The TEMCo FP1000 should be at the top of your list if you’re a homeowner looking for a well-made automatic chain sharpener for your chainsaw.
Cutting wood with a dull saw chain is extremely tiresome (and dangerous). Not only are you wasting fuel and overheating the engine, but you’re also increasing the chances of kickback every time you swing your chainsaw into the cut. And if you’re a heavy- duty user who owns multiple chainsaws and cuts several cords of wood each year, sharpening all those chains by hand can get pretty tedious.
When time is money, you want the job done quickly. That’s where an automatic chainsaw sharpener can help you increase your productivity. Not only is it fast, but also very consistent. Unlike humans, it doesn’t get tired. You can file those chains by hand in the field, but in the shop, an automatic is your best bet for sharpening dozens of chains every week.
There’s a bit of a learning curve at first, since automatic chain sharpeners like the TEMco FP1000 operate differently from regular bench grinders or electric chain sharpeners. And yes, some automatic chain sharpeners are expensive. Really expensive, if you wish to purchase one of the top models like the Franzen SA6 or DinaSaw T-REX which can cost several thousand dollars per unit. But think of the advantages-
- On manual or regular electric chainsaw sharpeners, you’ll have to switch the grinder angle after doing one side. This means you have to go through the chain twice- once for left cutters, once for right cutters. But an automatic chainsaw sharpener will alternate between left and right cutters by itself, so the entire chain is done in one cycle (faster sharpening times).
- You don’t have to worry about “blue tooth”, i.e. overheating the cutters.
- You can enjoy your favorite beverage while the sharpener does its job, since no manual feeding of the chain is necessary. It’s as simple as set and forget.
Almost all automatic chainsaw sharpeners will also file down the depth gauge/ raker while sharpening the cutter. We’ll talk about why that’s important later on, but first let’s take a look at the two chainsaw sharpeners we’re reviewing today-
Best Automatic Chain Sharpener — TEMCo FP1000
TEMco FP1000: This is an affordable automatic chain sharpener which is perfect for smaller shops and firewood collectors who need a reliable, yet versatile machine. It will sharpen the cutters, and grind down the rakers simultaneously. There is a proximity sensor which detects the relative position of incoming cutters, so it alternates between left and right with zero issues (even if there are two cutters in a row on the same side). And the chain is automatically fed. All you have to do is input certain parameters like top plate angle, cutter count, etc. and the machine will do the rest.
Oregon 720-120: A heavier duty automatic chain sharpener, it’s more expensive than the TEMco FP1000 and a great choice for repair shops, hardware stores, tree trimming businesses, sawmills, etc. It will even clean the gullet after sharpening the cutter and lowering the raker. Capable of handling .404” pitch chains, like the ones used on the Stihl MS880 Magnum or even harvesters.
Table of Contents...
- 1 Reviews : Automatic Chain Sharpener
- 2 TEMco FP1000 Review
- 3 Oregon 720-120 Review
Reviews : Automatic Chain Sharpener
The TEMco FP1000 is the best automatic chainsaw sharpener for homeowners. Period! We also look at an industrial model from Oregon but that’s not for homeowners. Another option which we discuss later is the fact that Oregon makes chainsaws with built-in automatic chain sharpeners built into the chainsaw, which is a very good option and one you should consider, depending on our needs.
Let’s start with our review of the impressive TEMco FP1000.
