How to correctly sharpen a chainsaw chain on a machine

chain saw sharpening with your own hands

The chain tooth planes the wood like a planer and the chip thickness is adjusted by the height of the stop.

Intense sawing leads to rapid blunting of the chain. Several sharpening operations may be required in one day. The problem is exacerbated because the tooth dulls quickly on impact with the ground. Once or twice the guide bar hits the ground, you can stop working. the chips become fine and the saw stops going deeper into the wood.

Tooth of chain saw after hitting the ground and any rocks in it

The earlier the blunt teeth are sharpened, the less material needs to be removed for sharpening, consequently. the service life of the saw chain is prolonged. It is quite easy to determine when it is time to sharpen the chain. Feeding force is an important feature. A properly sharpened chain can be drawn into the cut with just a light pressure. If, on the contrary, a chainsaw is forced to cut with an increased feed force, the teeth are blunt. A dull chain can also be recognised when, instead of coarse, thick chips, only small chips fly out of the cut.

In this situation, the chainsaw needs to be sharpened urgently. Do not cut with a blunt or defective saw chain. High body stress, high cyclic load, poor cutting performance. it also means a reduction in performance, high fuel consumption and increased wear of all chainsaw components.

Dimensions of chain teeth

In order to achieve optimum cutting performance, certain angles are given to the tooth blades. Backward sloping back of tooth forms the rear corner of the top blade. This angle is used to plunge the upper blade into the wood.

correctly, sharpen, chainsaw, chain

The backward tapering blade of the tooth forms the back angle of the end blade. This angle is for the side cut of the chip.

Edge of an end blade forms a front angle with the sliding surface of the cutting link. The forward angles of different types of chains range from 60 to 85 °.

The posterior angle of the upper blade characterizes the slope of the upper blade backward.

This angle is measured with respect to the cutting edge sliding plane and has a value between 50° and 60°, depending on the type of saw chain. the upper blade is the main blade and the rear angle of the upper blade. It is the most important angle. The back angle of the upper blade is difficult to measure; its correct value is formed by observing other prescribed values.

The sharpening angle or plan angle is obtained by measuring from the upper cutting edge at right angles to the guide bar.

correctly, sharpen, chainsaw, chain

The sharpening angle can be varied depending on the application. Main rule: the higher the sharpening angle, the better the cutting performance when cutting soft and frost-free wood. Reduced sharpening angle when cutting frozen and/or hard wood results in smoother running of the saw and a reduction in vibration. However, sharpening angles greater than 35° and less than 25° should be avoided (the exception is longitudinal sawing chains, which have an angle of 10°).

Anchor angle, sharpening angle and upper blade angle. These angles have a decisive effect on the cutting capacity of the chain. Be sure to observe the prescribed values.

There is a depth limiter on each cutting link in front of the tooth blade. The height difference between the top edge of the depth gauge and the leading edge of the back tooth is defined as the distance of the depth gauge.

The depth limiter distance determines the cutting depth of the upper blade into the wood (chip thickness) and therefore the output. The depth limiter distance is set according to the pitch of the chain and the design. It should normally be at 0.5-0.8 mm, more frequently 0.6 mm. High values will cause the chainsaw to be more prone to kickback, too much grip, and chain vibration. Low values cause loss of performance. Because the depth limiter distance decreases with each sharpening of the saw blade as the top edge of the tooth decreases, the depth limiter also needs periodic filing. after 5-10 chain sharpening cycles.

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Tools for sharpening chains

On the holder with a circular file there are mowing lines that allow you to position it correctly in relation to the chain. The holder is placed on the tooth to be sharpened according to the orientation lines. The plate itself rests on the top edge of the tooth and the depth stop, and the file is positioned underneath the cutting edge.

Using a file holder ensures that the file fits the tooth at the correct height. For the different chain pitches there are different sharpening bars. The right handpiece combined with the right file diameter ensures that the file protrudes over the back of the tooth by 1/5 of its diameter. Only use special files for sharpening saw chains.

Before sharpening the chain of a chainsaw it is advisable to secure the bar. When sharpening, it is necessary, while holding the file against the edge to be sharpened, to make several (2-3) sharpening motions from inside out. Do not try to press the file too hard, but move it in a smooth and measured motion. Turn the file regularly to avoid unilateral wear. Sharpen all other teeth in the same manner. It is more convenient to sharpen the teeth of one direction first, then change position and do the same with the teeth of the other direction.

When sharpening all teeth, make the same number of file movements at the same pressure. This ensures the teeth have the same length. All cutting teeth should be the same length. Different tooth lengths cause uneven running and cracking of the chain. If the teeth are of uneven length, all cutters should be filed to the length of the shortest tooth.

