Top 5 Best Chainsaw Sharpeners

Chainsaws are hand-portable mechanical saws that cut through timber using saw chains. They are used for different lumbering and wood working functions such as tree felling, pruning, limbing, bucking, logging, bucking, and timber cutting; as well as tree surgery and processing firewood. This makes a chainsaw suitable for carpenters, tree loggers, millers, and forest managers. Still, the effectiveness of a chainsaw is principally determined by how sharp its cutting teeth are, and this necessitates one to use a chainsaw sharpener to keep the chainsaw in an optimal working condition. Thus, a chainsaw sharpener is well-suited to be used by carpenters, wood millers, timber yard operators, and forest farmers.

There are different chainsaw designs along with different types of saw chains. For instance, there are chainsaws designed for chainsaw carving (a specialized form of woodcarving), chainsaw mills, harvesters (heavy forestry vehicles), and mortises. There are also specialized chainsaws that cut through ice (usually used for ice sculpting and winter swimming) and concrete (which allows them to be used during emergency rescue operations, such as a rescuing survivors from a collapsed building). Still, all chain saws share a basic construction which is described hereafter.

A saw chain, also called cutting chain, is basically made up of sets of cutting teeth and steel links (also called driver links) that have been riveted together and then attached onto rotating roller-like chain drive. Generally, the flat surface of the drive links form the smooth bottom edge of the chain loop which allows it to fit well into
the bar of the chainsaw. On the top edge of the chain loop, are the sharp cutting teeth and rakers. A raker is a specialized short tooth that is placed before the cutting tooth where it acts as a depth gauge which prevents the cutting tooth from sinking too deep into the wood and getting stuck or binding into the wood. The chain loop rides
on the saw bar, and this rapid movement around the bar is powered by engine propulsion.

The saw bar is also called the guide bar as it guides the cutting teeth through the timber being cut. The cutting teeth are arranged differently on different chainsaws, and these teeth patterns are used to classify chainsaws into different designs, with the main ones being: scratcher teeth, chipper teeth, and chisel saw chains.

The earliest chainsaws had a scratcher teeth where only cutting teeth were riveted together to form the saw chain.
In this chain drive, 4 consecutive teeth were configured as follows, the first tilts to the left, the second is centrally placed, the third is tilted to the right, and the forth is again tilted to the left. To sharpen this
chain saw, one needed to sharpen each and every tooth and this took a long time, hence using this saw was characterized by extended (sharpening) downtime between working sessions. Likewise, the cutting teeth repeatedly got stuck in the wood. To improve this saw chain design, the chipper teeth were developed.

In the chipper teeth, the cutting tooth curled over the chain drive and alternate cutting teeth pointed to the right and left respectively. Between any 2 cutting teeth was a raker. The use of rakers in chipper teeth prevented engine overloading as the teeth did not get stuck in the wood grain. The chipper teeth were further improved by tweaking the shape of the cutting tooth. In Full-chisel saw chains, the square-cornered cutting teeth are used, while in semi-chisel saw chains, the cutting teeth have a rounded corner, or a 45-degree corner. To improve cutting performance, the steel cutting teeth are fitted with wear-resistant cutting plates made from materials such as tungsten-carbide. This cutting plate forms the top plate of the cutting teeth with the steel teeth forming the side plate. It is the angle between these 2 plates which determine whether the saw chain is a full-chisel or semi-chisel cutting chain.

The arrangement of cutting teeth on the chain drive determine how long it takes for one to sharpen a saw chain. The 3 main chain arrangements are the full complement, skip, and semi-skip teeth configurations. In the full complement, the cutting chain has a right cutter (cutting teeth), drive link, left cutter, drive link, and right cutter arrangement. In the skip chain, there are 2 drive links between any 2 cutting teeth (right cutter – drive-link – drive-link – left cutter arrangement). In the semi skip, the first and second cutting teeth are separated by 2 drive links, while the third cutting teeth is separated from the second cutter by only one drive link. As expected, it takes less time to sharpen skip and semi-skip saw chains as compared to full complement saws. Still, what tools are used for sharpening?

A dull cutting chain can be sharpened using a specialized tool called a chainsaw sharpener. There are different types of chainsaw sharpeners but they can all be broadly classified into 2 groups; manually-operated (or hand) sharpeners and machine sharpeners. Machine sharpeners are electric equipment, and they are either portable or bench-mounted. Basically, the tool that sharpens the cutting tooth is a cylindrical file which is placed between the curled tooth surface and the chain drive. Filling causes the curled tooth surface to acquire a sharp cutting edge.

