The Art of Saw Blade Sharpening

The impact of saw blade sharpening resonates with everything you’ll be doing with a saw.

Have you ever tried to use a dull saw? It’s like trying to cut through butter with a spoon, and the outcome isn’t as pretty.

There are few things as satisfying or as useful as a sharp blade. It’s one of those tools that makes everything else easier. 

But keeping them in top shape can be tricky. Even the most careful person is bound to get dust and dirt on their precious blades from time to time.

And for those of you who work with power tools every day? Well, it’s not uncommon for you to have a drawer full of dull saw blades!

The good news is there are ways to keep your blades nice and sharp. Some don’t require expensive equipment or specialized skills, but they all need some elbow grease.

In this post, we’ll show you how easy it is to make your saw blades sharper. You might even find yourself wanting to sharpen more than just saw blades after reading this!

Ready? Roll up those sleeves, and let’s get started!

How to Know When Your Saw Blades Need Sharpening? 

There are different types of saws in the world. As a result, there are different types of saw blades, each differing from one another.

For example, a band saw blade has different industry specifications from a circular saw blade.

Chart (for chainsaw blade):

Saw Blade Sharpening

Chart (for band saw blade):

band saw blade

Chart (for circular saw blade): 

circular saw blade

Although they’re made differently, they all have the same tell-tale signs when you need to sharpen them. Here are some examples:

  • Overworked motor – dull blades put too much strain on the saw’s engine, leading to overheating and deterioration. For hand saws, you can feel that it’s hard to push and pull the saw.
  • Unable to follow cut lines – most dull blades tend to swerve or go over the cut lines. The blade does not glide through the material as it drags and pulls and throws off your precision.
  • Loud motor – if you’re always using a power saw, you probably know how it sounds. Now, it’s maybe because of a faulty motor, but checking the blade’s sharpness is still a good route.
  • More tear-outs and chipping – a dull blade will not give out the best cut and result in more chipping.

Top Methods in Saw Blade Sharpening

Dull blades have various effects on your work. Reduced efficiency, increased pressure needed for cutting, or just plain making it impossible to complete the project at all!

To help you get back to work, here are some surefire methods when sharpening your saw blades:

1. Taper Filing

A taper or tapered file is a triangular-shaped file. Like other files, it’s used to smooth or, in this case, sharpen materials, especially metal.

JinFeng Needle File Set(6 Piece HIGH Carbon Steel Precision) Hand Metal Tools

Process and Application

Before doing any methods stated in this article, wear safety gear like safety gloves and eye protection. Add more protective equipment whenever suitable.

  1. Get a vice or anything that properly secures your saw blade.
  2. With the taper file on your dominant hand, grip it firmly but not too hard. Use your free hand to grab the tip.
  3. Place the file between the teeth and use the two-stroke method for a consistent outcome. Always make sure that the file is level with the saw teeth’ angle.

Pros

Using a tapered file will give you a precise sharpening. It’s also the easiest method to learn.

Cons

Sharpening saw blades using a tapered file is a long process. Although it’s the easiest and most cost-effective method, finishing a whole saw blade may take a while.

Moreover, it’ll wear you off as you’ll file each tooth. So, get your arms ready!

2. Using Crank Sharpeners

Crank sharpeners are mainly used for chainsaws. Nonetheless, you can use it to sharpen a wide variety of blade sizes, shapes, and teeth numbers.

There different types of crank sharpeners vary from manufacturer. However, all have the same purpose: making blades smoother and sharper in minutes!

With its multi-grip vise, you can easily hold the blade (big or small) for precise filing. This method also works best on smaller and lighter machines like table saws and miter saws.

Hand-Crank Chain-Saw Sharpener

Process and Application

  1. Put your blade on a vice.
  2. Insert the crank sharpener over the teeth or the chain.
  3. Turn the crank so the sharpener can grab hold of the blade.
  4. Turn the crank until you have finished all the blades.

Pros

A crank sharpener is fast! Saw blades can be resharpened in just a matter of minutes, depending on how dull or damaged they are. 

Another benefit is that this tool works well with any size or PPI. Also, a novice can do it.

Cons

Although it’s time-efficient, a crank sharpener can likely tear a hole in your wallet. There will also be inconsistencies when you carve out smooth grooves for each tooth from start to finish.

3. Automatic Sharpener

Automatic sharpeners are the best alternative to crank sharpeners. Since it’s motorized, it can work efficiently and fast compared to hand-sharpening.

It comes in varying sizes. Some are small that can fill on a tabletop, but some can be big and need a bigger space.

The automatic sharpener has a self-contained handle that holds your saw blade in place. This mobile device will give you precision when you file each tooth.

Mophorn Chainsaw Sharpener 230W, Professional Multi-Angle Adjustable Chain Grinder 3000RPM, Electric Chainsaw Blade Sharpener for 1/4" to 2/5

Process and Application

  1. Place your blade on the vice of the tool before turning on its switch/motor button.
  2. Make sure you have inserted the appropriate disk (fine, coarse) depending on your saw blade’s PPI.
  3. Press the auto button once the motor has started to run. It’ll automatically file each tooth accordingly.
  4. Once the machine is finished, you can remove the saw blade and file more blades.

Pros

This method is faster than crank sharpening because it does the job more efficiently. So, expect less time and effort when using this tool!

Cons

Automatic sharpeners are only recommended for chainsaws and circular saws. It’s not ideal for table or miter saws because they are too small and lightweight as of press time.

Also, automatic sharpeners are not the most precise way to achieve a sharp cutting edge. It doesn’t usually yield the best results.

