Sharpening a saw chain is one of those good ideas that too few practice. That said, if we do sharpen our saw chains on a regular basis, it speeds our work and extends the life of the saw chain, drive sprocket, bar and motor. How often a saw chain needs to be sharpened depends on the type of wood being cut up and how careful one is to keep the bar out of the dirt and away from objects that are not wood.
The actual sharpening process is simple and straightforward. Like any maintenance, mechanical or personal, the more often you do it, the better you get at it and the deeper the habit is engrained. You just have to do it.
A good place to start is your chainsaw manual. If it doesn’t have clear instructions, stop by your dealer and make an appointment with your service technician. Ask him to walk through sharpening with you. If he isn’t willing to do so, find another dealership, as he doesn’t have your best interests at heart.
File holders and sharpening rigs that attach to the bar do make maintaining the right angle a lot easier, but all you really need are two files: a round one to match the cutters and a flat file to match the depth guides.
A good rule of thumb is to sharpen cutters before you start cutting and stop periodically to resharpen. It doesn’t take that long. Each cutter takes only a couple of swipes with the file.
It will make a big difference in your chainsaw chores and your maintenance costs. It’s also a nice break that lets you look around and generally makes for a more pleasant time in the woods.