Chainsaw sharpening can be frustrating and time consuming to learn. I thought I would share what I have figured out the hard way. I had the unfortunate experience of trying the three lesser methods before finding the easy way.
There are four ways to sharpen a chainsaw that I am aware of:
In my opinion , you should save yourself some pain and skip to the rotary tool method of chainsaw sharpening. It is the easiest and and produces the sharpest chains. You can't beat that combination.
Hand filing to sharpen a chainsaw is slow and surprisingly expensive because you go through files quickly.
Bench mounted chainsaw sharpening is better than using a hand file, but you have to remove the chain each time you sharpen and it is easy to remove too much metal. You can go through chainsaw chains quickly with this method of chainsaw sharpening if you aren't extremely careful.
Taking the chainsaw chains to a shop is unnecessary once you try the Dremel method. Rotary tool chainsaw sharpening is ridiculously easy and saves the time required to remove the chain as well as the time and expense of driving to the shop. If you go to Northern Tool or Harbor Freight and buy a knockoff rotary tool, you can purchase everything you need to sharpen the chainsaw yourself for roughly 25 bucks. I burned up a knock-off and eventually bought a Dremel, but you may have better luck than I did if you don't use the rotary tool that much. The rotary tool method of is extremely quick and does the best job of the four methods of chainsaw sharpening. I can get my chainsaw chain sharper than going to a professional with a bench grinder, the saw cuts like crazy every time I sharpen with the rotary tool. With the other chainsaw sharpening methods it was always hit or miss. Sometimes the chainsaw would be more dull after sharpening than before. My sharpening success rate is 100% using the rotary tool.
I recently bought a 12V to 120V Inverter that plugs into my SUV's cigarette lighter so that I can use my rotary tool to sharpen my chainsaw in the field. I sharpen about every third time I refuel. I can now cut up large trees at an amazing pace. It used to be SO much slower when I used any of the other methods.
As a bonus, there are many other uses for a Dremel-like rotary tool. I recently used it to cut metal while installing a faucet, as well as filing a deadbolt to allow a door to close more easily.I have an article on heating with a wood stove if you found this article helpful.
Chainsaw sharpening with a Dremel:
In my opinion, the clear winner: