How To Sharpen A Chainsaw With a File?

Do you need to sharpen your chainsaw?

Chainsaws are great for cutting down trees and clearing brush, but they can quickly become dull. A sharpened chain will make the job easier and faster.

Sharpening a chainsaw isn’t difficult or expensive, but it does require some knowledge about what tools are needed and how to use them properly. 

With this guide, anyone can learn how to sharpen their own chainsaw! It is not hard once you know what you are doing!

When does the chain need to be sharpened?

The frequency you require to sharpen the chain on your chainsaw depends on various factors, including the type of saw, the desired outcome (cut lines), whether or not it is cutting through pieces of wood, and how much smoke is being used produced.

Let’s look at few outcomes that may require you to sharpen it:

a). The chain no longer eats into the wood

When you are cutting with the chainsaw, if you have to push hard, it is not sharp anymore.

b). The chainsaw jumps

If the saw cannot be put on the wood and jumps when you are cutting, this also means that the saw is not sharp.

c). You get sawdust instead of wood pieces

If you are sawing wood and see sawdust fall instead of pieces of wood, it means your chain is too dull.

d). Smoke emissions

If the saw is making smoke while you are cutting, which means the saw is not sharp enough. Check if the chain needs lubricating and if it is tight. If everything else checks out, then the chain needs to be sharpened.

Tools required to sharpen a chainsaw:

Though there are unlimited methods available in the market, we are using the simplest one.

To sharpen your chainsaw blade, you will need a:

  1. flat file
  2. a guide, and
  3. a filing gauge.

The principal function of the file is to remove excess material from a workpiece—for example, when shaping metal or bone; it may also be used as a surface-finishing tool, using the process of mechanical abrasion.

While on the other hand file guide is a device that ensures a tool follows the correct path along a surface or otherwise ensures its motion is constrained, such as in the milling of an object.

Lastly filing gauge is a tool used to mark lines or scribe small objects.

Tools as these are common in most people’s garages or toolboxes, so there is no need to go out and buy anything; you probably already have everything required.

Here we go for process to sharpen your chainsaw. This process is covered in 5 steps.

How To Sharpen A Chainsaw?

Step 1: Prepare yourself, the chainsaw, and the chain.

We need to put on safety gear like gloves and goggles. The chainsaw has a lot of sharp cutters. It can scratch or cut your skin. 

Wear heavy-duty work gloves before you start to be safe.

You will also need to use safety goggles to protect your eyes from wood shavings.

Now remove the spark plug cap. Before you start any maintenance, it’s essential to remove the spark plug cap, so the chainsaw can’t start.

Put a brush on the chain where it touches the teeth. Clean away any dirt or debris that it may have picked up there. When you are finished, move the chain brake to release it so that you can move the chain along.

If the chain is broken or damaged, it may need to be replaced. Look for any links that are bent, chipped, or worn out. If they are, replace them with new ones.

Step 2: Choose the correct file for the job

There is a variety of different files that you can choose from for this job. Choose a file that is designed for chainsaws. It should be thin enough to enter between the gaps in the chain links but thick enough, so it doesn’t bend over or break under pressure. Avoid using files that are too big or small.

The right size file should fit almost perfectly in the blade’s curve, and about 20% of it should be on top of the blade.

Once you find the correct file, please put it in the file guide.

Step 3: Align the file

To sharpen the chain, you need to put the gauge over it. Make sure that it is lined up with the first link that you want to sharpen.

You want to make sure that the blades on each cutter are filed the same amount, so they are all the same length. This will make cutting faster and keep it straight.

Step 4: File the chain

When using a file, it is vital to make sure it has a guide. This will help prevent burrs from forming on the chain and can make the job easier. When you are filing, make sure that the file is at a right angle and only use it for forwarding strokes.

Step 5: Final checks and maintenance

Now that your chain is sharpened, there are some other things you should do. First, loosen the chain to help it from getting as tight again. Next, put oil on the chain bar. Put the spark plug cap back on so it does not get lost.

Chainsaw Sharpening Tips:

If you are going to use your chainsaw frequently, it is important to try and keep the chain sharp at all times. Once in a while, sharpen it. Here are some tips to help make this process easier:

a). Make sure that the saw has been switched off for at least 10 minutes before you sharpen the blade.

b). A round file is a tool used to sharpen saw chain cutters. Round files usually have a diameter of 4mm-6mm. However, not all saw chains are the same diameter. Check your product’s manual for the optimal file size to sharpen your chain.

c). DO File in One Direction. To get the sharpest cutting edge, sweep your file from the inside of the blade to its outside. Chainsaws have two cutting blades. One blade is on the right, and one blade is on the left.

If you want to file the individual cutters, position yourself on one side of the saw bar. For example, if you’re on the left side of the saw bar, you’ll file on the right side of the saw chain.

After you end up cutting one side of the saw bar, move to the other side and file what is left. People used to sharpen their chainsaws when there was more wood dust than wood chips coming out. The better move is to sharpen the cutters before that point.

d). Use the right number of strokes. When sharpening your saw chain, you will need to make sure that you’re using a proper number of strokes. In general, any good saw chain sharpener will tell you that a small number of strokes should be used on your saw chain. If you’re moving too fast that it causes burning and doesn’t give the proper angle to sharpen the blade, then slow down. This is done before each cut, and at the end of each day, your chain should look like it was brand new.

e). DO Use a guide to help you sharpen your saw chain. Avoid sharpening the chain on the ground. Compact discs or professional files can be used for this purpose instead of other things like stones, nails, and screws, which are not suitable for your chainsaw engine and can damage the chain.


There are countless ways to sharpen a chainsaw, and you may have heard of some of them. The one most people think about is sharpening the blade manually with a file. We hope you’ve enjoyed our blog post today; if so, please share it online using the social media buttons below! Thanks again for reading. Have questions?

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