Best Chainsaw Sharpener in 2019 – A Quick Buying Guide

best-chainsaw-sharpener

Keeping your chainsaw’s blade sharp and ready for the job is easier when you own one of the best chainsaw sharpener.

Nothing is more annoying than trying to cut some logs for your fireplace with a blunt blade that won’t cut.

The market offers a bountiful range of choices, and unless you’re an expert, picking the right product could be overwhelming.

What should you look for?

How do you know if the sharpener is compatible with your tool? What other features matter?

Luckily, I’m here to help. I’ve tested quite a few chainsaw sharpener during my career. The ones mentioned below have satisfied me the most in terms of performance and value for the money.

Check them out, and then read my advice on finding the right chainsaw sharpener for you.



Top 5 Best Chainsaw Sharpener Reviews 


 1. Oregon 520-120 Bench Saw Chain Grinder

Oregon-520-120-Bench-Saw-Chain-Grinder

This Oregon saw sharpener is one of the most popular options, appealing to both average homeowners and professional woodworkers.

Its adjustable profile makes it compatible with a wide range of chainsaws, while the self-centering chain vise allows for easier adjustability.

Chain Compatibility

The Oregon 520-120 is one of the top rated chainsaw sharpener on the market, a product designed to work with most types of chainsaw chains.

An adjustable profile allows you to use it with low-profile, full-profile and pitch chains.

This is possible due to the three-grinding-wheel construction with a capacity between ¼ and .404 inches.

An incorporated quick check grinding template allows for quick adjustments and makes this tool ideal even for less experienced users.

Build and Quality

This electric chainsaw sharpener boasts durable construction and incorporates quality components and features designed to improve the user experience and prolong the machine’s lifespan.

A 3/8-horsepower motor provides sufficient power for heavy-duty grinding and spins the wheels up to 3,400 revolutions per minute. A variable motor angle allows for multiple adjustments of the tool, while the one-way motor rotation ensures safe operation.

A nice feature is a self-centering vise designed to provide equal grinding angles with minimum intervention from your side while clamping to all chain sizes for a no-frills universal fit.

Everything is enclosed in a durable aluminum chassis. Furthermore, the unit also incorporates best-in-class safety features including a safety shield with an integrated light.

The chain clamp is also sturdy and built to reduce the risk of injury, while the T-shaped cooling fins allow for excellent temperature regulation, preventing overheating.

A wheel-dressing brick, a template for pitch, a wheel contour and a depth gauge setting are other interesting features of this well-made chainsaw sharpener. The product also meets all ANSI standards.

Specialty

This electric chainsaw sharpener comes with three grinding wheels designed to work with most chainsaw chains. The 1/8-inch, 3/16-inch and 1/4-inch wheels are compatible with chains up to 0.404 inches.

Ideal for both contractors and home users, this sharpener is no doubt one of the best you can buy.  

Things We Liked

  • Durable aluminum chassis with integrated safety shield and light.
  • Powerful 3/8 horsepower motor spins the grinding wheels up to 3,400 RPM.
  • Three-feet cord with three-prong grounded plug adds up to safety.
  • Easy-to-use controls allow you to make precise adjustments.

Things We Didn’t Like

  • The sharpener doesn’t alight the chain’s teeth automatically.
  • stop
    Instructions could be more comprehensive.


 2. Timberline Chainsaw Chain Sharpener

Timberline-Chainsaw-Sharpener

This Timberline chainsaw sharpener is perfect for contractors, but built with the home user in mind.

It combines a top-notch design and performance with ease of use in a formula that satisfies most operators.

Chain Compatibility

The Timberline sharpener is a specialty product designed specifically for .325-inch chain pitches. This could seem to be a limitation at first, but upon closer look, investing in a specialty tool could be a better choice.

In fact, unless you’re a contractor using chainsaws of different sizes who wants to save some money by investing in a sharpener compatible with all your tools, owning a tool designed to sharpen the specific type of chainsaw chain you own is more lucrative.

The main advantage of the Timberline chainsaw chain sharpener is the ease of use. Perfect for a rookie, this sharpener doesn’t require complicated adjustments. It is calibrated to sharpen one type of chain, and all you have to do is run the chain through the machine to improve its cutting power.

Build and Quality

Like most products from Timberline, its chainsaw sharpener is designed for performance. It comes with a powerful high-grade tungsten carbide cutter and carbide guides fixed at an angle of 30 degrees, just perfect for sharpening your chainsaw chain.

