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What is a chainsaw file?

What is a chainsaw file?

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Image of a DIYer sharpening their chainsaw using a chainsaw file As their name suggests, chainsaw files are used primarily for sharpening chainsaws. They are shaped to fit snugly against the cutting edge of a chainsaw’s teeth. For a step by step guide, see: How to sharpen a chainsaw with a file
The round portions of guitar f holes are smoothed down with chainsaw files However, they also have other applications, such as shaping the round sections of f-holes in stringed instruments.

What are the characteristics of a chainsaw file?

Diagram of a circular cross section

Cross Section

Chainsaw files are most often round in cross-section, but they can also have square, rectangular or diamond-shaped cross sections.

Image of a square chainsaw file to show that they are available with differently shaped cross sections The reason they are made in different shapes is to cater for differently shaped chainsaw blades, produced by various manufacturers.
Image of a round chainsaw file to show its outline and cut


They are blunt, maintaining the width of their cross section along the whole length of the file and have a safe point.

Image to show that a chainsaw file has a safe point so that the user does not have to worry about filing their fingers while gripping it properly This allows DIYers to grip the end of the file without having to worry about holding onto the teeth.
A single cut file with teeth cut in just one direction on the file's face


Chainsaw files are single cut on all faces (or on their only face if they are circular!)

Image illustrating that the diameter of a chainsaw file should match the gauge of the chainsaw tooth it is sharpening


Chainsaw files are the only file that will have their width displayed. This is so you can match the width of your file to the gauge of your chainsaw.

An indication of the range of lengths in which chainsaw files are usually available Chainsaw files are usually available in gauges from 3.2mm (7/32“) to 6.4mm (1/4).
The American flag, representing American pattern files

Swiss or American?

Chainsaw files are American pattern files.

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