How to sharpen a chainsaw blade with a file

Person using a chainsaw to cut into a tree stump with autumn leaves around.
(Image credit: Getty)

Looking to keep your device in top condition? Learning how to sharpen a chainsaw blade with a file is a great place to start. Nothing beats a chainsaw when it comes to powerful performance. But you must maintain your chainsaw to continue to reap the benefits. 

So why bother sharpening your chainsaw? If you fail to keep up with this task, the blades will become dull, making cutting difficult. Surprisingly, dull blades increase the chance of an injury - you have to exert more pressure and sacrifice control.

We’ve consulted an expert about how to sharpen a chainsaw blade with a file. You’ll learn step by step so you can master the art of filing a chainsaw. 

Compared to taking your device to a pro, using a file is an affordable way to sharpen your chainsaw from the comfort of your home (or shed).

If your chainsaw is beyond repair, read our round-up of the best chainsaws when selecting a replacement.  

How to sharpen a chainsaw blade with a file 

Headshot of a woman with brown curly hair smiling at camera.
Melody Estes

Melody Estes is a Landscape Design Gardening Supervisor from Maine and a consultant for The Project Girl, where she offers her expertise on taking care of your yard. 

Want to learn how to sharpen a chainsaw blade with a file? Here’s our guide.

1. Select your tools

“There are many different files available specifically made for sharpening chainsaws. They're affordable and easy to use,” says Melody Estes, Landscape Gardening Supervisor from Maine and a consultant at The Project Girl. Check your manual for the recommended size. Equip yourself with a round file for the teeth and a flat file for the rakers.

2. Prepare your chainsaw

Clamp your chainsaw to the surface to steady it. Tighten the chain. Mark the first tooth with a pen to know when you’ve reached it again.

3. Sharpen the teeth

Your chainsaw has two types of cutters - forward and backward-facing ones. File all of one type and then the other.

“You need to file in a way that doesn't damage the chain,” says Melody. Pay attention to the angle. It’s usually approximately 25 degrees though check your manual. For maximum accuracy, invest in a file guide.

Slide the file across each tooth about 5 times in a forward motion. Count the times you sharpen each cutter to achieve a consistent finish.

4. Sharpen the rakers

Next, examine the gap between the teeth and the rakers (the bumps in-between). Use a depth gauge to determine whether any of the rakers are protruding. Slide a flat file across these to maintain the correct alignment.

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Louise Bond

Louise Bond is a UK-based writer and the founder of The Cove Copy. She has been published in The Guardian, Breathe, Fit & Well, Top Ten Reviews, and more. When she’s not writing, you can usually find her out in nature, whether hiking in the woods or pottering in the garden. 

With contributions from