How to Sharpen Chainsaw? With File & Electric Sharpener

Similar to any other tool you have in your arsenal, the chainsaw also requires proper maintenance and care to do its job effectively. You can get your chainsaw sharpened by some professional, but you have chance to learn that how to sharpen chainsaw in order to complete the job on your own and save some money and time as well.

How do you know that the blade of your chainsaw needs to be sharpened?

The question is quite reasonable – let me answer it. When you feel that your chainsaw is no longer cutting clearly and easily as it used to – this is the perfect time to go with its maintenance. Meanwhile, if you aren’t sure about how to carry out all the procedure, give following blog a read to learn that how to sharpen chainsaw, and ensure the long service from your tool.

What You Need to Have?

Sharpening your chainsaw at your own might be a good way to spend your free time effectively and bring your tool back to perform with full of its efficiency. Ensure that you have following tools & materials to start with the job;

  • An appropriate chainsaw file
  • Gloves
  • Vise
  • Safety Glasses
  • Screwdrivers
  • Towel, and
  • Necessary mineral spirits

Parts of Chainsaw Blade – A Brief Idea

Having all these tools in your tool-box, the next step is to get a brief idea about the parts of the chainsaw. Most of you will already be familiar with it – however, I am due to tell you about the basic parts present in mostly and widely used chainsaws.

  • Engine (the most important one)
  • Drive mechanism
  • Top and side plates
  • Chain and Heel
  • Rivet Hole
  • Depth Gauge
  • Gullet, and
  • Guide bar

These are the parts found in the blade of every chainsaw. Before I start explaining the process of sharpening the blade of your chainsaw, it appears to be unavoidable to talk about the importance of using the right chainsaw file.

Get the Right Chainsaw File for the Job

Your chosen file must match with the size and specifications of your blade’s teeth; otherwise, you will not be able to sharp your blade rather you may damage it. Files come in different sizes, but the mostly used files are of 4mm, 4.8mm and 5.8mm. Do have a look at user manual to make sure that you are using the right file.

To make it further clear – the file size of 4mm is suitable for the blade with chain pitch of 0.25 inch, and its code number of reference on the depth gauge is 1. While the file size 4.8 is perfect for blade with chain pitch of 0.325 inch and for the code number of depth gauge 2. The file size 5.5mm matches the blade with chain pitch of 0.404 inch, and its code number of depth gauge is referred to as 4.

So, sticking to my topic of the day, I will now explain the detailed procedure of sharpening your chainsaw.

How to Sharpen a Chainsaw?

When it comes to sharpen the teeth of your chainsaw, there are two approaches inline – the first one is manual sharpening and the second one is sharpening through electric sharpener.

Since electric sharpeners are more suitable for tradesmen, so these tips mainly focus on manual sharpening of your chainsaw – and of course, this method is more easily accessible to all DIYers.

How to Sharpen Chainsaw

As the chain of chainsaw comprises of number of teeth, so it become inevitable to have a file that perfectly matches the specifications of teeth on the chain of your chainsaw.

1. Properly Clean the Chain of Chainsaw

The first step belongs to have a file of an appropriate size that matches the specifications of teeth on the chain, then wear your safety glasses and gloves to start with the cleaning of chainsaw chain. Make sure that you remove all debris, oil spots and trapped dust while you are cleaning – you may use a towel and screwdriver to help you. Use mineral spirits to eliminate the stubborn oil spots.

Get ensured that the teeth of the chain are not damaged. If they are, get them repaired first, or otherwise, you may need to replace the chain of your chainsaw with a new chain. Using damaged chain is not safe, so do not risk you with damaged teeth of chain.

2. Give Enough Tension to the Chain

If the chain of the chainsaw is loose or tighter than required, the job will not be done perfectly. A loose chain is more prone to slipping from the from the guide bar, while the tighter one will not allow you to move the chain on the guide bar. Too tighter chain may also cause an excessive friction that might result in the reduction of lifespan of your tool.

To eliminate all these problems, it appears to be most suitable to adjust the tension screw on the front or side of the chainsaw. Then drive the screw counterclockwise to reduce the tension and clockwise to increase the tension. Pull the chain to test if it is tight enough or not – pull it off the guide bar in such a way that it snaps directly into its original position once it is released.

On the other hand, if you are unable to pull the chain off the guide bar, it is too tight to proceed, and you need to loosen it in such a way that it snaps back into its position.

