How Often to Sharpen a Chainsaw Chain? | Saw Sharpening Frequency

There comes a time when your chainsaw becomes dull and will no longer cut like it used to.

This is when the chain needs to be sharpened.

The frequency of sharpening depends on many factors, such as the type of wood you are cutting and the condition of your chain.

We will discuss this in detail in this article.

Signs that you need to Sharpen the chainsaw

How to sharpen a chainsaw chain video

The first sign that you need to sharpen your saw is that the chainsaw’s cutting power is not as high as it used to be.

The chainsaw chain needs to be sharpened and involves many signs.

Here are some signs that the chain on your chainsaw needs to be sharpened. These are:

Uneven Cuts

How Often to Sharpen a Chainsaw Chain

When you notice uneven cuts produced by the saw, this indicates that your saw has either dull teeth on the side of the cutting teeth or is uneven.


You have oiled the saw, but you notice smoke because the saw is producing friction.

Fine Saw Dust

when your saw creates fine sawdust rather than the usual coarse or large chunks.

Extra Pressure

Your saw may require extra pressure to cut the wood

Factors Affecting Chainsaw Sharpening

The type of Wood Being Cut

The type of wood being cut is one factor that affects the frequency at which you should sharpen the chainsaw.

Softwood requires less frequent sharpening than hardwood.

Hardwoods tend to dull a chain faster as they require more power to cut through them.

Skill Level of the Person Sharpening the Chain

How Often to Sharpen a Chainsaw Chain (1)

The skill level of the person sharpening the chain also affects the frequency at which you should sharpen.

If you’re a novice and not skilled, there are chances of over-sharpening the chain, resulting in it being damaged.

With every sharpening, 10% of the metal is removed. Hence, you can sharpen the chainsaw chain 10 times.

Doing it more often will reduce the life of the saw, and you’ll end up buying a new chain.

If you want the best results, it is better to have a professional sharpen it.

On the other hand, you can buy a chainsaw chain sharpener or file guide and perform the task yourself.

Read proper guidelines before sharpening a chainsaw chain.

Sharpening equipment

How Often to Sharpen a Chainsaw Chain

To sharpen a chainsaw, you can use a chainsaw sharpener, a file guide, or a grinder.

Using a sharpener is the most efficient way to sharpen your chainsaw chain.

However, if it is not used accurately, it can take away more metal than a file.

Inappropriate Storage

when you no longer require a chainsaw because you are busy.

You store a chainsaw in your room, and sometimes it can rust from rain.

When your chainsaw gets rusted, you need to sharpen it, which you don’t need to do otherwise.

During this sharpening, you will remove more metal to clean the rust.

As a result, you lost more metal and decreased your chances of sharpening.

How do I sharpen a chainsaw? (3 Methods)?

How Often to Sharpen a Chainsaw Chain

Use a Grinder

Grinders are a great tool to get the perfect sharpness for your chainsaw, but it’s important to be careful! –

If used incorrectly, they can strip away critical metal and leave you with an uneven chain that needs replacing.

It’s best not to use them too often; professionals only rely on grinders every now and then when dealing with imperfections in their saw.

For most of us, file guides will suffice for about 40 uses before we need to reach for the grinder again!

Using a Chainsaw Sharpener

Powered by electricity, chainsaw sharpeners are an efficient way of sharpening a chainsaw chain.

If you buy a system for sharpening the blades of your chainsaw, you can do it for free.

The only cost is a chainsaw sharpener, which costs around $40 online.

Chainsaw sharpeners are designed with different angles and specifications to fit almost any chainsaw chain.

Furthermore, you can adjust the sharpener according to the chain specifications.

If you’re looking for a quick and easy method of sharpening your chainsaw, then a chainsaw sharpener is an ideal solution.

Features of Great Sharpener

Pitch & Guage:

How Often to Sharpen a Chainsaw Chain

Look for a sharpener that is made for the size and pitch of the chain you need to sharpen. This information should be in the product description or on the chainsaw itself.

Pitch is the distance between links and comes in five sizes: 14 inches, full profile or low profile, 3/8 inch, and heavy duty. 404-inch.

The most common is a 3/8-inch low profile. The thickness of the links is measured in gauge, and common gauges are.043 inches,050 inches,058 inches, and.063 inches.

Grinding Wheels

How Often to Sharpen a Chainsaw Chain

Look for sharpeners that have grinding wheels of an appropriate size and thickness to fit between the teeth of your chain.

