how to hone a chainsaw cylinder

how to hone a chainsaw cylinder

Transform your chainsaw’s cylinder into a precision cutting machine with these honing secrets!

To hone a chainsaw cylinder, remove the spark plug and chain. Use a cylinder honing tool with honing oil to rotate and move it up and down the cylinder walls. Continue until the surface is smooth. Clean the cylinder, reinstall the spark plug and chain, and your chainsaw is ready for optimal cutting performance.

This article will cover the step-by-step process of honing a chainsaw cylinder to improve its cutting performance.

So Let’s Get Started!

Safety Guidelines on How to Hone a Chainsaw Cylinder

Always use safety goggles and gloves when honing a chainsaw cylinder to protect your eyes and hands. Secure the chainsaw in a vise so it cannot move during the honing process.

Use a round file to enlarge the existing port slightly, then switch to a flat file to finish opening up the port. 

Be sure to keep the file perpendicular to the surface of the cylinder as you work. Finish by using fine-grit sandpaper to smooth out any rough edges. 

Tools and Materials Needed for Honing a Chainsaw Cylinder

Assuming you have a standard chainsaw, to hone the cylinder, you’ll need the following: 

  • A set of feeler gauges
  • A selection of honing stones (or a honing stone kit) in various grits
  • Lubricant (motor oil or mineral oil will do)
  • A chainsaw file
  • A vise or other way to securely hold the chainsaw while you work

First, use the feeler gauges to measure the clearance between the piston and cylinder wall. This will give you an idea of how much material you’ll need to remove with your honing stones. 

Next, select a honing stone in a coarse grit and lubricate it with motor oil or mineral oil. Place the honing stone against the cylinder wall and move it back and forth until you’ve removed enough material to achieve the desired clearance. 

Repeat this process with progressively finer grit stones until you’re satisfied with the results. Use the chain saw file to sharpen the teeth on the cutting chain.

Step-by-Step Guide to Honing a Chainsaw Cylinder

If your chainsaw produces sawdust instead of wood chips, it’s time to hone the cylinder. Follow these steps to get your chainsaw back up to speed:

1. Park the saw on a level surface and remove the spark plug so you can see into the cylinder.

2. Inspect the cylinder walls for any nicks or damage. If there is any damage, you’ll need to replace the cylinder.

3. Using a honing tool, lightly score the cylinder walls in a criss-cross pattern. Be sure to do just what is necessary – you want to create a light crosshatch pattern.

4. Reinstall the spark plug and start the chainsaw. Let it run for a few minutes to work the honing compound into the cylinders.

5. Shut off the chainsaw and wipe away any excess honing compound with a clean cloth. 

6. Reinstall the spark plug and start the chainsaw again. Let it run for a few more minutes to ensure the honing worked.

7. Shut off the chainsaw and check the cylinder walls again. You know you’ve honed your chainsaw’s cylinder if they look shiny and smooth!

Other Method to Honing a Chainsaw Cylinder

You can use several methods to hone a chainsaw cylinder to improve performance. Here’s an alternative method you can try:

Remove the cylinder

Start by disassembling the chainsaw and removing the cylinder from the engine. This step may vary depending on the make and model of your chainsaw, so refer to the manufacturer’s instructions or consult a professional if needed.

Clean the cylinder

Thoroughly clean the cylinder using a suitable solvent or degreaser to remove any dirt, debris, or carbon deposits. Ensure that the cylinder is completely dry before proceeding.

Obtain a honing tool

Acquire a cylinder honing tool specifically designed for chainsaw cylinders. These tools typically consist of an abrasive stone or brush that helps to remove glaze and restore the cylinder’s surface.

Lubricate the honing tool

Apply a small amount of lubricant, such as honing oil or two-cycle oil, to the abrasive surface of the honing tool. This will help reduce friction and aid in the honing process.

Hone the cylinder

Insert the honing tool into the cylinder, ensuring it is securely placed. Move the tool back and forth while applying light pressure. Ensure you cover the entire inner surface of the cylinder, rotating the tool as needed to achieve an even hone. Be careful not to apply excessive pressure, as it can cause damage to the cylinder.

