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How to Sharpen a Chainsaw Chain for the Non-Handy Person

By Edited Oct 12, 2015 2 2

Sharpening the Chainsaw chain can be a little daunting. If you're like me you don't know anything about engines or equipment, let alone, how to maintain it. I was always more interested in playing on the compuer than using my hands to repair things. But, once I got a house I found a lot of little repairs that I had to do. Calling a handy man, or repair man for everything can be very expensive for small things. Sharpening a Chainsaw should be the easiest thing I could do. I still found it daunting. It was always easier to just go buy a new chain whenever the chainsaw stopped working very well. Silly me. Anyway, its amazing how easy it is to sharpen a current chain, instead of buying a bunch of new ones. Read on.

Things You Will Need

  • Chainsaw that needs sharpening.
  • Chainsaw file. Get the file that goes with the blade. For some reason I found this confusing, so I bought a file that fit the chain, not the chainsaw. They try to confuse you with the chainsaw type.

Step 1

Get a good file. Find the file according to the chain. I found it confusing when I went to look for a file because they had all these numbers about model type for the chainsaw and measurements for the chain. I just found the whole thing confusing. I found a chain that fit my chainsaw by make. I wasn't sure of the model number. Then I matched the measurement of the chainsaw with the measurement on the file. I know, seems rather elementary, but it seemed to work for someone who knows nothing about what's going on with chainsaws. I've even been known to be a little dangerous when I use them, but no injuries to report, to date.

When I bought the file I also bought a guard, or gauge, that sits right on top of the file. This gauge has marks on it that show the angle. I wasn't sure why this was important, but I figured it out later. I found it came in handy, so you may want to get something like this.

If you don't mind spending the money you can get a fancy electric chainsaw sharpener that does it all for you. I didn't want to spend the money on something like that, so feel free to go crazy on that if your pocketbook can take it.

Step 2

Sharpening Example 2 (38214)
Before you do anything make sure the chainsaw is off! You don't want to lose an appendages trying to maintain your chainsaw.

Now that you have a chainsaw chain file and a chainsaw, you're ready to start sharpening your blade. If you look closely at the chain you'll see that there are certain shapes on the chain. Looking from the top (of the chainsaw) you'll see that every other one angles up to the right and the other, every other one, angles up to the left. These are the actual blades. The file will fit down into the circular part of the blade. I know, it seems like there's a lot more chain than blades that do all the work. Believe me when I tell you if you sharpen these few blades with this file you will notice a world of difference. Before I realized you could actually sharpen a blade I would use them until they wouldn't cut anymore. I spent an hour trying to cut down a small tree once, with a dull blade. If I would have taken the five minutes to sharpen it the tree would have been down in less than a couple of seconds.

When you use the file only move it on the blade away from the chainsaw. In other words, never file towards the chainsaw. I'm not sure why this is. The instructions said this, so I have to say there's a good reason for it. Hold the chainsaw steady as you file each blade. The file will fit down onto the blade, just above the shapes we were talking about. If you have an angle gauge line up the angles and then move the file in the correct direction, keeping the same angle to the file. If you don't have a gauge just line the file up with the angle of the blade. You'll see what I mean as you start filing. It's amazing how quickly the information comes through once you start doing the job.

File every other blade, that has the left angle on it. Go all the way around each blade. Move the chain along as you go. Be careful. You can still hurt yourself on the chain.

Step 3

Sharpening Example 3 (38215)
Now switch sides and then do every other blade going the other way. Make sure you're still only filing away from the chainsaw, and keeping the correct angle as you move the file. File all the way around the chain. You should be able to see the blades that you have done already by the file marks. If you really want to be efficient you can count the blades and then do each one, counting down as you go.
Be amazed at the way your newly sharpened chainsaw chain will cut through trees and logs like a hot knife through butter. It's amazing to me how a little filing can make such a big difference. I only wish I would have figured out how to file the chainsaw long ago. Instead of using a dull blade and wondering why I couldn't cut through anything.

I sharpen the blade now after each use. It doesn't take that long and makes it a delight to use. Another benefit of keeping the chainsaw chain sharp is that the chainsaw itself seems to keep cleaner. When I was using a dull blade the chainsaw seemed to gum up a lot more.

Tips & Warnings

  • Always move away from the chainsaw with the file.
  • It looks difficult, but as you do it it will get easier. You'll get the hang of it.
  • If you have absolutely no clue, even after reading this, ask a friend or neighbor. They'll probably be glad to show off their knowledge.
  • Make sure the chainsaw is off before you start sharpening the blade. Do I really need to say this? :)
  • Wear protective gloves to protect your hands.

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    Comments

    Jan 20, 2011 10:17am
    JackLTrades
    Great content for a novice. I still remember the first time I sharpened my saw. I didn't have the angle guide. My saw was worse after I sharpened it.
    Jul 26, 2011 6:16am
    eileen
    Good info for the newbie to chain saws. We just bought another one and the chain is too longafter only a small job. Just stretched too much. Must be cheap chinese stuff again. Another reason not to buy chinese tools
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