How to Sharpen a Chainsaw


Professional loggers sharpen their chainsaw blades several times a day. They know that when you cut with a dull chainsaw, you cause unnecessary wear and tear on its operating mechanisms and ultimately shorten its life span. A good indication of the sharpness of your blade is the debris it leaves behind. A sharp chainsaw leaves behind solid wood chips while a dull blade leaves sawdust in its wake.

Step 1

Secure the chainsaw's blade in the vice so that it rests in a horizontal position.

Step 2

Tighten the chain. First, loosen the nuts that hold the bar in place. Then turn the screw (located somewhere between the bar and body of your chainsaw-- check your owner's manual if you are unsure of its location) that adjusts chain tension clockwise until the chain is no longer slack but can still be moved up and down the bar. Then re-tighten the nuts that hold the bar in place.

Step 3

Attach the file guide somewhere in the middle of the chain. Position the tips of the file guide's metal fingers at the base of the cutters, just above the rivets of the chain. Then clamp the file in place by tightening the wing bolt.

Step 4

Position the round file. Loosen the adjustment knob on the side of the file guide. Place the file loosely in the guide and align it with the angle of the cutter's edge. Then tighten the adjustment knob to hold the file in place.

Step 5

Sharpen the cutters and file away any imperfections. File each cutter using firm pressure and full strokes. Count the number of strokes that you use on each cutter. Continue to file all of the cutters on one side of the chain using the same amount of strokes for each. Then move to the other side of the chain to sharpen those cutters with the same number of strokes.

Step 6

Remove the file guide. Consult your owner's manual to determine the recommended depth gauge height. Then place the depth-gauge jointing tool over the chain in the slot that corresponds to your chainsaw's depth gauge. If the depth gauge is flush with the slot, then it does not need filing. However, if the depth gauge protrudes above the slot, it will need to be filed down. File the depth gauge using the 6-inch flat file until it is flush with the top of the slot.

Step 7

Remove the depth gauge jointing tool. Then loosen the nuts that hold the bar in place. Next, turn the chain tension screw counter-clockwise until the chain hangs loosely. Then place one hand on the tip of the bar while tightening (clockwise) the tension screw until just before all of the slack is gone. Finally, tighten the nuts that hold the bar in place. Now, rotate the chain. If it moves freely, then the tension is just right.

Things You'll Need

  • Vice
  • Round file
  • 6-inch flat file
  • Clamp-on file guide
  • Depth-gauge jointing tool


  • Grounds Magazine: How to Sharpen a Chainsaw
  • Jonesred: Learning to Sharpen a Chainsaw
Keywords: sharpen blade, sharpen chainsaw, sharpen cutters

About this Author

Emma Gin is a freelance writer who specializes in green, healthy and smart living. She is currently working on developing a weight-loss website that focuses on community and re-education. Gin is also working on a collection of short stories, because she knows what they say about idle hands.