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How To Sharpen A Chainsaw
How to Guide Your Comprehensive Guide On How To Sharpen A Chainsaw
Nov 11, 2021
With the increasing concern of dull chainsaw blades stopping users from cutting down trees efficiently, there has been an increased need to sharpen the chainsaw. More and more chainsaw users are surfing the internet and exploring the manuals to find ways to sharpen their chainsaws. This article sheds some light on the issue and shares valuable insight on how to sharpen a chainsaw.

Your Comprehensive Guide On How To Sharpen A Chainsaw

The application of chainsaws is remarkable in the forest-products industry as it helps to cut down any tree easily. However, the chainsaw chain starts to get dull over time. Eventually, you will find the chainsaw blade bucking and burning its path through the wood during cutting. This results in you experiencing a slow and dangerous way of cutting trees.

Nowadays, chainsaws are used by both DIYers and professional arborists. Most DIYers and even professionals need to know how to sharpen a chainsaw chain for their easy task execution. The best news is you can apply some of the best chainsaw sharpening tricks for the desired results. So, check this guide till the end to know more.

When To Sharpen The Chainsaw Chain?

The usual rule of thumb is to sharpen the chainsaw chain when you observe that it's not cutting the tree as efficiently as before. You can also check out the sawdust, and if you find small chunks, consider it an indicator for your chain getting dull. If there are large chunks, your chain is sharp and fine.

Sharpen A Chainsaw: When To Sharpen The Chainsaw Chain

How To Know If The Chainsaw Is Blunt

You can determine whether a chainsaw is blunt or not by noticing these few things.

  • The saw chain never pulls itself into the tree wood. It needs pressure via the engine unit to forcibly cut the wood.

  • While doing a vertical cut, the saw chain will create extremely fine sawdust but not any coarse strands.

  • Even if the chain lubrication is in well-order and the chain tension is appropriate, you can find smoke cropping up the chainsaw.

  • If you see that the chainsaw runs in a particular direction resulting in a crooked cut, consider it an indicator of dull-cutting teeth or uneven cutting lengths of the teeth.

  • The chainsaw will bounce and rattle during a cut, leading to difficulty in precise positioning.

How Often Should You Sharpen The Chainsaw

There is no fixed time interval for sharpening chainsaw chains. The chainsaw chain's quality and usage play a key role in determining when to sharpen the chainsaw. If you notice that you hit the chainsaw on something or it's not working well like before, consider it the time to sharpen them.

Before You Start

Before you start the operation of sharpening your chainsaw, you need to know uncertain things and consider several points for determining the best ways to sharpen a chainsaw. They are mentioned below, so check them all.

Sharpen A Chainsaw: Before your start

Required Tools Or Equipment

  • Buy chainsaw sharpener. Choose one of these - bent-mounted sharpener, electric rotary sharpener (Dremel tool), angle grinder, and more.
  • Get a round file matching the cutter's diameter.
  • Get a file guide for holding the round file at a constant depth while sharpening each cutter.
  • A flat chainsaw file
  • Depth-gauge guide

Safety Equipment

When sharpening the chainsaw, you must prepare all the safety equipment beforehand. Get your personal protective equipment for optimal safety measurements. You must get a protective helmet, ear defenders, goggles, chainsaw chaps, protective trousers and jacket, gloves, safety mitts, and lastly, a steel-toe boot.

Safety Precautions

For your safety precaution when sharpening the chainsaw, you must wear proper coveralls that fit well and personal protective items.

  • Wear safety goggles or visors in a helmet for eye protection
  • Turn off the chainsaw, unplug the power cord/removing the battery to totally shut off the chainsaw
  • Get leg guards and protective chaps for additional precautions.
  • Wear heavy-duty work gloves to avoid splinters from scuffing your hand and arms.

Sharpen A Chainsaw With A File Guide

Are you wondering how to use a chainsaw file guide? Check below.

Introduction To The Method

A file guide enables you to sharpen or file the chainsaw chain efficiently while making this tool extremely sharp. For getting precise and consistent results, mount the file on the chainsaw sharpening guide before you use the file.


  • This sharpening file guide enables an even flat surface for resting the file and controlling how deep the file can reach when sharpening your chainsaw chain.


  • You may end up incurring a poor result by sharpening from a file guide if you pick the one whose diameter doesn't match the diameter of the chainsaw chain's teeth.

