Chainsaw file... 7/32 or 13/64?

I was just wondering what you guys prefer on file size or what's right or what's wrong. We're talking standard run of the mill chain. 3/8 .50 chain. Full chisel that is pretty much standard on most ground saws. Which size do you use and why?


Branched out member
Ontario, Canada
I use 7/32 or 3/16 and then when it is 1/2 worn and and as it approaches the angle marks a i get a few more strokes with the 5/32.
For a joke, My stihl saw mechanic pisses himself when I bring it in and ask him to touch it up.

thnks Forest, you da best!
I use 7/32 on 3/8 .50 round ground chisel chain.

I was somewhat shocked to learn that most pro loggers use square ground chisel chains and sharpen them with triangular flat edge files. Their saws seem to just fly through softwood conifers like a hot knife through butter!

I use 3/16 on .325 pitch chains. Which Europeans seem to prefer.

13/64 (all our saws are 3/8, .5). I like the smaller diameter, as you can round out the gullet of the tooth a little more than with 7/32. We cut mostly soft wood (ponderosa) up here though, so a super aggressive tooth is great and absolutely hammers through wood. I just adjust the depth when getting into harder stuff.
Which file size gives you the best performance?
On full chisel cutters, I use 7/32's for the 1st couple of sharpenings, then drop down to the 13/64's. If you wanted to keep 1 size file for that chain, use the 13/64's. Just maintain the 60* chisel angle for the 1st couple of sharpenings.


Participating member
I prefer 13/64" for .375 chain, though I square file most of the least till the cutters get dinged badly.

Dave is now filing Picco chain with a 3/16th file. Says it's faster. Must admit his 200T really goes through the wood. So I tried using one of my few remaining 11/64" files. I like that size for .325 chain, especially when the cutters are getting short. Forgot to ask Bailey's if they could locate that size when I just placed a file order.

I'd just gotten their spring catalog, which had a special on Oregon Powermatch bars that were branded with Dolmar or Makita. Price was dirt cheap. Catalog had just come, but they were all out, save for the oddball 30" length. So I got one, for $40.....and a normal priced 32" for $92. Oh well.

I have 3 32" bars that all seem straight and show low wear in the bar groove. But none will cut straight or they start to hang up in a large cut. Maybe the rails need to be trued. I had rebuild a lot of bars a while ago. Most came back and worked like new....but now I'm not so sure about all of them.
I guess your file depends on what chain your using and how much hook you want on the side plate , I normally use 7/32 's but normally I run oregon chain 72 LG or 73 LG but the place I cut for most times now gives me stihl chain and files and they are 13/64's and file well, I need a file that cuts fast cause just about every tree I hit some kind of metal , The 13/64 file will give you a faster cutting chain cause it will give you more hook on the side plate but will also dull or bust up faster and just not stay as sharp because of the greater hook , the point of the tooth will be thinner , in frozen hard wood I would go with the 7/32 file if I have a choice
I dont always sharpen saw chains, but when I do, I sharpen them with 13/64ths

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and I drink Dos Equis, Stay Thirsty My Friends.
I run Stihl, 3/8 .050 full chisel, full skip chain and I tend to cut a pretty big variety of wood and find that starting out with the 7/32 file for about the first 1/3 of the cutters life, then dropping down to the 13/64 file is the best combination for the work I do.

This system gives a good sharp chain, but doesn't dig out the gullet as much as it would if I used a 13/64 file then dropped down to a 3/16 file like I used to do when I was cutting alot of pine and fir that was usually alive, wet, and tended to stay much cleaner than the wood I cut these days. I think the best way that I have heard it explained is that a smaller file adds a deeper, more narrow gullet, resulting in a more acute angle of the cutting tooth, which leads to a more hungry sharper chain, but it also dulls out faster in hard or dirty wood.

The 7/32 file doesn't result in as deep of a gullet resulting in a more obtuse angle of the cutting tooth which is less aggressive, but tends to cut smoother in hard woods, and doesn't dull out as fast in dirty wood.

Most of you have much more experience than myself but right or wrong, I look at sharpening chains like I do sharpening knifes. How I sharpen depends on the type of work I do. That being said I would think that all of us here probably use different sharpening strategies depending on the type of trees that we work on.

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