Chainsaws can get blunt at the slightest misuse.
Even a less-than-sharp chain greatly degrades the performance of a chainsaw whereas with a sharp chainsaw you can fell some big-time timber. A Chainsaw Sharpener is an invaluable tool toward keeping your chain scary sharp.
Why an Electric Chainsaw Sharpener?
Lumberjacks, timber merchants, construction workers, tree pruners . . . and plain old handymen all use chainsaws. You may well use your chainsaw mostly to cut up firewood and saw off the occasional limb but be that as it may, sooner or later you’ll need to sharpen a blunted chain or two. So you give it to a shop for sharpening. And wait on them until they get it ready, and shell out the cash. Or you use a file to sharpen it manually – and tediously. And waste an hour or two of your time to end up with uneven cutters.
Instead, why not buy an inexpensive electric chain sharpener meant for DIYers? You’ll easily sharpen each cutting tooth to the same length and at the correct angle, as the chain’s links will be advanced at a uniform angle and the grinding wheel will also be set at the proper angle and grind to the correct depth.
If you use a chainsaw with any degree of regularity, a sharpener is one of those smart purchases that soon pays for itself, both in money saved and in time saved. In fact, it may also pay for itself in popularity: if you have friends who have chainsaws and you go and buy a sharpener, quite suddenly you’ll find yourself a very popular man!
Which Sharpener to Choose?
It should be understood that hobbyist-class Electric Chainsaw Sharpeners are made mostly of plastic, will not have to-the-degree precision, and will not have the same features that professional-class sharpeners do. On the plus side, they also do not have the same price tag that pro ones do, yet are more than adequate and do a very good job of sharpening chains quickly and easily, and with a fairly good degree of accuracy.
DIY-class Electric sharpeners tend to have very similar, if not the same, specifications and features. Wattage, grinding angles, – not a whole lot of variance there. And a 25 gramme difference in weight is hardly something to differentiate on! Where these electrical tools do differ and what they need to be evaluated on are build quality, operability and usage, flaws and defects, extras or accessories, and price.
Last update on 2021-04-22 / All Pricing & Imagery from Amazon Product Advertising API
Underneath we evaluate four electric sharpeners on these tight differences, and take in a manual sharpening carry kit.
Clarke’s sharpener has good build quality but the position of the switch is poor; however, it is very simple to use and the results are excellent.
An 85-watt motor drives the grinding wheel at 4800 RPMs on Clarke’s electric chainsaw sharpener. The 23-millimetre bore wheel is rated for 6200 RPMs. It is 108 millimetres in diameter with a thickness of 3.25 millimetres.
Measuring 34 x 24 x 16 centimetres, this is one of the more compact DIY chainsaw sharpeners. It weighs 2.8 kilogrammes. The chassis is made of impressively solid ribbed plastic. Nonetheless, it has some flex when the kit is being used. The knobs are also plastic but they do the job and do it well.
Clarke’s kit can be mounted on workbenches and features include a safety guard.
One feature it does not have is an ergonomically-located power button. The button is located on the rear of the sharpener where it is out of sight. It would have been a far better design to have put it on the left side of the body.
As for operation, the guide width is simple to adjust and the chain can be moved equally smoothly through the guides. On the whole this sharpener is quick and easy to use and gives consistently excellent results.
Setting it up is simple enough, and one is aided by the very good instructions.
Adding to this kit’s attraction, it is quite affordably priced. Affordable or not, for a consumer-class electric chainsaw sharpener its performance cannot be improved upon and it is our Best Pick.
Clarke provides a one-year warranty.
- Pretty good build quality for a hobbyist-class chain sharpener.
- Quick and easy in usage, the results are usually excellent.
- So attractively priced that it is a terrific value for money.
- Poor positioning of the on/off button.
- The body has a hint of flex in use.
Faithfull’s kit doesn’t have the best build quality but it is very complete and, though quality is variable, its low price makes it a super value.
Faithfull’s popular electric chainsaw sharpener has an 85-watt motor. The chassis has bench mounting holes and a chain guide and angle gauge, and bench mounting holes. The plastic body has a touch of wobble and flex in use. It is also not well finished, having a rough edge here and there. Build quality is so-so.
