How to File the Rakers on a Chainsaw


Keeping the chainsaw cutting depth consistent is an essential, but often-overlooked aspect of chainsaw maintenance. If you don’t file down the rakers on your chainsaw occasionally, the cutting depth of the teeth will diminish overtime and severely hamper your saws ability to cut. In fact, it may inhibit its ability entirely. When you go to cut a log, your saw could produce nothing but smoke as the rakers cover the tooth of the saw.

That’s no good! Maintaining rakers at an appropriate level is easy and only has to be done on occasion. However, most people are scared away by the unknown (or may literally just not know this is something that should be done) and opt to get a new chain instead, wasting a good deal of a chain’s life.

In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about rakers and show you how to use a simple tool to keep them at proper height.

What Are Rakers For?

The rakers on a chainsaw chain set a proper and consistent cutting depth for the tooth. They prevent the chain from digging too aggressively into the wood, which can bog down a lower-powered saw, sacrifice operator control, and create some extremely rough cutting. The rakers ensure that the tooth only digs into the wood at a certain depth (usually .025″), which leads to a much more controlled cutting experience. You can see how the raker sets the cutting depth in the diagram below.

File to a proper chainsaw raker depth of .025"

As you can see on the diagram, the back of the tooth of the saw is angled downward. As you sharpen the chain, you file the tooth back and thus move the tip of the tooth down relative to the raker. Thus, to keep the depth consistent, you have to file the rakers down occasionally. Luckily, this job is made much easier with a tool known as a raker depth gauge.

Filing Your Rakers With a Depth Gauge

It is imperative that the cutting depth for all rakers remains consistent. Inconsistent cutting depth caused by free-hand filing can cause erratic and inconsistent cutting, essentially ruining the chain. Thus, we use a depth gauge to ensure consistency.

A depth gauge is simply a piece of stamped metal that lies over the teeth of a chain with a .025″ indent where the rakers can pop out. Any material sticking above the metal is then filed down. Let’s review the simple process of using this tool.

Items Needed:

  • Chainsaw Raker Depth Gauge
  • Small Flat File

Both items can be found inexpensively in this kit here.

Step 1: Place Your Depth Gauge Over the Chain

To file your chainsaw rakers, take your depth gauge and lie it across the chain with the bent ends down, such as in the photo below. There should be an indented piece in the middle with a slot. That slot should be situated so the raker and nothing else is visible.

The top of the saw tooth should be out of site and situated under the metal that is raised. Not within the indent. This creates the height differential that measures the .025″ depth of the raker.

File your rakers with a depth gauge.

Step 2: File the Raker flush with the Depth Gauge

If your rakers are in need of filing There should be some material from the rakers sticking above the depth gauge.

With a small, flat file, file away at the raker until it is flush with the metal on the depth gauge, as seen below.

File rakers to be flush with the depth gauge.

Unless your chain is older and you have never filed your rakers, it should only take a few strokes to get it flush, so go easy.

Step 3: Repeat the Process for All Rakers

Once you finish, you need to repeat the process for all rakers. It’s important to have all the rakers set to the same depth. Otherwise, the saw may not run through wood smoothly. Luckily, once you get the hang of the process it does not take much time at all.

That’s All There Is to It!

If you have never filed your rakers before, you will likely notice a huge difference in how well your saw cuts. Luckily, this isn’t a process you need to repeat very often. In my experience, you only need to do it once every 10 sharpening sessions or so, but for you it may be more or less. How often you need to file the rakers on your chainsaw will greatly depend on how often you sharpen your saw (meaning how dull you let it get before you sharpen) and how much you abuse your chain.

In any case, with a depth gauge, it takes no time to check your rakers and see how high they are, so its good practice to spot check your rakers every time you sharpen.

Good luck and keep those rakers in check!

Zachary Lowry

A forester from northern Maine, I spent my early career working for large timberland owners, managing forest land and investments in the form of managing timber harvest operations as well as planning and managing precommercial thinning, planting, and herbicide application programs. These days I work on my own land and help timberland owners large and small manage theirs.

Recent Posts

%d bloggers like this: