How to Sharpen a Chainsaw – A Step-by-Step Guide

how to sharpen chainsaw

If your chainsaw is giving you problems when sawing, you may need to consider sharpening it. Leaving it so may prove to be dangerous during use, especially if it’s not cutting smoothly and bucking its way through the material. Before you commit to the task of sharpening your chainsaw, you will need to accumulate some tools that are required.

Tools you need to sharpen your chainsaw

  • Gauge depth guide for the chainsaw blades
  • A dremel tool
  • Tool sharpening kit
  • File guide for sharpening the blades
  • Flat file
  • Round file

Steps to Follow for Sharpening Your Chainsaw

1. Check to see if your blades need sharpening

To ensure that the blades need to be touched up, you need to check the waste material on your blades. If your result is dusty, it means that you need to sharpen your saw. And smooth chips indicate smooth, sharp blades.

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A dull chain is also what informs you of the need to sharpen your saw. There is an increased chance of kickback wherein the chain may get stuck onto the material and lose your hold on the saw.

2. Accumulate the proper tools

You will need to acquire the necessary tools to aid you in your task. These include a round file the size of the blade diameter, a file guide to hold the round cutter to ensure your depth, a flat file and a depth-gauge guide to reinstate the depth guide.

3. Prepare to sharpen your saw

When getting ready to prepare for the sharpening, you need to first lock the chain brake and gently hold the bar in a vice. Next, you settle the guide onto the indents in the cutters and the arrows will be in the direction of the nose of the bar.

Go along the angle of the top plate on the cutter. Additionally, the rollers on the guide help to ensure that you are not cutting too deep into the plate on the side of the cutter.

4. Keep cutting at the correct angles

You will need to then arrange the round file in the file guide. To make sure that you are cutting properly, you need to make certain that you are cutting it at the right angles.

Hold your file at a 30-degree or a 35-degree angle to the bar horizontally and a 90-degree right angle vertically.

5. Keep away from your body

You will make a 2-inch deep cut in the material and settle the saw bar in it to make sure it is secure when you are sharpening it. Next, you will mount the file and the file guide into a cutter on the top portion and close to the end of the bar.

You will also need to make a mark to specify the point you started using the chainsaw sharpener. In the next step, you will arrange the file with the ground angle on the cutter, which is usually 30-35 degrees.

Make a single strike, keeping in mind the adequate angle at which you need to cut, parallel to the ground and at a far distance from your body. You will feel the guide moving along the top portion of the cutter and depth gauge. The first few strikes on a dull cutter may make our hand shake a little.

You will need to work with short and steady strikes with the file, make sure you go over the cut 5 or 6 times until the surface of the cutter is a shiny, silver metallic. As soon as you feel a bump on the outer cutter edge, you will know that the cutter is sharpened.

Tip: A helpful hint would be for you to count the strokes to a perfect cut and keep that consistent throughout the process.

6. Verify with the file guide

After making your cut, you will go through the file guide to make sure that the cutter is in perfect alignment with the file. It will not be difficult to find the file, there will be a file nest into the cutter.

Make sure you file every cutter before moving on to the next step, which is to move towards the opposite side of the bar to complete the sharpening task.

7. Work on the chain

After you have succeeded in sharpening a few of the cutters, you will need to let loose the chain brake that was previously tightened. In this step, it is advisable that you wear a pair of gloves

Next, you will rotate the chain forward to find more cutters that could use a little more sharpening. After doing so, you will need to put on the chain brake again and sharpen the newly found section. This will go on until one whole part of the chain is sharpened.

8. Sharpen the other side of the chain

You will go on sharpening all parts of the cutters and chains until you reach the initial markings you made. Then, you will sharpen the other side of the saw bar and the opposite angled cutters. All during this, you will need to remain consistent with the strokes you make when cutting.

9. Periodically check depth gauge heights

Every time you sharpen a cutter of the chainsaw, you will need to verify the height of the depth gauges along with the filing guide. When and if they show up above the guide, quickly file them down with the flat file.



So there you have it, a summarised list of steps you need to take to ensure proper sharpening on your chainsaw cutters and chains. It is a simple process and it would do you well to remember a few steps before initiating the process.

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For example, make certain that you have all the required tools ready and set out in front of you for ease. Additionally, make sure that you take adequate safety precautions before you begin to sharpen your chainsaw.

Therefore, all you need to do now is grab your tools and chainsaw and get started on fixing up any dullness and issues that arise from your unsharpened chainsaw.

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