If you’ve ever used a chainsaw, you don’t need us to tell you that a sharp chainsaw is a better chainsaw. Unfortunately, a chainsaw does not stay sharpened all by itself, and it really doesn't take long for it to start dulling, even with infrequent use. (Source: Art of Manliness)
Automatic Chainsaw sharpeners are the obvious solution to this issue. However, with all the different choices out there, it can be hard to determine what the best chainsaw sharpener is for your needs.
Well, we’ve gone ahead and done the work for you.
Below are our picks for the best chainsaw chain sharpeners for 2018. We were sure to include varying types and prices, identifying the best products across a wide spectrum within the industry.
Types of Chain Saw Sharpeners
Before deciding on the chainsaw sharpener to purchase, there are a few things you need to know first. That starts by learning the three main types of chainsaw sharpeners available.
Perhaps the most commonly used of all chainsaw sharpeners, the hand-held file chainsaw sharpener is also the simplest. Like the name says, it is a round file with a varying diameter that correlates with the size of chain you need to sharpen.
The file is used by running it over the tip of the chain. The process itself is very simple, but it doesnt take some practice, and requires a certain amount of precision for best results.
Since the sharpening is done by hand, the person doing the actual sharpening needs to be careful to not disturb the cutting angle of the chain. (Source: Family Handyman) One main advantage of these files, aside from the lowest price range, is their mobility.
Here’s a good tutorial on using a hand file.
Electric Chain Saw Sharpener
A much more modernized form of chainsaw sharpeners, the electric chain saw sharpener is the most common used by professionals. (Source: DoItYourself.com)
An electric chain saw sharpener is the fastest way to sharpen a dull saw, and usually the easiest to use as well. Those who need frequent sharpening will benefit most. There is a lot of variance among the products you’ll find in this category.
Due to their build and operation, electric chainsaw sharpeners almost always require essential safety gear during use as well, such as gloves, goggles, etc.
Bar Mounted Guide
Bar mounted guide chainsaw sharpeners are not electric, but they are a little more intensive than handheld sharpeners, and require a flat, stable platform to be used effectively, such as a bench or a table.
With this type of sharpener, you secure the guide to the chainsaw, then mount it on the bar of the chainsaw, and fasten it in place. Control knobs are then used to set the saw per manufacturer's specifications, which includes the sharpener’s depth and filing angle.
Once you’re dialed in, a hand crank is used to move the chain through the sharpener. This can cause metal shavings to fly around, so you’ll need protective gear on your hands and eyes. Bar mounted guides are very efficient, and cost less than electric models, but still need to be attached to another surface.
What to Consider When Choosing a Chainsaw Sharpener
Accurately choosing a chainsaw sharpener relies on 4 key factors.
Each type has it advantages and disadvantages. Familiarizing yourself with the descriptions above will help you decide on the actual type that works best for your needs.
Frequency of Use
If you’re anticipating the need for sharpening on a regular basis, an electric model may be best. Handheld sharpeners are good for those who either need to bring one with them during a job, or rarely need to sharpen their chains.
Mounted guides offer a lot of precision, and tend to last the longest, but do require a workshop surface.
Deciding on how much you’re willing to spend beforehand will help restrict you to products within a certain range but do know that it’s hard to find quality electric models when on a small budget.
Not all chainsaw sharpeners can handle various chain sizes. Some are restricted to one size, while others may be able to take on multiple sizes if they can adjust. 1/4-Inch, .325-Inch, 3/8-Inch, 1/2-Inch, and 3/4-Inch pitch chains are the most common sizes, so check your chainsaw to make sure you’re getting the right sharpener for it.
