Common chainsaw sharpening mistakes – and how to avoid them

Chainsaw sharpening mistake
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Recently completed a project with a chainsaw? You’ll be familiar with the sense of achievement from blitzing through tough tasks. But you’ll need to regularly sharpen your device for maximum performance. To avoid rookie errors, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with common chainsaw sharpening mistakes. 

Maintaining a sharp saw can give you the edge in the most demanding jobs. You may be surprised to hear that using a blunt saw increases the risk of accidents. Regularly sharpening your chainsaw can ensure precision and keep you safe. With the right know-how, it can be transformed from a thankless chore into a satisfying task. 

We consulted an expert on chainsaws to provide their advice on how to sharpen your chainsaw correctly. You'll learn common chainsaw sharpening mistakes so you can avoid them. 

Proper maintenance maximizes your device's lifespan and makes the most of your investment. Time for a replacement? Check out our guide to the best chainsaws (opens in new tab) or the cheap chainsaw deals (opens in new tab) currently around. For now, let’s unpack common chainsaw sharpening mistakes. 

Top chainsaw sharpening mistakes to avoid

Rick Jason Martineau
Rick Jason Martineau

Rick Jason Martineau has 5+ years of experience at Husqvarna Group and is currently the Senior Training Specialist for Tree Professional Products, Safety, and Advocacy for North America. He has had the privilege of being involved in the forest industry for over 40 years.

Want to know one of the top chainsaw sharpening mistakes? New chainsaw owners often use the wrong tools for the job. Rick Jason Martineau, Senior Training Specialist for Tree Professional Products at Husqvarna, explains it’s vital to “use the correct file type and size.” Chainsaws come in all shapes and sizes, and as you might expect, a chainsaw with a larger chain will need a larger file. Check your manual if you’re not sure.

Next, you’ll want to master the correct technique for filing. “The file is only effective in one direction, forward stroke,” explains Rick. You may be tempted to save time by moving the file forward and back, but it’s a no-no. This movement can dull the chain and damage your file, so be sure to reset it each time. For maximum precision, count the number of times you file each tooth and keep it consistent for an even finish.

The angle is another important factor. “The straighter you can keep the file along the cutting edge, the better. The top edge of the tooth should not appear curved when you finish,” adds Rick. If you’re a beginner, investing in a file guide can support you to get the right angle while you hone your technique. 

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Louise Bond is a UK-based writer specializing in health and wellbeing. She has over eight years of experience in management within health and care and brings this passion and expertise to her writing. Louise has been published in The Guardian, Live Science, Fit & Well, Tom’s Guide, Planet Mindful, Breathe, and Psychreg. She is at her happiest when she is out in nature, whether that’s on an invigorating hike or pottering in the garden.

With contributions from