How To Sharpen A Chainsaw With A Dremel (Quickly & Easily!)

Dennis Howard
by Dennis Howard

Chainsaw blades are relatively expensive. Installing a new chainsaw blade every time the old blade becomes dull gets expensive. Professional chainsaw operators use a few strokes of a file with every gas fill-up to sharpen their sawblades. Many homeowners wonder how to sharpen a chainsaw using a Dremel tool.

Sharpening a chainsaw blade is best accomplished using a special jig that attaches to the Dremel tool head. The marks on the jig help align the sharpening stone with the tooth on the chainsaw. Using a jig ensures the proper angles of cut and depth on the chainsaw blade.

How To Sharpen A Chainsaw With A Dremel

The cost of outfitting a Dremel tool with a chainsaw jig and stone is about half the new chainsaw blade’s cost. A quick touch-up of your chainsaw blade with every gas fill-up is essential. A sharp blade is safer and more efficient. Following a few simple steps can keep your chainsaw cutting efficiently for a long time.

Step 1: Select Your Workspace

Find a place to work on your chainsaw at waist heigh. Cover the work surface with a tarp or newspaper. Chainsaws are notorious for dripping oil and can be messy. Find a place with adequate ventilation, good light, and big enough to allow you to lay out your tools and the chainsaw blade.

Step 2: The Tools and Equipment

You will need your Dremel tool and the Dremel chainsaw sharpening jig. The jig is available at most hardware and home improvement stores. You will need the appropriately sized wrenches to adjust the chainsaw blade tension Depending on the manufacturer of your chainsaw, this may include:

  • Open-end or box wrenches
  • Allen wrenches
  • Screwdrivers
  • Special tools supplied with the chainsaw

Follow the chainsaw manufacturer’s instructions to remove the chainsaw to prevent damage to the chain or the saw.

NOTE: Be careful with the blade. Even though it may seem dull, the chain’s individual teeth are still sharp enough to deliver a painful cut.

Step 3: Be Safe – Protect Yourself

Safety is always the first concern while doing any project. Always wear eye protection when using any cutting equipment. The sharpening stone on your Dremel tool spins at a remarkably high speed. While sharpening the blade, the stone will produce small pieces of metal that can easily damage your eyes.

Gloves are a good idea to protect your hands from the sharp teeth on the chain. Leather is the best, but any high quality work glove will do the trick.

Step 4: Assemble your Dremel Tool

Follow the instructions that came with your Dremel tool chainsaw sharpening jig. As you put the jig on your Dremel tool, note the markings on the metal tab on the jig. These markings show the proper angle for grinding the teeth of your chains saw blade.

Step 5: Choose the Correct Sharpening Stone

Chainsaw blades come in different pitches. Pitch refers to the distance between the drive links on the underside of the chainsaw blade. The pitch of your blade determines the correct diameter of the sharpening stone. Use this table to select the proper stone diameter.

Chain Size/PitchGrinding Wheel Size (diameter)Grinding Wheel Color (Dremel)Dremel Part NumberGuide Gauge (Dremel)
¼” Pitch5/32 InchBlue453Side 1
3/8” Pitch7/32 inchPink455Side 1
3/8” Pitch (Low Profile)5/32 inchBlue453Side 1
.325” Pitch3/16 inchOrange454Side 1

Put the correct size sharpening stone in your Dremel and tight the chuck. Follow the instructions provided with your Dremel tool.

Step 6: Ready your Chainsaw Blade for Sharpening

Using your Dremel chainsaw bade jig is easier when the blade is on the chainsaw bar. The bar gives you’re a solid surface on which to work and keeps the chain upright. The clad on the bar is the easiest way to secure your chain for quick and accurate sharpening.

Set your chainsaw on your workspace where it will sit upright and slip as you are working. Re-tension the blade according to the manufacturer’s instructions. A properly tensioned blade won’t move as you are sharpening and results in a much more accurate job.

Step 7: Have the Proper Orientation

To start, place the chainsaw on your work surface with the motor to your right. The bar’s side should face you. The teeth on the outside of the chain are the only ones you will sharpen in this position.

The cutting teeth on your chainsaw blade alternate from side to side along the chain. You will sharpen every other tooth from this position.

