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How Often Do You Need To Sharpen a Chainsaw Chain

Do you find yourself questioning when to sharpen your chainsaw chain? It’s a crucial aspect of maintaining your tool’s efficiency. We have the definitive answer to this query, backed by years of experience.

Sharpen the chainsaw chain every 10 uses or when it becomes dull. Signs of dullness are needing to press hard when cutting and struggling to cut efficiently. Rotate multiple chains to avoid over-sharpening. Sharpen just enough to keep the chain cutting smoothly, about 3-10 strokes per tooth.

Since your goal is to ensure the saw functions well and stays in excellent condition, this article will give you detailed information on how regularly you should sharpen your chainsaw chain!

Look At the Life Expectancy of the Chainsaw

It is good to note the life expectancy of a chainsaw as that determines how often you need to sharpen it. Pay attention to the frequency of your tasks and, most importantly, how the chainsaw chain operates every time you cut logs or trees with the chainsaw.

In many cases, the manufacturers will advise how many times you need to sharpen your chainsaw chain. However, the sharpening rate mainly depends on two significant factors: how much your chainsaws have wear and tear and the amount of metal you remove every single time after sharpening.

How to Sharpen Your Chainsaw Chain: When and Why

 A general rule of thumb is to sharpen your chain when you notice it is not cutting as well as before. Another way is to look at the sawdust. If you see small chunks, it indicates that the chains are getting dull.

Large chunks indicate a sharp chain. To sharpen your chain, you must secure it in the vise and tighten it. Then, determine this file size suitable for your chainsaw blade. Remember, the effectiveness of your sharpening depends on the condition of the teeth.

In my 20 years of experience, I’ve found that a chainsaw chain needs sharpening when it starts to chatter or bounce during cutting, produces sawdust instead of chips, or requires more force than usual to cut.

Lastly, always keep an eye on the best chainsaws of 2021 for updates on chainsaw maintenance and use. To extend the life of your chain, you should try to avoid actions that can make your chainsaw chain dull or even damage it. So, when should you sharpen the chain?

● If You Hit Something

When cutting logs or trees, you could hit a hard object like ice, a rock, or a metal. These are some of the top things that can damage your chainsaw chain and reduce its effectiveness. It could also be nails embedded in the wood, which cause damage to your chainsaw chain.

Therefore, if possible, avoid such items, and if you happen to hit any of these objects while cutting with your chainsaw, you should sharpen your chainsaw chain immediately.

● Poor Storage

Poor storage of your chainsaw, especially in a wet or moist place, can affect how your chainsaw looks and operates. That is because your chainsaw will rust, making it hard to cut anything. Lubricate and oil your chainsaw chain quite often to avoid such problems.

● If It Is Dull

If you use your chainsaw and realize it does not operate as expected, especially if you must apply force while cutting a tree or log, it is the right time to sharpen it. Using force or having difficulty while cutting is a sign that the chain is dull and needs to be pointed.

How Should You Sharpen Your Chainsaw Chain?

There are several methods of sharpening a chainsaw chain. We will briefly discuss some of them here and include a video for more information. For all methods, you need the following:

  • Gloves
  • Chainsaw chain filing kit
  • Protective eyeglasses

● Using a File

A file guide lets you file or sharpen your chainsaw chain easily, and it helps to ensure that this power tool is sharp enough for the tasks ahead. Before using the file, mount it on the sharpening guide, as it allows you to get accurate and consistent results.

That is because the sharpening guide offers a flat surface where you can rest the file and also controls how deep the file can go while sharpening your chainsaw chain. Go for a file whose diameter matches your chainsaw chain’s teeth for the file to point your tool well.

● Electric Sharpeners

These gadgets are powered by electricity, and you must keep them plugged into an electric source or use batteries. While you can have the sharpeners attached to the wall, bench, or table, others are portable.

If you are looking for something that keeps you in control and helps you finish sharpening the chainsaw chain fast, handheld sharpeners might do the job perfectly.

● Use a Grinder

Using a grinder is more complicated than using a file guide. These tools remove a lot of the metal, and if you’re not careful, you will end up replacing your chainsaw chain. The sharpener reduces the longevity of your chainsaw as it takes more metal than a file.

It is best to use this only after using the file guide for at least 40 sharpening sessions. The professionals use grinders to remove the imperfections from the chainsaw, so ensure a grinder is not used regularly to sharpen your chainsaw chain.

