How To Sharpen A Chainsaw With A File – Learn The Right Way

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Chainsaw helps so much in cutting logs and trees since it makes work easier and completes tasks faster. It may get dull over time, which is why you must sharpen it every time it does.

You will need even the slightest clue on how to sharpen a chainsaw with a file to do it. You know it is dull when using it becomes difficult and when you have to apply a lot of pressure to cut through anything.

We have gathered some of the most effective chainsaw sharpening tricks to help you take care of your power saw. This guide, together with a complete chainsaw sharpening kit is what you need for the job.

How To Sharpen A Chainsaw With A File

Is It Worth Sharpening A Chainsaw?

Husqvarna 20 Inch 455 Rancher Gas Chainsaw

Yes, sharpening a chainsaw is an important activity that every owner or user should know. Many people think it is a problematic or unnecessary thing, but it is not.

This guide will take you through the entire process to help you understand everything and how to do it correctly.

A dull chainsaw also exposes users to chances for messy accidents. Sharpening a chainsaw often follows the same principle use to sharpen a crosscut handsaw.

One of the few differences is that the chainsaw blades are much bigger than the crosscut saw teeth.

With inexpensive files, you can sharpen the entire chain of blades in about ten minutes. You need the best chainsaw files for these tasks if you want to achieve the best results without too much stress.

It will also make your work easier and reduce the time you take to complete the sharpening project.

How To Sharpen A Chainsaw With A File – Learn the Right Way

Choose The Right File For The Job

Katzco Chainsaw Sharpener File Kit - Contains 5/32, 3/16, and 7/32 Inch Files, Wood Handle, Depth Gauge, Filing Guide, and Tool Pouch - for Sharpening and Filing Chainsaws and Other Blades

You can use a round file with a diameter similar to that of the chainsaw’s teeth. Sharpening different chainsaw teeth sizes require files of different teeth sizes to sharpen.

Therefore, before you get down to sharpening, first determine the gauge of the chainsaw’s blade.

The gauge is the distance between the bottom of the curve of a cutter to the top. Check from the Stihl chain sharpening angles chart for more information.

The most common chainsaw sizes include a 4.8mm chainsaw file, 5mm (3/16″) file, and 6mm (7/32″) file.

Therefore, when choosing a file for the chainsaw, make sure the file’s diameter matches the gauge of the chainsaw blade. The diameter of your file should be equal to the gauge of chainsaw teeth.

The file selection stage is the only stage where the precise measurement of the file is essential.

Before Sharpening Begins

Find out your chainsaw’s pitch size or chainsaw link. Since different chainsaws may have different pitch sizes or teeth, you need to know the exact specifications.

You will notice a code or depth gauge marking as etched on the pitch’s side.

This site will guide you in choosing the right file for the job. Just like the teeth sizes differ, so do the files needed to sharpen them.

Using an incorrect sized file to sharpen your chainsaw will damage both the file and the chainsaw.

You also need to clean your chainsaw thoroughly before you begin to sharpen it or choose a file. Remove every dirt, debris, and sawdust that may be present on the chainsaw to make ways for sharpening.

You also need to extract oil and stains using mild detergents and mineral spirits.

Finally, you need to check the entire chain to find out the damaged cutters before you proceed. If there is any excessive damage such as extreme bends or chipped pitch, replace them with new ones.

You should also replace pitches whose upper plate is shorter than 1/4 inch.

Set The File – Using A Round File

Secure The Chainsaw Blade By Clamping The Chainsaw

Before you begin, you have to clamp the chainsaw securely into a vice. The chainsaw has to be clamped in the right way. While clamping, you can use the vise or a tabletop clamp.

The bar and chainsaw must be stabilized so that sharpening will be a safe journey.

Put the bar inside the vise and allow it to spin freely. Make sure to place the bar in the correct position. For the case where the clamp is missing, the chainsaw should be entirely removed from the chainsaw bar.

You should then keep it safe in the vise, and you will be ready to go with little changes on the chainsaw.

If both are missing the clamp and vise, you can hold the chainsaw in a steady position during sharpening, and be careful enough no to slide and cut yourself.

Tightening The Chain

The purpose of tightening the chain is to ensure the chainsaw is at a stable position while sharpening. It will minimize movement that can cause injuries as a result of being cut.

The tension adjusting screw must not be left loose.

Using the screwdriver, tighten the screw so that the chain is tightened too. The screw should be tight just enough to minimize unnecessary movements.

Also, note that it is not supposed to be too tight because it will limit movement.

Mark The First Tooth To Be Sharpened

Different chainsaws have several distinguishing features that can help you identify the point where you started sharpening a chainsaw.

However, these features may not be so much visible, so I would advise you to highlight the first tooth you are grinding. By doing this, you avoid the common chainsaw sharpening mistakes.

This marked point shows you where you started from and avoid repetition while sharpening the teeth. Dip the first tooth in ink or mark it with a conspicuous color for easy viewing.

The coloring should not worry you because it will fade off as you use the chainsaw.

