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Chicago Electric makes this inexpensive chainsaw sharpener that sells for $35 at Harbor Freight.  Sure, the quality of tools purchased from Harbor Freight can be suspect, but how can you screw up a chainsaw sharpener?

The 0.5″ to 0.8″ capacity vice on this sharpener adjusts from 0-35° to the right or left.  The 115V, 0.75A ball bearing motor spins the 4-1/4″-diameter by 1/8″-thick grinding wheel at 4,200 RPM.  A safety guard covers most of the wheel, exposing only the section that comes into contact with the chain.  You can either hold the sharpener in a vise or mount it to your bench or garage wall.

The question before us today: Can buying this cheap chainsaw sharpener be a better deal than doing it the old-fashioned way with a guide and a file?  Or does doing it yourself even make sense when you can pay $10 for a professional to do it?  Let us know what you think in comments.

Chainsaw Sharpener [Harbor Freight]
Via Amazon [What’s This?]

 

25 Responses to Hot or Not? Electric Chainsaw Sharpener

  1. _Jon says:

    Drop it off, come back in a week.
    Even with a power tool, it isn’t worth the headache.
    I used to work for a place that did this work when I was in high school.
    Let a kid get some skills…

  2. PutnamEco says:

    Cheap tools are almost never hot, On the other hand, a quality chain grinder is Hot. If your going to be doing any real chainsaw work, they will quickly pay for themselves, When your going through a few chains a day, having the shop do it will quickly eat into your profits.No less the time it saves over hand filing, which is only realistic to do if the chain is not nicked up. Different pitch chains grind better with differing grinding wheels. A small grinder like that would most likely only grind 1/8″ chain. I would fear for it burning out on 1/2″ chains and I would love to see it even do 1 harvester chain.

    For a home owner, take it to the shop. for a dedicated hobby woodlot or home wood heater, maybe, for a pro, you already have one, plus the tools to make your own chains.

  3. Andrew says:

    As someone who heated with wood exclusively for eight years, I dulled my share of chains. For a typical homeowner, this is overkill. It takes only a few minutes to sharpen a chain by hand, and if you are out in the woods working, stopping to sharpen the saw is a good way to slow down, take a break, and be safe by not getting overtired.

    It IS possible to have too many power tools, and this is one where I would draw the line. Of course, I have been sharpening my drills by hand since an old timer showed me how many years ago. We are losing basic shop skills with all these gadgets.

  4. BC says:

    @Andrew: I have to disagree with you, that we’re “losing” basic shop skills. Technology changes every field of interest, Toolmongering included. I’m not saying there isn’t a place for the “old” ways – there are some things that need a human touch – but we need improvements and new ideas. There’s *always* a way to improve on something or make it easier. Yes, I know newer/easier isn’t always better.

  5. fred says:

    As a sometimes woodworking hobbyist I can relate to the pleasure and relaxation value of doing (or at least trying) to do things using time-honored hand tool skills. I like my home shop and turn out a few good items from time to time. I am humbled every time I look at quality antique furniture, knowing that the journeyman maker used hand tools to make something that is hard to duplicate today. Knowing that my skill level is nowhere near what’s needed to duplicate one of these pieces doesn’t stop me from continuing woodworking as a hobby.
    Now in the businesses that I run – productivity and craftsmanship need to be balanced more – with the aim of making a fair profit while paying skilled workers a fair wage and delivering high quality to our customers. I don’t have much call to have workers sharpening chain – by hand or otherwise – but we do look to machinery solutions everywhere to improve productivity. As a kid, I saw a mechanic cut a keyway with a cape chisel. I remember that it took quite a bit of time to do it. I think we’d opt to use our milling machine – even if someone had the skill to do it with a chisel.

  6. kyle says:

    We have this exact sharpener and I sharped two chains prety easily and I had never done it before, it worked well

  7. [...] Hot or Not? Electric Chainsaw Sharpener [...]

  8. Mike says:

    I cut more wood than the average homeowner but nowhere near a pro. I purchased this tool and the results it provided were beyond expectaions. To think I wasted my time filing in the past is just crazy. This thing quickly brings your blades into spec and you can sharpen an entire completely trashed chain in less than 5 minutes. Ths entire cost of the tool was less than a replacement blade. The sharpened blades actually cut considerably faster than when new. I’m not sure why but it’s true. For the money you can’t lose. Heck if for some odd reason you didn’t like it simply return it. I’m not going to say the thing is exactly what I call high quality since it is made out of plastic but I will say thanks to them for providing me with a tool that simply does the job. I’ve had it for three years now and not a complaint.

  9. [...] Hot or Not? Electric Chainsaw Sharpener [...]

  10. I cut an average of 15 cords a year and have always had my chains ground at the local saw shop periodically. I bought this at Harbor Freight and didn’t expect much from a plastic machine. I have 4 favorite saws and a back up. This tool works fine for a touchup or a complete sharpening. I have cleaned up all my blades in no time at all. I still use a hand file in the field, but this crappy little machine paid for itself right off the bat. I’m really happy with the results, even though as a full time tool guy, I would normally look for a professional quality tool.

  11. Charlie says:

    Dremel’s little chainsaw sharpening head (fits on regular dremel) works for me in the shop. It’s quite a bit cheaper and works with the chain on the bar.

    In the field, a 12volt granger is the way to go, but it takes some skill to use. Again, the chain stays on the bar. The granger can also sharpen a rip chain, which uses a different cutting angle, because it’s not a fixed angle sharpener.

