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Just like any other tool, your chainsaw needs regular maintenance if you want it to perform its best, and that includes sharpening the blade. There’s no hard-and-fast rule on how often you need to sharpen your chainsaw, but many experts recommend doing it every time you need to refuel the tool. You can also check its sharpness visually—when the leading edges of the teeth are rounded or out of the required angle, it needs to be sharpened.
There are several styles of chainsaw sharpeners to choose from, including both electric and manual options. Electric models make the task quicker and easier, but they’re also more expensive. However, the price may be worth it if you regularly use a chainsaw and need to sharpen blades frequently. Manual products, on the other hand, require more time and effort, as you have to file the chainsaw teeth individually, but they’ll save you quite a bit of cash.
Here are the best chainsaw sharpeners to add to your workshop.
Best Overall: Oregon 410-120 Compact Universal Chain Saw Sharpener
For a chainsaw sharpener that will deliver consistent results and keep your tool in top shape, you can’t go wrong with the Oregon Bench/Wall-Mounted Saw Chain Grinder. While somewhat of an investment, this tool is worth it for anyone who regularly needs to tune up chainsaws. It can sharpen models from a variety of popular brands and includes everything you need for the best results.
This 120V Chain Grinder can be mounted to a workbench or wall, and it can sharpen 1/4-inch, 3/8-inch low profile, 0.325-inch, full profile 3/8-inch, and .404-inch pitch chains from all manufacturers (including Oregon, Stihl, Husqvarna, and more). The unit comes with a grinder, dressing brick, quick-check grinding template, and three grinding wheels. It has a built-in wheel wear indicator and even a light for better visibility while you work.
While this chainsaw sharpener may be overkill for someone who only cuts wood a few times a year, if you use your tool regularly, the Oregon Saw Chain Grinder is a worthwhile investment.
Best Electric: Powercare 110-Volt Electric Chainsaw Chain Sharpener
Electric chainsaw sharpeners make quick work of sharpening your chains, and this model from Powercare is an unbeatable value. The handheld electric chain sharpener can be used on a 3/8-inch low profile, .325-inch, and 3/8-inch standard chain pitches, and it offers variable speeds, ranging from 8,000 to 30,000 revolutions per minute.
This chainsaw sharpener comes with 5/32-, 3/16-, and 7/32-inch sharpening stones that will deliver a smooth and sharp cutting edge, and the tool also includes a 72-inch power cord and a chain angle guide. Once you get the hang of using this tool, you’ll be able to sharpen your chainsaw in a matter of minutes—without ever needing to remove the chain!
Best Bench-Mounted: Blue Max Bench Mount Electric Chainsaw Sharpener
If you have a spacious workbench, you may want to have your chainsaw sharpener mounted right onto the surface, and the Blue Max Electric Chainsaw Sharpener is designed to do just that. This bench-mounted sharpener runs on 120-volt power, and it can also be mounted to the wall or a vise—just be sure it’s installed properly, otherwise you may run into vibration issues.
This chainsaw sharpener can be tilted up to 35 degrees on either side, and it delivers a 4,200 RPM grinding speed. It comes with a 4-¼ inch sharpening wheel with a 7/8-inch arbor and can be used on any brand of chain, but keep in mind that it does require you to remove the chain from the chainsaw for sharpening—a small price to pay for easier maintenance, if you ask us.
Best Wall-Mounted: Buffalo Tools ECSS Electric Chainsaw Sharpener
Save space in your workshop with a wall-mounted model like the Buffalo Tools ECSS Electric Chainsaw Sharpener. This tool easily adjusts to accommodate most popular chain designs, and you can attach it to a bench, wall, or vise for easy access and unbeatable stability.
The Buffalo Tools Chainsaw Sharpener can be used on chains gauge .05 to .08 inches, but it won’t sharpen .043-inch chains. All you have to do is plug it into a 120-volt wall outlet, and it has a 4-1/2 inch grinding wheel with a 7/8-inch arbor that will make quick work of the task thanks to its 4,200 RPM grinding speed. While this tool may take a little while to figure out, once you get the hang of using it, the sharpener will allow you to easily restore chains to their optimal state.
Best Bar-Mounted: Granberg Bar-Mount Chainsaw Sharpener
The Granberg Bar-Mount Chainsaw Sharpener attaches right to the bar of your chainsaw, allowing you to manually sharpen all major saw chain pitches. The tool attaches to your guide bar in seconds, and it essentially acts as a guide for your chainsaw file, holding the file at the perfect angle and depth for precise results—it even has calibrated swivel guide markings to help you find the right angle.
The unit is crafted in the U.S. from cast aluminum and zinc-plated steel for unmatched durability, but keep in mind that it doesn’t include any files, so you’ll need to purchase them separately.
Best Manual: Katzco Chainsaw Sharpener File Kit
If you like to do things the old-fashioned way—or just want to save some money—the affordable Katzco Chainsaw Sharpener File Kit includes everything you need to manually sharpen your chains. The eight-piece kit comes with three round fine-tooth files, a filing guide, depth-gauge tool, fine-tooth flat file, and hardwood handle, as well as a convenient tool pouch where you can store all the items.
