There’s no need for us to remind you of the tribulations of working with a blunt chainsaw; cutting becomes inefficient and your machine keeps overheating thus reducing its lifespan.
Best Recommendation (Electric) – Oregon 410-120
Best Budget Pick (Electric) – Buffalo Tools ECSS
Best Manual Chainsaw Sharpener – Stihl 2 IN 1
Best Handheld Sharpener – Timberline Chainsaw Sharpener
Best Bar-Mounted Sharpener – Granberg Bar-Mount
Best for Heavy Use – Oregon 520-120
We reviewed 30+ chainsaw sharpeners and selected 10 best chainsaw sharpeners available in the market today. Every single one of them has been tested for angle accuracy, ease of use, learning curve and built quality.
So, below you will find our top-rated chainsaw sharpener picks for 2020, from manual sharpeners for simple sharpening jobs to more automatic models for heavy-duty work. It’s true that quality chainsaw chain sharpeners are pricey, but all the options we reviewed are tough enough for sharpening duty and made to last. For more background information, see our mini-reviews and they’ll guide you to the best option.
The 10 Best Chainsaw Sharpener Reviews
1. Buffalo Tools ECSS Chainsaw Sharpener – Best Budget Pick
The Buffalo Tools ECSS sharpener easily mounts on a wall, bench, or vise if you do not intend to grant it a permanent station. Using this sharpener requires that you plug it into a standard 120-volt outlet after which you feed your chain link by link through the sharpener. A 60 Hz, 85-watt motor delivers 4,200 rpm to sharpen every tooth as it passes by. This tool comes equipped with a 4-1/inch by 1/8-inch grinding wheel with a 7/8-inch arbor that works with most chain blades.
Although the 1/8-inch disk width isn’t custom fitted for various chain blades, it could be highly effective and accurate when mastered. And for its price, there’s not much to complain about.
- Reasonably priced
- Works with multiple chain designs
- Manual instructions are confusing
- Construction is flimsy
2. STIHL 2 in 1 Easy File – Best Handheld Chainsaw Sharpener
This tool doubles up as a chain saw sharpener and depth gauge. Although it has an incredibly simple design, you will get great results in terms of cutting edge and sharpness. This tool only supports a 0.325 inches pitch. And weighing only 12.3 ounces, this sharpener is portable and lightweight making it great for use when you’re away from your workshop. This sharpener also comes with an extra round file you could use for lightweight sharpening needs.
- Lightweight and portable
- Easy to use
- You’ll need a vise to hold your chainsaw
3. Timberline Sharpener – Best Manual Chainsaw Sharpener
The Timberline Chainsaw sharpener is the best manual chainsaw sharpener that takes accuracy and precision to a new level. It attaches virtually to any type of chainsaw bar and sharpens individual teeth to the same angle and length. This easy-to-use, durable, and portable sharpener is great to carry around if you’re always on the go. Turning the crank moves the chain through the stones, precisely cutting them own for a chain with a 30-degree angle. The sharpener’s carbide guides are fixed at 30 degrees while the 35 degrees and 25 degrees come separately.
The key to this sharpener is a solid platform that doesn’t move, flex, or bend during sharpening. An adjustable pawl or stop pushes the chain forward into the cutter to easily set the length of each cutting tooth. Overall, this tool makes getting sharp saws incredibly easy for all level of users.
- Sharpens each tooth evenly
- Great for all level of users
- Not as durable as other models
- Guides are fixed at 30 degrees alone
4. Granberg Bar-Mount Chainsaw Sharpener – Best Bar Mounted
Granberg chainsaw sharpener is a choice for anyone looking for a Budget Pick with all the functionalities such as precise angles, ease of use and depth cut. It is no less than the Oregon or Timberline.
It doesn’t come with a sharpener so you’ll need a file that fits onto the mount to sharpen your chains.
Fashioned from zinc-plated steel and cast aluminum, this bar mount sharpener is compatible with most chainsaw brands and it offers a firm and solid foundation for using a file on blades. Another notable feature is the calibrated swivel guide markings which help you set and hold the right sharpening angles. Other integrated features can let you set tooth length and file height.
- No electricity needed
- Lightweight and portable
- Angle gauge locks in for consistent cutting
- Depth gauge locks-in to prevent chain damage
- The grinding angle might require readjusting should the tool sag
5. Oregon 520-120 Best for Heavy Use
The Oregon 520-120 chainsaw sharpener doubles up as a premium quality sharpening gadget and a great tool for high volume sharpening. This is our favorite tool when it comes to cutting or sharpening chains at an accurate angle. This tool comes with a new sharp design in addition to a well-engineered vice for better sharpening performance. With a rated horsepower of 3400 RPM, this tool makes quick work out of ¾-inch, ½-inch, 3/8-inch, 0.325-inch, and ¼ inch pitch chains.
