How Long Does A Chainsaw Chain Last?

The durability of a chainsaw chain is dependent on its use and maintenance. Frequent users can use the chainsaw for 5 years plus, while occasional users can enjoy its services for 10 years. There is no predetermined expiration date or timeline for a chainsaw, and all you have to do is follow a proper maintenance routine to use it longer.  

You will need to check regularly whether or not the chainsaw chain is in good shape and if it’s time to sharpen or replace. But how many times should you sharpen? And when should you replace it? Here these questions will be answered and everything about chainsaw chain durability tackled for efficient and effective use of your tools. Keep reading! 

How Long Does A Chainsaw Chain Last

The Life Expectancy Of A Chainsaw Chain

Chainsaw chain cutters are made of steel and thus can give you services of over 10 years. However, using it causes wear that calls for regularly sharpening to keep the chain efficient. Note that using a dull chain results in increased friction, causing both the bar and the chain to overheat, making it to overstretch prematurely. The best way is to sharpen to improve its life expectancy. The question would be how often you should sharpen chainsaw chains. 

How Often To Sharpen A Chainsaw Chain

The chain should be sharpened as soon as you notice a need to push it down to cut. This indicates that the chain is dull already, and using it that way could cause more damage that can force you to replace it. However, there is no specific number of times recommended for users to sharpen the chainsaw chain. 

The type of wood you cut, whether dry timber or green, will dictate how often you sharpen your tool. For instance, cutting Australian hard timber could mean sharpening the chain between re-fuel. Note that sometimes sharpening might not repair the chain and whether to sharpen or not depends on the factors below:

1. The extent of chain damage or wear 

2. The amount of metal that come out when sharpening 

For example, if the chain hits a rock and it chips or breaks, it means there is a need to replace it since it might not be possible to repair it through sharpening. Also, if a small amount of metal comes out when sharpening, it would mean you can sharpen more times before replacing it compared to when a lot of metal come off. Clearly, how often you sharpen your chain varies based on the situation you are in. But, you can still tell if sharpening or replacing is the solution using some method below:

Methods That Can Tell You Whether The Chain Can Be Sharpened 

1. Checking for significant damage like breaks or chips

2. Stamped line in guide pieces and chain’s cutter

Sharpening is recommended if there is no significant damage, and there is space between the guide pieces and the chain’s cutter. If not, then it might be the right time to think of buying a new chain. The visible lines in the guide pieces and chain’s cutter show the metals‘ limit that can be removed through sharpening. Once you get to the line, any further sharpening is not safe, and using the chain would be risky.  

As indicated above, the chain can last you for over 10 years; however, some things can reduce its life expectancy. The top 5 are highlighted below:

5 Things That Can Shorten Chain’s Life Expectancy

Improper Storage

Storage could dictate how long the chain would serve you. Before storage, the chain should be cleaned and oiled properly. Failure to do so exposes the chain to rust, which ruins it fast. Consider covering the chain with a scabbard to avoid exposure to weather elements that can corrode it. 

Improper Lubrication

Improper lubrication can cause the chain to overheat and overstretch, resulting in reduced efficiency. Consider keeping the chain well lubricated using the chain and bar oil. This way, the chainsaw will run smoothly with no chance of overheating. 

Ice Cutting

The chain can easily wear and chip if used to cut through ice or frozen wood. Wood might look normal during winter but are frozen and therefore can damage your chain. 

Hitting Metal Objects

Metals objects such as fence staples, nails, and bullets can get embedded inside a wood. If this happens and the chain hits it, then the blade will be damaged. The best thing is to always check for any indication to avoid damaging your chainsaw chain. If it happens, be ready to sharpen or change it depending on the extent of the damage. 

Hitting Rocks Or Dirt

Rocks and dirt are the main cause of chain damage. When cutting logs on the ground, the blade can easily slip through and hit the dirt and rocks underneath. In order to avoid such, you need to check and remove any rocks underneath while avoiding the chain from slipping into the dirt. 

Methods Of Sharpening The Chainsaw Chain

The method you use to sharpen the chain impacts on its life expectancy. You can use either the file guide or a grinder to keep it sharp. Each one is suitable depending on the place and time, but most users frequently use the file guide. Check additional information on the two methods to know when to use them.

File Guide

The file guide is used to sharpen the chain’s guides and cutters manually. It features several in-built files that are designed to keep the chain consistently sharp. Consider sharpening with a file after every re-fuel. Giving the chain 1-2 swipes keeps it efficient while preventing it from getting duller. However, if the chain is noticeably dull, up to 4 swipes may be needed to keep it sharp. 


Professionals use the grinder to sharpen chainsaw chains. However, if you are a pro, you can do it yourself. The good thing is that experts at a local chainsaw shop will charge you $5-$7 only to get it done. Nonetheless, it is not recommended to use the grinder regularly as it takes off more material reducing the chain’s life expectancy. 

You should consider using the grinder if the chain is dull, and you have done 40 manual file sharpening. Grinder work on hard-to-fix imperfections, but due to cumulative cost, it is best to replace the chain when it gets dull after professional grinding. However, don’t wait for 40 file sharpening if the blade is damaged by dirt; take it to be grinded to avoid risks associated with using a dull chain.

The Appropriate Time To Replace The Chainsaw Chain

Your worry on how last a chainsaw chain lasts might be due to the worn of blades and you are torn between sharpening and replacing it. Here are the indications of replacing the chainsaw chain:

If You Have Sharpened The Chain Up To The Safety Line

Chainsaw cutter and guides have small lines stamped into it that indicates the limit of sharpening. If the chain is sharpened beyond that limit, there is a risk of it falling apart or even flying off, causing injuries. So, when you sharpen the chain to the stamped line, it is best to replace it for your safety and efficiency.

If Chains Are Chipped, Dented, Or Broken

As indicated above, hitting rocks, dust, ice, and even cutting frozen wood can cause your chain to chip, get dents, or even break. Though small chips can be fixed through sharpening, some are difficult to do so. In such a case, you should think of buying a new chain.

If The Chain Is Rusty

Using a rusty chainsaw chain is dangerous as it can break apart, causing accidents. You can try to remove the rust, but if it doesn’t get off, then it is time to buy a new chainsaw chain. Consider keeping your tool properly to avoid rust that can force you to replace the chain prematurely.

How To Keep Your Chainsaw Chain Rust-Free

A rusty chain cannot be used. Allowing your chain to rust is thus a sure way of damaging it. So, how do you keep your chain rust free? Check below the things you should do to avoid rusty chain:

Clean The Chain And Bar

The chain, bar, and sprocket should be cleaned well. To do this, you should take off the faceplate then clean it well and then re-assemble it.

Apply Chain And Bar Oil

Failure to lubricate the chain and the bar results in damage to the blade as it causes overheating. You should put the oil into the lubricant tank, and power on your tool, and run it for some seconds. This way, the chainsaw will draw the lubricant as it spins, and thus, the chain gets oiled well before storage. 

Use The Chainsaw Scabbard To Protect The Chain And Bar

Before keeping your chainsaw, it is best to cover the chain and bar with the scabbard. This keeps you safe from accidental cuts while preventing dings, bumps, and dust. 

Keep The Chainsaw Inside

The chainsaw should be stored inside where it is not exposed to weather elements. Keeping it in a shed, garage or barn is okay. This prevents any possibility of oxidation. 

Final Word

As long as you are using your chainsaw properly and taking good care of it, it will serve you for five years or even decades based on how often you use it.  The best thing is to sharpen the chain regularly while keeping it well to avoid rust. 

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