A Guide to Sharpening Your Electric Chainsaw

Electric chainsaws are a powerful and efficient tool, and if you’re coming from an ax, then an electric chainsaw will phenomenally increase your work efficiency. If you don’t yet have one, now is a great time to pick up the latest gardening technology for electric gardening tools. While an electric chainsaw is a powerful tool, it’s still a cutting tool, and cutting tools become dull over time.

A dull electric chainsaw is of no use, you’ll see a decrease in efficiency, and one day it will stop cutting. Also, by using a blunt electric chainsaw, you’re exposing yourself to injuries. There’s a number of tips to use a chainsaw safely. For smaller cuts, other tools like loppers are better fit for the job.

Besides decreased efficiency, a dull chainsaw consumes better while cutting little. That’s why, for your safety and productivity, it’s wise to sharpen your electric chainsaw from time to time.  

It might seem intimidating, but sharpening your electric chainsaw isn’t that difficult; all you need to know is how and when to do it. There are multiple ways to sharpen a chainsaw too. Let’s look at the ways you can sharpen your chainsaw.

man holding chainsaw in garden
Man Holding Chainsaw

Using a File

One of the ways to sharpen your electric chainsaw is with a file or filing tool. If you don’t want to use a power tool, using a filing tool is the best way to go. The only issue here is that it may take some time for you to do the sharpening perfectly. But once you get the hang of it, it’s easy to do. 

While you can use a filing tool for any chainsaw, since you’re using it sharpen an electric chainsaw, it’s wise to discuss the manual first. The manual which came with the chainsaw will have plenty of information on the recommended way to use the tool. 

Usually, to file an electric chainsaw, you’ll need a round file and a flat-file. An electric chainsaw has to parts in the chain link, the hollow part, and the cutting link. You will need the flat file to sharpen the hollow parts and the round one for the cutting link. The round file is used to sharpen the cutting link to the right depth. 

When you’re using a filing tool, you’ll also need a filing guide. Filling guides will help you get the right angle. Besides that, the filing guide can also be helpful in finding out the correct depth for the cutting links. 

Using a Chainsaw Sharpening Guide

Using a chainsaw sharpening guide is an easier way to sharpen your chainsaw, albeit also being very time-consuming. On the other hand, it’s a very accurate method to use if it’s your first time sharpening an electric chainsaw. 

All you have to do is place the sharpening guide on the cutting links, and it’s easy to position them. Besides being easy, this can also help you learn the traditional ways of sharpening a chain saw. 

After you’ve places the chainsaw bar in a vice, you’ll put the sharpening guide on the cutting link. Once you start filing, the guide will help you sharpen the cutting links at the right angle. 

By Hand

You can also choose to sharpen your electric chainsaw by hand. But before you do so, there are some things you need to know. Every chainsaw has links of different sizes. These sizes are also called pitches, and it’s printed on the outside of the cutting link. 

Note that number because you’ll need it to find the right depth for your cutting link. It’s important to know the correct diameter because, without it, you run the risk of destroying the file. 

Since you need to sharpen your chainsaw, it’s safe to assume that it has been through a lot. So, before you start sharpening your electric chainsaw, you need to clean it and get rid of all the dirt and debris from it. After removing the dirt and debris, you’ll need to clean the oil too. You can do so using detergents found at your local stores. 

When using cleaners to clean the chainsaw, you want the cleaner to be less aggressive. Otherwise, it can destroy the plastic housing and other seals of your chainsaw. 

Next, you’ll need to do some replacing. After you’re done cleaning, you’ll need to find the cutting link that has been severely damaged. Broken cutting links are extremely dangerous and can cause accidents from kickbacks. The damaged cutting links can also break very easily when you’re using your chainsaw.

That’s why it’s very important that you replace these damaged or worn out cutting links with the new ones. So, how do you understand if a cutting link is damaged or not? To understand if a link is damaged or worn out, you need to observe or measure the cutting link.

The cutting link should be ¼ inch long, at the least. Any shorter than that, you’ll need to replace it. Now that you’ve replaced the broken links with new ones, it’s time to put the chainsaw and the bar back. Make sure these won’t be moving when you’re filing cutting links. 

