Using a chainsaw is a bit harder than other mechanical power tools. A chainsaw is very good for cutting and felling trees and large woods or wooden logs. It is quite risky and dangerous too. And over that, if your chainsaw blade is dull and blunt then you are in serious trouble. A chainsaw blade requires sharpening after a number of particular times of use. If it is not sharpened necessarily then you will find it very hard to work with your saw and there is no doubt that you need a top chainsaw sharpener to get the best results. Moreover, to sharpen a chainsaw, different methods are applied. Most commonly, a chainsaw is sharpened using different sharpening tools made for this task. Below here, there is a complete guide waiting for you to learn how to use a chainsaw sharpener to sharpen a chainsaw.
A round file with file guide
A flat file with a depth-gauge guide
Do not use a rat tail file because their pointy end can cause harm to your blade cutter’s teeth and ruin it permanently. This might make you replace your whole saw chain or even the whole chainsaw.
Parts of the chain which requires sharpening
A chainsaw chain can be divided into many parts according to their position and work. But among them, you have to sharpen only three parts. Now we are going to have a brief discussion on those three parts.
Cutters: Cutters are present on both sides of the chain. These cutters present in the chainsaw chain are the materials that perform the task of cutting. They cut simultaneously at the same time. This is the part of your chainsaw chain which requires sharpening mainly. They become dull after being used for a few times.
Depth gauge: It is a metallic structure which looks like a shark fin present just beside the cutters. Its height is very minutely shorter than the height of the cutter. After sharpening the cutters, the height between the cutters and this depth gauge can become equal or sometimes less. If the height of the cutters becomes equal or less than depth gauge, then it will obstruct the cutters during cutting. So the height of the depth gauge must be reduced. So every time you sharpen a cutter, you have to sharpen the depth gauge beside it too.
When to sharpen your chainsaw chain
There are times specified when you need to sharpen the chainsaw. When you are cutting with your chainsaw, if the sharpness of chain is perfectly up to the mark, the waste materials produced by the chain will be in chips. And if you see that the chain is giving powdered dust as waste materials then it is a symptom that the chain has become dull. So keep an eye on the waste products produced from the chainsaw. When the waste comes in powder, sharpen your chainsaw’s cutters immediately.
If you are having trouble when cutting with your chainsaw like if it is taking more time than earlier and much more force than regular or if the kickback ratio is higher than the normal then it is sure that the chain has become dull. Because a sharp chain requires little less force than a dull chain. And sharp chains will not kickback while cutting. So if you face any of the above-mentioned situations while using your saw, you should know that it is high time for you to sharpen the saw.
How to sharpen your chainsaw
First of all, before you start sharpening your chainsaw, you need to prepare it for the task. To begin, you have to clamp the bar of your saw first to make sure it is immobile. To clamp it, you can use a tabletop clamp or a vise. Then after clamping it properly so that it cannot move around, tighten the chain with the tension adjusting knob. Read your saw’s instruction manual to find out where this tension adjusting screw is. Because the position of this knob varies from model to model, saw to saw.
If you do not have a tabletop clamp then you can always remove the chain and place it on your vise and then sharpen it. And if you do not have a vise still, you can just cut a kerf on a wooden log and place the chain between the cut tightly and then sharpen it.
After making a comfortable working space, the next thing you have to do is to mark the first cutter you will work on. You won’t want to sharpen the same cutter over and over. Mark the first cutter with a permanent marker. Don’t worry; the mark will come off after using the saw for a couple of times. Some chainsaw chain may have some unique distinguishing sign on their body. Search for this sign and remember it.
Next, make sure that the round file which you are going to use on the chain to sharpen it has the same diameter as the teeth of the cutters. Because the teeth of the cutters of all saws are not the same. So you have to select the file which matches with the diameter of teeth of your cutter.
It would be better to use a file holder. A file holder is a tool that is used to hold a file at the specific position and angle in which you want to file the saw. Using it will help you hold the file on the cutter and file it at the same angle without making any misplacement. The ideal angle is 30o. But it varies from saw to saw.
Now to start sharpening the saw, slide the file across the face of the cutter. Make sure that the strokes are in the outward direction, i.e. away from your body. Count every stroke you make. It is very important. Usually, five or six strokes are enough to sharpen a cutter. But the exact number of strokes you have to make depends on the sharpness. So count every stroke and sharpen all your cutter in the exact same number of stoke you make on the first one. Be careful about these strokes because if you sharpen different cutters differently then you will face problem while you make cuts with the saw.
To know if the cutter is sharp or not, look if the cutter has become shiny and silver colored. Or if it is sharp then it will feel sharp when you look at it. And if you are still in doubt then you can check our chainsaw sharpening guide!
After you are done sharpening every cutters and depth gauges in the exact same way, lose the chain again with the help of tension adjusting knob. A chainsaw can be sharpened 10 times and over before replacing it. If your cutter has become severely damaged then you should replace it instead of sharpening it. And to measure if the depth gauges at the same height from the cutters, you can use the depth gauge guide. Always remember to keep its height slightly less than the cutters. But, never more than the cutters.