The Best Chainsaw Sharpeners of 2022

Keep your power tools sharp for safer and easier cuts using these workshop essentials.

By Glenda Taylor and Bob Beacham | Updated Jul 11, 2022 8:51 PM

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Best Chainsaw Sharpener Picks

Photo: amazon.com

Sharpening a chainsaw once meant working on the chain’s individual teeth by hand. Today’s best chainsaw sharpeners are changing all that. An electric sharpener (also called a “grinder”) makes quick work of getting a dull chainsaw back into shape.

DIYers also have a wide range of affordable manual chainsaw sharpeners and files to choose from. Though these require a little more effort, both DIYers and professionals prefer them because they can use them in the field.

To find the best chainsaw sharpener for your needs, keep reading to learn which features are most important and some of the best chainsaw sharpener options out there.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Oregon 410-120 Chain Grinder
  2. BEST BUDGET: Powercare Field Kit (8-Piece)
  3. BEST BENCH-MOUNTED: Oregon 520-120 Bench Mount Chain Grinder
  4. BEST WALL-MOUNTED: Buffalo Tools ECSS Electric Chainsaw Sharpener
  5. BEST BAR-MOUNTED: Oregon 23820 Sure Sharp Chainsaw Manual Filing
  6. BEST MANUAL: Pferd 17300 Chain Saw Sharpener CS-X, File 5/32 inch
  7. BEST CHAINSAW FILE: Katzco Chainsaw Sharpener File Kit – 5/32, 3/16, 7/32
  8. BEST PORTABLE: Oregon 541656 16-Inch PowerSharp Starter Kit
  9. ALSO CONSIDER: Oregon 620-120 Bench Grinder
The Best Electric Chainsaw Sharpener Options

Photo: amazon.com

Types of Chainsaw Sharpeners

An electric sharpener is very different from a manual one, so it’s a good idea to understand just how a powered model works. A manual chainsaw sharpener requires more effort to accomplish the task, but it provides other benefits.

Electric

With an electric sharpener, the saw chain fits into a horizontal guide on the base, and then a disk-shaped grinding stone (resembling a circular saw blade with no teeth) is fitted into a pull-down head. The pull-down head tilts and adjusts so the grinding stone can make contact with the chain’s cutting links at just the right front angle. The guide holding the saw chain swivels to ensure the grinding wheel strikes the cutting links at the correct side angle.

At first, the most difficult part of the sharpening process may be setting all the angles correctly, but once they’re set, you can sharpen the cutting teeth on an entire saw chain in just a few minutes. As such, an electric sharpener is a go-to for those who use their chainsaw (or multiple chainsaws) frequently. Most electric chainsaw sharpeners are corded and designed for fixed installation, though handheld battery-powered units are available as well.

Manual

For those who only have a small chainsaw or who don’t use a chainsaw on a regular basis, a manual model might seem sufficient. But there’s more to manual chainsaw sharpeners than meets the eye. While they are the less expensive option, manual chainsaw sharpeners aren’t just for small tools.

Large, bar-mounted models offer high precision and, once set up, can be almost as quick and accurate as the best electric chainsaw sharpener. At the other end of the scale, a simple chainsaw file is the true budget option, though it does require a little patience to learn to use one properly.

Automatic

Automatic chainsaw sharpeners (also frequently known as portable chainsaw sharpeners) sound like the ideal solution and require very little effort. They fit around the end of the chainsaw bar and place a fixed sharpening stone in contact with the chain as it runs.

Sharpening stones are curved to match the chainsaw blades, but while some adjustment is possible, it is limited. Owners of more than one chainsaw might require two different sharpeners.

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Chainsaw Sharpener

With a clear idea of how electric and manual sharpeners work, think about which style of mounting makes the most sense for your workshop. It’s important to select a chainsaw chain sharpener that has an appropriate speed and is compatible with the pitch of your chainsaw. Keep automation and digital technology in mind, as well as optional features and accessories.

Mounting

Chainsaw sharpeners typically mount to either a bench or a wall. Bench-mounting works great on a large workbench with lots of space, but in small workshops, wall-mounting saves workbench real estate.

Wall mounting also permits the user to mount the tool at or just below eye level to keep from having to bend over when sharpening multiple chains. Some electric sharpeners can be mounted either way—to a bench or to a wall.

Bar-mounted sharpeners clamp around the flat metal plate that the chainsaw runs around. These are called bars, or sometimes chainsaw blades. Although manually operated, their big advantage is their portability. They can be used in the field, where it’s not possible to take a powered model.

