How to sharpen a chainsaw

A dull chain is usually the cause of power loss and poor cutting in milling. Sharpen the chain as soon as it shows the slightest sign of dulling. Here’s a quick guide on how to sharpen a chainsaw using either the chain grinder or a file.

How to sharpen a chainsaw using a chain grinder

Cutters dulled in everyday use require only a little grinding to restore sharpness. You can use the coarse-grit grinding stone for sharpening, or a fine-grit stone (lubricated with paraffin to retard clogging), modified to the correct shape. For this article, we used Oregon Professional Compact 120-Volt Bench Grinder. If you do not have it, please check it out, as it can save you time and stress sharpening your chainsaw. We also have a budget-friendly option towards the end. Check it out to way your options.

Step one – mounting the chain

Mount the chain in the grinder

Mount the chain in the grinder, then adjust the pawl so the stone can pass into the cutter gullet with zero clearance between the stone and the top edge of the cutter. The chain should be positioned so the stone brushes past the cutter’s edge.

step two – depth stop

lower the stone into the gullet and adjust its depth stop

Gently lower the stone into the gullet and adjust its depth stop. To make a sharpening pass, start the grinder and lower the stone to the bottom of the gullet, applying slight sideways pressure on the grinding arm toward the cutter.

step three – lateral pressure

lateral pressure

At the bottom of the gullet, release the lateral pressure to allow the stone to rise out of the cut. If you don’t do this, you’ll get a large burr on the cutting edge. You’ll also get a large burr if the stone has become glazed.

Step four -examine the cutter

examine cutter

Now examine the cutter to be sure it has been completely sharpened. The shiny, dull edge should be gone entirely, leaving a sharp edge that will not reflect light. If cutters are severely damaged, you’ll have to adjust the grinder to remove the whole damaged area on the top plate of each cutter.

step five -checking damaged cutters

checking damaged cutters

Use the most damaged cutter in the chain as a gauge to adjust the pawl. This will ensure that the damage on all the cutters will be removed and that they will be ground to the same length and sharpness. When excessive grinding is necessary, always check the depth gauge height.

How to sharpen a chainsaw using a file

For sharpening the chain on the bar, I like to use a Simington sharpener (Simington Products Co., Star Route 141, Chiloquin, Ore. 97624). It’s battery-powered and can go right into the woods with you. A 12-volt motorcycle battery will power many sharpenings on a single charge. Though there are a variety of motor-powered, on-the-bar chain grinders available, I don’t recommend them-they are inefficient and, above all, inaccurate.

Check Best Chainsaw for oak trees.