How To Sharpen A Chainsaw Chain

chainsaw used in cutting a log

image source: unsplash

A dull chainsaw is more than just an inconvenience; it is a danger to the person using the tool. Many people believe chainsaws do not need sharpening because they cut through materials using a chain that holds a saw blade. Those unfamiliar with chainsaws often believe there is no actual saw at all. However, the chainsaw is actually very similar to a bike chain with multiple sharp teeth, which is where the “saw” part of the name comes from. You must know how to sharpen a chainsaw chain to use this tool safely and effectively for a long time.

People love chainsaws for many reasons, but mainly because they are highly effective and get the job done fast. If an area needs clearing in the wake of a natural disaster, for example, the hum of a chainsaw will be a welcome sound to your ears. Say a tree falls and blocks the road. However, if you do not know how to sharpen a chainsaw chain, you will find the going very slow.

Uses For Chainsaws

chainsaw cutting the log

image source: pexels 

Chainsaws make big jobs easy. You can spend several afternoons trying to clear a fallen tree with a carpentry saw or an axe, or half an hour with a chainsaw. This is usually because the person who owns the equipment knows how to sharpen a chainsaw chain. Once you own a chainsaw, however, what will you do with it? Here are a few options:

  • Chopping up small trees
  • Removing the limbs from large pieces of lumber so you may fell the tree more easily or haul off smaller pieces if it is already down
  • Cutting up large stumps
  • Artistic work (optional)

While many people purchase chainsaws for reasons like the ones below, a chainsaw really has more power than is strictly needed for the following:

  • Landscaping
  • Removing trees and shrubs
  • Chopping lumber
  • Clearing areas of felled limbs and small trees

Most people planning on smaller-scale landscaping and not felling full-grown trees will not necessarily need a chainsaw. Most experts say an electric saw will suffice in these cases.

Chainsaw Safety

Part of working with your chainsaw involves knowing how to sharpen a chainsaw chain. However, another responsibility lies on you in that you must also have the right safety equipment. This includes:

  •    Heavy-duty boots
  •    Clothing made of thick fabric 
  •    Ear plugs or other ear protection
  •    Safety goggles
  •    A dust mask or a respirator
  •    Heavy gloves

These items will keep you safe, but if you do not know how to sharpen a chainsaw chain, you have still left one huge threat in play. In the next section, we'll explain why.

Importance Of A Sharp Chainsaw Chain

If you know how to sharpen a chainsaw chain, you hold the key to keeping your tool from turning on you. Because a chainsaw chain holds multiple blades, a single dull blade in the machine can cause the saw to jerk and buck around as you saw. This is due to the blades catching on the material, usually wood, that you are sawing. Think about this for a minute. Your chainsaw easily slices through huge trees and other pieces of wood. Even when it is dull, it could just as easily slice through you if the chainsaw gets out of control. Knowing how to sharpen a chainsaw chain will help keep you safe.

Dull Blades Make Slow Going

Feel as if you are strong enough to keep your chainsaw under control even if the blades are becoming dull? That is a foolish way to look at things. You should just learn how to sharpen a chainsaw chain and be even safer! However, if the safety factor is not persuasive enough for you, consider that using a dull chainsaw chain will make your work much harder and slower. A dull chainsaw requires the user to exert much more pressure on the material they are cutting and slows down the entire process. Speed is one of the big advantages offered by chainsaws, so do not waste it. That extra time also wastes fuel.

How To Sharpen A Chainsaw Chain
When To Sharpen

Most experts recommend sharpening your chainsaw chain every time you refill the chainsaw with fuel. If you have a tendency to drive the chainsaw chain into the dirt while you are cutting, you may need to sharpen the chainsaw even more frequently. Here are six signs a chainsaw chain and its blades need sharpening:

  1. 1
    You find yourself pushing the saw into the wood instead of the blade “pulling” itself through the wood
  2. 2
    You notice the sawdust is fine instead of coarse
  3. 3
    Your tool is smoking when you use it
  4. 4
    Your cuts are crooked due to uneven teeth lengths
  5. 5
    The tool becomes more difficult to manage, rattling and bouncing as you use it
  6. 6
    You notice the “service and wear marks” on the saw chain are at the end of the blades, although not every brand has these.

Equipment Needed

First, you will need your safety equipment, including the heavy gloves. Additionally, you will need:

  • A filing kit for chainsaws, which can be purchased at any outdoor power equipment store
  • A vise for clamping the saw's bar in place
  •  A round file with a file guide
  • A flat file with a depth-gauge guide
  • A sharpie marker
  • A screwdriver

If you prefer to use power tools for the process, then you will also need:

  • A Dremel chainsaw chain sharpener
  • A depth guide

Step 1: Prepare The Chainsaw For Sharpening

Step 2: Use The Round File To Sharpen The Angled Teeth In The Chain

Step 3: Use The Flat File To Level The Rakers

Step 4: Release Your Chainsaw

Time To Use Your Newly Sharpened Blade

log cutting equipments

image source: unsplash

Learning how to sharpen a chainsaw chain can be intimidating. After all, those teeth, chains, and blades may look scary. If you are concerned that you are not experienced enough to sharpen your own chainsaw, consider taking it to a professional and getting an initial lesson on the process.  A pro can walk you through how to use the tools in no time. Most people who use their chainsaws regularly and understand how they work quickly pick up on how to sharpen a chainsaw chain and can complete the entire process at home.

Robert Martinez

Robert writes electronics, tools and home improvement related articles. Robert lives in New York City and is tall for no reason. In real life, Robert is afraid of basements, bees, and going up stairs when it is dark behind her. Let’s face it...

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