How to Sharpen a Chainsaw

Sharpening a chainsaw can be a tedious process that seems to never end. But, if you want your saw to cut like it used to, then there are some things you need to do.

In this article, we will go over the steps necessary for sharpening and maintaining your chainsaw so that it is always in top condition.

Step 1: Prepare the Chainsaw for Sharpening

Before you can sharpen your saw, you have to make sure it is safe and ready. First, if possible, remove any tree limbs or branches that are still attached.

You will need the following items:

  • A file
  • Oil for the chain and bar
  • Brush
  • Sandpaper or emery cloth grit 400-800 (the higher the number the finer your chainsaw’s cut)
  • Gloves to protect your hands from sharp edges on both wood and metal

Step 2: Inspect the Chain

When you first take your chainsaw out of its case, check to make sure that everything is in order. Look at all parts of the chain and see if there are any loose or dull blades.

If you find any broken links, then remove them with wire cutters before sharpening begins. You should also use a file to clean up any burrs on the blades – these are small pieces of metal that have broken off from another blade.

Step 3: Clean and Oil

Once you’ve checked over your saw, it is time to clean. Use gasoline or kerosene in a tub large enough to hold your chain so that all the parts get covered with liquid.

Get a brush and scrub the chain thoroughly. While you are cleaning, check for any bent or loose teeth that might need to be removed before sharpening begins.

Step 4: Sharpen the Chain

Now that you have everything ready, it’s time to get started.

Start the chainsaw up and let it run for a few minutes so that all of the components inside will warm up. This makes the metal more pliable to work with.

First, you need to identify which type of chainsaw file is best for your saw. For most models, an 18-inch mill bastard file will be sufficient.

Start with a file on one of the teeth in order to establish an angle. This will help you hold your file properly and also prevent it from slipping off the edge of the tooth.

File a couple of teeth on one side, then turn around to do some more filing on the other side before turning off your saw again. You can repeat this process until all edges are level with each other or even slightly up-turned.

Step 5: Sharpen the Blade

Now it’s time to turn your attention back towards the blade. Remove the guide bar from your chainsaw again so that you can access each tooth individually for sharpening. If you have an up-turned edge, simply file down one side until it is level with its opposite number on the other side.

If the tooth is down-turned, you will need to file a little bit on both sides until it becomes level with its neighbors. If your saw’s teeth are heavily damaged or worn out, then you may want to replace them before putting everything back together again.

Step 6: Check Chain Tension

After you have sharpened your chain, the next step is to check the tension. This will prevent your chain from jumping off of the bar during use.

Step 7: Oil the Chain

Once you’ve checked your chain tension, it’s time to oil up. Use bar and chainsaw oil in order to keep your blade lubricated. This will prevent rusting while also helping all moving parts stay smooth and easy to use. A little bit of this fluid goes a long way, so make sure to put it on sparingly.

Step 8: Remove the Filing Dust

The next step is to remove all excess filing dust by using your wire brush attachment on the chainsaw itself to clean out the teeth after filing.

Step 9: Maintain and Store Your Chainsaw

Now that you have everything sharpened, it is a good idea to maintain your saw so that its performance does not diminish over time. First of all, be sure to clean out the carburetor and air filter before putting the guide bar back on.

Afterward, apply some light oil or lubricant to the chain in order to avoid rusting. If you don’t have any lubricant, then clean the chain with some gasoline and a rag or cloth in order to remove all of the excess oil from previous use.

Step 10: Store Your Chainsaw for Next Time

Be sure that everything is tightly screwed back together before storing your saw away until its next sharpening session. Make sure to keep your saw in a place where it will not be exposed to the elements and that is free from anything that could damage its sharp edges.

Your chainsaw should last you many years if properly maintained at regular intervals!


If you want your chainsaw to cut like new, then there are some steps involved. Sharpening and maintaining a saw can be tedious work, but if done correctly it will ensure that your chainsaw cuts properly and lasts longer than expected.

We hope this article was helpful in guiding you through the process of sharpening and maintaining your chainsaw so that it is always ready for another day on the job.