Chainsaws are invaluable tools for chopping up firewood, clearing trees and branches that fall during a storm, and keeping your yard under control. However, if you’re completing jobs regularly the chainsaw chain will get worn down, which means you’ll need a chainsaw chain sharpener to resharpen the chain so you can get back to completing jobs. Understandably, you may be reluctant to spend too much money on a chainsaw chain sharpener especially if you don’t know which one to purchase. To help you choose, I’ve put together a list of my top picks for the best chainsaw chain sharpener.
Why It’s Important to Sharpen Your Chainsaw Chain
Keeping the chain sharp with sharpening is essential! It will keep your chainsaw cutting as good as it did when you first got it.
Whether you buy an expensive chainsaw or a cheap one, a chainsaw chain will go dull eventually! But luckily, sharpening the chain doesn’t require much. All you’ll need is a chainsaw sharpener.
You’ll need a bit of practice but that beats having to purchase a whole new chainsaw chain!
Factors to Consider When Purchasing a Chainsaw Chain Sharpener
A chain saw sharpener keeps your chainsaw chain in tip-top shape. However, I would like to mention that if you’ve never used a chainsaw chain sharpener before it can be a little tricky to get used to. However, once you do get the hang of it, it saves you the time and money that you’d otherwise be spending on a professional sharpening service.
Chainsaw sharpeners are not all the same, they really can vary. Some chainsaw chain sharpeners may be better suited for certain chains than others. However, this is all going to depend on your experience and how frequently your chainsaws need sharpening.
Factors to consider:
Sharpener Type: There are two sharpener types to consider. There is a simple handheld file or a bench grinder-style sharpener. I would like to mention that manual files tend to be cheaper but they do take time and practice to master. Bench grinder sharpeners let you sharpen the chain faster than a handheld file, but can easily damage the chainsaw chain if you’re not sure what you’re doing. There are also electric chainsaw sharpeners but I don’t really recommend them.
Cutting Area: If you often work far from your workspace then you probably won’t be able to easily mount and operate a bench grinder sharpener. A manual sharpener is your best bet if you need to sharpen your chainsaw chain quickly when you’re out. If you mostly work in your backyard and you have a workbench nearby, then a bench grinder sharpener is ideal. This is especially true if you’re an experienced sharpener!
Chain type: It’s crucial that you make sure whatever sharpener you choose can handle the pitch, also known as the average distance between rivets of the chain you’re sharpening. The most common pitches are 3/8-in. and .325-in. Make sure to double-check that your chainsaw chain is compatible with the sharpener. You should be able to easily find the measurement on your saw.
Types of Chainsaw Sharpeners
For example, electric chainsaw chain sharpeners are quite different from manual chainsaw chain sharpeners, so it’s important to understand just how th different types work. A manual chainsaw chain sharpener requires more effort than other options but using one does have its benefits.
I stated in the last section that I don’t recommend an electric chainsaw chain sharpener but I still want to go over exactly how they work. Electric chainsaw chain sharpeners fit the chainsaw chain into a horizontal guide on the base. Its disk-shaped grinding stone is fitted into a pull-down head. The pull-down head both adjusts and tilts so the disk-shaped grinding stone can make contact with the chainsaw chain’s cutting links at just the right angle. The guide holding the chainsaw chain swivels to make sure that the grinding wheel strikes the chain’s cutting links at the correct angle.
The most difficult part of the sharpening process with electric chainsaw chain sharpeners is setting all of the angles correctly, but once they’re set everything is pretty straightforward. Electric chainsaw chain sharpeners are a go-to for those who use their chainsaw frequently. Most electric chainsaw chain sharpeners are corded and designed to be installed at a fixed site. However, there are battery-powered options available.
Anyone that has a small chainsaw or a chainsaw that they don’t use very often will most likely find that a manual chainsaw chain sharpener is sufficient enough. However, I would like to mention that a manual chainsaw chain sharpener has more to it than meets the eye. Manual chainsaw chain sharpeners are cheaper but aren’t made for only small tools. These simple chainsaw chain sharpeners are truly a budget option which is a huge benefit. Although it does require a little patience to learn to use it properly.
Automatic chainsaw sharpeners also known as portable chainsaw sharpeners sound like the ideal option, right? They require very little effort, they fit around the end of the chainsaw bar, and they have a fixed sharpening stone in contact with the chain as it runs. Sharpening stones are curved to match the chain of the chainsaw. Some adjustment is possible with these, but I would like to mention that it is limited. Someone who owns more than one chainsaw might end up requiring two different sharpeners if they go for an automatic sharpener.
Tips on Using a Chainsaw Sharpener
It’s important to properly sharpen a chainsaw chain, it will not only make cutting easier, but it’s also safer. Chainsaws with blunt teeth are more dangerous because they’re likely to bind in a cut. It can be extremely difficult to remove once the teeth are binded and could ruin the chain of the chainsaw. There’s also a much greater chance that the chain jumps off of the chainsaw bar, which could lead to serious injury.
