Chainsaw Sharpener Instructions

Updated February 21, 2017

A chainsaw is an essential tool for anyone who needs to do serious amounts of forestry work, or who does chainsaw woodworking. Part of proper chainsaw ownership and maintenance is keeping the chain sharp. A sharp chain cuts faster, keeps the chainsaw motor running at optimum load, and prevents binding and kickback, which can be extremely dangerous. There are a number of methods for sharpening your chainsaw, but the best and fastest method is to use a dedicated bench-mount electric chainsaw chain sharpener.

Remove the chain from the chainsaw.

Set the guides on the sharpener's sharpening track to the width of the chain, using the setscrews on the guide. When the vice lever is moved to the closed position, the chain should be held firmly between the wall of the guide and the setscrew.

Adjust the chain vise's angle in relation to the cutting wheel in accordance with the chainsaw manufacturer's specifications.

Set the top plate angle with the set screw next to the top-plate angle readout.

Insert the chain into the guide and clamp the vice with the vice arm.

Lower the grinding disk onto the tooth (making sure that the angle of the tooth's surface matches the angle of the grinding disk) to test if the disk is set to the right depth. Use the disk depth set screw to adjust the grinding depth so it matches the depth of the groove in the tooth.

Mark this first tooth with chalk, then turn the machine on, gently lowering the disk to grind every other tooth.

Turn off the machine once you've reached your chalk mark again, then turn the chain vice to the opposite angle. Grind all of the teeth you skipped on the first time around, again marking the start of your progress with chalk.


Note that chainsaw teeth are angled in opposite directions every other tooth. When sharpening, you'll notice that one tooth with have an edge at one angle, and the next tooth will have its edge at the opposite angle, alternating all the way around the chain. When sharpening, be sure to only sharpen every other tooth at each pass.

Things You'll Need

  • Bench-mounted chainsaw chain sharpener
  • Chalk
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About the Author

After working as an editorial assistant for the University of Chicago Press, Dario Saandvik began writing in 2009. He specializes in gardening, home maintenance and computer software. Saandvik has a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Chicago and is in the graduate program for English literature at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.