bind, which can be dangerous.
  3. Always be aware of where your fingers are about the blade, and keep them well away from the cutting edge.

If you follow these simple precautions, you’ll be able to use your saw safely and effectively.

Related Posts


What is the best tool to sharpen a chainsaw?

The best tool to sharpen a chainsaw is a chainsaw sharpener. There are several different types of chainsaw sharpeners on the market. An electric chainsaw sharpener is easy to use and can quickly sharpen your chainsaw blades.

Is it worth sharpening the chainsaw?

Yes, it’s definitely worth sharpening the chainsaw. A dull chainsaw is not only less effective, but it can also be dangerous. Sharpening the chainsaw is not as difficult as you may think, and it’s a worthwhile investment for your safety.

What kind of file do you use to sharpen a chainsaw chain?

Chainsaw chains can be sharpened with a variety of different files, but the most common type is a benchtop file. These files come in different sizes, so it’s important to choose one that is the right size for your particular chainsaw chain.

Final Thoughts

With this guide, you now know how to sharpen chain saw blades like a pro! Be sure to practice these steps often to keep your chainsaw in peak condition. If you have any questions about how to sharpen chainsaw blades, please leave a comment below. Thank you for reading!


  • Chain saw – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chainsaw
  • Cutting performance diminishes (How Chain Saws Work) – https://home.howstuffworks.com/chainsaw.htm
  • Sharpen (sharpening) – https://www.britannica.com/technology/sharpening


About John Gibbs

Hello everyone! My name is John Gibbs. I am 60 years old and have been in the family construction business all my adult life. Construction is not only my profession but also my passion. I know everything about building and repair materials, tools, advanced methods, techniques, and approaches. I will share the same knowledge with you in my articles.

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