Chainsaw chains dull with regular use. They must be routinely sharpened so you can keep cutting easily and effectively. You know it’s time to sharpen your chain when you find yourself forcing the saw through the wood. Most chainsaw vendors also professionally sharpen chainsaws for an extra charge. So, having your own chainsaw sharpener can potentially save you money on maintenance and keep you productive, as well as reduce the need to replace your chain so often.
Best chainsaw sharpener for 2020 – Complete Buying Guide & Reviews
Chainsaw sharpeners keep your cutting equipment in top shape. The best chainsaw sharpener is the one that best suits your budget and operation (commercial, industrial, personal, etc.), and how often and where you use it.
There are portable (field), bench, and wall-mounted options. Similarly, each type of chainsaw sharpener possesses its own set of safety hazards. For example, electric chainsaw sharpeners operate like, and should be considered, a power tool. The power source, cord and equipment, maintenance, and safety practices around and near electricity should be observed when using electric chainsaw sharpeners.
Before you buy, become familiar with the various types of sharpeners available.
Types of chainsaw sharpeners
Sharpening files are flat, rounded, or triangular-shaped pieces of metal approximately12 inches long. They come in different diameters that are sized to fit between the tooth’s cutting edge and the chain’s main brace.
Round files are used to sharpen the three angles (top plate, side plate, and down angle) of the chain’s hook or arch. Round files adequately sharpen all three of these angles on most standard chains used privately.
Professional and commercial chainsaw are square-ground sharpened. These chainsaws have a flat, square-tooth point rather than rounded hook angles. Only a tapered hand file can adequately sharpen these chains.
Depth gauges are metal nubs that sit in front of the cutting teeth. They indicate how deep the tooth will cut into the wood. The angles vary according to the type of chain. A different crosscut flat file is needed for each tooth’s depth gauge. File parallel to the ground. A filing gauge allows you to easily restore the correct angles.
Manual chainsaw sharpeners allow the chain to be sharpened without taking it off the saw. They are small, portable files that are held in place by a metal or plastic clamp or framework. The sharpener is securely attached to the bar and the file is held against the chain tooth at the correct angle to ensure the pitch is correct when the chain is sharpened. Most manual sharpeners attach directly to the bar and have a handle that brings the sharpener’s cutting edge into contact with the chainsaw teeth.
Electric chainsaw sharpeners are available in different sizes and permanently mount on surfaces such as workbenches, walls, or vises. They may be full-size that can sharpen many sizes of chains or they may be “mini” automatic sharpeners that can only sharpen one or two chain sizes.
Electric sharpeners are more expensive than other types of chainsaw sharpeners, but they produce a sharper, more precise edge. They may also be set to chainsaw (factory) specifications. The drawback is their need for a power source, their stationary nature and location, and the need to remove the chain from the saw to sharpen it. Although a thorough bar inspection (for debris, damages, etc.) can be made, removing and replacing the chain tends to stretch it over time.
Review what features the sharpener has and what you’ll need or use before buying it. Most electric chainsaw sharpeners include most, or all, of the following features:
• Self-centering chain-holding vises; automated chain feed
• Tilt vise head
• Safety stops
• Safety guards
• Fixed-angle cuts
• Motor and RPM options
Battery operated sharpeners are portable and lighter weight, and may be charged prior to use from a power source or car battery. They may be carried in a bag or pocket into remote areas. The drawback is their lesser amount of power compared to those that are stationary and plug directly into a 120 v. outlet.
Why people need a chainsaw sharpener?
Chainsaw chains dull over time with regular use. Cutting into dirt, rock, stone, metal or other solid/rigid objects dull the chain faster and should be avoided. Cutting into stone or metal requires immediate chain re-sharpening. All-day cutting may require quick chain re-sharpening during each chainsaw refueling. Sharpening the teeth a little each time before or after use makes cutting easier and helps you work more effectively. The chainsaw chain may need to be replaced, however, when cutting teeth crack or the longest portion of a tooth is less than 4 mm.
