I’m having great difficulty sharpening my chainsaw by hand, using the recommended file and guide. Perhaps the technique comes with practice, but I just can’t seem to get the hang of it. There’s a little bench-mounted sharpening machine advertised that claims good results. Do you think one of these would solve my problem?

Alan Beat says:

There is a knack to sharpening saw chains with a file, and it’s best learned from someone experienced who can demonstrate the principles involved. When correctly sharpened, the chain cuts smoothly without veering off line and produces wood chips, not dust. If you can find someone to teach this, I think it’s worth persevering as there may be times when a chain needs sharpening in the field.

Having said that, I did buy a sharpening machine two years ago after recommendations by friends. There are several on the market and I chose one with a metal base rather than plastic as this seemed more robust. The instruction booklet was poor, but video links on the manufacturer’s website showed how to set up and use the machine. It takes about 15 minutes to remove the chain, set the machine, grind each cutter individually, and refit the sharpened chain to the saw. The depth gauges still need checking and filing down by hand if required.

And the result? So far, I’ve experienced consistently good cutting performance without any problems; so at just under £40, I’d say a sharpening machine is well worth the investment.

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