If you are looking at these reviews for the best chainsaw sharpener then the chances are that you already own a chainsaw, correct? And you all know the importance of having one that is sharp enough, especially if you are using it a lot to cut down big trees or when you work with lumber.
You need to get your purchase right. Not only because you don’t want to go over-budget if you cannot afford to, but also because the tool that you need to sharpen your chainsaw might not be the best one for me to sharpen mine. Let’s have a look at why chainsaw sharpeners are an essential piece of kit in anyone’s workspace.
If you’re working with your chainsaw, you will want your work to be quick and accurate every time. If you fail to sharpen the chain on your chainsaw then this simply won’t happen. Your work will take longer and will look much shoddier. The blade will buck and burn through the wood that you’re cutting. Not only is it a slow cutting process but it is actually dangerous too. The last thing you want is a messy accident.
However, don’t make the mistake of just throwing the chain away to replace it. To save money in the long term, you want to be able to maintain the chain for as long as possible. This is why we are recommending the 10 top chainsaw sharpeners for you today, depending on your own individual needs.
Chainsaw Sharpener - Buying Guide
It would be silly to launch into our top 10 list without letting you know what it is that you should be looking for in a chainsaw sharpener in the first place. So, we are going to have a look at the different types of sharpeners available, their compatibility with different chainsaws, their different cutter types, the quality and build, speed, file size and gauge. Lastly, cost is an important factor for many of us too.
There are three types of chainsaw sharpener: handheld manual files, a bar-mounted sharpener, and an electric sharpener.
Handheld files require much more manual work than the other two, but as a result, are cheaper to buy and are cordless. They have the disadvantage, though, of not filing every tooth of the chain to exactly the same degree and sharpness.
A bar mount sharpener fits over the bar of the chainsaw and files around a third of the chainsaw chain at once. It means that the sharpness is more even across the whole chain and it does not take as long as a manual file.
An electric sharpener requires the least amount of hard work and you won't need a chainsaw sharpening jig. If you get an adjustable one, it fits nearly all chains. The sharpening of the chain is as even as possible. However, these sharpeners are understandably more expensive than the manual or hand crank or bar ones.
Chainsaw chains are not one and the same. They come in many sizes and are made out of different products and materials. So, not all sharpeners fit every chainsaw and you will even find self sharpening chainsaws for sale.
It is of utmost importance that you are certain that the type of chain sharpener that you buy will be compatible with your chain saw, bot in size and material. Electric sharpeners are often adjustable and come with an array of different chains. Manual ones tend to be a bit more specific. You should check the pitch on the label on the chainsaw bar and make sure that the one you choose will be compatible.
3. Cutter Type
An important factor to consider in your purchase of a chainsaw is the type of cutter. This is the bit of the chain which makes the cutting action. Chainsaws come in different types: round, semi-chisel, and chisel teeth. The shape of the teeth determines what sort of sharpener you need to use.
A round cutter is the simplest to sharpen and the most flexible in terms of what it can cut too. The round teeth can withstand dust much better than chisel teeth and can be sharpened easily with manual files.
This cutter is a halfway-house between round and chisel teeth. It is a little more aggressive compared with a round cutter but is not quite up to the strength and power of the chisel cutters. The semi-chisel cutter can be filed with a manual sharpener like with a round cutter. It will tolerate dirt and dust better too, as well as staying sharper for longer.
The chisel cutter is the daddy of chainsaws and is very aggressive. As such, an inexperienced chainsaw user should not use one. They are more often used industrially, and the chains need a certain type of sharpener. The teeth are much more susceptible to dust and dirt and the chain needs constant maintenance and frequent sharpening.
4. Build Quality
You need a chainsaw sharpener that will have a long life as well as being one that is easy to use. Chainsaw sharpeners could be a big toolbox investment, so you want to get it right. The most durable ones are mostly made from machined metal. Given that sharpening means metal-on-metal, materials that are less solid can be easily worn down. You should also look for a sharpener that is not difficult to use and has a safety mechanism built-in, which is particularly important if you will use your sharpener frequently. If you choose a sharpener that has a manufacturer’s warranty this will give you reassurance too.
5. Chainsaw File Size
You must consider the file size of the chainsaw blade sharpener that you are looking to buy. Usually, the file size is labeled in inches or millimeters and it is part of what determines whether the sharpener will be compatible with your chainsaw. There are many different file sizes of chainsaws but the most frequently-found ones are:
- 5mm (0.404 inches)
- 2mm (3/8 inch)
- 8mm (0.325 inch)
- 4mm (1/4 inch)
The size in millimeters is related to the diameter of the round file, with the inches representing the chain pitch’s size. Some types of sharpener can be altered to make them compatible with all of the sizes above, but some can only be used with one size or pitch. There are some specialty sharpeners that are only able to be used with a single size and these are intended for personal use only. Commercial or industrial users who work with many different chainsaws would find better use from a sharpener that is adjustable so that it can work with all of the chainsaws they may need to use.
