Are you Crazy to Know, How to Sharpen a Chainsaw?

Having a chainsaw with the right sharpness is a blessing if you used to cut often. But if you don’t, do you know how to sharpen a chainsaw yourself? Why is it necessary to keep it sharp? What are signs that show your chainsaw needs to sharpen?

What gears do you need? And most importantly, what steps do you have to follow while sharpening a chainsaw?

If above all queries are your concern, you are in the right place.

Here we will discuss how to sharpen your chainsaw with all related and necessary aspects.

So, here is all you want to know in detail. Let’s jump into the details.

Do You Know When Your Chainsaw Becomes Dangerous?

If you are a frequent user, you will know when to sharpen your chainsaw with a chain sharpener. There is no hard and fast rule about the time interval because it all depends on the quality of your chainsaw and usage frequency. All you need to do is keep an eagle eye on some signs like

  • Your saw doesn’t cut as well as before.
  • Check for any missing teeth
  • Dullness of chain- noticeably slow
  • If you hit something hard, it may affect its performance.
  • Look at the sawdust in large chunks; it means it is in good condition; otherwise, it needs to be sharpened.
  • A chainsaw stored in poor storage, i.e., moist places, may cause rust.
  • Smoke emission
  • Saw running in one direction

Why it is Important to Sharpen Your Chainsaw

Do you have any idea that if you don’t sharpen your chainsaw at the right time, it may become highly hazardous for you?

But how?

A dull or unsharpened chainsaw may cause hazards like kickback, pushback, and pull-in. Among them, kickback is the most common and serious one. Kickback can happen if your chainsaw is not properly sharpened and has difficulty while cutting or stops suddenly and rapidly coming back toward the operator. It sometimes may be fatal due to serious neck injuries. Over 28,000 chainsaw-related injuries are reported in the US annually.

Moreover, it enhances the life of your equipment and reduces its wear as well.

 Things You Need when Sharpening A Chainsaw

When sharpening a chainsaw, the basic things you need for safety and technical practices are as follows.

  • Chainsaw file
  • Towel 
  • Gloves 
  • Vise
  • Screwdriver
  • Mineral spirit
  • Safety Glasses
  • Flip-down magnifier for better vision

Bag of Tricks-Things You Should Avoid While Sharpening a Chainsaw

Before we further discuss how to sharpen a chainsaw, we will elaborate on some important factors you should avoid while sharpening a chainsaw.

  • Wrong-size file usage 
  • Avoid filing only cutters and not the depth gauge
  • Over Filing the rakers
  • Usage of dull file
  • Not supporting the saw properly
  • Backward filing

Ways you can use to Sharpen your Dull Chainsaw

For sharpening a chainsaw, we can use a manual file, electric sharpener, or a grinder. It all depends on your convenience and how good you are at sharpening your equipment because some methods may replace your chainsaw if not handled carefully.

Sharpening with a File

The most convenient method of sharpening is the use of a file guide. It gives you accurate and even results and controls how deep the tool can go while sharpening. Before starting with a file, you should know the teeth size and choose a file size accordingly.

Cutting Teeth Diameter and Proper Angle

Some technical details you should know about your tool before starting the process of sharpening. The cutting teeth diameter or the file size is one of them.

The chainsaw file is available in different brands like Oregon in different sizes according to the size of the chainsaw teeth. You can check the chainsaw box or online for the chainsaw teeth size of your specific tool and can choose a file accordingly. These tools are engineered with true craftsmanship and are best for sharpening jobs.

File Size Depth Gauge Chain Pitch(Distance b/w its drive links)
4 mm 1 0.25 of an inch
4.8mm 2 0.325 inches
5.5mm 4 0.404 inch


Steps of Sharpening a Chainsaw Manually by File 

Selection of the Right File Size

The most crucial point about how to sharpen a chainsaw is selecting the right tool for sharpening your equipment. A round file usually sharpens chainsaws; however, some professionals prefer to do this job with a square file. 

The most common sizes for files are  5/32, 3/16, and 7/32. You can select a file according to your equipment. You can check this specific size on the label of the equipment box or can find it online or in the product manual.

Don’t Forget to Cut-off the Power Before Sharpening the Chainsaw

Now, you need to disconnect the equipment from the power source because it may accidentally start and may cause serious injury. To avoid any such situation, check your device, unplug if it is an electric saw, remove the battery if it is a corded chainsaw or a gas chainsaw, and make sure the engine is not running on or set up for a start.

Clean Your Chainsaw 

Before we start the actual process of sharpening, we need to do some preparatory steps like cleaning. As we all know, machines need proper lubrication for smooth operation, and the chainsaw does so. Dust and debris can accumulate on the chainsaw, which is necessary to remove for accurate sharpening of the chainsaw.

You can use a piece o rag, a brush, or compressor air to clear the debris for cleaning purposes.

File Setup and Guide Placement

Another step that is the most important is the placement of sharpening tools present in your kit at an appropriate place. The files and guides make your sharpening process very helpful.

To set up the file in the guide, lose the thumbscrews on the guide and slide the file beneath the two metal hold-down clamps. Then tighten the screw to keep the file secure in the guide. 

Now follow the mark on the guide for a proper angle, mostly 30 degrees. If you want further accuracy, you can check the chain, and each tooth has a small line close to the cutter bottom that is specific for chain angle. 

