In this article we hope to answer one of the most common questions we get asked by people who purchase a chainsaw from us, “how do I sharpen the chain?”

Firstly, it really does benefit you to keep your chain sharp. Cutting with a dull or blunt chain requires for physical effort and fuel, as well as creating excessive wear to the mechanical components of the chainsaw.

You can avoid this by sharpening your chain regularly by filling this simple guide:

What tools do I need?

  • A Round and Flat File (You can check the gauge file you need for your specific chain from the manufacturers website)
  • A File Gauge
  • Stump Vice (When working in the field)


Get your filling angles right

The chain cutters should be filed according to these four angles:

  • Top plate filing angle
  • Side plate cutting angle
  • File down angle
  • Depth gauge setting

The angles can vary depending on the brand and type of chainsaw chain you use. One way to ensure the cutter is set to the correct angles is to use a filing gauge. Filling gauges come with good instructions and the manufacturers website all have guides showing how to get the right angles on

How often should I file the chain?

Chainsaw chains are blunted over time, no matter what you’ve been cutting into. Cutting into objects such as stone, rocks and soil can accelerate this process and we recommend that you sharpen your chain straight away if this happens to you.

If you use your chainsaw on a daily basis we recommend that you sharpen your chain after every re-fuel. This means you spend less time filling and more time cutting efficiently.

How you file your chain

We recommend using a file gauge for best results. Here’s the step by step process:

  • File away as little material as possible
  • Start by finding the shortest cutter
  • All cutters should be filed to match the length of the shortest cutter
  • Place the filing gauge on the chain
  • The arrows on the filing gauge should point in the chain’s direction of rotation
  • Make sure the gauge has contact with the chain
  • Use the round file. Place the file at a 90° angle to the rollers on the filing gauge
  • File with both hands resting the file on both rollers
  • File the cutting tooth away from you with smooth strokes
  • Now file every other tooth
  • Ensure each cutting tooth is filed so that it is sharp
  • Make sure all the cutting teeth are of equal length

Once you have finished filing all the cutting teeth on one side, attach the file guage from the other direction. Sharpen the cutting teeth in the same way from the opposite direction.

Filing in the field

A useful tool to have when filing out in the field is a stump vice. Attach it to a stump or log and secure the guide bar like a normal vice. File as usual using the filing instructions above.

Setting the correct depth gauge

The depth gauge setting manages how much the cutting tooth will cut. If the depth gauge setting is set low, the chain cuts a small amount of wood. If the depth gauge is set high the cutting tooth will cut deeply into the wood. This creates a cut that aggressive with high vibrations as a result. It can also increase the risk of kickbacks, and the chainsaws mechanical components are exposed to unnecessary stress.

You should check the depth gauge every 4-5 times that you sharpen the chain during normal wear and more often during excessive wear. Use the depth gauge tool and flat file to check and set the correct height. “Soft” and “Hard” stamped on the gauge refers to soft wood (conifers) and hard or frozen wood.

When should I replace the chain?

This is quite straightforward. It’s time to replace the chain when the cutting tooth is less than 4 millimetres or if you find cracks or damage to the chain.

Further support

Keeping your garden or forestry machinery in great condition extends its life and improves how it operates. We provide servicing, maintenance and repairs for professional and domestic machinery, so that your equipment lasts longer and makes your life easier.

Our showroom in Exeter, Devon, has a fully equipped service facility with a highly experienced team of manufacturer trained service technicians. Our servicing team have in-depth knowledge of all of the garden and forestry equipment that we supply and sell, including chainsaws. This means you can trust us to carry out servicing, maintenance and repairs quickly and efficiently, so we can get you back to work as fast as possible.

We provide help and advice for all leading garden and forestry machinery brands and we can often help with equipment from manufacturers that we do not sell. Contact us if you need help maintaining your chainsaw.

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