How to Sharpen a Chainsaw Blade?


In this article, I’m going to show you how to sharpen a chainsaw blade.

Dull chains are dangerous because they are more likely to get stuck in the log and kick the bar up toward you.

Therefore, a sharp chainsaw blade is safer than a dull one, as it cuts better and demands less effort on the operator’s part.

Related: How to Use an Oregon Chain Sharpener (Step by Step Guide with Pictures)

Check your chain often, particularly when you use new equipment to make sure it doesn’t need readjusting.

Sharpen your blade regularly or whenever you refill the tank if you want to make sure your chainsaw won’t wear out quickly.

You can tell it’s time to file your blade when you get dust instead of chips as a result of cutting. However, try to sharpen only a chain that is cool to avoid binding.

Related: How To Choose A Chainsaw For Your Everyday Adventures

How to Sharpen a Chainsaw Blade

Before You Decide to Sharpen

Before you sharpen your chain, you’re going to ask yourself:

Is the chain damaged?
Did you hit a rock?
Did you hit a nail?
Did you get it in the dirt?
Or, is it just dull from use?

If the chain has been damaged, you need to look at the chain and identify that cutter that has the most damage in it. That’s the cutter you’re going to want to file first until you removed all of that damage.

Identify the Chain Type

The first thing you need to do when determining to sharpen your chain is to identify the chain type that you have.

The chain type you have is going to determine the file sizes and the angle of your file, too.

When you purchase a new chain, the packaging that comes with it will identify the chain type, the tools you will need, and the angles that will be filed, too

A lot of the time, the owner’s manual for your saw will also have that information in it. You can also find that information online.

Related: How to Maintain a Chainsaw – Learn How To Take Care of Your Buddy


Clean the chain with a degreasing detergent that removes dirt and oil, but be careful not to pour too much cleaner because it could damage the chainsaw.

Take the opportunity to check the chain for any overly worn, weakened, or otherwise damaged teeth.

Kit & Safety

You’re going to need .

Aside from a chainsaw filing kit (typically consisting of a round file, a file guide, a flat file, and the proper tools to set the depth gauges or sometimes referred to as breakers and drags), you will need gloves and safety goggles as well to get the job done safely.

Next, make sure the chain brake is engaged and place the chainsaw on a solid surface to keep it from wiggling.

Alternatively, you can clamp the bar in a vise, so that the chain is properly supported but can rotate freely.

Sharpening & Storing

Place the file guide between the chain rivets to make sure you won’t file too deep into the cutter (or tooth) of the chainsaw.

Start with the leading, or the shortest, cutter; 2 or 3 file strokes should be enough as long as you apply them evenly, but check that the top flat edge of each tooth is the same length.

Each saw has its own specifications, but generally, you can file at a 25 or 30 degrees angle horizontally from the bar, and vertically at a right angle.

After working your way along the exposed side of the cutter on one side of the chain, make sure to release the chain brake, rotate the chain forward (by hand only; never start the chainsaw during the sharpening process), and re-engage the brake to gain access to the teeth that have not been sharpened yet.

Then, turn the chainsaw around and file the teeth on the other side of the chain as well.

Finally, soak the chain in oil, and check the tension.

Now you can resume using the equipment or you can store it. Note that whether gasoline or electric, all chainsaws must be stored properly, away from dirt and debris.

Sharpening Cutters

If the chain has been damaged, you need to look at the chain and identify that cutter that has the most damage in it. That’s the cutter you’re going to want to file first until you removed all of that damage.

A really good way to remove the damage and make sure the cutters are the same length is by counting the number of strokes, which will help you keep the cutter length balanced throughout the loop.

When you’ve started, you’re always going to remember to file from the inside of the cutters to the outside of the cutters.

This is so that you’re not running your file against the chrome. The chrome on the outside of the cutters is actually harder than the file.

So, you’re going to wear out the file through fairly quickly trying to file from the outside to the inside.

You’ll also notice that filing from the inside to the outside is easier. It’s easier to line up the marks on your file guide and it’s easier to put the file through the stroke.

On the file guide, there’s several marks for different types of cutters. You’re going to set your tool in the cutter and you’re going to have two points of contact, one on top of the cutter and two on top of the depth gauge.

This is important because it maintains the relationship of 80/20. That’s what we refer to as 80/20, which means 80% of the file is down inside the cutter and 20% is above.

That’s going to maintain the hook on the side plate or the side of the cutter that’s important to fast efficient cutting.

Once set, you want to keep your file flat and you don’t want to drop the handle down or raise the tip up.

If you drop the handle down too far, it’s going to change how the cutter performs and it’s not going to perform as well.

So, keep that flat and make a nice even stroke all the way through the cutter counting how many strokes it takes to sharpen it.

Once you’ve removed all the damage, repeat that step for every cutter in the loop.

Once you’ve got the entire loop sharpened, then you’re going to take your flat file and a depth gauge tool whether it be a drop center or drop-in. It’s a personal preference.

You’re going to want to take your tool, set it over your cutter so the cutter you just sharpened is not exposed and the only thing sticking out is the depth gauge.

You want to have two points of contact and again, with the flat file, you want to file from the inside out.

You run that file across the top of the depth gauges until the file has removed that material.

Once it’s removed the material, the file will slide across the tool because a tool is harder than a file.

Once all those have been set, your chain is now sharp, the depth gauges are set correctly, and you’re ready to go back to work.

There are two cutting edges to the cutters or teeth attached to the chain. Use a round file to sharpen the semicircular cutting edges on the saw teeth.

Since chainsaw teeth come in different sizes, be sure to purchase a file that matches the diameter of the cutter.

Apart from the round files, use a file guide as well for sharpening cutters, given that file guides ensure the round file stays at the same depth throughout the process.

Flat files, on the other hand, along with a depth-gauge guide, are more suitable when you need to lower depth gauges.

Sharpening Depth Gauges

A depth gauge looks like a shark fin and comes ahead of each tooth to prevent the teeth from cutting too deep into the wood; this is usually limited at depths of around 0.5 mm.

Normally, the tip of the depth gauge is a little shorter than the tip of the tooth, but in time, after having sharpened the blade over and over again, the depth gauges and the teeth can reach the same height, which means the chainsaw will stop cutting.

Similarly, the cutters won’t be able to reach wood if the depth gauges are too high.

In this case, you must file down the depth gauges until they become shorter than the cutters; you can do this with a flat file and a file guide.

Be careful not to lower them too much, though, because that will increase the risk of chain kickback and excessive chainsaw vibration.

I hope this how to sharpen a chainsaw blade was quite informative. Make sure you leave a comment below.

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