Whichever type of chainsaw sharpener you use, it is important that things are prepared properly and that you stay patient. Poor setup almost guarantees a poor result.
- Be sure to wear work gloves, parts of the chainsaw chain can hurt your hands even when it’s blunt.
- When sharpening the chainsaw chain off of the chainsaw, make sure that the chainsaw chain sharpener is solidly fixed to a wall or bench. Any movement will affect how accurately the chain is sharpened.
- When sharpening the chain on the chainsaw, make sure that the chainsaw chain is properly tensioned. This will minimize movement. Also, keep the saw as stable as possible by holding the bar in a vise or having some kind of backstop.
- Most chainsaw chains have a “master cutter”. This is a tooth that’s shorter than the others. You want to start sharpening the chainsaw chain here. This is so you know you’re done when you come back around to it. If you can’t find a master on your chainsaw you can simply mark the chain with a piece of tape.
- Work carefully and slowly. Even sharpening a chainsaw chain manually with a simple chainsaw sharpener only takes a few minutes, so there’s no need to rush! If you’re using a manual sharpener, be sure to work on the forward stroke only. Do NOT rub the file back and forth.
The Best Budget Chainsaw Chain Sharpener – Reviewed
Here are the best budget chainsaw chain sharpeners that are available today.
Oregon 120-Volt Manual Chainsaw Chain Sharpener
The Oregon 120-Volt Manual Chainsaw Chain Sharpener is one of the best manual chainsaw sharpeners you can purchase today! It’s so popular because of its ability to sharpen a wide range of chainsaw chains. The size ranges from ¼” to as much as .404”. It also has good compatibility with low-profile chains. Manual chainsaw chain sharpeners are a great choice because you can take off as much or as little as you need to get your chain back to as good as new. This leaves you with the control to get what you need to get a job done.
This chain sharpener has a self-centering chain vise, which saves you time during setup since the chain will always be in the right place. This sharpener also has a built-in light, so you’ll be able to use this sharpener just about anywhere. There is one con that’s kind of a big deal. This sharpener comes with a poor user manual. Because of this, I recommend this sharpener for those who have some experience with manual sharpeners. However, if you want sharp chains without having to put in too much effort, then I think you’ll love this manual chainsaw chain sharpener’s performance.
All in all, I think that this is the best chainsaw chain sharpener you can buy right now.
- Has a built-in light
- Is a manual grinder
- Works with many different chain types
- Has a self-centering chain vise
- User manual is really not great
Powercare 110-Volt Electric Chainsaw Chain Sharpener
The Powercare 110-Volt Electric Chainsaw Chain Sharpener will make quick work of sharpening your chainsaw chains. The Powercare 110-Volt model is really an unbeatable value. Electric types are the type I recommend the least but if you’re interested in an electric option then this is definitely the way to go. This handheld electric chainsaw chain sharpener can be used on a 3/8-inch low profile, 3/8-inch standard, and .325-inch chain pitches. It offers variable speeds, ranging from 8,000 to 30,000 revolutions per minute.
This chainsaw sharpener comes with 3/16, 5/32, and 7/32-inch sharpening stones that will deliver a sharp and smooth cutting edge. The chainsaw chain sharpener includes a chain angle guide and a 72-inch power cord. Once you get the hang of using this sharpener, you’ll be able to sharpen your chainsaw in a matter of minutes! As an added bonus you don’t ever need to remove the chain!
- Variable speeds
- Has a one year warranty
- Reviewers say the packaging is difficult to deal with
Katzco Chainsaw Chain Sharpener File Kit
Chainsaw chain files are a very budget-friendly option since they’re such a low-cost tool. They’re especially popular among the DIY community. Usually, DIYers opt for an electric chainsaw but don’t use it enough to warrant the purchase of an expensive sharpener.
The sharpener file kit comes with a hardwood handle that allows you to interchange the files. This chainsaw sharpening file kit is an excellent option and meets all the professional needs for fieldwork. However, I would like to mention that it also includes a file guide and depth gauge for any beginners using this. The kit comes in a roll-up pouch that will allow you to easily carry everything and adds value.
- Comes with 3/16-inch, 5/32-inch, and 7/32-inch round files
- The files are interchangeable
- Includes file guide and depth gauge
- Very portable comes with a roll-up pouch storage
- Beginners may find that this sharpener kit is difficult to use
Granberg Bar-Mount Chain Saw Sharpener
The Granberg Bar-Mount Chain Saw Sharpener is a great multi-size chainsaw chain sharpener. However, it, unfortunately, doesn’t not come with files so that means you’ll have to provide your own. The upside to this though is that you can get the correct files for any size of chainsaw chain. Meaning if you have multiple chainsaws you’ll be able to get different-sized files you can sharpen all of your chainsaws with one sharpener. This chainsaw chain sharpener mounts to the actual chainsaw itself. This means you won’t have to take the chain off to service it. You could potentially use this chainsaw chain sharpener model in the field, but it’s not as small as some other options meaning it’s not the most portable. It does come with precise markings that make it easy to get the right angle regardless of chain type.
