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Chainsaw sharpening

I am soliciting any tips and techniques you guys have for sharpening a chainsaw. I have gone to the "Ask This Old House" section and submitted a request for Roger to show his favorite way on the show, I don't recall him doing that yet. I watched the Sthil video on You Tube.

Re: Chainsaw sharpening

Since I don't use one much I still do it the old fashioned way with a file.


A. Spruce
Re: Chainsaw sharpening

If you're looking for a general "how to", then I'd suggest YouTube. Don't take everything you see on YouTube as gospel, you've got to be able to determine what will work for you and what won't.

As a general guideline, for a simple dull chain, you take an equal amount of strokes off each tooth. If one side of the chain is duller than the other, you still want to take equal strokes, but it will take you a whole lot more of them to make sure you get an even/straight cut. As you cut each tooth back, you will also have to adjust the hook that is just in front of the tooth, there are a variety of depth gauges available for such things, but, unless you're removing a great amount of material from a tooth, you won't have to mess with the hook very often.

There are a number of sharpening guides and jigs available, but you really can just eyeball the file into the tooth and get a decent sharpening. Every 5 to 10 sharpenings you'll probably want to let a shop do it just to make sure that it's kept at an optimal angle.

I personally just use a round file suitable for the tooth and free-hand it. Mark the top of the first tooth you sharpen with a sharpie marker, this way you know when you've gone all the way around. Do one side first, then do the other side, your accuracy will be much better this way.

Re: Chainsaw sharpening

I do like those round file holders that are flat with the file centered to the correct depth for your chain.

Use it once a day when running the saw, twice a day if running it hard.

Re: Chainsaw sharpening

If you take your chains to a shop, you'll notice that they use an electric sharpener. There is no comparison between this machine and a hand file.

The secret for keeping your chains a long time is be careful what you cut and avoid metals, nails, rock, dirt and sand.

Keep in mind that if you sharpen your chains repeatedly, your chains will become unusable. Kind like brake rotors.

Re: Chainsaw sharpening

And a caution, make sure, if you take it to a shop to have it sharpened, that they know how to use the electric grinders properly. I have see to many overheat the chain. Personally I have several extra chains on hand, and choose to swap chains rather than sharpen my self.


Re: Chainsaw sharpening

I checked the Harbor Freight web site and I see they have the electric sharpener for $40. This seems reasonable since the file with the depth gauge cost $10 at Home Depot.

A. Spruce
Re: Chainsaw sharpening

Don't do it!

1 - It's a Harbor Freight tool, it isn't worth 40 cents, let alone $40.
2 - It's overkill, all you're going to do is shorten the life of the chain by needlessly grinding the teeth away.

3 to 5 strokes with a hand file is all it takes to sharpen a chain, as long as there is no tooth damage. If you can't eyeball the correct angle, then get yourself a jig that fits over the file that will control depth. Personally, I find most jigs to be more of a hindrance than a help.

I had and used an electric chain sharpener 35 years ago, and it really is way beyond overkill. You will destroy your chains with one because they remove so much material, so quickly. Save your $40 and put it towards periodic professional sharpening. You can hand file a chain quickly and easily, then every 5th or 10th sharpening, take it in to a shop and let them bring everything back to spec.

All you really need is a round file that fits your chain, a flat file, and a depth gauge. The flat file and depth gauge are to adjust the height of the lead spur on each tooth. This spur controls how aggressive the chain cuts. As you sharpen the tooth, the tooth becomes shorter and lower, you have to file the top of the spur to keep the saw cutting well. It is not something that has to be done very often and can probably be left to the shop to deal with when they sharpen it for you.

Re: Chainsaw sharpening

I use a round file and guide and a flat file. The sets are available any chainsaw store, hardware or big box.
I sharpen it on the saw. Wear gloves when you do it.
The instructions with the file aren't hard to follow. Probably youtube instructions are available too.
It really doesn't take too long once you get the hang of it. Do it occasionally, not when the saw gets really dull and you'll be better off.

Re: Chainsaw sharpening

I sharpen mine by hand, just like most of the other people commenting here. However, if you want to have a jig that makes it a little easier, I recommend this tool:


(If the link above breaks, it's a Granberg File-n-Joint chain sharpening tool, model G106B. Available from many on-line retailers.)

My dad had one, and it worked pretty well. Of course, you want to make sure you use a file of the correct diameter, and be careful to use an equal number of strokes on each tooth to keep the wear on the teeth even.

A. Spruce
Re: Chainsaw sharpening
Fencepost wrote:

and be careful to use an equal number of strokes on each tooth to keep the wear on the teeth even.

Absolutely, uneven sharpness from tooth to tooth and from side to side will affect how straight you are able to cut. Again, and not to beat a dead horse, this is why you don't want to use a power tool to sharpen the chain, you can't control how much you remove from each tooth, so you'll end up with a crappy cut quality, even though the chain is "sharp".


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