Set Chain Tension 

Setting the chain tension is an important step while sharpening a chainsaw. If it is too loose, it can move backward, and if too tight, you can not share it in a better way. So properly maintain its tension to see the tips of the drive teeth in the rail.

To check its tension, you can grasp the chain along the top center of the bar and quickly release it. If it is properly tensioned, it will snap back into position. And if it is slack, you can set it.

  •  by loosening the guide bar nuts 
  • Lifting the guide bar upward and turn the tensioning screw clockwise.
  • Tighten the nuts after setting.

Place the Chainsaw in a Vise to Secure 

Now it’s time to place the chainsaw in a vise to do your work more safely and precisely.

You can sharpen your chainsaw many times until the cutting blades wear down; you need to replace the chain at this stage.

But do you know what to do?

No worries, again, we are here to help you.

You can easily do this by following these steps:

  • First, release the chain brake, then unscrew the guide bar plate to remove it.
  • Then slide the bar forward and release it from the tensioner.
  • Now your chainsaw is slacked and ready to easily remove it.
  • Now for installing a new chain, lose the tension screw on the edge of the guide bar.
  • Then line the new chain onto the chainsaw’s clutch drum so that the drive links should engage with the sprocket.
  • Check the direction of the chainsaw, then string it onto the bar and around the nose.
  • To create tension, pull the guide bar away and replace the plate.
  • Finally, after making sure your chain has to get desired tension, screw up the nuts and tighten the guide bar plate.
Mark the Starting Point

At this point, your chainsaw is ready for sharpening; you can start your work from here after marking your teeth for a visual reminder as a starting point.

You can use a lumber crayon or a marker to Mark the tooth from where you want to start sharpening.

Sharpening Angle

The sharpening angle of the chainsaw has a huge impact on better cutting performance. It helps in faster cutting and maintains a balance in cutting teeth and other parts. And if this angel is perfectly done, you get ninja teeth to get your job done in no time.

So never overlook even a slight detail of any technical process.

When you start to file the teeth from inside to outside, the maintained angle should be 90 to the flat side of the guide bar and have your file at a 30-degree angle straight of the chain.

Don’t forget to maintain both angles during rounding off the edges to prevent variation.

Reverse the Direction of Chainsaw

After completing one side, change the direction and repeat the same process with special care to the angle and checking of burrs. Don’t forget you’re sharpening from the inside out.

How to Sharpen a Chainsaw using Electric Sharpeners

Electric rotary sharpeners are another option for sharpening the chainsaws. You can also utilize this method if you know how to sharpen a chainsaw with a file.

You need to know the basic principle of sharpening with an electric sharpener.

Electric sharpeners allow sharpening fast and at affordable prices with professional quality. They come in multifunctional mounting design and can be mounted on walls, benches, or vises.

Electric sharpeners are of two types:

  • Rotary Chainsaw Sharpener or Dremel: The accessory kit of oil includes a cylindrical grinding stone and an alignment guide that hooks on the tool.

Note: These tools are available in both cordless and corded variations.

  • Electric grinder: This tool also comes in a tool form with bringing stones and a metal sharpening guide that clamps on the tool.

You can go through this video to know more about sharpening with electric sharpeners.

How to Sharpen a Chainsaw using Benchtop Sharpening Tool

If you cut wood all year round and want to keep your tool in top shape, then a benchtop electric sharpener can’t go wrong. These chainsaw sharpeners are worthwhile investments for frequent chainsaw users. These tools usually come with a grinder, a quick check grinding template, dressing brick, and grinding wheels. Some models also feature wheel wear indicators and even a light for better vision during work.

Now, let’s come to the procedure, how to sharpen a chainsaw with a benchtop sharpener:

  • First of all, clamp your tool to the workbench.
  • Then, please take the chain from the saw and set it into the vise.
  • Next, carefully adjust the grinder to a proper angle.
  • After that, you need to press the trigger and pull down on the upper handle until the spinning wheel gets in touch with the cutting tooth on the saw chain; it only takes a second to sharpen the teeth.
  • Again, you need to release the catch, reposition the chain, and repeat the procedure.
  • One by one, sharpen each tooth and complete the procedure.

Wrap up

Maintaining your wood cutting equipment is very important to keep your tool at peak performance. Here we have discussed how to sharpen a chainsaw in detail. Now you know how to take care of your equipment properly. Don’t forget to wear safety gear while sharpening your chainsaw because safety glasses, gloves, hearing protection, and chainsaw chaps are all for your safety and to protect you from any potential risk.


Here, are some of the queries related to how to sharpen a chainsaw.

What angle should a chainsaw chain be sharpened at?

The sharpening angle is important and should be taken care of while sharpening. Usually, the angle will be between 25° to 35°.

Is it worth sharpening a chainsaw chain?

Yes, it saves you money and time as well. Because a dull chain cannot work efficiently and cant help you to make cuts cleaner. In addition, despite buying a new one, whenever your chainsaw blade goes blunt, you can sharpen the old one multiple times, saving cost.

How much do you need to consume on a chainsaw sharpened?

Typically you can sharpen your cutting equipment ten times before replacing it. Its cost ranges from $13to $16.

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