Who should buy a chainsaw sharpener?
Chainsaw chains dull over time with regular use. Chains particularly need sharpened after having cut into rigid objects such as stones, rocks, or dirt. The best chainsaw sharpener for those that only need to sharpen their chain occasionally, want to save money, or use the chainsaw primarily around the home or where a power source is available, is a manual, hand-operated sharpener. A vise is needed to hold the saw.
The best chainsaw sharpener for those that are cutting in remote locations or just “on the go”, is a portable one that easily fits into a bag or pocket where it is readily available. This may be a battery-operated sharpener.
What to look for when buying a chainsaw sharpener
A chainsaw blade has cutters, or teeth, that actually cut the wood/material. These require routine maintenance and filing. The chainsaw blade rakers determine how deep the teeth penetrate the wood/material, as well as regulate the consistency and smoothness during cutting. Rakers need filed periodically, but not as often as the cutters.
Although most sharpeners are suitable for most chainsaws, check the chainsaw blade angle to be sure the sharpener you intend to buy matches.
Also, find the pitch measurement. The chain’s pitch, which is “the distance between three consecutive rivets divided by 2,” is the most important measurement. It determines what size file is needed for sharpening. Most chains have numbers along their side denoting measurements. The most common chain saw pitches are 3/8”, 0.325”, and 0.404”. One-quarter inch is the smallest pitch.
Although buying a manual, round, hand file to sharpen cutting teeth is inexpensive there might be less laborious and more effective sharpeners that fit your budget, depending if you want one that is portable or powerful.
Electric bench, vise, or wall-mounted sharpeners complete the task the fastest. They have adjustable, rotating grinding discs that ensure the correct angle for the particular chainsaw chain teeth that need sharpened.
An alternative to a stationary electric chainsaw sharpener is a battery powered or crank sharpener that attaches to the guide bar. The chain is sharpened as it is drawn by hand cranking. The sharpener tool maintains the sharpening angle, as opposed to using a hand file to sharpen the teeth, where the angle is manually maintained. While this is more laborious and less efficient than the electric chainsaw sharpener, it is portable and effectively works anywhere.
Yet another alternative is a stump vise, which is useful when needing to file your chainsaw teeth in the middle of the woods. The file is attached to a log or stump and the guide bar functions like a vise. File according to the instructions to get sharp angles.
Why is it important to choose the right chainsaw sharpener?
There are many chainsaw sharpener options available, both portable and stationary, that allow you to choose a less labor intensive, inconsistent tool than a traditional round file to sharpen your chain teeth.
Most sharpeners on the market are guided, which makes sharpening chainsaw teeth easier and faster. Guides also make it “nearly impossible” to make an angle-mistake. Most chains also come with pitch numbers etched along the side that help you select the right size file or filer setting.
The best way to decide which type of chainsaw sharpener is the most practical and best suited to you will depend on:
• your need and budget,
• how often your chain(s) needs sharpened (often? or occasionally?),
• how many chains you sharpen regularly, and
• if you need portability.
Electric chainsaw sharpeners have more features. They sharpen faster and more precisely and leave little room for error. They need a power source, secure mounting, are not portable, and require the chain be removed to be sharpened.
Manual sharpeners are portable and clamp onto the bar. The angle is maintained and teeth are filed using a crank. The chain is not removed from the saw.
|Buffalo Tools ECSS Electric Chainsaw Sharpener||7 lbs.||90 days||4.4|
|Oregon 410-120 Bench or Wall Mounted Saw Chain Grinder||17 lbs.||1-yr. Manufacturer warranty||4.3|
|Timberline Chainsaw Sharpener with 3/16" Carbide Cutter||1.1 lbs.||Contact the Manufacturer||4.6|
|STIHL 2 IN 1 EASY FILE CHAINSAW CHAIN SHARPENER .325"||12.3 oz.||Contact the Manufacturer||4.7|
|Timber Tuff CS-BWM Benchtop / Wall Mount Electric Chain Saw Chain Sharpener||17 lbs.||1-yr. limited Manufacturer’s warranty||3.9|
|Tek Motion Electric Chainsaw Sharpener with Grinding Wheels, 1/8-Inch-by-3/16-Inch||12.8 lbs.||Contact the Manufacturer||3.8|
Chainsaw Sharpeners Reviews
The Buffalo Tools Buffalo ECSS electric chainsaw sharpener/grinder is a durable, bench, vise, or wall mounted chainsaw chain sharpening tool. The unit mounts with two 1/4-inch bolts that ensure easy access and stability. It runs from a standard 120-volt wall outlet.
