Many tools are used to cut trees, but chainsaws have been the most popular for many years. Chainsaws can be an excellent way to clear many trees or brush with ease and speed, but they need to be kept sharp to do their job well.
Chainsaw blades are designed to cut on a downward stroke. If the blade is too dull, it will bounce off the wood instead of cutting through it.
Dull chainsaws can lead to injury due to kickbacks while causing the saw to heat up and produce sparks. You can avoid all of these things by sharpening the chainsaw blade.
Sharpening a chainsaw blade is not as hard as you may think. You can do it yourself without taking your chainsaw to a professional. To check whether the chainsaw blade needs to be sharpened, take your chainsaw to a level surface and rotate the chain by hand.
If the chain rotates smoothly and quietly, you will know that you are dealing with a sharp chainsaw. If the chain is stiff or makes a grinding noise, you will need to sharpen it.
How to Sharpen a Chainsaw Blade in 12 Steps
Keep reading below for a step-by-step guide on how to sharpen a chainsaw blade.
What You’ll Need
To sharpen your chainsaw blade, you’ll need the following tools:
- Chainsaw blade
- A round file
- A sharpening guide
- A wire brush
- A cloth
- A bench vice
- User manual
- Safety gear (goggles, gloves, etc.)
- A newspaper
- A marker
Before getting into action, protect yourself by wearing your safety gear. The safety gear will help you stay safe from debris or possible accidents while sharpening the chainsaw blade.
Clear away your workstation and ensure no other power tools are lying around that can cause accidents. Layout a newspaper to collect debris instead of letting it run wild and ruin your workstation.
Disconnect your chainsaw blade and allow it to cool down. This rule is a must when dealing with any power tool, as having the tool attached to a power source while working on it can be dangerous.
The next task is to clean the blade. To do so, remove the bar and chain from your chainsaw. Then, use a wire brush to scrape off any dirt or debris that may be on the metal surface. Finally, wipe down all parts of your chainsaw with a cloth so no debris remains. Now you’re ready to sharpen your blade!
The first step is to ensure you have the correct file for your chainsaw. There are several factors to consider when choosing a file, such as a blade’s size, shape, type, and hardness.
To make this step easy and efficient, refer to the user manual of your chainsaw. The manual will have all the necessary details regarding the diameter of the semi-circular teeth of the chainsaw blade so you can choose the file accordingly. The file must be round for sharpening a chainsaw blade.
Place the chainsaw blade on a firm surface to avoid vibrations. Ideally, to secure the blade, you can use clamps or take out the chain from the saw and secure it on a bench vice. A bench vice is easy to use and firmly holds the chain in place for a smooth and error-free filing.
Mark the blade. Using a marker, mark the teeth at their tops and bottoms, and mark them in between. Marking your blade is important because you will use this information to determine where your filing should begin. The center of each tooth is also important to note; this will be where you file first.
Attach the file to a sharpening guide. Loosen the screws on the guide with your thumb and finger, lay down the file in the hollow space, and secure it by tightening the screws back.
A sharpening guide aids in placing the file on the exact angle as the chainsaw’s teeth. Making errors with the angles results in uneven teeth that can cause trouble in cutting the material.
Each tooth also has an angle mark on it, so in case a sharpening guide is unavailable, you can follow the marks on the teeth to put the file on a correct angle.
File the teeth. File the sharpened edge of each tooth in a cross pattern and the direction of rotation (i.e., clockwise). Ensure that your file is parallel to the blade instead of moving downwards or upwards, resulting in crooked teeth.
File all teeth on both sides of the blade at once, moving from side to side along the length of each file stroke until you reach your starting point again, maintaining an even distance between file strokes as best you can.
Since the teeth on a chainsaw blade are in different directions, i.e., one tooth is on the left while the other is on the right, keep it in mind and avoid sharpening in the opposite direction. This mistake can mess with the angles of the teeth.
When using a file that is smaller than your saw blade’s teeth, simply use it like you would if it were precisely the same size. Keep an even distance between file strokes as best you can for consistency’s sake. Apply equal pressure along their entire length when removing material from either side. Try not to skimp on these steps, especially when working with an undersized tool like this one!
Next, change sides and file the other side of your chainsaw blade. Ensure that you file an equal number of teeth on each side to ensure both have been sharpened equally.
When you’re done filing both sides, check the angle of your newly-sharpened chain by holding it up to the light and looking at its shadow. It should be reasonably straight with no twist or bend in it—if it looks crooked, repeat this process until both sides are even.
Attach the chain back to the blade. Now, supply power and check whether the blade is completely sharpened.