If you’re one of those users looking for unrivaled control over the tool, know that the manufacturer also provides 25 and 35-degree guides separately.

The overall quality of this tool is superb. It is made of machined aluminum, strong enough to deal with heavy-duty tasks, yet lightweight enough to transport with ease.

 The manual sharpener can also be used anywhere, including on a job site where there is no electricity around.

Yes, you’ll have to use your brute force to sharpen the chain, but you’ll have no limits as far as mobility is concerned.

This newly patented tool is also surprisingly easy to use, despite not being powered by a motor. It is designed for precision and accuracy, and gives you just that.

Unfortunately, the sharpener doesn’t come with a work light, which in some cases can be detrimental.

I have found that using a torch is a great alternative, but I’d have liked this tool even more if it was fitted with a light powered by batteries.

Despite this slight drawback, the Timberline chainsaw sharpener is no doubt a great product for the home user.

Specialty

This manual chainsaw sharpener is designed specifically for 0.325-inch chains and comes with a strong tungsten carbide cutter.

Things We Liked

  • The newly patented design ensures sharpening precision and accuracy.
  • Portable design.
  • Made of durable machined aluminum.

Things We Didn’t Like

  • Impractical for high-volume sharpening in an industrial environment.

 3. Buffalo Tools ECSS Electric Chainsaw Sharpener

Buffalo-Tools-ECSS-Electric-Chainsaw-Sharpener

If you are a rookie looking for a fully automatic chain sharpener, you may find what you are looking for in the Buffalo Tools ECSS model.

This entry-level electric tool is perfect for the backyard workshop and could benefit a contractor looking for a no-frills tool. It’s ridiculously easy to use and compatible with several chain types.

Chain Compatibility

This electric chainsaw chain sharpener by Buffalo Tools is designed for multi-tool compatibility and works with chain gauges between .05 and .08 inches. However, this tool is incompatible with different chain gauges, including the popular .043-inch size.

The grinding wheel measures 4 1/4 x 1/8 inches and is easy to adjust via a convenient knob placed on the tool.

Build and Quality

Sturdy and durable, this electric sharpener is engineered in rust-resistant metal and is comprised of quality components to ensure its durability.

Despite its reduced dimensions, the sharpener puts out 85 watts of power, sufficient for spinning the grinding wheels at an astonishing speed of 4,200 revolutions per minute.

It draws energy from a standard 120V wall outlet, which means you won’t have to predispose a 240V circuit for this tool.

Another great feature is the adjustable design, which allows operators to use it with most types of chains. Easy to use, the product can be fixed to the workbench, to the wall or to a vise for improved stability.

Despite all these features, the sharpener comes at a more than affordable price. It won’t last forever and probably won’t withstand high-volume applications in an industrial environment, but it’s more than accessible to the DIYer who can’t afford to invest in a more expensive chainsaw chain sharpener tool.

Specialty

This tool is no doubt the best chainsaw chain sharpener for amateur use. It reaches high speeds and is compatible with some of the most popular chain types, including 0.05 and 0.08-inch models. It is ideal to have in your home arsenal.

Things We Liked

  • Electric chainsaw sharpener runs on conventional 120V alternating current.
  • Easy to mount on a workbench, wall or vise for improved stability.
  • Multi-chain compatibility.
  • stop
    Grinding wheel sharpens chains at 4,200 RPM.

Things We Didn’t Like

  • No integrated work light makes it difficult to sharpen the chain in low light conditions.
  • stop
    Mobility depends on the length of the power cord.

 4. Stihl 2-in-1 Easy File Chainsaw Chain Sharpener

Stihl-2-in-1-Easy-File-Chainsaw-Chain-Sharpener

Stihl is renowned for the quality of its tools, and the 2-in-1 Easy File is no exception. Ready to use right out of the box, this manual chainsaw chain sharpener is one of the best on the market.

 An attractive price point makes it appeal to the homeowner and contractor alike, although it’s not suitable for high-volume applications.

Chain Compatibility

This practical tool is designed for sharpening the teeth and depth gauge of all chainsaw chain styles. It works with the 1/4, 3/8, .325 and .404-inch chain sizes, giving you just the flexibility you need in case you’re using multiple tools.

This characteristic makes the chain sharpener ideal for a contractor’s workshop, as long as you only sharpen your chains occasionally.