There are different models of chainsaw sharpeners. The sharpening efficiency of these models differ from each other, but they can be rated depending on how quick and how efficiently they sharpen the cutting teeth. This rating criteria has allowed for 5 of the best chainsaw sharpeners to be identified and reviewed below. Still, if you want to know what to check for when purchasing a chainsaw sharpeners, a buying guide is provided below the product reviews.

Products review

Model
Sharpener weight
Additional Files
Mounting
Material of the product
Check price
1.7 poundsSaw bar of a long chainsaw.Made of cast aluminum and zinc-plated steelCheck Price
1.1 poundsSaw bar of a long chainsaw.High quality machined aluminumCheck Price
7 poundsBench-mounted electrically-powered.Made of cast aluminum and zinc-plated steelCheck Price
17 poundsBench-mounted electrically-powered.Made of cast aluminum and zinc-plated steelCheck Price
8 ouncesCan bring it wherever.The files are made from durable, high-quality material.Check Price

1.Granberg G-106B – Best Bar-Mount Chainsaw Sharpener

This is a portable, high-performance, and high-quality hand-held chainsaw sharpener built to be mounted on the saw bar; and is designed to offer industry-standard durability and accuracy. It can be mounted on any saw bar, which allows it to sharpen any long chainsaw. Its mounting jaws securely clamp onto either side of the saw bar with a vise-like grip, and this allows the frame that has the file holder to be adjusted to allow the file to reach the cutting teeth. Its file holder can hold all sizes of files that work on standard chain pitches, and can also be used to lower the depth gauge of rakers. However, this model comes without files and one is required to acquire these files separately. This model is made in California by Granberg, and its model number is G106-B.

This lightweight and portable sharpener weighs about 1.7pounds; and is 9.5inches long, 3.5inches tall, and 1inch thick. It has an open frame design and its color scheme is silver-gray. This model is made from zinc-plated steel and cast aluminum.

The frame features a calibrated swivel guide whose markings are meant to be used for setting and holding the sharpening angle. It also has integrated features that allows one to set the file height, as well as adjust the tooth length.

It is recommended that this model is fitted on high-quality and durable saw blades that can support the weight of the sharpener, in addition to handling the forces and vibrations associated with filing the cutting teeth. Likewise, it is not advisable for one to use it on old or aging chainsaw blades as they can bed or break.

Pros
  • Can be mounted on any saw bar of a long chainsaw.
  • Can fit different files.
  • U.S-made model.
  • Durable.
  • Superb performance.
Cons
  • Comes without files.
  • Not suitable for old saw blades.

2.Timberline 793573831248 – Best Compact Manually-Operated Chainsaw Sharpener

This is a compact, high-performance and high-quality portable manually-operated chainsaw sharpener built to be mounted on the saw bar. It is designed for industry-standard durability and accuracy. Its cutter are made from high-grade tungsten carbide. This 3/16inch high-performance cutter can fit well on cutting chains whose pitch is 0.375. Even so, it can still be mounted on any saw bar, which allows it to sharpen any long chainsaw. Its mounting jaws securely hold onto either side of the saw bar with a vise-like grip, and this allows its compact frame that has the file holder to be adjusted to allow the file to reach the cutting teeth. Its file holder can hold all sizes of files that work on standard chain pitches, as well as can be used to lower the depth gauge of rakers. Moreover, it is designed to file away as little material as possible hence reducing the wear associated with sharpening and ultimately improving the lifetime of the cutting chain. This model is made by Timberline, and its part number is 793573831248.

This lightweight and portable sharpener weighs about 1.1pounds, and is 6inches long, 4.2inches tall, and 4inches thick. It has a compact design and its color scheme is orange. This Its compact frame is made from high-quality machined aluminum.

The cutter guides are set at a fixed angle of 30degrees. Even so, there are guides set at 25degrees and 35degrees available, but they need to be purchased separately.

It is recommended that this model is fitted on high-quality and durable saw blades that can support the weight of the sharpener, in addition to handling the forces and vibrations associated with filing the cutting teeth. Likewise, it is not advisable for one to use it on old or aging chainsaw blades as they can bed or break.

Pros
  • Can be mounted on any saw bar of a long chainsaw.
  • Can fit different files.
  • Uses high-grade tungsten-carbide cutting teeth.
  • Durable.
  • Superb performance.
Cons
  • Comes with a fixed cutter guide that is set at 30degrees.
  • Not suitable for old saw blades.

3.Buffalo Tools ECSS – Best Portable Electric Chainsaw Sharpener

This is a well-designed, high-performance and high-quality electrically-powered chainsaw sharpener built to be mounted onto a workbench, vise or wall brackets; and is designed for industry-standard durability and accuracy. It uses a circular grinding wheel that is fixed on a durable arbor. A powerful, high-grade motor spins the grinding wheel at high speeds – and this speed can be adjusted. This model can sharpen any chainsaw. It also features safety features such as wheel guard that prevents hot filings from flying off across the workplace. It also comes with a cable fitted with an electric plug. It requires 120-volts AC to operate. This model is made by Buffalo Tools, and its model number is ECSS.