After sharpening the cutting teeth several times, the depth limiter should be resharpened. To do this, the template is placed on it so that the limiter falls into the slot, and the tip protruding from the slot is ground with a flat file.

Such kits, with different accessories, are sold in many tool dealers, and different sets and individual files are sold.

The principle of using another set for sharpening chainsaw chains is not different from the first, although its design has differences.

A round file is also used to sharpen the cutting tooth, and a depth limiter is used to sharpen the. flat. A special template provides sharpening parameters for both cutting teeth and stops. In the first case, it is put on the chain so that it falls into its slots. The file placed on the template and brought under the cutting edge rests on the guide rollers. The direction of the file should be parallel to the side edges of the template.

When grinding the limiter, place the template so that the limiter is in the slot marked SOFT (for soft wood) or HARD (for hard wood). As with the first saw, sharpening is performed in smooth, even backward movements of the flat file.

Chainsaw chain sharpening machines

STIHL offers two manual machines. The FG 2 stationary unit and the FG 1 mobile unit that is mounted directly on the guide rail. There are analogues of less known firms, commensurate in price with simpler devices described above.


The working part of these devices is structurally similar to a buzz saw, in which instead of the saw blade a round long file is inserted. The FG 1 and FG 2 not only sharpen the chain but also straighten it by adjusting the length of the top edge of all the teeth to the same size. By the smallest tooth, which is taken as a reference. Pretty complicated adjustment mechanism allows to set all the necessary parameters. Sharpening is made by 2-3 movements, then proceed to the next tooth, keeping for it all the settings that were made for the control tooth. This ensures the same sharpening parameters for all teeth. When the limiter is worn out, the round file changes to a flat file.

Electric chain sharpening machines for chainsaws are easy and convenient to use. It has an adjustment system that allows you to set the chain at the desired angle and bring the disc precisely to the sharpened edge. There are machines that automatically clamp the vise when the disc is lowered onto the chain.

How to extend chain life

As we have already noted, the performance of a chainsaw depends largely on the quality and serviceability of the saw head. In this regard, the question before the owners of the tools is: what chain to choose and how to extend its service life??

There are chains for gardening equipment on the market, but we would recommend to focus on the products of the Canadian company Oregon. Tools, accessories and consumables from this manufacturer have a long and respected reputation among chainsaw users. Numerous reviews speak volumes about the reliability and durability of Oregon chains. The answer to the cost question also does not spoil your mood: from 8 to 20 for domestic and semi-professional models.

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A number of simple rules to help keep the saw’s headset in good working order:

  • When replacing the chain with a new one, the drive sprocket should be changed;
  • A new saw headset should be run-in before use. Start the engine and run it at varying speeds for a short period of time (2-3 minutes). During this time, the lubricant will penetrate all the holes and the drive sprocket will work its way into the chain;
  • Keep your chainsaw’s automatic lubrication system in good working order, refill the oil in time and clean the oil lines;
  • Check and adjust the tension from time to time;
  • Sharpening teeth and depth stops correctly and in good time. this improves your productivity and prolongs the life of your chainsaw and the chain as a whole;


In electric chain sharpeners, special grinding wheels are used to sharpen the chains, which gradually wear down.

Instructions for changing the wheel are in the user manual, but we will talk about the characteristics to consider when buying a new one.

How to Sharpen a Chainsaw?

The characteristics of a sharpening wheel are as follows:

  • Grit size (number of grains per centimeter squared, the fewer the grains, the smoother the sharpening)
  • outside diameter;
  • diameter of the fitting hole;
  • thickness.

Important: when buying a new sharpening wheel, make sure the bore and maximum diameter of the wheel are identical to those of the sharpening machine; otherwise the wheel will not fit.

Diameter of the grinding wheel bore, must correspond exactly to the machine’s bushing, the outside diameter can be smaller, it is not critical.

The thickness of the sharpening wheel depends on the size of the chain to be sharpened. Mostly 3.2 and 4.5 mm grinding wheels are used.

The consumable for handheld machines, is a file.

On our site you can find an article, which describes in detail how to choose a file for sharpening the chain, to pick up a file for a manual machine need similar.

What sharpening tools are available?

To begin work, you need to stock up on tools, which are divided into two types.

Hand tools

A set of tools necessary for sharpening the teeth of the saw:

  • The flat file that you learn to use in your schoolwork class. Grind the depth stop with it.
  • A round file of a certain diameter needed for sharpening a cutting tooth. It comes with an additional device. a holder with lines that tell you how to hold the tool in relation to the chain. Holder is placed on saw tooth with respect to guide lines, file position is under the cutting surface.
  • Template, which is used for dressing and compliance with parameters.
  • A hook is needed to remove sawdust from the chain.

