How to sharpen a chain on a chainsaw at home

Signs of a blunt chain and consequences of further use

The difficulty of working with a dull chainsaw should not be confused with the difficulty of cutting hardwood or severely dried logs. In all these cases, the speed of the operation is reduced, but the blunt tool has a certain pattern of behavior. signs by which you can judge the need for sharpening:

  • The chainsaw does not immediately gnaw into the trunk of the tree, it sort of grinds, shifting away from the point of contact;
  • during the sawing of soft wood, the tool sluggishly enters the thickness of the wood, you have to put pressure on the bar;
  • the shavings turn from coarse with characteristic oblong particles into a fine teardrop that very rarely crumbles;
  • the chain gets hot quickly, you can hear an unpleasant smell of oil burning on the guide bar.

In addition to these alarms, you can always be one hundred percent sure that you need to sharpen the cutting edges after the chain has hit metal nails, a wire, or buried the chain saw in the ground.

What can happen to the tool later on if the problem is ignored? The most innocuous thing is that you won’t be able to work with a chainsaw and eventually you’ll get tired of it and still need to service the machine. But adherents of the proverb “You don’t have to be smart to have power” may come to the following bottom line:

  • unnecessary load on the body, because you have to, frankly speaking, put pressure on the tool so that it saws;
  • Fuel consumption overruns by up to 30%, which is due to the need to go through a longer rotation cycle to achieve the same result;
  • accelerated wear and tear on the bar and other parts of the chainsaw.

In addition to all these negative consequences of bluntness of the saw, there is a high probability of jamming the chain in the trunk and getting injured by the operator who is doing the work.

First of all, here’s the scary stuff

If you saw with a dumb chain saw, you’ll get three negative factors:

  • Reduce the efficiency of your process. For example, instead of two cubes, you’ll cut one (in the same time);
  • You will put a lot of wear on the mechanism, with the risk of destroying the drive sprocket and the guide bar;
  • Increase fuel consumption;

There is a fourth, perhaps not as significant, factor. a “torn” cut of the cut.

And of course, you’ll be more tired, you’ll be (probably) angry at yourself, like “what to me the fool, not to sharpen beforehand, now torment”

Here’s a test question for you (photo to the right). Guess what shavings “came out” from under the sharp and dull chain? (the answer is given below).

How do you know if a chain is blunt?

  • Increased physical effort;
  • Sagging (stretching) of the chain;
  • Vibration and “braking” of the cut;
  • Inaccuracy of sawing and change of sawdust look (they become uneven with sharp “needle” edges, small and dusty). This is already the answer to the test.

“According to experts and mine too: well-sharpened cogs, more important than engine power.”

Why it gets blunt? The causes are generally known, but I will name the main ones:

  • Intense or voluminous work;
  • Accidental contact with a rock, earth, hard knots, etc.п.;
  • Improper handling (broad term).

Chainsaw chain sharpening with your own hands recommendations of experts

A chainsaw of budget or higher class is included in the set of home tools of almost every private household. Universal properties of modern models determine their use in small-scale construction, fuelwood harvesting, maintenance of garden and ornamental trees.

Remoteness from service centers forces many owners to learn how to maintain and repair their chainsaws themselves. The list of works of increased complexity includes maintenance of saw headsets in good technical condition. This will require a quality chainsaw chain sharpening. How to do it with your own hands and other “tricks” of experienced masters let’s analyze in this article.

Chain structure and parameters

Before starting work, you should determine with the main characteristics of the chain headset. The choice of sharpening method, tools and the need for the procedure depends on this. What to pay attention to:

  • Features of the link. It consists of a base, a tooth blade, a depth stop, and two blades. It is necessary to carefully inspect each element, identify obvious defects and mechanical damage. they should be worked with in the first place;
  • Blade angle. It is the one that allows the chain to cut wood, determines the volume and shape of the wood chips. It must not have any defects. Parameter of the upper blade varies from 50 to 60 o, the end blade. from 60 to 85 o ;
  • Bar profile height can be 0.625 mm or 0.762 mm. When processing limiters it is necessary to fall within this range in order to reduce tool vibration during sawing.
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The second most important features are the metal type and pitch of the chain. A regular file is good for soft and medium-density material and will do an excellent job of sharpening. For hard metal chains with a fine pitch (0.36″ and higher) we recommend using the machine dressing method.

Important! The basic parameters of the chainsaw and its components can be found in the instruction manual. Detailed technical specifications are always available on the manufacturer’s website.

How to sharpen a chainsaw chain

Every chainsaw needs regular maintenance, both on the inside and on the cutting attachment. The saw chain is the main working element of the saw. The frequency with which it is recommended to sharpen it is directly related to the intensity of use. Sharpening the chain teeth properly affects the quality of cut and the service life of the chain.

