Chain Saw Sharpener | Learn How To Sharpen Your Chain Saw

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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10 Responses to “Learn How To Sharpen Your Chain Saw”

  1. Ernest Delto on August 9th, 2008 8:23 pm

    I have several 9″ to 13″ pine logs I would like to cut into approximately 1 1/2″ planks and wondering if there is a better chain for rip cutting than the standard chain?

  2. Vic Goodman on August 13th, 2008 3:59 pm

    Thanks so much for all the information on how to sharpen a chain saw and how to use a chainsaw safely. I’ll be putting much if it to use very soon as I start to put firewood away for the coming years.

  3. burt on December 15th, 2008 3:30 am

    i think instead of chain “guides” you meant gauges or depth gauges?? and 3-5 strokes with a file is excessive unless you’ve struck rocks or metal. 1-2 strokes with my german “pferd” brand files is more than enough to sharpen my oregon chain. and believe me, the german brand i just mentioned way, way, out perform the chinese crap you buy a home depot stores….

  4. Charles Hollinger on January 3rd, 2009 4:42 am

    I just purchase a Stihl MS 361 chain saw. I am looking to purchase a bar mounted chain saw sharpener. I what one to last me for years to come. What brand name sharpers to you recommend and were can I purchase one?



  5. David Shirley on February 20th, 2009 2:55 am

    I have a old farm here in Kentucky, and it needs
    a lot of work, to include cutting trees down and
    clearing fence lines. The price of having chain
    saw chains sharpened has gone up. So, i want to
    learn how to sharpen the chains myself. I plan to buy a sharperner.

  6. nick jenkins on May 2nd, 2009 10:01 pm

    I have maccaulloch 310 saw and only use it for cutting fire wood but need to know how to sharpen the chain even for this small amount of use.

  7. jimmy on September 8th, 2009 7:46 pm

    How do I know if my chain is upside down?

  8. BJ on October 12th, 2009 1:06 pm

    so when your using a round file to sharpen, you need to keep a slight upward stroke when sharpening? Also what it your cutting a log and your saw is cutting like a curve to the right, what side is sharpened wrong -or do you just start over?
    It’s too exspensive to take to someone every time.


  9. Peter B on April 18th, 2010 5:05 pm

    “How do I know if my chain is upside down?”
    It does not cut so well?

    The chain travels outward (from the machine body) on the top of the bar and inward below the bar; consequently, the cutters must be facing outward on the top of the bar and towards the body of the machine on the underside of the guide bar.

    If this is not enough, you would be well advised to pay someone to do the cutting for you.

  10. Donald Delesdernier on May 14th, 2011 8:35 pm

    I just picked up a used saw sharpener and need help getting it set up to use. The grinding wheel on this one must be replaced. my chain is 3/8. So question is what size grinding wheel and is there a certian way to get statred.

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