Best Chainsaw Chain Sharpeners

Whether you are a skilled tradesman or the occasional home user, you will need to treat your saw with the respect that it deserves. In order for a chainsaw to function properly, it must be maintained regularly. In order for cutting to be silky smooth chains must be sharpened regularly by using one of two traditional methods; the manual bar mounted file or the bench mounted grinding wheel that is lowered down onto the chain. Several different models exist for both styles of sharpening and each have their own strengths and weaknesses.

Maintenance

Proper maintenance is not complex. Perform a visual inspection, look for the obvious, and make sure there are no loose parts, leaky fuel or other obvious problems. Be scientific about your fuel/oil mixture. Use only factory recommended mixtures and do not deviate. Keep your bar lubricated as to keep the chain happy and smooth. Regularly inspect your air filter. This is perhaps one of the most important maintenance inspections as it will directly affect the engines performance. Make sure the bar’s edges are flat and that the groove is clear from debris. Inspect the chain to verify that it is not broken. Verify if the chain will need sharpening. This will need to be done regularly to ensure efficient cutting.

Sharpening

Regardless of your preferred sharpening techniques you will be working with one individual chain saw tooth at a time. Chain saws all have factory specifications. You will need to adjust a sharpener so that the cutting tooth angles and depth are maintained. Choose slow and steady over rough and abrupt, the goal is to file down just enough material to result in efficient cutting and prolonged chain life.  Take your time, it’s a learning process.

Sharpening is traditionally done one of two ways. A bar mounted clamped filing system is great for the remote user. Using the bar mounted sharpener you will clamp the sharpener directly to the bar, adjust the depth and angle according to the chains specifications, and gently file down the tooth in sweeping smooth motions. Electric grinding wheel styled sharpeners are efficient and precise but limited to shop use. This option is better suited to a professional; it may be over kill for the occasional home user.  Clamp on the chain, adjust angles and depth and lower the grinding wheel in short pulsing movements ensuring that you do not remove too much material.

Find the right sharpener

Timberline Chainsaw Sharpener – 10/10

Timberline Chainsaw Sharpener

Timberline Chainsaw Sharpener

An upscale manual chain saw sharpener is the Timberline Chainsaw Sharpener. It is sold between $124.95 and $132.95. Although it’s not cheap for a manual tool, the Timberline is a well built quality option. Well built enough for a professional who may not have the luxury of electricity on a job site. As was the case with the Grandberg, the Timberline is extremely portable and comes with a convenient carrying case, shoulder strap and belt loop. This sharpener will provide professional results. Instructions are clear and easy to understand and set up time is quick. 

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Grandberg Bar Mounted Saw Sharpener – 8/10

Granberg Bar-Mount Chain Saw Sharpener

Grandberg Bar-Mount Saw Sharpener

An affordable manual option is the Grandberg Bar Mounted Saw Sharpener that is sold between $25.00 and $30.00. It is a lightweight and extremely portable tool ideal and convenient enough to travel with your saw wherever it goes. The Grandberg is a great option for the home user due to its great precision and affordable price. As is the case with most of the sharpeners that we will discuss, you will have to fiddle and become familiar with the settings and adjustments. A common complaint is that although the tool itself is great, the instructions are not user friendly. 

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Buffalo Tools ECSS Electric Chainsaw Sharpener – 7/10

Buffalo Tools ECSS Electric Chainsaw Sharpener

Buffalo Tools ECSS Electric Chainsaw Sharpener

As far as electric sharpeners go, the Buffalo Tools ECSS Electric Chainsaw Sharpener is priced at entry level. Prices vary between $39.97 and $64.99 so shop around a little first. This bench mounted electric sharpener is best suited for the home user or for the shop that will only sharpen a chain occasionally. Build quality is not what we would call industrial grade. Users are generally happy with the sharpening results however it will require some getting used to. Instructions are weak and poorly described and illustrated.  If you choose to go with the electric sharpener option, consider the no frills affordable Buffalo tool. 

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Timber Tuff’s CS-BMW Benchtop sharpener – 6/10

Timber Tuff CS-BWM Benchtop

Timber Tuff CS-BWM Benchtop

Timber Tuff’s CS-BMW Benchtop sharpener is priced at mid range at around $150.00. This sharpener comes with two different sized grinding wheels. Users have complained about flimsy packaging and poor build quality. Instructions are also not user friendly. It does have a few bells in whistles in the form of a working light and safety shields. Once installed correctly and once the user learns proper use, chain sharpening is performed with precision and efficiency. Timber Tuff builds a competitive bench mounted tool that is tuff enough for shop use and also not completely unrealistic for the home user considering its price.

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Oregon 510A Bench Chain Grinder – 10/10

Oregon 510A Bench Chain Grinder

Oregon 510A Bench Chain Grinder

A top of the line option is the Oregon 510A Bench Chain Grinder. Price fluctuates wildly between $281.24 and $562.21 so you would be well advised to shop around to get the best deal. Considering its price, the Oregon chain grinder is not what a do it yourselfer would typically want to use for the occasional job. This is a sturdy bench mounted tool is perfect for shop use. The Oregon is a very precise tool requiring adjustments and settings according to the chains specifications.  Instructions are poor but quality is great. 

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Conclusion

Generally speaking if you are reading this article you probably hold a soft spot for your chainsaw. Proper maintenance, adjustments, and correct fuel mixture will ensure that your saw operates safely and well for a very long time. Aside from routine maintenance, having a razor sharp chain will restore the cutting efficiency and mean the difference between a cut that is a battle and a cut that is a pleasure. Whether you choose a bar mounted file sharpener, or a bench mounted grinding wheeled sharpener, please follow the instructions and ensure settings are precise. Above all, use and maintain your saw with safety in mind.

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