Which sharpener for my chain?

  • Active since 1995, Hearth.com is THE place on the internet for free information and advice about wood stoves, pellet stoves and other energy saving equipment.

    We strive to provide opinions, articles, discussions and history related to Hearth Products and in a more general sense, energy issues.

    We promote the EFFICIENT, RESPONSIBLE, CLEAN and SAFE use of all fuels, whether renewable or fossil.

AstroBoy

New Member
Feb 9, 2022
23
Philadelphia suburbs
I’m starting to cut more wood than I used to (in preparation for a fireplace insert purchase soon) so I definitely need to figure out how to sharpen my chainsaw chain. Based on some comments here, and on my relative lack of experience doing this, it seems like a Stihl 2-in-1 sharpener (or the similar Pferd) could be a good bet, making it somewhat easier to get the correct angle than using a handheld file.

But if I get this, I want to be sure to get the right one. I have an EGO 16” saw, and the chain specs say “043 in. Gauge Chain with 3/8 in. Low Pro Pitch”. Looking at the Stihl sharpeners, there is one for 3/8 inch pitch chains, and one for their 3/8 inch pitch Picco chains. I assume just the regular 3/8 inch one would be ok for other brands of 3/8 inch pitch chains, and that I don’t need to worry about the gauge? Is that correct?

Thanks for any thoughts on this, or recommendations for other sharpeners.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Sean McGillicuddy

Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
17,649
Philadelphia
I've seen positive comments on both the Pferd and 2-in-1. Search this forum for specific reviews.

When purchasing any file, grinding wheel, or sharpener the "file diameter" is usually the critical number to match. According to the online manual, that would be 0.177" or 4.5mm. See p.41 of this copy:


Some guide systems (eg. 2-in-1) will also rely on being matched to the chain pitch, in your case 3/8", listed on p.17 of the online manual.

The three angles described on p.41 are also critical, but can be changed. What I mean by that is that it's critical that while you can usually change them to any approved/common combination without much penalty in performance, any change usually requires a ton of grinding to get it set. Much like sharpening a knife or axe, if you decrease the bevel angle, you have to re-grind the entire bevel before getting a sharp edge.

I do believe most who stick with a file and manual sharpening eventually switch over to free-hand sharpening. I'm in the grinder camp, I'd rather just swap chains when needed and grind them in my heated garage some random weeknight, than spend daylight hours in the field sharpening my chain. Pick the system that you believe will work best for you, and don't be afraid to try something different, if you suspect your first choice isn't working.
 
Last edited:

EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
3,573
SE North Carolina
The 3/8” low profile chains needs a 5/32” file. I’m stilled confused what Stihl calls 3/8” low profile.

When you say cutting more how much are you talking about?

With just an angle file guide and a 5/32” round file I can file my 14” Ryobi in about 10 minutes. Is it perfect? no. Sharp enough sure. Need a depth gauge. I haven’t found a great one but the one in the Oregon file guide kit works good enough. The chain is probably anti kickback with the bumpers. It works fine for me. Lots of people complain. I can bore cut with it. I took the tip protector off. It’s cheap to replace a chain. I have have now gone through 3 chains in 4 years cutting say a cord or two a year. And by gone through I mean. Broke one. Loaned the saw out came back dull but with a new chain. Old chain is now a ripping chain. Probably can only file 2 more times. New chain wear is 65%.

I just bought this one cause it’s cheap.
Limited-time deal: Codirom 2 in 1 Chainsaw Sharpener 2 in 1 Easy File Sharpener 5/32" 11/64" Round Files (for 3/8" Low Profile Chainsaw Chain) Amazon product
 
  • Like
Reactions: AstroBoy

Solarguy3500

Feeling the Heat
Dec 3, 2020
252
Western MA
I have the 18" Ego saw and I bought the Stihl 2 in 1 sharpener for 3/8 chain a couple months ago not knowing that Stihl calls their low profile picco. The files that came in it were 11/64 I think, and the manual for my saw said it takes a 5/32 file.

Returned it to the store and got the 3/8 picco one instead, but that one comes with a slightly different file as well, so I got a couple of 5/32 files from the store and swapped out the ones that came in the tool for the 5/32 ones. You can only swap files if they are close enough in size that the shaft diameter of the file is the same or very close to it. In other words, you couldn't swap 7/32 files for 5/32 files as the diameter difference is too great. That's why I couldn't swap the 11/64 files in the regular 3/8 one I bought originally.

