Chainsaw Maintenance

Every year, chainsaw maintenance takes a back seat to more pressing concerns. More than likely you will have forgotten to keep it sharp and need to sharpen it. But how do you do this? How much will it cost you?


Many home owners don’t take the time to sharpen their chainsaw after it is used. It’s not like they use it for a hammer or nail gun. However, a chainsaw has a tendency to snag on its sharp point and snag it as well. This will lead to pulling and stripping. If your chainsaw is getting a little worn and damaged in the point, it may need a little tender loving care.

The first thing you want to do before sharpening your chainsaw is to put on a sharpening kit. Many can be found at your local discount or large retailer hardware store. If you plan on using a chainsaw a lot or only occasionally, you may want to invest in a good quality pair of gloves. That way you won’t get cut or torn, and you’ll be able to protect your hands.

Before starting to sharpen your chainsaw, you will want to secure the sharp end down. While you can simply place a sharpening stone or file down, it can be difficult to maintain the sharpness of a chainsaw’s point when it is not securely placed. This is especially true if the sharp end needs to be secured to the workbench.

Using a small block, or some other substance, is the easiest way to secure the sharp end down. It should be under four inches long. The purpose of the small block is to make it easy to place and remove the sharpen-to-tip distance. Also, it allows you to place the sharpen down when working on larger projects. Plus, you can keep the sharpened tip dry.

After you have secured the sharpened end of the chainsaw, use a sharpen-to-tip distance tester to check the thickness of the hardened tip. Make sure that the tester isn’t touching the wood. The ideal sharpen-to-tip distance is anywhere from three to four times the thickness of the wood.

Place the tip of the sharpener on the tip of the chain saw. You will want to hold the edges of the tester or sharpener in place to ensure you get an even close-up. Once you have determined the proper sharpen-to-tip distance, use a six to eight inch sharpening tool to slowly sharpen the point of the chainsaw. Slowly press the tool against the teeth until it gets a nice curve and the tool is flush with the sharpened surface.

Let the tool dry for at least twenty minutes before removing it from the chainsaw, and cutting with the old sharpener. A new sharpener should not take longer than ten minutes to remove the previously sharpened metal. Since you removed the old sharpener, you are ready to tighten the point. Do not remove the original sharpener or you could damage the metal and cause it to strip.

Keep in mind that just because the point is loose does not mean you need to sharpen it again. The points on chainsaws are generally made from one-eighth to one-third the size of the original tooth. They are usually constructed of stainless steel or aluminum.

When the sharpening process is complete, wipe down the chisel tip, the front of the blade, and the chisel. The point of the blade and the front of the blade will need to be polished with a sandpaper prior to the next use. The front of the blade will require polishing with a light polishing compound that will help to remove the abrasive deposits that are left behind by the initial polish.

If you choose to do it yourself, you can easily sharpen your chainsaw with an electric chain saw sharpener. There are many portable chain saws that come with either a foot pedal or switch to operate, but a cordless electric chainsaw can also be very useful if you don’t want to mess with the electrical cords that need to be run to the chainsaw and back. Just remember to follow the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid accidents.