There are several types of chainsaw sharpening tools and each have their own strong points and weak points - but they are all capable of sorting out a chain which is not doing it's job properly, due to dull and deteriorated teeth.
Let's take a closer look at a few of the most popular types of sharpener, in order to help you decide which one best suits your needs and budget.
Rounded File Chainsaw Sharpener
These tools are small rounded files that come in different sizes and they are the cheapest type of sharpener to buy, normally costing around £5 to £10. File kits are also available which come in a canvas pouch which includes a round file and holder, a flat file and a file depth gauge.
The size of each file is designed to fit perfectly in the curve of the tooth so you must make sure that you use the proper gauge required for your chain. While these sharpeners are cheap and small they are more time consuming when it comes to sharpening a chain that some other products, including electric sharpeners.
Most professionals who use a chainsaw will carry a handheld file in their toolbox to touch up their chainsaw's teeth when necessary. These manual files are very handy when you're out in the field of operation and you need to sharpen a few teeth after they've been dulled by hitting an obstacle like a nail or rock. Sharpening files normally come with a depth guide which will enable you to file at the correct angle.
Manual Bar Chainsaw Sharpener
These devices bolt right on to the bar of the chainsaw and provide accurate sharpening that would be harder to achieve using just a hand file. Strictly speaking, they are not actual sharpeners, but instead are fixed guides for sharpening using a file which is built into the device. Manual sharpeners generally do not require the chainsaw to be secured but it can make the job easier if it is.
Depths and angles can be easily adjusted with this type of sharpener. They are easy to operate when attached to the chainsaw's bar and require the operator to slide the file back and forth across each tooth on the chain. They provide very accurate depth of sharpening.
A significant benefit of this type of file is that it needs no power source and its portability means you can transport it around easily between jobs. These devices range from around £20 for a cheap and basic sharpener to more than £150 for a top of the range bar sharpener such as the Timberline Chain Sharpener.
It's advisable to wear safety glasses and protective gloves,when using this type of sharpener to avoid the risk of injury from flying metal chain shavings.
Electric Chainsaw Sharpener
These tools are portable hand-held tools that do not need to be plugged in to the wall. Electric grinders can be taken to the location where you are working and can usually be connected up to the 12v battery on your car or work van with the attached cables and clips or by using a plug connected to your cigarette lighter socket.
These devices have adjustable gauge are much quicker at sharpening than hand files but it is recommended that the chainsaw be secured to avoid the risk of injury and damage. They usually come with several sharpening stones and good examples of this type of device include the Oregon Electric Sure Sharp portable sharpener and the STIHL 12 Volt Saw Chain Grinder/Sharpener.
Bench Chainsaw Sharpener
This piece of equipment is a stationary grinder which gives you the quickest - and usually the best - results when it comes to getting a chain sharpened to perfection. Electric wall-mounted bench top sharpeners cannot be taken away from home to where you are using a chainsaw, but they are real precision machines which do a fantastic job and they are also provide a great way to sharpen multiple chains quickly and easily - they are a great choice for amateurs who just use their chainsaw around their garden and also professionals who need to keep a range of chainsaws in tip top condition.
Bench and wall-mount sharpeners are more expensive than most other options, but they are a great investment if you do a lot of sharpening and want top quality results. They allow for precision adjustment of angles and sharpening depths and are the best way to keep your saw teeth in prime condition.
These sharpeners have small motors and use an abrasive disk or grinding stone wheel to do the actual sharpening. These are, without a doubt, the best solution if you desire speed and accuracy. Look out for for models which have a good fan and aluminium fins to maintain a cool running motor. An adjustable vice is also essential for clamping all types of chains.
A good quality bench sharpener will also have good chain-centering capability. It is easy to adjust more expensive devices to deal with full chisel, chipper, and semi-chisel chains from a quarter inch to three quarter inch pitch chain.
Being able to adjust grind depth and cutter links is essential on a bench-top sharpener, and a transparent safety guard is desirable to allow you to view the place that the wheel is grinding.
Bench top sharpener price range from around £25 to £120. Popular brand names include Powerplus, Silverline, Clarke, Neilson, Terratek, Sealey, Portek, Katsu, Einhell, BMC and Ultranatura.
Wearing protective gloves and goggles is a god idea when using an electric bench top grinding sharpener - this will minimise the risk of you getting hurt by shards of metal thrown out in the sharpening process.
Electric Drill Chainsaw Sharpener
This type of electric sharpener is designed to fit on to drills and multi-tools, such as those made by Dremel. They have an excellent record for doing a good job of sharpening and work in a similar way to rounded file sharpeners.
These sharpeners in appearance to a handheld file, but they are connected to an electric rotary drill or operated as a separate electric tool. These devices make sharpening a chain easier and quicker than using a manual handheld file, but they still require more work to get a chain just the way you want it than a bench top sharpener. Some of them are battery powered and others can be connected to your car battery or cigarette lighter socket.
Electric Professional Self-Sharpening Chainsaw
If you can afford it, there's always the option to buy a self-sharpening chainsaw so you won't actually need a standalone sharpener. This type of chainsaw does not come cheap, costing around £250 and upwards, but it will be cleverly able to sharpen the chain with an integrated precision saw chain sharpening system.
A popular choice is the Oregon 36v Cordless Electric Professional Self-Sharpening Chainsaw which costs around £300. This features advanced ergonomics and can sharpen its chain in around three to five seconds!
As you can see there's no shortage of options when it comes to sorting out your blunt chainsaw chain. Whichever device you choose to buy, a good quality sharpener will come to your rescue and get your chainsaw cutting cleanly and safely again.