Guide on How to Sharpen A Chainsaw

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If your knife becomes dull it won't hurt you cause you can regain the sharpness in a minute. on the contrary, if it is your chainsaw it will hurt you most. Because you can't recover its sharpness easily if you don't have some knowledge of it. Let's check the details on how to sharpen a chainsaw. 

The ability of a chainsaw to cut correctly will be affected if the chain is poorly sharpened or dull. Other than reduced cutting performance, a chain that is not sharpened properly can damage the bar, the engine, and the sprocket as well as increase the risk of kickback.

Chainsaws do not need to be sharpened by an expert but practice and knowledge is necessary. Herein is a comprehensive guide on how to sharpen a chainsaw.

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The Perfect Time on Sharpening a Chainsaw

As a general guideline, a chainsaw should be sharpened every time it is fueled and any time the chain strikes the ground or a hard object. You should also sharpen it when you observe that it is making fine sawdust instead of chips as you would expect with a reciprocating saw blade, miter saw blade or jig saw. Cutting in a curve is also an indicator of a dull.

Necessary tools for Sharpening a chainsaw

Proper sharpening requires the right tools for the job. The minimum tools you will need include:

  • Chain Saw Operator's manual.
  • Wrench, screwdriver or scrench.
  • Leather gloves.

Appropriate size chainsaw round files.

  • Chainsaw flat file.
  • Filing guide sized for the chain.
  • Depth gauge filing gauge.
  • Cleaning rags.

You might also like our enlisted top chainsaw chain sharpener.

The Process : How to Sharpen a Chainsaw

1. Inspect the cutting teeth to determine if there are teeth shorter than other. You should always start with the shortest tooth. The shortest tooth will determine the length of the rest of the teeth.

2. Secure the chainsaw to prevent movement while sharpening. You can do this with a pinch vise or other securing device.

3. Before you begin sharpening, set the chain brake. Release the brake and advance the chain until you return to the starting point. Mark the starting point in order to avoid resharpening.

4. Place the file in the chisel such that about 20 % of the file is above the tooth. It is advisable to use a file guide to maintain proper angle and depth.

5. Position the file such that it is at the proper top plate angle as outlined by the chain manufacturer. The best chainsaw manufacturers mark the top of the tooth as a guide for an appropriate top plate angle.

6. Position the file such that it is at the proper horizontal angle. This angle can vary from chain to chain but is often 10 degrees off horizontal from the bar or 90 degrees from the bar. The manufacturer's manual contains the proper horizontal angle of the file.

7. The filing motion should be steady and smooth moving from the inside of the tooth to the outside (towards the point of the saw tooth). Ensure that you hold the proper horizontal angle and top plate angle of the file during the entire process.

Applying heavy pressure as you sharpen is not necessary. Keep contact with the tooth only during the forward stroke and take the file off the tooth as you begin another stroke.

8. Unless you are correcting damage, always file each tooth the same number of times. Clean the file from time to time as files get clogged with filings thus reducing efficiency. A good cutter sharpness is indicated by a fine curl of metal dust on the top edge of the chisel.

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Top Tips From Woodwork Experts

Bob Tacke, an expert affiliated with The Family Handyman offers great advice on the best chainsaw chain sharpening tools and technique. He recommends getting a round file and flat file for sharpening the cutters. He strongly advises against the use of rattail files as its coarse teeth and tapered diameter may damage the cutters.

Award-winning woodwork expert and "Canada's Handiest Man" Steve Maxwell emphasizes on the less obvious process of depth gauge adjustment. He also advises beginners to first practice on a new chain that needs it first sharpening as they have the best chainsaw chain to learn depth gauge adjustments.

It is worth noting that you can always use motorized chainsaw sharpeners if you find manual sharpening too laborious and ineffective. The current top rated chainsaw sharpener brands include Granberg, Oregon, Timberline, Buffalo tools, and Stihl.

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