This is How Often You Should Sharpen a Chainsaw’s Chain

In order for a chainsaw to perform at its best, the chain has to be sharp.

But here’s the deal – how often should you maintain that sharpness? Every hour? Every cord? Every day? What is the golden rule?

There is definitely no set in stone answer to this frequent question, though i have my own take on this.

Every tank of gas

I suggest, especially for those who are new to this whole firewood cutting deal, to sharpen the saw’s chain every single time it runs out of gas.

Yes, this is probably an overkill in so many owners’ books, but you can rarely go wrong by doing this that often (even if this does wear out the chain quicker…).

Obviously, some wood is going to be easier to deal with than the other, so you may not need to sharpen the chain that frequently; that being said, i think this is more about forming good habits that’ll only make the cutting aspect more efficient.

Again, this is my and only my opinion on how to go about it – if you feel like i am completely wrong about this, feel free to share your opinion down below in the comment section.

How to do it

Considering the fact that the chain will be touched up rather frequently, you won’t need to be putting that much effort into the actual sharpening.

When it comes to the actual cutter teeth, hit every one of them with around three strokes, you don’t need more. Don’t forget to do the same on the other side and with the same effort, as the chainsaw may start cutting crooked otherwise.

It goes without saying that the file you use must be of the size the chain requires.

You must not forget about the depth gauges either, as they are a crucial component of the whole cutting action. You don’t need to lower them every time you sharpen the actual teeth, but they have to be hit up every so often too (like every 2 to 3 gas fill ups).

Here’s a video demonstration by Stihl which will answer most of your questions:

What about electric sharpeners?

They are great for those who know how to use one. For a general homeowner, i don’t think it makes sense to buy into such an accessory. I think you can do a great job just with a hand file of your choice.

Something like the Stihl 2 in 1 sharpener (Amazon link) will work great for those who are new, as well as experienced at this.

Times when you need to work on the chain straight away

There will be times when the chainsaw will start cutting worse way before the next fill up comes, and that only means you have to stop it running as soon as you can and get to sharpening.

Here are some reasons as to why that may be happening:

You hit something

Hit the ground, a nail, a piece of metal, anything except the wood itself really and your chain is toast (more or less).

Any of these causes can turn a previously perfectly cutting saw into nothing more than a dull one. The first obvious thing you should do is try sharpening it up, but that does not work all the time – it may be that the time to replace it altogether has come.

Is simply dull

If you feel like you have to force the saw to do the job, in other words, put your weight behind it just to get it going, you should go ahead and sharpen the thing.

This rarely happens if you do indeed service it when time comes, but again, maybe the specific type of tree you were working on was too hard, or it was that dirty, who knows – in case you feel like the saw isn’t doing much to your advantage, file it.


The biggest time saver to this whole “sharpening on the spot” deal is carrying multiple chains at once.

Personally for me, working on the chain every tank of gas has never been a headache, but i’ve heard of many folks who say it’s just too much effort for them to do it that frequently on the spot.

If you are on the same boat, again, bring more than one sharp chain during a cutting session, and replace them at times you see fit.

I know that it can be very awkward to sharpen a chain with your non-dominant hand, thankfully this can be solved with one simple trick – flip the saw over!

This allows you to sharpen both sides of the teeth using your favored hand; this ensures that the sharpness stays even all around, and that’s important.

Similar Posts


  1. Thanks for this. It was easy to understand, thorough and answered more than what I thought I needed to know. I probably won’t do it every tankful, but I will carry the extra chains as you mentioned.

  2. I cut weekly, cheap asian chains on Australian Sheoke need to be sharpened after 30 minutes, Stihl genuine oilomatic give 2 hours on the same wood,i have a Carlton on my MS310,a good hour and she needs a touch up. Will try an Oregon next Service, i tried a new Hurricane Chain today on a Husky 435 series on Sheoke and in 35 minutes the sawdust started, sharpen then 30 minutes, 2nd sharpen 25 minutes.I guess you get what you pay for.

    1. I have an Oregon on mine, it’s a beast. I sharpen every second or third tank. I probably don’t need to most the time

  3. Good information.
    I had trouble getting the sharpening right with just a rat tail file. Purchased a 2 in 1(stihl), Charlene the teeth and depth gauge at the same time. I think it is a 3 in 1 because it has a 30 degree angle tool built in.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *