Three Easy Ways to Keep Your Chainsaw Sharp

A chainsaw is one of the handiest tools you own, but if it’s dull, it’s useless.

A chainsaw chain being sharpened.
A sharp chainsaw is a happy chainsaw.Oregon

A chainsaw is only as useful as its chain is sharp; however, keeping the business end in good working order can be a challenge. On the surface, sharpening a chain looks complicated. The teeth are angled in two directions with multiple cutting edges on different planes, one requiring a round file and the other a flat file to properly hone. But like most things, sharpening a chainsaw can be as difficult or as easy as one chooses to make it. Instead of running to the hardware store for a new blade every time yours gets dull, or paying to have it brought back to life, consider investing in one of these proven tools for always keeping your chain in perfect cutting shape.

Electric Sharpeners

Oregon 410 bench mounted grinder.
A grinder mounted to a workbench or wall is ideal for sharpening a chainsaw blade.Oregon

If you take your saw to a shop for sharpening, the pros are undoubtedly going to put it on a machine. You can get the same results at home with a bench-mounted electric grinder. If you burn firewood in the winter or do a lot of clearing or timber felling and processing, an electric grinder is a worthwhile investment.

Handheld Sharpeners

STIHL Easy chainsaw chain sharpener.
If you aren’t good at hand sharpening a chainsaw blade, there are hand tools that can help you maintain the proper sharpening angle.STIHL

Hand sharpening the snaggle-toothed cutters of a chainsaw chain is a bit of an artform. The ability to maintain proper filing angles and pressure is something that only comes with practice. However, you can shorten the learning curve by using a simple handheld sharpening guide. These devices remove the guesswork and allow you to cut with the correct file size held at a precise angle for perfect hand sharpening every time.

Bar-Mounted Sharpeners

Chainsaw sharpener Universal Whetstone
A bar-mounted chainsaw sharpener is ideal for quick touch-ups in the field.EtekStorm

If hand sharpening your chain seems a little daunting and you don’t want to invest in an automatic grinder, a bar-mounted sharpener is a happy medium. These devices mount to the bar tip and, with the motor very slowly running, gently depress a whetstone onto the top plate of the cutters. However, you may still need to become proficient with a round file in order to dress the vertical cutting edge of each tooth, which lies perpendicular to the top plate. But for quick touch-ups in the field, a bar-mounted sharpener is an effective and affordable option.