Step-By-Step Guide To Sharpen A Chainsaw With A File Guide

  • Step 1: You need to mount the round file into the file guide by holding the file at an angle of 30-35 degrees at a right angle vertically and to a bar horizontally.
  • Step 2: Find the shortest cutter. Ensure to file all the cutters to the matching length of the shortest cutter.
  • Step 3: Keep the filing gauge over the chain. Ensure that the filing gauge's arrow points to the direction of the chain's nose wheel. Also, check whether the gauge has a connection with the chain or not.
  • Step 4: Now, use the round file. Keep it at a 90-degree angle to the filing gauge's rollers. Use both hands for filing while ensuring the file rests over the rollers. With smooth strokes, file the cutting tooth away.
  • Step 5: Now, go to file each cutting tooth to ensure that it's sharp. Also, it's crucial to keep all the cutting teeth of the same length.
  • Step 6: Once done filing cutting teeth on one side, attach the guide bar by loosening the vice from the other direction. Similarly, sharpen the teeth in the opposite direction.

Sharpen A Chainsaw Chain With Electric Rotary Sharpener

Below is a detailed guide on how to sharpen a chainsaw blade with an electric sharpener. Check to know more.

Sharpen A Chainsaw Chain With Electric Rotary Sharpener

Introduction To The Method

Electric chainsaw sharpeners are powered by electricity that runs only if the device stays plugged into any electrical source, or you can use batteries.


  • The electric sharpener or the Dremel tool can come in a wide range of features that can enable you to either attach it to your wall, bench, or table or keep it portable. Sharpen chainsaw with Dremel to enjoy controlled usage and to finish the sharpening task quickly and efficiently.


  • These gadgets only run on electricity or high-powered batteries.

Step-By-Step Guide To Sharpen A Chainsaw With An Electric Rotary Sharpener

Step 1: Measuring The Chainsaw

You must be aware of all the specifications of your chainsaw blade before you jump into the actual sharpening job. The specifications that include the pitch and the gauge are crucial to know as they affect the usability of the chainsaw blade. You can find the measurement of these specifications on the chainsaw box or manual.

Step 2: Positioning The Chainsaw Sharpener

You must position your electric chainsaw sharpener properly once you get to know the pitch and gauge measurement. You must place the sharpener on the ground to avoid any sort of movement or shaking during the operation.

Step 3: Installing The Sharpening Stone

Now, install the sharpening stone. For doing it successfully, you need to take the help of the precise and correct measurement as discussed in step 1. Mostly, the width of any sharpening tool goes around 3/16 inches.

Step 4: Do Swivel

Swiveling must be your next step after installing the sharpening stone. Simply put the blade in the holder of the chainsaw sharpener and focus on adjusting the angle. Generally, the most common angles lie between 0-60 degrees. In some exceptional cases, the angle can reach up to 80 degrees.

Step 5: Know The Tooth Angle

Now, go back to the specification details to determine the tooth angle. In the chainsaw sharpener, easily adjust the chainsaw blade tooth angle by loosening a knob placed in the holder of the blade.

Step 6: Adjusting The Depth

This step is crucial to position the depth stop properly as it prevents the grinder from cutting too deep.

Step 7: Go Sharpen Your Chain

Slowly lower the grinding wheel to make it contact the blade's first tooth. Keep them in contact for a short interval and then lift the grinding wheel to confirm whether the tooth's inner surface has a shiny outcome or not. This is how you sharpened the first tooth with the remaining to go. When done, readjust the grinding wheel and sharpen the next set of teeth.

How To Sharpen A Chainsaw Chain With Bench-Mounted Sharpener

Introduction To The Method

This gadget is considered one of the most time-saving and energy-conserving parts of a chainsaw sharpening kit. This gadget is equipped with a grinding wheel of 4 ½ inch diameter instead of the woodcutting blade.


  • This stylish chainsaw sharpener ensures the most precise and consistent results. Its wheel tilts 35 degrees left to right to accommodate the most usual cutting angles for chainsaws.


  • There is no woodcutting blade. It can be expensive too.

Step-By-Step Guide To Sharpen A Chainsaw Chain With Bench-Mounted Sharpener

  • Clamp or screw the sharpener to the workbench.
  • Go for adjusting the grinder to an appropriate angle, pull down the upper handle while squeezing the trigger.
  • Do so until the cutting tooth comes in contact with the spinning wheel. Then, it will just utilize a few seconds to sharpen the cutting tooth.
  • Now, go for releasing the clamp, repositioning the chainsaw, and repeating the process.
  • Sharpen all the cutting teeth and readjust the grinding angle while sharpening the leftover alternate-angle cutting teeth.

Sharpen A Chainsaw Chain With An Angle Grinder

To meet the increasing curiosity of DIYers on how to sharpen a chainsaw with a grinder, we have shared some explicit details on it.

Introduction To The Method.

Using a grinder can indeed be a bit more complex than using a file guide, but once you know the steps, things will become easy. Grinder removes a lot of metal, so if not done correctly, you may end up replacing the entire chain.


  • Grinders are best for professionals who want to remove imperfections from their chainsaws.


  • Not best for regular sharpening of the chainsaw.
  • It reduces the longevity of your chainsaw.

Step-By-Step Guide To Sharpen A Chainsaw Chain With An Angle Grinder

Step 1: Choose A Safe Place/Spot

Remember that no matter how experienced or skilled you're, sharpening a chainsaw can still be a dangerous task. Pick a place far away from pets and children. The disc of the grinder is too sharp, so hold the grinder very carefully.

Step 2: Get Prepared For Sharpening

Take a table with the perfect height and width for benefitting from doing tasks efficiently after placing the chainsaw on it. Ensure to get a firm grip on the grinder while locating the chains attached to it. If working with a fitted grinder, take off the chain from the saw and put it on the grinder's rail. This rotatable rail helps you work on both sides of the chainsaw chain.

Step 3: Start The Grinder

Now, start up your grinder and work slowly and progressively by increasing the speed as you continue to sharpen. Also, you can notice alternating directions on each spike on the chain. You can choose to either grind every other spike or rotate the chain to do the rest for sharpening every spike properly. You can also turn the handheld grinder a bit for every spike to get them all in one flow.

How To Sharpen A Chainsaw Chain: Expert Tips

If you want to keep the saw cutting in a straight line, go crazy about filing each and every cutter with the same stroke numbers and the same level of pressure.

Before any need for replacement, you can sharpen the cutters about ten times or more. If you find the chain cutters to get worn out unevenly after some sharpening sessions, a professional can easily regrind them to a uniform shape.

File guides clamping on the bar make sure that you file a similar angle on every cutter. They may take a bit longer, but they definitely restore the cutting edge to the precise factory-ground angle.

If you're using the same chainsaw chain for a few years, you need to replace them with a new one. The new one may initially give rougher cutting and faster-wearing results.

When To Replace The Chain

You must replace your chainsaw chain if you find the longest part of the cutting tooth to be less than the measurement of about 4 millimeters. Also, if you find any cracks on the chain, it's best to replace them.


How Often Does A Chainsaw Need Sharpening?

The precise answer depends from one user to another, as every user has different requirements, tasks, and different frequencies in the tool usage. You must sharpen the chain wherever you find them to appear dull and inefficient.

What Angle Do You Sharpen A Chainsaw?

You must sharpen the chainsaw by mounting the round file in the file guide. So, it's best to take the angle of 30-35 degrees for sharpening your chainsaw effectively.

What Size File To Use To Sharpen A Chainsaw?

You must use a round file to sharpen a chainsaw. The size can vary from 7/32 inch, 3/16 inch to 5/32 inch. The round file will be an ideal tool to sharpen the chain cutter's cutting edges.

How Long Can A Chainsaw Chain Last Before Sharpening?

A chainsaw chain's durability varies from one type to another. Even if every tool becomes dull at one point in time, the top-quality chain lasts for about one year of extensive usage or even a couple of years due to occasional usage before sharpening.

How Can The Chainsaw Chain Get Dull So Quickly?

Your chainsaw chain can get dull so quickly due to some reasons, like the improperly sized file for the chain. Moreover, applying excess pressure when filing can also be a reason for them to get dull as it creates cutting edges.


If you sharpen and maintain your chainsaw efficiently and adequately, you will end up enjoying the smooth performance of the machine for over five years and more. If you use a chainsaw a lot, it's best to keep the portable sharpening tool as your backup tool into the forest or some other spot. You just check your chainsaw blade if there's an issue in its functioning. The more frequent the maintenance of your chainsaw, the better it will function.

Reference Links:

  1. https://www.familyhandyman.com/project/how-to-sharpen-a-chain-saw/

  2. https://www.popularmechanics.com/home/tools/a21996/how-to-sharpen-chainsaw-tips/

  3. https://www.wikihow.com/Sharpen-a-Chainsaw

  4. https://www.husqvarna.com/us/discover/how-to-sharpen-a-chainsaw/

  5. https://www.homedepot.com/c/ab/chainsaw-safety-tips/9ba683603be9fa5395fab90537f42e7

  6. https://ugaurbanag.com/five-signs-dull-saw-chain/

  7. https://www.gardentoolexpert.com/how-often-do-you-need-to-sharpen-a-chainsaw-chain/

  8. https://www.essentialhomeandgarden.com/electric-chainsaw-sharpener/

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