Tips on Using an Electric Chainsaw Sharpener

Updated February 21, 2017

An electric chainsaw sharpener is an efficient and quick way to keep those chainsaw chains sharp. Chainsaw chains dull fast while cutting if they hit anything harder than wood. Hand filing can take hours to get each tooth equal in length and at the same cutting angle. An electric chainsaw sharpener, however, takes all the guesswork and much of the time out of this tedious operation.

Right Grinding Stone

Electric sharpeners differ from a regular grinding stone. These stones angle in just the right way to allow you to put a slight curve into the tooth, following that concentric hook of the teeth. Without the proper stone, the teeth would sharpen flat and would no longer bite into the wood while cutting. The right grinding stone depends on the pitch of the chain used on the saw. You can use this measurement on the chain's package and match to the grinding stone.

Right Grinding Depth

When using an electric chainsaw sharpener, one of the biggest drawbacks is over-sharpening the chain. The electric sharpener can file off a lot of metal quickly and weaken the metal from heating it up. However, if you set the depth properly, this won't be a big concern. This depth setting will guarantee the grinding stone doesn't drop too far into the hook of the tooth. Most electric sharpeners have a depth-setting gauge on the clamp, where the chain sits, or on the piece that controls the up and down movement of the stone. Again, you can find the grinding depth for your chain on the package.

Right Grinding Angle

Another disadvantage of an electric grinder is getting the wrong angle or getting the angle too steep. However, if you set the grinding angle properly, it will sharpen every tooth at the exact angle required. The grinding angle will be set at the clamp, which holds the chain. This clamp will rotate in a circle, so it can be set at the exact degree required. Most chainsaw chains operate best at a 30-degree angle, so start there and work up to a sharper point. You also can locate the angle on the chain's package.

Preventing Over Grinding

While an electric sharpening takes all guesswork out of the depth and angle settings, you still need to be careful not to over-sharpen the chains. Setting the wheel down for a second, two at most, will quickly sharpen most teeth. If you hold it down too long, the metal can also heat up to dangerous levels, which will compromise the integrity of the metal. If one or more tooth is more heavily damaged than the rest, sharpen it like the rest and wait for successive sharpening to get out the rest of the damage.

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About the Author

Currently based in Minneapolis, Minn., Eric Blankenburg has been a freelance journalist since 2000. His articles have appeared in "Outside Missoula, Outside Bozeman," "Hello Chengdu" and online at and various other websites. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from the University of Montana.