The 10 Best Chainsaw Sharpener Reviews of 2018
Stihl 2-in-1 Easy File( Best Manual Chainsaw Sharpener )
Timber Tuff CS-12V
Timberline Chainsaw Grinder
Buffalo Tools ECSS
Oregon 511ax Saw Chain Bench Grinder/Sharpener( Best Electric Chainsaw Sharpener )
1/4”, .325”, 3/8”, .404”, 1/2”, & 3/4”
XtremepowerUS Mini Electric Chainsaw Grinder
Oregon 30846 12-Volt
CO-Z Electric Chainsaw Chain Sharpener
Stihl 2-in-1 Easy File: Best Chainsaw Chain Sharpener
The Stihl 2-in-1 Easy File is the best manual chainsaw sharpener that can function as a depth gauge and as an actual sharpener. While it is incredibly simple, when used correctly, you can get superb results in terms of both sharpness and cutting angle.
The depth gauge is an added bonus that only adds to its overall functionality. The sharpener portion is long-lasting, and made by Stihl, which is a very trusted name in the industry.
This file can only be used on .325 chains, so keep that in mind. For those wanting to use it while out on a job, or away from your shop, a vise such as the Forester Filing Stump Vise make for a great companion that expands its versatility.
Timber Tuff CS-12V - Electric Chainsaw Sharpener
The Timber Tuff CS-12V is a 12V battery operated chainsaw sharpening that is very light and mobile; working off of a car battery connection. Although it is not as powerful as some other electric models, it can get the job done if you know how to work it.
The CS-12V can handle 20, 25 and 30-degree blades, so there’s no need for additional angle guides if you’re using conventional saws. The grinding stones rotate at surprisingly fast speeds, and make the job go by quickly.
This sharpener does take some getting used to at first, and the stones only last for 3-4 sharpenings, but for the price, it’s hard to beat. (For longer sharpening stone life, use diamond stone replacements and you’ll be just fine.)
Timberline Chainsaw Sharpener with 7/32" Carbide Cutter
This Timberline sharpener attaches to any chainsaw bar and can sharpen individual teeth to the same length and angle. It’s durable, easy to use after you adjust to the feel for it, and is small enough to carry around with you when you don’t want to retreat to your shop for sharpening.
A simple turn of the crank will move the chain through the stones, easily cutting them down for any chain with a 30-degree angle. It’s very fast, and is noticeably longer-lasting than similar models.
Timberline does make this in other sizes due to its popularity, but the 7/32” is used more often so we focused on it instead. Here’s the 3/16” version if that’s more suited to your needs.
Buffalo Chainsaw Sharpener - ECSS Electric
The Buffalo chainsaw sharpener is meant to be one of the easiest electric sharpeners available. After clamping it to a work table, vise, wall, or any stable flat surface, the sharpener can be powered on, and then used to sharpen each blade individually.
The 60 Hz, 85-watt ECSS boasts a 4200 RPM grinding speed, and plugs into a standard 120-volt wall outlet. It uses a 4-1/4-Inch x 1/8-Inch grinding wheel with 7/8-Inch arbor. It can work with any type of chain blade.
While the ⅛” disk width is not custom fitted for different sized chain blades, it can still be highly accurate and effective when mastered. And for the price, it’s hard to have any real complaints.
Oregon 511ax Saw Chain Bench Grinder/Sharpener
The Oregon 511AX is a professional chainsaw sharpener that is both powerful and versatile. It rotates the grinding disk at 3400 RPM, making quick work out of 1/4-Inch, .325-Inch, 3/8-Inch, 1/2-Inch, and 3/4-Inch pitch chains.
The 511AX comes with 3 different grinding wheels of 1/4”, 1/8” and 3/16” to provide the greatest versatility when sharpening different types of blade sizes. It also includes a wheel-dressing brick, a template for depth-gauge setting, and a wheel contour.
Another notable feature is the self-centering vise. It automatically aligns to the blade angle and provides a uniform sharpening effect. If you’re looking for a sharpener that is fast, capable of handling multiple chains in a row, and incredibly precise, this is it.
