6 Best Chain Saw Sharpeners
A dull chainsaw is not only inefficient but reduces the lifespan of the saw itself. The solution? A chainsaw sharpener. Here are six top choices.
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Buying a Chain Saw Sharpener
Chainsaws are extremely useful tools for felling trees, as well as cutting up downed trees and large branches. Unfortunately, they’re much less effective and efficient when their chains are dull. Hence, sharpening a chainsaw is essential.
A chain saw sharpener keeps your chains in top shape. Once you get the hang of it, you can save time and money you’d otherwise spend on a professional sharpening service. Performing power tool maintenance tasks helps me more fully understand the mechanics of the tools, and gives me a deeper appreciation of how they work.
Chain saw sharpeners can vary. Some may be better suited for you than others, depending on your experience and how frequently your saws need sharpening. Here, I drew on my own experience plus valuable insight from an expert in the chainsaw and sharpening field, Dan Morris of Fire and Saw, to help you choose the best sharpener.
Factors to consider include:
Sharpener type: According to Morris, the two types to consider are a simple handheld file or bench grinder-style sharpener. While manual files are cheaper, Morris said they time and practice to master. “You usually need someone to teach you in person, rather than just watching YouTube videos,” he said.
Bench grinder sharpeners let you sharpen the chain faster, but can easily damage the chain if you’re not sure what you’re doing. Electric hand-held sharpeners exist but Morris doesn’t recommend them; he considers them “a bit gimmicky.”
Cutting area: If you work far from your primary workshop or garage, you probably can’t easily mount and operate a bench grinder sharpener. Lighter tends to be better in these situations, and a manual file is the best call if you need to sharpen your saw quickly out in the field. If you’re working in your backyard and there’s a workbench close by, a bench grinder-style sharpener is more convenient, especially if you’re an experienced sharpener.
Chain type: Make sure your sharpener can handle the pitch (the average distance between rivets) of the chain you’re sharpening. The most common are 3/8-in. and .325-in., Morris says, although your chain may differ. Double-check that yours is compatible with the sharpener. This measurement should be easily found on your saw.
This video from Corey Thayer, a professional tree feller, should answer any additional questions regarding chain types.
Oregon Chain Saw Field Sharpening Kit
The Oregon Chainsaw Field Sharpening Kit includes everything you need to manually file your chainsaw in the field, and the roll-up pouch keeps the contents organized and safe from the elements.
An ergonomic wooden handle attaches to each file, giving you a sturdy, secure grip regardless of the size. Morris recommended this model, and several online reviewers cited its ease of use, even for newcomers.
Oregon Compact 410-120
The Oregon Compact 410-120 offers functionality at a good price, making it the best overall bench grinder-style sharpener. With its three grinding wheels, it can process a range of chain types, including 3/8-in. and .325-inch.
The included profile guide shows the correct wheel to use. One Amazon reviewer writes that as long as you take the time to use it correctly, this sharper can save you a ton of money.
Oregon Compact 310-120
The compact size of the Oregon Compact 310-120 makes it perfect for those who are short on space but still want a high-quality, bench grinder-style sharpener. Although it costs significantly less than other bench grinder-style sharpeners, it comes with two grinding wheels, so you can sharpen chains with pitches up to .404-inch.
It wouldn’t be ideal for frequent use, though. Those looking to sharpen in bulk need something more heavy-duty.
If you frequently sharpen a lot of chains, check out the Oregon 620-120. The hydraulic clamp lets you work hands-free. Several Amazon reviewers cited issues with the instruction manual, so this isn’t recommended for a first-timer. But its universal chain sharpening capabilities make it right for an experienced frequent user.
Stihl Two-in-One Easy File
If you lack sharpening experience, try this beginner-friendly Stihl Two-in-One Filing Guide. You can simultaneously sharpen the chain and lower the depth gauge while you work, although it can only be used for 3/8-in. pitch chains. An experienced tree feller writes on Amazon that since buying this file, “I have never had my Stihl perform so well.”
Granberg Bar-Mount Chain Saw Sharpener
If you already own the necessary files for your specific chain, the Granberg Bar-Mount Guide File will ensure you’ll sharpen any saw easily accurately. It comes assembled so you won’t waste time getting it mounted, and the aluminum and steel frame makes it sturdy and durable.
“[My] favorite chainsaw sharpening device,” writes one Amazon reviewer who claims to have used it for 22 years.