Pitch Compatibility

Measured in inches from smallest to largest, pitch is the distance between cutting links on a chain. Chainsaw chains come in one of five pitches: 1/4-inch, 0.325-inch, full profile 3/8-inch, 3/8-inch low profile, and 0.404-inch. The most common pitch sizes are 3/8-inch and 3/8-inch low profile. Most sharpeners will accommodate at least these two pitches. Many will accommodate all five pitches.

Chainsaw chains come in various sizes. Your sharpener needs to be able to accept the chain or chains you use most frequently. This requires knowing your chain’s pitch. This number is often printed right on the saw arm of the chainsaw.

Manual vs. Hydraulic Assist

Some of the newer electric sharpeners feature hydraulic assist, which means that every time you lower the spinning grinding wheel, the hydraulic assist will lock the chain into place. That way, the cutting links won’t move when the grinding wheel makes contact.

While this is a nice feature, it’s not an absolute necessity. If the tool doesn’t have a hydraulic assist, it will most likely have a manual knob you can tighten to secure the cutting links before you lower the grinding wheel. Hydraulic assist speeds up the process.

Maximum Speed

Manufacturers measure the speed at which the grinding stone spins in rotations per minute (rpm). Rotation speeds average around 3,000 to 4,200 rpm. Though 3,400 rpm is the most common, some go considerably higher. Theoretically, a higher rpm gets the job done more quickly, but users need to be careful with sharpeners that operate at higher speeds.

While higher speeds pose no danger to the user, sharpeners with higher rpm could damage cutting links more easily. If you don’t adjust the grinding angles precisely and the spinning stone makes contact with the cutter in the wrong spot, it’s more likely to leave a gouge in the cutting link.

Adjustability

Depending on the level of mechanization you’d like, you can choose a basic electric sharpener that requires you to unlock and advance the chain links by hand, or you can opt for a fully automatic sharpener that does all the advancing and sharpening after you set the adjustments to match your specific chain.

Many chainsaw sharpeners adjust with the turn of a knob or handle, but a few of the newest models use digital technology to pinpoint the exact angles on the sharpener. These digital models feature LED readouts and enable you to key in the pitch of the cutting links, as well as the desired angle of the cuts.

Additional Features

Some electric chainsaw sharpeners come with additional useful options and accessories.

  • Built-in light: Possibly one of the handiest options of all, a built-in light illuminates the very spot where the grinding stone meets the cutting links, so you can clearly see if you’re grinding at the exact angle you want.
  • Grinding wheels: You can purchase stone grinding wheels separately, but you’ll often receive one or more with the purchase of a sharpener. Grinding wheels coordinate in size to the pitch of the cutting links you’re sharpening.
  • Grinding wheel gauge: This little metal or plastic bar contains notches that you can hold up to the edge of the grinding wheel to make sure the wheel is the correct width for the cutting links you’re sharpening.
  • Dressing stone: A dressing stone removes residue that may build on the grinding wheel during operation.

Our Top Picks

With the above shopping considerations in mind, the following models make some of the best chainsaw sharpener options due to their durability and high performance.

Best Overall

Best Chainsaw Sharpener

Offering standout versatility, Oregon’s chain grinder mounts either on a workshop wall or to a workbench, where it sharpens all five chain pitches (1/4-inch, 3/8-inch low profile, 0.325-inch, full profile 3/8-inch, and 0.404-inch) at 3500 rpms.

This built-tough, best-in-class sharpener features a manual handle for securing the cutting links, and it comes with three grinding wheels, a dressing stone, and a plastic grinding wheel gauge. This sharpener can also be mounted on a bench or wall with the two included bolts. There’s also a built-in light for visibility which can come in handy.

Product Specs 

  • Type: Electric
  • Compatible pitches: 1/4-inch, 3/8-inch low profile, 0.325-inch, full profile 3/8-inch, and 0.404-inch pitches
  • Mountable: Yes

Pros

  • Comes with 3 grinding wheels, a dressing stone, and a grinding wheel gauge
  • Manual handle for securing links
  • Built-in light enhances visibility
  • Bolts for mounting included

Cons

  • Some setup required
  • Some users have reported difficulty with the chain holder

Get the Oregon 410-120 chainsaw sharpener on Amazon.

