How To Sharpen a Chain Saw Blade

Chainsaws are very powerful and scary tools. Have you watched the Texas Chainsaw Massacre? This is why you should handle these power tools with care. Though chainsaws can withstand a lot of pressure and stress, it will eventually dull out.

The cutting part of the chainsaw is called the cutters and these plates are covered with a thin yet durable coating of industrial chrome that protects it from dulling out quickly. Though cutters will ideally last a lifetime, dirt, old wood, and rocks will take a toll on the machinery. It won’t take a great deal to dull your saw especially if you frequently use it and take to cutting wood and ice with it. Before cutting wood, clean the area of dirt, rocks and other objects that may damage or get stuck in the equipment.

You will notice that you need to sharpen your chainsaw once it no longer self-feeds. The chainsaw is supposed to be doing all the work for you but once you notice that you are exerting the effort and you are the one pulling the chainsaw through the wood, it’s time to take it to the sharpening wheel. Another symptom of a dull chainsaw is when it doesn’t cut neat, nice chips of wood. If it starts expelling dust rather than chips then it’s time to sharpen. Lastly, while with other equipment, a nice clean sheen means it’s new, with a chainsaw, a shiny coating means it’s time to sharpen it. If the chain looks shiny it means that the thin layer of chrome plating has been worn away, exposing the steel underneath.

Once you have determined that it is time to sharpen your saw, here’s how.

  • For your safety, use leather gloves to avoid the chain from slipping and set up a work area that allows you to freely maneuver around equipment. The best place to sharpen is on a bench.
  • To sharpen a chainsaw, you will only need a saw-chain file. A proper-diameter round file, when used correctly, can do the job perfectly. Check your chainsaw’s manual to get the proper diameter or bring the chainsaw to the dealer to correctly fit the file.
  • While at the store, you may also purchase guides to help you with the filing, but most chainsaw owners and professional sharpeners find them ineffective.
  • Once your file and the chainsaw cutters are placed securely on the workbench. Take your file and place it on the cutter. Hold the file with both hands and give it a few full strokes, from inside the cutter to the outside. Don’t put too much pressure. The file only cuts in one direction so on the return stroke lift the file. A few 5-10 strokes will do the job.
  • Using your file, remove all the damage on the cutters. Continue with each cutter until all: right and left cutters and the top plates of the cutters are sharp. Make them as even as possible as this will greatly affect how the cutters clamp on to the wood.
  • For best results, check your manufacturer’s manual or have professionals do it.

A properly maintained chainsaw will spell a great difference in your workload and in the longevity of your tool. All in a day’s work as they say!  Know your equipment and maintain it properly to avoid overspending. Good luck!


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