Chainsaw chain sharpening can be a tedious and time consuming task. This is where self-sharpening chainsaws come into the picture. But do self-sharpening chainsaws really work? Find out here.
What Is A Self-Sharpening Chainsaw?
A self-sharpening chainsaw is a chainsaw that automatically sharpens the chain as it rotates around the bar. A self-sharpening chainsaw can have either an internally mounted sharpener, or bar mounted sharpener attachment.
Do Self-Sharpening Chainsaws Work?
Yes, self-sharpening chainsaws work well. They can be used to cut small trees, firewood, tree limbs and wood boards. It can make chainsawing jobs go faster because you do not have to stop to sharpen the chain, or have to swap chains out.
However, the exit shute can get clogged with wood debris and require hand removal. Just make sure to turn off the machine and wear safety gloves when you clean it.
How Does A Self-Sharpening Chainsaw Work?
Self-sharpening chainsaws are pretty straightforward in their operation.
To keep the chain sharp, the user only has to keep the throttle open, and the chain will get sharp in just seconds as it rotates around the bar. This may require pulling an additional colored lever to engage the internal sharpening stone, which is shaped like an arch.
Eventually, this sharpening stone will wear down and need replacement. Also, self-sharpening chainsaws require bar oil in the reservoir, just like regular chainsaws do.
Self-Sharpening Chainsaws – Are They Safe?
Yes, self-sharpening chainsaws are as safe, or even safer than regular chainsaws. This is because they do not require chain swapping or hand sharpening which can cause injuries.
Self-sharpening chainsaws are intended to make chainsawing faster and easier with less fuss. As the name suggests, self-sharpening chainsaws are supposed to sharpen themselves as they cut. Since a sharp saw is a happy saw, self-sharpening chainsaws are advertised as being safer and easier for loggers and homeowners alike.
Lifespan Of Self-Sharpening Chainsaw
The self-sharpening lifespan of a chainsaw and chain depends on several factors, including: materials it cuts through, frequency of use and angle at which you hold the saw. Make sure that the model you purchase that claims to be self-sharpening actually is, and does not require an external bar attachment (unless that is what you are looking for).
Self-sharpening chainsaws have an additional sharpening mechanism inside that can wear down or break. The sharpening stone will need replacement after being engaged for a number of uses. Chainsaw sharpening stones are often guaranteed for 18 months of use, but this again depends on how often they are used.
Battery Powered Self-Sharpening Chainsaw
Battery powered, or cordless self-sharpening chainsaws do exist and work quite well. Two examples are:
- Oregon CS300 Cordless Chainsaw with Powersharp built-in chain sharpening system – 16 inch
- Oregon CS1500 Self-sharpening chainsaw – 18 inch
These run on lithium ion batteries in various sizes, including 2.6 Ah, 4.0 Ah, and 6.0 Ah.
Gas Self-Sharpening Chainsaw
Gas chainsaws typically do not come with a self-sharpening chain feature. These will require an additional bar mounted chain sharpener that is added by the user.
Automatic Chainsaw Sharpeners
Automatic chainsaw sharpeners do the work of sharpening a chain for you, so you can keep your productivity high. Automatic chainsaw sharpeners make consistently sharp chains, in a timely manner. While sharpening a chain by hand works well outdoors on the job, using an automatic chainsaw sharpener is best for in the shop when you need multiple chains sharpened.
Automatic chainsaw sharpeners require a bit of learning to use properly. They can also be quite expensive, in the range of $100-$1000+ dollars each. These do not work the same as chainsaw sharpener bar attachments or those built into electric chainsaws.
Automatic chainsaw sharpeners will automatically shift from left to right cutters to complete the sharpening process in one cycle. They also do not require manual feeding of the chain, letting you do something else (or nothing at all!) These are set-it and forget-it machines.
Are Automatic Chainsaw Sharpeners Any Good?
Yes, they work very well to sharpen a chainsaw chain when used properly. However, they take a little bit of practice.
The grinding stone will go forward and back on the chain teeth and alternate to cut just enough material from the teeth to make them sharp. Depth, length, and pitch of the grinding stone can be adjusted using front dials or knobs on the machine. Once it is setup, it will run on its own when it is started and automatically sharpen the entire chain.
Chainsaw Sharpening Stones
Chainsaw sharpening stones are what are used to keep chains sharp on self-sharpening chainsaws. They can also be in the form of a drill-bit that used to manually sharpen chainsaw chains.
What Are Chainsaw Sharpening Stones Made Of?
Chainsaw sharpening stones are made of emery grain. This is also used for sandblasting because of its ability to remove material from a surface.
Chainsaw enthusiasts have come up with a simple DIY solution that uses only sandpaper and water to create an inexpensive Chainsaw Sharpening Stone.
Burr Grinding Stone Bits
Chainsaw sharpening stones are also used in drill-bit form as burr grinders that fit power drills. These often come in packs of 30 in their own cases. They are generally sized:
- Grinding head – 3/16 inch or ~5 mm in diameter, 7/8 inches or 23 mm in length.
- Shank – 1/8 or ~3 mm in diameter.
- Total length of grinding bit – 1 & 6/8 inch or ~50 mm.
Chainsaw Bar Mounted Sharpeners
What is a chainsaw bar mounted sharpener?
Chainsaw bar mounted sharpeners act like internal chain sharpeners, in that they keep the chain sharp as it is used. They also allow the user to keep cutting once they are attached. The sharpening stone is usually a pink color that is shaped like an arch and held inside a casing attached to the end of the bar.
One well-known example of a bar mounted sharpener is the Oregon PowerSharp bar mounted sharpener kit. These will also fit additional chainsaw brands, including Stihl, Olympyk, and Oleo-Mac.
However, chainsaw bar mounted sharpeners are not preferred by many users because they tend to be made of cheap plastic and fall apart soon after first use. The sharpening stone can become loose and fall out of the holder, and this can actually damage the bar and chain.
Self-sharpening chainsaws can certainly save time and money for the average chainsaw user by keeping the chain sharp automatically. However, professional chainsaw operators may need something a bit more powerful, such as large gas chainsaws that do not have this feature. So, knowing how to sharpen a chainsaw chain by hand is always a good skill to have if you ever decide to own a chainsaw.
Nick Klamecki is a certified Fire and Workplace Safety expert with 15 years experience in product research and testing. He has a degree in Economics from U.C. Davis, is an active outdoorsman and spent years ensuring the safety of special needs children. Nick researches and tests workplace, industrial and safety products and provides advice on their safe use.