Features of a Great Sharpener

Whether you choose a grinder, electric sharpener, or a file guide, these are the essential things to think about when shopping:

● Mounting choices:

The right way to use chainsaw chain sharpeners is if mounted on the wall or a bench. If you have a working bench, find a sharpener to climb to make the work easy.

Using a dull chainsaw chain can be risky. It can increase the risk of kickback, cause the chainsaw to overheat, and lead to inefficient cutting.

● Ease of Use:

Files and grinders should be ready to use if you want to sharpen your chainsaw chain quickly. Before you take the sharpening tool home, find out how complicated it is and if you can operate these sharpening gadgets without contacting professionals.

If the tool is easy to use, it gives you the confidence needed, especially if it is your first time sharpening your chain.

FAQs about Chainsaw Sharpening

● Is It Recommended To Buy A Chainsaw Sharpener?

Yes, because having a dull chainsaw is dangerous and could cause severe complications and delay the number of projects you can do in a day.

With a dull chainsaw, completing different tasks is also almost impossible, so keep it sharp. If your chainsaw is well-maintained, sharpening your device will take little effort when necessary.

● How Do I Know My Chainsaw Requires Sharpening?

You can quickly tell if your chainsaw requires sharpening from how easy or difficult it is to cut trees and logs. In case you find yourself struggling or having to press the chainsaw on the trees and logs, that is proof enough that you must have this tool sharpened.

● How Many Strokes Does Each Tooth Need?

That depends on how frequently your chainsaw is used and how dull the chain is. With time, knowing and telling how many strokes are needed is easy. The general rule, however, is anything between three to ten strokes, but look at the dullness of the chain, then determine the number of strokes to apply.

● How Often Should You Sharpen Your Chainsaw Chain?

The answer varies from user to user, considering everyone has different tasks and might use the tool too often. Be looking for dull chainsaw chains, as it is the first indication that you need to sharpen the gadget. Also, make sure to invest in a suitable chainsaw sharpener file.

You can mount your sharpener if you use your chainsaw throughout the year, as it makes it easy to place the chainsaw and also helps to avoid accidents. In most cases, sharpening using a chainsaw tool should happen after being in use ten times, while in other situations, you have to sharpen it after every session.

However, if you notice that even after sharpening, you are still experiencing dullness and cannot complete tasks on time, then it is time to replace the chain.

From my two decades in the field, I can tell you that a chainsaw chain should generally be sharpened after every few hours of use, depending on how often it’s used.


A well-maintained chainsaw could last for over five years or more as long as you learn to take good care of it. Using your chainsaw, you can carry portable sharpening tools as a perfect backup tool.

Regardless of the tools used to keep your chainsaw functioning as required, estimate the correct number of times to sharpen it without removing too much metal from the chainsaw, which can happen if it is sharpened too many times.

Look at the activities done and how fast your chainsaw chain becomes dull. It helps you to come up with an exact number of times in a day, week, or month. If a chainsaw is in excellent condition, you can sharpen it about five times a day, which means it will be effective each time you do different tasks.

Using the guide above should not be complicated to figure out the best time to sharpen your chainsaw chain. That way, you can carry out more tasks each day.

What to Take Home about Chainsaw Sharpening

The most excellent way to ensure your chainsaw is not overly sharpened is by having a couple of chains. Again, sharpening your chainsaw with your less dominant hand can be challenging, so flip it over to sharpen all the teeth.

Be sure to search for the right sharpeners that you can easily use at home without needing help from an expert.

Remember to stabilize the chainsaw and ensure that the cutters are sharp. The file size is essential and should not remove more than an eighth of an inch of metal from the chainsaw. Always ensure the chain is in order and the bar is well maintained.

Pay attention to the cut’s depth and the guide bar’s condition. Always keep the chain in place and sharpen the cutting teeth in sequence. Lastly, always wear your chainsaw chaps for safety when working with an active chainsaw.

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  1. Marion Hopkins says:

    Great article! I always struggled with when to sharpen my chainsaw chain, but now I have a better understanding. Thank you for the helpful tips and advice.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you for reading and finding the information helpful, Marion! Sharpening your chainsaw chain regularly will ensure your tool’s efficiency and longevity. Happy cutting!