The Best Chainsaw Sharpener: Stay Sharp, Stay Safe!

Granberg
Oregon
Buffalo Tools
XtremepowerUS
Timberline
Doesn’t come with a file.
Pitch: 3/16″, 5/32″, and 7/32″
Pitch: 1/4”, .325”, 3/8”,
.404”, 1/2”, & 3/4”
Pitch: 0.375″
Pitch: 0.325″
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The Best Chainsaw Sharpener

sharpening chainsaw

When it comes to chainsaw care, you can’t discount the importance of a properly sharpened blade. A dull chain increases the chance that a kickback may occur and this can potentially lead to a damaged engine and an injured user.

Sharpening your own chainsaw might appear to be a daunting task, but with the right knowledge and a sharpener, you may find it easier and more practical than you think.

1. Granberg Bar-Mount Chain Saw Sharpener

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The Granberg Bar-Mount Chain Saw Sharpener is a non-electric chainsaw sharpener that has been in the market for roughly 35 years. It’s made of cast aluminum and zinc-plated steel. With that said, it’s only 1.2 pounds, making it easy to transport and this ensures you that you can create cuts on the go. It’s easy to use, you just attach the sharpener and file to the guide bar. 

In terms of flexibility, this sharpener can be easily matched to most chain manufacturer’s angles and it can sharpen all major saw chain pitches. However it does not come with files. 

It may take time, along with sufficient knowledge, before you get the hang of using this tool. It is also slow to sharpen, but nevertheless, it produces the right angles and is budget friendly.

  • Pros: Relatively cheap. USA Made. Mounts to any saw. Lightweight.
  • Cons: Files not included.

2. Oregon Sure Sharp Chainsaw Sharpener

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This tool is quite similar to a dremel sharpener attachment. Though, unlike a dremel, this is a dedicated chainsaw sharpening tool made by Oregon. The housing is ergonomic and and high-impact making it quite durable.

If you are looking for a portable tool, then this budget friendly option from Oregon might be right for you. This sharpener uses a 72-inch power cord that clamps to a 12-volt battery. This makes it perfect for in-the-field sharpening.

The sharpener comes with three different sharpening stones: 3/16 inch, 5/32 inch, and 7/32 inch.

This tool is around the same price as manual options. Meaning the machine can take the brunt of the work. However, you will need a battery in order to power the sharpener.

  • Pros: Very easy to use. Powered by a 12-volt battery. Portable. Budget friendly.
  • Cons: Customers have noted the instructions are lackluster.

3. Buffalo Tools Electric Chainsaw Sharpener

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The Buffalo Tools electric chainsaw sharpener is a budget friendly tool. It features a built-in grinding wheel measuring 4-1/4-Inch x 1/8-Inch with a 7/8-Inch arbor. The grinding wheel also operates at 4200 RPM. However, Buffalo tools only includes one grinding wheel; This tool is best for people who only need to sharpen a few chains rather than an entire work fleet.

The sharpener can be mounted to a work bench, a shop vice clamp, wall, or table easily with the included hardware. The sharpener also operates off a standard 120-volt outlet meaning you don’t need to buy an extension cord with the proper gauge.

The chain guide can be adjusted to fit most popular chain designs. Additionally, the dial allows the grinding wheel to be adjusted easily for the appropriate cutting angle.

  • Pros: Compact and easy to use. Works with a 120-volt outlet. Dial presets for easy adjustments.
  • Cons: Lots of plastic in construction. Only one grinding wheel. 

4. Xtremepower Mini Electric Chainsaw Grinder

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With a motor power of 85 watts and a grinding speed of 4,200 revolutions per minute, the XtremepowerUS Mini Electric Chainsaw Grinder is an ideal sharpener for chainsaw owners who may need to sharpen numerous chains regularly. 

This sharpener has a table or vise angle that can be adjusted up to 35º either right or left. It also features a pivot head as well as a chain brake to hold the chain in place while grinding. These features make for a versatile and safe sharpening tool.

Apart from the aforementioned benefits, it is also easy to set up since there is little assembly required. When you compare the capacity of this unit to pricier chainsaw sharpeners, it works just as fine and is solid value purchase.