If the Pferd sharpener comes with 5/32 files loaded in it, I'd probably go that route and not have to swap the files. I just didn't know anything about how Stihl does their sizes before I bought the Stihl one because I've never owned a Stihl saw.
 

AstroBoy

New Member
Feb 9, 2022
23
Philadelphia suburbs
Thanks for all the replies! As @Ashful points out, the manual for the 16” EGO calls for a 4.5mm file. Converted to inches, that would be 5.66 / 32”. Not a huge difference from 5/32”, but not exact. Any thoughts on whether that might be close enough?

It looks like Pferd does make 4.5mm (11/64”) files, so maybe I’ll just get a couple of those as well to swap in.
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
7,089
Downeast Maine
I will always suggest a Granberg File N' Jig or the Tecomec/Oregon equivalent. They work well and do a good job teaching chain geometry. You will get sharper chains than you've ever experienced before, they will stay sharper longer, and they will cut fast. I used one for chainsaw milling until my production speed go so fast I needed an electric rig. I could probably still get a sharper edge with the bar mounted filing jig, but I'm much faster with the bench mounted grinder.
 

AstroBoy

New Member
Feb 9, 2022
23
Philadelphia suburbs
Ok! Just ordered the Pferd 2-in-1, and a pack of 11/64” files to replace the stock 5/32”. I’ll try to remember to post back here about how the file swap and sharpening experience goes. Thanks to all for helping me figure this out.

When you say cutting more how much are you talking about?

It’s not that much by the standards of people here, I’m sure - I have a few cords of oak and maple I’m working my way through that I got from a neighbor. It’s more the difference between using the saw regularly vs. hardly at all. I’ve had it for a while, but in the past only used it for storm cleanup. So it has been used very sporadically, and never sharpened. Now that I’ll be using it more regularly for firewood, it will be good to have a plan for keeping it sharp.
 

EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
3,573
SE North Carolina
Ok! Just ordered the Pferd 2-in-1, and a pack of 11/64” files to replace the stock 5/32”. I’ll try to remember to post back here about how the file swap and sharpening experience goes. Thanks to all for helping me figure this out.



It’s not that much by the standards of people here, I’m sure - I have a few cords of oak and maple I’m working my way through that I got from a neighbor. It’s more the difference between using the saw regularly vs. hardly at all. I’ve had it for a while, but in the past only used it for storm cleanup. So it has been used very sporadically, and never sharpened. Now that I’ll be using it more regularly for firewood, it will be good to have a plan for keeping it sharp.
Your saw will thank you. Pushing a dull saw hard just leads to unnecessary ware and tear and if it’s a gas saw increased the odds of cooking it. Thermal protection should probably kick in on a battery saw to save it but I don’t know. I almost bought a refurbished ego last night. I already have a blower and battery but decided what do I need two small chainsaws. I want the pole saw but don’t have the the power head. I’ll wait for that.

Save the 5/32” files. All the Oregon 3/8” LP chained I’ve bought at the big box stores and Amazon call for a 5/32”. Get an extra chain. You might want to finish a job before you have mastered sharpening.

I have stuck with the safety chain. Others don’t like it. I always wear chaps and eye protection. I also bought a pair of chainsaw boots for 110$. I cut just enough to feel comfortable but probably not enough to have enough experience to be an expert. Accidents can happen to anyone.
 

ericm979

Burning Hunk
Nov 2, 2018
211
California
Safety (low kickback) chain works just as well as non safety chain except for bore cuts where it's slow. By the time you're getting to bore cuts you should already have a good understanding of kickback.
 
  • Like
Reactions: AstroBoy

DonTee

Minister of Fire
Dec 1, 2021
672
Upstate NY
I use a Pferd 2 in 1 sharpener also. It does a good job, and its handy to keep in my pocket in the woods. I’ll touch up the chain every tank of gas I put in if it needs it.

I just recently replaced the files in it. Boy what a big difference that made
 
Last edited:

Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
17,649
Philadelphia
Safety (low kickback) chain works just as well as non safety chain except for bore cuts where it's slow. By the time you're getting to bore cuts you should already have a good understanding of kickback.
I guess I've never looked into it, but how is one supposed to adjust depth of cut on bumper tie strap links?

110694.jpg
 

DonTee

Minister of Fire
Dec 1, 2021
672
Upstate NY
Maybe they figure someone wanting to use a low kickback chain will use it so little that they won’t need to sharpen it? Like a homeowner cutting a branch in their yard.