TEMco FP1000 Review
Ideal for : Sharpening Chains for Forestry, Lumber, or Cutting Ice Block Applications
- Fit Chain Sizes ► 1/4″, 3/8″, 3/8″ Low Profile
- Fit Bar Groove Width ► 0.043″, 0.050″
- DOES NOT Fit Teeth Width ►0.058″, 0.063″
TOP Features :
- Cutter Teeth Sharpening
- Raker Grinding
- Automatic Chain Feeding
- Programmable Teeth Count
- Includes : Wall Outlet, Car Battery, And Cigarette Charger Power Adapters
- Three CBN Grinding Wheels
- 1 Year Promise
- Digital Display With Colored Membrane Buttons
- Master the Controls With Our Step-by-Step Tutorial Videos
- Chain Depth Adjust Knob Located in the Back
- Power Switch And Adapter Input Located in the Back
- Chain Length Adjust Knob Located in the Front
- Chain Pitch Adjust Knob Located in the Front
- Easily Swap Out With Our Included CBN Grinding Wheels
- Monitor Wear and Tear with Clear Cover
- Cutter Angle Adjustment: 20 – 40°
- Raker Grinding Angle: Zero°
- Left and Right (L/R) Cutter Sensor: Yes
- Grinding Head L/R Auto-Positioning: Yes
What makes the TEMco FP1000 truly unique is the fact that it’s actually a portable automatic chain sharpener. Yes, you can haul it around in the bed of your truck and hook it up to a 12V automobile battery by using the clamps included within the kit. Or the cigarette lighter socket, that’ll work just as fine. When back at the shop, you can securely mount it onto a bench and use the 120V AC adapter (also included) to power it from the wall. Most other industrial automatic chain sharpeners don’t support 12V operation, and even if they do, they are way larger and heavier than this TEMco model which makes transportation to the jobsite a major hassle.
Performance (sharpening speed) is on par with any of the high- end models from competing brands, although you will definitely get a much better finish from something like a Markusson Triplematic, but what do you expect, at this price point, this is probably the best automatic chain sharpener you’ll find. And no, we aren’t considering those cheap Chinese models you can find on eBay. They either break down within a few months, or use proprietary parts which you can’t find at any of your local hardware stores. Maintenance and long term customer support is a massive headache with those obscure Chinese brands which may be around today and disappear tomorrow.
“Unlike most of the other automatic chain sharpeners, this little guy from TEMco is priced at a point where small business owners and even enthusiast chainsaw users can purchase it…Customer Review
TEMco does the R&D for all their products in Fremont, California. That is also where they handle marketing, sales, order fulfillment, etc. To keep costs down, manufacturing is conducted in China, but while adhering to strict quality standards so that you get a solidly built product. Look, even the iPhones are made in China and they hold up pretty well to all forms of physical abuse. So not everything that comes out of China is poorly made junk, some of the highest quality products are also made there.
Now, it must be disclosed that the FP1000 utilizes proprietary CBN wheels for grinding. You get 3 wheels in total, included within the package. Some professionals claim that this is a disadvantage, because sourcing proprietary parts in the event of a machine failure will take much longer than taking it to the local repair shop for a quick fix. But TEMco’s great customer service should ship out the spare wheels immediately, in case yours wears down. Besides, there is a reason they use proprietary wheels.
Grinding wheels on the FP1000 spin at really high RPMs, so they must be perfectly concentric with respect to the spindle. If the axial or radial measurements are even slightly off, it will vibrate violently and damage the entire mechanism. There are two wheels for sharpening the cutters, each with its own unique profile – FPA110 which has a width of 1/8”, and FPA111 which has a width of 3/16”. And finally, there’s the FPA112 with its tapered profile for lowering the rakers on your saw chains. You’ll have to swap out the regular cutter grinders for this raker grinder whenever you want to do the depth gauges.
The TEMco FP1000 will only work with standard or “full complement” chains. If you aren’t sure what that means, take out your chainsaw and examine the chain links. If there is only one tie strap between each cutter tooth (left cutter, tie strap, right cutter, tie strap…), you’ve got a full complement chain. This is the type of chain provided by default with any saw you purchase. It runs smoothly, and is ideal for jobs that require shorter cuts. Larger pro saws use skip chain, which we will discuss in more detail later on in our article. For now, all you need to know is that the TEMco FP1000’s chain feeding/ advancing arm is calibrated with respect to the spacing between cutters. And a skip chain has way too much space in between the cutters for the arm to work properly.
