About Chain Sharpeners for a Chainsaw

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About Chain Sharpeners for a Chainsaw About Chain Sharpeners for a Chainsaw

Chain sharpeners for chainsaws are essential accessories to facilitate proper chainsaw maintenance and operation. They are used for all types of chainsaw, from small electric chainsaws to large petrol chainsaws. Chainsaw chains should be sharpened regularly to ensure they remain sharp and safe to use. Blunt chainsaw blades can snag and be dangerous. Maintaining a sharp blade will also make sawing easier and more efficient. It will reduce wear and tear and, therefore, prolong the life of the chainsaw. If a chainsaw requires pushing and increased effort, doesn't cut in a straight line, or cutting results in saw dust, it is probably time to sharpen the chain. The cutting edge should be razor shape without a line of light visible on the cutting edge. The cutting edge is chrome plated and when this plating wears away, the ability of the chainsaw to cut becomes significantly impaired. How often the chainsaw requires sharpening will depend upon frequency of use and what it is being used for. The chain of chainsaws used to cut clean softwood will last longer without filing than those used to cut dirty logs or similar material. It is possible to have chainsaws sharpened by professionals simply by taking them into a shop. However, providing basic guidelines are followed it can be done safely and effectively at home, saving time and money. There are various types of chain sharpener on the market, and these have their own advantages and disadvantages.

Choosing Chain Sharpeners for a Chainsaw

There are a number of things to consider when purchasing a chain sharpener for a chainsaw. Some are listed below.

Types of Chain Sharpener

Three of the usual types of chain sharpener available include hand held round file, bench mounted sharpener, and electric chainsaw sharpener.

Hand held round file

* A round file of varying diameter

* Once securing the chainsaw the file is run over the chainsaw tip

* Callipers can be used to measure the teeth for consistency

* Safety gear should be worn

* Cheapest type of sharpener

* Relatively simple process

* Good for infrequent users

* File requires precise control, cutting at the same angle as the front edge of the blade so as not to damage the chain

* Can work out to be fairly expensive if files require regular replacing because of frequent use

* More time consuming than other methods

Bench mounted sharpener

* Guide is secured to bar of chainsaw

* Machine set to specifications including filing angle

* Safety gear must be worn due to shavings flying off

* Less need for precise control

* Quicker and more efficient than using a hand file

* Features include pivoting heads and clamps to align and secure chain in position

* Scales and depth limiters enable precise measurement

* Chain needs to be removed for sharpening

* Too much metal may be removed by sharpeners without depth limiters

* Requires sturdy bench to mount on

Electric chainsaw sharpener

* Chain is clamped between guide bars to ensure correct sharpening angle

* Engine turns the wheel at a consistent speed for efficient sharpening

* Safety gear must be worn due to shavings flying off

* Quicker and more efficient than other chain sharpeners

* Easy to set up and operate

* Chain guide and angle adjustment ensure correct sharpening depth and angle

* Grinding angle can be set for various chains

* Large range of models available

* More expensive than other chain sharpeners

* May not be cost effective for infrequent users

* Requires a sturdy bench to work on

Sharpening Angle

Chains need to be sharpened to the correct angles. Sharpening angle is determined by various factors, including chain pitch, gauge, length, and teeth design. Pitch is the average distance between rivets on the chain, with usual distances 6.35 mm (0.25"), 9.53 mm (0.375"), 8.26 mm (0.325") and 10.26 mm (0.404"). Gauge is the thickness of drive links, components whose function is to align the chain on the guide bar and lubricate it. Usual gauges are 1.1 mm (0.043"), 1.3 mm (0.051"), 1.5 mm (0.059") and 1.6 mm (0.063"). Chain length is determined by the number of drive links. There are various types of chain teeth, including chisel, semi-chisel, and chipper. Chisel teeth have squared corners, semi-chisel teeth have rounded corners, and chipper teeth have a curved design. It is essential to sharpen at the proper angle to facilitate correct cutting, protect chainsaw components, and prevent kickback. Manufacturers' manuals or websites should specify which angle the chain should be sharpened at. Hand files, bench mounted guides and electric chain sharpeners should all state which chain they are suitable for. If in doubt, ask the seller for further information.

Before Sharpening

Before sharpening a chainsaw, take the time to clean the chain and visibly inspect it for any damage. Chains can be cleaned of oil and dirt with either mineral spirits or commercial detergents. Be careful not to get too much cleaner on the engine or other parts of the chainsaw. After cleaning, inspect the chain for any worn or damaged teeth. If chains are damaged, they should be replaced. Remember that chainsaw files may wear out quickly and be sure to replace them when needed. In addition, most manufacturers recommend that chains are professionally sharpened from time to time to make sure the cutting angles are correct. Consult the manufacturers' handbook or website for such information on maintaining the chain and other chainsaw components.

Chain Sharpening Accessories

Kits are also available, which may include chain sharpeners and other chainsaw accessories such as depth gauge tools and bar groove cleaners. These can be useful to purchase, especially for first time chainsaw buyers and users. Roller guides are also useful for hand held files. Hand held files need control to ensure the proper cutting angle and roller guides make this easier. The guide simply clips on the chain and keeping it at 90 degrees to the file ensures a 30 degree angle cut.


When buying a chain sharpener for a chainsaw, consider factors such as cost and how frequently it will be used. Hand held files are fine for infrequent and frequent users, providing guidelines are followed, and the operator is confident using this method. Bench mounted guides can allow for more control, with features that enable the chain to be secured while it is sharpened, and are more quicker than hand held files. Electric chain sharpeners are the quickest option and ideal for frequent users who need to sharpen their chain on a regular basis, but they are also the most expensive option. When purchasing a chainsaw sharpener, also make sure it is compatible with the particular chainsaw. Most chain sharpeners are compatible with a variety of chainsaws but it is always best to check. Look around for sharpeners and always check seller ratings and feedback to have confidence in a purchase.

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