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If you’ve been in the business of cutting, limbing or that of firewood, you know the art of using the chainsaw. If you’ve been in the businessfor a while now, you know that chainsaws, like any other mechanical tools, get dull and lose their charm after a point of time.

But if you’ve been in it for long enough, you know that in these situations it doesn’t make sense to buy a new chainsaw every time it loses its shape.

Instead, you need to be smart and sharpen your chainsaw yourself.

Even if you are new to the business and need to know, Chainsaws can be easily sharpened without having to buy a new one. So, just in case, we have a complete tutorial to help you out.


To start with, you need to check for symptoms and decide if your chainsaw needs sharpening. Check for the following:

  • Not cutting as smoothly as it used to

  • Becomes dull

  • It is puling to one side while using it for cutting

  • Requires too much additional pressure to make a cut

  • Rusted blade or one filled with debris

  • The waste from wood comes out as dust rather than sharp chips

If you said “yes” to one of those symptoms, follow the guide below to help you out –

1) Know your chainsaw – Your chainsaw is basically a structure with multiple teeth around a chain belt. The teeth mostly do the job as they are arranged alternatively and point both ways. So, when it comes to sharpening, you only need to work with the teeth and avoid worrying about the belt or chain.     



2) Decide on a sharpening tool – First of all, get yourself a pair of gloves before operating on your chainsaw. You would need a few things before you start. Firstly, a clamp to place your chainsaw in one place and to ensure that it doesn’t move while sharpening. Then you would need a round file with a file holder, a flat file and a depth gauge for the whole process.


3) Initial adjustment – Procure a round file which has the same diameter as your chainsaw’s teeth. Use your owner guide to find the diameter and a buy a round file accordingly from the local hardware store. Now you have to mount the round file in the notch in the front of the cutter. Then, use your owner’s guide to know the angle of initial angle of filing. Use a file holder to maintain this angle while sharpening. The angle for any chainsaw is usually between 20-35 degrees. 



4) Start sharpening - The file needs to be stroked away from the body (direction) while being flat on top of the cutter. Push the file away by applying pressure and then lift it up to bring it back and redo the whole process. Do not bring the file back by pulling it backward as this hampers the process and can ruin the chainsaw. Keep continuing the forward motion of the file at the same angle for 5-8 times.


5) Know when to stop and how to move forward - Stop using the file on one cutter when you see that is silvery and shiny. You can also notice a slight burr on the top of the cutter which you can knock away with the file and then know that it is time to move on to the next teeth.

Now, continue the process at this same angle and motion for every alternate cutter as your first cutter. So if you started with a left cutter, you only sharpen left cutters till you come back to the first one. Keep rotating the chainsaw to keep using the file. Once back at the starting point, you are done sharpening one set of cutters.

Turn the chainsaw by 180 degrees and use the same method, angle and motion to sharpen the remaining cutters. Make sure you balance the process otherwise your chainsaw would lose out on its value and technique.

Useful Resources:- https://www.consumersbase.com/best-chainsaw-sharpener/


6)  Time to work on the Rakers - Rakers are the bumps between each cutter along the chain to ensure that the height of the cut is leveled. You will need a depth gauge first. Put the depth gauge on top of the chain and push it along to a raker. Your job is to check rakers and find if anyone of them is above the height of the depth gauge.


7) Finish the job - If there is any raker which is above the height of the depth gauge, you will need to use a flat file to sharpen it and bring all rakers to the same height. Keep the gauge in place, put the flat file on top and start the process. Make sure that you avoid filing the gauge and its height as this can lead to inconsistency for future rakers. You can always place the flat file, take the gauge backward and away and keep rechecking after 2 cuts to ensure a proper height.

Now, do a quick review on the cutters and raker heights before removing the clamp.

As a beginner, it might take you 10-15 mins for the process but with time, it will hardly take 10 mins. All tools are easy to procure and are very useful especially if your chainsaw asks for sharpening quite often.


A few things that you should be careful about:

1) Only use a round file and avoid a rattail file as its coarse teeth damages cutters.

2) If you are struggling with controlling the movement of your chainsaw while sharpening, use a screw to tighten the chain and just keep enough availability for slight movement using pressure for sharpening. Don’t forget to release the chain once you are done with all the steps.

3) Always check the owner’s guide for information on diameters, angles and sharpening. Also buy your tools from a reliable store.

Now relax and easily sharpen away!

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How to Sharpen a Chainsaw – Complete Tutorial

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