Chainsaw chain sharpening with your own hands

There are a number of factors that will tell you when it’s time to sharpen your chainsaw chain:

  • Productivity decreased. Sawing time increased.
  • Sense excessive strain on the saw.
  • Increased vibration.
  • Small chips.

For beginners it is difficult to notice the first 3 moments, therefore it is recommended to watch what chips fly out of the cut.

Small chips during sawing, especially of brown color, are a guaranteed sign of blunting.

How to sharpen a chainsaw chain: methods, tools and implements

A good craftsman has to have a good tool and always be ready for action. It is quite applicable to any handyman. All cutting and sawing equipment must always be properly sharpened. This requirement is also relevant to such complex tools as saws, especially electric and gasoline-powered. In today’s review, let’s figure out how to sharpen a chainsaw chain, what you need to know to do it in order to do the job properly.

How to sharpen a chainsaw chain

Chainsaw chain sharpening is a procedure regularly encountered by gardeners and professional woodcutters. In this article, the master plumber will tell you how to restore the damaged teeth of the saw chain, and quickly return it to its previous working condition.

To understand how to properly sharpen the chain, you need to understand the basic principles of its construction and operation. You can’t just sharpen a chain by eye. you need to know the basic characteristics of the chain and its components.

Chainsaw chain consists of three types of links made of high-alloy steel:

  • Cutters are the basic elements of the chain. A distinction is made between right-handed and left-handed, which are arranged alternately, with their cutting edges above the plane of the bar. Tooth design incorporates depth of cut limiters.
  • Drives (shanks). are used to transmit torque from the gasoline engine to the chain through the drive sprocket. This feature extends sprocket life and gives the chain a more stable hold on the bar.
  • Coupling. Connects the chain shanks and cutters.

One of the main chain elements is the cutting tooth, which plunges into the wood and removes chips. The tooth depth limiter determines the thickness of the wood chip and limits the depth of penetration into the wood.

Depending on the type of chain, the recommended setting in relation to the limiter is 0.025″ (0.65 mm) or 0.030″ (0.75 mm).

The long life of any chainsaw depends on proper care and use, including the chainsaw. Good performance of the latter affects the performance of the device and performance parameters. Delayed sharpening can lead to some problems with the saw itself. The most common cause is:

  • Crooked cuts;
  • High stress on the saw, resulting in increased wear and tear on parts and therefore a shorter life span of the entire device;
  • Increased fuel consumption.

If the saw produces fine, dusty chips and the saw plunges into the cut with great force, it is blunt.

There are other signs of a dull chain:

No Nonsense Guide to Chainsaw Sharpening. How To Sharpen A Chainsaw Properly. FarmCraft101

  • Speed of operation of the tool has decreased;
  • Uneven and sharp sawdust is produced;
  • It is necessary to put a lot of effort to cut wood;
  • The chain is stretched or sagging.

A chainsaw chain can become dull quickly for the following reasons:

  • If you work with the saw too often;
  • When the operator presses hard on the saw while sawing;
  • If your chain is made of low-quality metal or if the steel is not properly heat-treated;
  • If you frequently saw raw or resinous wood;
  • When sawing hardwood trees such as oak, birch, cherry, acacia, elm, ash and others;
  • If the chain is blocked by sand or stones;
  • If the chain is not properly sharpened or has insufficient tension while working.

The design of all chain saws is similar, so the chain removal procedure will be the same:

  • Protective cotton gloves should be worn first to avoid cuts from the cutting teeth.
  • Remove the protective cover from the chain saw and place it on its side on a flat surface.
  • Use a socket wrench of the right diameter to unscrew the fixing nuts that hold the body and bar, remove the top cover of the body.
  • Now you need to slide the tire all the way down to the sprocket, thereby relaxing the chain, and remove the working elements from the mounting bolts.
  • Remove the chain from the bar.

Sharpening angles and chainsaw tooth configuration

Chainsaw chain teeth have the following characteristics:

  • Sharpening angle for longitudinal sawing should be in the range of 6-12°, and from 25° to 30°. when the cross-cutting is predominant.
  • The height of the chain profile: professional models have a high profile of 0.762 mm, while household saws have a high profile of 0.625 mm.
  • Shape of chain teeth can be rounded, half hammer, chisel and with carbide plates.
  • Drive link thickness is the same for most home chain saws and has a value of 1.27 mm. There are 1.1 mm thick shanks on small power saws that are suitable only for cutting limbs. Thicker shanks (1.5 mm, 1.6 mm, 2 mm) are typical for semi-professional and professional saws.
  • Tooth pitch is the distance between the chain links. Has a value that depends on the power and torque of the tool motor. the higher these parameters, the greater the pitch: 1/4″ (6.35 mm), 0.325″ (8.25 mm), 3/8″ (9.53 mm), 0.404″ (10.26 mm), 3/4″ (19.05 mm).