For versatility when sharpening different blades, the Oregon 510-120 is equipped with 3 grinding wheels of ¼-inch, 1/8-inch, and 3/16-inch. This sharpener also includes a wheel contour, a wheel-dressing brick, and template for purposes of depth-gauge setting. Its self-centering vise is another great feature that automatically aligns to the blade angle for a uniform sharpening effect.
- Easy to set up
- Premium build quality
- Uniform sharpening
- Easy to operate
- Sharpening instructions are vague
- Chain support during cutting is quite poor
6. Timber Tuff CS-BWM Benchtop – Best Electric Chainsaw Sharpener
The Timber Tuff CS-BWM is a benchtop sharpener that runs off 100v of power and only requires a standard outlet. This tool securely mounts to a majority of work surfaces, giving you a secure sharpening station. The powerful, high-impact, 3800 RPM motor gets the job done quickly and includes ¼-inch, 3/16-inch, and 1/8-inch grinding wheels to get you going. Designed for accurate and easy sharpening, this tool sharpens chains from 34 inches to ¼ inches.
This sharpener is also equipped with an easy-to-read adjustment guide that makes consistent sharpening easier in addition to 15 watt light that offers better visibility while sharpening. For safety while working, a thermo-overload protection system is included.
- The built-in work light makes it easy for you to check your angles
- Three grinding wheels
- Motor automatically turns off when the tool overheats
- Wall or bench mount brackets for easy placement
- The safety shield is difficult to install
Although it isn’t truly heavy-duty since it only attains a maximum speed of 3000 RPM, the CO-Z chainsaw sharpener has a high-grade, sturdy aluminum construction with reinforced hinged for great durability. To accommodate your different sharpening needs, the chain grinding angle could be adjusted between 0 and 30 degrees while the motor can be adjusted from 0 to 70 degrees. It also features a built-in work light and safety guards for improved protections while sharpening.
You could also take advantage of the tilting vise which accommodates chisel and semi-chisel style cutters for firm grinding. The tools extra-thick cutter and aluminum casing prevent iron filings from splashing all over. You could mount this sharpener on a bench for the best results.
- Durable aluminum construction
- Built-in work light for better visibility
- Wheel guard for optimal protection
- Not easy to set up
- There’s too much vibration when using it
8. Oregon 511AX Saw Chain Bench Grinder/Sharpener
Although the Oregon 511AX weighs slightly under 19 pounds, its powerful 3,400 RPM direct drive motor ensures quick sharpening of electric chainsaws. If your chain is between a ¾-inch pitch and ¼-inch pitch, this tool has you covered. Its self-centring vice holds onto different chain sizes for equal grinding angles. Your 511AX comes with three grinding wheels which are 3/16-inch, 1/8-inch, and ¼-inch in thickness.
Oregon have also added a vise sliding feature that keeps the wheel at the same position as the material wears out through continuous usage. Other notable feature include a wheel-dressing brick, built-in light, wheel contour, and depth-gauge setting.
- Self-centering vise for equal grind angles
- Allows precise grinding without making manual adjustments
- Heavier than other models
- Instructions are quite confusing
9. XtremepowerUS 85W Mini Electric Chainsaw Grinder Sharpener
The XtremepowerUS combines powerful performance with a stable base for fast and effective sharpening. This sharpener is equipped with a powerful 85-watt motor that delivers all the power you would need with a maximum operating speed of 4200 RPM. It’s compatible for use with various chain sizes, models, and brands with a 0.50 inch to 0.80 inch adjustable capacity.
This tool is also easy to mount on a vice or bench with an angle of 35 degrees right or left. When it comes to construction, this sharpener comes with a dual handle for maximum control. Generally, the XtremepowerUS is designed with features to hold your chain in place with the brake handle for greater ease in maneuvering and shorter sharpening times.
- Very little assembly is needed
- Powerful motor
- Sharpens fast and efficiently
- Doesn’t come with mounting bolts
- The machine overheats quickly
10. Timber Tuff CS-12V Chain Saw Sharpener
The TImber Tuff CS sharpener was designed to be the best among other portable chainsaw sharpening tools. This sharpener can be easily attached to any 12V battery to deliver a high-impact motor speed of 22,000 RPM. This machine’s angle guides are set at 20 degrees, 25 degrees, and 30 degrees for different sharpening angles. The three grinding stones of sizes 7/32, 5/32, and 3/16 inches rotate at high speeds to get the job done in a short time. Besides coming equipped with a 72-inch long power cord for convenience, this tool is also light and compact for great portability. The anti-aging and anti-impact cover not only increases lifespan but also keeps the sharpener cool while sharpening.
