Simple Ways To Sharpening Your Chainsaw

If you are the owner of a chainsaw, you will have to sharpen it sooner or later. I owned mine for quite some time before having to do this. I knew it was a time when I was literally forcing the saw to make cuts. The chainsaw was also spitting out dust rather than chips. It is never a good idea to continue using a dull chainsaw. The cuts are poor, it requires a lot more work and a dull saw increases the chance of kickback (very dangerous). I certainly do not want a chainsaw coming in my direction because it caught hold of the material being cut, do you? Once I knew that I had some sharpening to do, I gathered my chainsaw sharpeners and a few other helpful tools. I chose to sharpen by hand but have also used a power sharpener when I had little time to waste. Below you will find an easy chainsaw sharpening guide with both methods included.

Freehand Chainsaw Sharpening

What you need:

  • Depth gauges guide
  • Flat file (Do not use a rattail file. It will ruin your chainsaw.)
  • Round file
  • Gloves, for safety
  • Felt marker


* You can begin sharpening your chainsaw without wearing gloves. I found that not wearing the gloves while filing allows better control.

  1. Make a 2-inch-deep slit in a log or use a vise.
  2. Rest the saw bar into the 2-inch slit (if using a log) or clamp into the vise. Make sure it is secure before sharpening.
  3. Mount the round file into the file guide.
  4. Place the mounted round file onto a cutter near the top end of the saw bar.
  5. Create a mark on the top of this cutter to remember where you started sharpening.
  6. Make sure your file matches the factory ground angle of the cutter.
  7. Stroke the file away from your body and parallel to the ground. 5-6 strokes will do. Make sure that the burr is formed on the outer edge of each cutter when you file.
  8. Skip a cutter (the direction of the cutters are reversed with every tooth). Work the next cutter the same as the previous one (5-6 strokes).
  9. Sharpen about 5-6 more cutters before putting on your gloves and moving the chain to expose the other cutters for sharpening.
  10. Continue to grind every other cutter until you reach the one that you marked.
  11. Move to the other side of the saw and sharpen the cutters going in the opposite direction using your starting mark as a guide. Work each cutter the same (5-6 strokes).

I used the depth gauge guide and a flat file to reset the depth gauges. This only has to be occasionally done.

Power Sharpening

I have found that the power sharpening method is much faster and is great for those that have more experience sharpening a chainsaw. With an electric chainsaw sharpener (a rotary tool with a grinding wheel attached) the time is cut in half! Here’s what you need:

  • Rotary tool
  • Safety glasses
  • Safety gloves

There are several rotary models out there. Depending on the rotary tool and chainsaw, make sure that the grinding wheel is the correct diameter for the job and ensure that a guide is attached.


  1. Secure your chainsaw.
  2. Create a mark on the top of your selected starting cutter to remember where you began sharpening.
  3. Place the grinding wheel against the cutter. The edge of the metal guide should be parallel to the cutter’s factory ground angle.
  4. Turn on the rotary tool and use sideways pressure to grind the cutter. To avoid overdoing it on the cutter, continue for a count of 4 before stopping.
  5. Sharpen every other cutter just like in the freehand method.
  6. Switch and work on the cutters running in the opposite direction.
  7. You are done!

After getting the hang of it, I was able to sharpen my chainsaw very quickly. I was even able to keep the rotary tool on as I breezed through cutters.

Once my chainsaw was sharp and ready to go, I finished the job by oiling the chain. I simply saturated it with oil. After oiling, I checked the tension and tried it out. The chainsaw was no longer spitting dust and cuts were easy to make.

It may seem like a lot of work at first, but I learned firsthand that sharpening a chainsaw is incredibly easy. All you have to do is know what you’re doing and take some time to get the hang of the process. Both methods work well and will get your chainsaw factory sharp once again. There is no need to pay for professional sharpening and no expensive tools are required.


This is a lovely guest post from Shad Zac, a full time info technology analyst in a MNC US company with passion in gardening industry since childhood. Devout his free time with gardening chores and create awareness to his community on green living. He has a blog to dedicate his past work,