  12. mike h says:

    i’ve seen 6$ sharpening before, so i’d say that unless you use a chainsaw EVERY DAY, it’s more than logical to just pay a professional to do it. though i can certainly see the value of buying a sharpener if you use your chainsaw for work

  13. TheVolleyballGod says:

    I will buy this pile of plastic at Harbor yards for 29.99 on super sale this week, every time I look at it I just sit there and wonder if ti works.. so I will try t and if it does not do a good job I have 30 days for a full money back refund!

  14. Bill says:

    I own it. I drilled holes in my work table to mount it / de-mount it as needed with carriage bolts.

    On a sunny afternoon last fall I sharpened nearly a dozen chains for myself and a friend. We were both surprised at the results and agree that the chains cut better than new. I bought a pack of the pink replacement wheels at the same time as I bought the grinder, but I think that the original wheel is going to last a long, long, time. When the grinder goes on sale (roughly every three months) grab it — you don’t have to sharpen many chains to recoup the cost. I still have files in my saw case … but it’s easier to use this grinder and the results are as good as the best I would get filing. I’ve had a few (not too many) disappointments with HF tools, but this isn’t one of them. Please note that you won’t get good results until you figure out how to hold the chain so that the positioning is constant … the little locator tab is not well designed / manufactured. Just make sure that the tab is registering at the same location on the chain each time and pull the chain slightly backwards to make certain that the tab is held tightly in place: otherwise, either the tab will come off the back of the tip or the chain will walk forward, causing you to grind the tips unevenly — you want a few sparks, but not enough to heat up the tip. So, put some tension on the chain and lock the tab in place. Look the chain over to find the worst tip. Set the tab to grind that tip and then grind the others to that setting. Then, next time you sharpen, everything should just need a light touch up. This is also a good way to re-establish correct angles on the tips so that it will be easier to touch up with a file in the field.

  15. Sonny Layton says:

    I bought your little Chacago chainsaw sharpener at Harbor Freight,because I always wanted one.When I saw it I couldn’t resist.I took my time,and did everything by the book.I have sharpened many chains for my friends and myself.I think this machine is wonderful,and anyone who says it’s junk,made it that way.If I ever decide to do it for profit,I would go for the bigger machine for it’s ability to do more. IT’S HOT

  16. tater cutshall says:

    i bought mine at a yard sale have not tried it yet but think it may come in handy

  17. a1anb1 says:

    I logged on here to read about this particular tool. Not to read what some of you think of a generic too, or what you think about how often I might need it. There are some good reviews. As for the other opinions. Whatever.

  18. Dennis says:

    I bought the tool last fall.With a coupon and discount at the store I got it half price.I should of got it out of the box months ago /impressed with my new toy / I did do a little tweaking on the locate arm and then knocked out 10 chains or so! -file- use it in the woods The tool will pay for it self just in fuel and travel time taking it to some one else

  19. John says:

    I see alot of people just spouting off with the supposed foreknowledge the tool can’t be good or none or worth it without even trying it. pfffft.

    I have been felling trees for about 30 years, I have always used wood heat(furnace) and because of this have cleared alot building lots and helped neighbors out with troublesome leaners/dying trees. I cut between 15-20 full cords of wood a year having a Stihl 16″ and a Jonsered 20″. I can file sharpen a chain on the fly well but it
    takes it toll on the angles over time. I saw this sharpener at Harbor Freight on sale for $24.99 and told myself, “I’m not out much if it doesn’t work at least as well as my file jobs”. The machine is amazing. It doesn’t take alot of skill, just read the easy directions for setting up and your on your way to a chain nearly as sharp as it comes out of the package. It does 1/4 and 3/8′s pitch chains fine. I still file in the woods but when I pinch the bar(it happens), hit a stone grown up into the trunk, or hit metal/barbwire hidden in the tree; I switch chains and take it home for the machine. It always brings a chain back to near new condition. I’ve used the machine enough I recently bought a replacement grinding wheel without an problems with the machine. I agree alot of tools at Harbor Freight should be looked at closely and consider the amount/level of use before buying but this is one of their products that is worth many times it’s cost. It works well and saves a ton of cash getting chains sharpened at a shop. Not to mention the travel time, cost, and wait.

  20. Mike daniels says:

    The only problem with this tool is that you can’t buy any parts for it my wife backed into it and the knobs broke off and they don’t make replacements for them

  21. Rockin Robb says:

    Thanks all for expressed opinions! I’m buying one for my shop.

  22. Jim says:

    Wife bought me this exact model. It works well enough on 1/4″ pitch chains, not so much for 3/8″ the file dia. is 7/32″ for my 3/8″ pitch Huqvarna whitch means the grinding wheel should be 7/32″ thick to do the job properly. Yes, you can still sharpen with a thinner wheel but you will not grind what some refer to as the gullet (that little rounded valley in front of the cutting surface, between the raker and tooth). Despite what some say, the side of the tooth needs careful scrutiny too. Ever have a chain cut to one side? It’s because the side is sharper on one side than the other. Two things that bug me about the unit is, the clamping vise isn’t the best watch carefully to make sure the teeth are in the exact positon every time, and the worst thing is is that you simply can not find a 4.1/8″x7/8″ grinding wheel any thicker than 3/16″ maybe 14/64″. I’m alittle disapointed but will keep it because I have 1/4″ pitch chains too, and for them it works well.

  23. Jim says:

    Typo on last post. 14/64″ IS 7/32″ oops. Also good news, found a 15/64″ thick vitrified wheel at Chainsharp.com I’ll definetly be buying one asap.

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