The pitch is determined by dividing the distance between three rivets by two.

Timely and competent sharpening with their own hands the chain for a chainsaw will not only prolong the time of use of the device, but also save effort and time on the processing of wood. Signs of a sharp chain is the formation of equal-sized sawdust of regular geometric shape.

  • Clean the chainsaw chain;
  • Check the chainsaw chain for damage and, if necessary, replace damaged components;
  • Increase chain tension to prevent the cutting teeth from moving during sharpening;
  • Secure the chainsaw;
  • Find the shortest tooth (for orientation) on both sides;
  • Sharpen all cutting teeth on one side, and then go to the other side;
  • Check the result of sharpening: sharpening angle, side and top edges;
  • Check the height of the plunge limiter (if necessary, reduce the height with a flat file);
  • remove metal dust;
  • lubricate the chain;
  • adjust the chain tension.
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To ensure the desired level of sharpness of the teeth is suitable any device for sharpening chainsaw chains, for example, any sharpening tool. These are a file, an angle grinder and a machine tool.How to sharpen a chainsaw chain with a file

This method is valued for the ability to perform work in any, even in the field, the simplicity of the procedure and the lack of need for expensive tools. To correctly sharpen a chain of chainsaw with a file will help a tool with only round section.

To determine the dimensions of a file it is necessary to know the dimensions of the saw itself, especially the tooth pitch.

Chainsaw sharpening school.Your saw will cut faster after this video

A flat file can be used for the sawing depth stop on the guide tooth.

Depending on the type of chain or tooth and the manufacturer’s recommendation, the position of the file to be held horizontally against the guide bar is 90° or with a 10° slope.

Be careful not to damage other chain components while sharpening. The file will only grind in the forward direction, so do not move it back and forth, damaging the tooth and the file itself.

In the story. the chainsaw chain sharpening by hand, without taking it off the bar, with a round file

In the story. Chainsaw chain sharpening with a file

This method has some small disadvantages. In particular, it requires a lot of time. But it will not need to buy expensive equipment or special tools.

How to sharpen chain in a chainsaw with an angle grinder

The method of sharpening the saw chain with the help of an angle grinder, the least popular because of its insecurity. sharpened tooth can differ significantly from the one sharpened with a file, t.к. when straightening with an angle grinder, it’s hard to control the sharpening angle.

A big disadvantage can be considered the possibility of notching the disk of the angle grinder at the lug of the connecting link of the chain, which will subsequently lead to a break, when carrying out work.

Only a special disk for working with metal is suitable. It must be at least 2.5 mm in diameter. In this case it is recommended to choose a already used disc with rounded edges.

Before you start sharpening, you need to insert a wedge of wood between the chain and the bottom of the bar to prevent the chain from moving.

In the story. How to sharpen a chainsaw chain with an angle grinder

Sharpening a chainsaw chain with an electric grinder

To sharpen the chain yourself with a drill or electric screwdriver, you will need a file with a circular cross section. To find it, you need to specify the diameter of the cutting tooth rounding of the chain.Most home use chain saws can be sharpened with a file with a 4.8 mm-diameter file.

In addition to the sharpening tool, you will need any bearing that can be held comfortably by your fingers on the outer cage.Let’s prepare the tool:

  • First, it is necessary to remove the shank of the file with an angle grinder.
  • Insert the file into the chuck and lock it.
  • Use plastic, cork or a small piece of wood to make a sleeve of such a diameter that it fits snugly into the bearing.
  • Insert the free end of the file into the sleeve inserted into the bearing.

To sharpen the chain with the sharpening tool, proceed as follows. First you need to fix the saw, the best way is to clamp the guide bar in a vice and loosen the chain beforehand so that it can move freely. Before sharpening, it is advisable to mark the first tooth with a marker. Now it is necessary to put a file in a rounding of blade of the cutting element, being guided by the required angle of sharpening which is usually marked by a ridge on the outer side of the teeth. Then, holding the home-made device with both hands (one by the handle of the drill or electric screwdriver, and the other by the bearing outer ring), turn on the power tool and, bringing the file to the edge of the tooth, make the sharpening. Grind each cutting link in the same way, gradually moving the chain along the bar of the saw.

