How To Sharpen A Chainsaw: The Complete Guide

A dull chainsaw is dangerous and practically useless. If you want to work fast and clean, without any risk of cutting yourself or ruining your work, make sure your chainsaw is sharp.

Don’t fret; it’s an easy job.

We’ll go through all the steps plus valuable tips below, and we’ll also answer the most frequently asked questions.

Keep scrolling!

Set The File

  1. Secure the chainsaw to your work surface with a clamp or vise.
    • If you don’t have such a large clamp for the whole chainsaw, use one just for the chain.
    • Also, many people prefer to place their chainsaws upside down for easier reach.
  2. Tighten the chain with the tension adjusting screw on the chainsaw to keep the chain steady.
    • Don’t tighten the chain too much; you still want to be able to push the chainsaw.
  3. Use a permanent marker to mark the tooth you’re starting with. That will save you time because you’ll know where you started, and you won’t go through the chainsaw again. Also, you won’t miss any teeth.
  4. Get a round file that fits your chainsaw’s teeth diameter. Consult your owners’ manual if you’re unsure of their size.
  5. Place the file in the angled tooth that’s in front of the chain link’s flat surface.
  6. Use a file holder to keep a steady angle. Read your owners’ manual to make sure you’re using the right angle for filing these cutters.

Sharpen Your Cutters

  1. Push the file across the cutter in one smooth motion without applying too much pressure. You just need to push enough to feel the file working on the tooth.
    • After one movement, lift the file and place it back where you started.
    • Thus, the filing motion should always be front to back.
  2. You’ll need to file each tooth 3-10 times until they look shiny and sharp.
  3. Sharpen all the chainsaw’s teeth by making the same motions, angles, and repetitions.
  4. Un-secure the clamp to rotate the chainsaw upside down 180ᵒ. That way, you’ll reach the alternate cutters without changing your position or the filing method.

File The Rakers

The rakers are those bumps you’ll see between the chainsaw’s teeth. Their purpose is to ensure consistent depths for your cuts when the chainsaw is spinning.

That’s why filing them is equally important.

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Get a depth gauge and put it over the chain to make sure the rakers are level.
  2. Check if some rakers’ parts protrude the depth gauge.
  3. File those tips that do with a flat mill file.
    • Make sure you’re not filing the gauge as well by sliding it back while working on a particular raker.
    • Check the raker’s height constantly while you’re filing it.
    • Smooth off the edges of square rakers if you’ve filed one too much.
    • Repeat for all rakers.
    • Loosen the chainsaw’s chain and clamp to take the chainsaw out.
    • Refill your chainsaw with oil.


It Is Easy To Sharpen A Chainsaw?

It’s easy to sharpen a chainsaw, especially once you get the hang of it. It will take you some time to move through all its teeth and rakers, but you can tune out while doing it or listen to music once you become more proficient.

Is It Worth Sharpening A Chainsaw

It is worth sharpening your chainsaw if you want to make efficient and safe cuts. Besides, it’s much cheaper than purchasing a new one each time the one you have gets dull.

Pro tip: Sharpening a chainsaw professionally is as cheap as a Starbucks coffee.

Why Does My Chainsaw Chain Get Dull So Fast?

If your chainsaw chain gets dull fast, you’re either:

  • Not using the correct file size
  • Applying too much pressure during filing
  • You’ve filed your rakers too much

Consult your user manual to pick the correct file size and use a depth gauge when filing the rakers to avoid these problems.

Pro tip: Cutting wet wood does not make your chainsaw chain dull faster.

What Angle Should I Sharpen My Chainsaw Chain?

The best angle to sharpen your chainsaw chain is 25-35ᵒ.

How Long Should A Chainsaw Stay Sharp?

Your chainsaw will stay sharper for longer if you’re using it less often and on softer materials. If you’re working with your chainsaw 16 hours per day on rigid materials, you’ll need to sharpen it more frequently – meaning every week or two.

How Many Times Can You Sharpen a Chainsaw Chain?

The number of times you can sharpen your chainsaw chain depends on how damaged your chain is each time when you’re filing it and how much material you remove during each filing.

So obviously, a chain that requires a lot of filing every couple of weeks will break faster, and so you’ll need to replace it more frequently.


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