Build and Quality

The Stihl two-in-one is a robust chain sharpener designed to withstand heavy-duty applications and the test of time. It consists of two round files and one flat file delivered with a unique holder and filing guide designed for performance.

The filing guide simplifies the sharpening process by completing two actions at the same time.

You’ll be able to sharpen the saw chain cutters and lower the depth gauges all at once, a feature that is more than convenient for a manual tool.

High-quality files and guides also allow you to get more done at each stroke, which means you’ll spend less time sharpening and more time actually sawing wood.

What impresses me about this tool is its accuracy. Although quite expensive for a manual tool, this chainsaw sharpener remains one of the most affordable on the market, and its overall quality definitely pays off.

Specialty

This manual chainsaw sharpener boasts a universal fit and is compatible with all chainsaw chain styles. Its two-in-one construction makes it ideal for both contractors and home users.


Chainsaw Sharpener Reviews - Source: Wranglerstar


Things We Liked

  • The two-in-one sharpener is very easy to use and provides accurate results.
  • Requires a low operating force.
  • Perfect to use in any setting, even when electricity is not available.

Things We Didn’t Like

  • More expensive than other similar sharpeners.

 5. Husqvarna Sharpforce Chain Sharpener

Husqvarna-Sharpforce-Chain-Sharpener

The Sharpforce by Husqvarna is another manual chainsaw chain sharpener tool similar in many ways to the Stihl above. Like Stihl, Husqvarna is associated with high-end lawn and gardening tools, but the main difference between these two manual sharpeners featured in this list is the price.

 Husqvarna is reliable, yet much more affordable, ideal for a beginner or amateur user.

Chain Compatibility

Husqvarna Sharpforce is a specialty tool compatible with only one type of chain, although the manufacturer produces it in various sizes.

Nevertheless, the size you choose determines the job it’s fit for.

I use 7/32-inch chainsaws, therefore this specific review refers to the corresponding Sharpforce 7/13 chain sharpener.

However, the manufacturer also proposes two other variants of this tool compatible with 3/16-inch and 5/32-inch chains.

Build and Quality

This chainsaw sharpener is a highly functional, robust and durable tool that finds its place in a beginner’s arsenal.

Like the Stihl model above, it requires brute force to operate it, and how well it sharpens the teeth usually depends on the operator’s expertise.

As far as the tool is concerned, the product comes equipped with a convenient guide, which allows you to sharpen each tooth at the same angle and size, for increased performance and accuracy.

The user-friendly design also makes this sharpener one of the most praised on the market.

The tool is well-balanced and easy to use without provoking user fatigue. You’ll be able to sharpen chain after chain without feeling tired.

A drawback is the quality of the plastic handle, which feels rather flimsy. If you’re applying too much pressure, the handle could break, causing injuries.

Specialty

Designed with a specific type of blade in mind, this chainsaw sharpener is perfect for a 7/32-inch chain, but variants for other chain sizes are also available.

Perfect for home users and beginners, this tool is easy to use and comes at a more than affordable price.

Things We Liked

  • Cheap and easy-to-use sharpener is ideal for home users.
  • Highly functional thanks to quality grinding and incorporated guide.
  • Lightweight and easy to maneuver.

Things We Didn’t Like

  • The file and handle tend to get loose.
  • stop
    Plastic handle feels flimsy.


Why Invest in a Chainsaw Sharpener?


Cutting fire logs, trees or branches with a blunt chainsaw is one of the most challenging things for a woodcutter.

 When your chainsaw is not doing its job properly anymore, you have two options: change the chainsaw or sharpen its chain.

The latter is definitely a more appropriate choice if you don’t want to throw away an otherwise good chainsaw.

A chainsaw sharpener is a great tool that can help you keep the chain in excellent conditions to ensure its proper functioning and avoid chainsaw injuries.

When and How Often Should You Sharpen Your Chainsaw?


This question doesn’t have a universal answer. How often you must sharpen your chainsaw depends on how often you’re using it and the type of wood you’re cutting.​

A chainsaw used for high-volume industrial work will require more frequent sharpening. The same goes for a chainsaw used to cut mainly damp or wet wood.

If you’re mostly cutting dry wood for home use purposes, perhaps sharpening your chain once or twice per season will suffice.

While telling you how much time has to pass between sharpenings is impossible, a good way to know is to check the wood shavings and quality of cut.