It is also worth noting that some chainsaws use chains with 2 consecutive cutters on the same side (left cutter, left cutter, right cutter, right cutter). This is not an issue, since the FP1000 doesn’t have the cutter alignment pre- programmed. Instead, it uses a proximity sensor to detect the relative position of each upcoming cutter which is then relayed to the grinder head so it can adjust accordingly.
Oh, and the FP1000 won’t handle your harvester chains (or chains from gigantic pro saws like a Stihl MS 880).This is an entry level product designed to target the most popular chain types. So currently, you can’t sharpen .404” pitch chain. Or .063” gauge chain, which certainly limits the scope of this machine. It supports the following pitch specifications- ¼”, 0.325”, 3/8”, and 3/8” Low Profile. The following gauges are supported- 0.043”, and 0.050”.
IMPORTANT: Read the user’s manual thoroughly before operating this chainsaw sharpener. Also, watch the tutorial video above which demonstrates how to operate the FP1000. Clean both the grinder wheel and chain of any gunk (sawdust, tree sap, dirt, etc.) before sharpening.
TECH SPECS (TEMCo FP1000) :
- Supply Voltage: 110V – 240V 60Hz
- Motor Input Power: 125 Watt
- Maximum Speed: 11,000 Revolutions Per Minute (RPM)
- Item Weight: 4 Pounds
- Maximum Chain Pitch: 0.325 inch and 3/8 LP inch
Oregon 720-120 Review
Industrial automatic chainsaw sharpener. Big Power For Serious Users
Images coming within the next 24 hours. Thanks for your patience.
“Sometimes you want absolutely zero compromises on reliability and performance, no matter the price. For such users, the Oregon 720-120 offers industry leading quality and features to ensure that all your saws are equipped with sharp chains whenever you need them. If you’re the guy with a Stihl MS 880 or Husqvarna 3120XP in your shop, this is the automatic chain sharpener for you.”
Unlike the TEMco FP1000, this Oregon automatic chain sharpener isn’t designed to be portable or used outdoors. It is also a lot larger and heavier, because of the types of saws that this machine is designed to work with- harvesters, forestry saws, and logging saws. That’s why it supports full- skip 3/8” pitch chains, which are primarily equipped on longer bars (36+ inches) and used for chewing through giant logs in sawmills/ harvesters. A full- skip chain has two tie straps between each cutter head, and is designed to move material out of the cut as quickly as possible to allow for deeper bites and faster chain speeds. It is used while making long cuts, and has better wood chip clearing ability compared to full complement chain (more material can ride in between two consecutive cutters).
The Oregon 720-120 is a rebadged Markusson Triplematic, and as such it carries over all the features. Like their pneumatic chain tensioner which automatically stretches the saw chain so that you don’t have to tension it manually while it’s on the sharpening machine. And the 720-120 also supports a telescopic extension kit which lets you mount longer chains (accessory purchased separately). You do get a stand with the grinder unit, which lets you mount the 720-120 onto the floor of your shop for a stable and rock solid base.
This stand also houses the pneumatic chain tensioning system. You’ll have to do quite a bit of assembly work by yourself, so make sure to follow the user manuals. This is a very different end user experience compared to the TEMco FP1000 which is basically a bench vice style sharpener that requires very little assembly. If you lack the space in your shop, you can choose to bench mount the Oregon 720-120 (you’ll lose the pneumatic chain tensioning in that case).
Once you’ve assembled the 720-120, it’s time to get familiar with the control panel. You’ll need to input data like the top plate angle, head- tilt angle, cutter count, etc. Two grinding wheels are provided within the package- both are 150mm in diameter, one is 1/8” thick while the other is 3/16” thick. Before you start sharpening, use the included profile stone and template to make sure that your wheel profile is appropriate for whatever chain type you intend to work on. This automatic sharpener doesn’t have a sensor, which means it can’t detect if the next cutter is on the right or left. It runs based off a pre- determined profile (“dumb” switching which alternates between left and right).