This tool isn’t the cheapest option out there but that also doesn’t mean it provides a great value for the money. Unfortunately, you shouldn’t expect this to last for more than a year if you’re going to use it regularly. That’s one of the shortest lifespans of any sharpener on this list, and it’s short enough that you should definitely take this into consideration. If you’re looking for a sharpener that will last you a long time then this is definitely not the option for you.
- Precise measurements
- Mounts to your chainsaw
- Works with all chainsaw chain sizes
- Not the most durable option
- Does not come with the files
Oregon 541656 Chainsaw Chain Sharpener Kit
The Oregon 541662 Chainsaw Chain Sharpener Kit is an excellent chainsaw chain sharpener if you’re willing to commit to a proprietary system. This kit comes with a sharpener, a chain, and a low-friction bar. After installing the bar and chain on your existing chainsaw, you can sharpen the chain in as little as three to five seconds! All you need to do is mount it on the end of the chainsaw bar and run the chainsaw for a few seconds. After that, the chain will cut like it’s brand new! As an added bonus, the chainsaw bar comes with LubriTec technology. This means oil will be retained for longer and how often you will need to perform necessary maintenance is reduced.
However, there is kind of a large con with this chainsaw chain sharpener. This is because this kit requires you to replace the bar on your chainsaw as well as the chain. Doing this means you’re locking yourself into a proprietary system run by the company Oregon. If you like using specialized chains for different tasks, you won’t be able to do so with this system. In fact, if you want to use those specialized chains at all, you’ll need to replace the bar completely, which is a hassle to do over and over again. Overall, this is a good chainsaw chain sharpener design for people who like the chain that comes with this as well as those who need quick sharpenings while they work.
- Has a low-friction bar
- Fast operation
- A great sharpener for fieldwork
- Requires a special chain
- Requires you to replace the bar
If you have more questions check out our FAQs below.
Q: How often does a chainsaw chain need sharpening?
A lot of experts say every 10 uses you should sharpen your chainsaw. However, I recommend that you judge this by the feel of the chain when it’s cutting. A sharp chain will always cut easily and produce clean shavings. A blunt chainsaw chain will struggle to cut and produce pulp. To reduce how often you need to sharpen your chainsaw chain, buy the best chainsaw chain you can afford. They are truly a worthy investment.
Q: How do automatic chainsaw sharpeners work?
Automatic chainsaw sharpeners usually clamp over the end of the chainsaw bar where the chain runs around. While the chainsaw chain is running, they sharpen the teeth on the chain as they pass across the grindstone.
Q: At what angle should a chainsaw chain be sharpened?
Chainsaw chains should be sharpened somewhere between 25 and 35 degrees. Some experts recommend the sharper angle for hardwoods but Stihl, who is a leading maker of gas chainsaws, recommends 30 degrees for all.
Best Practices to Take Care of Your Chainsaw
Even though you’re looking to get a cheaper, budget-friendly chainsaw, that doesn’t mean you should treat it as such. Proper maintenance can elongate the chainsaw’s life, proper maintenance should be done on all of your power tools.
Practice Proper Storage
Practicing proper storage is a must, it’s important to keep your chainsaw out of direct sunlight when it’s not in use. UV light can damage metals slowly over time and cause them to lose some of their durability. There are chainsaw bags available so I recommend you choose a good one to keep it away from unwanted moisture and light.
Empty the Fuel Tank
You should always empty the fuel tank in the off-season or if it hasn’t been used in three months. This will keep any fuel mixture build-up from accumulating in the tank. Keep your running smoothly and easy to start by keeping the fuel tank clean.
Your chainsaw should be regularly dismantled to make sure everything is in working order. For internal cleaning, you have to learn how to properly take the chainsaw apart to ensure you don’t damage any parts and give each piece a good cleaning.
Also, consider applying mineral-grade oil to add a protective coating. This will prevent corrosion and add some resistance.
There are the best chainsaw chain sharpeners! However, if we had to pick the best chainsaw chain sharpener out of this list we would have to go with the Oregon 120-Volt Manual Chainsaw Chain Sharpener. However, these are all great choices so don’t be worried if this isn’t your top choice. I hope this buying guide helped you find the best budget chainsaw chain sharpener for you! Do you have a favorite chainsaw chain sharpener from this list? Do you own one of these already? If not, are you considering purchasing one now? Please feel free to leave a comment; we would love to hear from you!
Did you enjoy this article? Check out some other articles I have written:
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