4. Using Diamond Wheels

EzzDoo 3 in 1 Electric Chainsaw Sharpener Kit with TITANIUM PLATED Chainsaw Files High Speed Chainsaw Sharpener Electric Tool and 4 Sizes High Hardness Diamond Sharpening Wheels Accessories

Diamond wheels are the most modern way to sharpen a saw blade. It’s mainly used in industrial and commercial settings because it’s more efficient than crank sharpeners.

The wheels are usually coated with 400 diamond grit. It’s perfect for carbide-tipped saw blades.

Like an automatic sharpener, you need to place your saw blade on a vice before starting this process. There is also an optional mobile base for handheld operation only when required.

Process and Application

  1. Start the machine and apply water.
  2. While the wheel is rotating, place the saw blade over it.
  3. Turn the blade from time to time to get every tooth. The diamond wheel will reshape and re-hone each tooth until it is smooth.
  4. Always put water after each tooth for an even filing.

Pros

The diamond wheel is the most efficient material used in sharpening blades due to its hardness, durability, and dense structure. You only need a few strokes for reshaping your saw blade. 

It’s also ideal for heavy machines that are harder and heavier compared to lighter equipment like miter and table saws. The diamond wheel sharpener is more efficient, faster, and gives better results.

Cons

Diamond wheels are relatively higher in the market as they require specialized maintenance care and materials for regular use.

The method is also more complicated than crank sharpening and automatic sharpeners. Usually, several steps are involved in achieving a better edge and smooth cut on your saw blade.

Method on Saw Blade Sharpening Using a File

Using a file is better if you have a fixed budget and want an economical way to sharpen your blades. Although you need some muscle and dish out more time, a file can still do the job.

Stihl 2 N 1 Easy File Chainsaw Chain Sharpener 1/4" P

Materials You’ll Need

  • Set of tapered files with varying sizes
  • A saw set 
  • A vice to secure the saw blade
  • Safety gear like goggles and gloves
  • Some wood to clamp the blade

Process

  1. Inspect The Saw

Before filing the saw blade, inspect it first. Check each tooth for any height variation.

If there are teeth taller than the others, file them to decrease their height.

  1. Teeth Setting or Aligning

Another thing to do when sharpening a saw blade is to check if the kerf is in the right width. A correctly aligned saw blade ensures a clean-cut, and it will not stick to the cut.

You can use a saw set for an easier tooth setting. A saw set looks like a pair of pliers used to configure misaligned teeth.

Take note that teeth setting is not always needed, so be sure to check the blade first. 

  1. Filing

Once you’ve completely assessed the saw blade, you can proceed to file it.

There are different types of files specific for each PPI (points per inch). Also called TPI (teeth per inch) refers to the number of teeth on a saw blade.

For example, 4 PPI saw blades need a 7-inch file, while a 15 PPI demands a 4-inch one. The higher the PPI is, the smaller the taper file you’ll need.

Always use the two-stroke method for a fine and cleaner filing.

  1. Stoning or Deburring

The final step is to stone and deburr the blade. It smoothes out the rough edges and removes the burrs.

Place the saw blade flat on a counter or table and run the stoning tool along its length. Only use light pressure so you will not damage the teeth.

Tips of Keeping Your Saw Blades Sharp

Having a dull saw blade is inevitable. It may not happen today, but it will surely happen in the future.

Now, there are some ways that you can prolong your blades’ sharpness. Here are a few tips:

  1. Use the correct blade for the job.

Use the right blade on the right machine. You don’t want to put a thin kerf on your table saw if you usually cut lumber that is 2 inches thick.

For instance, use a PPI of 12 to 16 for plywood while 24-32 is used for hardwood.

  1. Properly store them.

Saw blades should not be left outside.

Due to weather conditions, especially when trees are around your workshop, the moisture from wet leaves and trees causes rusts, affecting the blade’s performance when you use them again after sharpening.

Always keep unused blades in storage. Be sure to clean and dry them first before storing them in their original case or box.

  1. Always align your saw.

Before using any power saws, check if the blade is aligned. When it cuts with a misaligned blade, it will put more strain on the teeth.

  1. Oil the blades regularly.

To protect it from rusting, put some oil when storing a saw blade. Also, put some oil on the blade when using it.

How to Make an Automatic Saw blade Sharpening machine at Home

DIY: Learn how to make a motorized auto sharpener machine for circular saw blade.

Frequently Asked Questions:

The information and methods shared here might be jarring for beginners. To help them eased in the topic, here are some of the most frequent questions about sharpening a saw blade:

Are saw blades worth sharpening?

Definitely!

The feeling of a sharp saw blade is incomparable. It dramatically increases its efficiency.

Also, it’s more cost-effective to sharpen them than to buy a new one. A new one may set you back a couple of dollars.

How do you sharpen a saw blade by hand?

The best way to sharpen a saw blade by hand is by using a tapered file. Even though it can be time-consuming, it can still sharpen those dull blades.

Can I sharpen my own saw blades?

Of course, you can!

Although there are shops that can sharpen your saw blades, you can do it at home. You can use any methods above to do it.

What do you do with old saw blades?

There are some instances that your saw blades are past the point of resharpening. For those old ones, you can either dispose of or recycle them.

Just make sure to wrap the blades with heavy-duty tape or paper before disposing of them.

How do you clean a saw blade?

You can clean saw blades with a cleaning solution and water.

The first thing you need to remember when cleaning your saw blades is to use the right cleaning solution. Normal detergents can affect the brazing, which can diminish the blade’s performance.

Another tip when cleaning a saw blade is to use sawdust to remove excess detergent. It also helps shine the blade.

Final Thoughts

The impact of the saw blade sharpening trumps buying a new one.

There are ways to sharpen a saw blade, depending on what you need and the tools lying around. You just have to know these different methods as guides to use at any given time.

All in all, there’s never a dull moment with a sharpened saw in the midst. Whether you have a hand saw or a table saw, it’s always a good practice to sharpen your blades.