How To Hand Sharpen a Chainsaw? A Step by Step Guide

how to hand sharpen chainsaw

Maintaining a sharp chainsaw is essential for efficient and safe cutting. A dull chainsaw chain can increase the risk of accidents and also make the cutting process more time-consuming and tiring. Although though manually sharpening a chainsaw may appear difficult, it is simple to do at home with the correct equipment and methods.

We’ll walk you through the step-by-step process of hand sharpening a chainsaw in this post so you can maintain the condition of your instrument and successfully complete your next cutting task.

How to Hand Sharpen a Chainsaw? 

how to hand sharpen chainsaw

Sharpening a chainsaw chain is crucial for efficient cutting and extending the life of the tool. Here are the steps for how to hand sharpen a chainsaw:

  • Prepare the chainsaw
  • Inspect the chainsaw
  • Determine the file size
  • Sharpen the cutters
  • File the depth gauges
  • Check the Depth Gauge Height
  • Flip the Chainsaw Chain
  • Clean and Lubricate the Chainsaw

Step 1: Prepare the Chainsaw

Before starting the sharpening process, it’s essential to prepare the chainsaw. Start by removing the chainsaw chain from the saw and securing it in a vice or clamp.

Step 2: Inspect the Chain

It’s time to examine the chain for wear or damage once it has been secured. Seek out any teeth that are cracked or damaged, as well as any indications of excessive wear, such as uneven or rounded teeth.

Step 3: Determine the File Size

Next, determine the file size that you need for sharpening the chainsaw chain. The file size depends on the chain size and can be found in the user manual or by checking the manufacturer’s specifications. Most chainsaw chains require either a 5/32-inch or 3/16-inch file size.

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Step 4: Sharpen the Cutters

Start by sharpening the cutters, which are the teeth on the chain that do the cutting. Hold the file at the same angle as the cutter and use smooth and even strokes to file each cutter. It’s important to file each cutter the same number of times to maintain evenness and avoid creating a lopsided chain. You can use a file guide to help maintain the correct angle and depth of the file.

Step 5: File the Depth Gauges

After sharpening the cutters, it’s time to file the depth gauges, which are the small bumps in front of each cutter. The depth gauges to control the depth of the cut and should be filed to the correct height to ensure that the cutters are not overburdened. Use a depth gauge tool to file each depth gauge to the correct height, as specified in the user manual.

Step 6: Check the Depth Gauge Height

After filing the depth gauges, check the depth gauge height with a depth gauge tool. The depth gauge height should be slightly lower than the top of the cutter. File it down to the proper height if the height is too high.

Step 7: Flip the Chainsaw Chain

Flip the chain over and repeat the process on the second side when you’ve finished filing and sharpening the first side.

Step 8: Clean and Lubricate the Chainsaw

Once you have finished sharpening and filing the chain, clean it thoroughly to remove any metal filings or debris. Then, lubricate the chain with chainsaw bar oil to prevent rust and ensure smooth operation.

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Tips for Hand Sharpening a Chainsaw

According to Oklahoma State University, a chainsaw’s hand sharpening might be a difficult process, especially for novices. However, with practice and the right techniques, it can become a simple and effective way to maintain your chainsaw’s cutting efficiency. Here are some tips to help you sharpen your chainsaw chain by hand:

  • Use the right tools
  • Use a file guide
  • File each cutter evenly
  • File the Depth Gauges to the Correct Height
  • Check the Depth Gauge Height
  • Flip the Chain Over
  • Lubricate the Chain
  • Wear Protective Gear

Use the Right Tools

To sharpen your chainsaw chain by hand, you will need a few tools, including a round file, a flat file, a file guide, and a depth gauge tool. It’s also essential to use high-quality files that are designed for chainsaw sharpening.

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Use a File Guide

Using a file guide is an excellent way to maintain the correct angle and depth of the file when sharpening the cutters. A file guide will help you maintain consistency when filing each cutter, which is essential for evenness and safety. It will also help you avoid over-filing, which can reduce the life of the chain.