- Multiple angle guides
- Highly portable
- Cover remains cool when you’re sharpening
- Short grinding stone life
- It takes time to get used to this sharpener
Chainsaw Sharpener Buying Guide
Although chainsaw sharpeners almost perform the same functions, they are quite different in their anatomy. For you to get the most value out of your purchase, there are several parameters you should go by. Here is a quick guide on the essential attributes to consider when buying a chainsaw sharpener.
1. Cutter Type
A crucial attribute to consider when buying a chainsaw sharpener is the cutter type. This is the part of the chain that performs the cutting action. Chainsaws often come with chisel, round, or semi-chisel teeth, and the shape determines the type of sharpener to use.
- Round Cutter. This type of cutter is the easiest to file and most versatile in terms of cutting action. Round teeth endure dust better compared to chisel teeth and are easy to sharpen with a manual file.
- Semi-chisel cutter. This cutter is halfway between chisel and round. It is more aggressive than round cutter but more delicate than the chisel cutter. These cutters could be filed with manual sharpeners designed for round teeth, tolerate dust and dirt better, and stay sharp for longer.
- Chisel cutter. This cutter is the most aggressive of all and shouldn’t be used by inexperienced chainsaw users. Often used for industrial applications, this chain needs a specific sharpener. The teeth are also susceptible to dirt and dust, so they need frequent sharpening and constant maintenance.
2. Chainsaw File Size
Another crucial attribute to consider when buying a chainsaw sharpener is its file size. The file size is usually expressed in millimeters or inches and typically determines whether a sharpener is compatible with a saw. Chainsaw chains usually have different file types, but the most common ones are:
- 0.404-inch (5.5 mm)
- 3/8-inch (5.2 mm)
- 0.325-inch (4.8 mm)
- ¼-inch (4 mm)
The size expressed in millimeters often refers to the round file’s diameter while its equivalent in inches represents the size of chain pitch. Some sharpener models can be adjusted to be compatible with all the pitches above, whereas others only work with one pitch.
Specialty sharpeners are only compatible with a single chain pitch and are best suited for personal use. Industrial or commercial users working with different chainsaws could benefit from an adjustable sharpener capable of handling all their tools.
3. The Chainsaw Gauge
The chainsaw gauge is another important parameter to go by when buying a sharpener. The chainsaw gauge checks the cutter’s length, and there are four gauge types:
Despite the gauge size, it isn’t advisable to file below 0.025 inches. However, the depth of your gauge is crucial since it determines the extent at which your chainsaw cuts. You shouldn’t file the gauge along its length since it shortens its service life. While filing the gauge, be sure to sharpen evenly all through otherwise your chain will vibrate and result in rough cuts.
4. Type of Sharpeners
Chainsaw sharpeners come in different sizes and styles. Some universal models are ideal for use with all chains while others are chain-specific. Basically, you’ll typically have the option to choose between electric and manual models. Although manual sharpeners seem more old-school, they still have advantages that have kept them on the chainsaw sharpener market. Manual sharpeners are then divided into handheld and bar-mounted sharpeners.
- Handheld sharpeners. These are the most popular since they are cheap, portable, and easy to use. Most of these sharpeners are round file models with different diameters. Despite having a simple sharpening process, it could also be tiring and time-consuming. Besides, maintaining the right grinding angle is difficult with such sharpeners.
- Bar-mounted sharpeners. These are more appropriate for a shed or workshop since they require mounting on stable platforms like a wall, vise, or workbench and have adjustable settings that make them compatible with multiple chainsaws. You can easily adjust the filing depth and angle, and there’s often better control over your grinding actions.
- Electric sharpeners. Although they are more expensive than their manual counterparts, they will do most of the dirty work for you. Just feed your chain into the grinding wheels, and the sharpener does the rest. Powered by a 120V outlet, these sharpeners do not require any unique predisposition in your home circuit.
Top 3 Chainsaw Brands
Although the battle for supremacy among the top chainsaw sharpener brands; Stihl, Timberline, Oregon is fierce, you will still get value for money from any of these brands. If you talk to random users, you’ll realize that there’s almost a proportion split among those who prefer each brand. We all have our own rationale for why we prefer a specific brand over the other, but ultimately, all three brands have several professional-grade, high-quality models that perform well. So, the choice is all up to you.
