How to Sharpen a Chainsaw

Chainsaws are powerful beastly tools, and can cut through thick wooden logs like they’re made of butter. However, that only is the case if you’ve sharpened them properly. A lot can go wrong if you don’t sharpen a chainsaw properly, and that’s why we’re going to dive into how to sharpen a chainsaw today!

When to Sharpen Your Chainsaw?

Sharpening a chainsaw is a process you’ll learn, but it’s also key to know when you sharpen your chainsaw. You don’t want to start once your chainsaw starts flaming out and blows out smoke. When you’re using a chainsaw to cut through logs or whatever, you’ll want it to be spewing out long wood shavings. If you see sawdust or wood chips flying out from the chainsaw chain, then you know it’s time to sharpen it!

Tools for Sharpening Your Chainsaw

Let’s say you’re in your work shed and you want to start sharpening your chainsaw, what do you need? Luckily for you, and us; it’s not a very extensive list!

Round File

Round File

If you want to sharpen the cutting blades of the chainsaw, then you’ll need to use a round file.

Flat File

Flat File

After every third time sharpening your blade on the chainsaw, you’ll want to sharpen the depth gauges on the chainsaw, and for that you’ll need the flat file!

Stump Vise

Stump Vise

The stump vise allows you to sharpen your chainsaw while on the job, just by attaching it to the stumps of trees.

File Gauge

File Gauge

The depth gauge will be your helping guide whenever you’re using the files to help sharpen the saw.

How to Sharpen A Chainsaw

Now that we’ve come to understand when we need to sharpen a chainsaw and what we’ll be needing to get the job done, let’s delve into the process of how it’s done!

Bolting The Chainsaw Down

Bolting The Chainsaw Down

We know what a powerful machine this is so before you engage in the whole process of sticking your hands near the saw, make sure you’ve bolted it down to your workstation properly! Use a vise to help hold the saw in place, and then engage the chain brake. The chain brake will allow you to easily access each blade in the saw.

Starting on One Side

Starting on One Side

You’re going to start by placing the depth gauge on the saw. Make sure to have the bit you want to sharpen, sticking out from the file gauge. Asses where the chainsaw rollers are and make sure to be holding your round file at a 90 degree angle from them. And then file away till you can rest assured that the chainsaw is sharpened. Once you’re done with one area of the chain, reposition it by letting go of the chain brake and fixing it again once you’re ready. 

However, you’ll need to ensure you file every alternate blade on the chain. As the heading says, this is only one side of the chain, and once done, you’ll be turning it over to the other side and starting over.

Sharpening the Other Side

Once you’ve properly filed away at the starting side, reposition the chainsaw and bolt it down again using the vise. Take your round file and file gauge to start the process again! And thus, you’ll be done with it!

Chainsaw Depth Gauge Sharpening

Once you’ve taken care of the blade, you’ll want to move towards sharpening the depth gauges of the chainsaw. Be weary though, you only need to do this once every third time you sharpen your chain. Make sure your chainsaw is bolted down and you’ve engaged the chain brake. 

The depth gauges are basically responsible for increasing the efficiency of your chainsaw, because your chainsaw relies on these for how deep they can cut. Before you start filing the depth gauges, place the file gauge on the depth gauge and select an option of ‘hard’ or ‘soft’, depending on the type of wood you’re usually working with.

Once you’ve started to file every depth gauge, you need to use the same technique you had when you were filing the blade before. Gently file away using your flat file and keep filing every alternate depth gauge. Then of course, when you’re done with one side, turn the chainsaw around and do the same with the other side. 

Once you sharpen for a while, you’ll notice the depth gauge coming to the level of the file gauge; and that will be your cue to stop!

Automatic Sharpening

Automatic Sharpening

It’s understandable if you want to avoid the melancholy of manually sharpening the chainsaw by using a file on each and every bit. Fortunately however, there is a way for you to help yourself here. 

You can get power tools that help you avoid the process entirely! Not to mention, you’ll be done in a few seconds. Yes that’s right, in just a few seconds! A common power tool for sharpening a chainsaw is shown in the picture above.

Automatic Sharpening

You’ll use the holes on the bar of the saw, to attach it to the tool, and then close the lid. Once your sharpener is properly attached to the saw, press the tip of the chainsaw (now with the tool’s flat edge in the front) against a hard surface, and start up your chainsaw. In a mere 4-5 seconds, your saw will have done numerous rotations on the grindstone inside the tool. That stone is going to take care of sharpening your saw!

If you want to use automatic tools to sharpen your chainsaw, you’d be making it a lot more efficient for yourself!  

The Takeaway

If you want to sharpen your chainsaw, and were always weary of it being a difficult task, we hope we’ve helped you with that! Once you get the gist of it, and always hold the file in a straight line while filing, you’ll soon learn that it’s easy to come to grips with. Or you can just acquire a power tool to take care of it for you! So make sure you not only know how to use a chainsaw, but sharpen it yourself, whenever needed!

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