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Sharpening a Chainsaw

Your saw’s chain will gradually become dulled and need to be sharpened. Sharpening a chainsaw necessitates some understanding of the subject. Specifically, the instruments and methods that will be used.

Why Do I Need To Sharpen My Chainsaw?

As stated earlier, chainsaw chains, like any other cutting surface, get dull with regular use. Sharpening the chain on your chainsaw will eventually be necessary to guarantee that it continues to work properly. Sharpening the chain on your chainsaw makes cutting safer, reduces pressure on the chainsaw motor, and extends the life of the chainsaw.

Cutting with a dull chain puts additional strain on the powerhead, sprocket, guide bar, and, of course, the chain itself. It also has an impact on the chainsaw operator because dull chains are more difficult to cut with and might make the saw more difficult to use safely. Some other safety risks that are associated with a dull chainsaw chain are:

  • Chainsaw bucking
  • Motor overheating
  • Kickback leading to injury

Is Chainsaw Sharpening Safe?

Chainsaw chains can be difficult to sharpen, and doing so usually necessitates the use of specialized gear or equipment. Not only that, but if done incorrectly, you may endanger yourself and others. Some of the injuries caused by chainsaw sharpening include:

As with any tool-related work, it should be regarded as hazardous unless skillfully mastered. Chainsaw sharpening can also be made safer by using suitable gloves, eye protection, and patience.

When Should I Sharpen The Chain?

When you realize that your chainsaw isn’t cutting as well as it used to, it’s time to sharpen it. Another method is to examine the sawdust. Small bits or fine wood dust indicate that your chainsaw needs to be sharpened. However, there is no specific timeframe for sharpening your chainsaw.

Industrial chrome coats the chains, which will wear off as the chains come into contact with dirt, grit, and other material found on and around wood. When the chrome begins to wear away, the cutting edge becomes shiny, and the chain must be sharpened.

What Angle Do I Need to Sharpen The Chain At?

Sharpening a chainsaw chain is best accomplished between 25 and 35 degrees. This angle has the best combination of cutting efficiency and durability. Always maintain a steady angle, as even little deviations might impair the operation of the saw.

To be a little more specific, softwood can be cut at a 35° angle, but the teeth will dull faster. To keep the teeth sharper for longer, a 25° sharpening angle is best when cutting hardwood.

Chainsaw Sharpening With a Sharpener

Chainsaw sharpeners are very efficient. Sharpeners are classified into two types: manual and electrically powered sharpeners. Regardless of your preference, both are good options and offer both pros and cons.

File Holder & Guide

The most common type of chainsaw sharpener is the manual sharpener. It is sometimes referred to as a file holder and guide. The file is enclosed within a guide attached to a handle. 

The file holder’s handle lets you maintain a solid grasp while pushing the file across the cutter. The guide indicates the correct angle for the cutter to provide the best edge possible. It is critical that the file you choose is the correct size for your chain.

One significant advantage of a manual sharpener is its low cost. It can also be purchased from most hardware stores. To use the manual option efficiently, you must first determine the diameter and size of your chain, which we will discuss later.

It also has certain disadvantages. Unlike the electric sharpener, the manual sharpener cannot provide as much power in a single stroke as the electric one can.

In addition, to use the manual sharpener, you must sharpen each tooth individually. The implication is that sharpening your chainsaw with a manual file requires a high level of expertise and experience. If you decide to go with the manual sharpener, you must be cautious not to hurt yourself while using it.

What Size File Holder & Guides Do I Need?

The sort of chainsaw file you need is proportional to the size of your chain pitch. The pitch is the chain’s size, defined as the distance between any three consecutive rivets and then divided by two. The greater the pitch, the greater the height of the cutting teeth. As a result, the higher the teeth, the larger the file must be.

Depth Gauge

A depth gauge is another manual tool that can help you in maintaining the chainsaw’s chain. A depth gauge measures the rakers’ height. A chainsaw raker is a component of a chainsaw cutter that interacts with the tooth to provide the cutting motion. When sharpening the cutters, you should always check the raker height.

If the raker protrudes above the filing gauge, use a flat file to level it, then file all the other rakers to the same height. Finally, lightly round the raker’s front edge back to its original shape.

Electric Chainsaw Sharpener

When using an electric sharpener, you must exercise extreme caution. You may encounter difficulties if you file the cutters too low. That is why understanding the process is so important. This procedure necessitates the use of some simple tools. The following are the tools you will need:

The electric sharpener is more efficient than a manual sharpener. Another significant advantage is that it can be used as an attachment or as a full system. The entire system may be mounted on a bench and has a holding spot for your chain for simple control. You can use this to control the sharpening of your blade.

Rotary Tool

A rotary tool can be used for carving, engraving, routing, grinding, sharpening, cleaning, polishing, cutting, and sanding. A wide range of accessories and attachments are also available. Rotary tools operate by using speed rather than torque.

Sharpening a chainsaw is possible with a rotary tool and an attached sharpening stone bit. This will necessitate the use of a chainsaw sharpening jig. Follow the lines on the sharpening jig to determine the proper angle for grinding the chainsaw’s teeth.

Attach the rotary tool to the chainsaw blade with the sharpening stone bit and carefully grind away metal from each tooth. Always wear appropriate eye protection and gloves. These tools spin at high speed and can quickly cause metal debris to fly through the work space.


Sharpening a chainsaw chain is easy to accomplish with a shop grinder. The best grinder to use is an angle grinder, which can be obtained at any local or online hardware store. The grinder will be more stable during operation if it is mounted to something similar to a shop table. To sharpen a chainsaw chain with a grinder, simply follow these steps:

  1. Place the chainsaw in a vice or on an engine stand. Before continuing, the motor must be entirely cooled.
  2. Before beginning, ensure that the grinder is in good working order.
  3. Use a felt-tip marker to designate a beginning point so you don’t have to sharpen it twice.
  4. The angle of the grinder should be adjusted according to the type of chainsaw you have. The tooth angle and the grinder angle should be the same.
  5. Keep an eye on the speed of the grinder. Going too slowly or too quickly can damage the grinder or the chainsaw.
  6. Do not apply excessive pressure, as this may harm the grinder or chain.

When you’re finished sharpening the chain, carefully polish up any ragged edges or splinters that are protruding from it.

How Long Should My Blade Last?

A chainsaw chain can last anything from a few days to several decades! This is entirely dependent on how it is utilized and the chain’s quality. If the chain comes into contact with rocks, ice, or concrete, it will likely not last long or even break on the spot.

However, a chain used on softwood and infrequently can endure for many years before needing repair. Naturally, this implies that it will need to be sharpened from time to time.

If a chainsaw is rarely used, it may only need to be sharpened once a year. However, a saw that is constantly used may need to be sharpened on a regular basis to ensure that the blade does not become too dull.

What If My Chainsaw Dulls Quickly?

If your chain becomes dull quickly, it could be due to a number of factors. Check your user’s manual to make sure you’re using the correct file size for your chain. Alternatively, you could be filing with too much pressure. This results in cutting edges that are overly thin and rapidly dull.

How Many Times Can I Sharpen The Chain?

A chainsaw chain can be sharpened up to ten times, sometimes more, before it needs to be replaced. It is mostly determined by two factors: the amount of wear on your chain and the amount of metal removed each time you sharpen. Various materials can have a greater impact on the chainsaw chain. The amount of times you can sharpen the chain is highly dependent on what you use it for.

How Long Does It Take To Sharpen a Chainsaw?

Manually sharpening a chainsaw can take some time, up to several hours for a beginner. To avoid rushing the procedure, the chainsaw must be tightly gripped and the file must move smoothly. A skilled sharpener can manually sharpen a chainsaw in as little as 20-30. They are even faster with an electric sharpener.

Safety Tips For Before You Start

Here are a few pointers to help you sharpen faster and more safely:

  1. Follow the manufacturer’s directions for using the chainsaw and chain.
  2. If you’re using an electric chainsaw, make sure to remove the battery or unplug it before sharpening.
  3. Before sharpening, make sure the chainsaw has been turned off and cooled for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Secure the guide bar in a vice to keep the saw from moving around while you sharpen the chain. A workbench or other vice would be ideal for the task.
  5. Handle the chain with caution as the teeth can easily cause a severe cut to your skin.
  6. Work gloves and safety eyewear are required.
  7. Brush any dust off the chain with a gentle brush to create a clean working area.
  8. Use a comprehensive filing set that includes all of the necessary files and gauges.
  9. When using a grinder, keep an eye out for flying metal fragments that could injure your eyes.
  10. Mark your first teeth with a black marker to remember where you began.
  11. Begin sharpening your chain!

Conclusion: Bar It Up

Sharpening a chainsaw takes time, the correct tools, and some patience. Any chainsaw owner, with practice and the right workstation, can sharpen their own chainsaw chains. Just make sure to wear PPE and keep safety in mind at all times when handling the chainsaw. You can check out our chainsaw certification safety training course here.