This kit can be used on any chainsaw, and it includes files in 5/32-, 3/16-, and 7/32-inch sizes. The files and the depth-gauge tool can be inserted into the included handle for a more comfortable grip, allowing you to work more quickly. Plus, the whole set costs less than $20, making it an ideal option for those who only sharpen their chainsaw a few times a year.
Best Portable: Oregon 575214 Sure Sharp 12V Handheld Chainsaw Chain Sharpener
The Oregon Sure Sharp Handheld Chainsaw Chain Sharpener is a convenient tool to keep in your truck or bring to job sites, as the portable unit includes both a 12-volt car adapter and battery clips, allowing you to sharpen your chainsaw anywhere. This electric unit can be used on 1/4-inch, 3/8-inch low profile, 0.325-inch, 3/8-inch, or 0.404-inch chains, and despite its small size, the sharpener’s motor delivers a 25,000 RPM sharpening speed.
This tool comes with 5/32-inch, 3/16-inch, and 7/32-inch sharpening stones, as well as a collet wrench, and it features a simple sharpening angle adjustment guide for accuracy. The product is lightweight and compact, so it won’t take up much room in your tool kit, but the one downside is that it doesn’t include a standard AC adapter.
Best Speed: Garrett Wade Quick Feed Chain Sharpener
Many electric chainsaw sharpeners require you to advance the chain manually, which means you have to stop and move to the next tooth—a somewhat painstaking task. However, the Garrett Wade Quick-Feed Chain Sharpener solves that problem thanks to its system that helps you quickly and precisely advance the chain, allowing you to sharpen a chain for a 20-inch saw in around four minutes.
This chain sharpener is designed to be mounted to a bench, and it comes with a 4.5-millimeter grinding wheel. The company says it typically takes around 5 minutes to complete the initial setup, and after that, you’ll be able to fly through the sharpening process, getting back to work faster.
For regular chainsaw maintenance, the Oregon Bench/Wall-Mounted Saw Chain Grinder (view at Amazon) can sharpen chains of various pitches and from many popular brands, making it a must-have in the workshop. However, if you only need to sharpen chains occasionally, the Powercare Electric Chainsaw Chain Sharpener (view at Home Depot) is a more affordable handheld option that can sharpen three common chain pitches.
What to Look for in a Chainsaw Sharpener
Frequency of Use
How often you use the chainsaw and for what type of wood determines how often you need to sharpen it. Electric sharpeners are easier and quicker to use than manual chainsaw sharpeners, but they are also a bigger investment that might nor might not be worth it for you.
For occasional chainsaw sharpening, a sharpener that comes with all the necessary accessories, such as several sharpening stones and files, makes more sense because you don’t have to start shopping for those accessories.
Ease of Use
Especially electric sharpeners each have their own, unique system that can take time getting used to. Some electric chainsaw models require removing the chain to sharpen it while others let you sharpen the chain in place, which saves you an extra step. Another convenient feature is when the chain advances automatically, instead of requiring you to move from tooth to tooth by hand.
A manual sharpener allows you to sharpen a blade anywhere but if you are an occasional chainsaw user, that might be a time-consuming distraction. It is better to own 2 or 3 chains and sharpen them back in your basement or garage.
Before you purchase a sharpener, make sure it can be used for your chainsaw brand and your chain gauges, as not all sharpeners work for any given model. For heavy chainsaw users who sharpen their chains often, variable speeds can also be a plus.
How much space you have can determine whether a wall- or bench-mounted or a hand-held sharpener works best for you. If space is an issue and you want a sharpener that you can take with you to your wood cutting jobs, a compact and portable sharpener might be the best option.
How do you use a chainsaw sharpener?
As there are many different models of chainsaw sharpeners, and they all work slightly different, follow the directions in the chainsaw sharpener user manual. The individual steps of examining the chain, determining the angle, filling the chainsaw teeth, and filing the depth gauges are described here.
Is it worth it to sharpen a chainsaw?
Yes, definitely, because on average a chainsaw will stay sharp for no more than a saw, and not using a sharp blade is dangerous to the operator, adds to the operator’s fatigue, and wear-and-tear on the chainsaw. Whether it is worth sharpening it yourself depends on how often you use the chainsaw. Sharpening takes time, and it requires its own skill set. Getting the hang of how to use a chainsaw safely and efficiently and cutting wood might be a better use of your time than learning how to sharpen it if you have a service nearby that can do the sharpening for you quickly and at a reasonable price. It might be easier and more efficient to have several chains and have half of them being sharpened elsewhere while you use the others in the meantime.
How long should a chainsaw stay sharp?
It depends on what you are cutting. Hardwoods wear a chain out much more quickly than softwoods like conifers. Also, large-diameter trees dull a chain more quickly than small diameter. If you are cutting large hardwoods for a full day, you might need to put on a freshly sharpened chain during the day. Generally, it stays sharp for 4 to 6 hours of cutting. If you hit a rock or metal, the chain is often damaged beyond sharpening and must be discarded and replaced.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was written by Camryn Rabideau, whose partner is a carpenter and contractor for luxury homes. He provided product recommendations and expert insights for this list. Additional reporting was done by Nadia Hassani, a master gardener with over 20 years of gardening experience.