So if your chain has two left or right cutters in a row, you might want to change the grinder orientation manually otherwise you’ll end up destroying the chain. The Markusson Triplematic which this sharpener is based on also lacks a sensor. The only Markusson model with a sensor is their top of the line SEMSOMATIC model. That’s one area where the TEMco FP1000 has this expensive Oregon model beat, it is equipped with a cutter proximity sensor despite being less than a tenth the price of the 720-120.
To prevent overheating of cutters, the Oregon 720-120 features adjustable speed control for the grinder wheel. Unlike the TEMco FP1000, it doesn’t require a wheel swap to take down the depth gauges. Instead, it files all 3 parts of the tooth simultaneously- depth gauge, gullet, and cutter. There are two operation modes- cutter only, and 3-in-1. The 720-120 will even clean the gullet after sharpening it. It supports .404” pitch chains, so you can sharpen harvester chains.
Introducing The Oregon CS1500 and CS300
Self- Sharpening Chainsaws. Stay ahead of everyone else!
“Not everyone reading this article is the owner of a repair shop or tree care business. Some of you are homeowners who don’t want anything more than a single 18” chainsaw for cutting firewood or clearing up brush around the house. And not having to deal with any chain sharpeners would be a huge bonus. Well, how about a chainsaw that sharpens itself?”
Sometimes, you just want to use a chainsaw without having to worry about sharpening. Besides, owning just one or two chainsaws (as is the case with most homeowners) doesn’t necessitate the purchase of an expensive automatic chain sharpener. As of now, the Oregon CS1500 (corded) and CS300 (cordless) are the only two electric chainsaws with built- in chain sharpening. They use Oregon’s patented PowerSharp system which consists of 3 unique components- a specially designed PowerSharp chain, a PowerSharp guide bar, and a grinding stone.
The grinding stone is located right behind the clutch, and is semi- circular in shape. You press down on a little red lever located next to the front handle, while revving the chainsaw at the same time for about 3 to 5 seconds. This will engage the grindstone, and force it against the specially designed cutters of the PowerSharp chain. Within seconds, your chain will go from dull to sharp. You can sharpen a PowerSharp chain around 10 to 15 times before it gets worn out and has to be replaced.
The CS1500 is a corded 15amp saw, and features an 18 inch bar. It is extremely silent, yet one of the most powerful electric chainsaws in existence. And it even has an anti- kickback chain brake unlike some of the cheaper electric saws which skip on that very important safety feature. Operation is as easy as pressing the trigger to start cutting (just make sure you have it plugged into an outlet). Adjusting bar alignment and chain tension really easy, thanks to the toolless mechanism. The CS1500 will handle 15 to 20 inch hardwood logs without any issues, and can even give entry- level 40cc gas saws a run for their money. It delivers all this performance while emitting zero fumes, and being super easy to maintain. All you have to do is change the bar oil and clean the saw from time to time.
If you want the performance of the CS1500 in a portable package, check out the CS300 cordless saw from Oregon. It comes with a 16” bar by default, but you can easily install an 18” bar if you require the extra cutting length. But make sure it’s a PowerSharp bar, otherwise the built- in sharpening system won’t function reliably. The CS300 uses a 40V battery, and is available in 3 different variants- 2.6Ah for casual users (model CS300-E6), 4.0Ah for DIYers and hobbyists (model CS300-A6), and 6.0Ah for cutting firewood/ felling trees (model CS300-R7). In its tool- only configuration, the CS300 weighs just 10.2lbs with the guide bar and chain installed.