Best Budget

The Best Chainsaw Sharpener Option: Powercare Field Kit (8-Piece)
Photo: homedepot.com

For a budget-friendly, portable chain sharpener kit that is easy to use and effective, the Powercare pick provides everything you need to sharpen one or multiple chainsaws. Capable of filing 5/32-inch, 3/16-inch, and 7/32-inch chain pitches, this kit comes with 8 chainsaw sharpening tools that attach to a hardwood handle. This kit also includes a flat file and a measuring guide for precision in the sharpening process.

This model is made to be carried around in your tool case or pocket with its nylon carrying case with a hook-and-loop fastener.

Product Specs 

  • Type: Manual
  • Compatible pitches: 5/32-inch, 3/16-inch, and 7/32-inch pitches
  • Mountable: No

Pros

  • Comes with 8 chainsaw sharpening tools
  • All tools are interchangeable with hardwood handle
  • Flat file and measuring guide
  • Hook-and-loop tool case included

Cons

  • Beginners may find this kit difficult to use

Get the Powercare chainsaw sharpener at The Home Depot.

Best Bench-Mounted

Best Chainsaw Sharpener

For users who need to sharpen a variety of chains, check out the Oregon 120V Bench Mounted Saw Chain Grinder. A workbench-mountable tool, it adjusts to sharpen all five cutting link pitches (1/4-inch, 3/8-inch low profile, 0.325-inch, full profile 3/8-inch, and 0.404-inch).

The sharpener comes with three grinding wheels, a dressing stone, a grinding wheel gauge, and a built-in light. A manual handle allows for securing the cutting links during the sharpening process. Plus, this model includes an updated vise, a self-centering chain vise, down angle settings and a top plate, and adjustable vise handle positioning. The wheel spins at 3,400 rpm.

Product Specs 

  • Type: Electric
  • Compatible pitches: 1/4-inch, 3/8-inch low profile, 0.325-inch, full profile 3/8-inch, and 0.404-inch pitches
  • Mountable: Yes

Pros

  • 120-volt motor
  • Workbench-mountable
  • Includes a dressing stone, grinding wheel gauge, and 3 grinding wheels
  • Adjustable handle positioning
  • Built-in light for better visibility

Cons

  • Expensive compared to similar models
  • Some users have reported difficulty with the sharpening angles

Get the Oregon 520-120 chainsaw sharpener on Amazon.

Best Wall-Mounted

Best Chainsaw Sharpener: Buffalo Tools ECSS Electric Chainsaw Sharpener
Photo: homedepot.com

Buffalo Tools’ electric chainsaw sharpener offers multiple mounting options. Users may fit it to a bench, a wall, or fix it in a vise. Wide-ranging adjustability makes it suitable for all common chainsaw pitches. An easy-to-read angle guide offers help for setting up the tool.

The chain sharpener plugs into a standard outlet and runs at a speed of 4,200 rpm, so the 4-1/4 by 1/8-inch wheel grinds efficiently without overheating or causing excessive wear. Plus, this unit comes with a 7/8-Inch arbor. A basic tool without the extras provided by more advanced options, Buffalo Tools’ electric chainsaw sharpener comes at a very competitive price.

Product Specs

  • Type: Electric
  • Compatible pitches: Most common pitches
  • Mountable: Yes

Pros

  • Can be affixed to multiple surfaces; bench, wall, or vise
  • Fully adjustable pitches
  • Built-in 4-1/4 by 1/8-inch wheel
  • Comes with an easy-to-read guide

Cons

  • Some users have reported difficulty with mounting

Get the Buffalo Tools chainsaw sharpener at The Home Depot, Overstock, and Tractor Supply Co..

Best Bar-Mounted

The Best Chainsaw Sharpener Option: Oregon 23820 Sure Sharp Chainsaw Manual Filing
Photo: amazon.com

Manual chainsaw sharpeners make great companions out in the field, but they come with a high risk of inaccuracies that can affect cutting performance. A bar-mounted chainsaw sharpener solves this problem. It fits firmly onto the chainsaw itself and maintains the required precision.

Oregon’s bar-mounted chain sharpener withstands the rigors of outdoor use and weighs just a fraction over a pound. Once it’s set up, the user can lock in angles and depth settings for consistent sharpening. A filing chart on the back of the packaging provides useful guidance for beginners. Users may buy a low-cost file separately.

Product Specs 

  • Type: Manual
  • Compatible pitches: Most common pitches
  • Mountable: Yes

Pros

  • Adjustable, lockable angles and depth settings
  • Comes with filing chart for accurate measurements
  • Minimal weight (just over a pound)

Cons

  • Plastic construction may bend while in use

Get the Oregon 23820 chainsaw sharpener on Amazon.

