Chain Saw Sharpening

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Forum topic by Jerry Maske posted 09-05-2014 01:43 PM 1466 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Jerry Maske

14 posts in 784 days

09-05-2014 01:43 PM

Need to learn how to sharpen my chain saw. Stihl, 14”. Just picked up a LARGE load of Rock Maple I need to cut into appropriate lengths for turning. The saw blade doesn’t like the Maple much, plus the wood is pretty wet. So I either need to learn how to do this process or get a machinist as my new best friend.

I’m a pretty decent turner but never had to sharpen a chain saw until now. Advice?


19 replies so far

View woodshopmike's profile


222 posts in 1085 days

#1 posted 09-05-2014 01:56 PM

Hey Jerry,

Have fun with the maple! I’ve always used my dremel with a grinding cylinder that matches the chain I’m sharpening. Mark the worst (dullest, chipped) tooth with a sharpie and sharpen each tooth in the chain the same amount as the most worn tooth. Sharpen all of the teeth facing one way first, then sharpen all the teeth pointing the other direction. Be sure to grind down the rakers appropriately, you’ll need a gauge for this.

You can use a round hand file that matches your chain, but I’ve always had good luck with the dremel. Also, when you slab the wood, cut with the grain not into the end grain. If that doesn’t make sense, check out the blog post I wrote up on making bowl blanks (if you want to of course)

Hope this helps, lemme know if you’re still lost.


View tnwood's profile


248 posts in 2508 days

#2 posted 09-05-2014 02:19 PM

I would pick up one of those cheap kits that give you the raker gauge and an angle guide to get you started. Whether you get one that allows a power grinder or a simple round and rectangular file is your choice. Personally I’ve like the manual method best as I prefer to touch up frequently rather than have to grind things down. I’ve gotten to where I can free hand well enough that I can sharpen myself for months and then have a professional do it just to get everything equal again. The length of the bar is not what is important, it is the sharpness of the chain. My professional logger never used anything longer than a 18” bar and a mid-power saw.

View Jerry Maske's profile

Jerry Maske

14 posts in 784 days

#3 posted 09-05-2014 03:36 PM

Okay, thanks for the guidance. I have a couple friends who suggested about the same, so enough people I trust saying the same thing, I suppose I’ll pay attention.

This weekend, my bride and I will celebrate our 23rd anniversary and will go to Portland, Maine for the weekend. There’s a Rockler Wood Working shop there as well as several Home Depot and Lowe’s along the way. Somewhere, I’ll find something that’ll make sense to me. And since my bride is a better wood turner than I am, she has no problem visiting a place like Rockler with me.

Thanks again for the advice.


View Manitario's profile


2393 posts in 2305 days

#4 posted 09-05-2014 04:13 PM

Stihl sells a kit for about $15 that includes a guide and file. Just make sure to get the correct sized file for your chain. I use it to touch up the chain b/t uses, however my local Stihl dealer only charges $8 to sharpen the chain, so after a few touch ups I just have it resharpened. Also keep a couple spare chains on hand so that you can have one on the go while the other is in the shop.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View mahdee's profile


3464 posts in 1189 days

#5 posted 09-05-2014 04:30 PM

I usually throw away my chainsaw when the blade gets dull and buy a new one…. kiddin.
HF has a sharpening machine for like $30. It can sharpen your chain in 10 minutes. However, the grinding wheel does not do well with a 14” chain-blade. I use it to cut all the blades to the same size and then give it a few strokes with a file to get a good edge.


View MrUnix's profile


4032 posts in 1621 days

#6 posted 09-05-2014 05:19 PM

Get the right sized file for your chain and do it yourself.. really simple.


-- Brad in FL - To be old and wise, you must first be young and stupid

View diverlloyd's profile


1260 posts in 1279 days

#7 posted 09-05-2014 10:03 PM

I use what Unix is showing. Doing it by hand there is less chance of messing it up. Also I put a dab of paint marker or finger nail polish on the first tooth I start on. And a jewelers file to polish the but off.

View firefighterontheside's profile


13088 posts in 1278 days

#8 posted 09-05-2014 10:17 PM

I use something like this from stihl. Just have to know what the angle for your chain is and it is probably visible on the chain. Just file at that same angle and it will also be on the tool. When you first start to file it will feel rough as you file, then it will get more smooth. Make sure that the whole cutting surface is shiny. This means you have filed the whole tooth. Do all the teeth of the same direction and the turn the saw around and hit the remaining teeth.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View Don W's profile

Don W

17880 posts in 1989 days

#9 posted 09-06-2014 12:09 AM

I’ve been sharpening chainsaws for….well much longer then I’d like to admit. I’ve never used anything except a file. I’ve tried others, but those gadgets sit on the shelf.

The angle of the tooth is already there, just follow it. Count your strokes. I typically take 4 or 5 depending on how bad it is. you bought the whole file, use it.

Do one side at a time.

Until you’ve done a few, clamp it in a vice. The whole saw. don’t remove anything. The blade should be tight, but you should be able to move it forward by hand.

Mark your first tooth. A sharpie works.

Make sure you have the right size file for your blade.

A few degrees one way or the other means nothing.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. -

View Jerry Maske's profile

Jerry Maske

14 posts in 784 days

#10 posted 09-06-2014 01:20 PM

Thanks again, folks. I’ve got the information I need so I’ll go find a hand file either at the Stihl dealer or one from Oregon.

Speaking of Oregon, have you seen the product they sell that clamps onto the end of the bar and engages the chain while it’s running. You do have to change the bar and use their chain and that’s the rub. The bar is made from thin enough metal that when I used it on the wet Maple, it heated up and actually pinched the chain to the point it would no longer move and I had to use pliers to get it out of the bar groove. Guess that’s not a good endorsement, but I’m not happy with them. Wonder if they care?


View AnonymousRequest's profile


861 posts in 971 days

#11 posted 09-06-2014 02:27 PM

I do it exactly like Don W does.

View lndfilwiz's profile


88 posts in 1022 days

#12 posted 09-06-2014 02:38 PM

Make sure you wear gloves. I learned the hard way!

-- Smile, it makes people wander what you are up to.

View Grandpa's profile


3256 posts in 2097 days

#13 posted 09-06-2014 07:24 PM

I have never used the Oregon tool you mentioned (clamps to the end of the bar). I have a friend that has one and he wasn’t happy with his results. He basically said it ground your chain up in one sharpening. Maybe he didn’t do it correctly but maybe he did. I personally go to a local Coast to Coast store with my chains. They do happen to be a Stihl dealer but they sharpen all chains for $6 each. I am not sure I could own a sharpener for that kind of price.

View bigblockyeti's profile


3574 posts in 1142 days

#14 posted 09-07-2014 12:29 AM

I use a cheap chain grinder for mine, works well, but takes more patience to get good at than and expensive grinder. Pretty fast too, I can sharpen a very neglected 20” loop in right around 2 minutes.

View Loren's profile


8164 posts in 3070 days

#15 posted 09-07-2014 12:51 AM

You do want to check for distortion of the bar edge
and the slot in it. I’ve filed this edge back to square

Other than that, I sharpen by hand using a round
file. I’ve used jigs and done it by hand. You
don’t have to be a hotshot to do it adequately.

showing 1 through 15 of 19 replies

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