  • If your chainsaw produces woodchips, then the chain is sharp and safe to use.
  • If, instead of woodchips, the chainsaw produces small particles of dust, it should be sharpened.

What to Consider When Choosing a Chainsaw Sharpener?


Chainsaw sharpeners may all look the same, but they are quite different. When choosing the right one for your needs, you must check the size of the cutter and its compatibility with your chain.

Below is a quick guide that shows you what you must consider.

Cutter Type


An important thing to consider when choosing the right chainsaw sharpener is the cutter type.

The cutter is the part of the chain responsible for the cutting action; chainsaws come with round, semi-chisel, or chisel teeth, and their shape determines what type of sharpener you can use.

  • Round cutter: This is the easiest to file and also the most versatile as far as cutting action is concerned.
  • Round teeth tolerate dust better than the chisel teeth, and you can easily sharpen them with a manual file and guide sharpener. More often than not, these teeth can also be sharpened with an electric sharpener.
  • Semi-chisel cutter: This is halfway between the round and chisel, more aggressive than the former, but more delicate than the latter.
  • This cutter can typically be filed with a manual sharpener built for round teeth, and the benefits of these teeth are that they tolerate dirt and dust better than the other two types of cutters, while staying sharp for longer.
  • Chisel cutter: This is the most aggressive, and I wouldn’t recommend using this type of chain unless you’re truly experienced in using a chainsaw.
  • This type of chain is typically used for industrial applications, and this chain requires a specific type of sharpener. These teeth are also less resistant to dust and dirt, and they require constant maintenance and frequent sharpening.

Chainsaw File Size


Another important thing to consider when choosing chainsaw sharpeners is the file size.

This measurement is expressed in either inches or millimeters and determines whether a sharpener is compatible with your tool.

Chainsaw chains have several types of files, but the most popular ones are:

  • 1/4-inch (4 mm) 
  • 0.325-inch (4.8 mm) 
  • 3/8-inch (5.2 mm) 
  • 0.404-inch (5.5 mm) 

The sizes in millimeters expressed above typically refer to the diameter of the round file, while the equivalent in inches is used in specialty literature to express the size of the chain pitch.

Some sharpeners are adjustable and compatible with all chain pitches above, whereas others may be compatible with only some of them.

Specialty sharpeners are typically compatible with one type of chain pitch only, and these are perhaps your best bet if you’re using the chainsaw for personal use.

Commercial or industrial users operating multiple chainsaw types may benefit more from an adjustable chainsaw sharpener able to handle all of their tools.

Chainsaw Gauge


Last but not least, you must also check the chainsaw gauge. These are tools used to check the length of the cutter, and you’ll typically find four types of gauges:

  • 0.43-inch 
  • 0.050-inch 
  • 0.058-inch
  • 0.063-inch

Regardless of the size of the gauge, it is not recommended to file it below .025 inches, but the depth of the gauge is important, as it actually determines the depth at which your chainsaw is able to cut.

The reason why you shouldn’t file the gauge all the way along their length is that this would only shorten their service life.

When filing the gauge, make sure you’re sharpening evenly throughout, as otherwise the chain could vibrate and produce rough cuts.

Types of Chainsaw Sharpeners


Chainsaw sharpeners come in multiple styles and sizes. Some are universal and ideal to use with all chains; others are built specifically for one type of chain. In addition, you’ll typically be able to choose between manual and electric models.

Manual sharpeners are the granddaddy of them all. They may seem old-school, but they do have advantages that still keep them on the market.

The manual sharpeners are further divided into handheld sharpeners and bar-mounted guide sharpeners.

Handheld sharpeners: 

​These are perhaps the most popular. They are cheap, easy to use and portable. Just take the sharpener out of your toolkit wherever you are for no-frills sharpening of your chainsaw whenever needed.

Most handheld sharpeners are round file models with variable diameters. These tools are specific to one type of chainsaw, but manufacturers usually offer the same version of the tool in different sizes to fit most needs. 

The sharpening process is simple, albeit tiring and time-consuming. Maintaining the grinding angle with such a tool is also difficult.

Bar-mounted guide sharpeners:

 These are also transportable, but harder to use in the woods. They are more appropriate for a workshop or shed, as the tool has to be mounted on a stable platform, such as a table or workbench.