File Each Cutter Evenly

When sharpening the cutters, it’s crucial to file each cutter evenly and with the same number of strokes. This will ensure that the chain is even and balanced, which is essential for safe and efficient cutting. Use smooth and even strokes when filing each cutter, and maintain the correct angle and depth of the file using a file guide.

File the Depth Gauges to the Correct Height

Filing the depth gauges to the correct height is essential for ensuring that the chain cuts efficiently and safely. Use a depth gauge tool to file each depth gauge to the correct height, as specified in the user manual. Make sure you file each depth gauge the same number of times and maintain evenness throughout the chain pitch.

Check the Depth Gauge Height

After filing the depth gauges, check the depth gauge height using a depth gauge tool. The depth gauge height should be slightly lower than the top of the cutter. It’s essential to maintain the correct depth gauge height to prevent overburdening the cutters and ensure efficient cutting.

Flip the Chain Over

Flip the electric chainsaw over and complete the process on the opposite side when you have done filing and sharpening one side. This will ensure that the chain brake is even and balanced, which is essential for efficient and safe cutting.

Wear Protective Gear

Sharpening a chainsaw chain can produce metal filings and debris, which can be hazardous. To protect your hands and eyes from metal shavings and debris, put on gloves and safety glasses.

Lubricate the Chain

After sharpening and filing the chain sharpener, clean it thoroughly to remove any metal filings or debris. Then, lubricate the electric chainsaw with chainsaw bar oil to prevent rust and ensure smooth operation. Proper lubrication is essential for maintaining the chain sharpener’s cutting efficiency and extending its life.

Check Out: How To Use A Electric Chainsaw Sharpener?

FAQs

What’s the best file size to use for my chainsaw chain?

The best file size to use for your chainsaw chain depends on the chain’s pitch and gauge. You can find this information in your chainsaw’s user manual or by checking the manufacturer’s specifications. Using the correct file size is essential for maintaining the correct angle and depth when filing.

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How do I maintain the correct angle and depth when filing?

Using a file guide is an excellent way to maintain the correct angle and depth when filing. Make sure you use the correct file size for your chain, maintain even strokes when filing each cutter, and file the depth gauges to the correct height. Checking the depth gauge height after filing is also essential for ensuring that the chain cuts efficiently and safely.

Can I use a chainsaw sharpening kit to sharpen my chainsaw chain?

Yes, chainsaw sharpening kits can be useful for sharpening chainsaw chains. They typically include all the necessary tools, such as a file guide, round file, flat file, and depth gauge tool. However, it’s still essential to use the correct file size and maintain the correct angles and depths when filing.

 How to hand sharpen a chainsaw?

Firstly, you need to have the right tools, which include a round file, a flat file, a depth gauge, and a chainsaw file guide. Once you have the tools, secure the chainsaw by placing it in a vice grip. Then, use the depth gauge to ensure you sharpen at the same angle as the blade. Use the chainsaw file guide to maintain a consistent angle as you sharpen the blade. Use the round file to sharpen the cutters and the flat file to level the gauges.

How often should you sharpen your chainsaw manually?

A chainsaw should be sharpened fairly often, depending on use. It’s best to sharpen your blade after every use or when you notice the chainsaw is not cutting as effectively. Ideally, you should sharpen the chainsaw after every 5 hours of use or in the case of heavy use, after 3 hours of use.

How do you check if the chainsaw blade is sharp enough?

You can tell if the chainsaw blade is sharp enough by running it along a piece of paper or cutting through a piece of wood. If the chainsaw cuts through the wood effortlessly, without any resistance or burning, then it’s sharp enough. Similarly, if the chainsaw can cut clean and straight through the paper, then it is also sharp enough. Always keep in mind that a sharp chainsaw is crucial for your safety while using it.

Must Read: How To Sharpen a Chainsaw With a Dremel?

Final Verdict

Hand sharpening your chainsaw chain is an essential maintenance task that will help you maintain your chainsaw’s cutting efficiency, extend its life, and ensure safe operation. By using the right tools, maintaining the correct angles and depths when filing, and following these tips, you can ensure that your sharpened chainsaws are sharp, balanced, and safe to use.

Remember to wear protective gear, lubricate the chain after sharpening and filing, and check the depth gauge height to ensure that the chain cuts efficiently and safely.

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