A chainsaw with a dull blade is dangerous and inefficient. In this article, we will go over the process of sharpening your chainsaw blade using a mounted or bench-mounted file, as well as the process of angle gauging to ensure you are setting your saw at the optimal cutting angle.
Before You Start: Safety First!
Before you start sharpening or adjusting your chainsaw, remember the safety tips below. Chainsaws are extremely powerful tools that can cause serious injury if misused. When operating a chainsaw, wear protective clothing such as leather gloves, boots, long pants, and chaps. Make sure your fence line is clear, so no one walks into it accidentally. Check and make sure anyone in the vicinity is out of the area you intend to work in before starting your saw.
Mounted or Bench Mount File
Sharpening a chainsaw is a simple process that can be performed by just about anyone who has enough knowledge to follow instructions. You do not need any experience at all, and this video tutorial will guide you through each step of the process.
Note that this method requires three tools, as outlined below:
- Chainsaw sharpener file mounted or bench-mounted (If you do not know which to purchase, we recommend the Bench Mount File Based on popularity and user reviews)
- Angle gauge (an absolute must-have item for anyone who owns a chainsaw! See more about the angle gauge below).
- Sharpening oil (optional but recommended – see next section).
Mounted File Instructions
The steps in this video tutorial are as follows:
Step#1: Remove the chain from your saw. You can remove it by either lifting the bar off the lower handle. Then sliding it off its sprocket or by taking off one side of the bar/chain sprocket. Then, fit the chain onto the bar by sliding one end of the chain over its drive wheel. And then pushing it down until it fits overall teeth on the bottom side of your lower saw blade.
If you have a double-cutting chainsaw, make sure the pointed tip of the smaller top blade is facing your opposite hand (if you are right-handed, point it to your left leg).
Step#2: Remove any debris or dirt between each tooth on both sides of the blades with a cleaning tool. This helps prevent filing from getting jammed inside your chainsaw’s upper and lower teeth while sharpening them.
Step#3: Make sure that each tooth has an equal amount exposed on both sides of the chain, using your angle gauge to ensure each side is the same length. Any longer or shorter teeth than another will cause uneven wear and tear on your saw’s blade and may affect its performance.
Step#4: Remove any debris between every other tooth on each side of the saw. Because those teeth should only have one layer of metal covering them instead of two (the additional layer being your file). Debris here can jam up in your chainsaw when you start filling it with a sharpening file, as well.
Step#5: Mount your chainsaw onto a wooden board or table so you do not cut off any fingers while sharpening it! The key is to hold the chainsaw firmly in place and not to lose your grip during use. If you have a bench-mounted file, hook up the chainsaw onto it to hold it steady throughout the filing process.
Step#6: Holding the chainsaw straight up with one hand, start filing its teeth by holding the sharpening file roughly 15-20 degrees off of vertical (see drawing above). Always hold the blade’s angle as you move back and forth at regular intervals.
Continue filing away at your saw until no metal appears underneath your top file anymore; only tooth outlines are left on each side of the blade after this step has been completed. The two sides of each tooth should be even in height as well by this point.
Step#7: Make sure you have a tight grip on your chainsaw’s handles during this step. Begin filing roughly 1/4 inch of metal off the top and bottom sides of each tooth, as well as in between each tooth (where applicable). You should be left with a rough middle portion of teeth that are jagged but still present.
Step#8: Continue until all teeth have been properly sharpened using 25-30 degree angles to file away at any rough or jagged areas on the tip, top, and bottom sides of each tooth. This will leave them nicely filed down without gaps or uneven portions, which could cause the blade to bend or rust over time. Then wipe off any excess filings from your chainsaw, and it’s ready to go!
The angle gauge is the best way to keep track of your saw’s filing angle when using a mounted file because it helps you ensure that both sides are filed with equal lengths. All you need to do is make sure that your chainsaw stays at a 90-degree angle while rubbing the sharpening file back and forth across its teeth.
The metal underneath should always be covered in red dust as you move along regularly from tooth to tooth. If there are any blue or yellow filings visible, your angle on one side of the blade may be off, so make sure you adjust it if necessary. You can check out our video above for more information about adjusting angles with a mounted file on the fly.
This method works well for short saws with chains under 15 inches and longer ones if you are experienced. You’ll want to hold the top of the chain grindings between your thumb and pointer finger while sharpening so that they don’t go flying off during use.
The teeth themselves will also heat up quickly from friction with the grinding file, so be sure to take a bucket of water nearby to dip it into every few minutes along the way. Remember that this is one of the best ways to sharpen an electric chainsaw. If you need replacement parts, we carry all things chainsaw at Harbor Freight Tools!
As you can see, chainsaw sharpening is a lot easier than it may seem to those new at the job. If you follow our instructions closely while using a mounted file and perform all necessary maintenance beforehand, then there should be no reason why your saw won’t last for decades to come.
You may have to sharpen it several times throughout its lifetime depending on how often and how hard you use it, but we know that this how-to will help anyone keep their saws running smoothly for years to come!