Best Manual

The Best Chainsaw Sharpener Option: Pferd 17300 Chain Saw Sharpener CS-X, File 5/32 inch
Photo: amazon.com

Compact and easy to carry with other tools, Pferd’s chainsaw sharpener makes a great field sharpener. This robust tool will take the inevitable knocks that come with outdoor work. Two large handles make it easy to hold in gloved hands. Even beginners can get accurate results quickly.

The biggest advantage it has over a chainsaw file, and indeed some electric chainsaw sharpeners, is that it adjusts the height of the depth gauges at the same time as filing the chainsaw teeth. This helps maintain a consistent cut around the whole chain. This tool works with a depth gauge distance of 0.025 and a chain pitch of 3/8-inch low profile. Models for other chain sizes are available.

Product Specs 

  • Type: Manual
  • Compatible pitches: 3/8-inch low profile pitches
  • Mountable: No

Pros

  • Suitable for beginners
  • Both sides provide sharpening; no conversion required
  • Automatic depth gauge adjustment
  • Multiple versions available for different chain sizes

Cons

  • Limited pitch compatibility

Get the Pferd 17300 chainsaw sharpener on Amazon.

Best Chainsaw File

The Best Chainsaw Sharpener Option: Katzco Chainsaw Sharpener File Kit - 5/32, 3/16, 7/32
Photo: amazon.com

Chainsaw files are often seen as a low-cost tool for DIY users who buy an electric chainsaw but don’t use it enough to warrant the purchase of an expensive electric sharpener. However, in practiced hands, they are also great for quick resharpening away from the workshop.

With a hardwood handle plus interchangeable 5/32-inch, 3/16-inch, and 7/32-inch round files, the excellent chainsaw sharpening file kit from Katzco meets all the professional needs for field work. However, it also includes a depth gauge and file guide for beginner use. The kit comes in a roll-up pouch for easy carry and adds superb value.

Product Specs 

  • Type: Manual
  • Compatible pitches: Most common pitch sizes
  • Mountable: No

Pros

  • Comes with 5/32-inch, 3/16-inch, and 7/32-inch round files
  • Files are interchangeable with the hardwood handle
  • Includes depth gauge and file guide
  • Portable with roll-up pouch storage

Cons

  • Beginners may find this kit difficult to use

Get the Katzco chainsaw sharpener on Amazon.

Best Portable

The Best Chainsaw Sharpener Option: Oregon 541656 16-Inch PowerSharp Starter Kit
Photo: amazon.com

This type of portable chainsaw sharpener (sometimes called an automatic chainsaw sharpener) grinds the tops of the chainsaw teeth while the machine is still running. This strikes a stark comparison to the usual approach that grinds the inner curves. Cheap models may change the tooth profile, which reduces cutting efficiency and may weaken the chain, but the Oregon PowerSharp portable chainsaw sharpener raises no such criticisms.

Oregon’s lightweight yet durable tool uses a precision-formed diamond stone and adjustable positioning pins to ensure fast, accurate grinding in the workshop or field. This model works with a wide range of popular 16-inch chainsaws with a 3/8-inch low profile pitch. Models to suit other chain specifications are available.

Product Specs 

  • Type: Automatic
  • Compatible pitches: 3/8-inch low profile pitches
  • Mountable: No

Pros

  • Precision-formed diamond stone
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Multiple versions available for different chain sizes

Cons

  • Limited pitch compatibility

Get the Oregon 541656 chainsaw sharpener on Amazon or at The Home Depot.

Also Consider

Best Chainsaw Sharpener

With the Oregon 120V Bench Grinder, you can sharpen link after link without using a manual handle to secure the cutting links. This model spins at 3,400 rpm and sharpens all five cutting link pitch sizes (1/4-inch, 3/8-inch low profile, 0.325-inch, full profile 3/8-inch, and 0.404-inch) with hydraulic clamping assistance.

It comes with three grinding wheels, a dressing stone, and a grinding wheel gauge and is compatible with almost every chainsaw on the market. Plus, this model can be mounted on a bench or a wall with 2 included bolts.

Product Specs 

  • Type: Electric
  • Compatible pitches: 1/4-inch, 3/8-inch low profile, 0.325-inch, full profile 3/8-inch, and 0.404-inch pitches
  • Mountable: Yes

Pros

  • Compatible with most standard chainsaws
  • Hydraulic clamping assistance
  • Comes with 3 grinding wheels, a dressing stone, and wheel gauge
  • Mounting bolts included

Cons

  • Heavyweight; may be difficult to mount

Get the Oregon 620-120 chainsaw sharpener on Amazon.

