How to Sharpen a Pole Saw Chain

The pole saw is a good tool for pruning tree branches in your garden.

But it’s a tool that needs maintenance. And sharpening the chain is part of this.

It does not matter whether the pole saw is cordless, corded, or gas-powered. The idea of how to sharpen the chain is the same.

Having said that, it’s best to refer your pole saw manual to know specifics for your particular model.

Why should you sharpen the chain?

The pole chainsaw can be an expensive tool in your garden shed. And you want it to last for a long time.

That’s why it’s important to keep the chain in good shape. This improves the durability of the pole saw.

A dull chain can cause the saw to get stuck in the wood. This increases the risk of kickback where the saw lunges back at you. So sharpen the saw and keep yourself safe.

A dull chain tends to heat the chainsaw when in use. This risk causing a fire. It also makes the pole saw consume a lot of oil as it works overloaded.

When should you sharpen the chain?

A dull chain means you’ll not be able to cut the branches with ease. You’ll need to put some pressure on the pole saw to make it cut.

That’s an indication you need to sharpen the chain.

You can also figure this out by looking at the residue after a cutting session. If it’s mostly made up of sawdust, the chain is dull and needs sharpening.

A sharp chainsaw will cut so well that coarse chips fall away as a result.

If the chain is dull you can sharpen it. But if it’s damaged due to contact with rock or debris, you may need to get it replaced.

What tools do you need

To sharpen by hand, you need a round file and file guide to sharpen the cutters. You also need a flat file and a depth-gauge guide for fixing the depth gauges.

You need to check the pole saw manual to figure out the cutting diameter. The round file you get will need to match this. Some common diameters could be 5/32, 3/16, and 7/32 inches.

The file guide will hold the round file as you’re sharpening the cutters. It helps keep the file uniform as you sharpen.

Understanding chain anatomy

chain cutter and depth gauge

The chainsaw chain has cutters that are used for doing the cutting. And depth gauges that determine how deeply the saw can cut.

The cutters have semicircular cutting edges with a particular diameter. So to sharpen them you need to use a round file with the same diameter.

The depth gauges are a little shorter than the tip of the cutters. This helps to cut into the wood.

As you keep on using the pole saw chain and sharpening it, the depth gauge will become level with the cutters. You can then use a flat file to reduce the height of the depth gauges are required.

How to sharpen with a file

The simplest way to sharpen a pole saw chain is with the set of tools including a round file, file guide, and a flat file.

This is easy enough for anyone to do without struggling to use expensive and complicated equipment like a chainsaw grinder.

It’s good to wear gloves when filing the cutters to protect your hands.

You need to place the bar and chain in a vice so the chainsaw does not move while you’re sharpening it. Stand on one side of the saw bar.

Filing the cutters

Start with a cutter near the top of the bar and move towards the bottom. You’ll need to move the chain as you sharpen the cutters and need to sharpen more of them.

You can use a marker like a felt-tip pen to mark the cutters you’ve already sharpened.

Place the file inside the file guide. And keep the file guide on the cutter and parallel to the ground. The file should be at a 30 to 35-degree angle to the cutter as suggested by the pole saw manual.

Make sure the file is in the proper direction as per the cutting angle on the cutter.

Then you can file the cutter away from your body retaining the 30 to 35-degree angle. You’ll need about 5 strokes to sharpen the cutter.

Skip the next cutter as that will have the cutting angle in the opposite direction. File the next cutter as you did previously.

Keep repeating the process until you’ve filed all the cutters in one direction. You’ll know this when you’ve reached the 1st cutter that you had marked while sharpening.

Now move to the other side of the saw bar and repeat the process to sharpen the cutters that are in the opposite direction. These are the cutters you skipped earlier.

Remember to use the same number of strokes when sharpening each of the cutters to keep it uniform.

Filing the depth gauges

It’s best to use a depth-gauge guide for this purpose.

You can place the depth-gauge guide on the cutters and the tip of the depth gauge pops out between the ledges of the guide.

If you find that the height of the gauge is above the ledge, you can gently file it with a flat file.

Be careful that you don’t file the ledges otherwise you’ll end up filing too much of the depth gauge.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best angle to sharpen a pole saw chain?

The best angle to sharpen a pole saw chain is between a 25 to 35-degree angle.

Is it worth sharpening a pole saw chain?

Yes, it is worth sharpening a pole saw chain. A dull chain makes it difficult to use the pole saw. It increases the risk of injury.

It’s simple to sharpen the chain. You can increase the life of the pole saw and save some money.

How many times can you sharpen a pole saw chain?

A pole saw chain can be sharpened 10 times or more. This depends on the quality of the chain.

Why does my pole saw chain dull so quickly?

You need to use the right file for your chain. And you need to file gently without applying too much pressure.

You might be cutting a lot of dirty branches covered with debris. Or you might not be providing sufficient oil for the bar and chain.

Does cutting wet wood dull a pole saw chain?

No. Cutting wet wood does not dull a pole saw chain. It works similar to cutting dry wood.

How do you know when a pole saw chain is worn out?

A pole saw chain is worn out when the performance becomes poor. It may get stuck in the wood while cutting. There might be smoke coming from the motor. The chain teeth might be missing or damaged.

How much does it cost to sharpen a pole saw chain?

It might cost you between $10-$20 to sharpen a pole saw chain.

How do you know what size file to use to sharpen a pole saw chain?

To know the size of the file to sharpen a pole saw chain you must read the number marked on the side of the cutter. You then match that number to the file size that is listed on the file chart.

Is it hard to sharpen a pole saw chain?

It is not hard to sharpen a pole saw chain. With practice, you can sharpen it in 10 minutes with a file.