Clean and inspect

Once you’ve finished honing, thoroughly clean the cylinder to remove any debris or residue. Inspect the cylinder for any signs of damage, such as deep scratches or pitting. If significant damage is present, it may be necessary to replace the cylinder.

Reassemble the chainsaw

After cleaning and inspecting the cylinder, reassemble the chainsaw by following the reverse disassembly steps. Ensure all parts are properly aligned and tightened according to the manufacturer’s specifications.

Remember, honing a chainsaw cylinder requires precision and attention to detail. If you need clarification on any process step, it’s always best to consult the manufacturer’s instructions or seek assistance from a professional chainsaw technician.

Common Mistakes When Honing a Chainsaw Cylinder

One of the most common mistakes people make when honing a chainsaw cylinder is not using the proper type of hone. There are two types of hones: diamond and carbide. Diamond hones are used on cast iron and steel, while carbide hones are for aluminium and other non-ferrous metals.

Another common mistake is not correctly positioning the hone on the cylinder. The hone should be positioned so that it is at a 75-degree angle to the cylinder bore, with the leading edge of the hone just slightly below the centre.

Another mistake is using too much pressure when honing. Too much pressure can damage the cylinder bore, so it is important to use enough pressure to keep the hone in contact with the surface without causing damage.

Many people must properly clean and lubricate their chainsaws before honing the cylinder. This can cause premature wear on the hone and damage to the cylinder bore. Ensure your chainsaw is clean and well-lubricated before beginning maintenance or repair.

Tips and Tricks for Honing a Chainsaw Cylinder

Few sounds are as satisfying as a well-honed chainsaw blade’s sharp ‘tink’. It makes the job easier, helps prevent kickbacks, and reduces wear and tear on the saw and the sawyer. 

Here are a few tips and tricks for honing a chainsaw cylinder:

1. Always use a file slightly smaller than the diameter of the cylinder. This will ensure you don’t remove too much material and damage the cylinder.

2. Use a light touch when filing. You want to remove enough material to create a sharp edge without damaging the metal.

3. Work down by filing at the top of the cylinder. This will help prevent any burrs from forming on the top edge of the cylinder.

4. Use a circular motion when filing to create an even edge. 

5. Inspect your work after each pass with the file to ensure you haven’t removed too much material or created any unevenness. 

6. When you’re finished honing, use a piece of fine sandpaper to smooth out any roughness on the surface of the cylinder. 

7. Finally, use a stone or other sharpening tool to finish the job and create a razor-sharp edge.


In conclusion, honing the cylinder of your chainsaw is a valuable skill to maintain its performance. It’s an easy task that shouldn’t take more than 10-15 minutes, and by following these steps, you can ensure that your chainsaw runs smoothly for many years to come. With this knowledge, you can now easily hone any cylinder on a chainsaw. 

Always wear safety gear before starting any chainsaw maintenance activity and never attempt to do anything you feel uncomfortable with. 

If you have any doubts, refer to the manual or contact a professional for help. With proper care and maintenance, your chainsaw will perform optimally and give you years of service.


Can You Hone A Cylinder At Home?

Yes, you can hone a cylinder at home. It requires the right tools, materials, and a careful approach. With proper guidance and following the correct honing techniques, you can effectively hone a cylinder in your workshop or garage.

How Do You Hone A 2-Stroke Cylinder?

To hone a 2-stroke cylinder, disassemble the engine and remove the cylinder. Clean the cylinder thoroughly and secure it in a vice. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to utilize a specialized cylinder honing tool for 2-stroke cylinders. Use honing oil as a lubricant and apply light, even pressure, while moving the honing tool in a crosshatch pattern. Continue until the desired smoothness is achieved. Finally, clean the cylinder, reassemble the engine, and ensure proper lubrication before starting the 2-stroke engine.

Do You Hone Cylinders Wet Or Dry?

When honing cylinders, it is recommended to hone them wet. Honing oil is a lubricant and coolant during the honing process, preventing overheating and reducing friction. The oil helps to flush away metal particles and keeps the abrasive stones or tools clean. Honing cylinders dry can result in excessive heat buildup, reduced effectiveness, and potential damage to the cylinder walls.

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