STIHL Chain Saws: How To Sharpen Your Chain Saw Chain

Stihl Chain

If you use a STIHL chain saw, whether you use one at home for advanced lawn care and landscaping, or you use it for business purposes, it’s important to make sure your chain saw is always in good working order. This will extend the life of the chain saw and allow it to work properly and most importantly, safely as well.

For that reason, you’ll want to make sure that your chain saw chain is sharpened properly at all times. This allows you to maximize the function of your chain saw and helps you to make short order of the job for which you are using the chain saw. While the steps necessary for sharpening your chain saw aren’t difficult, they can be a bit time consuming.

The first step is to make sure your chain saw is completely clean. This will include removing the bar, the chain and then completely cleaning and lubricating the chain saw. Once you have given your STIHL chain saw a proper cleaning, it’s time to put it back together. Simply reattach the chain and bar; now you are ready to start sharpening your chain saw’s chain.

Before attempting to sharpen your chain saw’s chain, you need to make sure you have all the necessary tools. You will need both a file guide and round files. The guide will have a section on the bottom where you can affix the right size round file.

In addition, you will need a set of flat files, a depth gauge and a stump vice if you are sharpening your chain saw in the field. You will need a bench vice if you’re sharpening your chain at a work table.

The next step is to visually inspect each cutter on the chain and ensure that the teeth in the chain are the same length and are filed evenly with the file that is appropriate. It’s important that an equal length be established at the top plates.

In addition, you want to make sure that the depth measuring tool, which will be used to set the height of each individual tooth, is set to the proper depth. To do this, you’ll want to refer to your chain saw owner’s manual to set the correct settings for your depth gauge when sharpening the chain.

Once you have made sure all your file setting and depth gauge settings are correct, you should look at the chain and pick out the cutter that is the most damaged and sharpen it. This will be your starting point and this cutter will serve as your master cutter by which all of the chains other cutters will be measured by.

It’s important to carefully monitor how you go about sharpening this particular cutter. When you file down the cutter and sharpen the tooth by filing down the drag. Pay attention to how many strokes you use on the cutter until it is done. In addition, take special note as to how much downward pressure you exert in your filing motion. You will want to use either the exact amount of strokes and pressure or perhaps less on the other cutter teeth of the chain saw blade. This allows you a more unified sharpening of all the cutters on the chain.

To correctly sharpen the cutter take your file guide, with the appropriate round file inserted underneath and place it on the top plate. The file should snugly rest inside the rake, or the bottom-rounded section of the tooth. This, and its up sloping edges on either side, is what you are sharpening.

Starting from the inside of the chain saw and moving in a forward motion, begin running the guide over the cutter using the top plate as a guide. It’s important that you keep your file guide level at all times and never run the file in a backwards motion. Always file the cutter moving forward; and always use the recommended size round file to sharpen the cutter. Using too large of a file will result in large chips of wood being cut when you use your chain saw. Using too small of a file will not produce any significant sharpening.

Once you have filed the cutter to what looks like the appropriate length, check your work with a depth gauge tool. Place the gauge on the cutter plate. If you notice any part of the tooth that is longer than recommended, take a flat file and slowly file it down to where it is flush with the slot in your depth gauge. Repeat this process with each cutter on the chain until all the cutters have been attended to.

If you feel uneasy working with a chain to sharpen it, you can always purchase a few extra chains. When you notice that the chain is in need of sharpening, you can remove the old chain, install a replacement and simply take your dull chain to a local STIHL authorized service center to have your chain sharpened.

 is a proud dealer of outdoor power equipment for many popular brands like STIHLBOB-CAT® and  Toro. For more information and money saving coupons visit us online at, call or visit us at any of our two convenient locations: Elgin, IL (815) 788-1616 and Crystal Lake, IL (847) 695-1616

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One Response to STIHL Chain Saws: How To Sharpen Your Chain Saw Chain

  1. Wow. Great tips you have here. Thanks for sharing!

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