Granberg Bar-Mount Chainsaw Sharpener
This is a little different, but we’re including it anyway, as it makes a great addition to any sharpener setup with a file. The Granberg Bar-Mount is a bar mount by itself, and does not come with a sharpener. You will need a file that retrofits onto the bar mount to sharpen your chain.
The bar mount is compatible with almost any chainsaw on the market, offering a solid and firm foundation for using a file on the blades. It’s fashioned from cast aluminum and zinc-plated steel, with industrial-level durability.
Micro adjustments of the depth gauge can be made using the knobs to match any chain angle. If use prefer files for sharpening, this bar mount is essential.
XtremepowerUS Mini Electric Chainsaw Grinder Sharpener w/ Brake
The XtremepowerUS 85W Mini Electric Chainsaw Grinder Sharpener with Brake is an incredibly efficient and powerful automatic chainsaw sharpener in a small package.
It runs off of 85 watts of motor power, with a grinding power of 4,200 RPM. This sharpener also, has a table or vise angle that can be adjusted up to 35º either right or left, and can easily keep the chain in place by using a large brake handle.
The XtremepowerUS 85W Mini Electric Chainsaw Grinder Sharpener with Brake requires very little setup, and is suitable for sharpening multiple chains in a row if needed. It’s an economical and convenient addition to your shop setup.
Oregon 30846 12-Volt Sure Sharp Chain Saw Sharpener
It’s hard to get more convenient than a 12-volt chainsaw sharpener. This Oregon 30846 12-Volt Sure Sharp Chain Saw Sharpener connects to a 12-volt battery, and provides impressive sharpening power that can make quick work of a worn chain.
The convenience goes beyond how it’s powered. This chainsaw sharpener also comes with three different sharpening stones: 3/16 inch, 5/32 inch, and 7/32 inch. This gives you all you need for quick and easy sharpening when you’re out on a job, much more preferred than a manual sharpener.
The Oregon ChainSaw Sharpeners also have sharpening guides with them, that can assist you in pulling off even ground cutters.
Husqvarna SharpForce: Best Chainsaw Sharpener for the Money
For those that are familiar with using a hand held sharpener, the Husqvarna SharpForce Chain Sharpener is truly a force. Widely known as one of the sharpest hand held models available, this 3/16” sharpener can get your chain back to its original condition in about 20 minutes.
The noticeable sharpness allows you to fine-tune each blade on the chain without exerting too much effort. When combined with a vise, the SharpForce is even easier to use.
If you need to bring a sharpener out with you on a job, or if you want to avoid the expenses of an electric model , this can be the best chainsaw chain sharpener for the money for you.
CO-Z Electric Chainsaw Chain Sharpener/Grinder
The CO-Z Electric Chainsaw Grinder Sharpener is a little new on the scene, but it’s already made a huge impression, quickly gaining accolades for both its price and its operation.
The sharpener is made from highly durable cast aluminum, and reinforced hinges that help improve strength and performance. It has an adjustable angle on the sharpening blade, with a large handle for easy operation and better control.
Some of the sharpener’s more convenient features include a built-in work light, along with safety guards that improve accuracy while providing superior protection. A tilting vise can accommodate both semi-chisel & chisel style cutters. Two grinding wheels are included: 1/8", & 3/16".
Conclusion -- Our Top Pick
Before naming the best chainsaw sharpener, do be aware that any of the above products is a more than suitable choice for your chainsaw blade sharpening needs.
With that said, in terms of sheer power and versatility, the Oregon 511AX Saw Chain Bench Grinder/Sharpener stands above the rest. The ability to handle multiple blade types and angles in a fast and efficient manner is simply too much to overlook. It's truly the best electric chain saw sharpener on the market.
The Oregon 511AX Saw Chain Bench Grinder provides professional-level sharpening that is just as good or better, than you'd get when having your blades sharpened by someone else.
We do understand that the price can be a little too steep for some. If you are looking to spend less, but still have similar performance, the CO-Z Electric Chainsaw Chain Grinder Sharpener is a great pick in place of the Oregon 511AX.