Any chain, even the most expensive one, will need sharpening after a certain amount of time. How you can tell if the edges of the teeth are blunt:

the nature of the wood shavings: if they are very fine, almost dusty, it is time to start sharpening;

A drop in sawing speed and overall performance;

This procedure can be done at home, as it is not difficult to sharpen a chainsaw yourself. Sharpening should be done in a timely fashion. This will save tooth material, effort, and time needed to complete the job.

Tooth shape

The sharpening process begins by determining how the cutting teeth work. The cutting edge directly cuts the wood like a planer, but the depth of cut is controlled by the depth stop above.

Hand tools (files and templates) are normally used for sharpening, but the chain can also be sharpened on a machine.

Only sharpen the element at a certain angle, it directly affects the performance of the chainsaw.


The blades are angled for efficient cutting. The back of the tooth creates a back angle and enables the cutting edge to cut into the wood easily.

The blade on the back is needed for lateral cutting of wood fibers. That’s why it is sharpened at a back angle.

The edge of the upper blade should create a 60 to 85 degree rake angle relative to the bottom of the tooth.

The upper blade can have an inclination of 50-60 degrees, depending on the type of the saw.

Angle of sharpening may depend on the type of work with the chainsaw. Very dense, frozen wood requires a sharp angle (but not less than 25 degrees) to cut effectively!), for soft wood this parameter should be increased. This solution helps to reduce vibration and leads to a smoother running of the chain in addition to the faster cut.

The distance between the stop and the top edge should be between 0.5 and 0.8 mm. Increasing this distance due to excessive sharpening results in slow cutting speed, excessive vibration, and an increased risk of kickback while sawing. So it’s important to know how to properly sharpen your chain saw to make cutting easy and productive, and to keep the chain in good working order for a long time.

How to sharpen a chainsaw with a file

To sharpen a chainsaw chain by hand, you need a whole set of special tools.

Flat file. needed to mill the depth stop.

Circle file. used for sharpening the cutting edge, you need a suitable thickness of tool for the sharpening job.

Holder. it has mowing line guides on which the file slides while the teeth are being sharpened.

Template. required for line grinding and correcting work.

The hook is for removing sawdust from the chain.

Special tools for sharpening the chain can be purchased as a set or individually. Some chain saw models come with this kit.

Position the template on the chain so that it fits into the kerf below. Position the round file on its rollers below the cutting edge of the tooth. The sharpening tool will move in a straight line parallel to the sides of the template.To mill the stop to the proper height, place the template so the stop fits into the hole in the template.

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The limiter is machined based on the type of wood you will be sawing. For soft wood you need to set the stop next to the word “SOFT”, for dense wood. “HARD”. A flat file is used for this job. Move the tool smoothly and smoothly, strictly away from yourself.

How to sharpen a chainsaw on a machine

Sharpening machine for chainsaws is usually used in such cases:

requires fast and quality sharpening of the chain at one or more units;

After the working saw hits gravel, stones, sand.

Sharpening machines can be manual and electric.

Power tools have a motor that rotates the abrasive wheel. No need to make efforts to sharpen the teeth, it is enough to fix the chain on the frame at the desired angle and turn on the machine. This sharpening option is usually used in production, allows you to quickly and conveniently process several chains. The question of how to properly sharpen a chainsaw chain on a power saw will not cause difficulties, because this procedure does not require any special technical knowledge from a person.

Hand tools are attached to the chain clamped to the bar or to a workbench. A file is located on the bottom of the unit and can be changed as needed (round file for flat file, for example). Tooth sharpening in two to three steps. With the manual machine the chain can be sharpened and dressed and the teeth adjusted to the same length.

Sharpening files for chain saw chains

Chainsaws can be very expensive and of good quality, but sooner or later the time will come when the chain needs sharpening. Professionals recommend a sharpening machine, but it’s not cheap. You can use a simple file to make the chain sharp. the main thing is to know how and in what direction to work with it.

PowerSharp System

In this way, the teeth can be sharpened in minutes without having to remove the chain from the bar. System comes complete with PowerSharp chain, abrasive, guide bar and sharpener. The process itself consists of 3 simple steps:

sharpen, chain, chainsaw, home
  • Installing the PowerSharp guide bar and chain on the saw.
  • Fixing the abrasive inside the device and mounting the device on the bar.
  • To hold the edge of the saw with the device against any hard body, switch on the chain saw for a few seconds.

How to sharpen your chain the right way on a STIHL Chainsaw

How to sharpen for different circumstances?

As already pointed out, it is not efficient to sharpen the chain at a constant angle for different types of wood. To get optimum performance with minimum fuel consumption and minimum life of the saw itself is only possible by setting the right angle when sharpening the working surfaces of the chain. For this purpose, many serious manufacturers, in particular STIHL, have developed special devices that allow you to sharpen the chain at various angles of the file to the longitudinal plane of the chain. There are at least two positions: for soft wood and for hard wood. For longitudinal sawing chains sharpened for cross-cutting of hard wood are used more often, though specialists recommend to set even sharper angle.

