How to Sharpen a Chainsaw

Whether you are doing work around the yard, or you use a chainsaw for your business, keeping the blade sharp is very important. A sharp blade will not only help to cut better, but it is also a very crucial safety issue. A dull blade can cause the chainsaw to skip across surfaces, possibly leading to the chain coming off entirely, as well as the possibility of you losing control of the chainsaw. Furthermore, a dull blade means more strain is placed on the engine. This can lead to overheating, and potentially, a fire.

If you have found your chainsaw’s blade to be dull, you could purchase a new one, you could sharpen it yourself, or pay to have someone sharpen it for you. Sharpening your blade instead of buying a new one is a cost effective way to keep your equipment in top working order for many years to come. Sharpening your blade yourself is also a great way to get to know your equipment, and how it functions, better.

The first step in the process of sharpening your blade is to determine its size. Chainsaw blades vary in size and gauge, but there are a few standard sizes. If you are unsure, take a look in your owner’s manual, on the chainsaw itself, or on the blade. The information relating to size should be there. This is important to know because you will need to get either a rotary grindstone or a chainsaw blade file (this article will discuss using a chainsaw blade file) that matches the blade size. As is always the case when attempting to do anything with the blade of a chainsaw, ensure the machine is off and cooled down before attempting to do anything. Also, it is recommended to wear thick work gloves so you have less of a chance of cutting yourself.

The next step involves cleaning and inspecting the chain. A commercial cleaning and de-greasing agent can be used to wash away any dirt and oil from the chain. At this point, you will want to inspect the chain for missing or broken teeth. If you find too many of these, it may be wise to simply replace the chain altogether, as a chain that is only half functional is worthless. As well, this is another safety precaution, as a worn out chain can become weak while in operation, resulting in it snapping.

After you have cleaned and inspected the chain, set the chainsaw on a solid, flat surface. Another idea is to clamp the chainsaw’s bar in a vice, which allows the chain to move freely. You may also want to slightly loosen the tension on the chain via the tension screw. Be cautious not to loosen it too much, as this will interfere when you are filing the teeth. From here, you will need to find the lead cutter, which will be the shortest cutter on the chain. Depending on wear, you may find the lead cutter difficult to locate, as each cutter may be the same size. If so, start anywhere, but mark the starting place so you know where you began.

Take the file and place it in the angled notch in front of the flat surface on the tooth. You need to try to match the angle of the file with the angle of the original sharpening. You may need to move some lighting around in order to see this. From here, you can begin to use the file to sharpen the blade. Go through each tooth and using a slight twisting motion as you lightly file. After you have gone completely around the bar and have filed the entire chain, turn the saw around and begin the process on the other side of the teeth, again paying attention to the angle with which you are filing. Once this is done, check for proper tension and oil levels. During the process of cleaning and sharpening, the chain could have come loose and oil levels could have moved, so it is always best to double check. If you loosened the chain, tighten it back.

While this process is relatively simple, it is very important that you are sure you know what you are doing. As mentioned, chains that are not properly cared for can cause fatal accidents, as well as broken equipment. If you are unsure of what you are doing, you may want to consider taking your chainsaw to a professional to have it sharpened. In fact, it is recommended to have a blade sharpened by a professional after it has been sharpened by hand about 5 times. There are many trusted technicians, such as Ralph Helm Inc. that can assist you in ensuring your blade is sharpened and working in proper and safe order.


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