How to Sharpen a Chainsaw Better Than New


| 2/8/2017 9:07:00 AM


Tags: chainsaws, tools, tool sharpening, firewood, Ontario, Canada, Steve Maxwell,

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Do you have trouble keeping a chainsaw sharp? Lots of people do, but it doesn’t have to stay this way. This is especially true once you realize how well electric saw chain sharpeners work. I’ve relied on a chainsaw to keep warm since 1988, and until 10 years ago I sharpened by hand with a file and a guide. The process worked and all that practice made me good at it. But my definition of “good” changed after I tried an electric sharpener about 10 years ago. Besides being at least 3x faster than a file, a machine-sharpened chain simply cuts better. Way better. In my days of sharpening by hand I could get an old chain to cut as well as a new one. My electric sharpener makes chains cut even better than new.

Of all the small homesteading tools in my life, a chainsaw is probably the single most important one. That’s because so much depends on a properly cutting chainsaw. We heat our home and workshop exclusively with firewood, plus all our domestic hot water. A chainsaw is also essential for keeping the forest from invading our fields. And when a destructive windstorm hits every once in a while, a chainsaw is the only way to cut through the tangled mess of downed trees and get out.

The only kind of electric saw chain sharpeners I recommend look like a miniature wood cutting miter saw. There are smaller designs than this that use tiny grindstones, but they’re too slow and the grindstones don’t last long enough to be practical.

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Every pro-grade electric saw chain sharpener has two main parts. A clamp holds the chain firm at just the right angle, while the spinning grindstone swivels down into the leading edge of the cutter. Sparks fly, metal is removed, and a sharp edge is created.




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