This compactly-designed sharpener weighs about 7pounds, and is 13.5inches long, 6.2inches tall, and 9.5inches wide. Its color scheme is red-black.

Its electric motor requires 120V, 60Hz AC power and its maximum power draw is 85watts; and it can achieve a maximum grinding speed of 4200revolutions-per-minute (RPM). The grinding wheel has a diameter of 4.25inches and is 1/8inches thick. This wheel is fitted on a 7/8inch arbor.

On the downside, this model cannot use directly 12-volts direct current from an ordinary car battery. If you want to use the car battery to power this sharpener, you need to route the DC power through an inverter so that it can converted into 120volts, 60HZ AC power. This ultimately increases expenses as you need to acquire an inverter.

This sharpener comes with a 90days warranty.

Pros
  • Bench-mounted electrically-powered chainsaw sharpener.
  • Can sharpen all types of saw chains.
  • Uses a high-quality grinding wheel whose diameter is 4.25inches.
  • Achieves grinding wheel speed of 4200RPM.
  • Durable.
  • Superb performance.
  • 90days warranty.
Cons
  • Cannot operate during power blackouts.
  • Cannot use direct current.

4.Oregon 410-120 – Best Bench-Mounted Electric Chainsaw Sharpener

This is a well-designed, high-performance and high-quality electrically-powered chainsaw sharpener designed to be mounted onto a workbench,; and comes with a wheel wear indicator to show how much wear the grinding wheel has been subjected to. This durable model is designed for industry-grade accuracy. It uses a circular grinding wheel that is fixed on a durable arbor. A powerful, high-grade motor spins the grinding wheel at high speeds – and this speed can be adjusted. This model can sharpen any chainsaw. It also features safety features such as wheel guard that prevents hot filings from flying off across the workplace. It also comes with a cable fitted with an electric plug. It requires 120-volts AC to operate. This model is made by Blount International – Oregon, and its model number is 410-120.

This compactly-designed sharpener weighs about 17pounds, and is 15inches long, 8.5inches tall, and 10inches wide. Its color scheme is silver-red-black. It is shipped alongside a quick-check grinding template, a dressing plate, and 3 grinding wheels (whose part numbers are OR534-14, OR534-316, and OR534-18).

Its electric motor requires 1.2 amperes of 120V, 60Hz AC power and its maximum power draw is 140watts; and it can achieve a maximum grinding speed of 3500RPM. The motor has a power output of 0.4horsepowers (HP). The grinding wheel has a diameter of 5.75inches. Its one-way motor operation improves its safety profile.

This model has a built-in light for illumination in dark environments, and it also features adjustable settings for top-plate and down angles.

On the downside, this model cannot use directly 12-volts direct current from an ordinary car battery. If you want to use the car battery to power this sharpener, you need to route the DC power through an inverter so that it can converted into 120volts, 60HZ AC power. This ultimately increases expenses as you need to acquire an inverter.

Pros
  • Bench-mounted electrically-powered chainsaw sharpener.
  • Can sharpen all types of saw chains.
  • Shipped alongside a quick-check grinding template, a dressing plate, and 3 grinding wheels.
  • Uses a high-quality grinding wheel whose diameter is 5.75inches.
  • Achieves grinding wheel speed of 3500RPM.
  • Durable.
Cons
  • Cannot operate during power blackouts.
  • Cannot use direct current.

5.Katzco 8 Piece – Best Sharpener File Kit

This is a portable chainsaw file kit that contains the essentials sharpening files and accessories that can allow the user to conveniently sharpen any saw chain in the field. These files and accessories are packed in an orange-colored roll-up tool pouch. There is a single flat file and 3 cylindrical/round files. These sizes of the round files are 5/32inches, 3/16inches, and 7/32inches. There is also a hardwood handle that can fit into any of the files. There is also a filing guide and a depth-gauge tool. The files can work on standard chain pitches, as well as can be used to lower the depth gauge of rakers. Moreover, it is designed to file away as little material as possible hence reducing the wear associated with sharpening and ultimately improving the lifetime of the cutting
chain. This kit is made by Katzco.

This kit is shipped as a fully-equipped tool pouch that weighs about 8ounces, and is 3inches long, 2inches wide, and an inch thick. Upon receiving the package, you must check to ensure that you have the following 7 products: 3/8inch handle that has a hardwood stain finish, a 6inch Flat fine-tooth file, filing guide, depth-gauge tool,
and the 3 round fine-tooth files. This pack is described as an 8-in-1 pack because the tool pouch is counted alongside the 7 products listed above.