For a hobbyist-class sharpener it is on the big side, measuring 46 x 35.2 x 19.6 centimetres with a weight of 2.74 kilogrammes.
The grinding angle ranges from 35° left to 35° right.
While the grinding angle is easily adjustable to suit most chains, it is not as easy to slide the chain in the guide rails. You have to exert to pull-twist the plastic lock to adjust the spacing. Once you get the hang of it, this kit sharpens chains all day long.
Faithfull’s sharpener’s quality is inconsistent. The depth stop may not be accurate or the chain clamp may come loose. Occasionally something or another may be missing.
However, all said this is a very decent chainsaw sharpener that is quite solid and works well but costs much less than machines of similar quality for which reason it is our Value Pick.
- By DIY chain sharpeners this one has to be called ‘feature complete.’
- Very low price makes it a can’t-beat value for money.
- Not well finished and the build quality lags behind the competition.
- Overall quality is variable from piece to piece.
Oregon’s light compact kit may not be widely available and has a minor flaw but it has very good performance and build quality, and has two wheels.
Oregon’s ‘compact’ or ‘mini’ electric sharpener is indeed a shade smaller than other DIY machines at 32.6x 25.2 x 16.5 centimetres. It weighs an even 2 kilogrammes.
This 85-watt kit has a speed of 4600 RPMs and it even comes with two grinding wheels of 3.2 and 4.7 millimetres, allowing you to sharpen 3/8” as well as 3/25” chains.
It has bench mounting holes and bolts are thoughtfully included to make set-up quick and easy.
The little flaw in this kit is that now and then the driveshaft and the plastic arbor slip against each other.
Oregon’s ‘Compact’ is a very good electric chain sharpener that is made even better by its compactness and portability. Tradesmen could keep it in their vehicle and run it off the battery using a dc/ac converter.
Besides the extra grinding wheel, it comes with a dressing brick and a profile guide.
Build quality is good.
Unfortunately, this very attractive kit is not as widely available as other chainsaw sharpeners.
Though this high-quality little machine is neither our Best Pick nor our Value Pick it is so good overall and is such a good value for money that it could just as well have been either but for its limited availability in the U.K.
Oregon provides a one-year guarantee.
- Very good build quality.
- Also very good in operation and usage.
- Comes with two grinding wheels and a dressing brick.
- Off and on slippage between arbor and driveshaft.
- Not as widely available as other electric chain sharpeners.
Sealey’s costly kit scores in usability with a very good chain guide and angle marks but the stop is weak and the base has more flex than it should.
Sealey’s electric sharpener has an 85-watt motor that turns the wheel at 4800 RPMs. The wheel has a diameter of 100 millimetres and it can be angled from 35° left to 35° right.
It measures 36.6 x 25.3 x 17.7 centimetres and weighs 2.53 kilogrammes.
Although one cannot complain about the plastic body in general, the base has a flaw and that is a bit too much flex. However, the moulding and finishing is very good.
The chain stop is not strong and it doesn’t impart a feeling of confidence. On the plus side, the chain guide is solid and well-designed and the guide’s angle markings are raised which improves their visibility.
The clamp’s mechanism is not well designed because it clamps from only one side which causes links to get twisted out of position unless you are careful to adjust and shift the chain accordingly. Once you master this niggle you can use it to sharpen chains, which it does very well.
The build quality is acceptable.
Assembling and setting up Sealey’s sharpener is very easy and more so because of the lucid instructions.
Even so, it is rather expensive and as it competes in hobbyist-class segment its price is not justified.
- Very good chain guide, and angle markings are easily visible.
- Very good moulding and finishing of the body.
- A little too much flex in the base.
- The chain stop could use some improvement.
- A little costlier than it should be.
Oregon’s affordable manual sharpening kit is a bit let down by the handle but with three files and other tools, this roll-up set yells ‘Value.’
Our final choice is not a chainsaw sharpener per se, but a manual chainsaw sharpening set. Oregon’s Universal Sharpening Kit contains 3 tapered and rounded files for 3 sizes of chains, a flat file, a file guide, a depth gauge tool, and a wooden file handle. The 3 files’ sizes are 4 mm (5/32”), 4.8 mm (3/16”), and 5.5 mm (7/32”).
