If it’s not cutting the same as the first time you used it, then you are making your cutting jobs much harder than they need to be.  The effect of using blades that are dull is accumulative: it will get worse and worse and possibly ruin the chain and the saw.  When this happens, the danger to the operator is significant.  For these reasons, it is always good to maintain sharp saw chains.

The best place to sharpen a chainsaw blade is on the workbench, not in the field.  Doing field sharpens usually proves to be excessively time-consuming and difficult.  The best way to make this possible is to come into the field prepared with several pre-sharpened blades.  This way, the blade-changing is confined to the field, and the blade-sharpening to the shop. Start the sharpening process by steadying the chain saw, using a wood block under if for support if necessary.  

The chainsaw blade should always be maintained at proper tension, and it is especially important to do so at this point in the process.  With proper tension, the chain should be snug against the guide, but still easily pulled around by hand.  Make sure that the chain is not loose and wobbly during sharpening.  Perhaps the most important step: wear leather gloves.  The chainsaw blades are extremely sharp. The saw chain cutter has three different cutting angles that must be restored.  

This can be done with a single round file with the proper diameter.  Check the user’s manual to see which diameter to use for your unit.  The dealer or clerk at your local home supply store will also be able to advise you. The key to proper sharpening lies less with getting the angles exactly right and more with removing all damage from the side and top plates.  The critical top corner must be really sharp.  Do this by consistently holding the file at the correct orientation and height within each cutter.  

This is best achieved by using a file guide.  The best file guides are plates that simply drop over the chain.  These guides keep the file at the right attitude and height and have alignment marks to show proper plate positioning.  It also allows you to see what you are doing.  This is not true for guide plates that clamp to the file, although these types of guides are also acceptable.  In either case, make sure to get the right guide for your chain. Now perform the actual sharpening.  

Hold the file with both hands and perform steady, full strokes.  The forward stroke is the critical stroke; lessen pressure on the return stoke.  Be sure to gauge your progress by consulting the depth-gauge regularly. Practice filing and gaining finesse for the process.  This will ensure a successful sharpening process.

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