Our Verdict

Frequent chainsaw users will want to consider electric sharpeners. One of the best is the Oregon 410-120 Chain Grinder, which is fast, precise and offers a number of user-friendly features. For a manual option, it’s hard to beat the lightweight Oregon 23820, which also provides great versatility due to its bar-mounted construction, adjustable and lockable angles and depth settings, and an included filing chart for measuring your chainsaw.

How We Chose the Best Chainsaw Sharpeners 

Proper chainsaw sharpening tools are key when it comes to chainsaw maintenance. It’s not only important for easier tree felling, but also for woodland management. Fortunately, today’s tools make sharpening chainsaws a breeze by coming in multiple designs, being easy-to-use, and are compatible with multiple chainsaw sizes.

The above chainsaw sharpeners come in manual, automatic, and electric designs. Though the electric sharpeners provide ease of use, adjustability, and ease of use during the sharpening process, many of them require mounting which can be difficult for some users. Alternatively, automatic and manual sharpeners may require more work and strain, but are portable and easy to bring to a job site.

Many of the above picks also have adjustable pitches and angles to sharpen chainsaws of multiple sizes. Whether you are a weekend user building your firewood stack or a full-time professional, there’s a chainsaw sharpener for all needs and every budget.

Tips on Using a Chainsaw Sharpener

Proper chainsaw sharpening is very important. Not only does it make cutting easier, it’s also safer. Blunt chainsaw teeth are more likely to bind in a cut. It can be extremely difficult to remove and could ruin the chain. There’s also a much greater chance that the chain jumps off the bar, which could lead to serious injury.

How to sharpen a chainsaw is covered in a separate article, but see the main points listed just below. Whichever type of chainsaw sharpener you use, preparation and patience are key. Poor setup guarantees a poor result.

  • Wear work gloves. Parts of the chain can still hurt your hands even when it’s blunt.
  • When sharpening with the chain off of the saw, make sure the chainsaw sharpener is solidly fixed to a bench or wall. Movement will affect the accuracy of sharpening.
  • When sharpening with the chain on the saw, make sure the chain is properly tensioned to minimize movement. Also keep the saw as stable as possible by holding the bar in a vise or having some kind of backstop. It can be a challenge when working in the field. A tailgate vise or a portable workbench can be an effective solution.
  • Most chains have a “master cutter”—a tooth that’s shorter than the others. Start sharpening here, so you know you’re done when you come back around to it. If you can’t find a master, mark the chain with a piece of tape.
  • Work slowly and carefully. Even manual sharpening with a simple chainsaw file only takes a few minutes, so there’s no need to rush. If using a manual sharpener, work on the forward stroke only. Don’t rub the file back and forth.

FAQs

If you have more questions about electric chainsaw sharpeners, check out this list of the most frequently asked questions.

Q: How often does a chainsaw need sharpening?

As a rule of thumb, many experts say every 10 uses, though it’s much better to judge by the feel of the chain when it’s cutting. A sharp chain cuts easily with clean shavings. A blunt one struggles to cut and produces pulp. To reduce sharpening frequency, buy the best chainsaw chain you can afford. They are worth the investment.

Q: How does an automatic chainsaw sharpener work?

Generally they clamp over the end of the chainsaw bar where the chain runs around. While the chainsaw is running, they sharpen the chainsaw teeth as they pass across the grindstone.

Q: At what angle should a chainsaw chain be sharpened?

Somewhere between 25 and 35 degrees. Some experts recommend the sharper angle for hardwoods, though Stihl, a leading maker of gas chainsaws, recommends 30 degrees for all purposes.

Q: How do you sharpen a chainsaw with an electric sharpener?

Proceed through these steps to properly sharpen your chainsaw with an electric sharpener:

  1. Determine the pitch and gauge specifications of the chainsaw blade.
  2. Make sure the sharpener is mounted securely on the workbench or wall.
  3. Set up the sharpening stone with the correct width to fit the chainsaw blade’s teeth.
  4. Place the blade in the sharpener’s holder and adjust the angle.
  5. Adjust the depth by positioning the depth stop.
  6. Lower the grinder wheel on the first tooth of the blade and maintain contact briefly.
  7. Lift the grinder and check for a shiny finish on the tooth’s inner surface.
  8. Proceed with sharpening all teeth on one side of the blade.
  9. For the other side, readjust the grinder to the negative equivalent of the chosen angle.
  10. Repeat steps 6-8.