Round File Similar To The Diameter Of The Chainsaw’S Teeth

In real life, the teeth size of chainsaws varies in size. Several chain diameters are 4.0mm, 4.8mm, and 5.6mm. With these different sized files required for sharpening, you will need to discover what suits your chainsaw best.

Choose the round file that matches the diameter of the teeth of the chainsaw for better working experience. In case you are not sure of the size of your chainsaw’s teeth, consult the manual that came with it or search it online on the website.

Setting The Round File

First and foremost, highlight your starting point on the tooth you are sharpening first.  Then go-ahead to put the end of the round file inside the curve, on the highlighted tooth.

Around 20 percent of the file’s height must be on top of the cutting tooth.

This will ensure that you are cutting along the exact shape of the cutting surface. You should also note that you will have to choose one of the two types of cutters to work with before moving to the next.

It is systematical to complete a kind before moving to the other.

Using The File Holder

The chainsaw file holder puts the file in the exact position where the chainsaw was ground for the first time. The file must be level and in line with the file holder at the correct angle.

This makes work easy and accurate for you during sharpening. Alternatively, you can use the Husqvarna 235 chain file size.

How To Sharpen The Cutters

Slide The File Gently Across The Cutters

First, you need to position the file so that it remains flat and level over the chain’s top. You are supposed to use the right chainsaw sharpening angles, which you can get from the manual.

Sharpening the cutters require complete discretion to about blunting them further or getting cut by them.

As you slide the file through the cutter, you should feel the grind. The file should grind against the cutter for you to be sure that it is sharpening the tooth.

Sliding the file in a forward motion will give you this effect but not the backward movement.

Therefore, use only the forward motion while avoiding sliding the file on a backward movement through the cutter. You should file it until the cutter’s sharp edge becomes shiny, silver in color, and looking sharp.

For a slightly worn tooth, you just need to stroke it two or three times to sharpen it. However, more strokes may be required for a heavily worn tooth.

Keep the count of the strokes you used on the first cutter so that you can remain consistent.

The chain typically features two types of cutters that face alternate directions with cutters of the same kind facing one direction. Do not sharpen both types at the same time.

It is advisable to complete one type of the cutter then grinding another type when done with the first.

Sharpening The Second Cutter Type

Once you have completed the first cutter type, spin the chain to bring the second tooth closer to the initially marked cutter. Sharpen each cutter at the same angle and with the same motion.

Repeat the process on all the other cutters of the same type until you reach the starting point.

Even so, you have to stay consistent across all cutters so that you sharpen all of them similarly. When cutters have the same degree of sharpness, it maintains the saw’s balance.

That balance is essential during the cutting activity.

Turn Your Chainsaw 180 Degrees

At this stage, you loosen your clamp and rotate the power saw 180 degrees for further sharpening. By turning the chainsaw, you will reveal the other cutters that may have skipped sharpening in the previous loop around the chain.

Therefore, follow the same sharpening process as the last loop but to teeth that you have not ground yet.

Loosening The Chain

Once the sharpening activity is done, you can loosen the chain now to get it back to the right tension. Loosen it at the adjustment screws that you used to tighten it before you began the sharpening process.

You can then loosen the clamp to free your chainsaw so that you can take it out.

How To Use A Chainsaw File Guide

Using of A Chainsaw File Guide

Alternatively, you can use a chainsaw file guide to sharpen your chainsaw and still get the best results. A file guide is an all-in-one tool containing flat files, round files, and Stihl file depth gauge.

When choosing the best chainsaw file guide to sharpen a chainsaw, you must consider the pitch of your chainsaw.

You can use the Oregon chainsaw file guide for this process to find the right size for your chainsaw.

Then, with the arrows on the file pointing towards you, begin filing at the “break” in the chain. Align the angle with your file guide before you make any filing movement on the tooth.

Set the handle of the file guide at 30 degrees according to the Husqvarna chainsaw chain sharpening angles if you want to sharpen the saw chains at that angle for the best results.

When the blue line is well aligned and parallel to the chains, begin to grind on a pull. Never sharpen your chainsaw on a push stroke but always on a pull stroke.

For the sake of quality and durability, the Husqvarna chainsaw file guide still stands out as a very reliable machine.

Also, you need the chainsaw file size chart and other tools and equipment to complete the sharpening task on time and successfully.

Make sure you sharpen one side at a time and perfect one side before moving to sharpen the other side.

Final Verdict

Now that you know how to sharpen a chainsaw with a file, you should not destroy your chainsaw by doing everything wrongly.

Follow these chainsaw sharpening guide keenly to give your chainsaw the perfectly sharp teeth that it needs to tackle cutting tasks quickly.

Besides sharpening your chainsaw, there are many other maintenance needs that you must serve to keep your chainsaw always functioning at its best.

Take your time to take good care of the equipment, and it will take good care of you; however, it can.

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Robert Terry

Robert Terry is a specialist author at He is very enthusiastic about woodworking and carpentry. His writings have been published in the wood magazine before. His passion for working with wood and woodworking tools lets him explore many pieces of informative content and resources. Besides working as a creative writer, he loves to share his skills and experiences with the woodworking and carpentry community.

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