How to tell if your chainsaw needs sharpening
There are several signs to look out for which clearly indicate your chainsaw chain needs to be sharpened - ignoring them means you won't get the best out of your chainsaw and could be a health and safety risk, to yourself and to others.
A professional chainsaw operator will quickly know when their chain is dulled - but it can be a little bit harder for a novice to tell exactly when to carry out sharpening.
- The most obvious sign that you need to get out the chain saw sharpener is when the chain no longer self feeds smoothly and effectively.
- A correctly sharpened chainsaw should pull itself directly down through the cut. If you find yourself pushing extra hard on the chainsaw to make it cut, or you have to use the bucking spikes on the front of the device to gain leverage, it's time to treat your chainsaw to a session with a sharpener.
- Another indicator that sharpening is necessary is if you have spotted dusty discharge from the chainsaw when cutting wood. A perfectly sharpened saw should cut out perfectly squared-off wood chips. If your chain saw is producing dust instead of this kind of chip, the chain needs sharpening.
- Another indicator to watch out for is a shiny chain - you should take a look at both top and side plates and see if the plating has worn away. If it has it will expose steel on the under-half, and the cutting edge will look way too shiny. The best way to restore the cutting edge is to file away steel until a desirable thin overhang of chrome is exposed again.
You must stop cutting as soon as you realise your chain is blunt. Trying to force a chain that is dull to cut anything can cause wear and tear to the power head, sprocket, guide bar and chain.
A perfectly sharpened chain should cut through wood almost as smoothly as a knife to butter. If it isn't cutting smoothly you are probably wasting your time and energy, putting yourself at risk and damaging your equipment into the bargain.
A chain would probably stay sharp for an incredible length of time if you were only cutting clean wood. However, in the real world, much of the wood we cut is dead or dirty and cutting often takes place near ground level when the chainsaw can come into contact with dirt, debris, stones and rocks and grit, any of these are capable of dulling a chainsaw chain.
Cutting wood is so much easier and safer when your chain is sharp - so, look out for the signs discussed and get that chain sharpened as soon as you think it is starting to dull.
After sharpening a chain you should always check the lubrication on your chainsaw. The chain sprocket which is located at the front of the guide bar should be lubricated with grease each time sharpening is carried out.
We sell file guides in store, and our mechanics are more than happy to show you how to use them. These are perfect for keeping a sharp edge on your saw in-between the professional sharpens we do in store.