In the story. Chain sharpening with an electric chain sharpening machine

No problem copes with the task at hand and a machine for sharpening chainsaw chains. There are various ways of using such a tool. automatic or manual sharpening.Hand sharpening machine

The optimum sharpening angle is set and fixed with this machine. Allows to achieve the best results without removing the chain from the chainsaw.

No sharpening effort required: Just set the angle and depth and start the sharpening machine. The work is done quickly and efficiently. vary greatly depending on the manufacturer, the range is large.How is sharpening with a manual sharpening machine inferior to an electric one?

  • Sharpening with a manual chain sharpening machine is a very long and laborious process.
  • Manual sharpening requires some skill, perseverance, care, and accuracy.
  • The manual method is less accurate because of the human factor.

If you own a professional chainsaw that you use on a regular basis, it makes sense to purchase an electric automatic sharpening machine. It will save you time and extend the life of your tool.

Oregon’s unique PowerSharp hobby chain saw sharpening system includes:

  • A plastic box with a pressure mechanism and a compartment for installing a sharpening stone;
  • Busbar with extra hole for later fixation of plastic sharpening box;
  • Low profile chain;
  • Sharpening abrasive stone.

PowerSharp kits are available in various sizes. To find the right size, simply remove the chain headset from your saw, and select the bar that matches the sample length.Install the chain on the new bar, and assemble the saw. This headset can be used instead of a “native” headset until the first sharpening is needed.To sharpen with the sharpener, you must install the sharpening stone in the box and secure it to the bar with a latch, then turn on the saw at full power and set the device’s pressure mechanism vertically down into a hard surface (stump, log, stone, earth), lightly pushing. This way, the abrasive stone will touch the chain teeth and sharpen them in just 3 to 5 seconds. After removing the sharpener, you can get back to work.

In the story. Oregon Powersharp automatic chain sharpening system

Consequences of not sharpening the chain

If the chain saw chain is not sharpened in time, it becomes increasingly difficult for the user to work, and the cut becomes uneven. Such operation will lead to such negative consequences as:

  • Reduced efficiency. sawing requires more physical effort, accordingly, the speed of work drops;
  • Increases fuel consumption. up to 30% overrun;
  • Reduced life of chain saw. chain attachments wear out quickly and the engine overheats, increasing the chance of failure;
  • Risk of injury to the user. the chain can break if the saw becomes unstable.
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Preventing rapid dulling of the chain

Prolonging the life of a chain without periodic sharpening is possible by paying special attention to careful maintenance of the headset. In particular, it is required:

  • Use of specialized oil that must be added when filling up the chainsaw. To choose the proper concentration, it is advisable to consult the instruction manual of the oil itself.
  • All unused volume must be disposed of.
  • During operation, it is advisable to periodically check the clearance dimensions between the limiter and the tooth edge. Ideally, it should be 0.7 mm.
  • To minimize the risk of warping or single-sided abrasion, the bar can be repositioned 180 degrees from time to time.
  • Drive sprocket should be regularly lubricated. It should be done before each use of the saw. Use oil that has been diluted with gasoline and added to the fuel tank. But the best performance is in the M8 grade.
  • Watch tension values. The chain must run flat in the guide bar groove.

The main mistakes when sharpening a chain saw

If the saw does not perform satisfactorily after sharpening, it is likely that sharpening errors were made:

  • Incorrect sharpening angle: more or less than the required value. To avoid this pitfall, use a proper gauge.
  • The front corner of the teeth is tilted forward or backward. This could be due to improper sharpening with a file. It is recommended that you use a different sharpening method or try to keep the same amount of pressure when sharpening by hand and choose the right file diameter.
  • The chain teeth are not the same length. To avoid this, mark the reference tooth before sharpening and adapt the other cutting elements to it.
  • The height of the cutting depth limiter of the cutting links is too low or too high. In the first case, it is necessary to modify the limiter using the filing Calibre. In the second case. to sharpen the cutting links or replace the chain.

You can increase the service life by alternating between manual sharpening and the use of a special sharpening machine. The latter allows for the most precise alignment of the sharpening angles on the machine. The depth of sharpening must not be too great.