While Oregon is widely regarded as the best manufacturer, Timberline and Stihl are still worthy of your time and money. Each brand will give you a superior performance to other consumer brands you’ll find on the market. All three manufacturers offer various models that appeal to just about anyone, so a quick comparison would help you better understand the perks of each brand.
This German power tool company is a strong developer of tools for anyone who likes performing regular and professional maintenance on their cutting attachments. Depending on the users’ needs, these sharpeners come in various designs and price categories, from a simple manual filing tool to universal sharpeners for circular saw blades and saw chains.
Many users admit that Stihl sharpeners come with a low-end torque which makes them a great choice for touch sharpening jobs. Besides producing high-quality sharpeners, Stihl products also have an excellent reputation for requiring minimal routine maintenance. When it comes to manual chainsaw sharpeners, Stihl arguably produces the best. Stihl sharpeners not only provide cutting edge performance but are also optimized in terms of their weight, strength, and durability.
Oregon is another famous brand among chainsaw enthusiasts because of its specialization in electric chainsaw sharpeners. With their grinders in your hands, you can take on any job – whether small or big. If you’re looking for power output, Oregon workhorse bench grinders are possibly the best alternative. And whether you want a model for occasional use or high-volume sharpening, there’s a tool to meet your needs. In terms of design, this brand easily wrestles down its competitors. However, if you’re working on a budget, this brand might not be the best option for you since their products are quite pricey. Oregon sharpeners are easier to buy online and have a reputation for grinding faster than Stihl.
Timberline is a superior chainsaw sharpener brand that is hailed for its extended lifespan. Most of timberline sharpeners can handle a minimum of 40+ sharpenings in a lifetime. In terms of build quality, Timberline sharpeners are superior to the other two brands and work pretty much with any chain. Chains that can be sharpened with round files are compatible with Timberline sharpeners. Besides, the convenience of portability makes this brand a bargain in addition to being a real time-saver.
Everyone’s experience differs based on their preferences and needs. Some prefer the torque and minimal maintenance of Stihl sharpeners, others prefer the great design and grinding speed of Oregon, while others prefer the durability and compatibility of Timberline. The most important thing is that each chainsaw sharpener does the job efficiently and safely.
Q1. What is the angle for sharpening a Stihl chainsaw?
Ans: Stihl chainsaws are typically filed to an angle of 30 degrees, which is usually parallel to the service mark of the filing angle. You are required to hold your sharpener so that a quarter of its diameter protrudes right above the top plate. Before you can begin sharpening, mark one cutter with some ink and after a few strokes, check how the material has been removed. A uniform surface indicates that your filing action is correct while patches of color show inappropriate sharpening.
Q2. What is the best professional chainsaw sharpener?
Ans: The Oregon 520-120 is, in our opinion, the best professional chainsaw sharpener. Besides having incredible grinding power and speed, this grinder comes with three different wheels for great versatility. It comes with a built-in work light that helps ensure that you are sharpening at the same angle and sharpness. Since it is a mounted grinder, we recommend it to those who work from a workshop or studio.
Q3. How tight should a chainsaw chain be?
Ans: Professionals often refer to “snap tight” as the right amount of tension on your chainsaw. This basically means that you should easily pull the chain up until the drive links are partly exposed but not completely free of the cutter’s guide bar. If your chain’s tension is just right, it snaps back right into place when you pull on it.
Q4. How do you tighten the chain on a chainsaw?
Ans: To tighten your chain, you need to locate the tension adjustment points, which include the front and side cover of the chainsaw. Once found, turn the adjustment screw counterclockwise to loosen and clockwise to tighten. As you increase the chain tension, be sure to check the gap between the slack chain and the under-side of the saw’s guide bar. The chain on your chainsaw is correctly tensioned once the drive links have completely rested into the guide bar’s grove. Over tightening the chain could cause it to break.
Q5. Is it hard to sharpen a chainsaw?
Ans: No, it’s not. With the right tools and information, it can be a breeze. First, you will need to pick your preferred chainsaw sharpener, ensure you’re using the right size file, and file at an angle. If you’re using a manual sharpener, you need to apply even pressure for the best results.
Q6. Why does my chainsaw cut crooked?
Ans: Your chainsaw will cut crooked if the teeth on one side are more worn than the other. Since many people find one side of their chainsaw easier to sharpen than the other, it implies that one side will often be sharp while the other is dull. As a result, the chainsaw travels in the direction of the sharp teeth, resulting in crooked cuts. Sharpening the flat side could fix this problem.