After you’ve ensured that the chainsaw and the bar won’t move when you’re filing them, the next step is to put the bar in a vice, which allows the chain to move freely. After putting the bar in the vice, you need to use both of your hands. One hand to hold the handle, and the other to file the cutting links. 

In case the bar is positioned horizontally, the guide needs to be positioned horizontally too. It’s ideal for keeping the angle between the file and the bar at thirty degrees at all times. You can ensure that by looking at the guide from the top. 

When using a file to sharpen the cutting links, it’s important to remember that the file only sharpens when it’s being pushed forward; pulling it back will dull the filing tool. You will also need to ensure that ¼ of the file’s diameter is above the top plate. 

Besides these, you will also ensure the cutting links are filed the same way, ensuring all the cutting links are of the same height. Otherwise, when the cut on the woods is uneven. The last thing you want is an efficient tool for increasing your task. 

How the file rests on the cutting link also matters. You want to make sure that the angle on the cutting link was the same when it came out of the manufacturing. To ensure that, keep you fill at ninety degrees when you file the chain. 

It’s possible to wear out the filling tool when you’re using it. That’s why it’s better to alternate between the two sides so that the file wears out evenly. Also, when sharpening the cutting link, you’ll want to ensure that it is in the middle of the bar. Ensuring so will help you maintain the perfect cutting angle. You can get the cutting link in the middle of the bar by moving the chain. 

After you’ve filled all the cutting links, it’s time to ensure that all of them are of the same height; you want to file every cutting link evenly. The cutting edge on all the links should be bright after you’re done filing. 

Using Power Tools

If the manual sharpening seems too hard for you, you can use power tools. To sharpen your electric chainsaw, you can use an electric chainsaw sharpener. The electric chainsaw sharpener is easy to use and very accurate. The way these power tools work is these have a motor running inside. While using this won’t be arduous, there’s a small caveat to using power tools too. 

The caveat is the if you’re not careful with the electric chainsaw sharpener, you can fill more than necessary, and it will shorten the lifespan of the electric chainsaw. Since the motor is running continuously, without caution, you run the risk of doing so. 

While using a filing tool can be very laborious, with a filing tool, you can be careful not to file off too much. But if you want to use an electric sharpener, it’s wise to consult the manual first. It’s always a wise choice to consult the manual first. 

Worn Off Cutting Edge

Besides cutting links, for increased efficiency, it’s also important to replace the cutting edge when it wears out. If you look closely, you will see that there are prints on the cutting edge. These prints enable you to understand when it’s time to replace them. Usually, after doing quality control tests, manufacturers print these on the cutting edge.  

You’ll find several markings etched on the cutting edge. The first mark is used to indicate the right cutting angle; the cutting angle is for the cutting edge on the upper plate. Besides that, this marking also indicates the minimum length of the cutting link.

When the cutting link becomes comes to that level, it’s time to replace it. If you’re filing the cutting link and see that it has reached that mark, you should replace it. The second mark tells you the circular angle that you need to maintain when sharpening the cutting edge. 

The third mark tells you about the appropriate depth angle and wear. When you’re resetting the depth, it should be done parallel to that mark.  The last mark, the fourth mark, helps you to check the extent of the wear on the cutting link.

The fourth mark is usually used to understand the wear on the running faces. When the wear on every cutting link is up to that mark, then you don’t need to replace it. Otherwise, there’s a problem, and the cutting link needs to be replaced. 

Chainsaw Chain Sharpening – Frequency 

There’s no straight answer to how often you need to sharpen your electric chainsaw’s chain or the cutting link. If you ask around, you’ll find different answers too. Some people will say after cutting down a specific number of trees, some people might suggest after a specific hour of usage, and some people will recommend doing so after a certain number of uses. 

The wise decision is to change it before the cutting link becomes dull and eventually dangerous. Some of the best practices are to change the cutting link after forty hours of use, especially if you’re grinding your electric chainsaw against rock or soil. You will need to change it after forty hours if you’re cutting down hardwood trees. 

The best practice is to keep an eye on the cutting link, especially if you’re cutting rocks. Rocks can make the cutting link dull very easily. That’s why the best idea is to check the marking and overall to keep an eye out for any sign. 

When to Replace the Chainsaw’s Chain

As mentioned before, no matter how powerful your electric chainsaw is, it’s still a cutting tool, and cutting tools will become blunt over time. A dull electric chainsaw is of no use, rather it will use more fuel to do less work, and it’s prone to accidents too. That’s why replacing the cutting link on time will save you and your money. A good cutting link will get the job done easily and efficiently. You will be able to cut woods without any problem if the cutting link is in optimal condition.

But when it becomes dull, carving deep grooves on wood becomes challenging, and doing so will also cost you more fuel. So, before that happens, there are some signs you need to look out for. These signs will tell you if it’s time to change your cutting link. 

The first is the most obvious one; it will be hard for you to cut wood. Usually, a good cutting link will pull itself to the wood when you place it on the wood. But a dull cutting link will need pressure from the use for getting deep in the wood. 

The second sign is that the cutting link on your electric chainsaw is rattling and bouncing every time you use it. If you’re not careful, this might cause accidents. That’s why before the chain starts rattling, it’s time to change it. 

The third sign will be that there will be smoke when you’re pushing the chainsaw against the wood. Usually, when the cutting link is lubricated and helps in good tension, there won’t be any smoke. But a dull cutting link will produce smoke even if it’s properly lubricated and tensioned.

Lastly, if you’re using the electric chainsaw vertically, you’ll see sawdust flying around. If you’re using a cutting link in optimal condition, there should be coarse chippings, but a dull cutting link will only produce sawdust. That’s a sign that you should change your cutting link. 

3 Best Electric Chainsaw Sharpener

If you opt to use an electric chainsaw sharpener, here are 3 best ones you can get your hands on today:

1. Oregon 410-120

Product Description: If you’re looking for the best electric chainsaw sharpener, then Oregon 410-120 is the one for you. 

Product Design and Quality: Whether you’re frequently sharpening chainsaws or do it occasionally, Oregon 410-120 is the best electric chainsaw sharpener for you. This power tool offers various features, and the best part is that you can enjoy all of these without breaking your bank. The 410-120 is an extremely versatile electric chainsaw sharpener; you have the option to mount it both to a bench or on a wall. 

Product features:

  • One-way rotor system
  • Easy customization
  • 3 grinding settings
  • Easy to use
  • Extended nose-life
  • New sprocket system

2. Oregon 520-120

Product Description: If you’re looking for a professional electric chainsaw sharpener, then Oregon 520-120 is the way to go. 

Product Design and Quality: The Oregon 520-120 is one of the most powerful professional electric chainsaw sharpeners. It’s sure to provide you with outstanding performance and results every time you use it. The 520-120 comes with an adjustable handle position that has been designed with comfort and safety in mind. 

Product Features: 

  • Three different grinding wheels
  • Quick rotation
  • Dressing brick included
  • Customizable handle 
  • Light source
  • Best suited for high volume sharpening
  • One-way rotor system

3. Buffalo Tools ECSS Electric Chainsaw Sharpener

Product Description: If you’re on a budget but want a great electric chainsaw sharpener, the Buffalo Tools ECSS Electric Chainsaw Sharpener is a great option.

Product Design and Quality: The budget-friendly Buffalo Tools ECSS Electric Chainsaw Sharpener is a functional one, albeit being best suited for occasional use rather than professional use. So, if you’re someone who occasionally sharpens their electric chainsaw, but doesn’t want to pay a shop to do it, then this electric sharpener is a great choice. 

Product Description: 

  • Easy to use
  • Can be mounted on a workbench or a wall
  • Works with the majority of chain design

Bottom Line

In conclusion, whether you use an electric chainsaw occasionally or professionally, you should always keep it sharp and replace the blunt parts beforehand. You should never wait for the cutting link to be absolutely dull as it opens the door to accidents. You should also check the cutting edges and cutting links after every use; this way, you’re saving time, energy, and money. 

Find this content useful? Support us by checking out the affiliated links below:

Check out other popular electric gardening tools!

Electric Gardening Tools

I've been raised in a family of international gardeners spanning multiple generations, from vegetable growers in Germany to fruit tree growers in Iran. I hope you find the information you read useful to using electric gardening tools in gardening.

Recent Content