Over and above the files, the depth gauge tool is invaluable and the file guide’s angle markings let you consistently align the cutting teeth (or cutters) for filing.
The tools are very well finished. The handle could certainly use a better grip, say with some knurling, and have some slotting or ‘catching’ mechanism to grip the file more securely.
This very well-thought-out set comes in a canvas-material pouch with separate pockets for the various tools. It rolls up and is fastened with a velcro strap. It also has another velcro loop for attaching to a belt.
A useful little leaflet is included.
Oregon’s set is very inexpensive and a wonderful value. Those who need to sharpen chains now and then and don’t want to invest in an electric sharpener, and also don’t mind expending some elbow grease – or, in this case, ‘wrist grease’ – will go for this kit.
Also, this smart little kit does not directly compete with the electric chainsaw sharpeners reviewed here. It is a most useful complement to them; it can be kept in the pick-up for field use, and is especially useful for itinerant tradesmen.
- Complete set neatly and conveniently packaged in a roll-up pouch.
- Even has a depth gauge tool besides a file guide.
- Can be bought with pocket change and is a terrific value for money.
- The wooden handle has a flaw or two and can be improved upon.
- Manual chain sharpening is tedious and may result in unevenly sharpened cutters.
How To Use A Chainsaw Sharpener
Sooner or later one or another of your chains will need to be sharpened, whether you do it yourself or give it to a shop. But in the meantime, if you maintain and take care of each chain you’ll keep it in top sawing shape and extend its useful life.
Clean the chain thoroughly.
Before you start to use an electric chainsaw sharpener, put on goggles and wear thick gloves.
First adjust the sharpener’s chain guide angle to your chain’s filing angle (or ‘side angle’) by rotating the disk with the vise at the bottom; this will be 30°, 25° or 35°. Next, set the angle of the grinding wheel to match the ‘top’ angle for your chain’s cutters (teeth). This will usually be 10°. Set it either left or right; left by pulling in the knob; right by pushing away.
Place the chain from the correct side – left or right, depending on the angles you have set – on the chain guide so that the sprockets catch between the chain’s links.
Adjust the chain stop by turning the screw so that the stop’s pawl rests on top of the cutter to be sharpened.
The grinding wheel should fit just to the cutting fold about halfway in the gullet.
Turn on the grinding wheel to sharpen the cutter. Sharpening should take no more than a couple of seconds.
Advance the chain to sharpen the next cutter, taking note that you would be sharpening alternating cutters or every second cutter.
Once all the cutters on one side are sharpened, visually inspect them or use a depth guide over them to ensure that the heights are identical.
Rotate the disk with the vise at the bottom to set the same angle, but on the chain’s other side, i.e. for the cutters on the unsharpened side. Use the knob once again to adjust the grinding wheel’s down angle for the other cutters.
Then repeat the process.
Be careful not to over-sharpen. You’ll ‘waste’ useful metal, end up shortening the life of the chain, and even degrade sawing performance.
How Different are Pro Sharpeners from Hobbyist Ones?
We must confess that they are quite different.
To begin with pro-class sharpeners are bigger, and they have much less plastic. They are made mostly of a metal alloy; as a result, they are also sturdier and more rugged (and also much heavier).
Unlike DIYer machines, they are designed to be mounted on a workbench or a wall.
They have one or more features that hobbyist-class machines lack. Examples of such features are built-in spotlight to illuminate the work area, automatic chain-advancing rollers, and hydraulic assist.
They are also more accurate – everything from the chain guide to the grinding angle is that much more precise. This is because they have further angle- and depth-related settings, such as a precision wheel depth stop.
Finally, they can cope with day-in, day-out, high-volume usage.
All this means they are different in price too: they cost from three to six times as much as DIY kits!
Kersie learnt the basics of gardening as a toddler, courtesy of his grandfather. In his youth he was an active gardener with a preference for flowering plants. He is a professional and vocational writer and his freelance projects have spanned various kinds of writing.