The Buffalo ECSS motor is 120 v. / 60 Hz / with 85 watt input power. The 4-1/4” x 1/8” grinding wheel has a 7/8” arbor with 3/8” chain saw pitch and 4200 RPM grinding speed.
The Buffalo ECSS adjusts to most popular chain angles up to 35 degrees (right to left) and depths. It has a chain depth gauge range from 0.080” to 0.050”, although it will not effectively work with 0.043” gauge. Other features include safety stops, lock stop, base lock, and grinder lock, sliding guide adjustment, and sliding guide.
The Oregon 410-120 electric chainsaw sharpener/grinder is a durable, bench, vise, or wall mounted chainsaw chain sharpening tool. The unit mounts with two 3/8-inch bolts that ensure easy access and stability. It runs from a standard 120-volt wall outlet.
The Oregon 410-120 motor is 120 v. / 60 Hz / with 140 watt input power. It is a 1.2 amp, 0.4 HP motor with a , 5-3/4″ wheel. It has three grinding wheels: 1/4″, 3/8″ low profile, 0.325″, full profile 3/8″, and 0.404″ pitch chain. It grinds at 3500 RPM. It features a self-centering chain vise and customizable vise handle positioning. Chain sharpening is virtually mistake-proof. It also includes a dressing Brick and quick-check grinding template.
The Timberline chainsaw sharpener with 3/16” carbide cutter is a portable, clamp-on, manual crank sharpener. It is made of durable, high quality machined aluminum. It sharpens each tooth as the chain is pulled through the high-grade tungsten carbide cutter. It comes standard with a fixed 30-degree angle. It effectively works for 3/8″ and 0.325” chains. The Timberline with 3/16” carbide cutter works well with every type and pitch of chain except square tooth chipper (which requires a flat file). Every tooth is precisely sharpened to the same angle and length.
The Timberline comes in a soft carrying case with two zipper pockets. Additional carbide sizes are available from Timberline.
The Stihl 2 in 1 Easy File Chainsaw Chain Sharpener 0.325″ is a portable chainsaw “EZ file” sharpener that works for chainsaws in addition to Stihl. The Stihl 2 in 1 Easy File sharpener is available in three models: 0.325”, 3/8”, and 3/8” Picco (Purchase the version that matches your chain). It works well with every type and pitch of chain
The Stihl 2 in 1 EZ sharpener’s orange hinges are made of lightweight plastic that have symbols embossed on them for easy reference. The top (orange part with the hinge) pops open so round or flat files may be replaced as needed. The flat bars that rest on top of the teeth when filing are not adjustable so getting the correct pitch is important (i.e.: a 0.50” tooth requires 3/8” pitch; a 0.43” tooth requires 0.325” pitch).
The Timber Tuff CS-BWM electric chainsaw sharpener/grinder is a durable, bench, vise, or wall mounted chainsaw chain sharpening tool. The unit mounts with two bolts that ensure easy access and stability. It runs from a standard 120-volt wall outlet.
The Timber Tuff CS-BWM motor is 110 v. / 60 Hz with 230 watt input power. It comes with one each 3/16”, 1/8”, and 1/4” blade. The Timber Tuff CS-BWM sharpener has three grinding wheels in 1/8”, 3/16”, and 1/4”” sizes. Chains between 1/4″, low profile 3/8”, and 3/4″ can be sharpened at a rate of 3600 RPM. It easily adjusts to most pitches.