It is important to understand that there is no difference in sharpening the chain for the electric saw, it just has a different power drive.

For working with hard wood

Hard wood is expected to be harder to saw. That is why it is called a solid saw. Hardwoods include deciduous trees such as ash, beech, birch, elm, maple, oak, hazel.

For successful sawing of wood of these species the sharpening angle should not be more than 25°. At first glance, this would seem to reduce performance, but it is the right angle for optimum operation. Of course, it is possible to cut even at a bigger angle, but the engine will have to give more rpm that will overuse fuel and overload the assemblies and components of the saw, as well as the hands and back of the sawyer. A correctly sharpened chain will produce large square sawdust when working.

This is often the angle of sharpening used for longitudinal sawing of any wood. Some STIHL saws are supplied with a chain sharpening guide bar with two rails for setting the angle at which the circular saw blade moves.

For softwood

Softwood trees include conifers (spruce, larch, pine, fir, cedar) as well as some deciduous trees (alder, linden, aspen, black and balsamic poplar, willow).

If you want to make a crosscut in these wood types, it is best to use a chain with a sharpening angle of approx. 35°. This will allow optimal use of engine power. Results in a clean cut and coarse, rectangular sawdust.

For a longitudinal cut in soft wood, it is best to use a chain with a 25° sharpening point. Fibers in this case are not evenly distributed, and areas of low density may alternate with areas of high density wood, which requires increased RPM of the saw engine.

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A larger sharpening angle can cause the entire machine to jerk too violently and result in engine overheating and excessive fuel consumption.

Saw chain sharpening

There are a number of tire sharpening techniques. In the field or at home, you can use an angle grinder or file. This method is suitable for budget models of chain saws, when high accuracy of setting the teeth is not required. The main disadvantage of this method is the need to control the mechanical pressure on the hand-held tool, if the pressure is increased, it can lead to the removal of excess metal layer, deforming the teeth.

Professionals recommend using special machines for primary sharpening, and then the vise with guides for grinding, adjusting each link. This method helps to save time, and by using holders adapted to the specific chain pitch, the probability of error is minimal.

How to sharpen using special equipment?

The most convenient way to sharpen the saw. the use of special tools and machines. This allows work of any degree of severity to be carried out quickly. When buying a chainsaw, it is recommended to buy a template at once to determine the values of the end and upper blade, the front angle of the edge. In addition, you need a file to fix minor flaws.

Important! All necessary tools should be prepared in advance, depending on the method chosen. This will simplify the work, increasing the accuracy of sharpening.

On a manual machine

Figure 2. Sharpening on a manual machine In practice, this method is usually used to dress the teeth after each continuous use of the chainsaw, working with hard wood. “Manual machine” externally resembles an ordinary beam saw with a small vise for mounting on the headset. Instead of a blade, it carries a round file.

sharpen, chain, chainsaw, home

Before you start working, you should fix the tool on the headset, set the parameters according to the features of the saw. This is done only manually according to certain marks on the machine. Stopping at each blade, making 3-4 movements toward yourself for sharpening. This method is not suitable for resharpening very blunt saws.

On the electric machine

Electric saw sharpening machine This is the most convenient way to sharpen any brand of chainsaw guide bar. No special skills and abilities are required; the work process itself takes no more than 10 minutes. The machine is equipped with an electric drive, working from 220-240 V DC source. When choosing a device pay attention to the following features:

  • availability of the teeth sharpening function with different spacing of links, the volume of the upper edge;
  • Correction of grinding angle is possible;
  • Interchangeable grinding wheels are included;
  • Stable cutting width.

The saw chain is fixed in the guide as part of the base platform, it also has a special mechanism to hold the teeth. It can move horizontally. Grinding wheel is lowered at an adjustable angle to the cutting edge, the degree of pressure can be controlled with a knob. The operator plunges the sharpening element directly. For convenience and accuracy, all models are equipped with a measuring scale which can be used to evaluate the degree of sharpening of all chain tooth components.

angle grinder

only useful if no other gear sharpening tool is available. Optimal for rough dressing of teeth, but has a serious drawback. it is difficult to control the angle, and there is a risk of damaging the bonding rivets.

To sharpen the chain, the angle grinder must be securely clamped in a vise. Turn on the tool and then bring each cutting edge in turn and hold until it shines. Check the required angle with a caliper.

Important! When using an angle grinder, the chain must be constantly lubricated with oil. This will help to avoid excessive grinding of the cutting edge, burrs and other mechanical defects of the metal.

Sharpening angle on the machine

A good tool always has a marking on it to evaluate the quality of the sharpening. When working, it is necessary to focus on its performance in order to maintain the performance of the headset. The table shows the basic characteristics of the teeth depending on the chain pitch and the features of the links.

Figure 4. Recommendations for sharpening depending on chain parameters

How to Sharpen a Chainsaw?

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