Workplace training and safety blog
Posted in Chainsaw, Safety

How to Sharpen a Chainsaw

Chainsaw sharpening using a standard round file and guide.

Your first task when sharpening a chainsaw chain is to identify which of the cutters has had the most damage like small chips and nicks. This is important because you want to sharpen this tooth first counting the amount of file strokes it takes to get the correct edge back or until sharp. When it comes to sharpening the remaining links on the chain you can sharpen each cutter the same amount as the first one to maintain the same wear evenly on all cutters. This will ensure the chain wears out evenly throughout the chains life.  Scott McDonald has been using chainsaw for 10 years.

Once you have selected the tooth that has the most wear mark it with a permanent marker as you will come back to it later.  The next step is to tension the saw chain correctly as we want the chain to stay seated while we apply pressure to it with the round file Once the chain is tensioned correctly (just a little bit tighter then operation spec) fasten the chainsaw securely on a workshop vice or if in the bush use a stump vice, making sure the guide bar is level in the vice. This is important as you do not want the saw to move at all throughout the sharpening process.  Learn more about chainsaw training

Find the tooth with the permanent marker, this will be the tooth you start with first. Be sure to select the correct round file diameter to match the pitch of the chain for example a 3/8” chain pitch will run a 5.2mm round file. Information on chain pitch and round file size will be available in the owner’s manual for your chainsaw.  Once the correct file has been selected attach the file holder and connect the file guide to the round file.  Inspect the file guide for the scored 30 degree lines this will be the angle you sharpen your standard chain at.

Place round file and guide into the cutting edge of the chain, you must hold the file level at 90 degrees to the guide bar. Then with the 30 degree lines on the file holder line them up so they run parallel to the guide bar. The angle that the round file now has in relation to the chain is 30 degrees you must maintain the same 30 degree angle throughout the file stroke.

Chainsaw chains are only filed one way, like how a chisel is only sharpened on one edge. This means when filing the chain a single stroke forward with the file is all that is needed. You will need to repeat this process until the chain is sharpened to the correct angle or until any blunt edges or damages are removed from the cutter. Once the first tooth is completed repeat the same process on all of the cutters. The same amount of strokes of the file should be used on all cutters to ensure even wear on the chain throughout the chains life.  See Scott's history

Once one side of the chain has been sharpened flip the chainsaw around in the vice and repeat the process to the opposite cutters. Be sure to position yourself correctly in relation to the chainsaw as you will have a steadier and stronger action when sharpening.

After all the cutters have been sharpened you must check the chains depth gauge. To check the depth gauge you will need a depth gauge tool (supplied with sharpening kit). Place the depth gauge tool over the chain if there is any metal tag protruding past the depth gauge setting plate then you must file the tag down flush to the tool. If you have had to file down your depth gauge you may need to give the depth gauge a leading edge by rounding the face of the depth gauge with a flat file. As the saw chain wears out the more likely you will need to adjust the depth gauge.

Your last step is to adjust the chain tension to operation spec, fasten all bar nuts and your ready to cut your next load of wood.  Scott McDonald is a chainsaw Trainer.

Chainsaw Won't Start

  1. The first thing I would check is the fuel and oil mixture.
  2. How old is the fuel? If you’re not sure empty old fuel out.
  3. Refill with new fuel and oil mix.
  4. The fuel mixture for a two-stroke chainsaw is 50:1.  20ml of two-stroke chainsaw oil for every 1lt of unleaded petrol

Still won't start try this

  1. Make sure switch is in run position
  2. If it is a cold start you may need to use the choke position.
  3. Next have a look at the air filter
  4. Does it look blocked, if so give it a clean!
  5. The last thing to check is the spark plug.
  6. Pull the spark plug out and have a look, is it dirty?
  7. If so it can be cleaned with a small amount of fuel and a light wire brush.
  8. If it needs to be replaced take the old spark plug with you to match the numbers.