Design & DIY

Save time and money by sharpening your own chainsaw

Chainsaw that stands on a heap of firewood in the yard on a beautiful background of green grass and forest Photo by Remitski Ivan/Shutterstock

Every chainsaw gets dull (especially if you hit a rock), and sharpening the chain is going to mean a lot of time spent with a file or a trip into town to wait for a professional sharpening. Invest about $250 in your own electric saw chain grinder, and you’ll save serious time and money—at least, those of you who do a lot of sawing.

Clamp your chain in the holder on the chain grinder as you would in a vise, don safety glasses, switch ON, and, holding the handle, swivel the grinder-head down. This puts the side and edge of the spinning abrasive wheel in contact with one cutter on the chain for a second or two, creating a sharp, crisp edge where it used to be dull. Raise the handle, loosen the chain clamp, advance the chain to the next cutter, and repeat.

All this sounds easy, and it is, once you’ve got the four main adjustments of the grinder correct: the depth that the grindstone descends; the amount of each cutter that gets ground away; and the horizontal and vertical angles of the grindstone relative to the cutters. There’s a trick to make it easy. Simply clamp a new or nearly new chain into the clamp portion of the chain grinder, then adjust the angles and depth of the abrasive wheel to line up with the sharp cutters. Every dull chain requires a certain amount of custom adjustment, because cutters get worn down to unique levels, but using a newish chain as a starting guide gets you in the right ballpark.

Tip: A properly machine-sharpened chainsaw cuts even faster and cleaner than a brand new one.

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