These sharpeners are typically mounted and fastened to a bench, wall or vise and have adjustable settings, which makes them compatible with multiple chainsaws.

You’ll also be able to adjust the filing angle and depth, and generally, they offer better control over the grinding action.

However, file shavings could fly off the blade, so it is essential to wear proper equipment to prevent injuries.


How to Sharpen a Chainsaw by hand with a file By  Tips from a Shipwright


Electric Chainsaw Sharpeners


More expensive than the manual models, electric chainsaw sharpeners are designed to take care of the dirty work for you. All you have to do is feed the chain to the grinding wheels and let the machine do the rest.

These tools are often employed by professionals, as they reduce the filing time. However, home users who don’t mind the slightly higher price will also benefit from this solution.

Most electric chainsaw sharpeners are powered by 120V alternating current, which means you won’t need a special predisposition in your home circuit to power these workhorses. Moreover, you can even use a power generator as a source of energy in case of a blackout.

Just like the bar-mounted manual models, these machines are typically fastened to a workbench; they can’t be used if there is no power source around, and you will have to wear protective gear to prevent injuries.

Safety Tips


Sharpening your chainsaw is a hazardous and potentially life-threatening job. Make sure you follow these steps to stay safe during operation.

  • Tighten the chain before starting: A slacking chain can be dangerous to sharpen, so I recommend tightening it beforehand.
  • A slacking chain is also hard to sharpen because you can’t get a real glimpse of what’s actually happening during the process.
  • Most chainsaws come with tightening tools, so use it to remove any visible sagging, and then proceed with your application.
  • Inspect the sharpener: A bad manual sharpener can ruin your chain even more. A malfunctioning electric sharpener poses too many hazards to be worth using. It is important to inspect your tool before engaging in the job, to prevent damaging your chainsaw or injuring yourself. If the sharpener is no longer in good condition, I recommend investing in a new one. The market is full of options for all needs and budgets.
  • Secure the blade and the sharpener: Depending on the type of sharpener you use, you might have to secure the blade of the chainsaw to prevent it from moving, or the sharpener to the workbench. You can use clamps for both the blade and the sharpener, while the latter can also be fixed with a vise or bolted to a wall or workbench.
  • File each tool the same way: A mistake many beginners make is not paying attention to how many times they swipe each tooth. This results in an uneven blade, which may then produce awful cuts or pose different hazards. Instead, I recommend using a dye that lets you see how much you need to cut from each tooth to make your blade even.
  • File in the direction the tooth is facing: Unless you want to actually reduce the size of your blade, make sure you only file in the direction the tooth is facing. And don’t forget that each tooth has two sides, and both of them need sharpening. This will give you razor-sharp teeth to use for slicing wood.
  • Grease your chain: Right after sharpening, get rid of any old grease, which at this stage could be all dirty and useless anyway. Then apply new grease before engaging in any cutting operations. Failing to do this could cause the chain to oppose resistance when cutting, which could either weaken the blade or break it altogether.

  • Wear protective equipment: Perhaps the most important thing to do when sharpening your chainsaw is wear protective equipment. Both the chainsaw and the sharpener are, well, sharp. Wearing gloves is, therefore, a must. So is wearing goggles and maybe a face shield.
  • Metal chips can easily fly off the blade, and they can injure you.If you’re using an electric sharpener, make sure it has a grounded prong and that you don’t plug it in with other appliances. As much as possible, also avoid plugging the cord into a cord extension. This could cause the cord to overheat and damage the motor.

Conclusion


Finding the best chainsaw sharpener is not easy, but now you know some of your best options.

Whether you’re looking for a conventional handheld model, a manual bar-mounted guide sharpener or an easy-to-use electric unit, the list above features sufficient models for all users and budgets.

Chainsaw Sharpeners FAQ


How tight should a chainsaw be?

The chainsaw chain is properly tensioned when it is still a little loose along the guide bar, but tight enough that you can’t pull the drive links out from the bar nose.

Chains any looser than this can pose hazards both during cutting and during sharpening.

How do you tighten the chain on a chainsaw?

To tighten the chain on a chainsaw, place the tool on a flat surface and loosen the nuts that hold the bar in place.

Hold the nose of the bar upwards and turn the chain tension screw found on your tool clockwise until the chain is tensioned as described above. Tighten back the nuts holding the bar in place, and you’re good to go.

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One Response

  1. Avatar Steven Champagne January 8, 2019

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