How to Sharpen a Chainsaw – 3 Methods Explained

| Last Updated: February 8, 2021

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Sharpening your chainsaw can be a tedious task that is, unfortunately, a must when you own a chainsaw.

However, we'll guide you through the various methods and ultimately conclude which one outranks the rest. 

Best Way to Sharpen a Chainsaw - Step-by-Step Guide Per Method

If you value time and are on a budget, the Dremel option is suited to you. If you value simplicity and are not too keen on electric tools, a file would be your method. Whereas if you don't mind forking out a few dollars to save effort and time, the electric sharpener is for you. 

In the section below, we'll discuss the various sharpening methods used by chainsaw users across the country and guide you through how to carry out each of them. 

How to Sharpen a Chainsaw Blade With an Electric Sharpener

Electric sharpeners will save you plenty of time and energy as they do most of the work for you. Although they're faster, you still have some work to do. Take a look at the steps below: 

  1. Know Your Measurements
    Understanding the dimensions and measurements of your chain, and other parts are important. Specifically, the pitch and gauge are what's key to know; therefore, you'll be able to know what stone to use for the sharpening process.

  2. Set The Sharpening Tool In Place
    For a steady sharpening process, you'll want to ensure that the tool is stable when being used. Either place the tool on the floor; some sharpening tools allow you to clamp them on your workbench.
  3. Installing The Sharpening Stone
    It's important you have the correct pitch and gauge measurements described in step one, as it's important to fit the sharpening stone into the tool correctly.

    The width of your average sharpening stone is 3/16-inches, which will give you enough space to fit in-between the teeth of the chain. Stones will vary in width, so don't take our example as a certainty.

  4. Make Appropriate Adjustments
    Adjusting the angle and swivel at which the blade is sharpened is an important part of getting a sharp chain. You just adjust it to suit your own comfort and the way you'd like to sharpen the teeth.

    The depth gauge is also important to set properly. You don't want to cut too deep on the tooth; most chains will have a line on each tooth to indicate how far you can cut; this can also be adjusted via the depth gauge on the tool.
  5. Begin To Sharpen
    Slowly lower the stone and begin grinding one tooth at a time; when your grindstone touches the tooth, it'll spark and make a loud noise.

    Only keep the stone on the tooth for a few seconds and lift to check; the tooth should look shiny, which means you've officially sharpened your first tooth. Once you complete one side of each tooth, it's now time to adjust the grinder to work on the other side. 

How to Sharpen a Chainsaw With a File

Using a file to sharpen those chainsaw teeth takes longer and requires more effort by the user. In terms of complexity, it's pretty simple to do and doesn't require too much setup.

  1. Make Sure The Chain Is Secure
    You need to ensure stability and a secure chain during the entirety of the process. Clamp your chain in a vice; that'll give you the stability necessary.
  2. Have The Correct Equipment
    You'll need to ensure that the file itself is comfortable for you to handle. The file should also be suitable to use; having the correct width to file the teeth is key, as well as the length of the file itself in order to give you a decent motion range.

  3. Start Sharpening Each Tooth
    You'll want to glide the file across one tooth at a time around ten times or until you're happy with it. Don't go backward, as this will damage the tooth. Once you complete one side, switch over and finish the opposite side. 

How to Sharpen a Chainsaw With a Dremel

Dremels are a smaller and faster way to sharpen your chainsaw teeth; they're pretty easy to use and don't require too much preparation.

  1. Find The Correct Dremel
    You can buy a Dremel kit from your local hardware store; there are usually a few sizes included, the kit will explain which size fits which particular chain sequence. The idea is that you find a Dremel that'll fit perfectly between an individual chain tooth.

  2. Piece Everything Together
    Included with the kit is a piece of metal that acts as a guide; attach your Dremel to the guide and then attach it to the electric Dremel tool.

  3. Start Sharpening Each Gap
    Once the guide and Dremel are ready to go, you can now start sharpening. Slowly lower the running Dremel between the small gap of each tooth. You'll see a few sparks, but that's normal.


Thankfully sharpening your chainsaw isn't as regular as cleaning your chainsaw but, it still requires the same amount of work, if not more.

Thankfully, there are multiple ways to sharpen your chain, and it's always best to research which suits you the most before buying expensive tools.

Common Questions (People Also Ask)

Sharpening your chainsaw chain can bring about a lot of questions. We've compiled and answered some of the most commonly asked questions. 

How Long Does It Take To Sharpen A Chainsaw?

It just depends on what method you go with. An electric sharpener might take you 20 minutes, including prep work. A Dremel can take up to 30 minutes, and a manual file will take much longer, at around 40 minutes to an hour. 

How Hard Is It To Sharpen A Chainsaw?

The various methods will range in degree of difficulty, it's important to remember that practice makes perfect. Over years of sharpening, it'll become second nature.

How Many Times Can You Sharpen A Chainsaw Chain?

Between 3 and 5 times would be enough. If you take care of your chainsaw chain by not hitting solid rock and the ground, it won't need constant sharpening. 

What Size File To Sharpen Chainsaw?

The three main types of files would be 4mm, 4.8mm, and 5.5mm; you just test each out to see which one fits best. 

How Often To Sharpen Chainsaw?

Sharpening your chainsaw chain shouldn't be done regularly; it should only be done a maximum of five times its entire life.

The reason why we limit the number of times is that every time you file a tooth, the size decreases, therefore at some point, it'll become too small and unusable.