3. Make Sure that Your Chainsaw is Stable

Before you start filing the chain, it is important to make sure that the chain is stable on the guide bar and chainsaw is itself stable to withstand forces inflicted to sharpen the blade. You can adjust chainsaw in vise, using clamps that hold guide bar in such a way that chain can rotate freely on it. Otherwise, you may ask a helper to hold it tightly unless you are done.

4. Start from the Shortest Cutter

Now, you are ready to sharp the chain – start with the shortest cutter blade. If the size of all cutters is same, you may start from any cutter. But it should be remembered that from where you started sharpening the teeth, so it is better to mark that tooth with marker or pencil. Once you have sharpened one tooth, continue your work unless you sharp all the teeth.

5. Sharp Teeth of Chain at Angle

Insert the file into the notched part of the cutter, and hold the file at an angle. This angle must be similar to the angle on which the cutter had been notched. Start sliding the file gently while twisting it a bit to create required friction.

6. Repeat the Process

Now, you are aware of your sharpening angle, and your file is set to the teeth – so, having done with the one tooth, repeat the same process for second tooth and keep going in the direction of chainsaw. Complete sharpening of all teeth with the similar file using the similar procedure.

7. Inspect the Depth Gauges

Curved links between the cutters are referred to as depth gauge, and step is all about inspecting the depth gauges. Make sure that each depth gauge is shorter than the adjacent or very next cutter. If the depth gauge is greater than the adjacent cutter, take a file and sharp it unless it turns lesser than the next cutter.

Therefore, this is how you to sharpen chainsaw manually or without electric sharpener.

How to Sharpen Chainsaw Using Electric Sharpener?

If you want to use electric sharpener to sharpen the chain of your chainsaw, you must measure the gauge and pitch of the chain in order to ascertain the suitable sharpening stone along with the right tooth angle.

Put the chainsaw on electric sharpener and fix it there with vise. Having considered angles according to the grinding angle chart, lower the grinding wheel, and start it. Loosen the vise when one tooth is sharpened well, and adjust the next tooth under the grinding wheel and repeat the same procedure. Do consider product manual for the right setup before grinding, and make sure that the grinding wheel does not go deeper than required in teeth.

How to Maintain Your Chainsaw Blade?

Irrespective of the fact that you are using your chainsaw most often or you have no frequent use of this tool, it still requires proper maintenance. If you keep on using it without paying heed to its necessities, you are sure to have not even an expected service out of that chainsaw. Therefore, it stands inevitable to consider the requirements of your chainsaw, and maintain it properly to get the best service and efficiency out of it.

Let me tell you about some most common tips you may use to maintain your chainsaw;

  • Often check the engine and motor of your chainsaw, and add lubrication when you feel it is required.
  • Make sure that there remains necessary amount of oil between the parts of chainsaw to avoid friction and abnormality.
  • Guide bar must be checked because it may bend or twist resulting in the form of inappropriate functionality.
  • Keep looking for the cutter of the chain – sharpen them if needed, and if they are damaged enough, get a new chain for your chainsaw.

More Read: Why was the chainsaw invented?


Therefore, having known about the sharpening of chainsaw, it should also be pondered that sharpening of your chainsaw chain will be required more frequently if you use it daily. If there is a frequent use of this tool on daily basis, the tips of the chain might go faded resulting in an inappropriate wood cutting experience. Ensure wearing protective gears before your start sharpening it.

So, sharpening of your chainsaw will not only facilitate you using your chainsaw for longer run, but you will also be able to enjoy full efficiency from your chainsaw.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. For how long chainsaw blade remains sharp?

It truly depends upon the use of your chainsaw. If you use it occasionally, it will be enough to sharpen the blade of your chainsaw once in 8 to 10 months. After frequent use of your chainsaw for 3 hours necessitates the need of sharpening the tips of cutters again.

Q2. Is it hard to sharpen a chainsaw?

It depends upon the approach you are going to use to sharpen your chainsaw; you can either choose sharpening with electric sharpener or you can do it manually. Usually, manual sharpening takes more time, and you may find it a bit difficult. While electric sharpening is easier, but it requires experience.

Q3. How do you sharpen a chainsaw for beginners?

First of all, it is important to know about the pitch and measure the gauge of the chain. Once you are familiar with the parameters, you will be able to decide right tooth angle and sharpening stone. After that, you can simple file the blade of your chainsaw to bring its sharpness back.

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