Step 8: Use the Correct Angle Guide

Position the Dremel at the correct angle in relation to the chainsaw bar. The Dremel jig has two markings, each labeled as 30 degrees. Use the 30 -degree mark that is parallel to the chainsaw bar. Keeping this mark parallel to the chainsaw bar ensures that the grinding stone runs correctly on the cutting tooth.

Step 9: Sharpen the Tooth

With the Dremel sharpening stone spinning at the right speed, give the tooth two or three light passes. It isn’t necessary to use a lot of pressure or force. You can easily damage your chainsaw blade if you try to grind away too much metal.

Using a Dremel tool to sharpen your chainsaw blade works best with the tool in the middle of the chainsaw bar.

Step 10: Work Methodically to Sharpen the Blade

Work your way around the blade methodically. Pull the blade carefully and position each tooth in the center of the bar to sharpen. It may help use a marker to identify the tooth where you started to prevent over grinding.

Step 11: Repeat on the Other Side of the Chain

Turn the saw and put the motor on your left side repeating steps seven through ten to sharpen the teeth on the opposite side of the chain. As you sharpen the teeth, take a moment to inspect the rest of the chainsaw blade for damage or excessive wear.

Keeping Your Chainsaw Cutting

After several sharpening, your chainsaw may not cut as quickly as when it was new. Part of the chainsaw blade is the depth gauge. This part of the chainsaw blade runs directly in front of each tooth on the blade. The depth gauge determines how much wood each blade removes.

Each successive sharpening lowers the cutting edge of the blade tooth by a fraction of an inch. In time the cutting edge of the tooth drops below the proper distance on the depth gauge. The easiest way to remedy this situation is to grind or file the depth gauge.

Testing the Depth Gauge

Lay a straight edge along the top of the chainsaw blade. The straightedge should rest on the depth gauges along the length of the chainsaw blade. The distance between the straight edge and the depth gauge’s top should equal the chainsaw blade’s gauge.

If the distance is less than the chainsaw blade’s gauge, file or grind the depth gauge until the distance is correct. Take care when grinding on the depth gauge. Removing too much material can cause the chainsaw to grab and jump as it cuts. An aggressive cutting depth can lead to dangerous situations.

Keeping Your Chainsaw in Top Condition

Chainsaws can represent a significant investment. Performing a bit of preventive maintenance can keep most chainsaws operating for years. Properly maintained chainsaws are safer to use and operate much more efficiently. Here are some tips to keep your chainsaw in top condition.

At Each Gas Refill

  • Top off the gas to the proper level. Always use gasoline mixed in the proper proportions with high-quality two-cycle oil. Your two-cycle chainsaw motor doesn’t have an oil reserve like 4-stroke engines and depends on the oil in the gasoline for lubrication.
  • Top off the chain oil reservoir as well. The bar oil ensures the most efficient cutting and prevents excess wear on the chain bar. Use only oil specifically marked as chainsaw bar oil. The manufacturer of your chainsaw may specify a specific brand of oil.
  • Check the air filter on your chainsaw and clean or replace it as needed. Cutting with a chainsaw creates plenty of sawdust and wood chips. The sawdust can clog air filters quickly. A blocked air filter starves your engine of the air it needs to operate. Just like you, your chainsaw needs to breathe.
  • Touch up the teeth on the chainsaw with your Dremel tool. A sharp blade is the single most important thing you can do for safe chainsaw operations. A sharp blade cuts without bucking or kicking back.

Keep Your Chainsaw Clean

Clean your chainsaw thoroughly after each use. The bar oil mixes with the sawdust and wood chips to form a sticky mess that clings to your chainsaw. This mass of oil and sawdust can accumulate around the clutch and drive sprocket. If the oil and sawdust a left around the motor, the engine can overheat. Take a few moments to clean the cooling fins, around the clutch, and the outside of your chainsaw.

Stay Sharp and Work Sharp

Chainsaws are great labor savers. If properly maintained, most chainsaws will last for many years. Chainsaw blades can have extended lives as well with a little care and attention. Using your Dremel tool to sharpen your chainsaw blade makes the job quick and easy. We hope that this article has inspired you to stay sharp and work sharp.

Dennis Howard
Dennis Howard

Dennis is a retired firefighter with an extensive background in construction, home improvement, and remodeling. He worked in the trades part-time while serving as an active firefighter. On his retirement, he started a remodeling and home repair business, which he ran for several years.

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