Maybe they could buy one of these sharpeners. Lol

9D85359F-9312-4A22-8F5C-3895BAA0CF74.png
 
Last edited:

EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
3,573
SE North Carolina
Safety (low kickback) chain works just as well as non safety chain except for bore cuts where it's slow. By the time you're getting to bore cuts you should already have a good understanding of kickback.
I’m going to take the opposite point of view. Teach/learn bore cuts when you first start learning the saw. In my opinion it’s much safer to set the hinge up first, look it over. Make sure it’s right. If you messed up you have time to assess. Make a new plan. Move up cut a new notch try again. Greatly reduces the chance that you cut through the hinge. It may be slower but who cares when learning.
I guess I've never looked into it, but how is one supposed to adjust depth of cut on bumper tie strap links?

View attachment 294702
The second chain isn’t commonly made any more. And the newer ones some have two bumpers. A regular (not progressive) depth gauge works for me. There gets to be quite a bit of thickness to remove when you get down to the last 30% of chain.

image.jpg
 

hedge wood

Feeling the Heat
Mar 1, 2009
312
Eastern NE
Ok! Just ordered the Pferd 2-in-1, and a pack of 11/64” files to replace the stock 5/32”. I’ll try to remember to post back here about how the file swap and sharpening experience goes. Thanks to all for helping me figure this out.
A buddy of mine moved to a acreage about 11 years ago I gave him a Stihl 041 I had and a Pferd 2in1 sharpener. He had ran a saw on my farm a lot but hadn't sharpen chains. He loves the Pferd and uses it all the time.
 
  • Like
Reactions: AstroBoy

hedge wood

Feeling the Heat
Mar 1, 2009
312
Eastern NE
Felling is the most complex and dangerous thing you can do with a saw. Newbies should learn bucking and limbing first.
This can't be said enough. Even us old timers get surprises now and again when felling trees. We always make sure what the plan is when bringing a tree down. It too easy for someone to get hurt or killed.
 

salecker

Minister of Fire
Aug 22, 2010
1,876
Northern Canada
  • Like
Reactions: Isaac Carlson

DonTee

Minister of Fire
Dec 1, 2021
672
Upstate NY
Maybe they figure someone wanting to use a low kickback chain will use it so little that they won’t need to sharpen it? Like a homeowner cutting a branch in their yard.

Maybe they could buy one of these sharpeners. Lol

View attachment 294704
I quoted my own post here because I learned something tonight. I was watching the Project Farm YouTube channel and he was testing battery chainsaws. There was an Oregon saw that came with a built in chain sharpener. And it was the style I linked above.
He said in the video that the saw used a special type of chain that’s meant to be sharpened by that style sharpener. I didn’t know that existed.
So I went back to look at the ad for the sharpener I linked. It says it will work for any 14-20” chainsaw chain. So the ad is deceiving, but I guess there is a chain out there it will sharpen :)
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
7,089
Downeast Maine
I quoted my own post here because I learned something tonight. I was watching the Project Farm YouTube channel and he was testing battery chainsaws. There was an Oregon saw that came with a built in chain sharpener. And it was the style I linked above.
He said in the video that the saw used a special type of chain that’s meant to be sharpened by that style sharpener. I didn’t know that existed.
So I went back to look at the ad for the sharpener I linked. It says it will work for any 14-20” chainsaw chain. So the ad is deceiving, but I guess there is a chain out there it will sharpen :)
Yeah, those chains have the cutting surface on the top edge of the "teeth" rather than on the bottom like a conventionally ground chain. You do need specific chain, it would probably just ruin regular chain, or maybe convert it to the outside cutter.
 

Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
17,649
Philadelphia
I quoted my own post here because I learned something tonight. I was watching the Project Farm YouTube channel and he was testing battery chainsaws. There was an Oregon saw that came with a built in chain sharpener. And it was the style I linked above.
He said in the video that the saw used a special type of chain that’s meant to be sharpened by that style sharpener. I didn’t know that existed.
So I went back to look at the ad for the sharpener I linked. It says it will work for any 14-20” chainsaw chain. So the ad is deceiving, but I guess there is a chain out there it will sharpen :)
You'd do well to learn to sharpen standard chains with standard methods. A hand file and guide is a good way to go, for most firewood cutters.
 

DodgyNomad

Minister of Fire
Dec 19, 2009
702
West Michigan
One more vote for the Stihl Pferd. It's quite a tool. Easy to use, and even better when you learn to perfect it.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Sean McGillicuddy
You will be amazed with the sharpness of the chain that the 2in1 will produce.
 
  • Like
Reactions: AstroBoy