A Chainsaw Sharpening guide

Chainsaw Sharpening Guide

When using a chainsaw there is nothing more annoying than discovering that you have a blunt chainsaw. You have gone to the trouble of fuelling and topping your chainsaw with oil, it then starts like a dream and runs smoothly – you then hit the wood and discover instead of cutting it is knowing its way through. Not only is a blunt saw ineffective it can also be a safety issue for the user.

Trying to work with a dull or poor cutting chainsaw means you spend too much time thinking and considering the end result, it can also take a physical toll on your body. Having a poor performing chainsaw can produce excess vibration and will require a greater effort on your part to cut the offending wood.

There is little information or knowledge out there about the basics of how to sharpen a chainsaw. A little information and knowledge of the basics of sharpening within the manufacturer’s guidelines which may assist in the sharpening dilemma, and although there are advanced task-specific sharpening methods, the best place to start is with the basics.

There are several different elements to successfully sharpening a chainsaw; these will include close attention to detail, consistency of angles and an understanding of the function of the cutting teeth in a chainsaw.

Chainsaw SharpeningYou can use a file to sharpen the teeth of the chainsaw. However, you have to make sure you use the correct size for the chain you are sharpening. Using a too large or small file can damage the chain. You can usually get the information for the right size file from the manufacturer’s guide or the shop you purchase the saw from. As a general guideline, you should use a file that extends up to 20 percent above the cutting teeth. You should also file the cutting teeth from the inside out which avoid metal filings going down into the chain channel bar.

It is advisable to sharpen chain teeth on both sides using the right file and gauge for the job. It is also advisable to use a vice to hold the chain and bar while sharpening, ensure the chain can rotate freely though.

The cutting teeth on a chainsaw are actually the ones that sever the wood fiber chip by chip after they have been properly set up for the right bite size.

How to sharpen a chainsaw

Sharpening a chainsaw can be viewed as a three-step process:

  1. Sharpening the cutters, or teeth of the saw
  2. Adjusting the depth gauge
  3. Tightening the tension

Chainsaw sharpening begins with the right tools. Before explaining sharpening, let’s look at the types of tools you will need:

Round files
Filing guide
Flat file

Practice! Before You Begin!

Practicing your sharpening skills will help you when your cutters become dull on an older blade. It is ideal to practice on a new saw blade because the details of your depth gauge height and cutter angles will be similar to what you want to master.

Time to begin sharpening the cutters

To begin, tighten your chain around the blade so there is no slack. This is ideal for sharpening, though impractical for actual saw use.
Now, clamp your filing guide in the middle of the bar.
Rotate the filing guide to match the angle of the cutter’s edge.
Oil your file before you begin filing.
File each cutter with strokes that move toward the cutter’s point.
Repeat the same strokes on all cutters.

Ready to adjust the depth gauge

This is a far easier task than the actual filing of cutters. You should only need to adjust the depth gauge every three sharpening.

Place the depth gauge guide on the chains so that it mounts two of the top cutters.
Remove any part of the depth gauge that sticks out beyond the slots in the guide with a flat file.
Move around the saw until you have adjusted all depth gauges.

Adjusting the tension

Now that you are done sharpening your chainsaw, it is time to adjust the tension.

Loosen the chain by unscrewing the two nuts that anchor the bar so it loosely hangs.
Gradually tighten the tension screw that the chain slack cramps on the base of the saw.
When the chain is nearly tightened with no slack, refasten the two anchor nuts.
If your tension is correct, the chain should rotate freely.

If you properly follow these instructions, you should always have a chainsaw that is sharp and ready for the job at hand. Check your chainsaw after every project and follow these steps