  • Pros: Added brake handle. Very affordable. Easy to setup and works out of the box.
  • Cons: Customers note that it doesn’t come with required materials for mounting.

5. Timberline Chainsaw Sharpener

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This sharpening unit by Timberline is made of a high-grade tungsten cutter. This cutter this then manually rotated with a handle. The carbide guides are fixed at an angle of 30 degrees, however 25 and 35 degree guides are sold separately. 

The chain stays on the chainsaw and the tool clamps on the guide bar and enables the chain to be pulled through while each tooth undergoes the sharpening process. The technology behind this unit also ensures that only a tiny amount of material is taken away from each tooth so that the chains will last longer.

The Timberline sharpener is portable, lightweight, and simple to use. The sharpener is engineered with for the Timberline Chainsaw brand, but it can still be used with products from other manufacturers. 

  • Pros: Easy to use. Portable. Made in the USA. 
  • Cons: On the expensive end of the spectrum. 

What to Look for in a Chainsaw Sharpener

rat tail file

Before you can choose a chainsaw sharpener, there are some important things to understand. For  instance there are few different types of sharpeners:

Types of Chainsaw Sharpeners

Handheld File

Perhaps one of the most popular chainsaw sharpening options is also the simplest to use: the handheld chainsaw sharpener or “rat-tail” file. These sharpeners feature a file inside of a guide, attached to a handle.

Before you use this type of sharpener, you need to know the size and diameter of your chain. It’s not a difficult or complicated process, but it’s definitely time consuming work. It can also take a while to learn how to properly file at the proper angle. 

Electric Chainsaw Sharpener

Electric sharpeners are far more efficient at sharpening. They are often setup as complete systems like the Buffalo Tools and Xtremepower models listed above. They can also be setup as attachments to electric power tools like a dremel. 

The full wheel grinder setups are actually rather inexpensive. Same goes for the dremel/die grinder attachments, but these also assume that you own a dremel. These systems are also fairly easy to use and it’s as simple as following instructions. 

Bar Mounted Guide

This type of sharpening tool is attached directly to the guide bar. You will often have to use control knobs to set specific settings like filing angle and sharpener depth.

Once the settings are set you’ll either have to hand crank, or pull the teeth through the guide and proceed to file. These tools are very efficient and won’t cost as much as an electric model. However certain hand crank models like the Timberline can cost double of what an electric option will cost. 

Frequency of Use

If you expect to be use your sharpener fairly often then the electric option will be your best bet. Hand-held sharpeners are the best choice for those people who only have one or two chains or rarely need to sharpen their chainsaws.

Guide bar mounted chainsaw sharpeners are a great middle ground because they offer great precision and have the best longevity. 

Chain Size

Not every sharpener will work with every chain. Some are for a single size and others may be able to adjust through several different sizes. 1/4-Inch, .325-Inch, 3/8-Inch, 1/2-Inch, and 3/4-Inch pitch chains are the sizes you will see the most commonly. Just be sure to check your chain specifications before you make a purchasing decision.

What Angle Should I Sharpen My Chain At?

Manufacturers of chains will suggest the appropriate sharpening angle. You will need to check the manufacturer’s recommendations in your owner’s manual. Most will recommend 30°, but some will suggest 25° or even 35°. 

How Important is it to Maintain Consistent Sharpening Angles on All Teeth?

Very Important. The consistency is important as smaller inconsistencies will mean that your chain is cutting unevenly, this will result in the chain pulling to one side. It also increases the risk of a kickback. 

Conclusion

It is necessary to work with a chainsaw that has a sharp chain. You may prefer to hire a professional to sharpen the chain for you or you can opt to do the sharpening on your own. A dull chain is unsafe to use in the event of kickbacks. It also causes unnecessary strain on your motor.

When dealing with dangerous equipment, you will need to maximize usage while still being safe. A sharp chainsaw is more than just for having smooth and precise cuts; it also eliminates the possibility of your chain being caught up in your logs. If you have a sharper chainsaw, it won’t be prone to creating wobbly movements that can heighten the risk of a kickback. When it comes to your chainsaw’s safety and maintenance, you are only as effective as the accessories that you use.

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