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Sharpening a Chainsaw

Your chainsaw should cut just as it did when you first purchased it or when you last replaced the cutting chain. If it’s not cutting as it should, you may be damaging the saw itself and you could also be putting yourself in harm’s way. However, sharpening the chainsaw is one alternative to just buying another chain so that you can save yourself some money.

It should be noted that if you want your chainsaw to remain sharp for longer periods of time, you should brush, wash or chop off the dirty areas before each use.

You will know you need to go about chainsaw sharpening when the chain no longer self feeds, when the discharge is dusty and when the chain looks shiny. If you do find that your chainsaw is dull, stop cutting immediately. Not only is this dangerous, but dull chains can cause you to feel fatigued, frustrated and they can cause you to make bad judgment calls.


To sharpen your chainsaw, it’s best to use a workbench. Make sure the chainsaw is steady and that your work area is lit properly. You may want to place a wood block under the bar so that it doesn’t teeter while you’re working. Then, make sure the chain is tensioned properly. The chain should be snug against the bar but you should still be able to pull it easily around using only your hand. If your chain is loose, make sure you tighten it because a loose chain can cause damage during operation. Also, make sure you wear leather gloves.

Then, using a proper-diameter round file, remove all the damage from the side and top plates, making sure the critical top corner is very sharp. You must hold the file at the correct height and orientation with each cutter. You may want to use a file guide to make the job easier. Then, file from the inside of the cutter to the outside using full strokes.

When sharpening your chainsaw, always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations and remember that the uppermost corner must be sharp and defined by a thin chrome edge. The right and left hand cutters should be equally sharp and their top plates should be similar in angle and length. If this isn’t the case, the chain will likely pull to one side when cutting and you’ll likely find that you’ll need to replace the chain altogether

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