Manual vs Automatic Chainsaw Chain Sharpener
There’s a lot of debate going on between pros and enthusiasts regarding the viability of automatic chain sharpeners and their value proposition versus good old hand files that people have been using since decades. We all know that sharpening your chainsaw chain with a simple round file doesn’t require the removal of the chain itself, and can be readily carried out on the jobsite. Whereas with an electric chain sharpener, you need to take the chain off the saw in order to sharpen it. Plus, you can’t really bring a 70lb automatic chain sharpener and a bench to mount it on, whenever you go out into the woods to collect some firewood.
Automatic chain sharpeners also have a hard time dealing with broken cutters or skip pattern chains. They can cost several hundred dollars (high- end automatic models cost thousands), and you run the risk of overheating your cutters if you keep the wheel down for too long. It is easy to spot a bad sharpening job done by a bench grinder style sharpener; the leading edge of the cutter will look blueish purple after you grind it for too long. That’s a sign of overheating, and it messes with the temper of the metal causing it to become more brittle.
But automatic chain sharpeners do have their advantages. The most obvious one is speed- you don’t have to reverse direction after doing one side of cutters, since the cutting head will rotate itself automatically after sharpening each tooth. This comes at the cost of being unable to handle skip chains (some premium models like the Oregon 720-120 can handle certain types of skip chain). But you save a ton of time, and this may be really important if you run a business like an equipment repair shop or a tree care service (where everyone uses the same full complement chain type). Maybe you need to sharpen 5 or 7 chains in a row, it would be extremely tiring to do all that by hand using a round file.
Plus, an automatic chain sharpener can really save the day if you frequently cut through dirty wood (termite infested, reclaimed lumber, filled with dirt, etc.). When you’re cutting through dirty wood it’s much better to carry multiple chains and swap them out every 10 minutes or so, instead of sharpening each one by hand whenever it gets dull.
When you get back to the shop, you take your 10 or 12 dull chains and get them sharpened within minutes by using the automatic sharpener. It does all the work, while you sit back and relax. But if you only need to sharpen a single chain 3 or 4 times per day, then a hand file definitely makes more sense. Although it should be stated that 99% of people reading this article won’t be able to achieve the level of consistency that an automatic chain sharpener has. Some of your cutters will end up shorter or longer than the others, some of the rakers will be taller than the others.
Why You Should Cut With A Sharp Chain
Not only does a sharp chain cut much faster, but it also reduces the chances of kickback. A properly sharpened chain with the depth gauge set to match the cutter is going to slice through wood like a knife through butter, instead of catching on the wood. Blunt cutters bash into the wood fibers and might get stuck, causing your chainsaw to pull itself out of your grip or even worse- rotate back at your face. And with a blunt chain, you’re almost always generating smoke and sawdust instead of doing any actual work. It puts unnecessary stress on the engine, because a lot of novices rev it at full bore without realizing that power isn’t what’s limiting their cutting ability. This overheats the engine and might damage its internals.
So, how to tell if a chain is dull? Simple- just look at the residue generated during a cut. If it’s long, thin, and curly shavings, your saw chain is sharp. If you spot fine dust- like residue, your saw chain is blunt. It’s simply filing away at the log, instead of slicing through it. Another way to detect a dull chain is by feeling the force it takes to push the saw through a log. A sharp chain will feed itself into the wood, pulling you along with it. It wants to go in, whereas a dull chain has to be forced in. You will find yourself leaning on the chainsaw, using your bodyweight to make it chew through the log. Don’t do that, because it might bend the bar and result in some nasty accidents.
On the field, you can sharpen your saw chain manually with a round file and flat file. Round file for the cutter, flat file for the raker. Select the right file size for your specific chain, this data can be found printed on the back of your chain box/ packaging. We also suggest you look up our article on how to sharpen your saw chain.
Note: You can’t sharpen a saw chain indefinitely, each chain can be sharpened about 4 or 5 times before you have to discard it and get a new one. Look for the “witness mark” which should be an angled line at the back of the top plate on a cutter. Every time you file the cutter, you remove some of the material and shorten its length. When you hit the witness mark, it’s time to discard the chain.