When Should You Sharpen Your Chainsaw Chain?

how to sharpen a chainsaw blade


While it is all good and well to know how to sharpen your chainsaw chain, one of the more important factors is knowing when you should sharpen it. It’s relatively pointless to sharpen the chain well before it needs it, and if you leave it too long, you may have to replace it. When it comes to sharpening a chainsaw chain, timing is everything.

Using a dull chainsaw poses serious safety risks for yourself and the people standing nearby. You may also find that using slow chainsaw tires you out much faster than using a sharp one, simply because you will need to exert more force on the blade as it cuts through the wood.

Several signs will be present when your chainsaw chain is in desperate need of sharpening:

How does your chainsaw feel when it is sharp and in perfect working condition? The cuts generally produce rather large chunks of wood that are square-ish in shape. If your chain needs to be sharpened, however, your chainsaw is more likely to produce sawdust.

When cutting a felled tree, your chainsaw should go straight through it in a straight line (due to its self-feeding design; the teeth of the chain pull the blade more in-depth into the wood). If your chain needs to be sharpened, however, your chainsaw will start to pull to either the left or the right, as the teeth can not grip.

A chainsaw is usually pretty effective at guiding itself through a log; you don’t have to use very much force at all. If your chain needs to be sharpened, however, your chainsaw will require much more downward force to get it to cut through the wood effectively.

When you are next using your chainsaw, look out for any of the above signs – are you producing wood chunks or sawdust; is the blade pulling to one side; do you need to exert more force than usual? All of these are signs that your chainsaw’s chain is in desperate need of sharpening. Please don’t leave it too late, or you may find yourself the recipient of a serious injury.

Electric Chainsaw Sharpener For Weekend Warriors

It’s incredible how far chainsaw sharpeners have come in the past few years. It’s still wise to have a trusty round file with you in the woods for touch-ups, but one hundred dollars will buy you an excellent electric chainsaw sharpener to mount in your workshop for perfect chain sharpening.

Several manufacturers now sell electric bench mounted chainsaw sharpeners, which allow very accurate settings for the angle of the grinder and the depth of cut. Automatic chain feeds quickly move the chain to the next tooth, so all you have to do is lower the grinding head for a second on each cutter. As soon as you raise the grinding wheel from the chain, the automatic feeder slides the chain to the next cutting tip, and you repeat the process.

Some of the more popular models, such as the Garrett Wade 45T01 chainsaw sharpener, are very inexpensive and do as good a job as any professional chainsaw sharpener. Many of these sharpeners are manufactured in Italy and are commonly referred to as “easy use” chainsaw sharpeners in Europe.

These types of electric chain saw sharpeners usually come in different configurations, including standard models that sell for approximately $65 – $75, and quick feed chainsaw sharpener models that sell for roughly $100. The fast feed models include fully automatic electric chain feed mechanisms, so all you have to do is lower the grinding wheel to sharpen each tooth professionally.

The average chainsaw chain can be sharpened in one minute or less with this type of electric chainsaw sharpener. Most models include exact angle settings and depth gauges and are easily bench mounted in any workshop. They are light and compact, so they don’t take up much room at all.

Some people will argue sharpening achieved from a chain grinder is never the same as when using a hand-held round file due to the shape of the mill and the method in which it moves into the tooth. This may be true if you are a professional logger and use a round file every day to perform your job. For 99% of the population, there is no way that they can achieve the same consistency that you get with an automated electric chainsaw sharpener.

The consistent angle of sharpening that is achieved with an electric chainsaw sharpener, as well as the constant depth and length of time that the grinding wheel is in contact with every tooth, will provide far superior results. Amateur weekend warriors can now achieve professional results in minutes with an inexpensive electric chainsaw sharpener.