Safety precautions should be observed to ensure that wood of all sizes is sawn with maximum efficiency and minimum risk to personnel:

  • Before assembling the chain tool and fitting the headset, it is advisable to read the instructions for use. This is due to the fact that each tool has its own characteristics.
  • Wear gloves and safety glasses when working with the saw.
  • When working, wear close-fitting clothing made of thick natural materials and use footwear that is as sturdy as possible.
  • When pruning a tree with a chainsaw, you should hold it in a stable and safe position, and the material itself should be cut as steadily as possible. A toothed support on the log can help ensure stability.
  • When working, it is necessary to hold the saw with both hands and always check the sawing process.

Modern chain saws are used in both domestic and industrial settings. It is important to maintain the productivity and efficiency of the tool, which is directly related to the condition of the sharpened chain head.

Chainsaw chain design

The chainsaw chain is made of three types of high-alloyed steel links:

  • The cutting teeth are the basic elements of the chain. A distinction is made between right-handed and left-handed, which are arranged alternately, with their cutting edges positioned above the plane of the bar. Tooth design includes cut depth stops.
  • Drive sprockets. are used to transmit the torque from the chainsaw engine to the chain via the drive sprocket. This feature extends sprocket life and makes the chain more stable on the bar.
  • Connecting. connect the shanks and cutting teeth of the chain.

How to choose the right angle?

Cutting hardwood is characterized by low performance and high load on all components of the chainsaw (we recommend reading more about the construction of the chainsaw). The most “popular” hardwoods are ash, beech, birch, elm, maple, oak and hazel.

The picture shows a special file sharpening tool that can be used to securely hold the file.

To effectively cut through these types of wood it’s necessary to keep the sharpening angle at 25°. This value ensures optimum cutting performance in an average cutting performance sport chainsaw.

Increase in angle will increase engine rpm and therefore fuel consumption and chainsaw components load.

Softwoods include all softwoods except larch: spruce, pine, fir, cedar, as well as deciduous alder, linden, aspen, willow and poplar.

For longitudinal sawing

As already mentioned, the recommended cutting angle is 10° with a possible variation of up to 2°. This is due to the need to cut deep into the wood quickly when sawing longitudinally.

How to Sharpen a Chainsaw by hand with a file

If the chain is sharpened correctly, the saw will produce square, coarse chips.

For work with soft wood, the optimum angle is 25°. Soft wood fibers are not evenly distributed, i.e., hard wood is interspersed with soft wood. A value of 25° allows you to cut through alternating fibers without periodically increasing the engine speed.

For crosscutting

For cross cuts in soft and hard types of wood, a cutting angle of 35° is recommended. This value allows the optimum power and load characteristics of the chain to be achieved when sawing.

A cutting angle of 35° produces a straight cut and square sawdust.

Angles table

See table below for saw chain sharpening angles. The table even shows which file is needed for sharpening a specific chain.


If you are learning to sharpen your chainsaw chain yourself, it may be helpful to consider a few basic tips for getting the process right.

  • During any manipulation with the chain the engine must be turned off, in any case not allowed sharpening chain saw chain on a running saw.
  • The chain should be tightened to its normal working condition before sharpening.
  • the brake of the saw chain must be in working position when sharpening.
  • When sharpening the chain, gloves must be worn to protect the chain against cuts by the sharp edges of the cutters.
  • Maintaining the same number of hand movements with the file ensures all teeth are ground evenly.

Below you can see how to sharpen the chain of a chainsaw with a file on the video, it describes in detail what files should be used. What is the best way to position the chain saw. And of course how should the sharpening tool be positioned in relation to the guide bar of the saw?

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In conclusion I would like to mention the main advantages of sharpening with a file, compared to dressing the chain in the machine.

Fast chain sharpening with a drill

The following factors signal that the teeth of a chainsaw chain have become blunt: the feed force increases, very fine chips are received, the chain gets hot quickly, you can smell burning oil for the guide bar lubrication, etc. д. A chain sharpening by hand requires a lot of experience, i.e. к. Chainsaw teeth have two cutting edges. lateral (60-85 degrees) and upper (50-60 degrees). the most important, as well as the sharpening angle (10-15 degrees). If a round file for sharpening chainsaw teeth is equipped with some additional accessories, then any adult can cope with sharpening a saw chain.

Popular models of inexpensive sharpening machines

Popular manufacturers of inexpensive chain sharpening machines: Dnipro, Einhell, Sadko, Vitals, Forte, Intertool, Eltos, Zenit, Grand, Stern, Temp.

