Chainsaws are powerful tools that come in handy for a variety of cutting jobs. Like any other tool, though, they will need maintenance to operate efficiently. Taking care of your chainsaw will involve sharpening the chain from time to time. This can be a little intimidating until you know all the facts and give it a try for yourself.
Here are the steps you should take to sharpen your chainsaw blades:
1. Figure out the gauge of your saw’s chain. You’re going to need a grindstone or file to sharpen the chain, but these tools have to match the size of your chain’s teeth. Common sizes are 3/16, 5/32 and 7/32.
2. Clean the chain. Veteran chainsaw owners often use mineral spirits to clean their chains. You can also buy specialized cleaning products for this job.
3. Set the saw on a stable work bench or use a vice to keep it stable. If possible use a vice, as you will want to keep the blade stationary while you file the chain.
4. Put a chainsaw file guide on the blade. This isn’t required, but a guide will help you to file at the same angle on each cutter.
5. Slide the file across the cutter with a slight twisting motion, carefully following the angle of the file guide.
6. File each tooth on the loop the same way you did to the first. Then switch sides and do the same on the teeth facing the opposite direction.
7. Saturate the chain with oil, make sure the tension of the blade is correct and get back to work.
After you’ve sharpened the chain the first time, you will want to do all you can to keep the chain clean while you are cutting. The cleaner you keep the chain, the less you will have to sharpen it. In fact, it’s not the cutting you do that dulls the chain’s teeth, so much as it is the dirt that the chain comes in contact with. When you’re on the job with your chainsaw, try to wipe off any wood that you will be cutting and avoid cutting straight through to the ground. Taking steps to keep your chain clean will prevent unnecessary sharpening sessions.
There are more advanced sharpening steps and techniques that you should learn over the lifetime of your chainsaw ownership. For the most part, though, following the steps listed above should get your chainsaw back into cutting condition once again.