At STIHL, we pride ourselves on designing all three parts of a chainsaw to work perfectly together, so the engine itself, the guide bar and the chain complement each other to give the best cut at all times.
In particular, our chainsaw chains are all manufactured to precise standards in our STIHL factory in Switzerland, using dedicated machines that we have designed and built ourselves so that you can get an excellent cut. But even a STIHL chainsaw chain won’t deliver the best performance if it isn’t sharp enough. There are a number of ways to tell when your chainsaw chain is too dull, but what tool should you use to sharpen your saw chain back to its former glory?
Of course, STIHL Approved Dealers will always be happy to sharpen a chainsaw chain for you and if the chain is damaged at all, then replacing the chain or the damaged cutting teeth, is the best course of action, so again, just pop into your nearest STIHL Approved Dealer. But if you want to sharpen your own chainsaw chain, there are a variety of tools at your disposal.
The easiest way to sharpen the chain is with our 2-in-1 Easy File. This time-saving tool incorporates a flat file and two round files, which means you can file both the cutting edges of the teeth (i.e. the sharp bit!) with the round files and the depth gauge with the flat file at the same time.
It’s really important to make sure the depth gauge is filed too, as it is the difference between the height of the cutting teeth and the depth gauge which determines how much wood is taken out by the chain. If you only file the cutting teeth down and don’t lower the depth gauge at the same time, your chain will be taking less and less wood out each time and your saw won’t perform as efficiently.
You can find out how to use the 2-in-1 Easy File in our video:
There are five different sizes of files available, depending on the size or ‘pitch’ of your chain. Most STIHL chainsaws for use around the home and garden come with either a 3/8” PM3 or a ¼” PM3 saw chain, but you can find out the pitch of the chain on your saw using the table below.
Just look for the code digit on the side of the depth gauge on the cutting tooth to find the right chain pitch.
There are other options when it comes to filing your chain too – we make separate round files, flat files and file handles so you can have a mix and match selection to suit you! This might be a more cost-effective option if you have several chains with different pitches that need sharpening. We also have file gauges to help you check that you are working at the right filing angle and to the right depth.
Our filing kit includes a file holder with a round file, a flat file and a file gauge all in a sturdy case.
You can find more in-depth information about sharpening your chainsaw chain in our Sharpening STIHL Saw Chains booklet, but here are our top tips on how to sharpen a chainsaw chain before you get started:
- Wear protective gloves.
- Secure the guide bar in a vice so that the saw doesn’t move around whilst you are trying to sharpen the chain. A workbench or this stump vice are perfect for the job.
- If you are working with a battery or electric chainsaw, make sure you remove the battery or unplug it before sharpening so it can’t be accidentally started, then release the chain brake so you can move the chain freely.
- Brush any dust off the chain with a soft brush to give you a clear surface to work on.
- Mark your 1st tooth with a black marker so you know where you started.
- Start sharpening your chain!
What tools do you use to sharpen your chainsaw chain? Have you used the STIHL 2-in-1 EasyFile on your chain? Ask us any questions about chainsaw chain sharpening in the comments.