Chainsaw Maintenance — Avoid These Sharpening Mistakes!


Whether you are a newbie gardener, seasoned landscaper, farmer, or experienced forest ranger, your best friend in battling against large tree trunks is a chainsaw. Your chainsaw is one of your toughest tools at home, and it does require some of your TLC every now and then. Keeping it sharp and very much well-maintained is very important to ensure that it’s fully functional and gives you the best results all the time. 

Fortunately for you, chainsaw maintenance is rather direct and easy, which means you can cut the time in cleaning it and spend more time cutting through woods. If you’re here because you’re new to chainsaw maintenance, then you’ve made the best decision in life. Take a quick look at how to keep your chainsaw in very good shape all year round.

Chainsaw Safety Precautions & Maintenance

If you’re having a hard time keeping your chainsaw sharp and fully functioning, then you might be overthinking it. There are easy ways to maintain your chainsaw in its best condition, and the following are: 

Keep Your Chainsaw Clean

  • The more or the longer you use your chainsaw, the more likely debris get stuck on it. From sawdust to tree saps and globs of oil, there are more that can get stuck on a chainsaw, so if you want it to continue being fully functioning after time passes by and as efficiently as possible, then you’ll need to clean it. Each part of the chainsaw is different when it comes to the right cleaning technique, so be sure to clean each one separately.
  • If the chain is dirty and definitely needs some cleaning, take it off and soak it well in a mix of ammonia and water for about half an hour. Use a soft brush to scrub the chain clean until there’s no more debris on it. Then after all the scrubbing, rinse it.
  • The next step to take is to check the carburetor and see if there’s any residue clogging it up. Residues will block the fuel flow of the engine, which may cause it to have trouble starting. The best thing to do is clean that particular part of the chainsaw by spraying it with compressed air or a fuel additive. 
  • Next, is to remove the needle valves, diaphragm, and cover plate from the saw. Place each of them into the cleaning mixture that you used for the chain. Then clean the air filter with a mixture of soap and water. You can also replace entirely it if you can’t seem to get all the stuck debris out. 

All these cleaning steps will keep your chainsaw looking nice and fully functioning.

Sharpen The Saw Blades

  • A dull chainsaw won’t be of use to you, it just won’t do. Regular chainsaw maintenance greatly involves sharpening the blades. The blades pretty much play the biggest role in cutting trees with the chainsaw. You have to pay attention to how your chainsaw has been working lately to see whether it needs sharpening or not. If your chainsaw started discharging sawdust instead of saw chips, then the blades might need some sharpening. As well as when it would feel like it jumps whenever you use it, then the blades may be blunt.
  • To sharpen them, the first thing you need to do is clamp the chainsaw on vice and keep it there with a hard guard. 
  • Then you take a sharpening file and push it horizontally across the blade. Upon reaching the end of the blade, make sure to lift the file and repeat the same motion. Also, be sure to do it in one direction to get the best results. After that, use the same number of strokes for each tooth on the chain.
  • The easiest one to use and the most effective chainsaw sharpener is the manual one with a grinding wheel.

Lubricate Your Chainsaw

  • Your chainsaw needs to be oiled regularly in order to prevent friction between the chain and guide bar. Without enough oil, the chain won’t turn as fast as it should, and the entire tool could possibly overheat.
  • Put a piece of cardboard or paper over the engine and then rev it to check whether the oil is enough or not. You should be able to see the oil spray onto the surface. If not, then there probably isn’t enough oil in it and should be added more. Check your manual and find out how to add oil

Always Use New Gas

  • Unless your chainsaw is used on a daily basis, then there’s a big chance that the gas inside has been breaking down. The gas in the tank can start breaking down in as little as a month in storage. This can lead to residue plugging the carburetor and an eventual dysfunction of the engine.
  • You should put in enough gas to last for 30 days. Your other option is to use a fuel additive, such as Fuel Stabilizer, to keep the gas fresh for months.
  • You should pay attention and carefully maintain any other power equipment you have at home to have them fully functioning throughout every year.

Most Common Chainsaw Sharpening Mistakes To Avoid

  • Using Wrong-sized File

Using the wrong size file may only give you problems when maintaining your chainsaw. It’s essential to choose the correct size of the file for the pitch of the chain that’s being sharpened. It only allows the filer to adhere to the 80% over 20% rule, by which 80 % of the file gets inside the cutter, while the 20% is right above the cutter, which creates a sharp, crescent-shaped hook on the end of the tooth. A file that’s too small for the cutter will prevent the top edge from being sharpened, A file that’s too large on the other hand will result in the removal of the hook of the tooth, which is actually essential for precise cutting. 

  • Filing In The Cutters And Not The Depth Gauge 

The depth gauge (razor) of the saw controls the penetration depth of the cutter teeth. Since the top plate of the bur teeth is slightly tilted back, it is essential to lower the depth gauge while the bur teeth are being sharpened. Do not file the depth gauge and only file the cutter teeth which will produce smaller and smaller chips with each subsequent sharpening.

  • Over-filing Depth Gauges

There are some people who over-file the depth gauge so that the saw takes a bigger chip but the thing is that they don’t get the result they’re expecting; the saw instead becomes overworked and bogs down.

  • Using Dull File

The chain of your chainsaw is extremely hard and usually requires a sharp file. When you push and add pressure to the file you should feel its grip. Adding pressure causes the file to skate, and chances are your file will become worn out. However, if you’re using a filing tool where the file is in a fixed position, you must remember to regularly rotate the file for an even wear.

  • Improper Bracing Of The Saw 

The best way to brace the chainsaw while sharpening is to place the bar in a bench vice. Keep an even pressure with each stroke, and keep the number of strokes consistent for each tooth. Do consider using a stump vice if you’re sharpening in the field or brace the tip of the bar on a log and lock its chain brake.

  • Backward Filing

Never drag your file backward, instead, always file from the inside of the tooth to the outside. Since the outside of the tooth is chrome-plated and harder than the file material, filing from the outside to the inside could result in wearing out the file in short order. It’s also way easier to line up the file guide and maintain a more consistent stroke when working from the inside of the tooth.

There are many other mistakes in sharpening and maintenance of your chainsaw that you need to avoid in order to always have a fully functional chainsaw season after season. Maintaining your power tools is a no-brainer if you want them to last for long. As long as you know what you’re doing in maintaining your tools, then they’re sure to be always in the best condition. 

We hope to have given you what you’ve been looking for in maintaining your powerful chainsaw! It’s always a good idea to do some research on how to maintain your power tools. Thank you for spending your time reading this article! Keep us posted on your maintenance journey!