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How To Sharpen A Chainsaw Chain at Home

When it comes to a chainsaw chain there is one recommendation from World of Power; keep it sharp! A chain is either good or rubbish, there is no in-between. From the smallest 10” chain right up to the larger 48” chain, this logic is always the same.

When To Sharpen A Chainsaw Chain

When cutting, the saw should produce large chips of wood, if your chainsaw chain is producing saw dust this is a sure sign it needs sharpening. The second tell-tale sign is when you need to push the chain to make it cut through the wood, a chain should glide through wood with very little effort so if you are having to push to cut sharpen it!

When looking at the chain itself if you can see a line of light on the cutting edge, the chain is blunt (see below). The teeth on a chain are chrome plated; the thin hard chrome edge of the chain does all the work. To keep your chainsaw cutting efficiently, you must file the chain as when you lose the chrome edge the cutting performance drops rapidly.

Line of light on a chainsaw chain

How Often Will My Chain Need Sharpening?

Unfortunately there is no set answer to this question. A chain can last anywhere from 30 seconds to 3 months dependent upon what and where you are cutting. Those cutting close to the ground, muddy logs or roots of a tree (although not recommended with a chainsaw) will find their chain will blunt very quickly, those who are cutting planed softwood will find their chain will last much longer.

What Do I Need To Sharpen My Chainsaw Chain?

To correctly file your chainsaw chain you will require a round file, a flat file, combination gauge (Husqvarna only) or file holder (Stihl only) and a handle for the files. The cheapest way to purchase this is usually in a file kit which can be found from all the top brand manufacturers including Husqvarna and Stihl. These value for money kits include everything you need to be able to sharpen at home right away. To choose the correct filing kit you need to check the gauge and pitch of your chainsaw chain which can usually be found written on the chainsaw bar, alternatively please email our Webteam with information on the make and model of the chainsaw for help.

How To Sharpen A Chainsaw Chain

Identify the shortest tooth on the chainsaw chain and start here – its best practice to mark the tooth which you will begin with to avoid repeat filing.

Take the combination gauge and position it on the chain as per the below image, the arrows on the combination gauge should point in the direction of rotation.

Take the round file and place at a 90° angle on the combination gauge as per the below image, this is the best practice as it will give you the correct 30° angle which is ideal for filing. You should file with both hands, resting the file on both rollers either side of the combination gauge. You should file every other tooth so that it is sharp and equal in size (very important!).

Angle of file to guide for perfect sharpening

One you have made you way round the chain (back to the marked tooth) move the file to the opposite side and do exactly the same to the teeth on this side, as per the previous direction.

Once you have sharpened the teeth on the chain, you need to take a look at the depth gauge. The depth gauge is the piece of metal which stands up in front of the cutting edge (image below). This depth gauge should sit about 0.6mm below the height of the cutter when looking at the cutter from the side.

This depth gauge governs how much wood is allowed into the cutter, it’s always recommended you use a file guide as taking too much off the chain can ruin the chain instantly; taking too much off can raise the risk of kickbacks.

0.6mm distance between tooth and depth gauge

When Should I Have My Chainsaw Chain Sharpened Professionally?

If you find that when cutting your chainsaw chain is curving to the left or right you should have your chain sharpened professionally or renew the chain if you prefer. This means that the tooth and depth gauge on one side is at different rates than the other side forcing it to cut at an angle as one side of the chain will grab more wood than the other. If you have been using your chainsaw chain in this condition for some time you may have caused further damage to your bar or even the sprocket, please contact our Webteam if you require help or more information on this.

If you find your chainsaw chain will only product saw dust and not large chips of wood or if the chain is trying to burn through the wood instead of cutting. This is a sign that you may have hit an abrasive material accidentally whilst cutting on one side of the saw. Usually when this happens it’s worth purchasing a new chain.

Can World of Power Sharpen My Chain For Me?

World of Power offer a professional chainsaw sharpening service, simply pop your chain in the post to ourselves with the chain service form which can be found here. We will file the chain and post back to you once payment for the service has been received. We will perform a health check on your chain and advice if you should purchase a new chain rather than sharpen this decision in on a case by case basis – our Web team will contact you in the event of this.

How Do I Know If I Need A New Chain?

  • Teeth are Broken
  • Teeth are missing
  • You have been using the chain too slack will has caused wear on the bottom of the tooth
  • You have been using  the chain too tight will has caused wear on the front of the tooth
  • There is damage to the chain, possibly where you have hit something
  • When you get to the wear line at the back of the tooth or on the depth gauge line

If you are unsure, you can use the postal service which is explained above. Our technician will inspect the chain and let you know if you should sharpen or renew your chain. For those who need a renewal, we stock a full range of chainsaw chains which we can post back to you immediately using a next day courier service.