The files are made from durable, high-quality material.

The downside of using this kit is that you can easily tire while trying to sharpen all the cutting teeth of a full complement or a skip chain.

Pros
  • Can be used to sharpen any short saw bar.
  • Comes with 4 different files.
  • Durable.
  • Superb performance.
Cons
  • Not suitable for long chain loops.
  • Buying guide

A chainsaw with a sharp blade allows you to safely and easily cut through wood, as well as achieve a smooth cut surface. Still, before sharpening your cutting chain, you need to select the right chainsaw sharpener. To choose the right sharpener, you need to know the following key dimensioning specifications of the saw chain: Gauge, length, and pitch. The gauge describes the thickness of drive links on the chain drive, and it determines if the cutting chain can fit on the saw bar as well as run well on it. For this reason, the gauge of the saw bar and drive link must match, and when it comes to sharpening using a machine sharpener, the selected tool must protect the drive link from being filed or cracked. Generally, the gauge ranges from 0.05inches (1.3mm) to 0.063inches(1.6mm).

The pitch of the cutting chain is the average distance that separates 2 rivets, and is normally calculated by measuring the distance between the first and third rivet and then dividing the value by 2. This is because the distance between 2 rivets varies across skip and semi-skip cutting chains. The pitch also determines the sawing efficiency of the chainsaw for different purposes. Generally, there are 3 main pitch values; 0.325inches, 0.375inches, and 0.404inches. This pitch also determines the diameter of the file that can fit under the cutting teeth.

The length of the chain loop determines whether a hand-help sharpener can be used or not. Long chain loops are best sharpened using machines.

The efficacy of the sharpener is determined by the interval between sharpenings, that is, how long does it take for a well-sharpened blade to start vibrating intensely and cutting poorly. Even so, repeated sharpening causes the teeth to grow shorter and eventually wear out, and at this stage the chain reaches its end-of-life. The lifetime of the cutting chain is how long a brand new saw chain takes to reach its end-of-life. As expected, frequent sharpening greatly decrease this lifetime, and this is one of the reason why you should acquire the right chainsaw sharpener. To do so, you must consider the following key factors:

1. Hand vs Machine Sharpening

The first thing to consider is how much effort you are able to put into your chainsaw sharpening process. A general rule-of-thumb is that a hand-held sharpening file costs less and takes lots of time to sharpen a complete chain loop. Still, it can be used for sharpening short saw chains, such as that found in a mortise chainsaw. However,
if you need to sharpen a long cutting chain, it is recommended that you acquire an electric sharpener machine.

The electric sharpener works fast as compared to the hand-held file, but it requires one to know how to set-up the machine. Moreover, the machine can either be portable or bench-mounted.

2. Portable vs Bench-Mounted Chainsaw Sharpener

If you perform most of the sharpening tasks in the field, then it is recommended that you acquire a portable machine kit. However, if you do most of sharpening indoors in a workshop, it is advisable that you acquire the heavy model that can be mounted on the workbench.

Moreover, portable kits draw less power and are slower than the bench-mounted models. Bench-mounted models can also handle heavy-duty chainsaw sharpening.

3. Material

You need to know which material has been used to make the sharpener, as you need to have a sharpener that does not bend, buckle, or break under pressure. Normally, high-tensile hard plastics, steel, steel alloys, diamond, and diamond-glazed materials are used. As expected, diamond sharpeners are stronger and more expensive than plastic sharpeners.

4. Flexibility

A sharpener that can fit in different files is better than one that only supports a single type of file. Therefore, flexible sharpeners can sharpen different saw designs.

5. Cost

The chainsaw sharpener must be priced favorably to fit within your planned budget.

6. Speed

The driving force of electric chainsaw sharpeners determine how fast they can work on the cutting chain. It is advisable that you select the one with the highest speed within a specific price range.

Conclusion

A chainsaw with a sharp blade allows you to safely and easily cut through wood. This requires you to sharpen the blade when it becomes dull, and to do so, you need to use the right chainsaw sharpener. To choose the right sharpener, you need to consider the gauge, length, and pitch specifications of your chainsaw. This allows you to
approximate which type of sharpener is suitable for you. Even so, there is need to acknowledge that different chainsaw sharpener models differ from each other. Still, these varied models can be rated depending on how quick and how efficiently they sharpen the cutting teeth. This rating allows for five of the best chainsaw sharpeners to
be identified, and they are Granberg G-106B, Buffalo Tools ECSS, Timberline 793573831248, Oregon 410-120, and the Katzco 8-Piece file kit.

Top 5 Best Chainsaw Sharpeners
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