Chain Saw Sharpener

Best Types of Chain Saw Sharpeners

There are several kinds of chain saw sharpeners on the market which are used to sharpen your chainsaw chain.  The simplest kind is a round hand-held file that you can carry in your toolbox or chain saw case.  This is the cheapest kind, and in fact the most commonly used type of chainsaw sharpener.

Even professional loggers carry hand-held chain sharpeners so that they can do touch ups at any time in the field.  Hand-held round files only cost a few dollars, and come in several different diameters depending on the size of your chain and the teeth pitch.  The most common sizes are 1/4” and 3/8” files.

An excellent electric chainsaw sharpener for the handyman is the Garrett Wade 115V 45T01.01 standard chain sharpener which sells for approximately $65, and the Garrett Wade 45T01.02 quick feed chain sharpener with an automatic chain feed which sells for approximately $95.  The quick feed chainsaw sharpener is an Italian product and is commonly referred to as the “easy use” model in Europe.  There are also a number of other electric chainsaw sharpeners, including the Jolly chain grinder line of chain sharpeners.

A similar type of chain saw sharpener includes the round hand-held file with a special guide attached to it which helps you maintain the correct angle as you sharpen your saw.  These hand-held guides are also very inexpensive and can be purchased for $10 – $40 in many hardware stores.

Another type of chainsaw chain sharpener is a bar mounted guide.  These types of sharpeners are portable and can be taken with you and used in the back of your truck.  You attach the guide mechanism to the bar of your chain saw and both the side angle and upwards angle can be set and maintained perfectly.  These types of chain saw sharpeners are surprisingly cost effective today, ranging from $75 – $150 for very good machines.

Finally, there are professional bench mounted chain saw sharpeners that are permanently mounted in saw shops.  Generally, you need to take the chain off your chain saw if you are going to use one of these machines.  In many cases these machines can do an excellent job, however cheap versions need to be avoided.  Some of the cheaper models simply make a straight cut instead of following the curved shape of the tooth gullet.

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Chain Saw Safety and Maintenance

Safety should be one of your prime considerations when sharpening your chain saw.  Always consult the manual for your saw and sharpen it in a well lit area where you can focus all of your attention on the task at hand.  If you’re not used to this kind of work I recommend that you wear a pair of leather gloves.

You’ll recognize when your chain saw is dull because it will seem like it’s never going to get through the log.  You’ll be cutting and cutting and the saw just won’t get to the other side.  This is when you know that you need to sharpen your saw.  Don’t continue to try and force the saw through the wood – this is when accidents tend to happen.

Sometimes it is a good idea to take your saw to a professional chain saw sharpener the first time.  Make sure you ask lots of questions, including what size of file they use, and any other tips you can think to ask.  The teeth on a chain that has been recently sharpened with a chain saw sharpener will be as sharp as a razor blade.  Of course, if you buy a quality chainsaw that can also make a difference sometimes.

A good sharpening shop should be more than happy to help you out, because if you can maintain the chain sharpness yourself with quick touch ups then when you bring the saw in for a professional sharpening their job will be even easier.  Don’t forget to store your saw in a chainsaw case to protect it when travelling long distances.

Every time you sharpen your chain saw you should check the lubrication.  The chain sprocket at the front of the bar should be greased every time you sharpen the saw.  Not many people realize there’s a grease fitting for the front sprocket because it’s so small.  This will require a little pocket-sized grease applicator with the small nipple fitting that’s made for the saw.  You should also check the back end of the bar for any excessive debris that may be jammed in the housing.

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Learn How To Sharpen Your Chain Saw

There are several things to consider before sharpening your chain saw. It’s not as hard as you might think even if you’re a novice chain saw user, but if you don’t pay attention to a few basic tips you’ll end up wasting your time.  The following chainsaw sharpening guide should help you sharpen any chainsaw.

First of all, to learn how to sharpen chainsaw chains you need to make sure that you have the right size of chain saw sharpener to match the size of chain and teeth pitch on your saw. The round hand-held sharpening file must be the correct diameter to maximize your sharpening efforts. The gullet or shape of the inner part of the tooth will a have different radius depending on the chain and the saw. Fortunately these hand held files only cost a few dollars so you may as well buy several different sizes and keep them in your sharpening toolkit.

You’ll also notice that every second tooth on the chain saw cuts towards the opposite side of the bar. So you need to sharpen every second tooth from one side of the saw, and then after you go around the entire chain, file the remaining alternate teeth from the other side of the saw.

In both cases you need to stroke the file forward towards the longest point on the tip. Note that you must follow the correct angle to the bar, as well as the upwards ankle (usually 5° to 10°) for many saws. You need to maintain exactly the same direction on every stroke as much as possible or you will round the teeth and end up with a chain that is no sharper than when you started.

Make sure that you file each tooth exactly the same number of strokes or the saw will pull to one side and not cut straight. The easiest way to do this is to count the number of strokes as you file. Usually three to five strokes per tooth will keep your saw nice and sharp. It really doesn’t take much time to do touch up sharpening.

Another issue that many people are not aware of is that the chain guides cannot be higher than the teeth or the saw will not cut properly. After you sharpen your saw a number of times the guides will most likely end up higher than the teeth. You need to take a flat file and remove some of the height from the chain saw guides.

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