As a rough guideline, a 1/8-inch grinding wheel is good for sharpening 1/4-inch, .325-inch, and 3/8-inch low-profile chains.

For 3/8- and.404-inch chains, you’ll need a 3/16-inch grinding stone.

Speed & Variable Speed Controls

How Often to Sharpen a Chainsaw Chain

Most electric sharpeners spin the grinding wheels very quickly, typically between 2,500 to 3,800 revolutions per minute. Look for electric sharpeners with variable speed controls, so you can more precisely control the grinder.


If you need something portable that can be toted with you to a worksite, look for battery-powered or manual portables.

How much weight can you easily manage? How easy is it to handle?

Choosing the Right Chainsaw File

How Often to Sharpen a Chainsaw Chain

The second method is to use a file guide. The tool lets you file/sharpen the saw and helps to ensure that the saw teeth are sharp enough for the job.

Before starting the sharpening process, mount the saw on the sharpening guide to get accurate and consistent results because the guide ensures a uniform angle and depth.

Select a file whose diameter matches the chainsaw’s teeth.


How Often to Sharpen a Chainsaw Chain: FAQs

Why does my chainsaw chain dull so quickly?

A dull chainsaw chain can be caused by a variety of factors.

This includes not sharpening the tool well enough and cutting through hardwood or logs with a larger diameter than is recommended. 

How often should you change the chain on a chainsaw?

It is recommended to change the chain on a chainsaw every five years.

How often you need to replace the chain depends on how frequently it is used, the type of wood you are cutting, and how well it is maintained.

Is it better to sharpen or replace the chainsaw chain?

It is generally better to sharpen the chainsaw chain instead of replacing it.

Sharpening a chainsaw chain will bring back its sharpness and efficiency without having to spend money on a new chain

How many times can you file a chainsaw chain?

Generally speaking, a chainsaw chain can be sharpened up to 20 times before it needs to be replaced. However, this number may vary depending on the type and size of the chainsaw, as well as how often and how hard it is used.

It’s important to check your chainsaw chain’s condition often and sharpen or replace it as needed.

Is It Necessary To Purchase A Chainsaw Sharpener?

Yes, it is recommended to buy a chainsaw sharpener if you want to keep your saw in optimal condition.

A chainsaw sharpener is easy to use and can be adjusted to fit almost any chainsaw chain with its different angles and settings. 

It will help to ensure that the saw teeth are sharp enough for the job and can save you time and money in the long run.

With a chainsaw sharpener, you can sharpen your saw at home with ease and should see improved cutting performance. 

This makes them ideal for homeowners and professionals alike! 

How Do I Know My Chainsaw Requires Sharpening?

If your saw is producing more dust than wood chips, producing smoke, or giving off a burning smell, it is time to sharpen it. 

Also, if you notice your chainsaw requires more physical pressure to cut through the wood, it likely needs sharpening. 

Further, if your saw blade tends to pull on one side, it usually indicates it is time for sharpening. 

If you are in doubt, you can also check the sharpness of your saw blade by running your finger along the blade and feeling for dullness.

How Often Should You Sharpen Your Chainsaw Chain?

The frequency of sharpening your chainsaw chain depends on factors such as how often it is used, the type of wood you are cutting, and the size and length of the chain.

In general, if you don’t use your chainsaw very often, you should sharpen the chain once a year.

However, if you use it frequently, then you will need to sharpen it more often, either regularly or once a month. 

The chainsaw blade retains its sharpness for about 3 hours of cutting, so if you use it for more than 3 hours, then you will need to sharpen the chain.

Final Thoughts

In short, regular sharpening of a chainsaw chain is essential for keeping it in optimal working condition.

How often you should sharpen your chainsaw varies depending on the type of wood you are cutting and how frequently you are using the chainsaw. 

Keeping your chainsaw chain well maintained by maintaining proper tension and regular sharpening will help ensure that it runs smoothly and efficiently and will also minimize the risk of injury due to improper use.

Photo of author

Charlie Bass

Charlie has been a mechanic for over 25 years and has worked on everything from small engine gardening equipment to huge diesel-electric mining haul trucks, trains and even aircraft. This broad range of industry experience gives him a unique insight into almost anything mechanical especially with an engine, including gardening and landscaping equipment. He currently owns his own mobile mechanic business and lives with his family in Australia.

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