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How to Sharpen a Chain Saw

If your saw isn't performing the way it used to, it may be time for a little maintenance to get it working like new again.


  • : Always wear leather gloves and safety glasses when working with a chain saw.
  • Step 1: Clean the chain Clean the chain with mineral spirits.
  • Step 2: Inspect the chain Inspect the chain for damage. Take it in for repairs or buy a new chain if the damage is extensive.
  • Step 3: Select the right blade and file guide Select the proper blade size. Choose a circular file large enough for 20 percent of the file's diameter to remain above the cutter's top plate. Select a file guide that positions the file correctly and does not obstruct your view.
  • TIP: Use a file guide that drops over the chain and shows proper angle alignment.
  • Step 4: Start with the worst blade Start with the cutter on the chain that has the most damage.
  • TIP: Mark your starting point with a marker so all of the cutters get sharpened.
  • Step 5: Secure the saw Secure the saw in a steady position in a well-lit area.
  • Step 6: Align the file and start filing Align the file with the marks on the guide. Apply pressure to the file and stroke forward with both hands. Release the pressure while bringing the file back.
  • Step 7: File the cutters File the cutters on one side of the chain from the inside to the outside until all damage is removed. Then turn the saw around and sharpen the cutters on the other side of the chain. Make sure to keep all of the cutters the same size so your saw will work properly after sharpening.
  • FACT: In 1947, Joseph Buford Cox revolutionized the chain saw by duplicating the C-shaped jaws of the timber beetle into steel.

You Will Need

  • Leather gloves
  • Safety glasses
  • Mineral spirits
  • Circular file
  • File guide
  • Well-lit area
  • Marker (optional)

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