It features an easy to read guide to adjust angle settings that make sharpening consistency easier. It also includes a built-in 15-watt light and safety shield for visibility. Thermo-overload protection is an added safety feature.
The Tek Motion electric chainsaw sharpener/grinder with grinding wheels, 1/8” x 3/16” is a durable, high-volume, bench, vise, or wall mounted chainsaw chain sharpening tool. The unit mounts with two bolts that ensure easy access and stability. It runs from a standard 120-volt wall outlet.
The Tech Motion motor is 110 v. / 60 Hz with 230 watt input power. It comes with large 5-1/2” grinding wheels. It has two 5-1/2” grinding wheels in 1/8” and 3/16” sizes. The Tech Motion accurately sharpens 1/4″, 3/8″ low profile, 0.325″, full profile 3/8″, and 0.404″ pitch chain. It grinds at 3000 RPM.
The Tech Motion is constructed from sturdy cast aluminum with reinforced hinges for maximum strength, accuracy, and overall performance. It features a built-in light and safety shield for greater visibility. It also includes a guide to adjust angle settings that make sharpening consistency easier and a tilting vise that accommodates semi-chisel and chisel style cutters.
Chainsaw Sharpner Buyer’s Guide
The Buffalo ECSS electric chainsaw sharpener/grinder unit is made in China. It carries a 90-day (from date of purchase) manufacturer warranty. The single wheel can sharpen most popular chain profiles (5/32”, 3/8”, 3/16”, etc. up to 35 degrees) including Stihl and Husaqavarna models. Reviews indicate less than optimal instructions and disappointment with the absence of a light. The price, value for the money, easy of set up and operation, and results are the selling points.
This Oregon 410-120 electric chainsaw sharpener/grinder is manufactured in Oregon (unit is made in China). It carries a 1-yr. manufacturer warranty. It can sharpen 1/4”, 3/8″ pitch, and 3/8″ low profile chains. There is a guide on the grinder for setting up the angle. The thumbscrew adjusts to hold the angle in place. It features a self-centering chain vise and customizable vise handle positioning. It also includes a dressing Brick and quick check grinding template.
It has a one-way motor operation for safety.
The Timberline manual, clamp-on, crank chainsaw sharpener is made in Idaho Falls, Idaho. It comes in a soft side carrying case with two zipper pockets. The Timberline with 3/16” carbide cutter works well with every type and pitch of chain except square tooth chipper. This one sharpener fits all sizes of carbide files. It is lightweight, portable, simple set up, easy to use, and gains excellent results. Reviewers say it may seem pricey, but well worth it.
The Stihl 2 in 1 Easy (“EZ”) File Chainsaw Chain Sharpener 0.325″ is a lightweight, portable sharpener that works for other chainsaws than Stihl. It as both flat file and round file. Symbols (directions) are on the orange hinge for easy reference. The orange hinge opens so round or flat files may be replaced as needed. Each EZ bar has a pitch, making it important to get the correct pitch.
The Timber Tuff CS-BWM electric chainsaw sharpener/grinder unit is made in China. It carries a 1-yr. limited manufacturer warranty. It can adjust and sharpen most pitches and chains between 1/4″ and 3/4”. There is a guide on the grinder for setting up the angle. Safety features include a built-in light, safety shield, and thermo-overload protection.
This Tek Motion electric chainsaw sharpener/grinder unit is made in China. It can sharpen 1/4″, 3/8″ low profile, 0.325″, full profile 3/8″, and 0.404″ pitch chain. There is a guide on the grinder for setting up the angle. It features a self-centering chain vise and customizable vise handle positioning. It also includes a dressing Brick and quick check grinding template. A reviewer complains there is not contact information included.
Chainsaw chains dull with use. Sharpening them in the easiest, most efficient way possible makes cutting work go quicker and more smoothly. There is a variety of sharpeners on the market from simple to complex, portable to stationary, inexpensive to industrial/professional grade. The best choice depends on your budget, needs, sharpening frequency, and mobility.