Sets of various equipment can be purchased at specialized stores

Metal sharpening templates help calculate sharpening depth

Manual and electric machines

How to sharpen a chainsaw chain if the cutting edge has absolutely lost its shape due to prolonged use? Files can also be used, but the process would be unproductive and time-consuming. The best option. the use of machines, and here you have to choose, because machines can be different. manual and electric.

STIHL hand held chain sharpening machine

Parameters are set before the work, and the processing is much faster than using files: for sharpening each tooth it is enough for 2-3 movements. Electric chain saws are also difficult to set up but work quickly and accurately.

An electric machine can save a lot of time, but not everyone is willing to shell out a lot of money for it

How to sharpen a chainsaw chain with your own hands at home: with a angle grinder, a file and on a machine

Today there is nearly no man who would not have at his disposal such a unique and most powerful tool of its kind for gardening and construction work as a chainsaw (see the. How to choose a chainsaw). In fact, this device is the best mechanism for performing complex and large amounts of work, such as sawing wood. It has enough power to carry out its activities for at least twelve hours practically without stopping (see the “Power of the machine” on page 25). the most reliable chainsaw rating). It is not surprising, then, that chainsaws have such a high level of popularity and demand these days. But, in spite of all its positive characteristics, this device, or rather its integral part, such as the chain, through long use can blunt. Naturally, as they say, not a big trouble, as it is very simple and fast you can sharpen with their own hands.

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That’s what this article is about. Here you can learn about the direct mechanism of the chain itself, as well as how and by what means you can quickly sharpen “your tool” for work. And also for you will be presented a couple of tips that are definitely useful to you. Let’s get down to the subject.

Sharpening the chain with an angle grinder

If you have an angle grinder, then you can sharpen the chain of a chainsaw much faster. It is best to use a small angle grinder with a 125 mm wheel. Grinding is done at low rpm. There are two ways to sharpen the angle grinder.

Method 1

we put the chainsaw on the table, and clamp the bar in a vice, to prevent it from moving during the work. We set low revolutions on the angle grinder (if there is only a smooth regulation, then do not strongly press the start button). We guide the disk at an angle of 30° relative to the plane of the tooth, and tilt it slightly (as shown in the photo). Gently press on the tooth with gentle strokes.

The main thing with this method is not to overheat the tooth and not to cut too much metal. It is much easier to damage the teeth by sharpening with this method than with a hand file, but the sharpening speed increases many times over.

Method 2

In this case it is necessary to hold the angle grinder motionlessly. Can be clamped in a vice or screwed to the workbench. Sharpening is made as on an ordinary grinding wheel. Hold the chain with your hands and turn it to grind at 30° angle. With this method your hands are less tired, because you need to hold the chain and not the angle grinder. But the risk of injury increases many times over. We recommend to use this method infrequently or not to use it at all, as safety is still more important than speed or quality of sharpening.

How to understand that the chain is blunt?

There are several indications that you can tell if the chain is not currently serviceable:

  • physical effort is needed for the same action.
  • Stretching of the chain.
  • A vibrating sensation when working with the tool.
  • Uneven sawdust that, in addition, becomes more like dust.

There are also a number of reasons why a chain can become blunt:

  • Improper handling.
  • Contact with too hard objects, such as rocks.
  • Working too long and too voluminous.

Specifics of chain saw teeth

A chain saw’s teeth are very specific, so to know which part needs sharpening, you need to know how the wood is cut. In fact, this process can be compared to a planer.

The cutting link in the teeth is constructed as follows:

While sharpening manually, it is necessary to control such parameters as sharpening angle and height of the limiter. These parameters should remain close to those stated by the manufacturer. Correct sharpening ensures that the tool functions properly.

It is not recommended to mill the links too much or change their order. Correct alignment is essential for proper tool operation; otherwise, there is a risk of stress on the housing and motor of the tool. There is a risk of tearing the links and a guarantee of a crooked cut.

The main thing to pay attention to when carrying out the process at home and with your own hands is the following: the higher the angle, the stronger the performance of the saw. That is why it is necessary to perform the process of bringing the saw into working condition at an acute angle between 25 and 35 degrees. Exceptions include cases where it is necessary to perform a longitudinal cut, then the angle is 10 degrees.

Anyone who has ever worked with a sharp chainsaw quickly knows when a chain needs sharpening. There are several ways to determine this:

  • When you cut wood, you end up with almost dust instead of chips;
  • the time of operations increases;
  • the strain on the hands is felt;
  • Fuel consumption increases;
  • The saw gets stuck, pulls out of your hands;
  • the bevels turn out crooked.

Sharpening should be done as soon as possible, and not only because the tool becomes hard to work with. Unsharpened chain shortens its service life and the chainsaw mechanism itself wears out faster, fails earlier than it is supposed to.

Chainsaw sharpening school.Your saw will cut faster after this video

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