Among the variety of models, every owner of a chainsaw or electric saw can choose the right tool for him. Below is a rating of the best inexpensive chain sharpeners for chainsaws, these machines have received a lot of praise from owners. How much will this device cost? The cost of machines from this category from small to medium. In this price range there are many models that are excellent at sharpening chains for electric and gasoline saws.

We offer you a short rating of chain sharpening machines for chainsaws from the category of inexpensive:

  • Professional chain sharpening machine Scheppach Woodster CS 03, manufacturer Germany, 220 Volt, 180 W, the maximum diameter of the grinding wheel 100 mm, the thickness of the wheel 3,2 mm, planting disc size of 10 mm, 3 kg machine weight, 1 year warranty, price 1125 UAH.
  • household machines for sharpening the chain Dnipro-M NCM-550 (electric sharpener budget type), the manufacturer Ukraine, power of 550 W, grinding diameter 108 mm, the thickness of the circle 3,2 mm, the planting size of the circle of 23 mm, weight 2 kg, 3-year warranty, price 740 UAH.
  • Professional grinding machine Vitals Professional ZKA8511s, manufacturer Latvia, power 85W, grinding wheel diameter of 104 mm, the thickness of the circle 3.2 mm, seating size grinding wheel 22.2 mm, weight 2.6 kg, 1.5 years warranty, price 1093 USD.
  • Grinding machine chainsaws Oregon 106550, the power of the unit 85W, made in the USA, the grinding disc diameter of 105 mm, planting disc size 22.3 mm, disc thickness 3-4,5 mm, weight 2 kg, the price of the unit 7 100 UAH. The most expensive of these machines, has received many good reviews, a popular model in Russia and Ukraine.

All described models are suitable for sharpening chains on electric saws and chainsaws. To place the machine requires a small workplace: a stable table and a power source for connecting the device to the network.

Oregon chainsaw chain sharpening machine video with overview of how the unit works. Oregon chain sharpening machine suitable for sharpening 91VX; 91VPX chains in steps.325 and 3/8; LPX with pitch.325 and 3/8; BPX in 3/8 pitch, LGX.

Other options

It is possible to sharpen a saw chain by means of other improvised tools. If you do it correctly and consistently, you can get good results even without a machine. The main difficulty here is that it is almost impossible to fix the working area, as well as to bring out the desired angle when working with a power tool on its weight.

angle grinder (angle grinder)

Despite the fact that this method is quite often mentioned as an alternative to machine chain sharpening, it is difficult to recommend it for use. Even experienced craftsmen do not cope perfectly. What to say about beginners. The difficulty in fixing a defined sharpening angle requires the use of auxiliary devices.

angle grinder can be fixed in a vise, stationary, and then feed the teeth to the surface of the rotating disc, but this approach can lead to serious injury if you do not comply with safety regulations.

Another problem with angle grinders is the high risk of chain breaks. If the cutting element of the angle grinder is moved carelessly, the swivel joint may be damaged. In this case, a loose section of chain will fly off at will, increasing the likelihood of injury to the person doing the work. The sharpening process consists in bringing the chain link to the saw blade. It is better to make the contact duration the same as on the machine. It will reduce the risk of overheating the metal. It is better to leave the chain on the bar, as with hand sharpening. The rest of the procedure is as follows.

  • A disc is installed on the angle grinder. It is better to choose a cutting wheel for metal work with a thickness up to 2 mm.
  • A buffer is placed between the chain and the bar. You can use a piece of wood chip or other material at hand.
  • Grinding is performed. It is important to measure the right angle beforehand.
  • Chain tightening. It will be needed after sharpening in any way.

Sharpening chain saw teeth with angle grinder has some big advantages. It is speed of work, lack of additional expenses, if a tool is already available. The disadvantage is also quite obvious. too high risks, you must carefully observe the safety precautions when working with an angle grinder.

Drill or boron drill

Using this type of tool involves carrying out work similar to manual sharpening. Mechanization speeds up the process somewhat. But here too, care must be taken to position the working area accurately. Special sharpening kits are available for use in conjunction with a drill and drilling machine:

the shank of a replaceable emery is fixed in the chuck of the power tool. It is selected by diameter, taking into account the appropriate pitch of the saw chain. Then mount the bit on the drill or bortmachine, loosen its adjusting screw. It is aligned and fixed using a ruler.

The tool is brought to the chain tooth and the tip rotation is activated. As with machining, the file sharpens all sides of the tooth at once. The average duration of the entire strip treatment is no more than 15 minutes.

The accuracy of exposure is very high.

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