How Many Times Can You Sharpen a Chainsaw Chain?

how many times can you sharpen a chainsaw chain - featured image

Let’s be REAL!

A sharp chainsaw chain is crucial for both efficient and SAFE cutting. 🪓

But with regular usage, every chain is bound to wear down eventually, and that leaves us with an interesting question: 👇

How many times can a chainsaw chain be sharpened?

In general, a chainsaw chain can be sharpened anywhere from 8-10 times before it needs to be replaced. But depending on your chain’s type and quality, your usage, and how well you maintain it, this number can be stretched to as many as 15-20 sharpenings.

Btw, I’m Samuel Anali I’ve been into chainsawing for 20+ years. And in this article, I’m going to discuss – 👇

  • Why is chainsaw sharpening so important,
  • When you need to stop sharpening a chain and just replace it,
  • How long should a chain last per sharpening,
  • What’s the average cost to get a chain sharpened,
  • How to keep a chain sharp for longer, and many more!

So grab a cup of coffee, sit back, and keep reading!

Why is Sharpening a Chainsaw Chain So Important?

Keeping a chainsaw chain SHARP is important!

I know you’ve heard this line a million times, but why is that??

Well, a SHARP chain can slice through wood like a hot knife through butter, while a dull chain will make you feel like you’re wrestling a tree with a butter knife! 🔪😅

Not only is a dull chain frustrating to use, but it’s also equally DANGEROUS! 

A dull chain can trigger kickback, sending the saw flying in unexpected directions and posing a risk of serious injury.

Image of chainsaw cutters after sharpening.

Keeping your chain sharp can also SAVE you money in the long run 💸, as a dull chain tends to wear down FASTER and requires more frequent replacements!

On top of it, a sharp chain demands less fuel to keep things running, as the saw won’t need to put in as much effort.

That’s not all!

Sharpening your chain yourself presents a fantastic chance to dive deep into the mechanics of your tool and acquire some new skills. 

And once you’re done, you’ll have that satisfying lumberjack swagger going on. 😎 (TRUST ME!)

When Should You Stop Sharpening Your Chainsaw Chain?

Here’s what you need to know: 👇

Almost all the quality chains out there have a mark (an angled line) on the teeth that indicates the maximum sharpening limit. (Here’s how it looks 👇)

chainsaw chain cutter sharpening limit

Once you hit that line, you’re done sharpening. It’s time to replace the chain.

But what if your chain doesn’t have this line?

Well, in that case, you’ll need to keep an eye on the length of the teeth. If the teeth on your chain have worn down to less than 4mm, you should consider for a replacement.

how to tell if a chainsaw chain is worn out

By that point, the teeth are so worn down and thin that it’s simply not safe to attempt any more sharpening.

And frankly, even if you did, it wouldn’t do much good – your saw won’t make any meaningful cuts.

It’s a tough moment, but it’s time to bid farewell to that old chain and get yourself a shiny new one. (Yeah, it can be a bit of a bummer.) 😔

Does Over-sharpening a Chainsaw Chain Reduce Its Lifespan?

If you keep filing your chain even when it’s already fairly sharp, you can end up reducing its lifespan significantly.

Here’s what you need to know: 👇

As you sharpen the cutting teeth on your chainsaw chain, they get smaller and thinner. 

And since each of the teeth has its sharpening limit, the more often you sharpen your chain, the quicker you’ll hit that limit.

new chain vs completely grounded chain

For example –

A typical wood-cutting chainsaw chain lasts between 1-5 years.

But if you repeatedly sharpen it, even when it’s not needed, you’ll definitely shorten the chain’s overall lifespan.

worn out chainsaw chain tooth

So YES, oversharpening can reduce the lifespan of your chainsaw chain.

How Do I Know If My Chain Needs Sharpening?

Holding chainsaw chain in hand.

Don’t overcomplicate things:

The answer is pretty straightforward – when it’s dull, you sharpen it!

Here are 4 signs that your chain needs to be sharpened: 👇

  1. Your saw no longer feeds itself into the wood. Rather, you need to lean on it and PUSH it harder to make cuts.
  2. The saw produces a lot of fine, powdery sawdust instead of chunky wood chips.
  3. Your saw starts to smoke when cutting, even when the oiler is working fine.
  4. Your saw produces crooked cuts. (Learn More: Why Is My Saw Cutting Crooked?)

That’s all!

Any of these SIGNS is an indication that your chain is dull and needs to be sharpened ASAP!

To learn more, check this article out 👉 How to identify a dull chainsaw chain?

How Long Should a Chainsaw Chain Last Per Sharpening?

On average, you can expect a chainsaw chain to stay sharp for at least one tankful of fuel or about 2-3 hours of continuous wood cutting before it’s time for another round of sharpening.

But depending on – 👇

  1. the type of wood you cut,
  2. the type of chain you have,
  3. how heavily you use the saw,
  4. and of course, how well you maintain your chain

– the sharpening interval can vary!

For example, if you mostly cut hardwood, the chain will require sharpening more often than if you were to cut softwood. (and vice versa!)

In my case, I mostly cut Australian hardwood, and I find that the chains usually hold up for about 1-2 hours of cutting before they require a quick sharpening.

cutting oak tree with chainsaw

If you’re still confused, read this article where I’ve explained this in detail 👉 How Often Should You Sharpen Your Chainsaw Chain?

How Much Does It Cost to Sharpen a Chainsaw Chain?

Typically, a professional chainsaw chain sharpening service will cost you around $5 to $15. However, factors like your location, the type of chain, its length, and other considerations can push the cost up to as much as $30.

Our local Stihl dealer charges $7 for chains up to 24″. And, if the chain is longer, it costs $9

But to be FRANK!

Unless you’re a complete newbie when it comes to chainsaw sharpening, I’d strongly recommend sharpening your chain yourself.

All you really need are a rounded file, a good-quality stump vice, and a flat file.

You can easily pick up all these materials for less than $50 on Amazon or at your local hardware store.

Just picture the savings in your head and you’ll know what I’m talking about 😉

3 Tips to Keep Your Chainsaw Chain Sharp for Longer

You know what!

I was just about to say goodbye, but then I had a thought –

Why not share some PRO tips that would help you keep your chain sharp for a longer period?

So, here are my top 3 tips to keep your chain sharp for longer:

  1. Avoid hitting the dirt. Put this in your head – Dirt+Chainsaw = Dull Chain. Dirt can dull your chain in a matter of seconds. So, keep your saw away from dirt! (For more info, read this article 👉 Why Does Dirt Dull a Saw Chain?)
  2. Make sure your chain is properly tensioned at all times. If your chain is too loose, it’s going to wobble and generate a ton of friction, which will accelerate the chain’s dulling process. (Here’s how to tighten a saw chain the easiest way!)
  3. Make sure your saw is oiling. Lubrication is the key here! A properly oiled saw reduces friction and ultimately helps retain the sharpness of your chain longer. (Here’s how you check if your saw is oiling the chain)

These tips might seem BASIC but trust me – they can make a world of difference. 

If you stick to them religiously, your chain will stay sharp for much longer!

GoodBye Words!

That’s all folks!

Don’t forget to SHARE this article with your friends and family who loves chainsaws.

And if you’ve got any queries, put them in the comments below 👇

See you in the next one!

Happy Sawing! 🪓

Samuel Anali

Hey there! My name is Sam, and I'm the NERD behind this site. I'm an avid chainsaw enthusiast, and I've been tinkering with them since I was 17 (it's almost 20 years now!).

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