Before we even start to discuss how to properly sharpen a chainsaw, it is best that we get to know the various sizes of cutting chains used on a chainsaw. Finding the correct size or gauge of your chain is the only basis that you will have to know prior to sharpening your chains by using an electric chainsaw sharpener. Even in such cases that you would get a chance to sharpen a cutting chain using a conventional method such as manually filling the cutting chains, you would still need to know the size and the pitch or the angle of the chain’s cutting teethes in order to restore it’s original sharpness. Depending upon the size and pitch of your cutting chains, each chain design has a specific cutting result on wood whether that be for shearing, chiseling or cutting, each cutting teethes angle corresponds to a correct way of how to properly sharpen them.
¼ Pitch Chain
The basic chain size is starts with a ¼ pitch chain that has a ¼ inch cutting teeth size which is common for conventional chainsaws. These type of chains are the smoothest running among all chain designs as they gradually sink into the wood, though a bit slow in making a cut they make the cleanest cut nevertheless.
3/8 Pitch Chain
Bigger in regards to it’s cutting teeth is the 3/8 pitch chain which functions more like a grinding chain rather than a cutting chain. This type of chains are used for cutting down medium sized trees, more particularly grainy hardwood which is more harder for the basic ¼ cutting teeth.
3/8 Pitch “Low Profile” Chain
Also called a “chipping” chain which creates a more wider cut that is less cleaner which facilitates a much wider space between the wood and the cutting bar that enables the chainsaw to negotiate the space between the wood that it is cutting. It extracts more and bigger pieces of wood that makes cutting trees down more quicker with the use of a wedge.
.404 and .325 Pitch Chain
These chains are more on shearing and tearing the wood rather than making a clean cut and depending on the type of hardwood that the chains are cutting, using this types of chain require you to make a circular cut along the diameter of the tree instead of directly cutting it towards the center since the chains are considerably bigger that they may get wedged into the wood.
Now that you have an idea of the types of chains that you will be up against, it is now time to sharpen the chains using an electric chainsaw sharpener. Grindstones are usually used in sharpening cutting chains and these grindstones are usually sized in 3/16, 5/32 and 7/32 of an inch which should be adequate enough to bring back the sharpness of your cutting chain. Electric chainsaw sharpeners closely resembles an angle cutter by the way the main grindstone is mounted on a levered hinge that can be retracted up and down as the chainsaw is securely fastened to it’s vise. What’s convenient about using an electric chainsaw sharpener is that you get consistent sharpened angle more quickly than manually using a hand file.
Prior to sharpening your chain, you obviously have to clean it first to make your job a lot easier. Since most of the grime on your chain is made up with a mixture of tree sap and chain oil, you may need to use mineral spirits or even degreasing agents to remove most of the oil and dirt that has accumulated over a long period of time. But do be very careful on getting some of these compounds on the plastic parts of your chainsaw as they may have the possibility to corrode these parts. However, before proceeding to sharpen your chains, you may want to measure first the existing length of the teethes. If ever that you find that most of the cutting teethes are worn out and are below the ¼ measurement, it is best just to replace the cutting chains since teethes that are worn out below the minimal ¼ inch minimal level have a tendency to snap off completely and are deemed unusable.
As a standard procedure, you must start with the very first cutting teeth (which is the shortest among all the cutting teethes) and if in any case that they have all been reduced to exactly the same size, you can pretty much start wherever you want to. You may also want to mark out the first teeth that you will start on so that you do not loose the position of your progress as not to make a tiring mistake of repeating your job. Now, depending on the type of chain that you are dealing with, most chains have a 25 or 30 degree cutting angle in which some cases there are “ripping” chains that have a more flat cutting angle that allows them to extract more wood. In some cases, there are chains that have guide marks to keep you on the proper sharpening angle.
After making sure that you have fully secured the cutting bar, chosen the correct setting on the electric sharpener along with the right type of grinding stone and the proper sharpening angle, you may now proceed to sharpen your chain carefully, one at a time. Stopping from time to time to individually check on the progress of the teethes. After making sure that you have completely sharpened every tooth there is on this side, you may now release the vise to loosen the cutting bar and mount it on the other side following all of the above procedures and begin again from the start. Given the fact that you are using an electric chain sharpener, you will be glad to see that you will have a professional looking sharpened finish on your cutting chains, more precise than doing it manually with a hand file which is considerably a labor intensive task. After completely finishing your sharpening, you should apply a fairly generous amount of chain lube to protect the chains from corrosion until the time that you will be using your chainsaw.