6. Chainsaw Gauge
The gauge of a chainsaw is also important when buying your sharpener. The gauge checks the length of the cutter. There are four types of chainsaw gauge:
- 0.063 inch
- 0.058 inch
- 0.050 inch
- 0.43 inch
It is not recommended to sharpen below a depth of 0.025 inches. But the gauge’s depth is crucial as it determines how much the chainsaw cuts. You should not file along the length of the gauge as its lifespan is then shortened. When filing the gauge, you need to sharpen it all equally or the chain will cut roughly due to vibrations.
The speed of the chainsaw sharpener is only relevant to electrically powered sharpeners as with manual ones the speed is down to the user! Sharpener speed is measured in revolutions per minute (RPM) and some chainsaw sharpeners have speeds of up to 4200 RPM.
If you’re a heavy chainsaw user or your chainsaw is likely to fill with dirt or dust, you are going to invest in a sharpener that is easy to use and quick too as you will be using it often. However, if you will only be sharpening your saw once a month or less, you may want to spend less and get a manual one too.
Of course, it should go without saying that when you are sharpening a chainsaw, or even getting chainsaw sharpening service, or indeed anywhere near a power tool, there are certain precautions that you should take. Firstly, you need to inspect the sharpener before you use it every time. If you notice that any parts of the tool are damaged or worn, you should have these bits replaced or repaired before you start to sharpen your chainsaw. You also need to check that the alignment of any moving parts is where it should be and that the toggle on/off switch works properly.
First, Tighten the Chain
After you have checked your tool, you need to tighten the chain before you start to sharpen it. This will make it safer. If it moves as you file it, you could cut yourself quite easily. Of course, make sure that the chainsaw is unplugged from the socket before you tighten your chain.
Fix the Sharpener onto a Worktable
If possible, you need to fix your sharpener to a workbench. This means that you will be able to sharpen it safely and efficiently, preventing any accidents or slips. One that is not secured could fall and injure your feet. It could also damage the tools in the process.
Electric Shock Prevention
You must not use the sharpener where it is wet or damp, for example outside when it is raining. If you do, you run the risk of having an electric shock. Also, you must be careful not to use the tool near items such as pipes or fridge hoses, or anywhere where there are flammable materials nearby.
You should sharpen your chainsaws where there is plenty of light to make sure you are doing it safely and accurately. This will help prevent accidents too.
Keep a Safe Distance
When you are using the tool, do not reach in front or across it. You also need to have good balance while you are using it. You need to have a good footing for your own safety.
Use Protective Gear
When using any power tool, it is prudent to wear safety gear such as a mask and goggles to protect your eyes and face from dust and fine particles. With this tool in particular, we recommend that you wear some heavy-duty gloves to prevent cuts. Also, you should have ear muffles for when you use your chainsaw and so you should wear these when you are sharpening it too. Never use the tool when you are wearing hanging garments such as scarves and jewelry, and long hair must be tied back.
Following the above safety tips will allow you to operate your chainsaw sharpener at the safest level.
When & How Often to Sharpen?
It will depend on how often you use your chainsaw as to how often you will need to sharpen it. It will also depend on the types of materials you use your chainsaw to cut through. With clean wood, you should expect to sharpen the tool after a few hours of continued use. But, if you come across dirt or sand, you will probably have to sharpen it straight away. If the chain doesn’t pull itself well into the material, this is usually a sign that it needs sharpening as it has become dull.
Another way of knowing when to sharpen your chainsaw chain is to examine the material that comes out of your saw cuts. If it’s very dusty, it means you need to sharpen it. If it is more chips of wood, then the cutters are usually pretty sharp.
If your chain is sharp you will not have to use much force but a chain that is dull is more likely to sit in a cut but not deepen it much. If you have to exert more force than this, the chain needs to be sharpened. If your saw is dull it is much more dangerous.
The cutters on your chain will have cutting edges that are semi-circular shaped in your specific diameter. To sharpen these, you will need to use a round file that is the same diameter as your saw’s chain. Before each cutter there is a depth gauge, which is like a fin from a shark. This should be a little bit shorter than your cutters’ tips as it controls how deep it bites. You can lower these if you need to after you have sharpened the cutters.
It should be a relatively simple job if the cutters are just dulled down from using it normally. However, if there are nicks in the cutters you might need to invest in a professional sharpening job or buy a new chain.
Wrapping It Up
There we have it, a list of the best sharpeners for chainsaw for your perusal in a handy guide to assist you in your search for these fantastic tools. You may not have yet decided which to go for, but the most important part of your search is that you identify exactly what you are looking for and what you need in a chainsaw sharpener.
Are you just looking for one to sharpen your saw after infrequent DIY jobs? Or do you need one as a part of your work and day-to-day activities? Are you ok with a bit more manual labor, or would you prefer an electric model to do the hard work for you?
Whatever your answers to these questions, you need to first make sure that your chainsaw is compatible with any sharpener that you go on to choose. If you still can’t make up your mind then one of our picks will be a good bet, whether the Editor’s Pick, the beginner’s, advanced, or budget choice. They are our picks for very good reasons!
We've also reviewed other saws and safety tools for your convenience. Check the following pages for more reviews.
- Concrete Saws
- Band Saws
- Chainsaw Chaps